2013: My Travels In Photos


Road trip New Zealand

2013 has been a bit of an odd year in terms of travel.

Australia to New Zealand to Malaysia to Thailand to Vietnam to the United States to Canada to Mexico. I didn’t visit half as many countries as I did in 2011 and 2012 but somehow it feels like this year has been the most action-packed.

I kicked off the year in Australia, and what followed was one of the most intense travel periods I’ve had to date. Two months in New Zealand, from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South, visiting around 45 places along the way. Yes, 45 places in 60 days. I knew that this kind of fast-paced travel would inevitably leave me burned out and stressed but there was just too much I wanted to see and do. And despite leaving me exhausted for months afterwards, I genuinely wouldn’t change a thing — New Zealand is now one of my favourite countries, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been — and I’m so grateful I got to see so much of it.

Unfortunately, New Zealand also wrecked me for the rest of the year. Ambitious plans to explore Borneo and Burma straight afterwards were quickly shelved in favour of spending a minimum of a month in nearly every place we visited.

A month in Chiang Mai, a month in Saigon, a month in Portland, three months in Sayulita, a month in Guanajuato — after leaving New Zealand, 2013 was all about bases with only a small amount of travel thrown in.

Still, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to see some truly incredible places this year. In 2013, I visited eight countries, four of them new. I took over 20,000 photos. I hiked across a glacier and over an active volcano. I saw thousands of glowworms in caves and spotted wild penguins and sea lions on a beach. I learned to paddleboard, tobogganed down sand dunes, bathed in natural hot springs and attempted to run up the steepest street in the world. I ate kangaroo in Australia, lizard in Vietnam and brain tacos in Mexico. I finally got around to visiting Yosemite, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. Yes, despite the exhaustion, 2013 was a pretty amazing year.

Here, then, are some of my favourite photos:

Tasmanian beach
Tasmania, Australia: I fell head over heels in love with Tasmania from the second I arrived and it was easily the highlight from my time in Australia. This photo sums up my experience perfectly: hundreds of gorgeous beaches with not a single person in sight.
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania: Yet another incredible beach.
Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles, Australia: Our road trip from Melbourne to the Twelve Apostles took place on a miserable, rainy day that meant we had few opportunities to stop and relax on the dozens of beaches we passed on the way. Fortunately, the cloud cleared and the sun came out the second we arrived at the Twelve Apostles. Perfect timing.
Beach in Raglan, New Zealand
Raglan, New Zealand: One of my favourite stops on my New Zealand road trip. Raglan was all about relaxing, eating well, dancing over black sand beaches that scorched the soles of my feet and paddling in the ice-cold turquoise ocean.
Geothermal activity in Rotorua
Rotorua, New Zealand: One of the strangest stops on my road trip, Rotorua was full of bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, thermal lakes, huge craters and some of the craziest colours I’ve ever seen.
Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand: The spectacular hike over an active volcano that kickstarted my love of all things walking.
Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand: The hike that just about destroyed me and had me announcing my hiking career was over after just two weeks.
Mount Cook Lake Tekapo
Mount Cook, New Zealand, reflected in the waters of Lake Pukaki.
West coast of New Zealand
West coast of New Zealand
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: My first visit to Malaysia and even though I didn’t fall in love with it, I was excited to finally see the Petronas Towers.
Lanterns in Hoi An
Hoi An, Vietnam: Dave surprised me with a birthday trip up to Hoi An and I instantly fell in love with its adorable Old Town. For four days, Dave and I kept our laptops shut as we wandered down pretty alleyways, relaxed on the beach and bought heaps of tailor-made dresses. Well, maybe that last one was just me. Maybe.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, California: I don’t know why it took me so long to get to Yosemite because it now ranks as one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited. This photo shows Vernal Falls, as seen from the John Muir Trail.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, Arizona: Like Yosemite, I found myself wondering why it had taken me so long to get to the Grand Canyon. I spent my day on the South Kaibab trail, which takes you down into the canyon and gives you a completely different vantage point than the canyon’s edge. The hike completely surpassed my expectations and I can’t wait to return to explore another area of the canyon.
Monument Valley
Monument Valley, Utah: One of the most stunning landscapes I’ve seen, Dave and I decided to drive the 17 mile valley loop road and ended up nearly destroying our rental car. Despite the nerve-wracking drive, this ended up being a highlight from my US road trip, and has me desperate to return to Utah in the future.
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico: The highlight from my US road trip. I spent our day here tobogganing down sand dunes, marveling at how we had the entire place to ourselves and watching one of the best sunsets of my life.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, Texas: One of the largest, and one of the least visited National Parks in the US. I think I saw more tarantulas than people during the day we spent hiking here.
Guanajuato from above
Guanajuato, Mexico: My new home for the next couple of weeks. Isn’t this city so ridiculously beautiful?

