On the 9th of February 2015 we set off on a year long adventure. With a suitcase in hand, a one way ticket to the USA and a small stash of savings in our back pocket, we jetted off for a year of full time travel.
Once the best year of our life came to an end we weren’t ready to settle back into everyday life in our small hometown of Perth. So we replaced our now broken suitcases, said a quick hello to friends & family we missed while away and jumped back on the road – our second year of travel had begun!
Over the past 365 days we caught over 26 flights, travelling to 10 countries across 4 continents and had over 90,000 of you following along on our adventures!
Here is a little roundup on what 2016 looked like for us…
Australia: We Are Home
We started the year arriving back to Perth after travelling full time for a year. Our first month or two back home was basically spent spending time with family and friends and going on many camping (and sometimes glamping) trips along Western Australia’s north and south coast to fulfil those travel needs.
We had many questions from people asking how we do what we do and Stephen was invited to our old University to speak to some lecture’s about how to turn a marketing/advertising degree into a life of travel!
Indonesia: Jess Turns 26
We finally gave into our itchy feet deciding that we had enough “home-time” and booked a one way ticket to the closest International airport from Perth – Bali, Indonesia. We spent a week staying in Canguu at an organic balinese retreat where we woke up every day to yoga, spent afternoons cycling through the streets of Canguu and eating way to many acai bowls to count. During our stay here Jess celebrated her 26th birthday and headed to the lush jungles of Ubud for a day of celebrating & exploring.
Volunteering is a big passion of ours and we decided to spend the rest of our time in Bali volunteering at a few different project. We spent our days helping build a kindergarten, volunteering at a local school teaching children English and also headed to the beautiful island of Nusa Penida to work at a fantastic turtle conservation project.
Java: Let’s Save The Orangutans
We continued on with our volunteering work and headed to Java to spend a week working up close & personal with the beautiful orangutan. The orangutans at the orphanage were all rescued from illegal trade and it completely broke our hearts to see these giant apes locked up in captivity. They are a critically endangered species and looking for an ideal forest into which they can release orangutans into is no simple matter. The forest areas need to fulfil several criteria such as altitude, food availability, be secured from plans of exploration and exploitation, have a minimum or zero wild orangutan population and be a distance from human populations.
Our time in Java was quite an emotional one for us and we really want to go back and spend more time getting these amazing animals get released back into their natural habitat!
We headed over to China where we explored the Sichuan province, tasting the famous hot pot, exploring the chaotic 9 lane streets and volunteering with some of the cutest animals on the planet – the giant panda!
We only had one week to experience such a small part of China and since our visit we have big plans to travel much more of a new favourite city of ours.
Northern Territory: A New Aussie State
After China, we flew back home to Australia and headed to a state we had yet explored – The Northern Territory. The NT tourism board took us, and a few other bloggers, on a mini road trip from Darwin to Katherine for the yearly Barunga Festival. We spent a few nights staying at the stunning Cicada Lodge where we explored Katherine Gorge via boat, ate traditional Australian Aboriginal tucker and learnt how to play the didgeridoo.
Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam: Let The Gecko’s Adventure Begin
After the Northern Territory, we flew home to Perth for a quick hello before heading back to Southeast Asia. This time we teamed up with Geckos Adventure Tours on a 12 day trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Us and 14 others (who we like to refer to as the #geckosquad) took tuk tuk’s through the streets of Bangkok, watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat, slept in a local shack in Chambok and ended out time crawling through the war tunnels in Vietnam.
This was by far our favourite trip of the year!
After our Geckos trip we decided to extend our stay and volunteer at a few projects in Vietnam and Cambodia. We spent a couple weeks working at different local schools teaching children English and also at a 1000 year old temple helping with construction & preservation efforts.
Australia: Crossing The Nullarbor Plain
After Cambodia, we headed back to Australia to catch the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney, crossing the famous Nullarbor Plain. 4 days and 4,352km later we had crossed the southern land with stops in Kalgoorlie, Cook, Rawlinna, Adelaide and Broken Hill before arriving in Sydney.
Waking up at 6am to the rocking of the train as we stopped in the middle of the nowhere to watch the sunrise with a coffee in hand was a moment we will never forget.
Sydney: Down Time & Australian Animals
Once we arrived in Sydney we experienced some awesome hotels. One had an incredible view of the Sydney Opera House, the other oozing with #SydneyApartmentGoals. We took it pretty easy in Sydney, spending our time walking around Bondi, taking the ferry to Manly and shopping at the Sunday Markets at The Rocks.
After our week of relaxation we jumped on another train (this one a little less luxurious) and headed an hour or so north to volunteer with some Australian animals. This was pretty exciting for us as we had never worked up close and personal with animals from our home country before. We spent our days feeding kangaroos, cleaning koala enclosures, playing with dingoes and caring for a big, friendly wombat.
Melbourne: Meeting You Guys
From Sydney, we flew up to Melbourne to spend a few days with Stephen’s cousin. She lives in the heart of Melbourne and this was one of our first times properly exploring this city (which has now become our fave city in Australia). After checking out street art, drinking many cups of coffee & too much shopping we had our very first meet up, meeting some of you guys who live in Melbourne.
Alice Springs: Exploring The Aussie Outback
Our Australian adventure’s didn’t end there. We went from the chilly streets of Melbourne to flying to the hot deserts of Alice Springs in the middle of Australia. We were back working with the NT tourism board to experience The Parrtjima Festival. The festival better known as “a festival in light”, where they project beautiful Indigenous art across 2,000 km’s of the MacDonnell Ranges.
After the festival we had a few days spare which we spent going on road trips to the amazing local national parks, camel riding in the Aussie outback and experiencing our very first helicopter flight!
Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Zambia
It was time for our last international trip of the year – Africa! At the end of 2016 we officially became ambassadors of the incredible volunteer company Go Eco and they sent us on a video job to film & experience a number of projects across South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
We spent 6 weeks walking with lions, swimming with great white sharks, feeding elephants, getting jumped on by lemurs, crawled on by meerkats – you name the African animal, we worked with it! We also visited a number of schools and community programs across the country which was a huge eye opener for us.
Cairns: Christmas Vay-Cay Time
To end the year, we spent Christmas with both of our families in Cairns. Jess hadn’t seen her parents now for over 2 years and was such a special Christmas being able to see them again! We spent December flying in hot air balloons, road tripping to beautiful water falls, exploring the tropical rainforest and of course, diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
What a way to end 2016!
If you are interested in what we are getting up to in 2017 check out a sneak peak into our plans here. We think 2017 is going to be our most adventurous, travel-filled year yet and excited to take you guys along on the journey!
Here’s to our third year of flying the nest!
READ NEXT: OUR 2017 TRAVEL PLANS… SO FAR