1000 Days of Travel!!

We just hit the 1000 days of  travel milestone… happy dance!

1000 Days of Travel

Yipppeeeeeee!

The last 1000 days have been a mind boggling, life changing, heart warming adventure of learning, loving, and leaving every step of the way.

1000 days have take us through 18 countries in Australasia, the Americas and Europe. Next week we swap Ireland for Thailand and continue the adventure in South East Asia.

You can have a lot of adventures in 1000 days – and now from time to time we find some of the memories are getting a little hazy.

Here are the highlights of 1000 days of travel in rapid fire AND a chance to get some help to start your own life changing journey.

What our 1000 days of travel looks like…

Arriving in Venezuela

When we booked our tickets to Caracas we were blissfully unaware of the dangerous reputation of the city. Eventually we spend a fantastic 6 weeks in Venezuela but it does seem palpably safer when we cross the border to Colombia.

Horses in Puerto Colombia, Venezuela

One morning in Chorini, we passed a couple coming out of a tent on the beach and the guy had a massive pistol tucked in his Y-fronts!

Volunteering and our first mini documentary

We volunteer in a lot of places throughout Latin America but the first was at The Yellow Butterflies Foundation, a school in the slums of northern Colombia. We take our brand new camera and become documentary film makers! The story of Oscar and the kids is enough to bring a tear to the eye and I will always have a special place in my heart for this project.

Falling in Love with Cuba

Cuba has been top of my bucket list for over a decade! We spend an incredible month here – it is truly a heavenly place to explore. The people are warm and welcoming. The culture is gritty and passionate. The ocean is turquoise and the sand is white.  The colours are brighter. The sun is brighter.

Horse riding in Viñales, Cuba

There are moments from my time in Cuba that will stand out as some of the most beautiful and surreal of my life. Like horse riding with cowboys between the prehistoric looking mountains of Vinales, the sunset projecting pink and orange through the magical green valley.

Or our “private” salsa lesson in Baracoa which started with two teachers and ends up with the whole neighborhood watching and offering their help and opinions!

One day after having no internet for several weeks I just felt compelled to write. I starting what was to become my new book How to Succeed in 12 Months.

Filming in a brothel in Nicaragua

We travel to a small town in the north of Nicaragua to film a project run by women who once worked in the sex trade. This is one of the poorest places in the world and life is tough, especially for woman who never had a chance to go to school.

This group of women have combined forces to help educate other sex workers in health and human rights. They take us to a local brothel to interview some of the women working there and we get an insight to a world that is not in any guide books. The conditions these women work and live in is tough and they have no protection from discrimination and violence.

We returned to our hotel exhausted, but thrilled because today we were invited to be part of their lives. It is such a privilege it is almost overwhelming. Today we are journalists.

We meet inspiring people along the way

Everywhere we go we meet inspiring people who are making a difference.

A Month in Modern Medellin

We decided to stop in Medellin for a month and catch up on some writing and video editing. It was a great decision as Medellin is an amazing city! It is modern, clean and has fantastic public transport and services. We were also thrilled to find that we could swim in their state of the art swimming complexes and rent bicycles in tourist destinations free!

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia – modern, clean and full of surprises!

Overstaying in Ecuador

Well we wanted to anyway! We managed to drag ourselves away on the last day of our 3 month visa. Ecuador is stunning, and has a huge variety of landscapes and the most dense variety of wildlife in the world.

Ecuador has it all; snow capped mountain tops, tropical coastal lowlands, the jungle of the Amazon, the ranges of the Andes, volcanic lakes, and a rich indigenous culture that really brings meaning to the word community.

Ecuadorian Highlands

Market day in the Ecuadorian highlands

Cruising the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, but they are so amazing that they get their own little section! Where else can you be chased by a manta ray, cross paths with a giant tortoise, swim with a penguin and have to elbow your way through pelicans, marine lizards and sea lions to buy your supplies at the market?

