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Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins

Many images in today’s post from Canva

In the beginning we didn’t know if we would do this for 6 months or six years. In the beginning we didn’t know much. But eight years later, 270,539 miles flown, 128 countries visited – well we know a lot. And yes, I do count countries, particularly now as I work to keep track of the growing number.

It was 2016 when we launched our travel life. After three years of prep – we were anxious to get started. But as we launched, we also knew we had a lot still to learn. Honestly, we won’t ever stop learning. The magnificent cultures, ancient history, remarkable people, delicious food…it’s all been such an eye-opening experience.

Suitcase nomad
Our bags the day we left November 2016 – so shiny and clean. We still are using the same bags today.

Covid cramped our style for a while, but, we actually learned a lot from the PanDamit too. We learned to be more spontaneous, flexible and adventurous. We have learned to navigate a more difficult travel environment, more expensive and more crowded. We also give more consideration to overtourism, choosing as much as possible the less traveled destinations. But here we are, Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins.

How Much More?

Year Seven in Bolivia

We get this question a lot. We don’t exactly know the answer…but we both feel some changes will happen in year nine. Perhaps shorter trips, with more time at home between the trips…perhaps? What we do know is we have put together a very unique itinerary that will take us on the road for eight months from Asia to Europe, Oceania to Africa – hitting some major bucket list destinations. It’s time to do it again.

One Thing Different

There is one thing a bit different this time…we are doing more tours than ever before. Why? Because as we traverse the countries we still would like to visit, many are difficult to navigate without a guide. Like last spring in Bolivia, we have chosen to allow reputable tour companies to take us through three places this time; Papua New Guinea, Socotra (off the coast of Yemen), and Madagascar. See more about these destinations below.

Where do we Begin?

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (Canva)

Confirmed 12 days – tour

In September we have a long grueling travel day from Seattle to LA to Manila and finally to Papua New Guinea. We will spend 12 days in PNG with a company called Indigo Safaris. We will be two of only about 400 non-natives to witness the annual Goroka Festival where more than 100 tribes of Papua New Guinea come together to celebrate their unique and colorful culture. Did you know there are 800 languages in Papua New Guinea?

Hong Kong

Hong Kong (Canva)

Confirmed 7 days – Airbnb

After PNG we will head to the big city of Hong Kong. We were meant to visit Hong Kong in 2019, but the riots there had us changing our plans. We will try again; I have booked a cooking class, some tours and we also plan to walk across the border to the tiny country of Macau.


Cebu Philippines (Canva)

Confirmed 32 days – Airbnb

Next stop the island of Bohol in the Philippines. We have only briefly been in Manila, and we look forward to a relaxing month on Bohol where we can kick back and regroup in October after the whirlwind of September.

Winter Down Under


Hobart Tasmania (Canva)

Confirmed 4 weeks in an RV mainland and 30 days Airbnb Tasmania

As usual we like to spend as much time as possible in perpetual summer, so all of November and all of December we will be down under. We visited Australia very early in the Grand Adventure, but there is so much more we want to see. This time we begin in Brisbane. Then we have rented an RV for one month to travel south to Melbourne at a slow pace. In early December we fly to the Australian island of Tasmania and spend all of December relaxing in Hobart where we have rented a darling historic home.

We debated about heading from here to one or two of our past favorite countries (New Zealand and French Polynesia) but instead we will fly west. We know we will be back to those countries again some day.

South East Asia


Singapore (Canva)

Confirmed 3 days hotel

I love this city/country but boy is it expensive, so we will just have a quick visit to say hello again to one of the world’s most beautiful places.


Koh Chang Thailand (Canva)

Confirmed 30 days Airbnb

Back to Thailand! Thailand was the very FIRST country we visited when we began the Grand Adventure in November 2016. It’s a beautiful country; friendly, inexpensive, and delicious. We will spend one month on the island of Koh Chang.



Sicily Italy (Canva)

Confirmed 7 days road trip Bologna to Puglio and 19 days Airbnb Sicily

Even though it will only be February, we are headed to the amazing country of Italy for an entire month. Keeping our fingers crossed for dry and not too cold; we will visit Bologna and the country of San Marino, the Puglia region and then on to Sicily.



Egypt (Canva)

Confirmed 3 days hotel

We will have a brief stop back in Cairo as we transit through but we are holding a couple of days open in hopes that the new, decades in the making, Egyptian Museum will be open. But we are really going to Egypt because that is where we pick up our tour to…


Socotra, Yemen (Canva)

Confirmed 7 days private tour

Not on many people’s bucket list, Yemen was never on mine either. But my husband has long wanted to visit the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen ever since we read the book The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. This is a more complicated country to visit, so we are on a private tour. We are using the company Inertia, who we have spent months working with to make this happen. Should definitely be different…and exciting.

Back to Europe


Crete, Greece (Canva)

Confirmed 18 days Airbnb

Back to Europe we go, with our first stop the island of Crete. This is one of the Greek Islands we have not visited, and I have heard so much about it. So we will spend 18 days enjoying the Greek life (and food) once again. Here we will be joined by friends, two couples we really enjoy traveling with.


