Ah, travel planning. My love for it is the whole reason this blog exists. But there are sometimes snags, and one of them is putting runs in my stockings at the moment.

This summer’s travel to France and Andorra was an easy choice. It’s Take 2 after Take 1 caught COVID and had to stay home. The following summer was also an easy choice because it wasn’t mine to make. The husband chose Australia for his milestone birthday. (He acts like a teenager so he must be turning 20??) Then you have summer of 2026, which is a no-brainer. Having filed the paperwork and passed the interview on parenting fitness, we expect the birth and international adoption of Bobbie 2.0 to be completed months before, so plan on hearing about some epic US road trip that year.

But there’s a gaping hole in the summer of 2025 and it’s causing much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth.

Before you ask—and many already have—yes, I do plan out travel that far in advance. I can rarely book things that far out (though we bought our summer 2024 Indian Pacific rail tickets across Australia minutes after they became available in late 2022 because it’s “you snooze, you lose” for the limited number of sleeper cabins onboard). But planning in my mind? Definitely. And if I’m planning a trip in my mind, I’m also doing some book, internet, and blog research as well.

Trouble is, I’m spoiled for choice. The world’s my oyster, but right now it’s giving me food poisoning. Two options quickly became three, then four, then . . . you can see where this is going.

Assuming the Australia trip doesn’t cause our bank account to plummet like a surveillance drone over the Black Sea, here’s what I’m pondering:

The early leader: GREECE

What’s recommending it: I mean, do I really have to explain? It’s Greece. Impossibly blue water, whitewashed villages hanging off cliffs, islands, beaches, and so much history.

What’s not: Summertime is hot and full of tourists.

Greece. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The current obsession: THE STANS of CENTRAL ASIA—Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and maybe Tajikistan and Turkmenistan

What’s recommending it: This is a genuinely adventurous option, meaning we’d be steeped in ancient cultures and traditions far off the tourist track, especially away from the big cities, and even those don’t seem to be overrun . . . yet.

What’s not: This is a genuinely adventurous option, meaning it’s so far off the tourist track that planning appears to be a nightmare. Overland travel to remoter areas seems difficult, delays are practically guaranteed, police stops are common, border crossings can be difficult, cell service is spotty, the first and second languages are utterly foreign to me and everything is in Cyrillic, functioning ATMs and acceptance of credit cards seems hit or miss . . . I could go on. I’d happily sign onto a small-group guided experience, but the husband is adamant: no tours!

Uzbekistan. Photo by Afzalbek Sadikov on Pexels.com


What’s recommending it: The husband may be turning 20, but I’m no spring chicken and my knees aren’t getting any younger, and because we’ve already climbed Wales’ highest peak, this would complete the trifecta. Also, seeing the husband’s family after the disastrous Height of Omicron Christmas Trip 2021.

What’s not: If variety is the spice of life, then the UK is the salt and pepper of my travel world. I’ve been there eight times already—more than any other foreign country. I love it there, but a little harissa, za’atar, or garam masala wouldn’t be an unwelcome change.

Scotland’s Ben Nevis. Source: Blisco on Wikipedia (creative commons)

And let’s not forget: BALKAN ROAD TRIP—Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and if we’re feeling lucky, Albania

What’s recommending it: It’s long been on the must-see list, it’s full of street cats, and from what I can tell, it’s different enough from Western Europe to feel fresh and unique.

What’s not: Like Greece, it’ll be wall-to-wall tourists in summertime.

Croatia. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Also in the running: MULTI-COUNTRY ALPINE SOJOURN—Salzburg, the Stelvio in the Dolomites, Liechtenstein, Munich, and if the travel gods smile upon us, Ljubljana

What’s recommending it: A Sound of Music tour, a Dust-Farm-Pail List cycle ride on the Stelvio (I already have a charming mountain inn chosen for our lodging), a tiny country, a visit to Dachau, and unsurpassed mountain scenery.

What’s not: If we don’t get to it in 2025, well, it ain’t goin’ anywhere.

Italy’s Stelvio. Source: bormiobike.it

And then there’s the late entry: TRIAL RUN ROAD TRIP—Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary

What’s recommending it: Yet another off-the-beaten-path destination, but still within the familiar confines of Europe. Also, we’ve wanted to return to Budapest ever since we departed the city many, many years ago.

What’s not: This itinerary wouldn’t have made the list except that the husband suggested it as a “practice trip” before making a commitment about the Stans of Central Asia. That’s not a very compelling reason to travel.

Romania. Source: theculturetrip.com


What’s recommending it: Spontaneity!

