Looking back, our lives changed drastically when we decided that we were going to take a huge leap and try something new, and the moment when we sat in front of our New York apartment on a bench at the Williamsburg waterfront with plastic cups of wine is forever etched into my memory at our Big Bang - the moment that changed everything.
2015 was our year of big ideas - we took our first big trips together, started making films, and brazenly decided we were going to do it full-time.
2016 was our year of big change - we quit our jobs, left our home, got our first film jobs, and spent the last 2 months criss-crossing South East Asia.
2017 was our year of big experiences - our first year of full-time travel took us on our first press trips, first campaigns, and taught us some big lessons. We began the year with barely an idea of where our life and company was going to go, and ended it feeling amazed with our progress.
And now at the end of 2018, I'm seeing that this year was our year of big growth. We've shot hundreds of thousands of photos, Terabytes on top of Terabytes of video footage, and seen our projects grow incredibly over the year. We travelled to 17 countries for Brandon and 19 for Amy, moved to LA, got engaged, and 2 years into this wild life are finally starting to feel like we know what we are doing, and can actually keep doing it!
January - California, Nashville, and The Bahamas
We started the year off in California - looking for apartments. After a year of being based back in our home-town and floating between our families' houses, we were way beyond ready to find our own place. But we couldn't find the perfect apartment, so instead we bought a few plane tickets for February!
We met up with our New York friends for a winter weekend in Nashville - and then stayed a few extra days to explore on our own. This was the first of a number of new US cities and states we saw this year!
Right after returning, I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend in the Bahamas with a huge group of girls - my first trip without Brandon. We had flown so much together over the past few years that flying on my own actually made me nervous; and for the first time ever in my life, I stayed in a hotel room by myself. It took a couple of days to get used to, but getting in a few days of solid girl time was so rejuvenating to me - and something I hope to get the chance to do more.... but only occasionally. :)
February - Winter Cities: London and NYC
What possessed us to visit northern cities in the middle of winter? Besides the ultra-cheap airfare, I'm not sure - but we had some free time and dreams of seeing it snow, so we took February to spend a week each in London and New York.
This was our first trip to London, and we completely fell in love.... and completely froze. We slept above the cloud in the iconic Shard building at the Shangri-La, and spent every day on the metro criss-crossing the city. We discovered on this trip that there's a 6-week period between January 15th and the end of February when most flights to Europe are mostly empty and you can luck into having a whole row of seats to yourself, making our 10-hour flight to London a dream.
A few days after London we hopped over to our former home of NYC. We hadn't been back in almost a year and I was dying to visit the place I still consider home - we also had a ton of fun taking photos around the city, something we never did when we lived here. Places like Times Square and the World Trade Center that we usually avoided were, for the first time, our shoot destinations. Sadly, this was the only time we made it back this year - I desperately need more NYC in my life!
March - Belize and Moving to LA!
After all that wintering, we jumped at the chance for some summer sun - and flew straight from New York down to Belize!
Our few days at the ultra-lux island of Cayo Espanto was a complete dream come true - and one of the best projects we worked on this year. We flew on a private plane, swam with sharks, spearfished for lobsters and ate them on the beach, swam in the ocean just off of our water villa - and the weather was perfect every single day (something that never happens in the tropics!)
And then just a couple of days after returning, we finally made the move to LA! We decided to look at a couple of apartments on our way home, and the next thing we knew, we found our dream home, signed a lease, and were moving in the next day. It was a whirlwind for sure, but we have been so happy in our new home, and our planning on staying in our little beach shack for as long as we can. Between getting rid of most everything when we left New York, and losing most everything else that we had saved when my house burned down last year, we had hardly anything to move in - and spent the first week with nothing but an air mattress, a folding table and chairs, and a whole lot of cameras. We spent the rest of March going back and forth to Ikea and Costco, putting together our little home, and getting to know the new neighborhood. And I couldn't be happier every time we land at LAX to return to this little home we've built.
April - Visit Ventura, Coachella, and Fiji
After we moved, we decided to take a few weeks off from travel and settle into LA a bit - check out some of our LA adventures here. We hopped around California a bit for the month - working on a film project for our hometown and hopping down to Palm Springs for Coachella weekend.
We drove out to the desert for Coachella Weekend - and had the time of our lives at Revolve Festival. We already have this weekend marked on our Calendar for 2019!
Then we came back to Ventura, the city Brandon and I were both born and raised in, for a film project with the Visit Ventura tourism board. This was a really special project for us, since we got to be the ones to share our home with the world and put our families in a project for the first time.
