Since 2016, this couple have been travelling full-time. Where, how and why...

Where we have been

Our travels, jointly and individually, all started well before the Internet and social media were born. While we documented our first joint long term travel adventure in 2012, it wasn’t until 2016 that we started this website in earnest. Find out below what destinations we’ve visited and have written about.

USA and Canada

From October 2016 until January 2017, we were in the United States of America and Canada. After reading about travelling across the US by train, we decided to give it a go. We started in San Francisco – five family members on an adventure with no Wi-Fi, limited cellphone coverage and a lot of time on our hands. We made it to New York in time for Paul, his son Ben and Sandra’s brother Tobi to run the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

By global standards, the US is not a cheap country to visit, and we realised that very quickly. Neither of us had been to Canada before, so we decided, since we were so close, we would spend a few weeks visiting some key cities. Knowing that we had 16 nights in Canada, we decided to split them pretty evenly between Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto.

After experiencing Canada in November, we needed some warmth and sunshine. We explored New Orleans and fell in love with the city and its people. There’s really no other place like it with its mixture of Caribbean, French, Spanish, West African, and Native American influences.

Venturing northwards, we learnt a lot about Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South. Sadly, over 50 years after Dr Martin Luther King’s death, his dream is still not fully reality. Our final stop was back in New York for New Year’s Eve at Times Square – a bucket list item for Paul.

Ecuador

As North America descended into winter, we headed to Ecuador, exploring this beautiful country from January to March 2017. South America is considered to be one of the most affordable continents for travellers. But how did Ecuador travel costs stack up, given it uses the USD?

We started and ended our journey around Ecuador in Quito. Surrounded by volcanoes, it’s the second highest capital in the world – a truly amazing city with wonderful people.

Mindo and Papallacta are two popular tourist spots near Quito, for good reason. We experienced true Ecuadorean life in Loja, enjoyed some cool hikes in Vilcabamba and practiced Spanish in gorgeous Cuenca, home to many North-American ex-pats.

And you can’t go to Ecuador without exploring the Enchanted Isles. Learn about our land-based adventures in the Galapagos Islands and how you can visit this nature paradise without breaking the bank.

The Caribbean

After Ecuador, we explored the Caribbean from March to July 2017, knowing that we wanted to leave before the hurricane season started. We managed to visit eleven amazing, diverse Caribbean countries and territories:

  • Curaçao – A ten-day visit to Curaçao kicked off our journey around the Caribbean. Find out what adventures we got up to.
  • Trinidad and Tobago – These twin islands are closer to Venezuela than its next Caribbean neighbour. Would you like to come and visit?
  • Barbados – Did you know that Barbados (the bearded ones) was named after the long, aerial roots of the fig trees prevalent on the island?
  • Grenada – As our Caribbean adventure continued, we headed to the small island nation of Grenada.
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines – Did you know that the exotically named archipelago of St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean is made up of 32 islands and cays?
  • St Lucia – When St Lucia comes to mind, people first think of glorious sunsets with the two famous Pitons as backdrop. Is it the paradise glossy brochures make us believe?
  • Dominica – How much do you know about Dominica? We explored the island for three weeks. Does the ‘Nature Isle’ of the Caribbean deserve its name?
  • Antigua and Barbuda (we stayed overnight, one could almost call it a very long transfer)
  • Jamaica – Jamaica is synonymous with reggae and beautiful nature but sadly also with ganja (marijuana) and gang violence.
  • Cayman Islands (we cleared customs and stepped outside the airport, as is common procedure here, but we didn’t get to see anything else)
  • Cuba – This was Paul’s third (and Sandra’s second) visit to our favourite Caribbean nation.

If you too want to explore the Caribbean independently and affordably check out this post.

Pink car in Havana street Cuba | Photo by Alexander Kunze on Unsplash
Pink car in Havana street Cuba | Photo by Alexander Kunze on Unsplash

Central America

We left the Caribbean Islands in early July 2017 and travelled through Central America, starting in Mexico, which turned out to be so much more than tacos, sombreros and mariachi bands. Find out what we learned as we explored the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico City.

Dive aficionados get starry-eyed when they hear Belize. But the only English-speaking country in Central America has a lot more to offer than great dives.

Guatemala has impressive archaeological sites, stunning natural beauty and is rich in Mayan culture and traditions.

Are you planning a trip to Nicaragua and can only squeeze in one of the historic cities: Granada or León? We visited both and share our thoughts here.

New Zealand

We spent the remainder of 2017, the whole of 2018 and the first few months of 2019 in New Zealand. Buying (and refitting) a 20-year-old campervan (which we named MJ… as in Minimalist Journeys not Michael Jackson) allowed us to travel all across the country. We sold our campervan in December 2018 and continued to house sit until we left New Zealand at the end of February 2019.

Valnlife is an experience, learning to live with less
MJ - our trusted Ford Transit Campervan that we travelled around New Zealand in in 2018

Europe

After attending the ITB travel show in Berlin and spending a week with family in Germany in March 2019, we headed to Portugal. We spent some time in Lisbon, Sintra and Porto before starting the Camino de Santiago in early April.

After a few days of rest and recuperation in Santiago and Barcelona, we continued to the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in May 2019.

In June, we travelled around Slovenia for a week, before we had to say goodbye to Schengen as Paul’s visa came to an end.

The Balkan countries became our home for the following three months: We first explored Croatia, from Zagreb past Plitvice Lakes and then along the Dalmatian coast all the way to Dubrovnik. In July, we headed to Montenegro, exploring both beautiful historic sights along the coast, its old capital Cetinje and stunningly beautiful Durmitor National Park. After Montenegro, we decided to pay Bosnia and Herzegovina a visit. We had heard such great things about this country and its people, and it didn’t disappoint. In August, we spend time in the capital cities of Bosnia, Serbia and Albania to take a break from the travel and get some work done.

We were in travel mode again in September, exploring Puglia in the south of Italy and Cinque Terre in the north. We also managed to catch up with Paul’s son Ben and his wife Miky, and dear friends who live in Mantova, before heading once again to Germany to spend some time with Sandra’s family and friends.

October 2019 gave us the opportunity to explore Mykonos and Santorini without the tourist crowds and the Greek capital, Athens (and store some summer sun), before heading to wintry Norway and Iceland to chase the Northern Lights and explore the country’s famous ring road.

We kicked off November 2019 with another travel show, this time the WTM in London. We then flew to Swizerland for a week on the shores of Lake Geneva (on the French side) and then again on the Swiss side for a stint of house sitting. After that it was a busy time of visiting more friends, ex-work colleagues in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and back into Germany.

In the final month of the final year of the last decade, we  spent Christmas with family and New Year looking after more animals in Munich.

January 2020 has found us in London housesitting and then Turkey for medical tourism purposes.

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Since 2016, this couple have been travelling full-time. Where, how and why...
Since 2016, this couple have been travelling full-time. Where, how and why...
Since 2016, this couple have been travelling full-time. Where, how and why...

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