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2024 New Years Newsletter

“Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness, I am sure to be filled”.
— Henry Thoreau

2023 The Year in Review

As you probably know by now, we like to do a recap of the past year in our annual New Years newsletter. So here you go.

2023 has been one of our busiest travel years to date; our travels took us right around the globe! We started heading West in January and keep on moving in that direction, which of course eventually became East.

It was our second circumnavigation of the globe, the first was completed when we first met way back in 1995.
We are currently cat sitting in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, after spending a few months in Ajijic, which is a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Chapala 45 minutes South of Guadalajara.

We completed four house sits in Ajijic, in four completely different neighborhoods. Our favorite was without doubt the one way up the hill overlooking the lake. The view was amazing and our charges Gracie & Watson with their sweet and funny characters, kept us endlessly entertained. 
We are currently doing our first housesit of 2024 here in PV, after a mini holiday in a beachside hotel. After that it’s on to Merida for another two sits and from there probably Cancun.
But hey wait a minute, this section is supposed to be about 2023, so here is a quick summary of what countries we visited during the year. [click  the links for galleries]

Hawaii (US of A)
Home (England)
Back to Italy
Home (Canada)

Ta Prohm Temple 2023 (79 of 89).jpg

Travel Highlights of 2023

  • Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto Japan     [-Gallery-] [-Blog-]
  • The Shinkansen Bullet Train     
  • Ankor Wat Complex     [-Gallery-] [-Blog-]
  • Cruise on the Tonle Sap River     [-Gallery-]
  •  Mekong River by “slow boat”  [-Gallery-]
  • Cooking Classes in Chaing Mai     [-Blog-]
  • Luang Prabang Laos     [-Gallery-] [-Blog
  • Halong and Lan Ha Bays in Vietnam     [-Gallery-]
  • Rome (because Rome is Rome)     [-Gallery-] [-Blog-]
  • Housesit in Trevignano Romano [-Gallery-] [-Blog-]


Year in Review Continued…

Rather than us trying to convey what the year has been like by writing about it, Michael has put together a visual journey for you. No doubt you will find it much more entertaining. So please head on over and join us for a very condensed review of our travels in 2023.




2023 Fast Facts

Here’s a few stats from the past year, just for the stat lovers amongst us:
Flights taken  —>  23
Flying time —> 91 hours
Distance Flown —>  32,121 km

Countries visited —> 15
Cities visited —>  88

Long distance train trips —>  3
Boat trips  —>  4
Long distance bus trips —>  5
Uber / cab rides —> too many to count
Cars driven —>  7
Total distance travelled in 2023 —>  41, 198 km

Number of different beds slept in  —>  63
Photographs taken —>  over 14,000
Foreign languages encountered —>  11 plus 4 ‘flavours’ of English

Housesits —>  17 in total  (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam – 1 each, Turkey -2, Italy -3, England – 4, Canada, Mexico -4)

Days spent housesitting —>  220

We also looked after 24 dogs, 18 cats, a Bearded Dragon and a Royal Python along the way.
Istanbul 2023-121.jpg

Friends and Family

As you can see, we covered a whole lot of ground this year. Besides visiting some very interesting places, the years highlights also included meeting up with family and friends all over the show.
We managed to meet in person (all for the first time!) with 10 sets of fellow sitters in our housesitting “A Team”.

We have known many of these folks online for years (and some for almost a decade), so it was wonderful to meet in person at last.

We managed to pull off meet ups in Hawaii, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey and the UK. In some instances we met up with the same folks two or three times in multiple locations!

Our tribe is constantly on the go and scattered all over the globe at any given time, so we were exceedingly fortunate that so many of our paths crossed.


We caught up with some former housesitting clients from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil whilst they were in the UK, and also spent time with our friend Carrie in Hawaii for whom we housesat on numerous occasions in Barbados.

We also managed to reconnect with our fellow travelers Colin and Rachel, from our South American ‘Around the Horn Cruise’ in 2019 (or was that 2018?).
The most special times have to been those spent with family.

Our first meet up was a lucky coincidence, in that our travel itinerary meshed with Mike’s cousin and kindred spirit, Lynne in Luang Prabang, Laos. We were able to spend a week hanging out and exploring this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage town with both Lynne and her friend Denise.

