Our fifth year of roaming around the world starts now!
It was only supposed to be a one year trip. So it’s almost hard for us to believe that we’ve been traveling non-stop for the past four years now. Yet here we are in 2018, now 65 countries later, in Korea and in the midst of circling the globe using only travel by land and sea!
So before saying goodbye to 2017, we figured this would be a great time to discuss exactly how we got to this point while also reflecting back on the highlights of the past year. But first, lets kick it old school and go back to where this all began.
A Look Back at Four Years of Roaming Around the World
Year 1 acted as a training year of sorts as we got our footing, traveling across Central America and Europe. We went entirely overland and sea from Mexico to Colombia, before crossing the Atlantic to ultimately roam around Morocco for a month. Then we spent our first summer in Europe, traveling overland from Spain to Ukraine, visiting 14 European countries in total.
It was a great year of learning for us. We began figuring out all the ins & outs to long-term travel and soon discovered that one year simply wouldn’t be enough. So we ultimately wrapped up the year catching a series of repositioning cruises back to the US and then to South America to continue this journey for another year, concentrating more on the aspects we were really enjoying.
See our Year 1 highlights here.
So Year 2 we focused on our love of adventure, while also finally fulfilling a dream of making it entirely around the world. We took a voyage from Florida through the Panama Canal to Chile to then journey by bus down to the southern reaches of Patagonia and up to the jungles bordering Brazil. It was then onto an action-packed visit to New Zealand before warming up in Thailand. Borneo was a highlight of Malaysia before spending lots of time diving throughout the Philippines. A stopover in Dubai eventually brought us to Egypt. We then spent another summer in Europe traveling around a corner we’d yet to explore, before crossing the Atlantic for our third time, and ended the year with a flight to Cuba! See our Best of Year 2 here.
Year 3 focused on slowing down and on favorites. We started the year with a slow journey traveling across one of our favorite countries, Mexico, for the first four months of the year. After popping down to the Dominican Republic, we then returned for another summer in Europe – this time venturing to another favorite, Spain. We were enjoying our slower ways during the first half of the year, but needed to balance that out with yet another epic adventure. So we pursued what has become arguably our favorite adventure yet, spending nearly four months traveling overland across Africa! Highlights and route map from our 4th year of travel are best recalled in this video:
That brings us to Year 4…
We began the year without any formal plans whatsoever, other than a flight to Quito, Ecuador. Yet sometime early on while in South America, we began discussing the fun idea of traveling completely around the world without flights and have been working towards that goal ever sense. During this fourth year of roaming around the world, we wanted to fill in some gaps by traveling to destinations in South America we’ve been swooning over for some time now. We then detoured to Mexico before balancing out our Andes adventure with a more calm summer in Canada. Most recently, we crossed the Pacific to Japan!
Year 4 Travel Stats:
- Countries visited: 9
- Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea
- Beds slept in: 77
- Miles traveled: 33,000 (~53,100 kilometers)
It’s a little strange to look back and realize we traveled to the least amount of countries ever during this past year. It feels like we were constantly on the move. What is even more surprising is that we only went to three new countries: Bolivia, Japan, and South Korea. Yet despite only adding three nations to our country count, almost everywhere we traveled within those countries were entirely new places for us, aside from Lima and some familiar stops within the US.
Roaming Around Ecuador
Our fourth year of travel began with 73 days in Ecuador, starting with a month stay in the captial of Quito. We had previously only stopped into Ecuador for a single day. But it left a good enough impression on us that we knew it would be a good place to linger. The plan to venture to Ecuador was actually to settle down and focus more on working online rather than travel.
But we fell into old habits and did exactly the opposite of that once we fully realized how much the country had to offer.
Pretty soon the Galapagos Islands were beckoning us. It’s always a place we wanted to travel to but figured it was too expensive. After lots of researching we began to uncover that it’s actually very possible to travel independently to the Galapagos on a budget. So we booked our flights and loved every minute we spent there.
Next on our Ecuador itinerary was a month long stay in the charming colonial village of Cuenca, before venturing back into the Andes and down to the Amazon. It was a rough yet awesome adventure catching random boats down the Napo and Amazon Rivers to cross from Peru to to Ecuador.