Then after about 6 weeks, I could take the lack of flights anymore, and we jumped a flight to Fiji! These islands have always been a dream destination of ours, and seeing them in person was incredible - we are both completely in love with the South Pacific. This was our biggest personal trip of the year, and we took the time to do it right - we spent 2 weeks across three different islands. We started in the Coral Coast at the Shangri-La, then took a terrifying ferry across to the tropical paradise of Mamanuca islands - the place where Castaway was filmed. Finally, we ended at one of our favorite hotels of all time - Savasi Private Island.
May - Our First Actual Vacation: Hawaii
In Thailand last year, Brandon and I met a couple of crazy California kids that we intended to just spend a day hanging out with to split the cost of a boat tour. We ended up spending the entire week together hopping beaches, riding motorbikes, climbing mountains, and getting caught in thunderstorms - and then immediately started planning more travels together. When they mentioned taking a trip out to Hawaii, Brandon and I immediately agreed - and we had one of the most fun and memorable experiences of the year.
When we arrived in Maui, all we had planned was a return flight from the Big Island. This was the first trip in years in which we had no obligations - no hotels partnerships, no clients, no deliverables, and no place we had to be. It was.... a vacation! We spent the 10 days driving the road to Hana, going to black sand and red sand and green sand beaches, drinking beer on beaches at 9am, driving on lava fields, getting locked inside a national park, hopping hotels every night, listening to the lava fissures explode, and finally finding the secret Flume Slide! It was the break we really, really needed from constantly working while traveling.
June - Tahoe, Park City, and Road Tripping Through France
...Which was extremely lucky because as soon as we hit June, the rest of the year was absolutely non-stop with projects, press trips, and constant travel. The second half of this year was when we really felt like we hit our stride and started making something big of Away Lands.
Starting with our group trip to Reno Tahoe - a place I had previously only been to for skiing in the winter.
Immediately followed by another winter destination in summer sun - Park City, Utah. Our first of three projects for the year with Waldorf Astoria.
Then we flew to France for a road-trip through the Loire Valley with Visit French Wine and Hertz. Every day was full of castles, fine French dining, and multiple wine tastings! We had previously only been to Paris, and were excited at the chance to see so much of the countryside of France. We stayed in castles and tiny BNBs and Abbeys from the 14th century, we ate 4-hour dinners every night, drove through vineyards and pink wheat-fields and learned so, so much about wine. The schedule was exhausting, and I feel like I still have a couple of pounds to lose from this trip, but the experience was absolutely incredible. And I still have so many more photos to share from here! Someone please remind me to upload our Loire images sometime?
And of course - we couldn't leave France without a few days in Paris. After spending 10 days here last summer shooting like crazy, we took our time in Paris to relax - we slept in until 10am every day, leisurely had coffee at cafes, and stayed at a tiny little birdhouse of an apartment in Montmarte - it was tres parfait.
July - Nova Scotia, Panama City, and a Desert Heat Wave
We returned from France and jumped right into another roadtrip - across Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy with Explore Canada. Somehow, this was our first ever trip to Canada!
Then we headed down to Panama City, Panama for a few days. We had no idea what to expect from Panama, and were surprised to find a city bursting with culture and life - and a skyline that rivals New York. The new city is all shiny glass towers, and the restored old city has all the charm of Havana. We got the chance to ride our first ever helicopter here, and see the Panama Canal in action. Since Brandon and I are both history nerds, we were super excited about this!
To end July, we spent a long weekend in Palm Springs with Brandon's family. Turns out, Palm Springs in July is 115 degrees, and all the pools feel like hot-tubs, but even then, we always love heading out to the desert.
August - Texas, Turks and Caicos, and Getting Engaged!
Our summer continued with nonstop projects, and in between these trips, we managed to squeeze in a second video for Visit Ventura.
First up, we headed out to Marfa, Texas for a group glamping trip with 7 Moon Wine. I had known about Marfa, and heard amazing things, for years, but had never found a chance to go, so we were incredibly excited when this project came up. I feel in love with this funky little town, and definitely would love to return. Also, I have said this before, but I LOVE group trips, and would go on them nonstop if I could - it always feels like summer camp!
And then, after a few months of mountains, deserts, and cities - we finally had the chance to return to our first love - the tropics. We spent a few days on the absolutely perfect beach of Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos with our good friends Mel Vandersluis and Mike Homsy. Sometimes when we get the chance to shoot projects like this, I can't help but be overwhelmed with how absolutely lucky I feel to be able to do this, and honesty, I still feel like I made up my own dream job our of thin air.
Surprise! The day after returning from Turks, Brandon told me to repack my bag and that we were going on a surprise adventure. We flew up North, drove out to Big Sur, our most special place, and on Pfeiffer Beach, Brandon proposed to me. (Finally!!) It was everything I ever could have wanted - and I'm so excited about the next couple of years of our engagement! You can read our full love story and see all the photos from this weekend here.
