‘I’m going on an adventure‘ is seriously the first thing that comes to mind when I know I’ll be travelling again. I love travelling and I love planning for my travels. I pretty much never go on an ‘organised three week holiday’, simply because travelling for me means venturing off into the unknown and discovering amazing places as well as exploring what I’m capable of. For this post, I thought it would be cool to show you what I’d recommend when you go on a trip.
Where to start?
Where are you going and how are you getting there?
After deciding when and where you’re going to travel, you’ll need a way to get there. Even with something as simple as choosing a flight or booking a bus, there are plenty of options. If you want to go backpacking in Australia, for example, there are many ways to start your adventure. There are tour operators with special deals for backpackers. If you’re unsure about venturing off all by yourself, look for an organisation that can help you arrange some things for you. You can look for a group flight that transports a whole bunch of excited ‘backpackers to be’ to a beautiful destination, all backed up by an organisation. You could even book a starters kit where you are picked up from the airport and spend the first few days in a hostel affiliated with the organisation. They can help you feel comfortable about getting started on your big trip.
I never did this. 😛 The first time I travelled to Australia on a Working Holiday visa, I did everything myself. I booked my own flight, arranged my own Tax File number and opened my own bank account. In retrospect it would have saved me a lot of stress had I had a little help, but I was so proud of my 22-year-old self once everything was arranged. Now I’m comfortable enough to arrange things myself (and now I’m too old for a Working Holiday visa anyway, lol). If you’re going to New Zealand and are looking for a way to get around, maybe this post can help you plan.
First, get a travel guide and start reading!
Personally, I’m not a fan of Rough Guides, but I love Lonely Planet. It’s a personal thing, so choose something that suits you as there is enough choice out there. The best way to get an idea of what you want to do, is if you know what you can do. Second, use Google…just to give you an idea, because a travel guide is a selection and there is so much more out there! You often find local information (e.g. of towns, areas) and national sites with heaps of information (like www.doc.govt.nz).
Make a list of the things you want to see and then from that list, choose a top 5 of things you absolutely must see and be flexible with the rest.
When I travelled to Australia for the first time, I knew that I wanted to see the Sydney Opera House, the Great Ocean Road, Perth & west coast, Uluru and the Outback. That gave me a rough itinerary, with enough room to add things later on. And so I did, often looking locally for things to do or hearing from other backpackers what cool places are. The next time I’m going to New Zealand, I know that I want to go to Stewart Island, Wanaka, Golden Bay, back to Nelson & Marlborough Sounds and maybe explore Northland some more (all the way to Cape Reinga this time). That gives me an idea around which I can start making plans. Want to know about my favourites so far? Check out this post!
Don’t jam pack everything.
It’s smart to have an overview to see if you can fit all your ideas in the time that you have, but you’d be selling yourself short if you were running from one place to another because you try to cram too much into your holiday. Holiday and travel mean a break from daily, hectic life, so don’t make the mistake to rush when you could relax.
Where to stay?
Choose a place to stay respecting your budget and your wishes.
If you want lots of luxury, choose a hotel. If you travel through New Zealand with a campervan or prefer to camp, choose one of many campsites, like the DOC campsites (often beautifully located and very cheap). When I’m backpacking, I never stay at hotels. I prefer hostels/backpacker lodges (see this post for my favourites). My budget is not the biggest in the world, but you’d be surprised about the comfort you can get in a good BBH hostel. I’ve mentioned BBH before and they have some of the best hostels in New Zealand.
I usually book a share room, but every once in a while, I’d treat myself to a double or single room just so I can stretch out in a double bed. There is all kinds of accommodation for all kinds of people. Personally, I don’t like party places and choose small, more quiet hostels to stay at. I don’t have any big demands, I prefer a good bed and pillow, and clean well equipped facilities. As always when travelling, choose something that suits you.
I tend to book accommodation only a few days in advance. I never book all my accommodation for my entire trip. What if you really love a place and want to stay longer? What if you don’t like a place and want to get out? When I stayed at Onuku Farm hostel near Akaroa, I loved it so much that I stayed a few days longer. I’d already booked my accommodation in Kaikoura. Since I was going to stay the same amount of nights in Kaikoura, only just a few days later, there was absolutely no problem in changing my booking.
What to bring?
You’d only break your back. When travelling to Australia or New Zealand, remember that they’re modern countries with the same facilities as in other modern countries. If you forget your toothbrush, you can buy one in Australia! If your shirt gets washed out, you can buy a new one! You don’t need stacks of clothes, heaps of toiletries…just pack smart.
The first time I travelled to Australia I packed not exactly in the smartest way. I sent stuff home a few times. Now, I usually pack two pairs of pants (zip off), one fleece, one rain jacket, one vest, one long-sleeved shirt and maybe three tees, usually almost a week’s worth of undies and socks, one pair of sturdy hiking boots, one pair of flip flops and one pair of easy sneakers. And of course a camera, to capture those awesome moments and places! Last time, I had just 13 kg for 6 weeks. I came back with 19 kg because of all the stuff I bought, lol! So leave a little room for the souvenirs you’re going to bring back. If anything, you can surely bring back a pack of TimTams or two? 😉
Once you’re there?
Allow yourself time to get over your jetlag. Flying to the other side of the world will wear you out. I always relax the first couple of days and allow myself to ease into the nomadic traveller’s mode. When I arrive at a new place, I always take a little time to explore my immediate surroundings, maybe I need to do a little shopping and after that, it’s time to do the things I came there to do!
Most of all, when you’re there…enjoy! 🙂
I’m curious…how do you prepare for a trip? 🙂