RTW Trip 2013

Starting in January 2013, James and I set off on an adventure of a lifetime: We circled the globe for ONE YEAR, traveling to 17 countries around the world! After 12+ months of innumerable adventures, crazy encounters, and more incredible sights than we could have imagined, we returned back to the good ole United States on February 26, 2014.

The map below shows our round-the-world trip route, and places we stopped along the way. Scroll down to see itinerary dates, details, and more.

We began & ended in LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. We spent one month visiting family and friends in the US (Sacramento, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago, and Milwaukee), then left the country for our round-the-world trip, moving westbound… visiting Japan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, then over to South Africa when James got a job in Cape Town.

In the middle of our trip we returned to the US unexpectedly (December 2013), then continued our worldly adventure in January and February 2014 to South Korea, Kenya, Tanzania (Serengeti), Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa (Johannesburg & Kruger National Park) and ended in Norway & Iceland!

**The BLUE map markers and lines show our route and cities visited in 2013
**The PURPLE map markers and lines show our route and cities we visited in 2014.
**The ORANGE lines/paths are James’ travel routes on his own.
**The RED map markers and lines/paths are BreAnn’s travel routes on her own.

Click here to see this map in a separate window.


Below is our itinerary of places we visited on our round-the-world trip from 2013-2014

JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 6, 2013:  SACRAMENTO, CA. We visited James’ family, driving up to Sacramento from Los Angeles after I sold my car and we packed up the apartment.

FEBRUARY 6-12, 2013: NEW ORLEANS, LA. Traveled with our friends Marty & Ann out to New Orleans to visit our friends Natanya & Jorge for Mardi Gras 2013!!

FEBRUARY 12-17, 2013: NASHVILLE, TN. Visited James’ dad & dad’s wife, and my friends Kevin and Kristen and their kids.

FEBRUARY 17-19, 2013: CHICAGO, IL. Visited my good friends, Julie and Beth (and Beth’s husband and ADORABLE son, Parker!)

FEBRUARY 19-26, 2013: MILWAUKEE, WI. Visited my friends and family in the Milwaukee area before we officially leave the US for our RTW trip!

FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 12, 2013: TAHITI & MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA.  We began our trip in one of the most beautiful and tropical (and expensive!) places: Tahiti! We spent the first five nights in a basic hotel on Moorea in a garden bungalow, followed by a few days at a hostel on Tahiti Island, and finished with five nights in an amazing overwater bungalow on Moorea!

MARCH 14, 2013 – April 5, 2013: JAPAN.  We spent three weeks in Japan visiting many great cities including Tokyo, Suzaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka. We were pleased how NICE people were in Japan, and had a VERY lovely experience, staying with a Japanese family in Nagoya.

APRIIL 5-11, 15-17, 2013: HONG KONG.  We visited Hong Kong for a total of 8 nights. Had a lovely time around the city!

APRIL 17 to MAY 26, 2013: CHINA. We spent six weeks in China . . . Visited Guangzhou, Guilin, Yangshou, Zhangjiajie, Xi’an, and Beijing. Saw amazing sights including the Xi’an Terracotta Warriors, hiked the amazing moutains in Zhangjiajie, and walked along the Great Wall of China.

MAY 26 – JUNE 23, 2013: VIETNAM. We spent one month all around Vietnam, including Hanoi, Cat Ba Island, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), and the Mekong Delta. Cruised around the amazing Halong Bay, learned a lot about the Vietnam War, and had quite an INTERESTING tour experience in the Mekong Delta.

JUNE 23 – JULY 1, 2013: CAMBODIA. Visited Cambodia for a little over one week. Spent time in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap… and visited the amazing Angkor Wat temples!!

JULY 1 – AUGUST 22, 2013: THAILAND. We spent 7 ½ weeks enjoying the beauty of Thailand! First, we stayed in a small town called Trat for two weeks volunteering teaching English to elementary and high school kids. Then we spent one month on the fun island of Koh Phangan, where we rented a cute beach house and recharged our “traveling batteries”!!  We also visited Koh Tao for scuba diving, as well as Bangkok.

AUGUST 23 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2013: AUSTRALIA. James and I met up with our U.S. friends, Marty and Ann, in Port Douglas, Australia for an amazing experience of scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef! James and I then continued on to Cairns, where we drove a campervan for three days down the Queensland coast through Airlie Beach, Harvey Bay, and ended in Brisbane. At this point, James got an awesome job opportunity in Cape Town, South Africa, so he ended up flying out of Australia on September 5th.  I continued through Australia on my own for a few weeks . . .

