If 2016 was the year of busting our hump, 2017 was the year to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Does this mean we slowed down? Heck no! Once we finished our Nat Geo book, we explored eight countries, bought a vintage RV, road tripped 20,000+ miles, flew around the country on a book tour, struck partnerships with tourism boards and media companies, and embarked on over a dozen other adventures we’re dying to tell you about! Here’s a look at the travel year in review from 2017 and the excitement to come in the new year.
Turning in Our Nat Geo Book
January and February were a blur of caffeine-fueled nights, as we put the final touches on all 272 pages of Ultimate Journeys for Two. Though chasing down the UPS truck to make our final deadline is a moment of we will never forget. Read about the wild ride to Nat Geo authorship here.
Honeymooning Grand Cayman
Lonely Planet published their first book on honeymooning and they asked us to be official reviewers! To test drive the advice in The Honeymoon Handbook and earn our quote on the back cover, they asked us to honeymoon one of the featured regions and share it on their Snapchat account. (Okay, twist our arm). Off to the Cayman Islands we went…scuba diving the underwater mountains, sampling their five-star restaurants, and road tripping to Starfish Point. Read the blog here and check out this fab book.
Keynoting TBEX Israel
In all our world traveling, we’d never been to the Middle East. Few regions of the world are as rich in history, culturally complex, and widely misunderstood…we needed to experience it for ourselves. The catalyst? A humbling invitation to be the keynote speakers at TBEX, the world’s premier travel blogging conference. We gave the talk “Travel Bloggers Can Change the World,” with the hopes of empowering others to use their influence to break down stereotypes, build compassion, and show the good in the world.
Getting Local in Jordan
After an incredible two weeks in Israel and Palestine…exploring Tel Aviv, Haifa, Akko, the West Bank, and Eilat, we rounded the Red Sea into Jordan. It was fascinating to see commuters change their license plates at the border to disguise their identity and alliance with their respective Jewish and Muslim sides. Like most travelers, we went to the gorgeous Wadi Rum Desert and the New World Wonder of Petra…though few have traveled between them by hitchhiking on a bus full of partying Jordanian women and spending the night in ancient cave dwellings with sheepherders. Truly one of the most unforgettable experiences in HoneyTrek history (read our top 10 here).
Buying an RV (our first “home” in five years)
After living out of a suitcase for over five years, we finally bought a tiny home…on wheels! This was a very exciting shift in our nomadic lives and one that’s allowed us a few comforts of home while still offering tons of opportunities for adventure. Read all about adopting Buddy, the 1985 Toyota Sunrader, and watch his transformation into a modern-day road warrior.
The Cross-Country Road Trip Begins
We could have kept tinkering with Buddy’s engine, solar panels, water pump, and décor for weeks more…but groomsman duty was calling! With 10 days and 3,000 miles separating us from our brother Ryan’s wedding, we had to book it across the country. We drove through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and ultimately California for a gorgeous wedding in Sonoma.
Love for the Pacific Northwest
We left California wine country for the coast, cruising along the Highway 1 beaches and redwood forests into Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. We fell in love with Oregon—from spunky Ashland to Crater Lake National Park to the high desert of Deschutes county–it’s got the goods (Read our Ultimate Oregon Road Trip Guide over on Travelocity)…but so does Washington State! We crossed over the Columbia River to checked into one of the coolest little hotels—a HGTV tiny house on a working vineyard–then took the backroads around Mount Rainier to Seattle. After a nice few days of auto repairs and happy hours with friends in Seattle, we got the idea to test drive our travel advice in Ultimate Journeys for Two with a trip to Olympic National Park (watch the video), before exploring the North Cascades National Park and entering Canada.
British Columbia: Rain Forests, Fjords, Breakdowns, and Bears
We had previously spent some time in southwestern BC, but this time we went deep into the province. Crossing the border into the Cariboo, we discovered Canada’s cowboy country with western riding lessons at Siwash Lake Ranch and spent Canada Day enjoying the 91st Annual Williams Lake Stampede (aka rodeo). From Williams Lake we followed a two-lane, 281-mile road, the dry plains turned to steep lush mountains. The Great Bear Rainforest is where grizzlies and first nations people still thrive. Buddy the camper, on the other hand, was in a bad way after limping down “The Hill” with a blown head gasket, only to be stranded at the mouth of a fjord without a mechanic. Thankfully we got the last spot on the ferry to Bella Bella and were literally taken in by the Heltisuk tribe a while we waited three days for our 11-hour transfer up the Inside Passage to the nicest mechanics in the entire world (see next story).
