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Traveling for a year!!! What?!!!


I'm going to be leaving for Thailand in November for three months. From there I plan on going to Brazil for three months, then Argentina for two, then to Ecuador for two. Finally, I'll hit some other South American country for a month, and finish in Mexico. I'll be 35 going on this Vagabonding venture. I have no kids and I'm not giving up a career. I figured why not.

I'm writing this to see if anybody has done the same or something similar and if they have any advice or tips. Originally, I was looking into going to Spain for a year, which I still want to do, but this idea kept coming back and I wasn't able to let it go.

Anything helps. Happy travels.

Posted by
11439 posts

Do you have the necessary visas for each country?

Posted by
7061 posts

You'll definitely need a visa for Thailand and Brazil, and possibly for whatever 'some other South American country' you pick. Sounds like an amazing trip if you have all your ducks in a row.

Posted by
6788 posts

If your plan was to go to Spain for a year (and you still think about doing that) my first suggestion would be to make sure you know about the immigration and visa laws governing the places you want to visit before you start making plans.

Going to Spain for a year is not going to be possible for most readers of this forum due to visa requirements. You might have some special circumstances that would enable that, but if not...prepare to adjust your plans.

Posted by
7050 posts

How many years have you already been traveling?

Posted by
4574 posts

Even for a year, take half the clothes and twice the money.
Travel is hard on clothes so unless you are super tall,or wide, chances are you can get used clothing cheap along the way.
Ensure you have extra prescriptions for any meds or glasses.
Check for the shots you need and consider rabies shots to give you more time to get to serum if needed. The world is full of mangy yellow dogs that run in packs. I know more than one who got bitten and had to get the shots series in country. Malaria and yellow fever meds/vaccines.
I like wunderground website for historical weather. I check the past 3 years for the timeframe I will be in a specific place. If you are lucky, you will be missing coldmor rainy seasons along the way.
Good walking shoes/ boots.
Enough batteries and spare chargers.
Know the voltage for countries you need to visit.

Posted by
1806 posts

I did it. Greatest year ever! Biggest piece of advice I'd have is "Don't listen to the nay sayers" or the yahoos that will tell you there must be something inherently wrong in your life that you want to take a year to travel and you must have some sort of dysfunctional relationships in your life if you are willingly letting yourself be away from friends and family for that long. Oh yeah, I heard that gem of "advice" from someone who (ironically) posts on this travel board and sent me a private message via this very website.

I'd recommend you read the book "Vagabonding" by Rolf Potts - I think he has been on Rick Steves' radio show a few times as a guest talking about this so maybe you can find those as well as listen. Otherwise, make sure you have the necessary visas, that you give yourself some wiggle room to get out before the deadlines, that you can show you've got a plane ticket booked to get out when you are supposed to, that you can show you've got sufficient funds to support yourself and you aren't there to try to work. Make sure you've got some really good health insurance to cover any serious emergency that might crop up (I ended up in several ER's during my year). Don't push yourself to the limit every single day with "must see" and "must do" lists - it will wear you out very fast and you aren't going to be able to sustain that kind of pace for a full year. Take time to relax and slow down - you are not going to see the entire world or even every corner of the countries you end up in during those 365 days. Don't be super rigid with all your plans - you will miss out on some cool experiences if you aren't at least a little flexible.

For safety, make sure you are checking on State Department Travel Advisories which can change a lot in some countries. Use common sense - if you see any demonstrations walk the other way, don't get completely drunk or high if you are out socializing, don't leave your drinks unattended, don't stash all your valuables in one place. But don't be so paranoid that you miss out on meeting people along the way.

Posted by
11379 posts

Make sure all your student loans are paid up. Not fair to stick it to the working taxpayers to make up your defaulted payments, while you traipse around the world 'feeling good', because work is dull, boring or uninspiring.

Posted by
35 posts

Great advice guys.
I feel much better and believe this trip is going to happen.
The visas aren't settled yet, but they will be.
I'm going to look more into this.
Thank you so much for the replies.

Posted by
1097 posts

This 40-year old mom of two thinks it's a GREAT idea. If you don't have the ties to keep you at home, then do it!! I'm a big believer of the adage, "You won't regret the travel you do, but you sure may regret the travel you don't do!" As others have mentioned the Spain for a year may be an issue due to residency requirements, but you could always go for a few months, come home, and then go back for a few months.

Posted by
2460 posts

Lucky! You might check out Nomadic Matt, he has tips that may be more geared to your adventure. As has been mentioned, get clear info about visa requirements for each country. I was just in Ecuador and it is 90 days for a visit without special permission. Loved Ecuador - if you can be there in the not-wet season it will be more enjoyable. I'd also recommend going to Peru and spending time in the Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu is really worth a visit.

If you don't speak Spanish, you should brush up on basics - there were limited English speakers especially in rural areas. People appreciated an effort.

Posted by
4597 posts

I've done longer than 1 year. This book is dated in some respects, but was a classic in its day


  1. visas usually need to be used within 3 months, so there's not much you can do in advance there. Bring evidence of funds with you as you are facing some grilling at airports, and also embassies since getting visas abroad sometimes raises eyebrows.

  2. Three months for Thailand is a lot of time, unless you really like to just hang out.

  3. It doesn't really make sense to go all the way to Thailand to start this adventure then back to the Western Hemisphere for the rest, and the connections are poor across the southern Pacific, isn't Auckland/Santiago the only flight? Anyway if going this way I'd add Java/Bali which are both beautiful and fascinating, then Sydney and New Zealand and Chile since you have to go through anyway. Frankly would substitute Indonesia for Thailand which is not exotic anymore. Or add Cuba and Guatemala and Colombia and drop Asia.

