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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36 thoughts on “2016 year in review: Travel highlights and lessons”

  1. My highlight was completing some postgrad study this year. It took a lot of work and sacrifice but I did it.
    The biggest lesson I had (because I did the study while sick for a few months and working) is that there is ALWAYS more you can drop. Always. If there isn’t space in your life, find something to clear. It’s not always easy or obvious but there is more. I thought I had dropped everything. Nope. There was more I could drop to make space.

    1. I totally agree with you Vanessa! When you’re in those tight squeezes you learn so much about prioritizing and then you notice all the things you gave attention to that weren’t necessary. I feel like it expands time and I’ve been musing over this lately for a post idea. Haven’t quite collected my thoughts entirely on it but I do think this is a way to expand our time and make life feel better. Congrats on completing the post grad study. Huge achievement

  2. Just a note to thank Caz for inspiring words on email this morning. I’m gluten free now and has been vegetarian for 20 years ever since I was kid. I know what you mean and how being different disturb others. It’s all about accepting others for who they are and spreading love n laughter. Wish u and ur family a blessed new year!

  3. Great wrap-up post – makes me think about my year, which has been epic in both good and bad ways. So many lessons to learn, but…
    Highlight: Hard to pick but a family holiday to US and Canada last month was fantastic, with only a small blip which of our +50s travel and networking site finally launching – without us knowing about it! So much for the launch party, lol!
    Lesson: Wow, where to begin? Because I’ve hardly had time to think this year, I’ve only just been looking back now and trying to see what really happened in 2016, and where I need to focus. For me, the lesson is about simpler living. 2017 will probably be the year of getting over 2016; paring back in most aspects of my life and shooting for some personal goals. I bought kikki-k’s life planner for myself for Christmas as a kickstarter for just sitting, thinking, evaluating, planning and dreaming – well, that’s how it’s been for me – and just taking that time for myself has been kind of incredible, it’s been a while since I could let that happen.
    Happy new year – looking forward to more Ytravel in 2017. 🙂

    1. Love Kikki K!! Their planner helped me this year. I need to get some refills for 2017. There’s something about their products that really help you create. It sounds like you had a great 2016 despite the craziness of it. congrats on the launch of your site Kathy!

  4. Wow, you sure did a lot of traveling this year. I wish I could have taken all those trips but I work a full-time job and didn’t have the time off. However, I had one overseas trip this year, which was my horseback riding vacation in Ireland. It was wonderful! I was also one one road trip to western Pennsylvania where I spent the weekend and went horseback riding a couple of times. My goal for 2017 is to take more road trips. I can only do one overseas trip because of money and time off from work.

    1. I love how you fit travel into your lifestyle Karin. Road trips in our home region is one great way to travel more. I LOVE the sound of your Irish vacation. I would love to do something like that. It’s not a country I’ve considered as a place to do that before so thank you for opening up my eyes to that possibility!

      1. Hi Caz
        Yes, horseback riding is popular in Ireland. The horseback vacations are fun. you are basically sightseeing the touring on horseback (of course they are for experienced riders)

  5. Hi there Caz, I had to hop on over because what you said in your email resonated with me so much. That was a big thing for me this year, a mental shift away from being ” bothered”, “upset” and sometimes ” angry”. It all just doesn’t matter, I do my thing, other people do theirs and nothing should reflect on anyone else. I’m even crazier than you, my kids have always been homescghooled, we live on the road ( and sometimes in Romanaia with no running water and wood for heat, which is where we are now) and I drag them up Everest and all sorts. So I get a bit of flack! This shift in me is partly because I’ve come through the shift of menopause, boy was that fun! Everything is just lovely now and partly because I met ” my therapist”. Just a new friend, a fellow nomadic travelling parent, but also a qualified councilor in matters such as these. He straightened my head over weeks of dinners and beers in Chiang Mai, Thailand while my kids and his had a ball. I’ve just written our 2016 wrap up too. Our 4th year on the road, 15 countries and my 50th birthday. It’s honestly been one of the best ever. Our life looks rather less like a magazine shoot though. Seriously, do you travel with make up, lighting, camerman? How do you do that? LOL. Anyway, all the best for next year x

    1. Of course we have the whole magazine team travelling with us!! Wouldn’t that be the ultimate?? It sounds like your year has been amazing Alyson. Life is just so much more carefree when you choose not to get bothered. I’m not sure I used to believe I had control over it but now I know I do – sometimes it is hard, but I think I’m about 90% good with this one now!

  6. Wow, this post made my day..thanks for sharing everything with us..you guys are terrific!
    For me, 2016 was an amazing year. My best highlight was to publish my first book that is titled “Do you really need to be rich for traveling?”. Main purpose of my book is to encourage people to go out from their comfort zones and seek what they were born for in this life. You know it would be very sad if pass away without knowing who really were and what had lived for..My book released just 4 months ago (5th, September) and nowadays only in Mongolian..hope it would be translated into English in 2017. It is one of my plans done next year 🙂
    Learnt lesson was “PATIENCE”. Everything has own time. That’s why, don’t really need to be in hustle.