SEPTEMBER 5 – OCTOBER 3, 2013: AUSTRALIA (BREANN ONLY). I spent a few extra days in Brisbane, where I saw the sights around the city and spent time with a dear old friend, Esther. Then continued down the coast to Surfer’s Paradise and Byron Bay. Next, I flew to Sydney and spent a week with a friend from college, Megs, and her husband and daughter. Saw a show at the Opera house, took a ferry around town, did a lot of walking and some great hikes, and more! Next, I stayed in Melbourne for 6 days with a wonderful family (friends of a friend of mine in the US), and then finished my Australian tour with one week in Adelaide with my good friend, Janelle (and her sweet mum!)

OCTOBER 5, 2013 – DECEMBER 3-10, 2014: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA.  Spent a little over two months in Cape Town while James worked. He worked as an editor on a television series called SAF3. While we were there, I visited my friend, Nicole, in Johannesburg. We ended heading out of Cape Town a bit early (James left December 3rd and BreAnn on December 10th) and headed back to the US for the holidays, due to a sickness and then passing in the family.

MONTH OF DECEMBER 2014: James and I both spent some time in Sacramento, CA with James’ family, and then afterwards I flew to Wisconsin to spend some time with my family for the holidays.

JANUARY 8-10, 2014: SOUTH KOREA.  We spent two days in Seoul, South Korea… we had to fly here in order to pick up our RTW flight ticket. We originally only planned to stopover in Seoul briefly, but somehow messed up our dates and had to totally reschedule our RTW flight in the end!

JANUARY 11-18, 2014: MASAI  MARA, KENYA.  We volunteered for one week in the Maasai Mara area in Kenya. We had a lovely and interesting time teaching 6th and 7th graders English, and we also experienced tribal living in the local Maasai tribes nearby!

JANUARY 20-FEBRUARY 8, 2014: AFRICA TOUR: TANZANIA, MALAWI, ZAMBIA.  We joined a twenty-day group tour (camping… yikes!) from Kenya down through Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia (to Victoria Falls), including safari game drives in the Serengeti. In addition, we experienced some fun scuba diving in Zanzibar and Lake Malawi and also BUNGEE JUMPED OFF  THE VICTORIA FALLS BRIDGE!!

FEBRUARY 8-10, 2014: ZIMBABWE. We spent two days in Victoria Falls city in Zimbabwe, rode elephants, and checked out the beautiful Victoria Falls waterfalls.

FEBRUARY 11-16, 2014: KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA: We rented a car and drove from Johannesburg out to Kruger National Park and did our own little “safari” out in the park with some pretty amazing wildlife! Probably one of the most amazing experiences this whole year!

FEBRUARY 17, 2014: NORWAY.  On our way to Iceland, we had a brief 20-hour stopover in Oslo, Norway!  During this time, we were excited to visit with my college friend, Gro, and her husband and son for a night and have a lovely time catching up!

February 18-25, 2014: ICELAND. We spent one week driving around amazing and FREEZING Iceland!  What a beautiful and different country, though! We’ve really never seen so many different, gorgeous, and new things: Huge glaciers, black sand (lava) beaches, geysers, craters, MANY waterfalls (some that were partially frozen), glacier lagoons, icebergs, lava tube caves, and more. We also visited Reykjavik city, and also spent some time at the famous “Blue Lagoon” natural hot springs.

FEBRUARY 26, 2014: RETURNED TO THE US!!  Our RTW flight tickets expired 12 months from when we began our trip, so we had to return to the U.S. by February 26th, 2014. Haha.. so we used our ticket UP UNTIL THE EXACT DAY it expired!—one whole year later!!  We flew into Milwaukee, WI, and visited my family for two weeks, and then flew to Sacramento, CA to visit with James’ family. We returned to Los Angeles in mid-March 2014 and spent a few months looking for a new apartment, moving stuff out of our storage unit into the new place, getting settled in, looking for new jobs, and much much more!

29 responses to “RTW Trip 2013”

  1. Megs says:

    Can’t wait till you firm up your plans for oz! You should get a campervan drive from Adelaide to Melbourne on the great ocean rd and then take the boat from Melbourne to tassie.