  4. I didn't have any health insurance abroad, but then didn't have any at home, either.

This website used to have an interesting forum but I can't find it,, the article "A fat person's guide to hiking" looks interesting. Edit: found it

Of course there's the forum at

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks for the replies guys.

I won't be doing Spain or Europe any time soon, but I would still like to travel and live there for a year.

Thailand is a must because I've been wanting to go to The Lantern festival they have in November. I wanted to go to Brazil because A) Carnival happens in February and I've been meaning to do that forever and B) I have family and friends there (as well as Ecuador) they will be happy to have me for a few weeks.

Posted by
32241 posts


Your profile doesn't indicate your home location, but I'm assuming you live in the U.S.? As some of the others have said.....

  • be sure to check the State Department travel advisories for each country you'll be visiting, so that you're clear on the risks. The website will provide good information on things like "Safety & Security" and "Health" - .
  • it's probably not a good idea to visit Venezuela right now.
  • some parts of Mexico have been listed by the State Dept. as Avoid All Travel, so be sure you know which ones are covered by that advisory. If you did travel to those areas and got into trouble, the government would have limited or NO ability to help you. Also, note that many travel medical policies will be Void for travellers that venture into areas that have been restricted by government warnings.
  • visit a Travel Medicine Clinic to get all required vaccinations well in advance of your trip. Malaria prophylaxis may be required for some countries. You'll need to discuss that with your Doctor. I suggest not using Mefloquine (Lariam) if possible as some severe side effects have been reported.
  • be sure to check the warnings about other health risks in the countries you'll be visiting (they're listed on the government website). As you'll be in both Brazil and Ecuador, you may require a vaccination for Yellow Fever.
  • be sure you have a good travel medical insurance policy.
  • if staying in Hostels, you might consider getting an inexpensive HI Hostels membership, as they have properties in many countries. As usual with Hostel stays, you'll need to pack a towel, soap, flip-flops and a good quality smaller Padlock (for the Lockers).
  • as suggested earlier, be sure you have all necessary Visas.
  • you may want to register your trip on the State Dept. travel website.
  • if travelling with a smartphone, be sure to research what your options are for staying connected in the various countries (ie: local SIM cards?).

In posting the above comments my intention is not to dissuade you from making this trip, but rather suggesting that you be well informed about all the risks in the areas you'll be travelling in.

Happy travels!

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks again for the replies guys.

I'm looking into these things more and more each day.

I'm considering Vietnam in January and going from there to Australia in order to get to Brazil.

Posted by
27348 posts

The complete Hepatitis A/B vaccination requires two shots 6 months apart. The recommended vaccinations are very important for a trip like this. They will probably not be covered by insurance, so it is worth taking the list to places like your local chain drugstores and Walmart to see what they can provide and will charge. Their fees may be substantially lower than what your doctor will charge (it could vary from vaccine to vaccine); my own doctor gave me this tip. You'll need a prescription.

A travel clinic (also typically not covered by insurance) would be a good idea. It would no doubt also suggest some over-the-counter meds to take along. I'd want at least a good supply of Lomotil (but understand when it's contra-indicated) and an anti-inflammatory.

Posted by
8503 posts

Comment about student loans was completely inappropriate. Why single out this traveler about debt status and not everyone else? The personal finances of others is their own business.

Posted by
35 posts

Hi Guys,

I'm about to buy a one way ticket to Bangkok. It's on Hong Kong airlines for $344. It's one day and 35min. I leave L.A. at 11:45 and have a five and half hour lay over in Hong Kong, which sounds cool.

Anything I should know before I make the buy?

Posted by
35 posts

Zup Guys,

I bought a one way plane ticket to Thailand. I'm figuring the trip out, but one thing has been nagging me, "what would be the best way to get from Thailand to Brazil in February?"

Let me know if you have any thoughts or insights.

Thanks, again.

Posted by
27348 posts

I'd just go to Google Flights and see what routings it suggests between Bangkok and Rio. Only if the cost seems outlandish would I consider flying to a different South American country and traveling overland.

Posted by
7809 posts

We lived overseas, 4 years in Germany and 5 in Saudi Arabia.

Staying in places for extended periods will feel more like living there than touring. There is a different feeling living somewhere, of course when I did it, I had a full time job. You will not likely work.

I would suggest spreading out your journey to include more countries. Especially in South America. Haven't been to Brazil, but from what I read, be careful where you go and stay.

We love Argentina (don't just stay in Buenos Aires, go around the Horn on a cruise to Chile).
Chile and Peru are two other favorites in South America. Chile is the most stable country in South America and Peru has so much history (don't miss Machu Picchu).

Mexico City is worth a visit, just take precautions, like no strange taxis. Don't miss the Archeological Museum, Chapultepec Castle and the pyramids of Teoutican. Stay away from the border areas in the North.

Portugal is a great place to visit as well as Spain.

Wear a money belt. Pickpockets are a serious problem in the Mediterranean countries and to a certain degree in South America.

Posted by
4597 posts

There are better websites to ask this question. Most routings will go thru Europe or return you to the USA first.

I guess I was wrong about transpacific flights, there's a Qantas flight SYD>>Santiago that also crosses the South Pacific and a LATAM flight Melbourne >> Santiago (in addition to the LATAM one I mentioned earlier) and also an Aerolinas Argentinas that flies Auckland >> Buenos Aires (maybe Air New Zealand sometimes flies this route). You could wait and buy this ticket in BKK, that may be cheaper.