Favorite Experiences in our 14 month adventure to see the world.
One of my struggles with the travel was managing my own expectations, particularly as it pertains to the ‘pace’ of ‘doing things’. As you all know, travel vacations (versus ‘beach/resort’ vacations) are almost always exhausting and you often end up coming home WAY more tired than when you left. Fulfilled, hopefully, but tired.
Well, constant travel is certainly like that. And worse. SO, we were perpetually tired, yet so driven to do all the things. It was hard to BE in a place and not do everything and see everything. But, that’s just not possible. Not to mention, some things are a disappointment. AND we were learning what we liked. We had never done this kind of travel before. We had never really done ‘travel’ at all. Vacations, sure, but not ‘travel’.
And, unlike vacation, we were trying to live a bit like locals. Which means no hotels, no room service, no concierge, more like ‘you’re on your own’, and we tried to cook a good bit as well (who can eat out for a year??). SO, some days just ‘surviving’ was an effort. Not like you can pick up a phone and order pizza, unless your Vietnamese is up to par (ours is not – HA).
A couple months into our adventure, I was trying to console myself that we were seeing and doing enough. That the many ‘days off’ were to be expected, warranted, and in fact, necessary. As you might imagine, there were many times when MY idea of what to do, and Laney’s idea, well, they didn’t quite match. Yes, there are compromises. Yes, there were times I could venture out on my own. But, those experiences aren’t the same when you know your child is missing them.
After a while I consoled/compromised with myself by saying ‘We are traveling for 14 months. That’s about 60 weeks. If we do only one REALLY AWESOME thing each week, well, that’s a lot of really great experiences’. I mean, some things SOUND great and then aren’t. Some you miss for whatever reason, and sometimes you spend 3 days in bed planning the next few months. HA. Not an exaggerating.
Anyway, it wasn’t until our final flight home that I took the time to document – strictly from memory – my favorite experiences of the trip. I started with a list of countries where we’d visited to spur my memory, then started jotting down my favorites from each place.
This is that list. 78 Epic Experiences Around the World
- Diving in Thailand – On our live aboard 3 night, 4 day diving trip on the Manta Queen 2 or 3 – the chances were slim but we saw Manta Rays!! So amazing!! The staff and food and diving was incredible on the Similan Islands.
- South Africa – drinks by the watering hole, where we could see elephants and rhinos coming for a drink. WOW. Part of this tour. Intrepid South Africa Safari with Teenagers
- South Africa – seeing a pride of female lions (3 generations) and when we left, they chased the truck! YIKES. Really thought I was going to lose Laney, who was at the back of the open truck.
- South Africa- Big Swing in the vicinity of Blyde River Canyon. It was about $17 for bungee or swing, vs about $200 for the same thing in Queensland. HA
- South Africa – seeing 2 male lions eating their kill on the night safari
- South Africa – finally seeing a leopard – completing our Big 5 – this was also on the night safari
- Galapagos. Every Single Day. No kidding. Swimming with turtles and sea lions. Seeing blue-footed boobies and sharks while kayaking. Seeing tortoises 1 year old and 100 years old (mating, no less). We did this G Adventures land-based tour, or something very similar.
- Hue, Vietnam – The motorbike tour. We rode on the back of motorbikes (with experienced, vetted drivers) outside of the city, to lots of historic and beautiful places. We did that as an add-on of this G Adventures tour.
- Hoi An, Vietnam – bicycle tour. This was also part of our G tour.
- Australia – Mojo Surf Camp (aka Spot X) near Coff’s Harbor. Every day was spectacular. Laney was up every day at 530 for a quick bite then a 6am surf lesson. Followed by breakfast with the group. Some surfing. Lunch. Surf Lesson. Dinner, then hang out by the fire with – well – everyone. HA. On particular day was amazing – Laney and I sang Stah Laht to a guy from Poland. It was his birthday. He was so surprised and amazed that we knew this Polish song.
- Kho Tao, Thailand Scuba Certification Dives – Night Dive (bioluminescent organisms) and the whale shark!! (Ban’s diving school. Anthony was our instructor – he was awesome. And now he has a homestay!)