Which photo is your favourite?

Previous Month 29: Travel Summary and Statistics
Next 2013: My Year in Review

52 Comments

  1. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Every single picture has its own view and beauty it’s though if you’d ask me pick one of my favorite but I chose Mount Cook one because of calmness in the picture, beauty and reflection :)

    Keep travelling!

    Cheers

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Mount Cook was absolutely stunning — a very relaxing place to visit :-)

  2. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Lovely photos, Lauren. I particularly enjoyed the ones from New Zealand, which looks so pretty, it hardly seems real! I just wish it weren’t so expensive to visit… Will be exciting to see you tackle more of Mexico and South America in 2014!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Steph! It’s definitely incredibly expensive to visit New Zealand, which is a shame. Maybe Couchsurfing and Housesitting are the way forward? :-). Looking forward to exploring a new region of the world in 2014!

  3. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Great round-up of another incredible year. I too love New Zealand but I wasn’t as keen on Oz and kinda wish I’d headed over to Tasmania like you did rather than spend as much time on the east coast. I’m excited to read more about your travels in America; I hope to get over there in the next couple of years but will have to save some more money first as it sounds expensive!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Amy! I was definitely underwhelmed by Australia. I’d like to return and see more of the country outside of the big cities — I’m not a city person at all and I think that was why I ended up disappointed. New Zealand was so much more impressive! :-)

  4. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    I love all your photos, but my favorite must the shot from Monument Valley. And Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen this year as well. I wondered the same thing – how come I hadn’t visited before? Simply amazing views!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Kea! There are so many places where I find myself wondering why I hadn’t been there before. So many places, so little time! :-)

  5. Jeff
    December 31, 2013
    Reply

    What a recap. Seems 2013 was successful to you guys. Looking forward to read more of your experiences comes 2014.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jeff! I can’t wait to see if 2014 managed to top 2013! :-)

  6. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    The Grand Canyon photo is amazing!! Would love to visit there one day.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Brittany! I was actually expecting to be underwhelmed by it but ended up loving it. I guess it’s so famous for a reason, hey?

  7. Chris
    December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Awesome shots Lauren seems like you had an epic year!

    Loved following your adventures (and misadventures!) this year – stoked to see what 2014 brings…and maybe see you on the road again for some mojitos!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Chris! Maybe we’ll cross paths while you’re in Ecuador! :-)

  8. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Ahh you had such an amazing year. I’m happy I was once again able to follow along. Hopefully 2014 is the year we finally meet up!!! Oh & YOUR PHOTOS ARE AFUCKINGMAZING!!! Cheers to a another awesome year!!!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Jaime!!! I hope we *finally* get to meet this year — South America is our chance!

  9. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Agh, I love your photos!!! Rotorua looks fantastic, as do Hoi An, Guanajuato and Big Bend National Park (although not too keen on the idea of tarantulas). In fact, all these places look amazing. I can’t wait to read about your 2014 adventures – Happy New Year!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      The tarantulas were so frightening! I can’t believe that by the end of the hike I’d conquered my fear of them. I ended up finding them quite cute and fuzzy… who am I?

