Starting Christmas Day, 2014, Bill and I embarked on our 26 day Epic Adventure. Our flight routing consisted of Chicago-Tokyo-Beijing-Bangkok-Melbourne-Cairns-Sydney-Chrischurch-Auckland-Honolulu-Dallas-Chicago with an overnight in Beijing, most of a day in Bangkok, several days in the Melbourne area, several days in Cairns, several days in Sydney, several days exploring the south island of New Zealand, a short layover in Auckland, and a three day stop over in Oahu. If that isn’t an epic adventure, I don’t know what is! (To add to its grandiosity, we flew business class for the longest legs of the trip.)

Adult female with long dark hair and glasses sitting in business class section of an airplane.

This trip was a long time coming. I had yearned to return to Australia ever since my People to People Student Ambassador trip back in 2000. Fourteen years later, it finally became a reality. After being there, I think Bill now realizes precisely why I was so adamant about wanting to go back. The country is beautiful, the people are wonderful, the sights are great, and food treats you right! What more could you ask for?

This trip was not exactly the same as the trip I was on in 2000, but it hit some of the highlights and added even more great things. In 2000 we took a bus from Sydney up the eastern coast to Cairns, with frequent stops along the way. On this trip we first explored Bangkok for a day and then were off to Australia, starting in Melbourne – driving the southern coast along The Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell and back.

Photo of Melbourne, Australia skyline in the distance.

From Melbourne we flew to Cairns, rented a car, and visited the Daintree Rainforest. We also took an organized snorkeling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef – no trip to Cairns is complete without visiting that natural wonder.

Photo from airplane window over the Great Barrier Reef.

When we were done in Cairns we flew to Sydney. After exploring the city and reminiscing on some of the things I had seen on my previous visit, we took the train in to Blue Mountains National Park for an overnight.

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Then back to Sydney and off to New Zealand! New and unchartered territory for both of us. After visiting, it was clear why many people say you cannot visit Australia without visiting New Zealand and vice versa. Both are amazing, but in totally different ways.

Adult female sitting on top of a large gray boulder with several other large boulders surrounding.

To end the trip, Bill had found that we could include a stopover in Hawaii on our way home, so we took full advantage of that and spent 3 days on Oahu soaking up some more sun before returning to the cold midwestern winter.

Sandy beach with turquoise ocean and an island in the distance.

Three continents and four countries later, this epic adventure is what I consider to be our best trip to date.