Tell me Where to go Next!

by Nora Dunn on April 7, 2011

I have a request, dear readers, and I need your help!

My New Zealand visa expires on June 1st, and it is my plan to leave the country sometime in the week prior, as I have commitments that take me up to May 22nd.

I also plan to spend a few months this summer in Canada, catching up with family and friends after the last two years’ absence.

But I’d really like to go somewhere in between New Zealand and Canada! I figure I have 3-4 weeks to play with, and lots of frequent flyer miles to get me just about anywhere I wish.

What Would You Suggest?

I’m feeling almost paralysed by the sheer amount of choice I have. The world is my oyster, and I’m lost in ideas of where to go and what to do!

In the name of my travels generally being slow, this 3-4 week stint is almost like a “vacation”.

(Ha – The Professional Hobo is going on vacation! What will this girl think of next?!)

Criteria for Suggestions

So I want to hear from you. Where should I go? What should I do? What would you do in my shoes? I will take all suggestions to heart, but in order to make a sound decision, I need them to follow some general guidelines:

Tell me Why

In addition to suggesting where I should go, tell me why I should go there. Ideally the weather and circumstances will also be good given the timing of late May/early June.

What can I Accomplish in 3-4 Weeks?

In less than a month, I can’t “conquer” a country and see all there is to see. It’s just not my style, as was evidenced in Germany and Perth. And I have no desire to bounce from one “must-see” destination or attraction to another, effectively exhausting myself during my little “vacation”.

Instead, I’d much rather stay in just one or two places, and have a somewhat encapsulated experience that I can immerse myself in and come out with a feeling of accomplishment of sorts. I like the idea of volunteering in trade for my accommodation somewhere, or taking on a mission (like walking part of the Camino Santiago in Spain, or climbing Machu Piccu in Peru, or learning to Tango in Buenos Aires, or volunteering with sea turtles in Costa Rica…just a few ideas).

A Little Down-Time is Good

I’d like a little bit of down time (with an internet connection) so I can stay on top of my location independent writing career. This can be a limiting factor, but it’s not a deal-breaker if the opportunity is magnificent enough to warrant me cutting the umbilical cord I have to my laptop for a short while!

Easy to Plan

Given that I have just over a month to plan and book this extravaganza of a vacation, I need it to be relatively easy (and of course, feasible) to research, plan, and book. Something with a long waiting list or requiring exhaustive amounts of research won’t be possible – this time.

Let ‘er Rip

So what would you suggest? Leave your suggestion(s) in the comment section below!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael April 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Nora –

wouldn’t any “extravagant” destination such as, Russia, Nepal, etc. present a visa problem to you? Or could you get all the administrative stuff out of the way in that short of time?

From the get go though, I would have suggested Austria. It’s small enough to get a lot done in just one month. It’s rich enough in culture, landscapes, historical and educational opportunities to fill up a month with ease, and last but not least, there is a very well developed public transportation system at your very finger tips. Whether you walk the paths of “the hills are alive” or visit some of the darker moments of Austrian history. Whether you attend an opera or take a tour of one of the royal palaces, there’s going to be a ton for your to report/write about.

just my 2 cents/during the recession only worth 1 cent. 😉

Travel safe!


Miranda April 8, 2011 at 5:32 am

The Camino de Santiago would be pretty amazing! I studied for a year in Pamplona and visited most of the major (and many minor) stops on the way, even did a few days of the walk. Wish I had the time to devote to the whole thing! :)


Lindsay April 8, 2011 at 6:10 am

I really think scooting over to South America would be a GREAT idea. You could volunteer here: in exchange for a place to sleep (my brother runs this organization and I could put you two in touch!).

I’ve volunteered twice down in Valparaiso, Chile! Let me know if you want to know more.

cheers –



Stephanie April 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

ICELAND! I just got back from a short trip there. 3-4 weeks would have been perfect. The population is 400,000, and 60% live in Reykjavík. You could settle in the city and explore out from there. You can go snorkeling between the America and Europe continents, relax in the geothermal powered blue lagoon, explore glaciers… all while from a settled city that has a wicked night life and wi-fi.
Have fun!


Andrew April 8, 2011 at 10:38 am

Did they let you into NZ without having a ticket showing that you’d leave the country within the time limit of your visa? If you didn’t how did you get around that?


