Our travel history
We’ve told you who we are and what we’re doing but we wanted to share our travel history, and a little about the journeys that have led us to this point (wanting to walk hundreds of miles – for fun).
It all began in April 2014 when we waved goodbye to the UK and set off on our longest adventure to date. It started out with 6 of us and a road trip in North America. We then headed for South and Central America, spending an amazing 6 months backpacking, hiking and eating, which inspired us to keep exploring.
There was only one place in our minds at that point, Australia, which is where we spent a wonderful year living and working in Sydney and Melbourne. We soaked up the great Oz lifestyle before jetting off on further travels, in New Zealand, Asia and Europe.
Here is a whistle-stop tour of our travel history and highlights from the past 6 years…
Our story started where many great stories start, in Las Vegas. But it was the first stop of our trip, so we approached the bright lights and air-conditioned casinos with immense caution. Not being gamblers, we decided to throw a hearty $30 at the tables to try our luck in a good old fashioned ‘when in Rome’ approach. We promptly lost it and then spent the next few days wandering up and down the weird and wonderful strip. For us, Vegas was a tick in a box, it was great to experience it, but we were excited for what was to come…
It’s safe to say that much of our travel history highlights include camping and nature, and it was during our time in North America that our love of both was reborn.
It was beauty on a new scale. We made our way through the ever-changing landscapes, from Nevada, Arizona and Utah to Colorado, Wyoming and then California, stopping at campsites and National Parks along the way.
Travel History Highlights:
- Driving through a snowy Arizona before arriving at the super-hot Grand Canyon. We hiked the Havasupai Trail to the beautiful Havasupai Falls, and stayed in the Havasupai Indian Reservation and Campground.
- Visiting the impressive Zion, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.
- Exploring and camping in the still snow-covered Yellowstone National Park; seeing bears for the first time and waking up to some pretty huge bison just outside of our tent.
- Seeing the real-life giants of Redwood National Park.
- One of our favourite National Parks, Yosemite, did not disappoint. We did a big hike through Yosemite to Half Dome, a true highlight and something we’d love to do again.
- Cycling around San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Going to a Giants baseball game, sitting in the “nosebleed seats” overlooking the bay and walking out to Tony Bennett’s ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ at the end of the game.
- Watching the skateboarders and skaters, flexing at Muscle Beach and our day at Universal Studios.
Hiking adventures were certainly not lacking as we continued into South America.
Travel History Highlights:
- In Peru we hiked the trail to the amazing Machu Picchu – we found an ‘unofficial-official’ tour from a local tour company who gave us a good deal and our tickets actually worked (for all but one of our group) so mostly a good result.
- Bolivia introduced us to a hike of the ominous high altitude Huayna Potosí Mountain, involving crampons and ice axes. It was a tough ascent, Lucy and I made it to 5,800m, but Tom and TKL dug deep and made it to the summit at a daunting 6,088m. But that was as extreme as we’d ever been, and I suppose it was in reminiscing over that experience that our love of a challenge grew.
- Whilst in Bolivia, Tom and TKL also tackled the disturbingly named ‘Death Road’ by mountain bike. (Lucy and I knew better), and we all took a terrifying and freezing (literally) bus journey to the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni. We took the obligatory perspective photos – they tell that story best.
- Back in Peru, we ventured to the Amazon Jungle on another ‘when in Rome’ mission. We held a baby sloth, visited an animal conservation area where we got pick-pocketed by monkeys, swam in the river, fished for piranhas far too close to where we’d just been swimming, spotted a rare pink dolphin, saw too many Cayman and to my greatest horror – camped in the middle of the jungle.
- In Ecuador, Tom and I headed for the beach town of Montanita, we stayed in one of the most awful rooms of our travels but on the bright side we went on a seasick-inducing Whale Watching Tour and saw magnificent Humpback whales breaching after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters of the Pacific.
