Road Trips Make Me Lose My Mind (in a good way)

Wandering Earl

Road trips make me lose my mind

Road trips. There’s something about the idea of a road trip that makes many people, including myself, go nuts from intense excitement.

Just the thought of a road trip triggers such giddiness and ecstasy that I immediately start dreaming of all kinds of magical road trip scenarios. And I can get lost in such thought for hours.

Usually, what makes me so enthusiastic about a road trip has nothing to do with the region where it might take place or the vehicle I’ll drive or the route I’ll take.

It’s the absolute freedom that gets me, and perhaps you, going. The freedom to go wherever we please, to stop whenever we want, to be in complete control of our travel experience. Our brains find this idea so unbelievably appealing it seems. Try saying ‘road trips’ without getting genuinely excited, even if you don’t have any plans to take one.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to embark on several road trips. Australia, Thailand, Romania, Mexico and the USA are just a few of the countries where I’ve been able to enjoy that freedom.

And today I write to you from Los Angeles, California, the city where my next road trip shall begin in 2 days.

My California Road Trip

My girlfriend and I flew out to LA last night from Florida. The main reason for this visit out west is for a family event taking place in beautiful Mendocino Country, way up in northern California, in about 10 days from now.

About a month ago, after confirming we would attend the family event, we came upon the idea of not only adding a road trip to our visit, but renting a camper van to do it with. This would be a first for both of us.

So I did a little research and quickly discovered Lost Campers USA. I sent them an email and received an immediate response. After communicating with them for a week or so, it was obvious that this was the camper van company to use out in the western part of the USA. If you look at the Lost Campers website or Facebook page, you’ll see why I quickly became hooked on their laid-back, family-owned style and their very clear dedication to making road trips affordable for travelers on any budget.

And with thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews from other travelers, it an easy decision and we went for it.

We won’t be traveling in a huge RV. Lost Campers rents small camper vans, like converted minivans, complete with everything you would need for a road trip comfy bed (with so many positive reviews about their beds, I’m curious to try it out), sink, storage, a table, awning, cooling chest and more. Their rates start at around $37.99 USD per day, which is remarkably inexpensive for both transportation and a bed!

Starting on Saturday, this will be our Sierra Class camper van:

Road trips

Once we get set up with our van, we’ll just start driving.

We only have 6 days for this road trip and we need to head north to end up in San Francisco. However, we don’t have much of a plan. We have no idea where we’ll spend our nights and we only have a vague idea of the route we’ll take. Some possible stops include beaches, the Hearst Castle, a winery, the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, a seldom traveled dirt road through the mountains (looks like an awesome recommendation from the team at Lost Campers!), Monterey and a National and/or State Park or two.

If we make it to all of that, great. If not, that’s perfectly fine too.

Wherever we end up, if we get lost, we don’t care at all. Our brains are already buzzing from the freedom that awaits us in a couple of days, the freedom that can only derive from that awesome, awesome form of travel

road trips!

(I’ll be posting updates on the blog and the Wandering Earl Facebook from the road starting Saturday.)

Let’s hear itwhat’s your most epic road trip experience? If you’ve yet to take one, where would you love to do a road trip?


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The Top 197 Countries in the World You Should Visit

Wandering Earl

Top 197 Countries in the World - map

Ah, lists.

When it comes to online travel information, there’s no shortage. Top 5, Top 10, Top 20lists, lists and more lists.

Lists telling us exactly which countries in the world we need to visit right now, what to do when we get there, where to stay, what we should see, where we should eat and so on. It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing Top 10 lists that list the best Top 10 travel lists. (Does it already exist?)

With such a plethora of lists about every destination, every traveler ends up doing the exact same things as every other traveler that visits the same place. Even a list of the Top 10 Authentic Travel Experiences ensures that everyone has the same ‘authentic’ travel experience. Nothing is spontaneous any more. And that doesn’t seem right to me.

Popular sights are nice and they make for good photos but often, that’s about it. The major benefits of travel tend to shine when we find ourselves in the little known areas where nobody cares if their corner of the world ever appears on any Top 10 list.

And the only way to have those un-listed authentic travel experiences is to arrive. Just arrive, go outside and wander around, without a clue.

All we need for this to be successful is an openness to the neighborhoods, markets, people, parks, local eateries and more that come our way, wherever we end up, regardless of their popularity online.

Have you been to Dubrovnik, Croatia? The walled old city over there is absolutely jam packed with people running around following their Top 10 lists. I just read that tourists outnumber locals 20 to 1 within those walls.

It’s an impressive old city and spending a day there checking off everything on a list or two will lead to some nice views and neat experiences. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. You got to see it.

But is that all Dubrovnik or Prague or Bali or Costa Rica has to offer? Can the true value of a place be discovered through a list?

Top 197 Countries in the World

What if we toss our lists in the trash (actual or virtual), walk 20 minutes away from the tourist shops and restaurants and below average gelato stands and the big buses, and into the less photogenic neighborhoods instead?

We’ll no longer be in the famous Dubrovnik that everyone talks about.

But we’ll also quickly forget about our Top 10 lists as we encounter the local people (at a rate of 20 locals per 1 tourist!) and regular places that make this town real. It’s just normal life in Dubrovnik, right in front of us, there for us to connect with and most importantly, learn from. The learning is the main benefit of travel after all.

In my experience, those must-see’s and must-do’s can rarely compete with the memories built from the unexpected encounters and the unplanned adventures that inevitably arise away from the crowds, famous old cities and picture-perfect main squares.