Top Ecuador Travel Highlights:
- Snorkeling and wildlife watching across the Galapagos
- Swinging off the side of a dormant volcano crater
- Tubing and canyoning in a cloud forest
- Mountain biking down one of the tallest active volcanos in the world
- Hiking in the Ecuadorian Andes (this trek across alpine lakes ranks among our favorites)
- Becoming targets of foam and water during Cuenca’s wild carnival celebrations
- Fishing for piranhas in the Amazon
Roaming Around Peru
The Amazon River took us to Iquitos, which is said to be the largest mainland city in the world not connected by roads. Interesting place, but we didn’t linger long, as we had many more adventures in the Andes to pursue! Peru proved to be a great time as we bounced around the country for 26 days, from Lima, to Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno.
Top Peru Travel Highlights:
- Taking the most adventurous route to Machu Picchu: The Jungle Trek
- Gazing upon Machu Picchu at sunrise
- Eating all the delicious Peruvian food
- Watching the enormous Andean Condors soar through one of the deepest canyons in the world
Roaming Around Bolivia
Bolivia was full of surprises. Travel became a bit rougher around the edges as the geography became increasingly more stunning. Bolivia was our first new-to-us country of the year and it really exceeded any expectations we had of it. The 13 days we spent roaming around here was short but oh-so-sweet.
Top Bolivia Travel Highlights:
- Taking an Off-road adventure across the surreal landscapes of the world’s largest salt flats
- Surviving a cycling trip down the deadliest road in the world
- Relaxing on a rural island in the middle of the highest navigable lake in the world
- Enjoying the quirks of La Paz, like dancing zebras and floating across the capital in cable cars
Roaming Around Argentina
Our decision to return to Argentina was largely motivated by steak and wine. The rugged northwestern part of the nation is cattle country and also boast the interesting wine region of Cafayate. So we dipped our toes into Argentina for less than a week simply to eat, drink, and explore some of the interesting landscapes throughout the area.
Top Argentina Travel Highlights:
- Attending the annual Malbec (wine) Fiesta in Cafayate
- Getting that “wild west” feeling while exploring the canyons of Quebrada de Cafayate
- Devouring delicious steaks the size of our heads
Roaming Around Mexico
We’ve visited Mexico every single year of our travels, and we weren’t going to depart from that tradition in 2017. Once we noticed a cheap flight from Lima, we knew that was our ticket back to North America. To this point, all of our travels throughout Mexico had been south of Mexico City. So instead of returning to some of favorites there, we decided to poke around some areas that were new to us. We weren’t disappointed with the 41 days we spent roaming around Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Guadalajara.
Top Mexico Travel Highlights:
- Getting caught up in the middle of a street parade in Guanajuato
- Splurging on extravagant multi-course tasting menus with tequila pairings
- Cheering on the Lucha Libre wrestlers
- Chugging along on the Herradura Tequila Express across agave fields to an old distillery
Roaming Around Maritime Canada
After a brief visit through the US, from Florida to Virginia, we hopped on what would be our final flight of the year to spend the summer visiting our neighbors to the north – Canada! This marked the starting point for what will be a trip around the world using only surface travel, by land and sea.
We had a great summer celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. The ease of travel and modern conveniences was a nice balance to the adventurous start of year. This was also our first summer not passing through Europe. And Eastern Canada proved to be an awesome alternative! We really fell in love with many of the charming places throughout the Maritimes that we passed through.
We began with a monthlong stay in Halifax, before taking a fantastic road trip across the provinces of Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick.
Top Maritime Canada Travel Highlights
- Rafting the most extreme tides in the world
- Hiking across Nova Scotia’s rocky coastal trails
- Driving one of the most scenic roadways in the world: The Cabot Trail
- Digging for clams and pulling up lobster traps in Prince Edward Island
- Sipping on craft beer and slurping oysters all throughout the Halifax waterfront
Roaming Around French Canada and Ontario
The province of Quebec was our next logical move as we started progressing westward. It wasn’t until after arriving in the capital of Montreal that we actually pulled the trigger on this trip around the world. As such, we spent much of our time there researching, planning, and vetting out different options to accomplish our goal.
But we also took time out to practice our limited French and explore the province before moving on for a brief road trip across Ontario, spanning from Canada’s capital of Ottawa to Niagara Falls. We really both enjoyed our monthlong stay in Montreal, as summer began to transition to fall.
Top Quebec and Ontario Canada Highlights
- Hopping from quaint cafes to quirky bars in walkable Quebec City
- Finally seeing a moose in the wild!