- Into Colombia, where we visited several towns, including Popayan, Cali and the green, lush mountains of Salento, where we toured a coffee plantation and went horse riding in the foothills of the beautiful mountains. We also visited Medellin, once the most dangerous city in the world, before making our way to Santa Marta, which would be our base before and after trekking to the lesser known but beautiful Ciudad Perdida or Lost City. At that time, this was one of the toughest treks we’d done. 30 tough miles of untouched lush green mountains and forest. Truly breath-taking and I personally favoured it over Machu Picchu for being far less commercial. It was more remote, being only accessible by foot or mule, had no Wi-Fi, no passport control and no busloads of tourists.
- From Cartagena we booked our crossing to Panama via the San Blas Islands, home to the Kuna People. Those days were a mass of sun, sea (some sea sickness) and unbelievable paradise. Snorkelling around the tiny islands in the warmest, clearest waters, drinking rum around campfires, witnessing magical bioluminescence phytoplankton doing its thing – basically it was several days of being beach bums and playing cards.
Travel History Highlights:
- Hello Panama; a fast, lively place after spending several days at sea and a totally different vibe to Colombia. We soon headed out and sought a slower pace of life again whilst travelling through Costa Rica and Nicaragua. As fans of the classic, Jurassic Park, Costa Rica didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed hammocks, cocktails and cycle rides whilst being serenaded by Howler monkeys.
- In Nicaragua we did more beaching, chilling and exploring before we decided to head straight through Honduras (for safety reasons) to the island of Utila, where we lived a simpler life still; learning to Scuba Dive (Advanced PADI), snorkelling with Whale Sharks and settling easily back into island life.
- It was then time to get back on the road. We headed to Guatemala, one of our favourite Central American countries. We visited the impressive ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal and ventured into the jungle to visit the stunning limestone pools of Semuc Champey. This is also where we questioned our choice of eco-lodge; being completely open to the elements, including the bunk beds, gave us the ‘wonderful’ chance to get cosy with the local wildlife, including a tarantula that stopped by to say hi after dinner. We then headed to the beautiful town of Antigua, where we explored by foot and drank a lot of great coffee.
- Last but not least, Mexico, where we ate delicious food, lounged on the beach in Cancun, then headed to Tulum where we spent days cycling to the beach. We also spent the infamous Day of the Dead festival celebrating with the locals, went diving in the stunning cenotes and I got my clothes nicked by the laundry lady.
An adventure of its own, so I will try to keep it short, was our time in Australia – we loved our year there, it played a key role in our travel history and gave us the confidence to keep travelling later.
We started in Sydney, where we were so grateful to be able to stay with family, Tom’s Aunt and Uncle, Sue and Paul, and so happy to get to know them. They were so kind to let us gate-crash their lives for 7 months, giving us a wonderful real insight to life in one of the most beautiful cities.
After Sydney we hired a camper car and took a road trip to Melbourne. We loved the scenery, camping next to kangaroos and seeing more of Australia’s coastline but after both of us having terrible flu and discovering that Australia gets down to -1C, we were happy to arrive in Melbourne. We rented a tiny but awesome studio apartment near the beach and spent the next 5 months living in St Kilda and working in the city.
During our travels we met so many awesome people but on one journey by bus from Nicaragua to the top of Honduras, we were lucky enough to be the only two Brits in a minibus of Aussies. We ended up hanging out and going diving together so it was great to meet up again with two of them, Rachel and Matt, in Sydney.
On one weekend we got to join them on an epic dive at Nelsons Bay. It was a choppy day which (hilariously) had us all swim out to the boat holding our cameras and dry clothes above our heads. Things didn’t improve much on deck, with many of the divers suffering with terrible seasickness and soon discovering that we had to make do with random sized wetsuits, some of the guys being left to wear women’s sizes. After an ominous boat trip though, we made it, we got to dive with magnificent Nurse Sharks, and no one fell overboard on the rough ride home.
