When you move almost every day, you cover a lot of ground in a year…like 17,756 miles by car alone. We traveled at a crazy pace in 2018, but the camper inspires us to keep on rolling because there is always another national park, ski village, beach town, monument, honkeytonk, or good friend just around the bend. We love Buddy the Camper but also like to mix up our travel style, so we parked him for a few months and backpacked four other countries by boat, bus, and hiking boot. North America was the focus of our 2018 because that’s where our next travel book takes place. To research the best glamping destinations on the continent, for our publisher Falcon Guides, we did everything from trekking between Mayan villages in Guatemala to dog sledding at the Ice Hotel in Canada, and found so many gems and inspiring stories along the way! This glamping journey sparked a slew of adventures, as did our time housesitting in Central America and catching festivals from The Calgary Stampede to Burning Man. Meanwhile, HoneyTrek crossing a quarter million social media followers and our Nat Geo book ranking in the top 0.01% of all books on Amazon, opened lots of new doors—from speaking at the Smithsonian to getting featured on CBS This Morning. Read on for more highlights from 2018 and a preview of 2019.
2018 Road Trip Route
Buddy’s four-cylinder engine has been on overdrive this year, clocking 17,756 miles through 24 states, 3 Canadian Provinces, 17 National Parks and Monuments, North America’s highest continuously paved road, deepest river gorge, and its lowest point in elevation. See our blog about the good, bad, and awesome of living in a camper.
Speaking at the Smithsonian
Almost everyone wants to travel more, but where to go and when? It’s such a pervasive question that the Smithsonian Institute wanted to get the bottom of it with a lecture, presented by none other than HoneyTrek! To prepare for our two-hour presentation on “2018’s Must-See Destinations & Travel Hacks” we cross-referenced the 700+ places we’d visited against industry trends, world news, and our inner circle of globetrotters. It was a sold-out house with over 200 people! For those that missed the lecture, here are our favorite destinations by month, and our top tips and hacks to make those ambitious travels a reality. This lecture kicked off a year of speaking gigs and co-hosting travel events, including The Glamping Summit and Travel Con.
We heard about this three-week, 200-event soirée while researching the best winter festivals for the “Snow & Ice” chapter of Ultimate Journeys for Two, and put it on our calendar for February 2018. Donning our warmest long johns, we slept in the ice hotel, dogsledded, snowmobiled, ice fished, cheered on the ice canoe racers, and enjoyed winter like only the Quebecois can. See our cool blog and video tour inside the Hotel de Glace.
Snowbirding in Florida
Florida has more freshwater springs than anywhere in the world, the oldest European city in the U.S., a melting pot of cultures from around the globe, the one and only Everglades, and beach weather when most of the country is shoveling snow…why wouldn’t we spend our winter here? In partnership with Visit Florida, we set aside one month to road trip the Sunshine State, from the southernmost point to the northwestern border, and discover the places even more magical than Disney. Catch our Top 10 experiences in this Facebook Live and the road trip highlights in this blog.
Our Families Join The HoneyTrek
Perhaps the greatest joy of having a house on wheels has been visiting and hosting our family and friends all over North America. We have literally visited every single member of Anne’s family in seven states…some we hadn’t seen in years! We’ve been able to visit friends too sick to leave their home and those with too many toddlers to make it downtown, but we were able to come to them with a little wine and sunshine. What could be better than that? Our families road tripping with us! We were thrilled that Anne’s mom joined us in Louisiana for a little camping, kayaking (for the first time in her life), and city exploring, and Mike’s brothers hopped in for a boys-only adventure in Colorado! They took the camper into the Rocky Mountains and hiked, frisbee golfed, grilled on the campfire, and monkeyed around like only bros can.
