Where in the world to go next?

By Caitlin Kelly

I’ve been lucky enough, from infancy, to travel the world. My parents, then living in Vancouver, B.C. where I was born, removed a car’s back seat, put in my crib, and drove to Mexico. Raised as an only child, I was also lucky enough to be affordably portable in later years.

Aqueduct City of Mexico
Aqueduct City of Mexico (Photo credit: SMU Central University Libraries)

No wonder I’m at my happiest when traveling and/or in motion! One of my favorite smells is the distinct aroma of jet fuel. Takeoff!

I took my first solo airplane flight at seven, meeting my mother in Antigua.

Since then, I’ve visited 37 countries, some of them alone.

I’ve visited some with my mother, father, friends or boyfriends/husbands: England, France, Mexico, Sweden, Montserrat, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru, Fiji, Ireland, Thailand, Venezuela.

I’ve also traveled widely on assignment for magazine and newspaper stories and while researching my books. In those instances, I’m almost always alone, whether in a tiny hill town in Sicily, small Texas towns like Waco, San Angelo, Fredericksburg or Silver City (aka the middle of nowhere!) or navigating major cities from Bangkok to Rome to Istanbul.


I dearly love and miss Mexico, a place I lived for six months at 14, in Cuernavaca, with my mother. I love everything about the place and have been back many times, but not since May 2005, when we toured for three weeks to Mexico City, Queretaro, Patzcuaro, Oaxaca and Cuernavaca.

English: View of Jardin Juarez in downtown Cue...
English: View of Jardin Juarez in downtown Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. This picture makes me homesick! I used to buy licuados here when I was a teenager! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I cry with relief and excitement when I return each time to Paris, a city I lived in at 25 for eight months on  life-changing journalism fellowship. I’ve seen a bit of the south — the Camargue, the Cote d-Azur — and Normandy. Corsica is one of the loveliest places on earth!

London, where we lived when I was little for a few years. I love Spitalfields, where silk weavers settled in the 17th century.

But there are still so many places I’m dying to see, including:

— Returning to Thailand, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Tunisia, Italy, England, Denmark, Austria and Sweden

— Exploring the fjords of Norway by boat

— Riding across the plains of Mongolia

— Budapest

— Gros Morne National Park, (A UNESCO site), in Newfoundland

— The Galapagos

— Bryce and Zion National Parks, Utah

— The Maldives, Seychelles, Madagascar and Zanzibar

Venezuela and Brazil: Stamps
Venezuela and Brazil: Stamps (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

— The Hebrides

— Berlin

— Exploring Brazil

— Croatia, especially the island of Hvar

— The Greek islands, especially Paros and Corfu

— South Africa

— Morocco, especially the Sahara

— Japan — all of it! I love classic Japanese art and design

— Jordan (Petra)

— Lebanon

— Switzerland

Here is a round-up of reviews of eight new travel books — seven (sigh) written by men — from The New York Times.

And seven more, from their 2011 round-up, also with only one book written by a woman.

And, if you’re hungry for serious adventure, here’s an essay naming some earlier writers who really traveled far and wide, often alone, like Freya Stark.

What are some of your best-loved places and fun/interesting things to do there?

38 thoughts on “Where in the world to go next?

  1. When I left paris after living there for 11 months, part of me stayed there. I love sitting at a cafe and people watching, Paris by night (le Marais, le Tour Eiffel), squat parties, impeccably dressed people, and fantastic food for all budgets.

    I also loved Scotland. I did a bus tour of the Isle of Skye and most other landmarks and found that it was a breathtakingly beautiful country. Severely underestimated –nobody ever dies to go there.

    Which fellowship did you do in Paris ? I’m a former web journalist at Citizenside (open-sourced news network) in Paris.

    1. Scotland is spectacular and I am grateful I had a whole summer there to explore it a bit.

      My fellowship — sadly — is gone now, as funding for it dried up. It ran from 1981 (I went in 1982) until….not sure when it ended. Sometime in the 1990s? It was based at CPFJ, on rue du Louvre.