- Galway, Ireland – Cave tour and cliff jumping. Also seeing Cliffs of Moher. With Epic Ireland. Check out their new 5 day tours!! Epic Ireland Tour
- Inverness, Scottland – live music and fiddler at dinner, then Hootenanny with my new friend Danny
- Porto, Portugal – Canyoning with Latitude 41
- Tahiti (main island) – Shark Dive
- Airlie Beach, Australia – fishing. What an amazing day, great captain, boat, everything! (can’t find the charter info!!)
- Cairns, Australia – diving the GBR, and having drinks and fresh seafood after at Prawn Stars restaurant at the dock/marina. Its a boat, it’s a restaurant/bar!
- Last minute / spontaneous seaplane flight near Port Douglas, Australia
- Seeing wild ‘fairy’ Penguins come in from the day’s ‘hunt’ at Bicheno, Tasmania. This company does tours every evening.
- The Great Ocean Road, Australia. Amazing Views, adorable towns and the best salted caramel ice cream!
- Shooting a variety of guns near Prague, Czech Republic
- The Coliseum in Rome
- Getting lost riding bikes from our Airbnb to Mt. St. Michelle in France. It took HOURS longer than it should have, on bumpy farm paths. I’m sure we were trespassing. HA. And then it rained on the way back. Yikes.
- Paris – going to the top of the Eiffel tower for champagne, visiting the Catacombs, and the Bike Tour where we met wonderful people who became our close friends (and we saw exactly a year later at their home in Victoria)
- Dying Laney’s hair blue (while drinking beers) in Krakow, Poland.
- Tivoli Gardens (a quaint amusement park) and the Street Food Warehouse in Copenhagen.
- Amsterdam. So many things. Swimming from the deck of the house (houseboat on a canal), our amazing hosts who took us for a boat ride through the canals, and dinner at their restaurant where they brought Laney a cake (for her birthday) with a flaming firework. And their ‘gay’ dog. HA
- London – Madam Tussauds
- Edinburgh – Rock Climbing, Camera Obscura, and holding owls!
- Porto – meeting Amy while canyoneering and later doing some port tasting, sunset drinks, and dinner with her.
- Santorini – exploring the island by car. Drinks by the pool (of a resort we were NOT staying at. HA). And wine tasting at the Santo Winery, while watching the sun go down. Thanks to Amy (Porto) for the suggestion on the Winery!
- Japan – Hiroshima. The museum, which I literally could not get through the whole thing. Then dinner at a very local place – stalls in a large room – each serving Okonomiyaki. Part of this tour – G Adventures Japan Express
- Tokyo – beers and darts with Laney at an English pub.
- Tokyo – KOBE BEEF!!! OMG!! HERE!
- Tokyo – The Tsukiji Fish Market – WOW!!
- Bangkok – dinner with a local family via Airbnb. She showed us all the fresh herbs growing in her garden and cooked an amazing meal. Including fried flowers.
- Australia, near Cairns – we hiked a path along a stream then took a swim. The fish were VERY friendly. HA! They wouldn’t leave us alone. One tried to ‘bite’ the mole on my thigh. HA Scary but not painful.
- Australia – Maggie (aka Magnetic) Island. Seeing Wallabies and Koalas in the wild!! And an adorable little island with very kind locals.
- Australia – liveaboard scuba trip on a sailboat to the Whitsundays. 2 nights and 3 days of great diving. So peaceful, no one else in sight.
- Tasmania – Port Arthur ‘haunted’ tour.
- Australia – Airlie Beach – learning how to wakeboard. And a really beautiful Airbnb.
- Hanoi, Vietnam – food tour. Oh the foods!! (and a beer, costing 50 cents, that is only good for 24 hours).
- Hoi An, Vietnam – placing boats with candles on the river for my friend Mai, and my mom.
- Ho Chi Minh City – amazing cooking class. Was a good hour outside the city, on a farm where they showed you how to collect all your herbs and ingredients. I was the only one in the class that afternoon! Amazing food. Booked it here.