Our 2,000th Day on the Road
It was day five at McCarthy GM of Prince Rupert, and Buddy sat naked, with an open hood and his engine dismantled into plastic baggies. The wildfires were running rampant around British Columbia and it was taking days to get parts for our 33-year-old camper. Day Five at the mechanic was also day 2,000 of the HoneyTrek. When our new friends at GM got wind of this…they said, “You will not be spending this milestone day in our parking lot. We’ve booked you into a hotel downtown.” Already flabbergasted by the nice gesture, we were floored by the this ocean-view suite, a bottle of bubbly, and note that said, “Happy 2,000th Day.” You may have heard about the incredible kindness of Canadians…and it’s all true!
With a new head gasket and his mojo back, Buddy was bound for Alaska. This was unexpected and a bit ambitious, but when we heard about the legends of grizzlies, gold miners, and glaciers in the “The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska,” we hoofed it to Hyder, AK. We have plenty more of Alaska to explore, but considering we started this road trip in Florida (and we weren’t sure Buddy would even make it to Georgia) reaching “The Last Frontier” felt like an incredible feat with four cylinders.
20th Annual MHM Golf Tournament
The first Tuesday in August–no matter where we are in the world–we always make it back to the Poconos, Pennsylvania for the MHM. Mike, his brothers, and Billy P have been running a golf tournament in memory of Mike Howard Sr. since 1997 and 2017 marks 20 years of amazing tee times. It was a fun and emotional event where not only the winners got trophies, but the people who attended for 10+ years got medals for their ongoing love and support.
Getting Wild West in Montana
We’ve always dreamt about going to Montana, and who hasn’t? The land of Big Sky, where buffalo roam, cowboys rule the rolling hills, and A River Runs Through It… it’s the wild west at its most romantic. We were lucky enough to try out three ranches for a big glamping project we’re working on (See 2018 Preview, below), and got wild west with some lessons in cattle herding, fly fishing, and bison tracking. Read on.
Total Solar Eclipse
You think we’d miss the total solar eclipse on our home turf? Not a chance. On the morning of August 21, we were still a couple hundred miles from the Path of Totality but we were determined to make it from South Dakota to Nebraska to watch the moon cover the sun. We were pushing our speedometer to numbers never seen before, when we saw the morning light turn to an eerie twilight and pulled over into a field of sunflowers. We scrambled to set up our tripod, colanders, and eyewear for this two-minute spectacular. Standing in the moon’s shadow and seeing the sun’s corona shine like a diamond ring was truly one of the most surreal and beautiful things we have ever seen.
Ultimate Journeys for Two Releases Worldwide
On September 5th, 2017 our book–the story of our eternal honeymoon, the wonders of couples travel, and 75 of the world’s most spectacular destinations–released worldwide. We kicked off the Ultimate Journeys for Two celebrations with a launch party in New York and New Jersey (thanks for hosting Allianz & Prime REG!) then jetted off on a book tour to LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and back to Manhattan to give a talk at REI. Half the excitement of the tour was having so many family and friends from every stage of our lives—be it pre-school buddies to Facebook fans– join us in celebration.
Travel Year in Review: Our Book in the News
We’d be proud if this book only impressed our mothers, but it feels extra fantastic when the press takes notice too. Ultimate Journeys for Two has been featured on Breakfast Television Toronto, CBS Memphis, NBC Knoxville, Lonely Planet Magazine, InStyle, The Globe and Mail, Men’s Fitness, National Geographic Travel, Refinery29, PureWow, Johnny Jet, The Points Guy, The Hoboken Reporter, and The AP—who’s story on the most inspiring and giftable travel books got picked up the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, Time Magazine, and dozens of other outlets! Plus, we’ve been getting more and more requests for contributions as couples travel experts– from Brides to U.S. World News & Report. Stay tuned for our appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning Washington,” discussing Valentine’s travel tips.