  2. London anytime. Renting another farmhouse in the Loire Valley. Re-visiting Barcelona. But at the top of my list is taking the train from Boston to the Grand Canyon — writing on the train and wearing out my camera once I arrive there. Many days of solitude, mixed with meeting my fellow travelers.
    Learning how to travel alone is one of my greatest achievements. It wasn’t that easy to learn to do, but now I prefer my own company on a trip.

    1. The Loire Valley farmhouse sounds fantastic! I really liked Barcelona, too.

      The train trip would be totally worth doing. There is a train directly to the GC from Williams, AZ every day. I did the train from Chicago to Seattle then all the way back from Seattle to N.Y. One of my favorite travel experiences ever!

  3. The Galapagos Islands are on my list of places I’d love to visit, too. I’m hoping to go next year if I can save enough in my vacation fund. It’s not an inexpensive trip!

    PS – I visited Montreal for the first time in April. I was able to visit many of the places you’d suggested and even made it to a Canadiens’ hockey game!

    1. That is so cool! Glad my tips were helpful. We’d hope to hit a Habs game when we were there in frigid February of this year but they’re expensive!

      We’re now aiming for London/Paris for spring of 2014…time to start saving.

      1. My friend and I both loved Montreal. I can see why it’s one of your favorite cities. In fact, my friend said that she could see herself living there – if only she knew French.

        You’re right about the hockey game being expensive. The beer alone was $11! Do you know why they are called the Habs? We asked around but no one seemed to know for sure.

  4. I loved Jordan very much and Petra is obviously mind bogglingly pretty and complex but what I loved most where the people there. They are amazing storytellers and have an amazing sense of humor. If you show true interest in their culture and traditions they will open their houses and their hearts to you.

    I must say though that my true passion is South America, especially the Andes. I grew up in Bolivia and am currently in Ecuador. Buenos Aires is high on my list of places to visit and I feel I should give Asia a go but I just don’t really know where to start…

    1. Thanks for the recommendation.

      I’ve been to Peru and we have been invited to visit friends now living in Ecuador, so maybe we’ll do that.

      Thailand is well worth a visit! There was nothing about it that I did not love.

  5. mcrdotcom

    Sounds like an exciting life! I myself had the privilege of travelling most of the world! I’m 19 and I’ve only one more ocean to swim in, and one continent to see (antartica), but I’ve never lived anywhere but Ireland. Sounds like an amazing life anyway!

  6. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have been to almost every continent and share their photos with us, including their visit to Bhutan and Africa. I have not traveled much at all but have read many travel books and memoirs about travel. I would like to visit Paris and Mexico when I think it is safe to go. Above all, I think there is a lifetime of experience still to be had in the U.S. I sound provincial, I know,but I do read the travel section of the NYT every week and am interested in how other people live. To be frank – after reading posts about where people have been and where they will go next, I also notice that most people return home. There are enough people to still meet and places here to see that I am sure I will never be bored traveling in the U.S. I recently read a post about a woman and her husband who camped near Tucson. They met a young German fellow who camped nearby and who wept when he told them he had to leave to go back home. America has a most powerful effect on people.

    1. I also read that section every week…

      True, that anywhere we live can be much more deeply (and affordably) explored than jumping on a plane and spending $$$$ on meals and hotels. I need and enjoy stimulation and novelty, and too much of America has become suburban and sanitized, so I prefer small (interesting) towns or landscapes like the SouthWest. I don’t feel drawn to one more mediocre city.

      Now that Jose and I have a terrific tent, we might start doing more weekends away, camping in the summer, to explore NY, NJ and CT a lot more.

      Paris is worth every single penny it takes to see it. The light, the scale, the history, the architecture. I miss it all the time.

  7. When I read about Scotland and the Hebrides I began to build hope but only to have it quashed when the list was finished. You’ve either visited my home and been disappointed or have forgotten we exist at all. If it’s the latter, please remember next time you visit England that the Land of Song will Keep a Welcome in the Hillsides for you. Wales ( Cymru has the oldest living language in Europe) is full of beauty and well worth a visit. xx Hugs xx

      1. We’re off to see more of Wales next week and fingers crossed we’ll see the Puffins on Skomer Island. My husband grew up in Tenby and graduated from Cardiff University so he’s leading our tour through the beautiful and oft overlooked Wales.

