Over the last few weeks, my hubby and I have been down with a nasty virus. Not THE virus, but one that’s knocked out a lot of people in our area, according to the clinic we visited twice this past month.
I’ve got hope that this bug will die, and I’ll get back on the trail and treadmill, running my 5ks and 10ks again. Soon.
In the meantime, I’m daydreaming about my upcoming travels to reach my 52+ Country Goal. That means I’m planning my first international half-marathon race.
I’m someone who needs a specific goal to keep me training. If I want to run loads to improve my overall health, the motivation of “feeling better” isn’t enough. I need a race – something I can’t get out of to keep me running. Otherwise, I get bored and stop training.
Enter the Virtual Race Platforms
Because I can’t afford to enter major races all over the place, I needed to find something else to keep me motivated. One day, about three years back, I discovered the Virtual Pace Series and the Moon Joggers. They solve this problem and give to charities I can happily support and don’t cost me a load of cash I can’t spare.
These virtual race platforms provides me with the motivation to keep up my race training. They have select periods of time (or specific dates) for each race to be completed during. When you sign up for a given race, you receive a runner’s bib and the medal after the race.
I don’t always wear the bib when I’m running the races, though I usually do. After the races, I snag a photo with the medal, wherever I’m running the race, whether trail or treadmill.
Using the Races for Long-Term Plans
This spring or summer, I’m going to run an international half-marathon. These virtual races are my training distances building up to that lengthier distance again after months of barely running due to illness, unexpected travel, etc.
My goal this year is to run the equivalent of one race per month. These virtual races will be most of the races, leading up to the two or three organized races I’ll be running throughout the year.
Getting the Right Gear Is Uber Important
Finally, I wanted to note that it’s important to have the right gear for these races, especially when running overseas. You’re not as familiar with the terrain, so the proper gear is even more important.
I swear by compression hose for calves. These allow me to run distances on unknown terrains – such as hills, that cause issues for my left calf – with less chance of injury. A collapsible water bottle is another excellent choice, as I can crumple it up and toss it into my backpack without taking up a lot of space or adding weight. I usually carry three of these with me on my travels.
Running tape, the right sports bra, running shorts with pockets (running belts haven’t done a thing for me yet. If anyone has a great suggestion, let me know!), and culturally appropriate tops are important, too. (i.e. don’t go running in a tank top if you’re visiting a country that considered sleeveless shirts unacceptable!)
I love reading Fodor’s Go List with 52 destinations each year. It’s a great selection of locations based on trends, travel ideals, significant events – think centennials, celebrations, etc. – and other criteria, and gives people some great ideas on where to go throughout the present year.
Well, this year, since I’m doing a year of travel – hitting that 52+ country list in my own travels – I thought I’d like to build my own “Go list” for the year, even if I’m not visiting everywhere on it myself.
My list is based on similar criteria as Fodor’s, except I’m only going for budget-friendly travel destinations – somewhat, of course, based on where in the world you live.
Where in the World You Should Consider Traveling to in 2020
Every location and destination is someplace I love, would love to see, or otherwise heavily recommend visiting, with reasons given as to why you should.
Hopefully, paired with some travel and budgeting tips I’ll supply in the next several weeks, you’ll be able to build your own itinerary for the year on a budget that won’t bankrupt your piggy too badly.
Look for longer posts for each of the locations as the year passes. These posts will include a more in-depth look at each location, the best ways to get there, things to do while visiting, how to give back to the community as you visit, and more.
For now, let’s take a brief look at each spot.
Antigua – Guatemala
Filled with historical sites, churches, and fascinating history, while being surrounded with volcanoes and mountains. It’s a pretty awesome spot.
El Yunque National Forest – Puerto Rico
Come here for some amazing hiking and wandering, waterfall spotting, and more.
Santo Domingo – Dominican Republic
If you’re interested in history, ruins, and fascinating cities, you’ll love this Caribbean spot.
Yosemite National Park, California
Who wouldn’t want these kinds of views on a hike?
Zion National Park, Nevada – United States
Zion offers you the opportunity to drive down into an immense canyon. From down in, you can hike, run, camp, or climb.
Des Moines, Iowa – United States
An unexpected delight in the middle of nowhere, Des Moined seriously has some awesome urban experiences.
Big Bend National Park, Texas – United States
Beautiful scenery by day, dark skies by night. The perfect combo for outdoor lovers who want to see the Milky Way.
Keystone, South Dakota – United States
From Keystone, visit Mt. Rushmore and tons of state parks that are completely awesome for any outdoor interests.
Missoula, Montana – United States
It may seem random, but Missoula has some amazing things to offer visitors who love the outdoors, shopping, and more.
Dublin – Ireland
Why wouldn’t you want to find some shamrocks and sausage rolls?
The Isle of Arran – Scotland – United Kingdom
The Isle of Arran is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. Amazing hiking, waterfalls, animal sightings, and more.
Bucharest – Romania
This amazing city offers amazing history, tasty food, beautiful architecture, and intriguing entertainment.
Santa Maria Island – Azores
WThis stunning island off the coast of Portugal offers amazing cuisine, scenery, outdoor sports, and more.
Setenil De Las Bodegas
This city combines life under a rock with beautiful Spanish countryside.
Guernsey, England – United Kingdom
An English island getaway filled with World War II history, sheep, and beautiful people.
Gearrannan – Scotland – United Kingdom
For an amazing, historical experience in a once-abandoned village in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
One of the smallest countries in Europe, Andorra offers amazing sight-seeing, hiking, mountain climbing, exploration, shopping, and more.
Brighton – England – United Kingdom
A charming, urban area of England with loads to do while taking it as as easy as you like. In other words, a spot for an actual vacation.
Warsaw – Poland
Here, history comes to life from so many periods and cultures. Take a guided tour or wander on your own. The whole place is fascinating.
Prague – Czech Republic
Pretty much everywhere in Europe is loaded with history. Prague isn’t any different. But nearby you’ll also find some strange and unusual things worth visiting for, especially if you’ve got a thing for the macabre.
Hobart, Tasmania – Australia
Hobart’s my favorite city in Australia. It’s got this amazing homey “brown” feeling to it that makes it so comfortable and safe. And nearby, there are mountains, nature preserves, animal sanctuaries, a temperate rain forest, and Alpine territory within a couple hours. Just watch out for the kebabs in the city. They taste amazing, but they were the only thing that’s ever given me food poisoning before.
Darwin, Northern Territory – Australia
Another one of my favorite spots in Australia is Darwin. The city is intriguing, filled with art, museums, historical sites (WWII anyone?), and wildlife. Plus, it’s within an hour or two of Litchfield National Park with an easy smooth drive for someone not used to driving on the left side of the road. Plus, you might just spot some sugar gliders in the wild in the area.
Casablanca – Morocco
This was one of my grandmother’s favorite spots on her journey around the world. It’s a truly fascinating city with history, rich colors, fascinating culture, and tremendous beauty.
Living Root Bridges, Various Villages – India
There are many of these fascinating structures made from living trees. They’re primarily in more remote areas of India where the bridges are needed for daily travel. And they’re well worth the hike getting there.
Da Nong – Vietnam
The whole region is truly fascinating and beautiful. You can explore and shop, dine out for not a whole lot, and experience things you’ve never seen or done before. And, while you’re in the area, you can take a long cable car over the mountains up to the famous Golden Bridge and the French provincial theme park while you’re around.
Get Your Suitcase Ready
So, whether you’re going to make it to international spots or more local sites, you can do any of these for not a whole lot of money. Look for individual posts coming up about each spot, with stories on what to do, how to get there, what kind of budget you’ll need, and more.