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My 2018 Travel Plans - Summer Euro Trip, Vegas, Thailand, Bali and the Maldives

I just booked 4 flights in the past hour and now need to figure out a way to get from Odessa to Transnistria, the self-proclaimed Moldavian Republic which is a non-recognized former USSR state. From there I will make my way to Chișinău which is the capital of Moldova to fly to Bologna, Italy for a few days to see a new city and eat some pasta...and maybe see if bologna lunch meat is less terrible in the home land. Then I take another quick flight to Valencia in Spain to meet up my buddy Sam Marks to actually start of my summer adventure.  The crazy thing is, he'll already be halfway through his as he's starting in Monaco in south of France and driving to Barcelona where we were supposed to meet.

What Sam doesn't know yet is that instead of meeting him in Barcelona which I've already been to a few times, I'm going to ask him to pick me up in Valencia instead, saving me a trip to an overcrowded expensive city that I've already spent a few months in last summer. From there we'll be driving south on a summer road trip, stopping in a new city everyday, making our way down to Gibraltar and eventually over to Faro in Portugal.  But wait, there's more. I'll go into it all in this post as well as why I'm traveling so much after writing in my last post that most digital nomads travel too much to actually get anything done, and a bunch of money saving hacks on how I'm doing all of this for almost no money even though it seems like it would cost a fortune. To be honest, this post is almost just as much for me to write down my itinerary and make sure everything actually gets booked as it is to share, but I figure it's a good way for you to get a sneak peak into the method to my madness. I've been traveling like this for almost 10 years and have figured out a lot of tips, tricks, and travel hacks along the way. Here it is, my insane second half of 2018 travel plans.





First Half of 2018


My goal for this year was actually to travel less and to be able to get into routines a bit more and build up some healthy habits. I thought I was off to a good start as I spent the first few months in Chiang Mai, Thailand then almost two months in Nepal where I did some trekking and lived out of backpack for most of the trip. But after that, I flew to Malaga, Spain and went on the Nomad Cruise which was like a former travel addict getting a hit of heroin again. I thought I could detox it out of me by settling down in the small town of Bansko, Bulgaria for a month but if anything it got me antsy to fly to Odessa, Ukraine where I am now in hopes that it would be a big enough city with things to do and a nice gym so I could finally focus and settle down.

Well, it's definitely worked to some degree, I got a monthly apartment, joined a coworking space, got a gym contract and have actually been having a pretty productive life. My days have been well filled with coworking in the day, followed by a great gym routine, learning a bit of Russian, followed by a great dinner out. And even though coming here alone has been good as it's forced me to get out of my comfort zone, start learning a new language and meet locals, it's also extremely boring and a bit lonely when you get past the superficial level. I'm missing deeper connections, long time friends, and being able to talk in depth. I also miss the thrill and excitement of seeing new places and having a busy life.


Sam and I in a small Village in Transylvania 

Starting our long walk through Ireland

Yearly Adventure Tradition



So this is where Sam comes in. Ever since I met him, Sam has invited me on an adventure trip every single year. The first year he asked if I wanted to walk around the perimeter of the island of Koh Samui in Thailand with him. I declined as I thought it'd be a waste of time and didn't see the point. But as soon as the trip started, I instantly regretted not going. I ended up turning his facebook posts into the blog post above, and vowed that if he ever asked me again to join him on an adventure, that I'd say yes. That year Sam asked if I wanted to explore Eastern Europe by land, and although honestly at first I thought it'd be a terrible idea, I agreed and had one of the best years of my life. Then last year, thinking, what would Sam Marks come up with this year, he suggested we meet in Dublin and walk across the country together. I said yes, and had an incredible time walking the Wicklow Way with him and a couple new friends we met along the way.

