The Best Of One Year of Travel

After one year on the road to 25 countries, we're sharing our favorite things!

Best Country: Italy

While we loved so many countries we visited, Italy just has it all: amazing food, interesting history and cities, world-class art and a beautiful countryside.

Best City: Barcelona, Spain

Definitely one of our favorite cities in the world (along with Cape Town and Tokyo :).  We loved the late-night food culture and how lively the streets are here.

Best Meal: Chefs Warehouse, Cape Town, South Africa

We were prepared for cool animal encounters in South Africa but not for the awesome (and inexpensive) food scene in Cape Town.  We had so many memorable meals this year, but Chef's Warehouse takes the cake.  Their set menu that day (and we actually visited twice- it was that good) included oysters, seared salmon, mushroom and lemon risotto and more.  

Best Day: Beach, Bikes and Fresh Pasta in Marina di Castagneto Carducci, Italy

On a break from our workaway at the cooking school in Tuscany, we took bikes and road to the beach.  Our host, Chicca, had recommended a nice lunch spot which we later learned had a Michelin star.  We had fresh pasta topped with lobster and a delicious bottle of white wine, and then spent the afternoon swimming and lounging in beach chairs before heading back on our bikes.  Best.  Day.  Ever.  

Lobster and fresh pasta at the beach in Italy.  YUM.

Lobster and fresh pasta at the beach in Italy.  YUM.

Best Hotel: Hilton Windhoek, Namibia

Nate used points to book us a free stay here.  After a month of driving and camping across southern Africa, a hotel stay felt so luxurious!  We loved the rooftop pool, and the room was so comfortable.

Best Surprise Destination: Salt Flats, Southern Bolivia

We hadn't planned to spend much time in Bolivia, but when we learned our Visas would cost $160 each, we decided to make the most of it.  We did a tour through southern Bolivia and were stunned by how different and amazing it was.

Best Flight: First class ANA flight from Tokyo back to the US

Again Nate's travel hacking paid off.  We used 220,000 Sapphire points transferred to United for these two first class tickets from Tokyo (Narita) to Houston (George Bush International) and then Houston on to Atlanta (Hartsfield Jackson).  Our tickets included lie-flat seats with soft mattresses, comforters, pajamas, slippers, socks, a full toiletry kit with high-end sleep and beauty products, as well as an on-demand menu and option for 13-course kaiseki-style Japanese dinner or 3 course western option including caviar and waygu beef.  The wine list was amazing too! 

Best Hostel: Sleep Club Hostel, Krabi, Thailand

Super comfy private rooms at $15/night.  You can't beat that!  

Best Campsite: Coffee Bay, South Africa

We paid less than $20 to camp right next to the ocean.  It was beautiful and we couldn't stop marveling at the view!

Best City Tour: Real City Tours, Medellin, Colombia

Our guide, Pablo, was amazing, and we learned so much about a really under-rated city. Bonus: It was free!

Best Bed: Mediterranean Cruise Stateroom

Despite having the smallest and cheapest stateroom on our cruise ship, it was the longest we stayed in one place, and it felt heavenly to us.  

Best Excursion: Four Day Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu

An awesome and grueling four day hike along an incredibly beautiful and historic trail.  We were so happy to see the sun rise over Machu Picchu on the fourth day.

Best Wild Animal Encounter: Close up with a Giant Elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa

We screeched to a halt when we saw this huge elephant emerge from the trees just off the road.  We stopped to film and couldn't believe how close we were!  A little scary.

Best Volunteer Experience: Lanta Animal Welfare, Koh Lanta, Thailand

We spent the month of October playing with dogs and cats at this welfare center, which rescues hurt and homeless animals on the island.  After treating the dogs and cats, they adopt them out all over the world to tourists that fall in love with an animal in Thailand.

Best Museum: Singapore City Museum, Singapore

We loved seeing this museum that's all about the history and city planning of Singapore, a tiny and densely populated city-state in Southeast Asia.

Best Artwork: David, Accademia Gallery, Florence

Of all of the amazing art we saw this year this sculpture was the most impactful and impressive.

Best Street Food: Laksa and Wanton Mee in Singapore

Singapore is a foodie's dream city.  For an expensive place, there are tons of hawker stalls that offer delicious (and sometimes Michelin starred) options for less than $5 USD.

Best View: Top of the Red Dunes in Namibia

After an hour and a half of hiking up hot red sand, this view did not disappoint.  Southern Namibia is a desolate place, but the deserts are incredible to see.  We spent a few weeks driving across them, and it was one of the most unique places we visited all year.  

Best Thing In Our Packs: Steripen

We used this all year to sterilize water in places where the tap water wasn't potable (most of the places we visited).  It saved us hundreds of dollars in plastic water bottles and made us feel less wasteful.  

Best Clothing Pick for Jess: Ex Officio Underwear

When we're traveling long-term, the last thing you want to do is haul a bunch of cotton underwear and spend forever trying to find a laundry service.  These are super light weight and quick dry, so I could wash them in hotel and hostel sinks, and they'd be dry by the next morning!

Best Clothing Pick for Nate: Icebreaker Long-Sleeve Button Down

This shirt is well made, almost never needs to be washed and works in practically any situation.