I could go on forever about Australia, so I will save that for another blog, but for now, let’s move to New Zealand. And perhaps my favourite place…
Our travel history wouldn’t be complete without mention of one of our favourite places – New Zealand. By the time we got there, adventuring and hiking was buried deep within our bones. Luckily our trip was extended due to a passport issue (thanks Tom) and I will be forever grateful for this oversight as it meant we got to spend an extra four weeks in such a beautiful country; a place full of the most friendly people, wide open spaces and miles of road to travel with the most unbelievable views – this was the land for us.
A favourite to this day; we fell in love with the slower pace and loved hiking the trails, wild camping in our little camper car and waking to beautiful views every day.
Travel History Highlights:
- Hiking the beautiful Key Summit Trail
- Camping beside Mirror Lake in Fiordland National Park
- Visiting the stunning Lake Wanaka
- Hiking the Pinnacles Track in the Coromandel Peninsula
- Hiking the Cape Brett Track to the Cape Brett Hut; often fully booked, we had the whole place to ourselves and were lucky enough to see dolphins playing in the bay
- Boat trip on Milford Sound where we saw seals and whales
- Day trip sailing in the Bay of Islands and getting to jump in, sing some jazz through our snorkels and swim with the wild dolphins
- Hiking the Tongariro Crossing (Lord of the Rings fans would know it as Mount Doom)
- Visiting Hobbiton – a truly amazing place!
- Visiting the stinky but beautiful geothermal Rotorua and spending an afternoon at the spa
After New Zealand we decided to venture to Asia. It was on the way home after all… We visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Nepal. Highlights include:
A travel history highlight has to be our walking tour of Bangkok – we’ve always enjoyed doing walking tours in a new city. Although it was my second time visiting, I saw a whole new side of Bangkok. We found the tour online; it was a free tour with an expected gratuity for your guide at the end. It’s a great way to really get to grips with a new place and see the ‘real’ city, being shown around by a local. We also visited the disappointingly touristy Koh Chang and then onto the border town of Trat before crossing into Cambodia.
Our journey through Cambodia took us to the beaches and islands of Sihanoukville, the river town of Kampot, the hectic city of Pnom Pehn, the charming Battambang and last but not least, and my favourite of them all, to one of the Wonders of the World, the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
Home of the epic Banh Mi sandwich and delicious Pho, Vietnam is an awesome place. We travelled up from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, Ha Long Bay and then Hanoi.
During our travels through Vietnam we got to hike to the Hang En Cave, the third largest in the world. It was my 28th birthday and we got to camp inside for a night before hiking back through the beautiful jungle. It was during our time in Vietnam that we also decided to head to Nepal to hike to Everest Base Camp. We were psyched!
After Vietnam we decided to head to Laos. But instead of public transport we took to the water. We joined a group tour that would take us by boat, from Muang Ngoy to Luang Prabang on a four-day trip which started with a visit to a remote hilltop tribe, which just had weird vibes from the start.
Not what we had expected, we never really felt like they wanted us there and after an afternoon of staring at their visitors, the leaders chose the duck we would eat for dinner, proceeded to kill and pluck it before our eyes. That was before the village elder offered us some Opium and we discovered that the village’s designated toilet was in fact the pig sty! The group was then split up and Tom and I spent the night on the floor in one of the leader’s homes. Possibly a scarier experience than the section of the Mekong River we later paddled, complete with its swirling currents trying to throw you out of your kayak.
So, in all, a memorable 4 days jam-packed with pig-sty pees, chaotic paddling down rapids, wild camping, banana leaf buffet dinners and, unfortunately for Tom, a bout of food poisoning to round it off nicely.
After Laos we had the opportunity to fly back to Thailand and visit the beautiful island of Koh Tao where we chilled and got to do a spot of diving before travelling to Nepal for our final and most epic hike.
A key part of our travel history and our love of multi-day hiking grew during our time in the beautiful country of Nepal.
They say that the Nepalese ‘people smile with their hearts and wear their hearts on their faces’, and I know this to be true.