- Stuffing our faces full of poutine after enjoying Montreal’s vibrant nightlife
- Canoeing across Algonquin Provincial Park
- Cycling around all the different neighborhoods throughout Montreal
Crossing North America and the Pacific
From Montreal, our travels across North America progressed at a much faster pace. We crossed the US border to visit some friends in Detroit, which is where we used to live just prior to embarking on this non-stop trip around the world. We then got cleaned up to attend a friend’s wedding in Indiana, but we didn’t stay long because we had a train to catch!
The last repositioning cruise of the year to cross the Pacific was leaving Vancouver exactly three days after that wedding. That’s a long distance to cover without flights. An Amtrak train across the US fit into our travel itinerary like a glove. We arrived to the other side of Canada just in time to hop on the cruise to cross the Pacific. Yet what we were really looking forward to was the detours, stopping into Alaskan ports along the way. The rugged landscapes surrounding Juneau and Ketchikan lived up the high praise they often receive. Yet it was cruising through Glacier Bay National Park that really dropped our jaws. It all made us realize how we need to get back to Alaska to spend more time among all this incredible raw beauty!
The rest of the way across the Pacific was a perfect opportunity for us to simply relax and unwind, ahead of an action packed Japan agenda!
Roaming Around Japan
Japan is another country we’ve been yearning for and it fully lived up to the high expectations we had. What really stood out for us was the amazing food and culture. Everything is so orderly, respectful, convenient, efficient, clean, and on-time. Add to that all the beautiful local customs and traditions. Plus there was some unexpected great outdoor recreation to pursue. Another surprise was that it was easier on the budget than this “expensive” country is often perceived.
We loved it all and really enjoyed the autumn leaves as a perpetual backdrop to our time there as we crossed this island nation. We’ve got so much more to say about Japan and we look forward to eventually posting some detailed blog posts up filled with info.
Top Japan Travel Highlights:
- Hiking across the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route
- Island-hopping by bike on the Shimanami Kaido cycling route
- Wandering aimlessly from temple to temple in Kyoto
- Being swarmed by hundreds of rabbits on an isolated island
- Eating as much fresh sushi and homemade ramen as possible
- Happily embarrassing ourselves during sake-fueled karaoke sessions
Roaming Around South Korea
We crossed from Japan in mid-December and have been exploring South Korea ever since. We’re having a blast here and enjoying it more and more each day. And we still have a lot more fun in store before departing, so we’re not even going to attempt to recap this journey that’s still unfolding.
Where To in 2018?
We now find ourselves in South Korea and are laser focused on accomplishing our goal of traveling around the world entirely by land & sea, and doing so on a modest budget. Next on our agenda is China, which will take us to a point exactly halfway around the world from where we began in Halifax!
We just spent the last few weeks finalizing our post-China plans. After slowly traveling through Japan and South Korea over the past few months, we’re hitting the fast-forward button again. Once we depart Korea, it’s going to thrust us into nonstop travel-mode yet again. We’re not going to get into the details of it all just yet, as we have have so much fun letting the journey unfold over on our Facebook Page and chatting with many of you! 🙂
But if all goes as planned, we’ll be all the way in Northern Italy by March!
I know, that boggles our minds too. And no, we’re still not taking any flights. So we’ve got at least a dozen countries on our agenda before we get there, including 6 new ones. Hang on tight – this should be quite the ride!
So where to after that?
Not sure, but we’ve got to get back to Halifax to truly complete our flightless trip around the world! We’re looking forward to exploring northeastern Italy and have the Ligurian Coast and the Italian Alps on our radar. Beyond that, there’s a slight chance we’ll linger for another summer in Europe. But we’re also eyeing some westbound transatlantic cruises that would get us back to North America as early as May. So we’ll likely be heading towards Barcelona or London to catch one.
After that, really we have no clue. But it’s important for us to balance out the latter half of this year by really slowing down somewhere so we can have more time to work and also more time to write all about this entire journey, which we haven’t been keeping up with on the blog. Meanwhile I’ve been really craving tacos again. So we’ll see if that avenue may work out! 😉
Until then, we just want to wish you all a happy New Year full of your own travel adventures! We also thank you all for following along, chatting travel with us, and cheering us along as we try to complete our round the world journey. Happy travels wherever you’re roaming around in 2018!