2022 was our 10th year on honeymoon, Buddy the Camper’s 5th year in the family, and the year we reached the 70th country on our 7-continent journey. Hitting a decade of nomadic living, we felt a deep sense of gratitude. Back in 2012 we started traveling to celebrate our marriage, but as the years have gone on, we realized it’s the local communities and pristine environments that need celebrating. While we’ve always been eco-conscious, we wanted to be more deliberate in our route, partnerships, and travel recommendations. Because with a bit of research and informed choices, having fun can also be doing good. We created a new goal for 2022 (and beyond)…we weren’t just going to travel to the most swoon-worthy places, we were going on a quest to find The World’s Most Romantic and Sustainable Destinations. This brought us to French Polynesia, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Slovenia…and we’re just getting started! And with every place we partner with, we are volunteering when possible and giving back 5% of our earnings to the communities and environments that make each one so special.
Here are our travel highlights from 2022 (including some our families don’t even know about) and experiences we hope will inspire your own journey!
10 Years of HoneyTrek in 7 Minutes
To commemorate our decade on honeymoon and all the incredible places, people, and experiences that have touched our lives in the process, we took on the massive task of turning 10 years worth of videos into a 7-minute highlight reel. It took a solid month to edit down thousands of videos and (with the help of an incredible editor) finesse our 300 best clips into something that told our story. Starting with leaving our home in New York City and flying into the wilds of the Amazon Jungle, like the two clueless city kids we were, you see our struggles and triumphs as we move from South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, The Middle East, Central America, The Caribbean, Antarctica, to North America. The diversity of experiences made us appreciate the highs and lows, and realize that there is no such thing as a misadventure. Watch the video above for the best of HoneyTrek at a glance.
HoneyTrek on Access Hollywood
Our 10th year on Honeymoon got a good amount of media attention, including an interview with People Magazine and a TV segment on Australia’s biggest morning show, though the one that really put butterflies in our stomach was an eight-minute interview with Mario Lopez & Kit TK of Access Hollywood. We went to NBC studios at Rockafeller Center and it was so surreal seeing the stages where Saturday Night Live & The Tonight Show are filmed, then sit in the hot seat for our own segment with one of the biggest hosts in America! As nervous as we were, it couldn’t have gone better with Mario and Kit holding up our books and going gaga for our journey!
More HoneyTrek Press Highlights: Expedia’s Out Travel the System Podcast, US News & World Report, Bhutan Times, Washington Post‘s Mansion Global Magazine, Mariposa Gazette, and The Times of India (along with this media blitz that ensued during our visit to Kerala).
Walking Safari in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Tennessee Music Blitz
The home of the blues, country, and rock n’ roll, Tennessee has such a rich music history. But considering its also the homestate of half my family, we kind of took that for granted…until this May! To lay a better foundation, we took Memphis’ Backbeat Tours, where a live musician and leading Memphis historian tells the story of this musical city through song. We followed that up with a trip to Graceland to check out Elvis’ pad, plane, cars, and a museum to the King of Rock and Roll. The month of May is also the annual Beale Street Music Festival, where 70+ bands from the Mississippi Delta to Ghana, Africa came to get down. Megan Thee Stallion, The Counting Crows, Grace Potter, Weezer, Shaggy, Modest Mouse and Van Morrison were just a few favorites to grace the stage. (See our Memphis Instagram Reel here.) Everyone knows that Nashville is the home of country music, but few realize that neighboring Franklin & Leiper’s Fork are where its country royalty live and groom rising stars. Leiper’s Fork may be a village of only 650 people, but some of its residents include Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, and Justin Timberlake. Music runs through the veins of this town and their old country store is a premier venue. We heard about Fox & Locke’s legendary Thursday open-mic night, where artists are often past or future Grammy nominees, and we were blown away by all 20 acts—be it a teenage girl with a big set of pipes or the writer for that “Night Shift” song that’s all over the radio. Down the road in Franklin, the FirstBank Amphitheater has turned an abandoned quarry from a trash heap to one of the most unique and sustainable music venues. We would’ve seen any concert just to experience this sweet new spot, but we had the good fortune of catching the legendary Willie Nelson! Read our blog about the secret music hubs of Tennessee.
