I have a tendency to come up with half-brained ideas that are very difficult to pull off. There was that time I decided we should spend an entire summer seeing Phish concerts and festivals. Or that time I said we should quit our jobs and leave our nice apartment to go backpacking for a year. And who can forget about that crazy drunken idea to dress up like Santa and ride a train across China? Somehow, someway, we managed to make them all happen. A New Year is upon us, so naturally I’ve concocted another insane travel plan. Welcome to 2018 – the year-long party.
A Little Background
For the past year or so, I’ve been diligently planning our travels around Mexico and South America. It’s much different this time around than it was when we were care-free backpackers with a bunch of money in the bank, as we’re currently teaching English online as we go. It’s also a bit more difficult backpacking in this part of the world. For the most part, it’s more expensive than Southeast Asia. There also aren’t great budget airlines to get you between countries here.
As a result, my strategy has been to find something big to do each month. We visited the floating hostel called Casa en el Agua in Colombia and then hit the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Our month in Lima was a necessary slow-down, which we spent teaching, blogging, working out, studying Spanish, and eating our weight in ceviche.
This strategy of finding something big to do each month as a reward for working the rest of it eventually led me to yet another one of my half-brained ideas.
Looking at the calendar and the map, I realized we were shooting for some pretty massive events in our travels. I’m talking about the kind of things that are on peoples’ bucket lists for their entire life. The kind of things you dream of doing once. The kind of things you’re thrilled about if you just get to do one in a year. I decided we should go for twelve of them.
For each month of 2018, we’ll hit a massive party, festival, or sporting event. While a few of them will be back in the good ole’ USA for a variety of reasons, the year-long party will end up taking us to several countries.
Now that you’ve got the backstory, let’s get on with the details!
New Year’s in Valparaiso
When researching our trip around South America, I tried to find a good place to ring in the New Year. Of course, we’d rather spend NYE at a Phish show (like that time we got engaged at one), but geography and finances prohibited that.
If you Google “New Year’s Eve in South America,” chances are you’ll find quite a few mentions of Valparaiso, Chile. That’s because Chile’s 2nd city on the Pacific coast hosts the biggest fireworks show on the continent to ring in the New Year. Of course, there’s a massive party that goes along with it.
The beautiful city full of hills and colorful street art was a great place to kick off our year-long party. As a matter of fact, we’re still recovering and it’s already January 6th! Good thing we have a few weeks to chill out in Santiago and make some money before the next leg of the journey.
Carnaval in Brazil
We’ve been dreaming of celebrating Carnaval in Brazil for years now. Once upon a time, we even thought about looking into being transferred with our English teaching jobs in China to work in Brazil. We really hoped to make it to Rio last year, but thanks to my massive amount of dental work, we got stuck in Puerto Vallarta. With a bunch of airline miles and flexible schedules, we’re finally making it to Brazil for Carnaval in 2018.
Rather than just spend the week in Rio, we’re going to split our time between there and Recife/Olinda. Are we crazy to try and rage Carnaval in two different Brazilian cities? Probably. But as one of our favorite bands says, “We like to party, sorry if you don’t!” Thankfully we have a few days in a dope Airbnb in Florianopolis and a trip to Iguazu Falls to come down from the madness.
If you’re not on Airbnb yet (seriously, get on there!), you can use this link to get $40 off your first stay. It’s our little gift of travel to you!
If you have any recommendations for what to see and do, or where to eat, drink, and party during Carnaval in Brazil, please send them our way!
Easter in Peru
Since we never left Lima in our first month in Peru, we have to get back there to see Machu Picchu. It’s only fitting that we end our seven months in South America with the most famous place on the continent. It also just so happened to work out that we’ll be there right around Easter.
As it turns out, Cusco is home to a massive procession the Monday before Easter called Señor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes). It’s in honor of the massive earthquake that hit the city in 1650 and it’s a huge event. We’ll spend the rest of the Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Arequipa and Lima, where there are several other parades, food festivals, and more.