Of course, I understand perfectly well that an attention-grabbing list has some appeal. And there’s nothing wrong at all with taking advice from those who have traveled to a destination we’re about to visit.

My only point is that our travels should not exclusively consist of those mass tourism activities or the things that get classified as ‘must-see’.

Let’s ensure that we also sprinkle in some time among the interesting people and places that tell the real story of a destination, the people and places that no list has ever known.

Top 197 Countries in the World

Of course, with that said

The Top 197 Countries in the World You Should Visit

In my opinion, this is the only list travelers need.

Afghanistan

Albania

Algeria

Andorra

Angola

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bahamas

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Barbados

Belarus

Belgium

Belize

Benin

Bhutan

Bolivia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Botswana

Brazil

Brunei

Bulgaria

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cabo Verde

Cambodia

Cameroon

Canada

Central African Republic (CAR)

Chad

Chile

China

Colombia

Comoros

Democratic Republic of theCongo

Republic of theCongo

Costa Rica

Cote d’Ivoire

Croatia

Cuba

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Djibouti

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Estonia

Ethiopia

Fiji

Finland

France

Gabon

Gambia

Georgia

Germany

Ghana

Greece

Grenada

Guatemala

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Iran

Iraq

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Jamaica

Japan

Jordan

Kazakhstan

Kenya

Kiribati

Kosovo

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Latvia

Lebanon

Lesotho

Liberia

Libya

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macedonia (FYROM)

Madagascar

Malawi

Malaysia

Maldives

Mali

Malta

Marshall Islands

Mauritania

Mauritius

Mexico

Micronesia

Moldova

Monaco

Mongolia

Montenegro

Morocco

Mozambique

Myanmar

Namibia

Nauru

Nepal

Netherlands

New Zealand

Nicaragua

Niger

Nigeria

North Korea

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Palau

Palestine

Panama

Papua New Guinea

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Qatar

Romania

Russia

Rwanda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Samoa

San Marino

Sao Tome and Principe

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Serbia

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia

Solomon Islands

Somalia

South Africa

South Korea

South Sudan

Spain

Sri Lanka

Sudan

Suriname

Swaziland

Sweden

Switzerland

Syria

Taiwan

Tajikistan

Tanzania

Thailand

Timor-Leste

Togo

Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkmenistan

Tuvalu

Uganda

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States of America

Uruguay

Uzbekistan

Vanuatu

Vatican City (Holy See)

Venezuela

Vietnam

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

So that’s the list. All the countries in the world. Go everywhere. Go anywhere.

Okay, check if it’s safe first. But if it is, go there. (It’s alright to skip a few though.)

Wherever you choose to go, simply walk outside and start wandering. Don’t plan it. Just keep your eyes and mind open and enjoy.

And whatever you do, leave the other lists behind. At least for part of your stay.

How do you travel? Do you try to venture away from the main sights? Do you like your travels to be structured or spontaneous?


(For those who have joined my Wandering Earl Tours, you’ll know that I aim to offer a mix of the main sights and significant time exploring neighborhoods and regions that far fewer travelers know about. I truly believe in this style of travel!)

Wandering Earl Tours 2018

Wandering Earl

Morocco Tour - Dades Valley

The 2018 Wandering Earl Tours are ready!

-A new year of exotic destinations, unique itineraries and new adventures await!-

I am extremely excited to announce the first group of 2018 trips

  • India (February)
  • New York City (March and October)
  • Seychelles (catamaran trip in May!)
  • Morocco (May)
  • Jordan and Jerusalem (April)
  • Vietnam (August)
  • Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (June)
  • Romania (July)

(More details: WanderingEarlTours.com)


The Wandering Earl Tour Experience

For those not familiar with my groovy tours, I’ve been offering small group trips to destinations around the world ever since 2012 when I organized my first one to fascinating India. And from the start, the focus has been on providing something very different than your typical group tour.

With these trips, think of it as a bunch of friends exploring the world together. You won’t be herded around, you won’t travel in big buses and you won’t stay at large tourist hotels that just shuttle big groups in and out every day.

Instead, you’ll get into the heart of a destination, meet people, try the most local dishes, wander through random neighborhoods and explore off-the-beaten track locations beyond the main photo opportunities. Of course, you’ll also visit the major sights along the way too.

These trips are designed to be local, educational and super-fun travel experiences, not cookie-cutter tours that big tour companies run over and over again.

As a result, no two tours are ever the same. We always keep a flexible itinerary at all times because you never know where the journey will lead! This is the core concept of my Wandering Earl Tours.

Small group tours - India group

Travelers of all ages and nationalities are of course welcome to join these trips! No matter where you’re from or whether you’re 23, 43 or 73, the theory is, If you genuinely love travel, you’ll fit right in!

And there are only 10 people per tour. It’s an ideal size to hang out and share the adventure with your fellow travelers without being lost in a big crowd.

When it comes to cost, I work hard to ensure that every tour is an incredible value. They always include accommodation, transportation within the destination country, a long list of activities, all entrance and guide fees, excellent meals and plenty of surprises along the way.

You can check out all the details on the brand new Wandering Earl Tours website:

WanderingEarlTours.com

So, 2018 here we come! I’m looking forward to it with great excitement and I also look forward to traveling with many of you!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

(A huge thank you to the very talented Tony Kuehn for building my brilliant new Wandering Earl Tours website. For web design work, I can’t recommend Tony enough!)