Chris Lehotsky April 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

If you’re up for a lot of good hiking, I’d recommend Southern Utah. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches NP, even Mesa Verde in Southwest Colorado. For that matter, head to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s far less crowded than the South Rim because it’s harder to get to. The list goes ever onward. Good luck deciding!


kazari April 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I loved Vietnam… specifically Hoi An. It’s about half way between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi – near Da Nang.
It’s heritage listed and cars aren’t permitted in the cobble-stoned town centre. It’s a good spot to stay to explore central Vietnam… there’s a lot of history here, and the juxtaposition of a lot of cultures.

Plus, it’s cheap.
Plus, it’s claim to fame was as a silk trading town, and it’s a fabulous place to get clothes tailor-made.
Plus, it’s near Hue, the old imperial capital, which is fun to explore, but also the centre of traditional ‘royal’ cuisine, so there’s a LOT of yummy food to try.


Barry @ A Leader Quotes Success April 9, 2011 at 7:33 am

I have to second Chris – the national parks of the American Southwest are amazing. It’s very tempting to try to visit them all, though, which may be too hectic for a 3-4 week trip.

My vote would be Easter Island. It has a fascinating history, some of the most unique monuments in the world, and excellent weather. I’m not sure what sorts of projects would be available, but there is quite a bit to see and do as a tourist. It’s also a gorgeous tropical island, and there are plenty of relaxation opportunities if you decided to take a day off from visiting statues. It is a bit on the expensive side, but I’m sure a professional hobo can figure out some ways around that. :) Good luck!


Authentic Seacoast Resorts April 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Ok, so maybe it’s not next, but we’d like to see you in Nova Scotia for summer! Here’s our top 10 summer getaway ideas on the Nova Scotia Authentic Seacoast to get you in the mood

Safe travels. We hope your journey takes you our way.


Jack April 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

I love your sharing of your travel adventures. I spent a year and half traveling many years ago and your stories bring back many memories.
The top destination during my travels was a tiny island just off the coast of Fiji called Leluvia. It’s a Fijian island about an hours boat ride off the ‘main land’.
The island was run by a Fijian family, running water was via a water tower that collected rain water. It took about 15 minutes to walk around the island (at low tied). Days were spent playing beach volley ball, spear fishing for dinner, contemplating your navel. Evenings were spent drinking cava and singing and laughing.
Weather is consistent blue skies. 1 to 2 weeks on Leluvia is more than sufficient. your 3rd and 4th week could be spent touring the main land and enjoying the Fijian and East Indian cultures (50% of Fiji’s population is East Indian).
I’d be happy to share more details if interested, photos too.

Good Luck.
BTW, what’s going to happen to your travel writing when you stop your travels?


travelroach April 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Try Indonesia! It’s sort of ‘on the way’ between NZ and Canada because you can fly from Singapore or somewhere else in Asia to Vancouver.
I recommend Sumatera and the Gili Islands.


Amanda Kendle April 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

My vote is for either South Korea or Taiwan or both. Because (1) they’re kind of “on the way” (I mean, you fly from NZ to Korea or Taiwan via an Asian hub, then it’s easy to move on to Canada – no need to burn unnecessary frequent flier miles); (2) they’re not complicated by visas etc (3) you can easily see a lot of the country in 3-4 weeks, but there’s still plenty to keep you occupied, including some downtime (4) they’re two of my favourite countries (5) they both have excellent food! (6) I think not enough people go there or write about them (at least from a non-English-teaching point of view!) (7) the people are super-friendly and even between now and then you could “make friends” that you could catch up with (and I’ve got heaps of names to pass on …) and … well, who would’ve thought I’d have so many reasons?!


theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2011 at 6:06 am

Thanks everybody for the amazing suggestions! I’m going to take them all to heart, and let you know my two cents. If I don’t use them this time around, they’re great ideas for the future. Keep ’em coming, if you have more! I’m all ears (er…”eyes”).