Leaf Peeping in New England
After a whirlwind book tour, it was time to reconvene with the camper and enjoy the fall foliage. Few places are as beautiful as New England in autumn so we explored Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont under a canopy of auburn leaves. Watch this video for some hut-to-hut hiking, frisbee golfing between treehouses, wild house parties, 18th-century villages, and landscapes bathed in red and gold.
Covering Día de Muertos for Lonely Planet
While cruising around Vermont, we got a call from Lonely Planet and it went something like this: “Hey guys. Visit Mexico wants to do a campaign to promote their annual Day of the Dead festivities…can be you in Mexico City in five days to cover it on behalf of LP?” After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we started plotting our five-city Día de Muertos tour to showcase the many facets of this vibrant tradition. Starting in Mexico City the for a 1.5 million-spectator parade, followed by Puebla’s arts festival, Cholula’s Catrina fashion show, Huequechula’s familial ofrendas, and finishing at San Andrés Mixquic’s celebration across the cemeteries, we shared the spirit of Día de Muertos in all its glory—and had an unforgettable time doing it! See our full editorial and marketing campaign here.
Dominican Republic Adventure Models
Our only stipulation with taking on the Mexico project was that we needed to be in the Dominican Republic the day after Día de Muertos. The DR tourism board asked us if we would help them promote the lesser-known southwest region with a five-day adventure video shoot and we weren’t about to pass that up. We set off with our camera crew and hiked, SUP-ed, swam, biked, and rode horses through the region’s wildly diverse landscapes. This creative ad campaign starring HoneyTrek is airing this winter, stay tuned and until then, watch the behind the scenes video.
Launching HoneyTrek Trips
We started HoneyTrek to inspire more people to explore the world. Five years later, we want to help you do more than dream…we want you to take action. Enter HoneyTrek Trips—our off-the-track travel agency. With the help of our dear friend and Tzell agent, Melissa Lonsk, we can now help you plan, book, and venture to our favorite destinations in the world. Learn more here or email us at [email protected]. We can’t wait to discover your travel style and tailor our road-tested advice for your journey of a lifetime.
Baja: Whale Sharks, Sea Lions, and Gnomads
For over a year now, we’ve been Travelocity Gnomads–an incredible group of travel influencers hand-picked by the first OTA in the biz. We write a monthly column for them and occasionally explore regions of the world on their behalf (not a bad gig ;). Most recently, we were sent to Los Cabos, Mexico and checked out some the region’s most fabulous hotels and adventures. Check out our blog on road tripping up the sandy roads of Cabo del Este and diving into the Sea of Cortez with whale sharks and sea lions.
Our First Caribbean Cruise
We’ve never been cruisers. It wasn’t until MSC Cruises reached out about the tricked-out MSC Seaside, that we even entertained the idea of a Caribbean cruise. We were two of nine influencers invited on the ship’s maiden voyage from Antigua to Miami, where we got to eat by the hand of James-Beard-Award-winning chefs, ride the longest zipline at sea, rock out at the silent disco, and revel in their Balinese spa. When we docked, the party kicked into high gear with a naming ceremony hosted by Mario Lopez, performances by Ricky Martin and Andrea Bocelli, and a ribbon cutting by Sophia Loren.Blog coming soon!
2018 HoneyTrek Preview
2017 will be tough to top, but 2018 is looking bright with some exciting destinations and projects on the horizon…plus life wouldn’t be an adventure if we knew exactly what was to come, right? Here’s what is on the docket thus far:
Speaking at the Smithsonian. The nation’s largest organization of museums has invited us to give our second talk: “A Dozen Offbeat Adventures: Must-See Destinations for 2018.” If you’re in DC on January 9th, join us and discover where to head and when to go for the best weather, cultural offerings, lowest prices, and fewest tourists.
Glamping North America. We can’t fully disclose the details on this because we are still wrapping up the contract, but we’re doing a BIG project on Glamping North America. This will bring us to all corners of the continent to scout and experience the most creative and luxurious lodging you can find in nature. Have somewhere in mind? Email us at [email protected]
Road Trip USA. After we do a little winter glamping up north, we’re picking up the camper in sunny Florida to start our road trip across the South, Rockies, Southwest, California and maybe Mexico. Have any favorite destinations or experiences we should try? Let us know!
Thank you for joining us on our HoneyTrek journey and HAPPY NEW YEAR!