    1. I loved this! Thank you for sharing and congratulations on the release of your book. It sounds great. I also love your lesson – so valuable

  7. I was on auto-pilot for so long, stuck in a huge rut. So at the beginning of 2016, I decided to do something different every single day of this year. It didn’t have to be big, just different. So, I started buying new food at the grocery store, ordering new meals when I ate out, driving different ways to and from work or the store, stopping in stores I had never been in, but always wanted to… you get the idea. From things as small as trying a new drink to planning a solo trip to Australia, my days filled with different things. Well, that morphed into thinking about things differently, speaking out when I normally would have kept silent, saying “yes” when I normally would have said “no”. I started looking at it like…what would the old Pam do? and then I’d do the opposite. By September, 9 months into my experiment, I had changed so much, I almost couldn’t remember what the “old Pam” would have done. I stopped procrastinating (and I wasn’t really that bad before, but I realized I had put off a lot of fun things for “someday”) …if I had been thinking about doing something, I’d do it…that was my new or different thing for the day. This year literally made me into a different person. It’s been challenging, exciting, fun and opened me up to things I never thought I’d do. What a ride!

    1. Wow Pam!! I have goosebumps. I loved reading this so much!!! Isn’t it incredible the changes that can come from small steps each day – and different ones at that. It’s in alignment with my thoughts for a post I mentioned in my reply to Vanessa above.

  8. My highlight was getting up in front of a room full of people at a conference (but in a casual setting) and making them all laugh. It’s not something I would have believed I would do, especially since I’m an introvert!
    Biggest lesson was that I can be a leader, and should try to be.

    1. Chewy, I too am an introvert, but I read somewhere that introverts are usually more comfortable speaking in front of groups because it’s the one-on-one interaction that makes them nervous. A few years ago, I was asked to speak about my experiences as a domestic violence survivor. My first speaking experience was in front of 250 successful business women. To my total shock and surprise I wasn’t the least bit nervous, because it’s a subject I’m passionate about. At the end of the speech, a woman who does public speaking for a living told me I’m missing my calling I should be a motivational speaker. Never in my wildest dreams would I have pictured myself speaking to anyone, let alone crowds. Now I do it regularly to small groups, like book clubs to larger audiences, like prison inmates. I’m still and introvert to the Nth degree, but my need to spread the word about domestic violence prevention trumps that…now, back to the couch with my book! Ha!

      1. I agree with this Pam. I am an introvert too – from an energy perspective meaning I need that alone time to fuel up and social settings can really drain me. But I do also like to be social so I can flutter between the too. But I have no problem standing on stage talking to hundreds of people – I love it. But I do feel a lot more uncomfortable talking one on one. I know plenty of people who say the same.

      2. Thanks for your story, Pam! It’s good to know I’m not the only one. I think what you about it being something you are passionate about makes a lot of sense, and that passion comes through when you are speaking so people want to listen! I read Quiet by Susan Cain and it changed my perspective. In it, she talks about a professor who is great at speaking, but has to go lock himself in a bathroom stall afterwards to recover from the experience!

        Like Caz, I tend to flutter between the two, but I know that in a normal week I need a few nights alone time at home to recharge. Funnily, I don’t feel that uncomfortable one-on-one. I think I do alright in those situations, depending on the day. But in big groups, I tend to get quiet if I don’t know most of the people.

    2. I love this Chewy!! You totally can be a leader. I think the best leaders are those who lead themselves. You demonstrated this perfectly by getting up in front of people to share. it’s not an easy thing to do but you lead yourself to it. You’ve done it once now it’s easy to do it again!

      1. Thanks, Caz! I will continue to look for opportunities in the future. This was one of those things that kinda scared me, but I really believed I should do. So I did it! 🙂

        1. That’s life pushing you to be more. Always following those pushes no matter how scared you are – amazing growth and rewards lie on the other side.

  9. Liliana Patrícia Chantre

    Just have to say that I really like reading your blog. It took me forever to start facing my demons and start becoming the woman I want to be. Just accept myself regardless of others. 2016 had it lows but the short meaningful highlights were: Its ok to be me and make mistakes, be truthful to myself even if others won’t accept me, when you change relationships change too, always trust your gut, challenge yourself …. I did and got promoted! I always thought i wasn’t good enough because I was told so, since I was a child. Now I’m with the flu to finish 2016 but hoping 2017 will be brighter.

    Wishing you a great 2017 and thanks for inspiring, specially to this lone traveler.
    Feliz Ano 2017,

    1. What a wonderful transformation you’ve had Liliana!! Thank you so much for sharing. i hope you get better soon and 2017 is amazing!

  10. My highlight of the year was realising I don’t have to work for the man. I can and will be working remotely within the next year. Big shift after working in a government job all my life.
    My lesson for the year was live it now. You don’t have to do it perfectly, you just have to do it.

  11. One highlight of your year:
    Our sailing trip alone with the kids in Croatie. Definitely an adventure! Booking our flights for our roundtheworldtrip… well there we many highlights!
    One lesson you learned in 2016:
    Yeah that was an important one! Don’t plan too much in advance so you won’t be expecting too much! And in 2017 we are applying it! We won’t book any hotels or airbnb’s in advance and have 3 month in south America and 3 month in Asia where we are even free to choose the countries where to stay. The Philippines are a go because of your pictures! Thanks! We will stay there a month and send you pictures! Thanks for following us on instagramm! We are leaving in 6 month!!! Yeahhhh

    One lesson you learned in 2016.

  12. My highlight of 2016: Traveling Japan! I really fell in love with this country. Japanese are such kind people, so polite, welcoming, and you can learn a lot from them. It seems like each person in Japan is doing his job with so much honor and respect. And off course the food is delicious…
    One lesson I’ve learnt this year is to give my self time to breath, relax, and keep on my optimistic perspective, as it gives a lot of strength to people around me.

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