I love to travel, and I spend at least a little time each week planning out my next trip. (Thank you, Brooke Saward!) Since graduating high school, I’ve kept a ‘wanderlust list’ of places I wanted to see. Though I’ve managed to cross off 24 countries in the past three years, my list somehow only manages to grow longer. Visiting one place only makes me want to visit more.
After spending time working on my Masters at Michigan State and focusing on growing my business, I decided to take a trip around the world with some of my favorite people.
Initially, it started out as a trip over the Pacific. After visiting New Zealand in 2014, Australia was at the top of my list of places to see. I wanted to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and get a great view of the Opera House from the Sydney Harbor. But after researching more and more, and allowing my restless feet to get the best of me, I added on a few more stops. Three months later, our “small” trip turned into a 12 country trip that circumnavigated the globe.
While the trip was too long to document in one post, I thought I would include the highlights here, so you can check out each stop and learn more about each destination by navigating to my other posts.
The longest (insert curse words here) travel days of my life.
Traveling from the U.S. to Australia isn’t the easiest of trips. After a short prop plane ride (in a storm!) from Detroit to Toronto, we hopped on an Airbus to Vancouver. 5 hours later, we landed to refuel before a bird flying into the engine (RIP, bird) delayed our departure. After deplaning and re-boarding a few hours later, we were informed that the problem could not be fixed, and we were stuck there for the night. A few hours of sleeping on the terminal floor would have to do before boarding the plane again the next morning.
Then… 16 (SIXTEEN) hours over the Pacific, and we landed 32 hours later in Sydney, Australia. After a few days of non-stop travel, we got a quick shower and some sleep. The next morning, we looked out the window to watch the sun ride over Bondi Beach. Suddenly, I was reminded why sleeping on the airport floor and sitting in a coach seat for 16 hours was worth it:
Sydney was gorgeous, and Bondi (pronounced ‘Bond-eye‘, just in case you’re like me and always thought it was ‘Bond-ee‘) was the perfect place to call home for the week we were there.
Next, we caught a 3 hour flight up to Cairns with the sole intention of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. It did not disappoint:
After a return flight to Sydney, it was another long haul (12 hours) up to Beijing. Surprisingly, this wasn’t as dreadful as I thought it would be. Landing in China was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was the first time I had visited a place that didn’t use a Latin based alphabet, and everything was so different… but we jumped right in, ordered ‘Tiny Delicious Food’ (the translations were hilarious), and walked on the Great Wall:
After China, we took a short (3 hours is short after the long hauls we were getting used to!) trip to Tokyo, then caught the Shinkansen (bullet train) down to Kyoto. Kyoto was easily one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited.
Then, a trip ride back to Tokyo to explore the city. I’ve visited many big cities, and seen some pretty large crowds, but the one thing I will forever remember about Tokyo is all of the people. It’s so busy!
After Tokyo, we were ready for a little relaxation, and found it in the tropics of Phuket, Thailand. It was like visiting a Caribbean resort (but half the price!):
Next, we hopped on a short flight up to Chiang Mai, Thailand where I got to put another check on my ‘bucket list’. I GOT TO VISIT ELEPHANTS! (Sorry, couldn’t contain my excitement. My poor Thai tour guide.)
DAYS 28-31 (halfway through!)
After visiting Chiang Mai, we traveled to Bangkok to enjoy Thai food and explore the city:
Another long, 12 hour flight from Bangkok to Oslo, and we landed in our third (and final) continent of the trip. Norway was beautiful, and Oslo was so perfect, it seemed like we were walking around a movie set. It served as more of a stopover destination, but I would head back in a heartbeat.
A connection through Finland got us to Prague, which was a little bit like Paris, and a little bit like Amsterdam. The weather was perfect, and we were finally getting the hang of switching currency every week.
We arrived in Germany just in time for Oktoberfest. There was lots of beer a merriment, and I even got to wear a dirndl! We also explored the countryside, and visited Neuschwanstein (Cinderella’s Castle!).
Originally, our itinerary had us heading down into Croatia (I’ve been longing to see Plitvice Lakes since I started my ‘wanderlust list’) and making a stop in Budapest. Unfortunately, trains were shut down because of the refugee crisis, and we sat in a train station with families escaping the war in Syria. Although our plans were cancelled, it was perhaps the most important days of the trip. I learned a lot about the refugees coming into Europe, and was soberly reminded of how lucky I was to have a home where I felt safe.
Without access to transportation headed South, we rerouted our trip and flew to London. The familiarity was comforting, and we used our extra time to go see a play and wander the city.
We also got a chance to day a day trip to Bath, and visited Stonehenge.
The last stop of our trip from Iceland, and we spent about a week in Reykjavik. We took advantage of the incredible landscape by visiting the Blue Lagoon and took a midnight boat ride out to see the Northern Lights. It was the perfect way to end the trip.
After 62 days, over 80 hours on a plane, and too many language and currency translations, I can say that this trip was one of the most difficult and incredible experiences of my life. It challenged me, and humbled me, and taught me so many things.
And – the most amazing part? I lived out of a carry on suitcase the whole time.
If you want to read more about the trip, click on any of the links in this post, or check out more of my travels by clicking on the ‘travels’ button in my main menu. I hope this inspires to do a little wandering of your own!