Our 18-day hike to Everest Base Camp will always be up there as one of the most unforgettable experiences. The people and the beauty capture your heart from the moment you arrive.
We loved it. From negotiating the bustling streets of Kathmandu and surviving the terrifying flight to Lukla airport (the world’s most dangerous airport) to hiking through the mountain towns, sleeping in the teahouses and making those exciting steps into Base Camp. The place we’d read about in so many books was finally real to us and it wasn’t until we were surrounded by those immense mountains that we understood why we’d been drawn there.
After our epic journey around the world we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, where my Dad, Pete, and his fiancé, Lisa, lived. It was so great to catch up with them and hang out on the beautiful island before they set off on a crazy European motorbike adventure. During which time we chilled in their funky town flat and got right back into island life whilst we looked after Missy, my childhood dog and the most epic Staffordshire cross Bull Terrier I’ll ever know, who had reached the ripe old age of 17.
We did HIIT sessions on the roof, swam in the crystal-clear sea, sunbathed on the white sands and Tom spent hours kiteboarding along Flag Beach. It was an awesome 7 weeks of digesting our travels, reminiscing and getting back into shape. And just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, on one warm afternoon, in El Cotillo Tom waved me to the cliff top where there was a huge sign made out of a bed sheet with ‘I LOVE YOU!’ sewn onto it, lying on the beach and Tom got down on one knee and proposed. Of course, I said yes!
Two and a half years, 19 countries and an epic proposal later we returned home. It was lovely to be back, see friends and family and stop moving for a while. We rented a flat in Boscombe by the beach, got jobs that meant we could run and cycle to and from work, we got super fit and loved living there, but it didn’t take long for us to get itchy feet.
One day we started talking about this ridiculous hike we’d heard about called the Appalachian Trail. I remember hearing about it during our travels and thinking it was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of, genuinely.
I don’t remember how it happened but suddenly it was all we could talk about. We read blogs, watched YouTube videos all about it. We ‘should’ have been excited to plan our wedding but instead we were going mad over the A.T. Then one day, we were going to do it; we had somehow decided that this hike of 2,189 miles through 14 States of North America was actually doable.
On the 1st May 2017 we flew to Boston, Massachusetts. After a day of exploration we caught a flight to Atlanta, Georgia, did some last minute shopping for the hike and then jumped on a Greyhound bus to Gainsville, Georgia. After a couple of days of constant rain we decided we just had to go for it so we booked a ride to the trailhead and on the 5th of May we started walking. Torrential rain welcomed us we were psyched so nothing was going to bring us down. Our planning and dreaming had come to fruition, we were on the Appalachian Trail.
We carried everything we needed on our backs. From our tent and clothes to cooking equipment and water. We hiked an average of 20 miles per day, 6 days a week, from Georgia to Maine, through 14 States. On the 5th October we made it to Katahdin, exactly 5 months after we had begun.
It was an unbelievable journey and truly the toughest thing we’ve ever done. But we still absolutely loved it. Especially now that we’ve forgotten the pain and just have the great memories and trail stories. We say that the A.T ruined our life. But in the best possible way because it showed us another way of living. A simpler life that was closer to nature, a life that gave us more purpose than anything else we’d ever done.
While walking the two thousand miles we came up with the plan that we would set up our own lawn care business. And we did it. It was a real success, we enjoyed building and growing it, our customers were happy, and we were proud of ourselves, but something just didn’t feel right.
After 2 years it was time to decide, to grow the business or stop because as successful as it was, we weren’t living the life we wanted so we decided that it was time to sell. There’s no good time to make big life-changing decisions but it had to be done because we had itchy feet for adventure. Just call us two salmon, swimming upstream to find life.
So after that not-so-whistle-stop tour of our travel history over the last 6 years, at least now you know why we are where we are, and you’ll also know that we have tried the conventional way but it seems that the unconventional has always won it for us.
So, here we go, with Covid-19 trying to stop us, we’re going to push through on our mission for adventure and passion for walking.