Your Frequently Asked Questions: Places

This week I’ll be answering a series of questions I received during my months away.  So far we’ve covered affording travelsafety, and interacting with people.  I’ll also link the entire series together into one page, available at the end of the week.


On Places

Santorini, Greece view

On Planning

How did you decide where to go?

  • First, I had to decide where to start.  For me, it was easy: I was meeting a friend in Hong Kong, and I had always wanted to go there.  I knew I could work west from there across Asia, through the Middle East, and finish in Europe.  It all depends on where you’re heading, and for many travelers, where you can find a cheap flight.  I found a deal on a direct flight LAX –> HKG and I was sold.  Other common entry points include Bangkok for Southeast Asia and London or Frankfurt for Europe.  Large airports that serve as major hubs tend to have the best deals

  • Once I knew where I was starting, I used several resources to then map out a reasonable itinerary (including several Skype planning sessions with fellow travelers!)
  • By no means did I intend to stick strictly to my plan, but I knew where I wanted to go and about how long I wanted to spend there beforehand.  This kept me moving, otherwise…I enjoyed each place so much I could have stayed in one country the whole time!
  • There is nothing more fun than whipping out the ol’ bucket list of countries and places and trying to fit them together like a puzzle.  I’ve kept a list for years and it was a dream come true to sit in front of it and plan how to get there!
    • Your local library.  It’s free.  It’s (hopefully) extensive.  Guidebooks may be a bit outdated, but you can fill in the gaps with up-to-date information from the Internet.
    • is a great resource to give you an idea of the many ways to get in between places.
    • If you’re visual like me, Traveller’s Point has my favorite ‘map your trip’ function online. (See mine.)
    • Travel blogs.  Just like this one.  People have done it before you, learn from them!

Above all, don’t forget to plan to be flexible!  I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if even if you’re doing a loose outline of places you’d like to go, it is necessary to add extra days as problems can and will arise…as well as opportunities for adventure you never could have planned.

Where did you go that you COULD have (if necessary) crossed off of your itinerary?

Only places that I had already gone.  I did revisit places like the Taj Mahal  (and honestly, never assumed I would be back to.)  I was traveling with a friend who hadn’t been.  She did the same for me in places I hadn’t been– like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and honestly, revisiting a place (I mean, who’s lucky enough to have been to the Taj once, let alone twice?) always allows me to see how far I’ve come since I was there last.

Where do you wish you could have ADDED?

ALL THE PLACES!  I’d keep going to every corner of this world.  On this trip in particular, if I had kept going I would’ve liked to have explored more of Eastern Europe: Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia.

What did you pack?

Utterly complete packing post is in the works!

I’m going to ____ next month.  Can you give me your tips or offer any suggestions?

Of course!  This is my number one FAQ (after ‘how do you afford it?’) and I love connecting with my readers. Let me know how I can help you.


Abu Simbel, Egypt

The temples of Abu Simbel, Nubia, Egypt


On Favorites

I absolutely love sharing the answers to the questions I received about “favorite” places.  Many of them I visited only because they were raved about by other travelers.  May this list give you some fodder for your travel bucket list!

Most beautiful place?

Santorini, Greece.

Close runner-ups: U Bein Bridge (Burma), Udaipur (India), Lake Como (Italy), Cappadocia (Turkey.)

 Most fascinating place?

Jerusalem and the West Bank, Egypt, all of Burma.

Favorite country?

Friends and family joke with me that my favorite country is whatever one I went to last.  This trip, or any, if I HAVE to choose one…it’s India.  Visiting India is truly, almost like visiting another planet.  In every good way.  It turned me–and everything I thought I knew about the world–upside down.  (This trip was my second time there, and it definitely won’t be my last.)  And while it isn’t perfect, I do appreciate and admire the culture and the people tremendously.

Close runner –ups: Burma, Laos, Italy…well, all of them damn it!


Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, Turkey

Favorite city?

Paris!  Without question.

Close runner-ups: Mumbai,Luang Prabang, Bangkok, Istanbul.

Underrated place?

Amman, Jordan and Bologna, Italy

Overrated place?

Mykonos, Greece (it’s beautiful, but much more expensive and touristy than other nearby Greek isles.)

Hidden gem?

Koh Rong island, off the coast of Cambodia.  Also Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) region in Southern Laos.

Where do you most want to go back to?

If I had to choose one country to get a plane to tomorrow to explore further, it would be Turkey. Turkey was a beautiful surprise. I absolutely fell in love with the people and there’s so much more to see than I had time to spend there on this journey.

What place had the best food?

Ah, my favorite question of all.  For me, the best food is in India. Closely (and I mean, closely) followed by the dim sum I had in Hong Kong, any type of noodle in Asia, ‘the real deal’ hummus and falafel in the Middle East, Vietnamese soups, anything artisanal in Italy, and of course, nearly any plat du jour in a Parisian café. (I know, I know…this really narrows it down.)  Eating is one of the greatest joys of traveling for me.  The way people all over the world interpret and present this basic human need to nourish never ceases to amaze me.


Paris Macarons Place de Madeleine

How I feel about Paris (and macarons.)

What’s on your favorite places list? How to choose where to travel?

Up next: On My Story

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