So this year, when Sam mentioned that I should meet him in Spain this summer and do a road trip. I honestly had that same feeling again of saying no as it was in practical, a waste of money, and didn't fit my travel plans exactly. I've now learned though that it will never be perfect and we're lucky to live in a world today where everything is possible, even if it's not exactly convenient. Being a generous friend, he even offered to pay for my flight out to Spain. I took it as a sign that he really wanted me to join, so I said yes. I won't let him pay for my flight, but i'm excited to start another adventure and I think that these are the memories that people on their deathbeds talk about not regretting later in life.


My Euro Summer Travel Plans

Transistria to Italy



At first I assumed that it would be both expensive and a pain to fly from Odessa, Ukraine to Barcelona. It turns out I was right. Even though there's technically an international airport here, it's tiny and only has a few flight options. So my only choice would have to wake up at 3:30am to catch a 5pm flight from Odessa to Prague, spend the night then fly to Barcelona from there. Luckily with the help of my current favorite flight search, AZ Search I figured out that I could fly out of Chișinău, Moldova which is only 3 hours away by car and on the way there, stop over in the Republic of Transnistria for a night which is kind of, sort of, a new country I've never visited before and a place I regret not knowing about or visiting two years ago when I did the Eastern Europe trip with Sam by land. I've never heard of Transnistria until a few weeks ago, but it turns out it's one of the hold outs of the former USSR, and I just booked a bus ticket from Odessa there for $5. Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Artsakh are the four post-Soviet "frozen conflict" zones and not very well traveled which makes it seem like a great place to start!

I'll spend two nights there drinking locally produced Kvint Congac on Lenin street before my next stop. I heard from a guy I met traveling that the Brandy was so good and so cheap compared to what you'd get back home, that this guy actually threw out all of his clothes and filled up his suit case with bottles of Kvint before flying back home to London. From Chișinău in Moldova i'll be flying to Italy which will hopefully make up for one of my biggest travel regrets. It was not spending enough time in Rome on my first trip to Italy. I honestly I thought I wouldn't like it as I don't like crowded super touristy places. But it was an amazing place and I've always wanted to go back to Italy since then. It'll be nice to see northern Italy this time around and taste some amazing Italian food and pasta again, which is something I've been dreaming amount since I last left. I'll actually be spending my birthday, July 11th in three countries technically as I'm flying that day, in Transnistria, Moldova, and Italy if anyone wants to meet up in either of the three for a drink. My plan in Bologna is to eat some amazing pasta, drink some good wine, and visit both the Ducati motorcycle factory and visit both the Ferrari museum and factory. It's actually affordable enough to rent one as well so expect to see some pics. 






The Ferrari Factory 36km from Bologna, Italy


Spain to Portugal



From Bologna i'll fly to Valencia to meet Sam. He's driving down from Barcelona so I'm assuming i'll be along the way. Honestly, I don't have a big desire to visit Spain again as I spent over 3 months there last year and don't have any real reason to go back. I've also seen a lot of the coastal cities and even the country of Gibraltar during my family cruise a few years back. But the reason why I'm going is to hang out with Sam and I figured, it'll be a different type of adventure this time around even if I'm not checking off any new countries. I think sometimes nomads or travelers just want to check off as many countries as possible to say they've been there and increase their total count. Luckily I care much more about having unique experiences and hanging out with good friends than I do with trying to reach a magical number.

That being said, I think the plan is for Sam and I to drive from Barcelona to Valencia, Alicante, Murica, Almeria, Granda, Malaga, Gibraltar, Seville, Huelva then to Faro which is in the Algarve region of Portugal over the course of 1 week. I have no idea what we'll be doing, where we're be staying, or why we're really going, but sometimes you just have to say yes and trust that it'll be worth it. If nothing else, it'll be fun to catch up with Sam again as I haven't seen him in almost a year even though we talk every week virtually when we record the Invest Like a Boss episodes. It might be good timing as we're coming up to the 100th episode soon and might be able to do that in person. So there it is, a road trip from North East Spain to South West Portugal where I'll relax for a few days before flying back to Eastern Europe. It's funny that Portugal is actually one of my favorite places in Europe and somewhere I would recomend others to live in. It has good weather, amazing food, friendly locals and a great quality of life and I loved my trip to both Lisbon and Porto.  The costs of living are much lower than Spain and other parts of Europe, but it's in a great location and has direct flights to the USA and is easy to travel from. Yet, it's not somewhere I see myself living anytime soon. I think it'd be a great place to settle down if I was in a long term relationship and wanted to live in Europe full time, but for now, it's nice a nice place to visit and to recomend to others. Here is a video of what my life in Lisbon was like, it's one of my favorite travel videos I've ever filmed.