Starring in the DR’s Year-long Video Campaign
The Southwest Dominican Republic is a hidden gem and, as far as the tourism board was concerned, a little too hidden. Trying to spread the word about the incredible provinces of Barahona and Pedernales, they called up HoneyTrek. Having written about the DR on our blog, for Travelocity, and our Nat Geo book, they knew we loved the country and asked us if we wanted to come capture the Southwest’s diverse landscapes, untapped adventures, and warmhearted people. Heck, yea! From our jam-packed week of adventures, their talented production team created dozens of videos that they rolled out for their 2018 ad campaign. Have a watch!
Signing a Second Book Deal
Glamping has long been our favorite style of accommodation. No longer a trend, this connection between creative architecture, luxury, and nature has started a movement and has a story that needs to be told. Falcon Guides asked us to author the first-ever book on Glamping North America and we accepted the challenge! This has been our #1 project for 2018 (and half of 2017) which sent us scouting over 50 glamping destinations across the continent—including Central America and the Caribbean. Our 244-page coffee-table book is more than halfway finished and will be keeping us busy until we turn in the full manuscript this spring.
Adventures in Glamping
Some of the highlights from our glamping adventures? Driving Conestoga wagon trains through the Tetons, ziplining between cypress treehouses, herding cattle at a 115-year-old ranch, learning swordsmanship from a knight at medieval-style encampment, staying in a 1950s Airstream at a craft brewery and Southwestern dance hall…and plenty more we’ll be sharing in the book when it releases in fall 2019!
100 Miles of River Rafting
One of our most hard-core glamping adventures was a 100-mile, five-day river rafting trip through the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48. Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, fly fishing for cutthroat trout, and staying at pop-up luxury camps in the depths of the Frank Church Wilderness was unforgettable (watch the video, above). We’re so glad this trip brought us to Idaho because it sparked a three-week road trip to the Sawtooth Mountains, Craters of the Moon National Monument, our new favorite little city of Boise, and lots of hot springs in between. Read all about this highly underrated state.
Said to be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” and the rodeo world championships, the Calgary Stampede is a must for anyone with a little cowboy spirit. This century-old tradition brings the best in the biz—from bull riders to country singers—to Alberta for this ten-day spectacular. We made it just in time for the finals when the stakes and energy were at their highest. Our highlight? Chatting with this friendly guy Tim in the photographer’s pit, only to find out he was the MC of the grandstand show, and getting invited backstage for the after-party with all the stars of the Calgary Stampede! Canadian hospitality never ceases to amaze. See more Alberta adventures here.
Camping for a week in the burning hot and freezing cold desert with 70,000 people, Burning Man is not for everyone. Though with hundreds of art installations and nothing but rave reviews from every Burner we spoke with, we decided to give it a shot. We went all in for our Black Rock City adventure, with outlandish costumes, a tricked-out tent, and an open mind. After nine days in the desert dust, we found this unconventional community offered an indescribable feeling of freedom, invoked curiosity, instilled confidence, promoted creativity, celebrated unabashed silliness and that it was absolutely for us. We tried our best to capture this indescribable experience in words and photos in this blog. Have a look and brace yourself for hitchhiking on art cars, swinging from sculptures, snow cones made by human-powered hamster wheels, fire-breathing dragon DJ booths, Food Network-star cabaret dinners, goose body shots, and the two of us dressed like Mad-Max-meets-Priscilla-Queen-of-the-Desert.
HoneyTrek in a Lonely Planet Anthology
Lonely Planet surveyed 100 top explorers and travel writers and had them recount their most life-changing experience from the road in one beautiful book. The Best Moment of Your Life features incredible stories from Pico Iyer, Don George, Andrew McCarthy, and more of our travel writing heroes…plus us! We had the honor of contributing two essays from our journey and could not be prouder. Pick up a copy to inspire your travels.
Housesitting in the Bay Islands, Honduras
To mix up our travel style and get working on our glamping book, we were looking for a housesit anywhere warm in North America and stumbled across a 296-square-foot beach bungalow with two cats on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Mesmerized by this Caribbean Ocean view and ignoring details like regular power outages, no hot water, and its location in a defunct resort, we took the gig. It was our most challenging and rewarding housesit to date…read all about our 2.5 months of island life.
