We said it after the 6-month mark, and we’ll say it again. Time flies when you’re having fun! After one year of traveling full-time as a couple, we can tell you that this is the most fun we’ve had ever. So we wanted to take a little moment and go over the little and big moments that made this trip memorable for us.
We picked out the best highlights from each country we visited. We never planned the whole list of countries we wanted to visit. As each month passed, we modified our list a little. Some countries were musts and we actually made it there. Others, we had to drop because of timing or visas or surprise visits from friends and family.
In either case, each country we visited taught us something new about its culture, its people and ourselves.
Surprising nature days in Korea
Yeah, you probably weren’t expecting that from Korea, but this country is home to crazy beautiful waterfalls, hikes, beaches and mountains. We actually went to Korea without many expectations, and we were blown away!
On Jeju Island, we chased waterfalls and hiked up Korea’s highest peak, Mount Hallasan. In Busan, we chilled on the nicest beaches. In Andong, we watched barrels of hay on fire get thrown down cliffs. Sure, Seoul was amazing with its temples and skyscrapers, but Korea’s nature is what we will always remember.
High-speed travel in Japan
Japan was a whirlwind, we visited something like 18 cities in 21 days. This was largely possible thanks to their awesome high speed trains, called Shinkansens.
We were like total children every single time we had the honour of taking the Shinkansen. This high-speed train connects all major cities in Japan to each other. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get around.
To be honest, it is the coolest thing ever! Seats that rotate, comfy chairs, enough leg-room for our friendly giant Derek, clean wagons, and such punctual drivers. Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Discovering beach life in Australia
Beach life is two-part for us when it comes to Australia. First, there are the actual beaches of Australia. Then, there is the underwater world that we finally got to explore.
To us, Australia has the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever been on. We spent a large percentage of our 8-9 weeks in the land down under working on our tan. We would jump in the water, battle the mega waves and just chill by the water!
From the shores of Airlie beach, to the WhitSundays, down through Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, without forgetting the famous Bondi beach in Sydney, and the colourful beach house lined sandy playgrounds of Melbourne. If you’re a water-baby, Australia is the place for you. It sure might be the place for us!
Beyond its beaches, we also go a glimpse of the underwater world in Australia. We had the privilege of discovering the biggest coral reef system in the world. The Great Barrier Reef spans almost half a billion square kilometres, teaming with life, beauty, and mystery.
The corals weren’t in their best shape, as half of this living organism has died since 2016. It’s such a shame… but there are steps to be taken that can bring this marvel back to life, things that we strive to do every day of our lives.
We are so grateful that we were able to visit the GBR and still had a great time. There was still a vast amount of marine life. Carine saw a turtle, something Derek has been snakebitten towards (he’s never seen one). We even swam right up to some reef sharks, which sounded a lot scarier than it really was.
Driving a campervan in New Zealand
Roadtrips have always been one of our favourite things to do. So it’s no surprise that our journey through New Zealand was another of the major highlights of our trip. Having the freedom to explore this beautiful country on four wheels was amazing. Going where we wanted, when we wanted, and seeing the beautiful landscape that New Zealand has to offer around each and every corner.
Add to this the relaxation of packing it in for the evening and meeting new people at campgrounds across this marvellous country. Sitting by a camp fire with a beer or two in hand and sharing our experiences with new people every night was great.
And the stars… the indescribable stars. You have to see them to believe. Never have we been so enthralled by balls of gas burning light years away.
Scuba diving in Thailand
One of the great things about this trip is that we learned a new skill together. We found an activity we are passionate about and can do all around the world.
Scuba diving has been one of our favourite things to do on this trip. We got bitten by the scuba bug in Thailand. It helps that we saw a whale shark and got to swim naturally with one right before our last dive to get certified.
Beyond learning a new skill together, scuba diving has taught us some great life lessons. Mainly that in many moments in life, you can just disconnect and focus on the now. When we scuba, all we need to do is appreciate our surroundings and focus on our breathing. This is something we can all do when life gets overwhelming.
Discovering technology and culture in Singapore
Singapore is such a unique place in Asia. It has all the craziness of South East Asia, but it has the refinement and technology like nowhere else on earth.
On one end of the spectrum, you have your typical hawker centres, where you can taste foods from the four main cultures in Singapore (Malay, Indian, Chinese and Western) for pennies. On the other end, you have the marvels around the Marina Bay Sands, with the SuperTrees, the FlowerDome and the Cloud Forest.
With so much to do and see, Singapore was one of our favourite places in South East Asia. Best of all, it was actually more affordable than we expected, so it was a double-win for us!
Small town living in Vietnam
Vietnam has so much history to share, and the major cities have a very real hustle and bustle vibe to them. If you are trying to cross the street in either Ho Chi Min or Hanoi, well… good luck!
But what really stuck out to us during our time in Vietnam was the quaint city of Hoi An. After being on the go for much of the 5 months that lead up this country, we finally stayed put for more than a week in this charming UNESCO World Heritage site.
We made some great friends here, notably our favorite Coloradans, Bre and Daniel, also known as The Love & Adventure. Though we only briefly met them in Hoi An, we would meet them many more times throughout our time on the road.
