At this time of year, we like to take a moment to reflect on what an amazing year it’s been. We’ve witnessed the Cubs become World Series Champions, Ireland beat the All Blacks in rugby for the first time in history, and the long-awaited launch of our sister company, Africa Endeavours!
We’re thankful every day for the opportunity to help your travel dreams come true. And, of course, we’re thankful to have had so many adventures of our own this year. Read about the adventures we’re thankful for in 2016.
It’s certainly been a year of surprises and new adventures. This year, my travels took me to Alaska for a month. I also headed back to Australia to see dear friends, visit my hometown of Young, and take my family to Hamilton Island. Here are some of my favorite travel moments from 2016:
- Favorite adventure: Kayaking up to the face of a glacier, quad biking, and fishing in Alaska!
- Favorite beach: Broadbeach, Australia. You can walk for an hour and only run across a handful of people the entire time.
- Favorite hotel bar: QT Sydney, hands down!
- Favorite room with a view: ShangriLa Sydney—it never fails to take your breath away with its incredible view of the city, including Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Favorite wildlife encounter: Seeing a bald eagle up close; having a seal pop up next to me while kayaking; and walking among the giant brown bears in remote Alaska, with glaciers as our backdrop.
- Favorite tradition: Eating Oysters Kilpatrick at the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane with family.
People always ask, “What’s your favorite thing you did this year?” So, for 2016, I present:
- Favorite adventures: Alaska takes the pole position this year (sorry, Australia) with bear trekking on Admiralty Island and Katmai National Park, landing on a glacier near Denali, and kayaking in Johns Hopkins Inlet.
- Favorite beach: Happy Bay beach on St. Maarten. You sit in the sand with a cold one and watch the biggest yachts you’ve ever seen mingle with the paddle boarders and dinghies.
- Favorite luxury product: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley was quite the shocker, as I had not had the chance to see it until a few months ago. Not only is the property off the charts, but the wildlife – holy mackerel. On one drive around the property, we saw well over a thousand kangaroos and wallabies, not to mention wombats everywhere. Tip: If you’re driving in from Sydney, it’s worth stopping for a night at The Hydro Majestic. There’s more history in that place than a library.
- Favorite bar: I loved sitting at the Opera House Bar at night during the Vivid festival this past May. It was amazing to see Sydney and the harbour lit up with ever-changing projections on the buildings.
- Favorite wildlife encounter: Watching three killer whales engage in a vicious feeding frenzy right in front of us off the bow of a small boat. It’ll make your heart stop.
This year has been one of loss, love, and hope. As I reflect back on the ups and downs of 2016, I’m reminded of how much there is to be grateful for. To those who we lost this year, thank you for touching our lives. To my husband, thanks for 10 years of wonderful marriage, and to my friends and family (DUE team included!), thank you for your endless love and support. Lastly, I’m thankful for all those individuals I’ve met and places I’ve visited through my travels and my job here at Down Under Endeavours. It has allowed me to connect with people who strive every day to make this world a better place, and that gives me so much hope for our future.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be thinking of you all while I’m enjoying the beautiful beaches of Thailand!
Jambo, everyone! 2016 was certainly a big year of travel for me.
- In April, I traveled to Fiji, where I stayed in 5 fabulous resorts: Tokoriki, Matangi, Namale, Royal Davui, and Yasawa Island Resort. My favorite was Royal Davui. The Fijian people are wonderfully warm and the diving and food were amazing.
- In July, I took a quick trip to New Zealand with our friends at United. The airline launched their direct flights from San Francisco to Auckland, and I was lucky enough to be on the inaugural flight. We spent 3 days in Auckland and 2 days in Taupo. Highlights include a helicopter flight to Waiheke Island and our stay at Huka Lodge.
- In September, I had the trip of a lifetime to South Africa and Kenya with my parents. We traveled for 3 weeks and had an opportunity to see over 40 different species of animals. Highlights include our stay at the Grand Provence Wine Estate, seeing 2 white lions on game drives by Kruger National Park, kissing a baby giraffe at Giraffe Manor, and seeing a wildebeest crossing on the Mara River.
- And now, I am excited to be returning to French Polynesia in December. I will travel with a group of agents for 9 days to the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine.
I am so thankful for a wonderful year of adventure to both the South Pacific and Africa this past year!
I was lucky enough to spend a week driving around Tasmania in Australia with my husband Tom, trying unique and local experiences such as spending a day with Craig “Bushie” Williams, complete with a bush tucker dinner. I will never forget eating smoked wallaby with a glass of local Tassie wine as possums, quolls, wombats, and wallabies waddled all around us!
Domestically, my husband and I ventured on a cross country road trip. Our favorite stops were Sedona, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde National Park. Later in the year, we journeyed back to Africa, where we started with the best of South Africa: Cape Town, wine country (hello, Pinotage!), adventure (shark cave diving!) and, of course, a safari. Sleeping in the Chalkley Treehouse above the wild animals was truly incredible. Victoria Falls, with its stunning scenery and unique microlight experience, was next on the agenda in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Then, we capped off the trip in Botswana, where we visited the Okavango Delta and did a mobile safari in Chobe National Park.
