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This past year seems to have disappeared in the flash of an eye – it feels like it was only yesterday we were sitting in Florida stressing about whether our house would sell before our trip overseas, whether my US residency would come through allowing me back into the country after said mega trip, and whether or not we would survive in a life of long-term travel.

Though as with everything in life (which we have quickly realized), everything fell into place, and while this year has been stressful at times, as usual, it was absolutely jam packed full of international adventure!

2014 was a phenomenal year. We gave up almost everything we owned to take in 8 countries over 3 separate continents, and managed to transform our blog into a proper career which now pays the bills.

Here’s a video recap for those who don’t like to read!

2014 saw us take some of the biggest risks of our lives (including barrelling down “death road” in Bolivia at a speed of knots into oncoming traffic…more on that below).

Though after achieving a location independent lifestyle and a career where I am both my own boss and making money from something I truly love, what the year really taught us is that if you want the most reward you have to be willing to take the most risk.

After-all, if you never take a risk you will never achieve your dreams.

Lake Titicaca, Peru.

January, February and March were based in Florida, where we spent 3 months exploring as much of the beautiful US State as possible before becoming digital nomads. Kayaking with manatees was a highlight of our last few months in Florida.

In April we sold our house, and spent the majority of the month boxing up and selling our possessions in pursuit of the romantic notion of long term travel.

We officially become nomads, vagabonds, homeless – whatever you wish to call it – on May 5. Just as we sold our house to travel full time I became an official permanent resident of the United States of America, receiving that highly sought after “Green Card”.

Newest permanent resident of the United States!

May 5 2014 was our big day. The first day of our new nomadic lifestyle, and my first day as a professional, paid travel writer.

Having been hired by Hilton to travel throughout Central and South America for two weeks and blog about/from their hotel locations, we embarked on a mega whirlwind tour of Costa Rica, Panama and Peru, taking to the jungles of Costa Rica and Panama by day, and being paid to blog about it by night.

We stood on a board atop the world’s highest sand dunes in Huacachina, Peru, learned to surf in Costa Rica, discovered the lost Incan civilization that is Machu Picchu, and became stuck in a bat cave in the Panamanian jungle.

I almost lost my stomach during a flight over the ancient Nazca Lines, got lost in the culinary scene that is Lima, Peru, and came face to face with sloths and toucans in the wild.

Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru.

Though truly the most memorable part of this whole trip was the VIP treatment we received as Doubletree’s DTourist (travel writer).

It was as though the brand had accidentally witten “celebrity” on their brief to each property instead of “travel writer”! We were treated to the best lunches, dinners and, in Panama’s case, ice-cream, with a personal supply of warm chocolate chip cookies on each arrival.

Some of our arrivals even saw the entire hotel staff line the drive to welcome us. Stunning suites, private drivers, exclusive tours, and restricted access some of the most adventurous activities in each area, we had to keep our head in check to minimize the damage when we would eventually crash back down to earth!

Though the fun didn’t end there! After completing our Hilton tour, we stayed in South America, and continued onward towards Bolivia.

One of those countries where your money truly does go further than you could possibly ever imagine, we spent a wonderful week at the Ritz ($80 a night for a HUGE apartment) while exploring the world’s highest capital city (La Paz sits at 13,000 feet above sea level. The views are mind blowing, but the altitude sickness can be a bitch!)

We proceeded to the Bolivian Amazon where squirrel monkeys stole our Go-Pro, where we came face to face with the world’s largest rodents, and then cycled “death road” – a terrifying route tourists love dubbed “the most dangerous road” in the world due to being a winding, narrow, dirt road on the side of an incredibly sheer cliff face.

It is estimated 300 people lose their lives cycling this road every year. While my bike spun out of control at one point, luckily I went into the cliff wall, and not off the edge into the rolling hills of the Amazon rainforest!

From Bolivia we spent an amazing week snorkeling with exotic wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. We walked amongst the ancient Moai of Easter Island next.

We spent a crazy evening in transit in Amsterdam before hitting up Iceland, and took one hell of an Icelandic road trip (which included a quad bike safari, white water rafting, and ingesting fermented shark) through one of the most naturally beautiful countries on earth.

Though the best was still yet to come – we were truly blown away by the Faroe Islands. A small archipelago of isolated islands between Iceland and Scotland in the north Atlantic Ocean, we had never seen nature more stunning.

Unspoiled, untamed, untouched, and completely unbelievable, we spent a week in the Faroe Islands absolutely awestruck by the mind blowing scenery, and the overabundance of the incredibly comical puffin.

Exhausted yet? We’re only halfway through the year! Before we knew it it was July, and we were back in the United States completing a road trip from Florida to Idaho, taking in every state in between.

Highlights along the way were scoring Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans (don’t ask, I won’t tell!), kicking off our Blue Suede shoes in Memphis, and making stops along the iconic Route 66.

Once in Idaho we spent two wonderful weeks with family in a cabin next to Yellowstone National Park, and enjoyed taking Mike’s Uncle’s quad bike out into the wilderness in search of Grizzly Bears. Sadly we didn’t encounter any. But what a photo that would have been!

Fantastic trip to Idaho

Fantastic trip to Idaho to visit Mike’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Pam.

We drove from Idaho to Phoenix, with stops in Utah and Las Vegas along the way, and quickly found an apartment with a short lease to collapse and sleep off our exhaustion. From May through September we averaged about 3 nights in each different destination.

