Lauren and Craig | The story so far.
Summary: 51 countries travelled over the past 8 years. Next stop is Morocco for three months backpacking and volunteering.
Craig and I met 8 years ago while working at Pizza Express in the South East of England. We saved up for one year, got working holiday visas for Australia and flew to Sydney in August 2008…and we’ve never looked back since.
Australia was a lot more expensive than we’d anticipated and after 5 days of staying in hostels we decided to buy a home…on wheels. We spent a whopping $4600 on a Ford Falcon station wagon ‘The Mighty Falcon’ and boy did we have some adventures in that leaking, spider riddled tin! We scooted up the east coast before we became too drenched in sweat and went back down south. We tried our hand at sweet potato farming, volunteering on a beach resort, and an Italian restaurant until we found a more settled position working in a brewery and boutique cheese factory on a rainforest covered mountain. We soon realized we didn’t like crowds or going on tours so we left the beaten track and spent the winter travelling inland through the Snowy Mountains. We turned our body boards into sledges, and mice regularly scurried inside the Falcon on cold nights.
After exploring the stunning great ocean road and meeting lots of wild koalas and kangaroos we flew to Bangkok and traveled around South East Asia for 6 months, 2 of which in one of our favourite countries; Indonesia. We came face to face with a wild orangutan, hiked along the crater rim of an active volcano and watched some magical sunrises. We’d now been away from home for a year and a half and wanted to continue travelling so decided on Canada, but we had to apply for the visa from our home country so we did a surprise Boxing Day flight home. It took 2 months to organize the visa and off we flew to Toronto for a cold snap.
We worked for 5 months in a bar and lived in a shared flat one block from Dundas Square, we were regularly visited by resident racoons on our roof terrace, and occasionally chased by crack heads while cycling home. When we’d saved enough we bought the most incredible campervan, (Beatrice) well to us it was a luxury hotel compared to that shitty Falcon. We did a massive road trip all the way East to Newfoundland, back west through the ironed-out prairies and over the snow capped Rockies to Vancouver at which point we couldn’t resist a trip to The USA and stuck to the coast all the way south to Los Angeles, through gigantic redwood trees, past putrid smelling elephant seals and then inland through arid desert and resilient cacti to Vegas. The icing on the cake was the loop-road through Utah passing nonstop National Parks with canyons, hoodoos and scorched red rocks, all the way around to the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s Route 66. We went from -280ft elevation in Death Valley to +10,000ft on the ski hills of June Lake in the Mammoth Mountains and all the way back to Vancouver to sell our beloved Beatrice.
Less than 24hrs later we flew from Seattle to Cancun where we started our Latin America Adventure, travelling overland by chicken bus through the highlands, lush green coffee plantations and volcanic lakes, not forgetting to roast a marshmallow in a glowing crack of Pacaya Volcano. We went all the way south to Panama where we flew to the incredible Andes of Ecuador. We cycled 60km to the Amazon basin, boarded down sand dunes and soaked in hot springs when the temperature outside was -20 and my hair started to freeze. After 6 months we got a working holiday visa for New Zealand.
New Zealand seriously helped our bank balance from working 55 hour weeks for 7 months. We bought ‘Shakey’ our monkey painted van and drove all over the country from where two seas meet in the north, to the screeching penguins of the very south. Thanks to some wonderful friends we made in Auckland we got to try out hunting on their estate, and fishing in the pristine Lake Taupo. We tried out lots of New Zealand’s outdoor activities from white water rafting down a 7 meter waterfall, to a crazy bungy jump in Queenstown and a skydive with views of Mt Cook. It was a fun packed year and a half but as always we got itchy feet and decided to head to India.
A country where patience and calm is needed as well as sharp elbows and aggression, India wasn’t without its challenges, stress and diarrhea. However the culture, and that occasional act of kindness, smile or head wobble made it hard to hate – let alone getting the chance to go on elephant and tiger safaris. From the remote and un-explored east we almost did a full circumference of the country travelling by vomit ridden buses and the legendary trains which seemed to have the whole population of Delhi cramped into one carriage. From India we went to Nepal where we hid from wild rhinos in long grass and did a 12 day hike along the Annapurna Circuit in the spectacular Himalayas. This was the last stop before we flew home…
Yeah…that didn’t last so long, we worked for 3 months and got fed up with it, how do people work 9-5 and only have 2 weeks holiday a year?! We decided to give volunteering a go as it was a cheap way to see our own country. We started with gardening at a canal side cottage near London and moved onto the Scottish Highlands to help around an impressive Manor House and then on a private island. Volunteering had its ups and downs, but it gave us the chance to live the easy life while we waited out winter and got ready for our next trip…a Europe Roadtrip!
Europe totally blew us away, it was packed full of incredible mountain vistas, pristine beaches, orange deserts, quaint villages, and countless crystal clear lakes to swim in. We saw hundreds of wild flamingoes in France and reindeers, clown-faced puffins and giant sperm whales in Scandinavia. Thanks to the epic scenery and varied culture and architecture, it was our favourite roadtrip so far, if not the most challenging with hooligan drivers and language barriers.
After a year working back home in a country pub in ENGLAND we packed up our possessions for a year long trip abroad. We flew to Shanghai and spent a very cold month exploring CHINA’S mind blowing mountains, stunning architecture and interesting culture. Next up was two months backpacking round the PHILIPPINES which we fell in love with. From hiking round jaw dropping rice terraces and volcanic lakes to swimming with whale sharks, millions of sardines and giant turtles, it was a fun packed adventure with so many friendly locals. We put our winter clothes back on for JAPAN where we watched snow monkeys bathe in hot springs, witnessed the stunning cherry blossoms, met Geishas and Sumos, admired the mighty Mount Fuji and walked through the giant bamboo forest. There was only one thing between us and Alaska and that was the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS so we did a wild splurge for two weeks. We arrived in Maui where we did one of our toughest but most rewarding hikes across the volcanic centre of the island. We watched breaching humpbacks, drove the wild road to Hana, snorkelled with turtles and surfed at our nearby beach. In O’ahu we ticked a couple things off our bucket list: cage shark diving and swimming with wild dolphins, both blew us away…and emptied out wallets.
Until the next adventure…