Wildlife of the Galapagos Islands

We spent an amazing month in the Galapagos, with time each on Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristobel as well as a 7 day cruise with EcoVentura to half of the smaller islands.

The wildlife is out of this world! And each island is a unique visible feast of natural wonder.

Tracking Giant Tortoises - Galapagos Islands

Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia

We loved Bolivia! From the highland wonder of Copacabana and Lake Titicaca to the stunning sunsets over the valley of La Paz, Bolivia is pretty special. But one place that takes the cake is Salar de Uyuni – the Salt Flats and surrounding deserts and lakes.

This is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Salar de Uyuni.

Salar de Uyuni

New Book: How to Succeed in 12 Months

How to Succeed in 12 Months: Creating a Life You Love was finished at midnight on New Years eve and launched in May 2014 – we happened to be in Sydney at the time. It is brilliant to think that other people might feel inspired to create their own big life adventure.

More family time than ever.

You would think that with all this travel that we would hardly see our families, but the opposite is true!

I left my home town in Palmerston North when I was 17.  John has been coming and going from Ireland since he was 21. Basically we don’t get to see much of our families normally because we always seem to live in some other country. This all changed on this trip!

My cousins go wild

Catching up with my cousins…

We have spent 3 months in San Francisco visiting John’s brother and sister in law. We spent time between my family units all over the North Island of New Zealand and made it to my Nana’s 80th birthday. We travelled down the east coast of  Australia and spent time with my family  in Melbourne.

Nana and my nephew

My nana and my nephew

In Ireland we made it to John’s sisters wedding and spent time with his tiny niece and nephews. In our travels we have been able to reconnect and spend the kind of quality time that would never have been possible had we had jobs to go home to. Next week we head to Thailand and plan to spend a few weeks of the next 6 months in Singapore and Malaysia reconnecting with my family there.

We have had a lush year of family that was completely unplanned which makes it all a little more delicious!

Irish winter sunsets

Irish winter sunsets are ridiculous…

What’s next?

So the next step is to pack our bags once more and head off to Thailand next week. We have about 6 months of travel in Asia before John needs to be back in Ireland for his book launch.

Then the plan gets a little open… maybe a year in Africa, maybe buy a little piece of land somewhere, maybe build a tiny house, maybe run away and join the circus!

What will our next 1000 days of travel entail? We will have to wait to find out!

Post By Serena Star Leonard

Serena Star-Leonard is a business coach, writer and blogger travelling around the world for 5 years and counting. As well as capturing stories of inspiring people who are making a difference to their communities, her passion is to help people find a way to do the things they love for a living.

Website: → How to Retire in 12 Months

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  • Ulrike

    A nice walk on memory lane and what a great milestone! I love the photos – you seem to be living life to the fullest!

    • Thanks, it is nice to look back on some of the photos – even from Latin America it now seems so long ago!

  • Tonya

    A dream come true to spend a month in so many of these wonderful places! There’s no better way to be a local then to live locally.

    • Hey Tonya, yes it is amazing to be able to stop and get familiar with a place, And even a month is not much time in the scheme of things. I would love to spend a year exploring some of these countries but alas there are not enough years in a lifetime!

  • Looks like you’re coming from a family of travelers 😉 Ireland, US, Australia, NZ.
    1000 days “away” – are you sure which place you still consider to be your home 😉

    • I guess we do in some ways Karol! I never really thought of it like that! Home is where Johnny is 🙂 one day we may settle somewhere warm! But until then home is where we are at any given moment 🙂

  • Paula Johnson

    Wow, what a fantastic time you guys have had – so inspiring!! Can’t wait to see what you get up to next 🙂

    • Likewise Paula, I love our little traveling community! I am looking forward to seeing how your retreats go!

  • Tracey – Life Changing Year

    Wow – what a great post and what a huge adventure you’ve had! There are so many places that you’ve been that are on my list! I’m angling for a trip to Cuba this year so I’ll be hitting you up for some pointers!!

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