We decided to get jobs in Phoenix to work our savings back to a reasonable level, though by December I was earning more money blogging than I was waitressing, so handed in my letter of resignation and decided to head home for the holidays. Trading winter for summer seemed like a pretty good idea! When they heard I was heading to Australia, Sports Authority and ECCO Outdoors kindly offered to deck me out with all of the adventurous gear I could possibly need for my trip.

While in Australia I welcomed the birth of my third beautiful nephew, Levi Lockley James Young, and spent some wonderful quality time with family and friends with whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. Though because you can never take the adventure out of the girl, I took the opportunity while in Tasmania to complete the tallest commercial abseil in the world, and rappelled 140m down Gordon Dam.

In terms of professional development, “Mapping Megan” has developed and grown well beyond our wildest dreams. We have been so incredibly lucky to have turned a passion into a full time career, and to have partnered with so many amazing sponsors in the last year.

We’ve hit peaks of over 40,000 visits per month, and have been privileged to have built a strong community via social media who are an ongoing source of inspiration, encouragement and support.

We have been humbled to have been recognized by companies such as Viator and Lonely Planet, have had our writing and photos featured on over 100 different travel blogs and websites, have taken home a number of awards for Best Adventure Travel Blog, and have been excited beyond all belief to see my name in print when my writing was published for the first time.

My piece on The World’s 10 Best Ethical Travel Destinations for 2014 was published in “Insite Atlanta” – a monthly entertainment magazine servicing the city of Atlanta.

Featured in Girl Gone International; as a nomadic couple surviving love on the open road.

2014 has been an amazing year – it’s had it’s ups and downs, though as with life, it’s been one hell of a ride. Unfortunately in February of 2014 I lost a very dear friend – a fellow travel blogger I had formed a close bond with during both of our journeys as writers. She was a beautiful soul, and unfortunately a tragic car accident meant that she never ended up taking the trip of her dreams. Please read my tribute to Kimmy Hayes.

Mike and I would like to thank you all for being part of our life, and though Christmas has already passed, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season full of happiness and joy, and wish you all the best for the upcoming year.

If you enjoy our articles, videos and photographs, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, and subscribe on YouTube. You can also sign up for monthly updates by subscribing to our newsletter.

Feel free to tell your friends as well! Spreading the word about our blog would be the best New Years gift of all!

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  1. Oh Megan, what a sexy accent!

    • Why thankyou! :D

  2. Happy New Year to you and Mike! A wonderful Xmas letter and so glad to have been a part of your special year. You do an excellent job of recapping all the exciting events throughout the year and it has been such a thrill travelling the world through your eyes! Thanks for sharing all your breathtaking adventures. May 2015 bring you more of the same. What a blessing to have you in our family. Love and Hugs and all our best wishes always. Love Pam and Bill xxoo

    • Thankyou Pam! Thanks for your continued support and encouragement, we love being in Arizona close by!

      Love as always xxxx

  3. Sounds like you’ve had a pretty epic adventure last year! Iceland is still by far my favourite country I’ve been to; mind blowing hey! Thanks for being such a legend and getting the fb group cranking too – really is a great source of inspiration and help for my own travel blogging. :)

    • Thanks Chad – so glad you’re enjoying being part of the facebook group – we’re all here to support each other!

      Iceland was definitely amazing, I can’t wait to get back! Thinking maybe winter this time round though so we can see the Northern lights! Wishing you an amazing 2015 :)

  4. This was both awesome and inspiring to read. Awesome because, Wow! what a year you have had. I love seeing everyone’s end of year round ups. And Inspiring because when you started this blog you were determined, and look at how far you have come…so cool!

    • Thanks Katie, I’m so glad you enjoyed our year in review!

      It’s definitely been a crazy year, and I’m so fortunate to have seen the blog grow – it’s been a great ride!

      Thanks for all of your support, encouragement and comments during 2014 – I really appreciate the support :)

      Happy New Year!

  5. What an inspirational post! You’re doing such great and amazing things. You’re probably the hardest working person I know and it’s great to see it’s paying off for you!

    • Thanks Vicky! It’s never hard work if you’re doing something you love :D

      Wishing you and Buddy a fantastic new year – hope 2015 is full of amazing adventure for you both!

  6. What a great year you had! Love the puffin photos. Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you two.

    • Thanks Hannah! We have more puffin photos than you would ever believe! Lol I’m STILL editing through them all! Wishing both you and Adam a fantastic 2015 as well – can’t wait to see where the year takes you both :)

  7. You Miss Meg, are one heck of an inspiration. I love following your adventures, I don’t comment often, I will more this year (tis a new years intention) but know I am reading your posts. I wish you guys a brilliant, fun filled and rainbow fuelled 2015, hope you get everything you wish for. You rock! :)
    PS: Sorry I didn’t get to see you when you were home, my family decided to do a last minute Christmas gathering when an uncle turned up to surprise us. Next time, orrrrr, when Im in your neck of the woods, beers on me.

    • Thanks so much Anna – you’re seriously the best! And you were one of the first people to give me advice way back when I was trying to figure out how to start a blog, so I’m super grateful for all of your support and encouragement over the past few years now.

      And no worries at all – we’re hoping to get back to Canberra to settle back into Aussie life in July this year, so will have to catch you then!

      Wishing you a wonderful 2015 also – can’t wait to see what the year holds for you! xxx

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