Albania (Canva)

Not yet confirmed

We are still trying to work our way through the last of the countries we had to abandon when Covid shut down our travels, and Albania is one. We have really enjoyed all of the Balkan countries we have visited over the years and it is one of our most favorite regions in the world. Inexpensive and so welcoming, we look forward to one week in Albania.

North Macedonia

Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia (Canva)

Not yet confirmed

An easy drive over the border from Albania we could just do a day-trip to North Macedonia but we really want to spend some time in the beautiful Lake Ohrid region we have heard so much about. So we will visit for four days then return to Albania for our flight out.


Serbia (Canva)

Not yet confirmed

An easy flight to Belgrade will get us to Serbia. We only plan to be in Belgrade one day, then we will do a road trip to many of the ancient and beautiful sites in this landlocked country and former Yugoslavian state. Serbia remains a less visited part of Central Europe and I can’t wait to see it.


Vienna Austria (Canva)

Not yet confirmed

Somehow I have traveled all over Europe but have missed Vienna entirely. My husband has been there and keeps telling me I will LOVE it, so Vienna it is for four days. It’s also a great place to get a flight to our next destination.

And Back to Africa


Madagascar (Canva)

Confirmed 10 days tour with Fosa Travel

From Vienna we will fly via Addis Ababa Ethiopia to the island of Madagascar. We have been blessed to visit several Indian Ocean islands, but Madagascar is a first for us. We have booked a private tour for ten days with Fosa Travel and it will be a dream come true for me to see the Lemurs and the magnificent Baobab Trees. A very big Bucket List for me.

Back to Europe to Wrap It Up

Spain and Andorra

Andorra (Canva)

Not yet confirmed

Andorra is one of our Covid-deleted countries, and I am excited to see this tiny country that borders Spain. We will fly into Barcelona and drive to Andorra for a short four day visit before returning to Barcelona for our flight back to Seattle. We expect to arrive back in Seattle May 17th; 19 countries, 8 months and a lifetime of memories.

Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins

Year Eight here we come!

I’ll say again, we have no intention of trying to visit every country in the world (BTW there are 195 recognized countries. United Nations recognizes 193 and there are a couple unrecognized we have visited including Taiwan). However, after this trip, we still have a few left in the bucket. So, as we think about what lies ahead, we certainly know we will never stop traveling. We know we have some rock solid favorites we would like to return to. We know we have some difficult countries left we would like to see with a guide. But we also know, particularly after the PanDamit, we should not look too far out into the future…things can change so fast. So, we will embrace year eight with bells on, and we hope you will come along for the ride. As always, we feel so grateful to all of you who faithfully read and ask questions and engage with us through our crazy travel life. Thank you.

Note – there may be times when I can not make a deadline to have a travel post every Friday. Additionally I expect to not have easy access to WiFi. Just keep watching and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

See last week’s post, our final of the Hidden Gems series, Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania.

See our post My Travel Wardrobe – 8 Months & 19 Countries 2023 here.

Considering full-time or long-term travel yourself? I wrote this post last year and it may help answer some of your questions. Click here for Becoming A Traveler. We’d love to connect out in the Big World with you!

We love it when you comment, pin and share our posts. Thank you. Away we go!

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  • Reply lynn smith

    So excited for you two!Will be faithfully following your journeys and posts. Such an inspiration!!

    September 8, 2023 at 12:03 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Thank you Lynn! We are excited!

      September 8, 2023 at 8:09 pm
  • Reply Kristin J Tweten

    The woman that owns Chef George in PD is from Serbia!

    September 8, 2023 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Ahhh. Very cool. I think Serbia has so much amazing history. I can’t wait.

      September 9, 2023 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Terri

    I am dizzy with all your travel plans. Absolutely extraordinary.

    September 9, 2023 at 4:13 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I’m a bit dizzy too! Hopeful it all goes close to plan. Thank you!!

      September 9, 2023 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    It was interesting to read that you are doing more tours now. But I understand using them in countries where it may be more difficult to get where you want or where you get such a better experience with a guide. We have “winter down under” on our plan too but don’t know when we will pull the trigger. We will add in New Zealand on that trip. You have a pretty solid plan mapped out and have a lot of it confirmed. I know how much work that takes! What an exciting year coming up.

    September 9, 2023 at 8:20 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks Linda. I am excited!

      September 9, 2023 at 7:54 pm
  • Reply Sharyn McCullum

    What a fabulous itinerary you have set yourself. I hope you have a blast! When in Melbourne, give us a shout – I live on the doorstep of the Yarra Valley – I could take you out for the day for some great food and wine!

    September 9, 2023 at 7:25 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      That would be amazing.

      September 9, 2023 at 7:55 pm
  • Reply Ella

    Oh my goodness my head is spinning. 8 is also my favorite number so I hope it’s especially favorable for you both. Exceptionally happy trails to you!

    September 9, 2023 at 7:38 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Thank you so much!

      September 9, 2023 at 7:55 pm
  • Reply Brittany

    Wow, this sounds like a great year of travel! Wishing you health and safety on your adventures!

    September 11, 2023 at 11:07 am
  • Reply Shawn Taber

    I can’t wait for your adventure!!!!

    September 17, 2023 at 11:32 pm
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