Mike Cooney loves to travel. In fact, there are few things he enjoys more. Mike refers to himself as a generalist. He likes to say that he doesn't know a lot about any one thing, but a little about a lot of things, and credits his generalist background to his extensive travels, which includes nearly 50 countries.
In his early twenties, Mike worked on a ship in the merchant marines and traveled the world. It was not only a great adventure, but the experience peeked his appetite for wanting to learn more about different places and cultures. It was just the beginning of a lifelong travel odyssey that continues to this day.
Following his two-year stint on an old dilapidated World War II vintage tanker, Mike returned home to North Florida where he sold real estate and photographed weddings. In the mid-'80s, Mike became the executive director of his hometown chamber of commerce, which launched his career in economic development.
Cooney worked for several economic development organizations in Florida including the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC), headquartered in Orlando where he helped recruit companies to the region between 1989 and 1999. In the late '90s he was the Executive Director of the Metro Orlando International Affairs Commission, the international arm of the EDC and hosted delegations from all over the world. He also participated in a business mission to China and organized a similar mission to South Africa.
After leaving the EDC, Mike became senior project manager for a purchasing management company and traveled throughout North America and Northern Europe. In 2003 he started his own consulting firm specializing in project management, mostly for educational institutions. He has also assisted companies and organizations with government and community relations and strategic planning.
In 2008 Mike undertook the most challenging project of his life. He and his wife decided to sell virtually everything they owned to take their three teenage sons on an around the world trek. His previous travel experience coupled with his project management skills were put to the test. Their aim was for their sons to experience the world before beginning college, and in the process make them better global citizens by immersing them in various cultures around the world.
Their odyssey began in August 2008 when they traveled through Central and South America for four months, almost exclusively by bus. They returned to Orlando in December of 2008 and started the second leg of their journey in March 2009. They traveled for seven months through Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji before returning to Florida in September 2009. They visited more than 20 countries and logged over 61,000 miles during the entire trek.
During and after their trek, they maintained a very active web site where thousands of people have logged on to follow their adventures. Mike has joined the prestigious list of featured columnist at the Real Estate Channel and will be posting articles about their travel experiences about their 12-month trek.
The Cooneys now live in Cape Canaveral, Florida where they are trying to adjust to a "normal life". They insist this is only temporary and will always be planning their next adventure. Mike's motto is "Once a traveler, always a traveler." Mike holds an active Florida Broker's license and received the Project Management Professional credential from the Project Management Institute. You can contact Mike at email@example.com or visit the Cooney World Adventure web site by going to www.cooneyworldadventure.com.
Our initial introduction to Santiago, Chile was less than ideal. For starters we arrived at the airport at 3:00 a.m. without a place to stay. Next, the visa fee to enter the country was $131 USD per person, which added up to a whopping $655 for all five of us.
With nearly seven million inhabitants, Lima is one of the largest cities in South America, and is the undisputed business center for the entire country. It has been the nation's capital since being discovered by the Spanish in 1535,
The approach to the Cusco airport was through a shallow valley with low hills on either side. This was in sharp contrast to the rugged peaks we would later see in the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu.
Eco-friendly hostel As the saying goes, "Everything works out for the best," and our trek through Central America is a great example the adage always holds true. The original plan was to sell our house for its 2005 appraised value,...
(MANAGUA, NICARAGUA) -- The bus from Antigua, Guatemala left at 4:00 a.m. and traveled through El Salvador and Honduras before arriving in Managua, Nicaragua 17-hours later.
Morgan, Luz (croc researcher) and Zach Even before planning the around the world trek, Costa Rica had long been on our list of places to visit. It is internationally renowned for its natural beauty and overwhelming abundance of flora and...
After an eight-hour bus ride from Chetumal, Mexico via Belize we arrived in Flores, Guatemala. The ride was relatively uneventful if you don't count the constant stops, unpaved bumpy roads, lack of air conditioning and an onboard toilet that reeked after only two hours into the ride.
In September 2008, we saw many beautiful places in Guatemala including the colonial town of Antigua where we hiked to the top of the same volcano that recently erupted. It was a strenuous trek that tested us, but once at the top it was an amazing site to behold.
(CANCUN, MEXICO) - Our around the world trek began on August 25, 2008 in Cancun, Mexico. We had been planning the adventure for nearly three years to the day, and it was now officially underway.
The beginning.Morgan, Catrell, Harrison, Zach and Mike Cooney in Mendoza, Argentina Believe-it-or-not, the decision to travel the world with our three teenage sons was based on a real estate appraisal. What seemed like two unrelated events converged at a precise...
Guatemala Our amazing adventure came to an end on September 26, 2009 when the plane touched down in Los Angeles. We caught a red-eye to Florida where we were reunited with family the following morning. That leg of the trek...
After returning the motor home, we flew to Auckland on the North Island where we spent the night before leaving for Fiji. There's a lot to see and do in Auckland; however, our brief stay did not afford an opportunity to do much sightseeing. It was a rainy dreary day and we walked down to the waterfront, which had many shops and restaurants plus two maritime museums.
Queenstown New Zealand has an excellent road infrastructure, but there are very few major highways, which reduces getting lost to a minimum. It also seems to have the most single-lane bridges in the world. No doubt it's a way to...
Of all the places we had visited, Australia was the hardest one to leave. Two months is a respectable amount of time to visit Oz, but like the U.S., still only provides a glimpse of what there is to see and do. Given the time it takes to get there and the distance from almost anywhere, two weeks is the minimum for a visit.
Kings Canyon Rock Formations The next destination in the Outback odyssey was Kings Canyon located in Watarrka National Park, which was approximately 200 miles from Uluru. It was necessary to backtrack nearly half that distance and turn north onto a...
There is no such thing as short distances between destinations in the Outback. Most everyone's impression of this region of Australia is what they have seen watching Crocodile Dundee. In addition to the Aussies' use of "good day, mate" and "no worries",
Australia and the United States are roughly the same size; however, that's where the similarities end. For starters, the majority of the country is nearly all desert, and the vast majority of the population lives almost entirely along the coasts.
After two months in Southeast Asia and nearly two weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, we were ready to move on. For many reasons, our memories and experiences of the region will last a lifetime. First, it took us out of our comfort zone and exposed us to people, ...