The excitement for Eurotrip 2018 begins! 

Lviv to Las Vegas



From Faro I'll be flying through Katowice, Poland for a one night layover. Even though it's a new city that I've never been to before and I really enjoyed my time in Krakow and Warsaw in the past, from everything I've read and see about Katowice I shouldn't get my hopes up.  The only reason why I'm staying there overnight is because I have a super cheap Wizz Air flight from Faro to Katowice, then again the next morning to Lviv. From there I'll be spending a week in Lviv as it's a place I really like and the costs of living are ridiculously low. I just booked an Airbnb directly in the city center for $18 a night which I've never seen anywhere else in the world with the exception of maybe Chiang Mai. Read all about how much I loved Lviv in my guide to Ukraine here. If anyone wants to meet up there during the week of July 22nd-29th it's an awesome place to be.

As I was booking my flights I realize how easy it would have been for me to just stay in Lviv for a month and not come back to Odessa at all, but three things bring me back. The first being i'll be doing the Euro trip with just hand luggage so I'll need to come back to Odessa to get it, and the second is that I've already booked my flight from Odessa to Los Angeles. Next summer I'm going to really look into traveling with carry on only as it makes life so much easier. Also the third reason is I really want to give Odessa a proper chance as it really ticks all of the boxes of being a potentially great summer spot. It has a great old city plus a nice city beach and a Miami or Vegas style nightlife and pool scene. That means that I want to come back for a minimum of 3 weeks as any shorter and it wouldn't make sense to get a gym membership or get into a routine. So there you have it. It's my entire European summer plan. A week before the 2018 Nomad Summit in Las Vegas i'll be flying to LA to hang out with some friends and make some last minute preparations for the conference. I hope some of you can make it out to Vegas this labor day weekend, August 31st - September 3rd as it's going to be a blast. Here's a video from the last Nomad Summit we had.






San Francisco to Chiang Mai



After the conference I'll be flying to San Francisco to see my parents, sister and some old friends. But really i'll probably just be relaxing and recovering a bit from the summit in Vegas. I'll pick up a new Six Month Tourist Visa for Thailand and get ready to home base from Mid September - February back in Chiang Mai which is the longest I'll be spending in any one place since years past. I'm really looking forward to having a base again and going back to Thailand. But my plan is already to travel somewhere every month from Chiang Mai so I don't get bored. Even though I really don't like Bali I'm going to the Dropship Lifestyle Bali Retreat from October 25th-28th and will most likely go a bit early and/or stay a week later to hang out with Anton and the crew. Taking his course was the entire reason I was able to go from living as cheap as possible in Thailand for so many years as I wrote about in my first book 12 Weeks in Thailand, to making and saving up my first $30,000 as I wrote about in Life Changes Quick and eventually growing that by another 20X. 

After Bali, i'll be going back to Chiang Mai to rest up, relax and get back to a good work routine again for another six weeks or so. Then it comes something really exciting, I'll be going to be going on a 12 Day Liveaboard Scuba Diving trip in the Maldives! It's my first trip there and it'll be by far the longest dive trip I've been on since working as a divemaster full time years ago. So if anyone likes scuba diving and is advanced open water or higher and wants to join, it'll be from December 9th - 21st. After that i'll be heading back to Thailand to plan and host the 2019 Nomad Summit which will take place from January 19th-20th. Overall it's going to be a pretty crazy year, but I think having the home base in Chiang Mai will make the entire experience more bearable as it's one of the easiest places in the world to get into a good routine. 