    I love Adelaide but it needs guidance of what to do etc. happy to help, can’t wait till you guys come and we can make some plans when its closer!


  2. Trina says:

    Hi there,
    Looks like a fantatic trip. Let me know as soon as poosible if you plan to go to South Korea. I can’t make any promises, but I can check one someone to see if there can put you up for a few days. I have a friend who’s from New Zealand who may have some contacts for you. I have a co-worker who has family in Vietnam. I also have a friend from Australia who maybe able to help. Take care.

    Love Trina

    • James James says:

      Hi Trina! We have been working on our schedule for the Asian countries and have decided to rule out Korea and Vietnam for now. We do plan to go to Australia and New Zealand in August/September so that would be very helpful! If you want to test the waters with them that would be fantastic and we can touch base again in June/July. Thank you!

      James Michael

  3. Jerry Porter says:

    Take an hour in New Orleans and tour the Gallier House in the Quarter, if you haven’t before. Confirm ahead and get tickets, but it’s worth the time.


    Sounds like a great trip!

  4. Steve S says:

    Congratulations! I’m very excited for you two and hope you are able to share lots of stories and picts so the rest of us can live vicariously through you.

    Tokyo is awesome! I spent only spent three days there but had a friend of a friend show me a round which enriched the experience. Unless one of you speaks Japanese there will be a bit of a problem with language so you might want to get involved with some sort of tour. Write me as you get closer and I will try and put you all in connection with Mo. Regardless, Two weeks will be a lot of time there so you probably will want to venture out into the country some… I have another friend there that lives close to great skiing!… something to consider.

    Thailand, amazing! Very easy to arrange local travel after you arrive. Language will not be an issue in this group of countries either. I never made it to the north because I was having to much fun scuba diving. Think Railay beach. and, One of the very most favorite places I ever stayed was on the north side of Kho Phangan. You can get there by scooter. Bungalow right on the beach, room AND board $5/day.

    Angkor Wat. Cambodia. GO. (3 Days)

    Kuala Lumpur… People are very nice and it’s very clean, but not my favorite place ever, still, a couple days there is worth it and there are a lot of flight options to India (or anywhere else) from KL.

    India. Love/Hate. I friend of mine did a really good trek that originated in Nepal and ended in India. From there you can travel west to Varanasi the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth. This is the place your imagination takes you when you think of India. From there you can go to Agra and visit the Taj Mahal but I suggest you spend no more than 24 hours. Go, see it, and get the hell out of there!! Definitely pre arrange a room there at a mid range hotel with air conditioning that’s close by. Next, New Delhi. You don’t need to plan any days here as you’ll probably end up spending time here in transit and that will be enough (get a room near the train station). If you start in New Delhi, I advise (for a soft landing) you pre-arrange onward travel to maybe Rishikesh (ring bells, do yoga) or Dharmasala (get a room above a local farmer barn, visit the Dalai Lama, hike to the glacier and sleep in a cave). I suggest taking the train where-ever possible, fly or private bus… local bus is very trying) Jaipur would be good, if the camel festival is going on during your trip I would make that a priority. I really liked Manali, Vashist is magic! I did not travel in the south.

    You will meet lots of Israeli travelers, in India… they do sort of a circuit of travel based on the heat and time of year… You will also find every city has an area of hotels geared towards them. If you get on that program you will meet some great friends and I felt safer and had more fun traveling with that group. ***

    I was just to Greece last summer. I was surprised at how expensive it was. Watch your wallet when you’re on the mainland… in fact, make the islands your Greece experience, and you will enjoy yourself far more. 🙂

    Istanbul, Turkey. I think everyone should go here at least once in their lives! The dollar spends well, the people are friendly and it’s very easy to get around… I think I learned more about world history in one week here than anywhere else I’ve ever traveled. I will definitely be going back to see more of this country in the future.

    Have an amazing adventure, and write anytime for more details on any of these places. – Stevo

    • BreAnn BreAnn says:

      Wow!! Just wow!! Thank you SO MUCH for all the information, Steve! Yea, will probably email you separately in the future when we get to certain places for further info. Hmm…. guess we may have so much fun scuba diving in thailand we’ll stay for awhile there too 🙂

  5. Wanzi says:

    Hello,BreAnn!I’m a SARAH’s Students in China and I’m living on HangZhou city where is good place full of poetic.There is an old saying in China that Up above there is heaven,down below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.So welcome to HZ and expecting you with me together to feel the city.
    Looking foward to U reply!
    PS:HZ is a second line city in China and Only 45 minute from HZ to Linan.