Zen vibes in Cambodia
Cambodia was the epitome of zen for us. Sure, the Angkor Wat temples are completely insane and sometimes get crowded. But to be able to walk around these century-old sacred places was just magical. There are always little nooks where you can find total zen in the chaos.
This is something we learned from our first yoga retreat at Angkor Zen Gardens. For 4 days, we stayed in a hut, ate delicious vegetarian food and practiced yoga for 4 hours a day. Basically, we disconnected from the world to better connect with ourselves. This was the ultimate zen time.
Scooter life in Malaysia
After experiencing scooter-insanity in Vietnam and Thailand, we were happy that our first South East Asia scooter-riding experience was in Langkawi. For 1 month, we stayed put on a beautiful island to do our Workaway. This was the first time we had access to a scooter, and needless to say, we took full advantage of it.
Scooter life in Langkawi was the ultimate freedom. We explored every inch of the beautiful island. We hopped on and off at every cool spot and just whizzed around this place we called home for 4 weeks.
A traditional Filippino wedding in the Philippines
The Philippines were exciting for two reasons, both of which were that we met up with friends of ours!
First was Derek’s best friend Shawn, who flew into the Philippines for his father’s wedding. We actually first met up with Shawn in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Shawn isn’t exactly a travel type, so the fact that we met up with him halfway across the globe was very exciting.
We got to stay in the small town of Tanjay city, where we were literally the only tourists. Staying with Shawn’s future step-mother Laura, we were able to get the real Filippino vibe.
After being a part of a traditional Filippino wedding, we then moved to Bohol, and were reunited with our friends Bre and Daniel! We spent a good two weeks hanging out with them by the sandy shores of Panglao island, working on the blog and enjoying island life.
Food with a great view in Spain
We only had a short time in Spain, but it was a memorable week. Needless to say that the food and wine were delicious. If you’ve never had tapas, you need to. As they say, sharing is caring, and this is what Tapas Life is all about.
The beaches also took our breath away, whether in Barcelona, Valencia or Málaga. After days exploring the cities, the beach breaks helped us cool down and disconnect from the city hustle.
But there’s one thing that stood out to us more than anything and that was the stunning architecture in these 3 cities. From the famous Gaudí structures in Barcelona, to the bay windows, to the modern City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, each city had beautiful architecture.
Sleeping under the stars of the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Being two Canadians that have become accustomed to harsh, cold winters, the Sahara desert was the polar opposite of what we are used to.
Going to the desert was a no-brainer when we decided to visit Morocco. Derek rode a camel, we slept under the stars (a nights sky that almost rivals the New Zealand sky), we frolicked in the sand dunes, and visited Berber tribes living out in some of the world’s harshest conditions.
To say it was hot, well that is obvious. But we certainly were blown away by 50°C heat and just how much water you need to drink to stay hydrated while there.
Another surprise, the desert has an abundance of water! We always thought that there was no water in the desert, but in reality that sand dunes of the desert could not be possible without a vast amount of subterranean water.
Country life in France
Imagine being surrounded by the rolling hills in Southern France. Fields of vines ripening in the hot sun. Sunflowers as far as the eye can see. Beautiful century-old churches at the centre of every picturesque town. Not to mention eating delicious local foods from the weekly markets and drinking wine from the neighbours vineyards.
Our time in France is what you expect every French dream is made of. We will fondly remember this time as the month we had too much to eat and drink, and that we worked insanely hard on the blog. Basically, it was the perfect mix of chilling and work.
Island hopping in Greece
After spending nearly three months with friends and family, we got a nice 2 weeks of going back to just being the two of us!
We went from Santorini, to Paros, to Naxos, and finally finished our trip of Greece in Athens.
Our time in Santorini gave us beautiful sunsets. In Paros we spent as much time as we could at the beach. We discovered the Aegean sea in Naxos, while sailing with Xanemo Sailing. And Athens gave us all of the sightseeing we could stuff into the two days we spent there.
All in all Greece was amazing, highlighted by the copious amounts of food we ate!
Getting local in Armenia
Since the day we met, Armenia has been on our bucketlist. Carine is of Armenian descent, so you can guess why it was on our list. If you know any Armenians, you know how proud they are of their heritage and their country. It was also an opportunity for her family to finally come see us, after a full year of traveling. Can you believe that most of them had never been to their homeland?
From the delicious food, to the beautiful landscape, the warm and generous people to the impressive history of the country, Armenia is a mix of everything we’ve seen so far… well, except the beaches. A hiker’s paradise, a foodie’s dream come true, a historian’s heaven, a mix of European flair, amazing traditions, low cost of living and comfy standards.
As we’re writing this, we still have a good 3 weeks left here, and so much more to explore. Armenia is probably the best place we could have celebrated our 1-year on the road, mainly because there are always celebrations going on here.
This year was a great reminder for us. We learned the importance of living in the now, of enjoying every moment we have together. It also reminded us of how lucky we are to be able to chase our dreams, as we’ve seen so many people just struggling to survive. It showed us how beautiful our planet is and how important it is to take care of it.
This trip is one of many more we’ll take to explore every corner of this earth. We’re excited to head back home soon (we do miss our friends and fam), but we’re even more excited to head back out.
Have you ever been on a long-term trip? Tell us about it in the comments, we’re ready for more inspiration!
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