Kate April 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

I like Stephanie’s suggestion, Iceland is AWESOME! However, it’s not exactly on the way to Canada from New Zealand…:)


Lisa DeChavan April 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm

The post about the past four years was one of my favorites! I loved the hawaii potty pans and outdoor shower… and running around in the buff where no one can see you? YeAh!
The only suggestion I have about where to go is somewhere TOTALLY DIFFERENT from where you’ve travelled already. I know this doesn’t meet the criteria… so if this reply doesn’t get to you i understand. But GOOD LUCK to you Nora!!!! You’re my hero!


Sherry Hopkins April 13, 2011 at 7:24 am

Nora –

You could visit America again. Stay here at our home in Ohio (we have a guest bedroom…located on 5 acres with trees, a large deck…just a 30 minute drive to Indiana or Kentucky). We could take a road trip to the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia and hike. See the “real” America. We’re 10 minutes from a 100 mile bicycle trail. We have two boats, two motorcycles, 2 bicycles, four vehicles (one for me, my husband and my 23 year old son…that leaves one extra), and one dog. Check me out on Couchsurfing.



Lindsey April 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Nora! I hope I’m not too late!

Granada, Spain. 100%. Let me tell you why.

My boyfriend and I recently decided to give the whole work/travel thing a try, and we chose Istanbul first (my choice). After staying there for a month and a half, we were sufficiently in love with the food, the people, and the hustle-bustle, but we were craving something a little more low-key (20 million folks in one city can be a bit much). Having already been to Spain on numerous occasions, we chose Granada after doing, admittedly, very little research but hearing great things from friends.

I’m like you – I don’t like to travel, so much as to live. I like to make a place my own; find new cafes, new restaurants, new people, and quickly meld into my new environment. Granada is as much of a paradise for living, working, and seeing the sights on your time off.

1. The weather is incredible. 80 degrees and sunny every day – but with dry heat! No matter how hot it gets, the sun still feels glorious… and you don’t feel like a shower every 10 minutes.

2. Embrace the siesta. Okay, I admit – I like to keep busy, and in my former life back in Seattle, I was going 100% all day, every day. But as someone who now works from home, I can’t tell you what a welcome respite it is to wake up from a morning and early afternoon of staring at a computer screen to walk outside into the sun and just… enjoy an hour (or two!) of good conversation and espresso at a nearby cafe.

3. It’s walkable. Istanbul was incredible for so many reasons, but trying to leave your own neighborhood was almost like planning an international excursion – and I used to live in New York! In Granada, I can go to the Albacin (the Arabic neighborhood far north) for my favorite Turkish tea for breakfast and be back to the Centro for lunch, only to go out salsa dancing cross town later that night.

4. The people. Granada’s a fairly small city with only 250,000 people – but 80,000 are students. That’s a lot of diversity, and trust me, you’ll feel it; I meet great people whenever I leave the house. Another bonus – if you’re looking to practice a language (any language, not just Spanish!), you’re sure to find a language exchange here. Currently, I’m practicing my Spanish and Hebrew with fellow students and locals.

5. Access on the weekends. Granada is just a weekend trip away from Morocco, Madrid, the Sierra Nevada’s (skiing! in the summertime!), Seville, multiple beaches (Ronda and Nerja), Cordoba, Guadix (caves in the mountainside) and so many other tiny mountain villages that I can’t even count. And they’re all accessible by bus!

This comment is growing by the minute. We’re living in the Centro right next to the Cathedral, in the greatest little apartment with the best view. We have an extra room too (with wifi!), so if you do decide to come to Granada and need a place to stay while searching for apartments… be our guest! We’re learning how to make paella, too, if that entices you even more :)

Happy travels!


Manu April 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hi Nora,

What a difficult question….. mmmm
The best place to spend 3 or 4 weeks, chosing from a destination all over the world???
This would be the answer of the 99% of the spanish people: “Come on, the answer is obvious: Spain ;-)” And spectially: “And the best in Spain is my region”

So as a a typical spanish guy, I have to recommend you Spain, (Austria however would be a great experience too…), and specially something I think you would need to experience:

El camino de Santiago (yeah trully, it is not only a popular path)

This has been the first and most important trip for thousands of travellers in their lives during the last 10 centuries, and make many people change their lives forever. It is something you have to experience by yourself, in your own way, and it is not necessary to prepare. You just need to take your present lugagge and go to the border between France and Spain.
The only thing you have to chose is between this two options:
El camino de Santiago del norte, and El camino de Santiago Francés

(And of course you will go trough one of the nicest and most wonderfull landscapes in the world: Rioja, my region 😉


Manu April 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hi again!