  10. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    What an AHmaZing year you had!! Lauren, you should really put this all into a 2014 calendar – stunning photos! Cheers to an even greater year to come. :)

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Kieu! I always think I should create a calendar to give to relatives as a Christmas present but I’m always too lazy to get it organised in time :-)

  11. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Wow! I love all of them especially the waterfall but the beaches are my favorite! And making me quite envious which is saying a lot since I live on the beach in Costa Rica but those are absolutely stunning!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Samantha! I’m looking forward to getting to Costa Rica myself in a few months :-)

  12. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Love the shot of Monument Valley. When we get back from our trip we need to spend some time out west.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Mark! The Southwest is an incredible part of the world :-)

  13. December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Beautiful photos! Hope you have a great 2014 – maybe we’ll run into each other on the road one of these days!

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Val! I think I’ll miss you when I visit Chicago later this year but I’m sure our paths will cross at some point :-)

  14. January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Great photos :) I like that you spend a bit more time in a certain place than most full-time travelers. My most favorite photo in this post has to be the last – such a vibrant city! However, I JUST started visiting National Parks this year (5, to be exact) and felt the same way… why didn’t I go sooner?! Great end-of-the-year post :)

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Deasy! I used to rush through countries as quickly as possible but now much prefer to spend a minimum of a month in each place I visit :-)

  15. January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Happy new year, Lauren! More amazing adventures in 2014 :D
    I love the picture of Guanajuato, the city looks so colorful and pretty

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks Debbie! Happy new year to you, too :-)

  16. January 1, 2014
    Reply

    From the look of e photos you had a great time in 2013. I wish you all the best for 2014.

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Steve! Hope you have a great 2014, too :-)

  17. Tatiana
    January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Your pictures are fantastic! I loved them all but the waterfall at Yosemite makes me just want to travel there now. I hope you keep on sharing your pictures and travel stories! Much success and safe travels to you in 2014!

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Tatiana! I have no plans to stop :-)

  18. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs
    January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Tasmania and Guanajuato added to my list! Amazing places!

    • January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Great! Both are awesome :-)

  19. January 2, 2014
    Reply

    Some incredible photos. Still jealous of how clear a day you had at the Grand Canyon!

    Looking forward to more in 2014 :)

    • January 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Michael! We really did luck out with the Grand Canyon. We were originally going to visit the day before but changed our mind when there was an all-day thunderstorm! :-)

  20. Laura
    January 2, 2014
    Reply

    Some really stunning photos! I love the color of the water on the Australian beaches. And I’ve always wanted to visit Big Bend NP but your description of you hiking companions has essentially cured me of that.

    • January 3, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, sorry about that! Big Bend National Park WAS amazing, but uh, yeah, there were definitely a lot of scary animals there!

  21. January 6, 2014
    Reply

    No way can I choose! They’re all stunning.

    White Sands was one of my favourite natural landscapes ever. I adore Hoi An despite its touristyness. And driving to Milford Sound remains one of the most epic journeys we’ve ever made.

    • January 14, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you! You have great taste :-)

  22. Jeff | Planet Bell
    January 6, 2014
    Reply

    That looks like a great year. Guanajuato is one of my favorite places in Latin America, and I love the American Southwest. Did you enjoy Big Bend and New Mexico?

    • January 14, 2014
      Reply

      I loved the Southwest! New Mexico was amazing and I’d love to explore more of it soon, and Big Bend was great! I couldn’t believe somewhere so incredibly beautiful could have so few people there.

  23. Jo
    January 21, 2014
    Reply

    Stumbled across your blog last week and love it! What kind of camera do you use? Your photos are incredible!

    • January 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jo! I use a Canon 550D.

  24. Alejandro
    June 3, 2014
    Reply

    I like all of them the last one is very common for me I from Guanajuato :)

    Regards Alejandro

    • June 24, 2014
      Reply

      Nice! I love Guanajuato :-)

  25. August 28, 2014
    Reply

    these are awesome! just when I think one is my favourite i see the next one

    • September 1, 2014
      Reply

      Glad you liked them, Rebecca! :-)

  26. Louisa Klimentos
    December 3, 2015
    Reply

    Did you visit Eden Nsw and took some photos?Your phtos are to die for.Loved them all

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