    • BreAnn BreAnn says:

      Hi Wanzi,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Maybe we will come to HangZhou just to visit you! Thanks so much for your kindness, we will be in contact with you 🙂

  6. ryan wang says:

    Hi, Dear BreAnn, this is Ryan, the student of Sarah when she teaching in Lin’an China, your trip plan is really awesome, since I also have the dream of trvelling around the world, I want be part of your plan, so when you arrive in China, PLEASE contacts me freely to see if I can do somethings for you.
    Wishes you have a nice time in your trip.
    Yours, Ryan

    • BreAnn BreAnn says:

      Hi Ryan,

      That is wonderful, thanks for offer!

      Are you still living in Lin’an? I would love to know more about the city, I haven’t heard of it before.

  7. Cindy Liang says:

    Hello, my name is Cindy Liang and I live in Linan Hangzhou, China. Your friend Sara Jean send your message. If you travle in Hangzhou, please contact me.

    • BreAnn BreAnn says:

      Hi Cindy!

      Thanks so much! I think we ARE going to visiting Hangzhou, so I will definitely contact you and let you know when we think we’ll be stopping through town!

  8. Ivonne says:

    OMG!! We are so excited for you guys!! Can’t wait to see through you all the amazing places you will be visiting. Have a wonderful time and be safe. We love you guys!! Ivonne, Diana, and Jessica :)(your adoptive sisters :P)

  9. Jenn Yamamoto says:

    I just noticed you were hitting up East Africa later this year! Nairobi is a great city, but just be careful. If you go toward Tanzania, Arusha is a great small town where people meet – that’s where I went for my first mission back in ’03. If you’re looking for volunteer work, maybe my friends over there would love some help??? Let me know if mission related work interests you guys.

  10. Gary S says:

    Hey guys. Heard about the quake in China and was hoping you were safely away from the area.
    Looks like you guys are having a blast. Have fun, and be safe.
    (Sounds more like a parent than a financial advisor, huh?)

  11. Steve Chan says:

    James, I work with your Dad and have been to SE Asia many times. When In Thailand go South to Krabi and stay ay Rai Lei Beach. Whe in Indonesia stay in Bali (Kuta) but go to Lombok and stay on the Gili (Islands, When in India go to Rajsstan and go to Agra and Pushkar. In China go South East to Dali and Kunming before embarking to Beijing.In Malaysia go to Penang (Best Food in Asia). Feel free to E-Mail me for recommended places to stay in the above countries. Safe Travels !

  12. Adrienne says:

    Hey BreAnn! This trip looks and sounds amazing, I am so jealous!

    Singapore suggestion…Sentosa Island for a nice relaxing pitcher (yes pitcher) of bourbon and coke and check out the pink dolphins. Also check out Bukit Timah Nature Reserve which is basically a mini rain forest. Also the ArtScience Museum has really cool exhibits that come through, I would see what’s showing when you’re there.

    If you make it to Melbourne…and have some time to take a train out to the Brighton Beach boxes, they are pretty cool although it will be chilly. Every night along Southbank and the Yarra River they do a fire show that is pretty neat to see and will keep you warm. Also I think in early August is the International Film Festival so there may be some fun things around that.

  13. Sandi says:

    James, not sure if you remember me. I’m Justin’s Aunt, Sandi. This trip sounds amazing! My Mom sent me this so now I will be following along. Be safe and enjoy yourselves, which sounds like you already are.

    • James James says:

      Hi Sandi! Of course, I remember you. Thanks for following along! It’s been a blast so far and we have definitely fallen into a rhythm lately. Heading south through Vietnam at the moment and the blog entries follow us about four weeks behind since they take time to compose. Talk to you later!

  14. Gary S says:

    Really enjoying following the trip on the blog. Not as excited as BreAnn appears with the Chinese nachos, but who’s counting…. About now, James is missing his Ice Blended Coffee Bean, right…? Have fun and be safe!

  15. Ingrid says:

    Hey guys,

    I would love to interview you two about your travels – a mutual friend, Kari from LA, told me about you and your zest for life fits perfectly into my website’s…please contact me at Chockalife.com. I looked for an email on your site but couldn’t find one…

    Happy travels and homecoming to you both!

  16. JACK says:

    I would love to interview you two about your travels,can you tell me your email?

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