I loved learning the unique ways to safari in Africa (land, air, and water-based safaris) and as always, the wildlife, people, food, and scenery were truly special. I feel lucky to be part of such an amazing team and every day I am thankful for a job I love that allows me to travel around the world. I am excited to see what 2017 brings!
2016 seems to have just flown by. In my first year as part of the Down Under Endeavours family, I have arranged some fantastic adventures for wonderful people. I really enjoyed helping to plan and arrange a number of honeymoons this year, which are such a pleasure to deal with. You can’t help getting caught up in the excitement and anticipation as you help plan the itinerary.
Being an Australian and having explored Australia extensively, I get a real thrill out of arranging for my travelers to go to some of my favorite places. I think local knowledge can make such a big difference in planning the right itinerary. I feel like I’m sharing some of my best Australian experiences with my clients.
My wife and I traveled to New Zealand again this year (she’s a Kiwi) for 2 weeks in September. It was the beginning of spring there. We had an amazing helicopter flight over Queenstown and landed somewhere up in the high country. The Southern Alps were still covered with snow and the blossoms and flowers were everywhere. This was such a fantastic way to see the exceptional landscape that is the Southern Alps, and certainly the highlight of our trip. I look forward to next year’s travels!
I’m thankful for becoming a member of the fabulous DUE team in 2016! I’m so grateful for this new family, and can’t imagine being anywhere else. I get to help people go on incredible vacations, learn about amazing destinations every day, meet wonderful people from all over the world…and travel to my heart’s content! Oh, and we have a LOT of fun doing it.
My first trip as a member of the DUE team came this October when I headed to Kenya—my second journey to Africa but first to East Africa. It was such a fantastic experience in so many ways, and it made me fall even more in love with Africa. I can’t wait for 2017 and all the adventures it’s sure to bring. I’m counting the days until I can get to New Zealand in particular! But whether it’s a weekend in NYC to visit my nieces or an epic adventure in the South Pacific, I’m especially and eternally thankful for the gift of travel.
WOW—What a year! I am so thankful to have traveled 7 countries over the course of about 10 weeks this year. Here are a few highlights from my year:
- Vietnam/Cambodia: I spent three weeks traveling here over the New Year. I saw Angkor Wat, trekked in the Cardamom mountains, partied in Hoi An for NYE, and ate an endless amount of Pho and white rose dumplings.
- Fiji: Two weeks of bliss, beaches, and kava. I explored Nadi, the Mamanucas, and my favorite, Taveuni Island. The scuba diving here is incredible! Highlights were staying in the first ever Fijian treehouse at Matangi and visiting the Bouma Waterfalls, where I took a leap of faith!
- South Africa/Zimbabwe/Zambia: My longest trip yet, I spent nearly one month traveling in Africa. From game drives in Kruger to sipping bubbles in the Winelands and exploring the pubs in Cape Town, I fell in love with South Africa. Then it was off to Victoria Falls and riverside lodges in Zambia. I canoed with hippos and crocodiles, visited local villages and schools, and saw a “traditional fortune teller” during Boma. The trip ended in the magical Lower Zambezi. It was here that I met a friend, and we popped the doors off his plane and went for a scenic flight. Also, a baboon peed on me. It doesn’t get more authentic than that!
- New Zealand: I spent two weeks road tripping through the South Island with a friend. We got a little crazy and went skydiving, bungee jumping, and caving. We also enjoyed the scenery via helicopter and an overnight in Doubtful Sound. The wine and mussels in Marlborough are to die for. I ended my trip in Wellington, where I attended the incredible World of Wearable Arts Show.
Plans for 2017? India, Oman, and Alaska. Happy holiday and happy new year to you all!
I feel like my time in Chicago and at Down Under Endeavours just keeps getting better! In March, I took my brother and best friend on a three-week holiday around our homeland—Australia. It was a blast being a tourist in the country I grew up in. We visited Port Douglas, Kangaroo Island (staying at Southern Ocean Lodge was a highlight), and Barossa Valley; traveled along the Great Ocean Road; flew down to Tassie; and finished up in Sydney. I have always known Australia is beyond beautiful, but after this trip, I couldn’t be more in love with it.
Another highlight this year was my trip to Zambia. During this trip, I visited some of the most wild, remote, and untouched places you could imagine. It’s safe to say the quality of the guides here is unparalleled. The game viewing is also next level; we witnessed a leopard and lion kill, mating lions, a pack of 28 wild dogs, millions of hippos, and elephants (just to name a few). There’s something so humbling about seeing large game on foot. I am totally in love with Africa as a continent and I’m excited to get back there and explore it further.
I feel extremely thankful for our amazing travel partners overseas, as well as my DUE family. I look forward to a great year of travel ahead!
Hello, everyone! I joined the DUE team this July as Marketing Associate and couldn’t be more thankful to work with this amazing and crazy group of people.
This year, I spent a week back in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to reconnect with friends and family and simply soak in all the beautiful greenery. I also traveled to New York City for a week with my boyfriend and we had a blast! We saw some amazing comedy shows at the UCB and the Comedy Cellar, explored the nightlife in Williamsburg, got to stay in an adorable Brooklyn brownstone for a few nights, and even spent a night in Philly (which I think deserves a trip of its own).
For next year, I’ve got my eye on Hawaii!