New Public Speaking Gigs: Sustainable Travel
We spoke at five travel tradeshows this year, giving talks from “Succeeding as a Digital Nomad” at The Travel Summit in Canada to “Growing Your Business with Influencer Marketing” at the Glamping Show USA. Though we are most proud of the first-ever sustainability panel at The Travel & Adventure Show. We spoke at this multi-city show in San Francisco back in 2021 and when we didn’t see the topic of sustainability being covered in a major way, we asked if we could join forces with other green-minded travel pros for a panel discussion and Q&A. Our goal was to inform travelers’ trip planning and decision-making to lower their carbon footprint, support local communities, and have a positive impact wherever they go. It was such a hit that we’ll be bringing the panel to more Travel & Adventure Shows in the future!
Canoeing America’s First National River and Celebrating its 50th Year!
Kayaking and canoeing is our happy place and paddling the gorgeous Buffalo River in the sheer canyons of Arkansas was pure bliss! The National Park System manages this 95,000 acres of Northwest Arkansas wilderness, complete with verdant mountains, limestone cliffs, elk herds, historic villages, and of course, this epic river. Paddling from Ponca to Kyle’s Landing, we plied this gorgeous 10-mile stretch and hopped out for hikes to multiple waterfalls–including the tallest cascade between the Rockies and the Appalachians! To top it all off we stayed at Buffalo Outdoor Center’s most romantic mountaintop cabin with a hot tub to take in the valley views and countless stars in this International Dark Sky Park. Watch this video on our Buffalo River adventure and read about our full Northwest Arkansas Road Trip here.
Visiting India Together…at Last!
Before we met, Mike and I each took backpacking trips to India. Its 5,000+ years of civilization and billion people of incredible diversity left a deep impression on both of us and it was about time we experienced the subcontinent together. Our first stop was Goa, where we stayed in an AMAZING 19th-century Indo-Portuguese mansion, explored the UNESCO-protected old town, and danced on the beaches with tens of thousands of Indians for their 75th Independence Day. Then we hopped an overnight train (which was its own wild adventure) to Kerala. Tucked between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Kerala is a place so beautiful it’s called “God’s Own Country.” Famous for their tea plantations, backwater canals, long stretches of beach, colonial architecture, and harmonious blend of religions, Kerala was dazzling. Watch our video about the ancient port city of Kochi, see our gallery from Munnar tea country, and see our full highlight reel from our India journey. No matter how seasoned a traveler you are, India will always keep you on your toes and light up your senses.
National Honeymoon Day
Honeyfund, the world’s #1 honeymoon registry, had the brilliant idea to start this holiday and guess who they asked to be their spokespeople? They did a big press release on the importance of honeymoons, with some fascinating stats on how that initial newlywed trip makes for stronger, longer marriages with lots of quotes from HoneyTrek. To further the celebration and share some travel tips, we did an Instagram Live with Honeyfund and a juicy Ultimate Journeys for Two giveaway.
Covering the Re-opening of Bhutan for Travel & Leisure Magazine
A Himalayan Kingdom that has only been open to the outside world since 1974, and a country that measures success by Gross National Happiness, Bhutan has always intrigued us. Adding to the mystery of “The Land of the Thunder Dragon,” they took pandemic precautions to a new level and closed their borders for the last 2.5 years. The country finally opened to visitors on September 23rd of 2022…but through a series of governmental hoops and a stroke of magic, we were invited in early to show that Bhutan is back and better than ever. It was an incredible honor to be among the first travelers to experience the “New Bhutan” and cover the country’s grand reopening for Travel & Leisure. It was tricky unraveling the slew of new tourism policies (especially when half the meetings were held in the Dzongkha language!) but it was worth all the effort to highlight this special place. For a deep dive into the magic of this country, read the HoneyTrek blog on trekking to the famous Tiger’s Nest, flying in the cockpit over Mount Everest, attending a mask dance festival, glamping at 12,000 feet, river rafting past 17th-century fortresses, sleeping in Buddhist temples, planting trees, sharing tea with nomadic cow herders, and finding joy in one of the world’s happiest countries.
