Tasmania, Australia

Nearing the end of our Australian Adventure, we flew to Tasmania for a few days. Being farther south, the weather is typically a little cooler here, so we recommend bringing clothes appropriate for the changing temperatures. Also, be prepared for some foggy mists. Brian and I are apparently great at bringing along the fog with us to otherwise picturesque sites.

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Melbourne, Australia

After the cruise, we made our way to Melbourne. This was probably my favorite city out of all our Australian destinations. Fortunately, we were also able to stop here again at the end of our trip before flying back to the US. The food was a primary highlight of this city, having some of the highest rated culinary spots in the world. This is also where we saw the most wildlife (actually in the wild!) and enjoyed many excursions along the coast. There are even vineyards nearby that are definitely worth checking out if you like wine, or just pretty scenery.

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New Zealand

The primary reason for our Down Under journey was to go on a two week cruise around New Zealand. I have never seen a country so clean and people who care so much about their environment. This was definitely something that stuck out to me. Our cruise, departing from Auckland, was to make 12 stops. Unfortunately, after two days at sea, our only stop in Australia, Kingston, was canceled due to weather. Therefore, we had four full days at sea in rough water. And I got quite seasick. However, after the early setback, our trip went pleasantly smooth.

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Sydney, Australia

In 2019, Brian and I joined family on a two week New Zealand cruise. This is a large part of what prompted our decision to take a year to travel full-time. We wanted to be able to see as much of that part of the world as possible. Therefore, we planned a six week stay in Australia and New Zealand. We truly loved just about everything in Australia. I often say that of all the places we have visited, this is the one place I could see myself living (if only it were not so far away!). The countries are quite clean, the people very friendly, the wildlife amazing, and the food delicious. It was also inspiring to see how they work together as a community to keep their space nice and help to make it better. It has been devastating to watch the impact that the current wildfires are having on this beautiful space and their incredible wildlife. As I write this, my thoughts are entirely with those affected by the fires. Although far, I hope to return one day in the not so distant future.

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Big Island of Hawaii

Although not as populated or touristy as some of the other islands in Hawaii, the Big Island remains our favorite Hawaiian destination. We choose to stay near Waikoloa Beach on the Kona side. We love the low traffic volume and abundant sunshine it offers. There are many beach days to be had on this side of the island, while only a 2 hour drive to the Hilo side takes you to the lush rainforest-like views and volcano. We have family that has a house on the island, and are so grateful to be able to stay here during our visits!

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Hilton Head Island, SC

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

This is a wonderful beach community along the East Coast. In our opinion, it is quieter, cleaner, and more family friendly than other beaches we have visited in the Carolinas, so it just depends on what you are looking for. Our families have both been going here on family vacations since we were young. We are fortunate that now we have family living down there and can visit the island whenever we are able!

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Paris, France

This was one of my favorite stops in Europe. I loved the culture, the food, and the entire vibe the city gives off. I even got to practice my very small French speaking skills. Foodwise, we did not have a disappointing meal in our entire week’s stay. The cafes were amazing and the food quality was unlike anything we’ve had before. I could have lived off of their bread, cheese plates, and wine alone. 

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San Gimignano, Italy

Following our Mediterranean cruise, we visited San Gimignano with some other family members for a few days. This is a gorgeous, historic castle town in Tuscany. We loved the old-timey feel with its cobblestone streets and medieval towers. It was like traveling back in time. We do not recommend driving your own car much through here as the streets are tiny and full of pedestrians. We learned this the hard way. However, this was an unforgettable adventure and one of our favorite spots that we have visited throughout our travels.

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Mediterranean

Following Rome, we took a train via Trenitalia transport to Venice. (This is a good way to see the Italian countryside and is much less stressful than flying.) From Venice, we were taking a Mediterranean cruise with family. It was planned for five stops, but we were unable to make our fifth and final stop (Dubrovnik, Croatia) due to weather. We were looking forward to a Game of Thrones excursion here so were disappointed and now have to return! However, the places we did see were gorgeous and, like other parts of Europe, very historical. Throughout the journey, I found it quite difficult to comprehend just how extensive these towns’ and villages’ pasts are.

Tidbit: Cruises are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, especially if it is your first time visiting. However, if you are looking to spend more time in certain areas, cruises may not be the way to go. They do allow you to explore many places and perhaps help you find ones you wish to return to for a longer trip in the future.

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Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

In 2018, two days after I left my job in California, Brian and I packed up for a four week trip to Europe. We had planned a Mediterranean Cruise with family, leaving from Venice, so decided to make our first stop in Italy, specifically Rome. I was still exhausted from finishing up at school, on top of the jet lag, that it took a few days for me to get acclimated, but once I rested up, we were able to do a lot of sightseeing. Throughout our week, I was awestruck by the history. I often found myself staring at a random building and pondering what life would have been like here centuries ago. Everywhere you look there is something with a historical background. Right across the street from our hotel was what archaeologists had recently discovered to be the actual site of Julius Caesar’s stabbing. It is an archaeological site that used to be a theater.

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