What’s not: Nothing specific to look forward to, and no travel planning until the last minute.


All this uncertainty and indecision is giving me a headache. Maybe I should just throw Green Bay, Hoboken, and Topeka into a hat and pull out the winner. I’d be the loser for it, but at least it would put me out of my vacillatory misery.

If you’re compelled to comment on any of these ideas, type away, but please, in the name of all that’s holy, don’t add any more suggestions to the list!

28 thoughts

  1. As you consider your options, I highly recommend this book:
    Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
    by Fatland, Erika
    It’s fascinating and enlightening—so much so that I took it kayaking with me and dropped it in the lake, thus expanding its contents and having to buy it from the library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, great minds must think alike because I have that book on my counter right now. Borrowed it from the library. Plan on reading it after I finish “Stans By Me: A Whirlwind Tour Through Central Asia” by Ged Gillmore.

      By the way, as unfortunate as your book dunking incident was, at least it didn’t happen with you phone as it did to the husband in California a year or so ago… 😦


      1. Hahaha! Another thing for them to compare notes on: my husband totally capsized his kayak in a deep Wisconsin lake, losing his phone, prescription sunglasses, and his trolling motor!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe you could write each destination on a piece of paper, fold it up into a little square, put the little squares into a hat, then pull one out. That would be your vacation. It’ll work as long as you don’t use the wrong hat. [Bullwinkle, anyone?]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All of those are on my list too. In fact we leave this spring for Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Pakistan and likely Turkey. So if you can wait, I’ll give you a few hints. Richard does read and speak Russian though so that will be a huge help. Happy choosing! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew it! Well, no, I didn’t know you were going, but I DID say to the husband a few days ago: “This is the kind of trip Monkey’s Tale would do.” And here you are, doing it. I seriously can’t wait for your posts. How long will you be there? Dare I ask: Any tours? I notice Turkmenistan is conspicuously absent. Is that by happenstance or design? From what I’ve read, it’s very difficult to get into. You need a letter of invitation (usually from a tour company) to even have a chance at applying for a Visa, and half (??) of those get rejected.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know us so well!! The main reason we’re going is to hike to K2 basecamp in Pakistan so we added the others on because they’re close. Turkmenistan did look like too much of a hassle with invitations and a tour and is fairly expensive for us budget travelers, especially after spending a lot for the basecamp trip. We have to go on a guided hike, which I actually don’t mind in Pakistan. We’ll be 6 months in total, and unlike you we haven’t researched much to know our final destination. Likely Turkey because we fly there from Islamabad, but with the earthquakes we want to make sure it’s settled enough. I hope to be able to post our trip regularly but who knows how the internet is there!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the perpetual problem, isn’t it? The world is too darn big and there are just not enough vacation days. So if you do end up going on either the Balkan one or the Alpine one, please leave room for me in your suitcase because I will happily tag along!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So THIS is where the Stans idea came from, eh? I guess I should add on to the list 😛

    J/k I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I’m easily overwhelmed by too many choices too, so I can imagine what you’re going through with your planning. Surely, you should take the Stan route, specifically because it’s hard—which’ll guarantee great stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The husband’s wanted to cycle through the Stans for a long time. I’m not up for that, but I wouldn’t mind a look-see. And you’re right about the stories. The book from which I got that quote was written by a guy who took a guided tour of the Stans, so imagine the stories if we tried to go it alone!


  6. All of these choices sound intriguing and wouldn’t be on my radar. The Stans sound particularly interesting although I agree with you that a small group tour would be the easiest way to go about this one…if you can convince the husband! Did he not enjoy your group tour to SE Asia?


  7. I have the same travel destinations on my travel wish list too and struggle with choosing just one place to go. It can be challenging to decide on your next trip location if you are a regular traveller as pretty much all of them are not only beautiful and Instagrammable but also safe, budget-friendly/ish, and offer unique experiences. One way how I start narrowing it down is by considering visa requirements & ease of entry – visa requirements can be a game-changer. You don’t want to go through the hassle of applying for a visa only to find out that getting one is not possible. Can’t wait to see where you’ll be going! Cheers, and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. We’ve only ever had to get Visas for Laos and Cambodia and it was straightforward and easy, but I know in some places it can range from hassle to nightmare. I’m even dreading having to jump through the (presumably easy) ETIAS Visa Waiver loop to visit much of your continent soon (2024, I think). Another consideration is how “under-traveled” it is. You know, wanting to see it before it becomes the next big thing and gets overrun. (We missed out on that with Croatia.)

      Liked by 1 person

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