2016 year in review: Travel highlights and lessons

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Are you ready to leap out of 2016 and into 2017? Tired and frustrated with the year gone by, over its bad luck, or are you running with the good luck and awesome achievements into the New Year?

2016 travel highlights and lessons

We shouldn’t wait until the one-second tick over to the New Year to bring about change – we can do that at any one-second tick on any given day, but the end of the year does bring some kind of more powerful energy for contemplation, evaluation, change and celebration.

The end of the year is a beeping alarm notification reminding you to move through this process. Without it, you’d keep sliding by with a mouth full of Christmas pudding and port blissfully unaware of where you are and possibly continuing to do the same old things that don’t serve you.

I tend to evaluate my past year in terms of what were the highlights, what worked well and why, and what were the biggest lessons that are helping me to evolve into a better me and a better life creation.

You might think you had the worst year ever, but if you poke your head up and out of your current mire, you might actually see the truth – that amongst the challenges and lows were also many highs and achievements. It’s important not to forget those and how strong and powerful you really are.

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Here’s what you’ll find in this post. You can click to jump to each section or just keep reading and scrolling through.

Travel Highlights 2016

You can watch all of our travel highlights for 2016 in this video:


Returning to Asia

We never get tired of visiting Asia, but we had not been in three years. I’d love to squeeze in a trip next month before we go to the States.

Boracay Island, Philippines

Ilig Iligan Beach Boracay is one of the best things to do in Boracay Island the Philippines. Click to read more travel tips for Boracay with kids

This was our first time to the Philippines and we loved it. I think it might be our favourite destination for the year! We want to return to explore further for sure!


Supertrees Gardens by the Bay

It was also our first time to Singapore. I was thoroughly impressed and the girls had a fantastic time.


We’re always looking for an excuse to go to the States. This year we were gifted two:

Snowmass and Denver, Colorado for the travel influencers Summit

Yin Yang Lookout hike Snowmass

We’re madly in love with Colorado and can’t wait to explore more. We’re planning for a ski trip in Feb/March and then a return in the summer to explore more. I’d love to visit in every season.

Downtown LA

Perch Rooftop Bar Downtown LA (4)

I’ve never been a fan of LA before. Downtown LA won me over! I enjoyed my time here for the BlogHer conference and exploring as a solo traveler.


Outback Queensland

Stagecoach ride with Kinnan & Co in Longreach, Outback Queensland

We were very happy to return to one of our favourite destinations in Australia. This time around we starred in a couple of online commercials!

Port Douglas and the Daintree

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef with kids

This would have to be one of our favourite holiday destinations in Australia, especially for families.

Sunshine Coast

Sunrise stand up paddle board at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland

We returned twice to this amazing Queensland region to explore the beaches and the Noosa Hinterland.


Wedge Island Cape Hillsborough Mackay

We missed Mackay on our Australian road trip. I‘m glad I got to take my girls on a short getaway. We all loved it! IT was the first time seeing platypus in the wild and we didn’t just see one.


travel with kids

What a pleasant surprise Ipswich was! We recommend putting it on your Gold Coast and Brisbane getaway list for sure!

Vivid Festival

The Sydney Opera House during the Vivid Sydney Festival of lights.

Sydney may be crazy chaotic but we always love returning to our home capital city. This year we visited to experience the Vivid Festival.

South Australia

girls jumping off a wooden platform

Yay! Finally, we got to explore some of South Australia. What a fantastic state. There’s still so much to see. We had almost three weeks exploring Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, and Kangaroo Island.

Life highlights

Getting back on the road again

girls poking their heads through a hole in a rock

It takes faith and courage to untie the raft and set sail on a sea of uncertainty. 18 months of settled life was enough for me and could not ignore the calling anymore. It was time to go travelling again. October 15th was when we set sail; I have no regrets and feel fantastic.

The girls are doing wonderfully and have adjusted to the change way better than I thought. I was so elated driving past Kalyra’s old school last week in Burleigh when she waved and said, “Hello Burleigh school. I don’t miss you at all.” That elation grew as she told her best friend, who she does love and miss, how great homeschooling was and how she should try it with her Mum.

Then, we visited our friend and chiropractor Dr. Matt, who after evaluating and adjusting Kalyra’s body, said, “Kalyra is loving the global life!”


