Top 14 Travel Moments of 2016
2015 was our year of Big Plans, and 2016 was our year of Big Changes. We started the year in Bali, in the middle of my first ever trip to Asia, and the first really big trip that we had done together. Coming home from those 3 weeks, and back to a freezing, snowing New York City was both exhausting and exhilarating – we went back to work the day after we landed and kept taking naps at 8PM trying to readjust to the time zone. That winter we went to work – editing our first video, building the website, and finally launching this project in the spring. Between trips, we worked – we would go to work all day, and come home and edit and plan all night.
Finally in August, we quit our jobs! Away Lands was REAL and HAPPENING and everything we had worked for for close to two years was finally coming together. We packed up our apartment, and sold off almost everything we owned. We shipped some boxes to our parents in California and threw a huge party in our empty home. We said good bye to our friends – and immediately took off to Hawaii for a week of pure glory and sun and sea and fun. After a quick couple weeks in California to get settled, we took off on our biggest adventure yet – 9 weeks across Asia, 7 countries from Singapore to Vietnam to Sri Lanka, and more film jobs than we knew if we could do.
2016 was filled with tons of work – so many long nights and skipped outings and time editing, but also some of the most incredible experiences we’ve had to date. There wasn’t a single day this year that I doubted that the plan we made was the wrong decision. It took so long to get here, but this year we made a life for ourselves that was truly worth living – and so far from where we started. Here are our top 14 travel moment – in chronological order.
#1 A Crazy New Year’s Eve in Bali
The most epic start to the year – we stayed in Seminyak, and just experienced New Year’s there. When we left the club, the streets were so full of people and motorbikes, and multiple people on motorbikes, that you could barely walk down the streets. It felt like half of Australia was there. We went back to our villa late in the evening, and jumped into our private pool – the perfect way to start the craziest year we were about to experience.
#2 Falling in love with Nusa Lembongan
Seminyak was wild, Ubud was magical, but Nusa Lembongan was the one place in Bali that we absolutely loved. My favorite places to travel to are little islands with dirt roads that we can ride a motorbike across and find beach after beach – and this island was exactly that. We found amazing little restaurants (and ate the best ever ribs we’d ever had at a roadside stand), and stumbled upon an elderly boat captain that took us out snorkeling for the day – in the most lush, colorful, crystal clear waters I had ever seen.
#3 One wild day in Tokyo
The very last stop on our three week winter trip to Asia, was a quick 48 Hours in Tokyo – where we did absolutely everything. It was freezing, and amazing, and clean, and such a different city experience than New York. We went out and watched a wild robot laser show, then stopped in every bar in Golden Gai. I had no idea what to expect from Tokyo, but I absolutely loved every minute of it. There is going to be a lot more time spent in Japan in our future, I am sure.
#4 After 9 Months of Planning – Launching Away Lands
Putting out our first video, after all of the planning and learning, and buying gear, and hours and hours spent editing, then realizing we had spent the past 6 hours doing everything wrong – was so exhilarating. We launched this website the same time – putting everything we had done out there with a bang. We finally had something to show for all of the time we had spent – and something to build on for the future. This was such a huge moment for us, and was the first huge spark in this new life we had planned.
#5 Running through the Alcazar of Sevilla
It was hard to pick just one moment from Spain – because I LOVED Spain. We went through Madrid, Sevilla, and Barcelona, and ate and drank everything we possibly could, and ran through the streets blocking traffic and taking photos because the light was so amazing. We stayed up late on our Balcony overlooking the oldest Cathedral in Sevilla and went on morning runs through Barcelona – but the most awe-inspiring sight was the Alcazar, one of the the most amazing Palace Gardens I have been to, and a big stop on our Game Of Thrones dream tour.