Costs of Travel



I'm sure a huge question is going to be how much is all of this going to cost? Well the good news is, whatever it is, even with all of this adventure, sightseeing and fun stuff, it'll still be less than living back in California. Plus with the FEIE and other Tax savings from not being in the USA for more than 35 days of the year I basically get a free budget of up to $30,000 a year in tax breaks which I can use to travel and live abroad. But as for expenses I try to keep my travel budget between $1,500-$2,000 a month which means as long as I'm spending on average of $30 a night or less on accommodations i'm usually on point. That means sometimes I stay in nicer hotels for a night or two, but I try to balance it out by staying in monthly rentals or the occasional hostel in more expensive places. The best news about Europe is that international flights to other countries in Europe are super cheap, especially when you fly with carry on luggage only. For this trip here's what I'm spending on flights, hotels, and airbnbs. Also embedded below is a really interesting video on how budget airlines actually make money and why flights are so cheap. If you're from South America, Canada, or Australia and are used to insanely expensive local flights, you'll be amazed how cheap it is to fly within Europe. It's actually cheaper to fly from country to country in Europe than even the low cost carrier airlines within the USA. 

Since I'd be flying with Wizz Air so much I decided to buy their discount club membership which is €29.99 for the year but saves you €10 on each flight so it pays for itself after 3 trips. Ironically I'm taking exactly 3 Wizz Air flights this summer, but I figured just in case I take more this year or next it'll be worth having. For Currency Conversions: €1 = $1.17 as of posting. 

Airbnb in Odessa, Ukraine - $683 for the month. (city center)
Bus from Odessa to Transnistria - €5 
Wizz Discount Club Membership - €29.99 
Flight from Moldova to Italy -  €31.99 (Wizz Air)
Flight from Bologna, Italy to Valencia €66.23 (Ryan Air) 
Flight from Faro to Katowice, Poland -  €55.99 (Wizz Air)
Flight from Katowice to Lviv - €12.48 (Wizz Air)
Airbnb in Lviv, Ukraine - $144.28 for 1 week (city center)
Train from Lviv to Odessa - $26.42
Flight from Odessa to Los Angeles - $634.20 (one way, economy) 

Total Flights for Europe - $900 +/- 
Total Hotels for Europe - Less than $1,000 a month.







Final Travel Thoughts



I know this was a bit of a long blog post when I could just have just make a quick facebook post with my itinerary. But I thought it was important to let you in on the mental inter workings of a full time digital nomad. It's still sometimes crazy to think about how insane this lifestyle is living full time out of a suitcase and traveling 11 months of the year. One of my big goals is for digital nomads to live sustainable lives and not get burnt out by traveling too frequently while at the same time, not getting too settled and forgetting the benefits of having all of this freedom in the first place.  If you haven't read my last post post, "What is a Digital Nomad" please do it now as it really gives some insights on what this lifestyle is all about. As for me, I know that part of the reason why I get so antsy sometimes and feel the need to travel as often as I do is because secretly I'm unfulfilled in some parts of my life and am looking for adventure, novelty or excitement to fill the voids. It's also because I have so much free time and often use it as an excuse to put off real work. I know my time would be better spent starting a new dropshipping store and increasing my income, or promoting the next Nomad Summit  growing the conference. But honestly, sometimes feeling busy booking flights, looking for airbnbs, and making travel plans is easier than actually being productive.