Well, having a look in the website below, I found this description of the Camino, and I love it!

One day in el Camino de Santiago

The pilgrims follow the Sun in the day, from East to West and follow the Milky Way (Via Lactea) in the night. They see the sunrise in the mornings and follow the Sun towards the West walking through pure, golden fields or crossing colourful mountains.

El Camino de Santiago is a new life, a life inside your life where you have the chance of truly being yourself, a return to the basics of the human being, where you have the chance of paying attention to the small things that we always forget in our “busy-lifes”. You get up, admire the day, feel in touch with the Earth, breath, and observe yourself, your environment and people beside you. Then you walk, and think, and admire the day. You meet people in your Camino and you really listen to them, you feel a connection with them, they are not strangers. You learn from them and care about them.

You feel hungry and think about how and where you will eat: under a tree, beside a stream of water or in the next village you will find. Probably you already have in your pocket some figs from a fig tree you found by the path or some almonds, cheese or sweet wine that a local just gave to you asking nothing in exchange. You feel tired but very healthy. The Sun is giving you strength.

You continue enjoying the day and Nature and observing everything that happens around you. If unfortunately some car happens to pass nearby you are shocked, startlou are walking now and you see the world at your natural pace and just the sight of such a fast, noisy and polluting machine is frightening. You think: “What are they for?”.

The Sun is dying now. It is time to rest and wait for the following day. You can choose where you will sleep: in the next village? in the small albergue enjoying a dinner of local food and nice company? Or maybe under the stars in the warm night? (just think of how often you have this possibility on your normal life).

And the following day the cycle starts again. You will choose how far you want to walk, you will choose your route, you will choose where you will stop to stare at something. This is the freedom that I mentioned earlier, the chance to be you, the chance to take care of the real important things. There is no competition but there is a communion with the Nature and other beings. Once you have been seduced by its charm you can’t even tell if you have been there just for a few days or for years.


Andrew April 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

I have to agree with all the people saying the Camino de Santiago. I’m personally going to begin walking the Via de la Plata (the camino from Sevilla to Santiago) starting on May 23rd/24th. Might be a nice change of pace for you too!

Good luck either way, and sorry that my last comment wasn’t quite relevant.


theprofessionalhobo April 21, 2011 at 6:06 am

Whew! Awesome suggestions, all! What food for thought. Yes, Spain is certainly on my list of places to return to, and the Camino is high on that list of things to do when I get there. But being on the exact opposite side of the globe from NZ, I’m beginning to think it’s a little too far to travel for “just” a few weeks. (And given recent installations, it looks like I’ll only have about 2 weeks to play with, instead of my initial 3-4 weeks).

And in exploring some of my options, I’m discovering two things:
1) Using points for one-way airfares is wasteful, and
2) One-way fares to pretty much anywhere from New Zealand are expensive!

I’m still in flummox about my exact travel plans, but it looks like I’ve found a few deals that involve stopovers in both Fiji and Hawaii, which could be fun places to visit for about a week each before setting sail for summer in my home town.

And from Toronto, I can get anywhere quite easily! Iceland air offers free stopovers in Iceland between Canada and Europe, I have places to stay in South America, and Asia is always an inexpensive and exotic destination.

I’ll keep you all posted! Cheers.


Mark April 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm

With all the great suggestions, you’ll have no problems finding a new adventure. But I’m betting AFTER you recharge in Toronto. I think you should figure out a way to visit somewhere closer to home for a week or two either before family, or on your way to your next adventure. Nova Scotia? Newfoundland? Maine? Maybe you have that place in the back of you mind that you never visit because you think it’s to close to ‘home’ and you could visit someday when you’re older. Or….., my vote’s for Reykjavik.

Be well,


Michelle May 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

Absolutely the Cook Islands. Not sure if you’ve been before but so close to NZ and the islands are amazing. I have been 6 times and never tire of the sheer beauty and the lovely people. You must visit Rarotonga and then ATIU( stay at Roger and Kura Malcolm’s Atiu Villas) and then off to Atiutaki. I guarantee you will fall in love with the Cooks and will never want to come home. Your choice is easy, just do it.


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