Croatia Power Couples Boat Trip
As a couple who gave up pretty much everything (house, car, job, community, most possessions, etc.) to follow a dream, we are always on the lookout for our tribe. Pairs like this can be hard to come by, so when we got invited to a week-long “Power Couples” boat trip in Croatia, we didn’t think twice. Sailing from Split to the remote islands of Kornati National Park and lesser-known seaside villages of the Adriatic, we got to bond and learn from fellow couples running their own businesses, living nomadic lifestyles, and charting their own path. Not to mention, that a private boat trip along the Dalmatian coast is the best way to shake the tourists and see the serene side of Croatia.
Bosnia & Herzegovina Road Trip
When our Croatia boat trip ended, we continued our power couples adventure with our long-time travel blogger buddies Max and Oksana of Drink Tea & Travel. Sure we could have explored more of Croatia, but we decided to dig into a lesser-known region of former Yugoslavia…Bosnia & Herzegovina. Flashbacks of the 1990s Bosnian War keep many travelers away, but let us tell you, this country is a gem! Clifftop castles, craggy mountains, East-meets-West architecture, and locals who are genuinely happy to see you, B&H had us extending our trip for more. Reconsider this destination and add these places to your itinerary: The open-air museum of Počitelj village, Kravica Waterfall, Fortress of Herzog, the UNESCO bridge and city of Mostar, Blagaj Dervish Monestary, Aleksin Han lookout & Neretva River cliffs, and the fascinating capital of Sarajevo. Bosnia & Herzegovina may still have its battle scars, but travelers who give the country a chance help them heal.
Sailing from Castle to Castle in Trieste, Italy
After we spent a week crewing a yacht in French Polynesia in fall 2021, Captain Jasna Tuta said to us “If you are ever in Italy, you are always welcome on my boat.” We had so much fun getting to know this fellow world traveler and learning from a master sailor that we couldn’t pass up that invite! After our former-Yugoslavia trip, we took a special detour to Trieste to sail from castle to castle on her signature tour with an overnight extension. Just like old times, she had us hoisting sails, setting anchors, even giving us turns at the helm. Jasna spent nine years sailing around the world but her hometown of Trieste is where she docks a piece of her heart. When she’s not teaching the blind to sail or writing bestselling books, she’s leading trips between the stunning Duino and Miramare castles. We watched sunset hit the sea cliffs, cooked hip-to-hip in the hull, and swapped nomad stories into the night, to culminate one of our favorite weekends of the year.
Oktoberfest Snowbird Style
We did not expect fall to be soooo spectacular in Utah. In less than 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, we were surrounded by craggy mountains under a blanket of red and gold. A few curves later we pulled into Snowbird, one of the country’s premier ski resorts and legendary Oktoberfests. Started in 1972 by a yodeling tram-operator and a few of Salt Lake’s German immigrants, this festival of beer and mountain merriment just celebrated its 50th year. We joined the Bavarian-style party with thousands twirling about in their lederhosen, then rode the chair lift to 11,000 feet for hefeweizens overlooking the Wasatch Range. Salt Lake City is so close to the mountains, we could have made this a day trip, but instead we checked into the ultra-fabulous Alta Chalets to enjoy sunset from our hot tub and a sunrise hike from our front door. Watch our reel for this scenic fall drive, must-do beer festival, one of our new favorite hiking trails, and an unforgettable weekend getaway.
Skydiving over Yosemite
I was always on the fence about skydiving, but a scenic flight around Yosemite National Park that culminates with free-falling over this iconic swath of terrain made me take the leap! Watch us fly past Half Dome, then backflip from 14,000 feet. For our favorite things to do around Yosemite and the inspiring people behind them, see this blog.