I'm really fortunate that I have the option to be able to sacrifice real work and live off of the passive income that I've built over the past couple of years, but that lack of urgency has it's downsides. A big part of me thinks, this is what life is all about, and that i'd be silly to not take advantage of it, especially since I can. While the other part of me thinks, how long could this go on? If I stay single, don't have kids, and keep my expenses low, I could theoretically continue living this lifestyle forever. But the question is, just because I can, does that mean I should? I don't have an answer for you right at this moment, but keep following the blog and the email list as I'll be sure to have follow up thoughts as this year's travel plans progress. Until then, the best advice I have for everyone is, that if that travel is making you happier, healthier, better or wealthier in some way, whether it's by giving you new ideas, motivating or recharging you to work harder when you get back, then do it. But if it ever starts having negative effects, or you start dreading it, then just stop, take a break and refocus until it does.

I'm curious what everyone's travel plans are for the 2nd half of 2018? Share them in the comments below!




2018 Travel Dates:


June 10th - July 9th - Odessa, Ukraine
July 9th - 11th - Chisinau, Moldova
July 11th - 14th, Bologna, Italy
July 14th - 19th - Valencia to Malaga, Spain
July 20th - 21st Faro, Portugal
July 21st - 22nd Katowice, Poland
July 22nd - 29th - Lviv, Ukraine
July 29th - 20th - Odessa, Ukraine
August 20th - 27th - Los Angeles, CA
August 27th - Sept 5th - Las Vegas, NV
September 5th - 17th - San Francisco, CA
September 18th - October 21st - Chiang Mai, Thailand
October 21st - 31st - Ubud, Bali
November 1st - 29th - Chiang Mai, Thailand
December 5th - 20th - Maldives

Let me know in the Travel Bosses FB Group if you want to host a meet up in any of the dates above and if we can get a few people together, i'm happy to meet everyone!


With love from Odessa,

Johnny FD




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  1. Awesome travel plans Johnny! Sounds like quite the adventure! My wife and I live in Huelva, Spain. You're a big inspiration and you got us started down this digital nomad path. It would be great to be able to take you guys out for tapas in Huelva or Faro when you're in the area if you have time. Keep on inspiring others to think outside the box.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Antoine, I just looked up Huelva and it looks like it's on our way to Faro, that'd be perfect, i'd love to take you and your wife up on tapas. Do me a favor and message me at https://www.facebook.com/JohnnyFDK/ so we can connect.

      Delete
    2. Sounds good! Looking forward to it! I'll send you a message on Facebook. 👍🏾

      Delete
  2. Hey Johnny, I recently stumbled across your content and have become a big fan. You inspire me to build my own Nomad lifestyle! Maybe you wrote an article on this in the past but could you please share your packing/luggage strategies and any pro tips? It sounds like you leave some stuff behind on certain trips and travel light but I was wondering if you just rent a locker for storage in that situation? I know you don’t always have a home base to dock from and was curious how you manage this part of traveling. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Nathan, I've just been leaving my main luggage at hostel luggage storage and traveling from there. I updated my packing post with some more info here: https://www.johnnyfd.com/2017/08/packing-as-digital-nomad-what-to-pack.html

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  3. Hi Johnny, my partner and I find it difficult to make plans with so much time in advance. We are usually spontaneous when it comes to travel and can decide today to go somewhere tomorrow. But we do know we will be in Lviv in the end of July too, it would be so cool to meet you there man! We were thinking to meet you in January in Chiang Mai but it didn't work out. Would be nice to meet this summer in Ukraine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Anya, I used to be super spontaneous with my travel as well as I was always afraid i'd miss out on something if I had locked in plans. But recently I've realized that flights are a lot cheaper 3-4 months in advance and the best Airbnb's get booked up as well which is why I'm experimenting with the 6 month plan. We'll see how it goes.

      Anyways, i'd be happy to meet up in Lviv. Message me on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/JohnnyFDK/|

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  4. Hi Johnny, It is generally not recommended to enter Transnistria from Ukraine since you will not receive a passport entry stamp from Moldova when you leave Transnistria. This could cause you problems when you fly out from Chisinau. See the link below.

    Also change as little money into Transnistrian rubles as possible since it is difficult to exchange it back into Euros or anything else when you leave.

    https://wikitravel.org/en/Transnistria

    ReplyDelete

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