We also were able to share Yvonne’s birthday celebration with some of her siblings. It was wonderful to reconnect and spend some fun time with the sibs and their families.
Thanks to some quick juggling of our schedule, we were able to make it back to Kamloops in time for Mikes sister’s wedding. It was a pleasure to share this special time with Nicole and Woody as they exchanged vows in, a simple yet very moving ceremony.


Ajijic 2023 (41 of 45)


2024 Theme –  The Year of the Bucket List

Yvonne and I have a tradition of setting a theme for each new year.

 2021 was “The Year of Mastering Uncertainty”
2022 was “The Year of Resilience”
2023 was “The Year of Ikigai”

We are proclaiming 2024 to be “The year of the Bucket List”

 As we are constantly being reminded, we are not making it out of this life alive. The ‘bucket’ will inevitably be kicked at some point for all of us.

We have been working on our ‘bucket list’ for a while now, and as this was our first real year of travel since Covid, we wanted to pick some items off of our hit list, and we did including:


Cruise down the Mekong,

Riding the Shinkansen Bullet train,

Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto Japan

Exploring Angkor Wat

A tour of Halong Bay

Visiting Dubai UAE

Taking a Thai cooking class

Plus visiting 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites

Our ‘Bucket List’ is constantly morphing and changing, as every once in a while we give it an update. More often than not we add more stuff than we tick off. 
At the top of our ‘bucket list’ is travelling to at least 100 countries each, before we get planted.

Currently Mike has visited 80 countries and Yvonne 88, so we still have a few to go! This is why we will probably focus on Eastern Europe for part of this coming year, as there are so many countries there we have yet to visit.
Another country rich continent, we have yet to explore in any real depth is Africa, so who knows there may be a safari in the not-too-distant future.

Other items on the bucket list include –

Iconic Train Journeys 

such as the The Oslo Bergen, Copper Canyon Mexico, and Darwin to Adelaide on the Ghan.

Specialty Cruises

preferably smaller cruise lines limited to just a few hundred passengers rather than thousands. Candidates include a Clipper cruise in the Med, Cruising the Canadian Artic, and an Antarctic cruise so we can step foot on the only Continent we have not yet visited.

Interesting River Cruises 

might include the Yantze, the Amazon, and the Danube Rivers.

Balloon Trips 

are also on the radar, as there are so many to experience. We have only done one so far, and that was to watch the sunrise in Alice Springs from way up high. Targets include flying over Cappadocia’s Fairy Chimneys in Turkey, and over Bagan, Myanmar.
The tricky part about travel ‘bucket lists’ is finding the balance between planning and spontaneity. We do not want to fall into the trap of trying to see every-thing, every-where, and ending up chasing our tails, just to check something off of an arbitrary list.

We would rather enjoy life as it unfolds.

That is why we have decided to travel slow and savor our life of travel, rather than pigging out at the buffet table.

Our ‘bucket list’ provides us with a compass bearing, rather than a rigid list to be checked off. We have learnt over the past decade that the universe abhors a vacuum. Creating space allows awesome experiences to happen unplanned, in other words ‘walking about with sufficient carelessness’.



Coming up in 2024

Our 2024 calendar is slowly starting to fill up. We have a few housesits booked in Puerto Vallarta and Merida Mexico, which will take us through February 2024. Then its home to British Columbia in March.
We have a sit booked in the Caribbean for 6 weeks starting mid May. Come July who knows? Most likely Europe at this point, lets see which direction the wind blows.
Although we are hoping to tick off one of our long-standing bucket list items this year and do a cruise around the Greek islands, hopefully with a very special friend to share it with.
We will keep you posted. In the meantime……………………
We hope you had a calm and peaceful Christmas, creating wonderful memories with family and friends.

We wish you a healthy, prosperous and exceedingly happy New Year!

About the author: Michael was born under a wanderin’ star. He is an Engineer who became an explorer, a photography bug, and hack traveller writer with the propensity to be snarky. “Retired” in 2012 at the age of 44, he and his wife Yvonne travel and house sit around the globe on a full time basis. Michael’s goal is to share the process of escaping the rat race, exploring the globe, and some of the experiences along the way.

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