September - Cook Islands, Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Just a couple of days after our engagement, we got to celebrate in one of new favorite places in the world - the Cook Islands!
On our trip here, I completely fell in love with these islands and have not been able to stop talking about them since! We've travelled to so many places where I've said, "I wish I could see what this looked like before it was developed", and Cook Islands is like being able to step back in time. Don't miss our travel guides for the main island of Rarotonga, and the postcard paradise of Aitutaki Lagoon.
A few days later, we travelled clear across the world for our Fall campaign with Andaz hotels - starting with our first ever trip to the Middle East, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE. We even got to ride hot-air balloons and hold Falcons! The mix of history and modern here was just unbelievable, and I'm really hoping we can explore much more of the Middle East in 2019.
October - Our Andaz Campaign across London, Amsterdam, and Oktoberfest!
Back to Europe for the third time this year! We shot films across some of our favorite European cities with Andaz hotels - straight from Abu Dhabi we hopped to London, then Amsterdam, and ended in Munich, Germany just in time for Oktoberfest.
I could spend a lifetime in this city.
And this one! Except the winters. If it weren't for the winters, we would already be living in Amsterdam.
See our Amsterdam film here - it's one of my favorites from the entire year!
Getting to experience Oktoberfest in person was such a dream come true for us! Especially Brandon - but I love any chance to dress up thematically! We drank our weight in beer, ate giant pretzels and whole chickens, rode the shockingly high carousel, danced on tables, sang songs, and even went to an afterparty at a club - it was a night to remember! ...What we remember of it anyway.
November - Asia North to South with Hyatt: Seoul, China, and Bali
In 2017, we shot a number of videos for Hyatt in South East Asia - from Cambodia to Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. We have loved our partnership with the brand, and always love the cities in Asia. We spent so much time in the region the last couple of years, it felt strange to take this long to return! When the chance came up for us to travel to 3 cities we had never seen, and then return to Bali for the first time in years, we were so excited! The only caveat - we only had 2 weeks to fit it all in. It was a completel whirlwind, but we made it work!
We started with fall in Seoul, North Korea. Did you know that Seoul has incredibly fall foliage? Because I did not, but I completely fell in love!
Next was Shanghai, China - an insane experience that was so different from what I expected! Shanghai is a beautiful city, and the villages just outside were stunning - stay tuned for more blog posts on this!
Then we hopped down to Hong Kong, a place I had been dying to see for so long. We didn't have time to do all of the hikes and experience everything here, but we fell in love with the city. It felt so much like New York! We will definitely be back here before long.
And finally, back to Bali for our first time in 3 years. And really, does anyone not love Bali?
December - Endless Summer: Tulum and The Dominican Republic, Then Home for Christmas
For most people (or at least most of what I had been seeing on Instagram, December means snow, hot cocoa, coats and sweaters, and Christmas lights. But not for us this year - December was an endless, Caribbean summer.
The day after returning from Bali, we hopped to Tulum, Mexico for a quick wedding weekend. I had been dreaming of coming here for years, and fell in love! I can't wait to share everything from this trip soon.
And for my final destination of the year, I headed off on my first press trip solo to The Dominican Republic. Brandon was exhausted from all the travel, and with tons of editing to do, we decided it would be best for us to split - something I believe you will be seeing more of next year. I was nervous to go solo - what if no one liked me? What if I couldn't get all my shots? What if the travel doesn't go as planned as I'm stranded? But it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. I had so much fun here, and have so much more to share - stay tuned!
And I made it home just in time for Christmas! I had to get a little Holiday cheer, didn't I?
Everything! There are no breaks for us in sight, 2019 is starting off with new countries within the first couple of weeks. We want to keep traveling, keep exploring, keep pushing our comfort zone and trying new things. We hope to work on bigger projects, and powerful projects - we want to share so much more than just pretty imagery, and work on projects that shake us to our souls, that are impactful, meaningful, and real. (Not that I don't want to shoot pretty photos - it is my first love!)
For 2019 I want to go to Africa, South America, Egypt, Jordan, Iceland, and Australia. Brandon wants to go to Patagonia, Tahiti, and Japan. We want to go on more group trips, and also shoot bigger commercial projects. We want to take Away Lands to a level we haven't been to yet! We spent the second half of 2018 not making plans - we didn't plan any travel, and just went where opportunities took us, and it was absolutely incredible. Cheers to another year of travel, another year of non-stop shooting, and a new year of a little more life balance, a few less mistakes, and a lot more of everything else!
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.