- HCMC, Vietnam – Cu Chi Tunnels. Amazing.
- Mekong Delta, Vietnam – holding an ENORMOUS snake and tasting snake whiskey. Crazy Tuk Tuk ride. Produce grown on one of the islands.
- Borneo, Malaysia – Organgutan sanctuary.
- Island near Borneo – setting baby hatchling turtles free at sunset. Part of this G Adventures Tour – East Sabah Adventure
- Dinner at the open seafood market in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia. Seeing all the unusual seafood (alive, in tanks) and the live show, and one last night with new friends.
- “Leech walk” – a jungle walk in Borneo, when Laney got labelled ‘leech queen’ because the leeches loved her. We found 3-4 on her during the walk. Probably they picked her because she was the most freaked out by them. HA
- New Zealand – Marlborough Wine Tasting and fancy lunches on bikes. We liked it so much the first day, we did it again the next day. The first day we were on a tandem bike – YIKES. The next day, we took separate ELECTRIC bikes. AAAAAHHHHH.
- New Zealand – visiting a ‘farm’ with a crazy number of sheep breeds. And riding downhill in the big ball.
- New Zealand, Wanaka – Ruby’s Movie Theater. Epic. Hot alcoholic drinks served to you in the leather recliners in the theater with only 12 seats. WOW. Oh and the ‘speakeasy’ feel of the entire place. Velvet couches, etc.
- Queenstown, New Zealand – Bungee jumping and ear piercing.
- Queenstown, New Zealand – Paragliding
- Queenstown, New Zealand – Fear Factory
- Easter Island – seeing the Moai, wild horses, and the amazing waves
- Ecuador Jungle – jungle walk, being shown traditional ways to hunt, and natural resources.
- Walking up a waterfall in Ecuador – part of this G Adventures Tour
- Ecuador Jungle – shooting blow darts
- Ecuador Jungle – eating grubs!!
- Whitewater rafting in Ecuador.
- Huacachina, Peru – sand boarding and dune buggy ride
- Nazca, Peru – flight over the Nazca lines. Though a bit nauseating, it was amazing to see these ancient artworks.
- Cusco, Peru – wandering the streets and markets of Cusco with Ria
- Machu Picchu. Requires no explanation. 🙂
- Denali, Alaska – Denali National Park, seeing bears. Holding puppies and learning about the Iditarod at Husky Homestead
- Talkeetna, Alaska – ATV tour – shooting guns, panning for gold. And this is an adorable little town. I can’t wait to go back.
- Talkeetna, Alaska – Epic fishing trip! Salmon and trout (with nearly every cast!) at Indian River. Wow what a day!!
- Kenai, Alaska – river fly fishing trip on a small boat. Laney caught a really nice trout on wet fly. It was our first time fly fishing so SUCCESS!!
- Seward, Alaska – Wine, cheese and art night (a ‘locals’ event) with our Airbnb host (and his girlfriend). Met lots of interesting people, most working Alaska for the summer tourism season. Glacier hike guides, Boat tour guides, fishing guides, etc.
- Between Seward and Anchorage – Brown Bear Saloon – overnight stay and band (Jenni Don’t) at the restaurant/bar. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was nearby and worthwhile
- Victoria, Canada – Day at the lake with our friends. Some wake boarding, and the most perfect weather EVER.
- Squamish, Canada – rock climbing and the wild blackberries we ate on the way back down the hill.
- Whistler, Canada – downhill mountain biking, it’s harder than you think!! HA. Also, nice riding the flatter ground around the lakes.
- Kelowna, Canada – Axe/Knife throwing with friends 🙂
- Kelowna, Canada – Pride Parade (our first)
- Lake Moraine, Canada – we paddled our canoe around, and saved a drowning!! I considered this really important because, when we left on the trip, Laney was TERRIFIED of bees and would never allow one in her canoe. This time, it was HER idea to save him (or her).
2 thoughts on “Top Experiences”
All so amazing Jean!!!
What a fabulous adventure you both had. I am sure you will never forget.