Honestly. Parenting is so much easier and more enjoyable on the road.

Winning a photography award for BlogHer

Blog Her VOTY eye candy

BlogHer is the world’s biggest blogging conference for women. I was pretty stoked to win an Eye Candy photography award for it. I couldn’t say no to picking it up personally!

I had so much fun at BlogHer. I met some wonderful people, met a few famous people and was really inspired to continue to grow and, hopefully, do amazing things.

Attending the conference in Snowmass

Travel influencers summit snowmass

Not only was it an honour to be invited to attend the Travel Influencers Conference as one of the world’s top influencers, it was so great to finally meet some of my long-term travel blogging friends in real life.

It was great to mastermind with them PLUS we had a lot of fun chatting at the bar!

Applying for a US visa

Dudley Wines on the Dudley Peninsula Kangaroo Island has one of the bets vineyard views in Australia

Applying for a US non-immigrant visa was such an arduous process and it’s still not over! We’ve just heard back from immigration requesting more documentation!!! But, our lawyer still remains confident that this is a good sign of approval. We were hoping for an answer by now and could be finalising our plans for America Unplugged.

But, putting together the application for this visa brought into the light all we have achieved with our travel blog. You spend each day working on and in the business, you forget to look up and back to see how far you have come and all you have achieved.

I allowed myself to feel gratitude, joy, and a good sense of pride when reading over the final applications. We’ve achieved all we have knowing absolutely not a thing about blogging or business, yet achieving anyway, figuring it out as we went and blazing a trail. All done with passion, love and the desire to serve.

Taking my first holiday in nearly seven years

I know you’re going to laugh at this one and think I’m crazy! But for nearly seven years every bit of travel we have done has been work related. When we haven’t been travelling, we’ve been working on the business. I rarely take a day off, but I can organize my work around other priorities so I’m not complaining.

I just took the girls to the Gold Coast and Byron Bay for a week and did not even pack the camera. I spent my days swimming at the beach and in the pool, lazing around, watching TV, cooking, playing with the kids, shopping, and having wonderful conversations and deep belly laughs with my friends.

It was wonderful not to care about work for the whole time (well probably 95% of the time) and be completely present in each moment.

I plan to do more of it each year.

Creating videos

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

2016 was the year we finally stepped up to the plate to create travel videos. We have a lot lot lot more to learn, but my style is to not wait until you’ve perfected it. Jump in, learn along the way and grow.

Thankfully, we found Konstantin, our video editor who puts all our film bits and pieces into a story that makes sense and looks good. There’s no way we would have ever produced one video without him. I’ve tried and just give up as I do not like, nor am good at, video editing.

Make sure you subscribe to our channel as next year will be even better with loads of videos of our travels to share.

This was our favourite travel videos of 2016:

Favourite things of 2016:

2016 lessons

Less is more

less is more lessons highlights 2016

There is nothing like downsizing your life into a suitcase to teach you less is more. I wrote an in-depth post about the process of decluttering and cleaning here.

We’re still not down to the suitcase yet as we’re still weeks away from America Unplugged departure, but I’m embracing the less is more philosophy. Or, as we are saying now on ytravel blog – living an unplugged life.

This does not mean in regards to devices. It’s about unplugging from those things in your life that do not give you purpose, fulfillment or joy yet you feel you HAVE to or SHOULD do them.

Cull all the things from your life that don’t enhance it. This means possessions, bills, tasks, schedules, appointments, and people.

The less of these things you have to manage, the more time and energy you have to give to the things that do. I spoke to my best friend the other day how I no longer have time in my life for people who don’t matter. “I want to give the time I have to those who I really love and those who really love me.”

It’s really not as harsh as that sounds. If you find yourself gossiping or bitching about anyone in your relationship field, that’s a clear sign for you to make changes. It’s not right for you and you aren’t using your energy in a loving and kind way.

You don’t know what you don’t know

lessons and highlights 2016

Question everything. Push the boundaries. Constantly seek. Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Gosh, there is so many lessons wrapped up into this one. This has been quite the theme of my life this year – possibly ever.

You only know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know. If you can wrap your head around what that actually means you’ve discovered a secret that can empower your life. It’s a secret that encompasses strength, risk, growth, and forgiveness.