WrestleMania in New Orleans
I’m 32 years old and I still like wrestling. It’s true; oh it’s damn true! While WrestleMania has already been checked off my bucket list (WM 23 in Detroit), I couldn’t miss the chance to hit another one in the Big Easy. We finally made it to NOLA last year and absolutely loved it. Mania provides the perfect excuse to head back there for more jambalaya, po boys, beignets, and of course tons of partying and live music.
We’ve got an Airbnb house booked just a block off of Frenchmen Street and will be joined by a few of my brothers and one of their best buds. There’s just one word that can sum up how I’m feeling about this weekend – Yes! Yes! Yes!
As if WrestleMania in New Orleans wasn’t good enough, we’ll also be attending the wedding of some very good friends in Nashville a few weeks later. AND we’re going to catch LCD Soundsystem play a gig in Mexico City. April is going to be a triple-whammy!
Summer Camp Music Festival
After a month in Mexico, we’ll be back in the land of bald eagles and freedom fries for the annual Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, IL. We volunteered there in 2016 and I became one of the festival’s Camp Counselors last year. After proving my worth in my rookie year, I get to come back and do it in style. We’ll have VIP access and tickets to all four late nights (which are super hard to get), and I’ll get a photo pass to document the whole thing.
If you’re thinking about going, I highly recommend it. With a mix of jam bands, EDM, and bluegrass on nearly a dozen stages, there’s something for everyone at this awesome festival. Buy your tickets now before the price goes up and come rage with us at Three Sisters Park!
World Cup in Russia
I’m half Russian and I’ve never even been there. Sure, I like borscht and vodka, but I only know about 10 words in Russian. I was even accused once by a Russian girl in Beijing of being a “fake Russian.” Of course, I told her I’m actually just a “real American,” but she definitely had a point.
The World Cup provides the perfect excuse to finally visit the Mother Land. With a ticket to just one game, you can enter Russia visa-free and even get free train tickets. One of my brothers and I put in a request for two games in Moscow and two more in St. Petersburg before the draw was announced.
Sure, the US didn’t make the cut, but we get to see Russia vs. Egypt, Argentina vs. Iceland, Costa Rica vs. Brazil, and Germany vs. Mexico. I’m sure the home team game will be a vodka-soaked affair, and the others feature some of the best squads in the world.
Rachel will not be joining for this leg of the year-long party, but she’s hoping to be somewhere in Europe while we get our soccer hooligan on. Got any ideas or a couch for her? Drop us a line and let us know!
Ideas for the 2nd Half
It took hours upon hours of planning and a near draining of our bank account to plan out the first half of the year-long party. Assuming we make it through that, we’re hoping to keep it going with some more epic events for the 2nd half of the year.
This is where we need your help! If you know of a great music festival, a unique sporting event, or a traditional local festival that we should check out, please let us know. We do have a few ideas, though. Here are some of the things we’d love to include on the 2nd half of the year-long party:
- Boom Festival in Portugal – a week-long psytrance festival on a beautiful lake.
- La Tomatina Festival in Spain – the legendary tomato fight in Spain.
- Phish Festival 11 – the rumors have the boys from Vermont doing a festival in New York.
- Oktoberfest – bust out the lederhosen and schnitzel and raise several glasses in Germany.
- Dia de Los Muertos – the Day of the Dead in Mexico would be amazing to experience.
- New Year’s Eve – who knows where we’ll be then, but we always love a good NYE.
If you have any suggestions or tips about the places we are going, or any ideas about where to go for the rest of the year, leave us a comment here, send us an e-mail, drop us a line on Facebook – whatever tickles your fancy!
We could definitely use some help on this one. Wish us luck as we embark on this year-long party. Hopefully, we’ll see some of you out there at a show, parade, game, or wherever it is we end up partying this year!