Glamping Consulting Workshops
After reviewing 250+ boutique hotels and glamping camps around the world, we decided to share what we’ve learned with emerging glampgrounds and help them create an unforgettable guest experience. We started our HoneyTrek Glamping Consulting & Creative Services back in 2020 and this fall it became a proper side-hustle, conducting 10 courses in the month of November alone with more to come in the new year! From existing glamp camps like Basecamp Resort to an awesome regenerative resort that’s brewing outside of DC, these aren’t just properties, these are dreams that we are so proud to help bring to fruition!
England Housesit & Girls Trip
🥳 For my sweet sixteen, my mom gave me trip to London and it opened up my view of the world. So for her milestone…
When we take a trans-Atlantic flight, we wanna make the most of it (for ourselves and the planet)! So for our recent trip to London for World Travel Market, we decided to turn a three-day tradeshow into a five-week stay in Europe…starting with a housesit in the English countryside! Caring for a 400-year-old thatched cottage and 17-year-old Jack Russell was a bit intimidating at first, but the homeowners and community of Winslow made us feel like family! We adored our time in this historic town…strolling the High Street, shopping the farmer’s markets, and supporting our local pub (the homeowners left us pint money to make sure did 🙂 When they asked if we could also care for their daughter’s dog, we bartered it for two houseguests! It was a bold ask, but my mom was having a milestone birthday and my sister had never traveled abroad with HoneyTrek…so a girls’ trip was meant to happen! They joined us for a few days in the cottage, then we went on a road trip through the picture-perfect Cotswold countryside (video here), a day trip to the hallowed university town of Oxford, and three days in London for theater, museums, fine food, and mother-daughter-sister-time. With all the love and family fun, this may have been our best housesit yet.
Michelin-Star Dining Across Slovenia
To show our love and support for the wonderful communities and ecosystems we explored this year, we are proud to have donated to OsaConservation.org, Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica’s community library, Buffalo River Foundation, the Yosemite Climbing Association, Mariposa Community Foundation, Equality Utah, Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, The Bhutan Foundation and the Harpeth River Conservancy; plus we volunteered with The Bhutan Ecological Society, Mariposa Trails, and The Franklin Giving Garden. Thank you to all these organizations for their meaningful work and for sharing a piece of your world with us!
What do you think was the highlight of the year?
2023 Travel Preview
- Tournament of Roses. We’re kicking off 2023 with a proper New Year’s tradition, the Rose Parade & Rose Bowl football game! This year it’s Penn State vs Utah and Buddy the Camper will be there tailgating with bells on.
- Xscapers Annual Bash. This community of young RVers is getting together in Lake Havasu, Arizona for a week of music, games, community-building, and knowledge sharing (including a talk by HoneyTrek!).
- Sonoma County for Valentine’s Day! Sonoma is a strong candidate to join our list of The World’s Most Romantic and Sustainable Destinations, so we’re excited to see the green side of California wine country.
- ITB Berlin. The largest travel tradeshow in the world happens every March in Germany and we’re excited to finally attend! While we’re in the neighborhood, we’ll explore more of the country and head over to Switzerland or Spain.
- Bulgaria Ski Trip. Who’s been skiing in Bulgaria? No one we know… that’s why we’re checking it out! Friends of ours are considering leading winter adventure tours there and we are happy to be there guinea pigs, alongside 20 snow-bunny buddies!
- Greece. There are a couple island groups leading the charge for sustainable travel in the Mediterranean so we’ll be considering those for the list too, and eating a lot of vegan gyros in the process!
- Montana Wedding. Dear friends of ours are getting married at Bridger Bowl outside Bozeman so we’ll take this opportunity to road trip the Rockies for a couple weeks.
- Africa. Nothing is officially on the docket yet, but we’re putting it out to the universe…we are going back and exploring new countries like Rwanda, Botswana, and Namibia! We want our list of the World’s Most Romantic & Sustainable Destinations to cover all the continents, so Africa is a must and sure to be a delight.
Where do you think we should go in 2023? We always love hearing your tips!