Know that every decision and action you make is a result of what you know at the time. Be gentle with yourself. You only knew what you knew when doing that. At the time you thought it was best. It may have been, so celebrate your good judgement. It may have turned out horrible, so celebrate your ability to have a go, to learn the lesson and move forward.

This really became apparent to me the other day when paying a visit to my acupuncturist. He told me that based on my body and blood type, starting the day with a green smoothie was really bad for my digestive system.

I was pretty devastated to hear that as I love my green smoothies, and from what I knew they were good for me.

I didn’t get cranky at myself. I acknowledged that I acted from a place of not knowing and that was okay. Now I know something different and can make a change. I’m open to learning something new. I’m open to discovering what I don’t know and making necessary adjustments.

This is how I’ve always approached my life and with each subtle change life has grown and developed for me to being almost my dream life. I think this positive evolution happens for me because I don’t know what I don’t know and I push myself to keep learning new things.

Don’t take it personally

bike riding Snowmass Rio Grande trail (2)

How many conflicts could be avoided if we took things less personally?

I’ve had to learn this many times over this year both as someone who has taken things too personally and someone whose words often get taken too personally and so I receive a lot of abuse.

It’s ridiculous. It’s so very rare that someone is talking about you when they say something. They are merely sharing their perspective moulded by their own beliefs and life’s circumstances. It’s okay to not like what someone says, but don’t wear it. Let it go and move on.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year choosing to not take offence (it is a choice). I’ve had to be highly conscious with the words I use when responding to the abuse and judgement that hits my radar.

I’m doing my best to reply with a “Thanks for sharing. I’ve helped you out by removing you from my community so I can no longer upset you.”

The Delete and Unsubscribe button are so powerful.

Then let them wash away.

Things that I used to take personally, I can now have a laugh about with friends and family. It makes life so much lighter and fun for either side.

But, be aware that if you have said something that is offensive, even if you didn’t realise it at the time, own up to it. Acknowledge, apologise and move on. I’ve had to do that a couple of times this year.

Some people have just replied with more abuse, but I felt better knowing that I had the courage to admit my insensitivity with the intention to do better next time. Sometimes that’s all you can do and that’s enough.

Joy is it

girl handing upside down

I believe the purpose of life is to live and express joy. Each morning, when Savannah wakes up, I spend time cuddling her in bed.

“The sun is ready for you today Savannah. It would like to remind you of your purpose. It’s to share your kind, loving and joyful heart with the world to help make it a better place.”

“Muuuum” she replies. “That is not why I came here. I was just in your tummy and then one day arrived. It’s not to make the world a better place!!”

I’ll keep repeating it each day in the hopes that her subconscious picks it up t know that all she has to do.

I wear a bracelet around my wrist with the word Joy written on it. It’s to remind me that this is my one and only purpose. I can’t say that I’m joyful all the time, but I know I’ve made huge improvements this year.

I spend more time seeking out joy. New lessons and experiences effortlessly arrive to me to help me experience joy.

I knew I was one the right track when it came time to clean our house and, with some of my favourite tunes playing, I could actually sing along and feel quite present and joyful.

If you spend long enough time following the News and Facebook feeds, you’ll pretty soon start to feel a looming sense of dread that humanity is completely fucked up and we are all doomed to an impending Armageddon ( I dreamed about it last night and it was scary)

It’s imperative that we be very careful about what we consume and how we allow that fear and hatred to project out of us and back into the world. This is not the solution.

Joy is.

If you want to make a real difference and overcome the seeming madness of the world we live in then make a conscious effort to project joy instead.

Yes, it does take a lot of conscious effort, but that’s the best way to live anyway so tap into it more in 2017.

For you

Puka Beach on Boracay Island in the Philippines

Please please please take some time to reflect upon your 2016. I’ve heard many people complain about this year and say it was a bad one. I think if you look up and out you’ll see many rays of sunshine in your year.

Think about the good things that happened, the ones that made you scream hell yeah and glowed your heart. They are there. Think about the lessons, what were the strong themes running through your life. Reflect on them. They will help you create an even better 2017.

Leave a comment right now and tell me at least

  1. One highlight of your year
  2. One lesson you learned in 2016.

Don’t say you’ll do it later. Do it now. There’ no time like the present and sometimes all you need is someone to listen and support unconditionally. I am that person.

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2016 travel highlights and lessons

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