        I’m hoping to have a chance to continue on to Scotland with a side visit to the Isle of Skye. It’s a beautiful and haunting bit of land that remains my very favorite place to visit.

        With my British passport I can visit Cuba, a country that’s been high on my list for years and I’m putting that trip on the 2014 calendar. China, Vietnam, multiple parts of Italy and France (Paris is always perfect and I go anytime I get the chance) are on my list as are Prague, Petra, Norway, and Vancouver. This could take all night if I were to keep listing and it’s very late here and I’m being to drift. I may have to blog about this question to answer it properly

  8. Julia

    I have been dreaming and planning a trip to Istanbul (quite influenced by the books and activities of Orhan Pamuk) and then…there is so much turmoil in the world, and I don’t want to step into their revolution on the streets. I’m interested, I’m watching and waiting. My vision for travel there involved something else, so I will wait.

  9. Cuba is a must see, Havana is magical – Spanish colonial façades held together with chicken wire and cinder blocks.Forget trying to purchase any item you take for granted or tracking down a potato chip. Instead walk the streets of Old Havana in awe. Stumble upon street markets – stalls brimming with old books, Soviet propaganda, and art. Rest at a cafe where a quarter chicken, potatoes and a beer costs 2.50 US.Explore the cemetery or revive your soul with an impromptu tour of the Santeria Museum. Listen to streets filled with music and song. Time stopped in 1959 with the revolution, yet the Cuban people found a way to keep those cars running.A place to revive your sense of all things possible.

    My son told me Cuba changed his view of the world, asking how people with so little could be filled with such joy.Our next trip we plan to fly to Havana then take the 500 mile train ride to Santiago de Cuba. You bring your own coffee mug and toilet paper, and suspend any reference to deadlines as the train will most likely break down once or twice along the way, possibly stranding passengers for a day or two.Sounds perfect 🙂

    1. Thanks for such detailed descriptions!

      My father and his late wife have been and loved it. Being Canadian, I have a passport that would allow me entry — but not from the U.S. where I now live.

  10. You have to rub it in don’t you?


    I have only been to 11 countries …. Mexico is high on the list, Japan is also, but I love Ukraine and Vienna ….

    And of course, Hévíz, HUngary.


    1. Many of my readers have beaten me in their travels! I am very envious of the one who has seen 80 (!) countries already…

      Mexico is so lovely in so many ways, but I am fearful now of the narco-terrorism.

      1. That has always been there, and even with narco-terrorism, Mexico is only slightly more violent than the USA. But, I would fly in and out.

        Or, go to Ukraine. So much like an Anglo-Mexico. I’ll be back in July.

  11. I’m with Rami Ungar in suggesting Israel, especially if you ever find yourself in Jordan and/or Lebanon. I’ve been to Jordan and it was stunning. Petra is where I rode a camel for several hours (a whole other story). I’d like to go back one day.

  12. My favorite place was Ireland – I absolutely loved it there and lucked out with incredible weather which allowed me to enjoy biking around Inishmore getting a tan and drinking cider (favorite memory). From the Cliffs of Moher to the Giant’s Causeway I was in awe of that lovely country from start to finish. Oh, and that trip single-handedly made me a major fan of Guinness!:)

    1. Having been there four times (so far), I also know how great Ireland is. Everything about it was enjoyable and I’m eager to return….with a last name of Kelly, I am also connected to it by ancestry as my great-grandfather was a schoolteacher in Co. Donegal.

      Glad you had such a good time!

  13. So many of your “must visits” are similar to mine. Despite living in Scotland for the first 25 years of my life, I’ve never visited the Outer Hebrides and It’s somewhere I’m dying to see. I’d love to explore the islands on my bike, and camp on the machair next to silver sand beaches. Hopefully soon!
    I’ve recently returned from the Norwegian Arctic, and I’ve managed to line up a trip back to Norway later in the summer, to sail around the fjords and coast. I can’t wait for that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s