Backpacking Central America
Our Bay Islands housesit launched a multi-week adventure across Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We took the most unconventionally awesome river rafting trip down the wild Cangrejal, summited a volcano in 100-mph winds, explored major Mayan ruins, trekked between colonial Antigua and volcanic Lake Atitlán, learned to make pupusas, and fell deeper in love with this region of the world.
Ultimate Journeys for Two Flying Off the Shelves!
Our National Geographic book may have come out in 2017, but it really hit its stride in 2018. Maybe it was being featured in 58 gift guides or getting picked up by the Associated Press and USA Today, but however it happened,Ultimate Journeys for Two has been holding strong as an Amazon Bestseller. This month the book ranked #1 in Honeymoon Travel, #2 in Travel Writing, and the top 0.007% of the 8 million books available on Amazon. Plus, it was released in Italian and German with talks of French and Chinese editions on the horizon for 2019! Nothing makes us happier than people realizing the wonders of couples travel. We hope you get out there with the one you love!
Crossing 2,500 Days on the Road
Back in January 2012 we told our parents (and our tenants) that we’d be home by the summer of 2013. That date kept getting pushed back every few months until we finally realized that…the world is our home. To commemorate our 2,500th day on the road we did a Facebook Live from our Caribbean housesit to reflect on seven years of nomadic living and answer all your burning travel questions. Catch it here.
2019 Travel Preview
Are we slowing down in the New Year? No way! We love flying by the seat of our pants, but here is what we know so far:
Road Trip the East: After the holidays with our family in Tennessee, we’re road tripping north for two travel trades shows in New York and glamping at a few more destinations along the way–from geodesic domes in North Carolina to helicopter hangers in Connecticut.
Finish Our Glamping Book! Our next writer’s den for the final throes of our glamping book is a housesit in the ever-sexy Schenectady, New York. The book is due March 15th, wish us luck!
Ski Vermont: In our pre-nomadic lives we did a ski house for ten years in Killington, Vermont. We’re getting the band back together and we’ll be shredding the slopes at the Beast of the East and dancing our nights away at the Wobbly Barn.
College and Family Reunions: Mike’s 20th College Reunion is in April. Don’t make fun of the old man, he’s still got that college spirit! We’ll be joining the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon for the buggy races, spring carnival, and lots of Pittsburgh shenanigans. A little later in the year, we’ll be celebrating 4th Collins Family Reunion in 30 years with Anne’s fam in North Carolina!
Southwest Road Trip: Come spring, we’ll be heading across the country to explore our 44th and 45th states in the camper, then make it to Arizona for a wedding in Page, spelunking Antelope Canyon, and floating Horseshoe Bend. Utah’s national parks will undoubtedly beckon us over the border, before we drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.
National Parks: There are so many amazing parks on our list for 2019, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoia, Bryce (again), Grand Basin Nevada, and Joshua Tree (especially after we read our friend’s post on the best things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Speaking at TravelCon: North America’s premier travel blogging conference has asked us to speak at their three-day event, featuring heavy hitters like the founder of Lonely Planet and the author of Wild! Content creators and anyone looking to make a living as a nomad should check out their offerings and join us in Boston this June!
Alaska or Bust: We made it to the southern tip of Alaska in our first year in the camper but we’re beefing up the tires with hopes to make it through BC, the Yukon, and into the Last Frontier for a summer of glaciers, grizzlies, and midnight sun.
Our Glamping Book Releases! Fall 2019 is when our book on the best glamping destinations in North America hits the shelves! Get your s’mores and champagne ready for the launch party.
Experteering: We’ve always been inspired by MovingWorlds.org, a Social Purpose Corporation that pairs professionals with do-good organizations that could really use their skills. This is the year we get out there and experteer!
International Destination…You Call It! We need to add some international travel to this list, where should we go? Leave a comment below, we always love your suggestions!
Happy New Year!