#6 Spending a night in the Sahara Desert
Morocco was a huge dream destination – a place I had always wanted to go to but that seemed too wild and too far and too difficult to travel to – but was just a short hop over from Spain, and wasn’t scary at all like I had imagined it would be. The ancient city of Marrakesh was wild, overwhelming, and aggressive – but so full of lush textures and sights and smells and sounds and history, and our roadtrip across the country, almost to the very edge, was an incredible experience. But one moment, one experience that stands out among all others this year – was the Sahara Desert. Words and photos and even video does not describe the endless experience of being surrounded by nothing but camels and orange sand.
If you missed the video we made mostly out here in the desert, definitely watch it here.
#7 The Festival of a Lifetime – Super VIP at Governor’s Ball
One of the coolest accidental weekends of my life. An old friend called up Brandon late Friday night to ask if we wanted his extra passes to Governor’s Ball. 12 hours later, we were watching M83 from the side of the stage. Without a doubt, this was one of the best days of the year.
#8 Our First Travel Job!
Our first video job! We met Vermontime back in the beginning of Spring, and waited months for it to be warm enough and green enough to come up and shoot a fun summer spot for them. We gathered some friends, drove up to West Dover and had the most fun weekend of outdoorsing with these city kids. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting to release this video, but it is coming in 2017!
#9 Leaving New York City
September 2008 was when I first arrived in New York, young and scared and with no idea what was going to be in front of me. By September 2016, I had grown and experienced so much, the city was a hard place to move to, but an even harder place to leave. This was one of the most defining moments of the year, packing up our apartment and instead of moving everything into a new one, selling off our life piece by piece. I still tell people I’m from New York, and I may always will.
#10 A Dream Week in Hawaii
The day we moved out of our final New York apartment, we stayed up late, and caught the earliest morning flight to Hawaii. We stayed on my brother’s couch, ate poke every day, hiked every trail we could find, paddled out to Mokolua every afternoon, jumped out of a plane for the first time, enjoyed the first few days of freedom, and shot our latest film.
Hawaii is always a dream, and this time was such a pivotal moment for us – the time we stopped living in New York and dreaming, and started traveling and living that dream.
#11 The Grandest Weekend in Kuala Lumpur
After a short stop in California, we headed out on our first BIG trip – 9 weeks across Asia. We had no idea what this was going to be like going in to it, and a week before we left, we had nothing but flights in and out of Singapore. But suddenly our two months pieced themselves together and we worked – we worked a lot.
One of our first stops a couple of weeks into the trip was Kuala Lumpur – a city we had to pass through many times and thought we would just crash in for a couple of days. But the way things tend to work themselves out, we got the opportunity to stay at The Grand Hyatt in the city and lived the high life for a magical weekend of amazing food and amazing views.
#12 A Glory Day Sailing in Thailand
A glory stop of our Fall Beach Tour – we had a few days between jobs, and the cheapest flight we found was to Phuket – so we booked a flight to Thailand and hopped on it 6 hours later. A couple of friends of ours from home happened to be just a few islands away, so we hired a boat, met up, and spent the most amazing day out on and in the water. An experience I hope to repeat over and over again.
#13 Surfing in Sri Lanka
A video posted by BRANDON BURKLEY (@bburkley) on
Despite both of us being from a surf town, neither Brandon nor I ever learned how to surf passed the beginning stage, but it’s something we’ve always both loved. Sri Lanka was the first time we had been out together – and the first time either of us had been out in years. The beach break here was so perfect and smooth, and the water so warm that we surfed into the sunset. Our entire visit to Sri Lanka was one of our biggest highlights of the year, but this one afternoon just felt like it was everything we had been waiting for.
#14 Cruising through Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The very last stop on our journey through 7 countries – Ha Long Bay, Vietnam was the most magical place with the most endless views. We had spent the beginning of the trip in Saigon, and out at the beach on Phu Quoc Island – but the North was a completely new experience. We spent three nights on cruises in the bay, and stared out the window for every moment of it all. There’s another video coming from here – keep staying tuned!
Happy New Year, and cheers to an even bigger, better, and more adventurous 2017!