09 Apr Adapting to Travel
It’s been a month since we set off on our travels, so how are we coping? Has it been everything we thought it would be? Are we at each other’s throats yet? Here’s how we’re adapting to our new life of travel.
We arrived in New Zealand physically and mentally exhausted. Those last few weeks before leaving were so emotional and stressful; it was a relief to finally be away from the strangeness of those final days. We launched straight into an overnight boat cruise and moved quickly from one place to the next, packing our time with activities. In hindsight this could have caused a complete meltdown, but it actually worked out well for us; seeing as much as possible and taking on new challenges stopped us from dwelling on the massive upheaval we’d just gone through.
There have been moments where I’ve missed people and city life in London, but as the month has gone on, we’ve both become more certain that leaving to travel was the best decision we’ve ever made. It’s helped that we’ve met so many other people who are on similar journeys or have packed up stressful lives back in their home countries to travel. We’re just starting to really understand that there are so many things we can do with our lives now that we’re free; the possibilities are endless.
The Challenges of Adapting to Travel
Here are some of the main challenges we’ve faced in our first month of travel and how we’ve coped with them:
Getting Used to Moving on
This month we’ve stayed in 13 different places and driven roughly 2,200 miles from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island. We’ve stayed in hostels, a boat, had a whole house to ourselves and slept in an outbuilding in someone’s back garden; the longest we’ve stayed in one destination is four nights. All in all I think we’ve adapted pretty well to moving around and staying in shared accommodation, we’ve gotten used to spending hours in the car, cooking in communal kitchens, using the laundrette and sleeping in strange beds. I think all those years of living in shared houses and student accommodation have made adapting to this easier, although there have been times I’ve craved a night in on the sofa with no one else around. Constant moving does get exhausting too; we’d be wrecked if we carried on at this pace for the next few months.
Taking on New Challenges
Something about being out on the road has made me much more willing to take on new challenges. Things that I never would have considered doing back in London suddenly seem appealing; it’s almost as if just getting away from the version of myself that I and everyone else knew back home has set me free to try radically new things, such as:
- Target Shooting
- Hiking seven hours up a volcano
- Flying in a helicopter
- Walking across a glacier
- Riding on a luge
We’ve finally started to realise the importance of being more flexible when travelling. Undoubtedly planning ahead, shopping around for accommodation and booking flights and activities in advance saved us cash but it also had some downsides. The trouble is you just don’t know how much you’re going to like a place until you arrive; while Rotorua looked good on paper we didn’t really like the feel of the place and left early for Lake Taupo, an area we loved but hadn’t even thought of visiting beforehand. We just didn’t have long enough in some of our favourite places like Raglan and Golden Bay and because we had activities booked ahead we couldn’t extend our time anywhere, so from now on we’re trying to be more flexible and book less in advance. In general we’ve come to the conclusion that a month just wasn’t long enough to really see New Zealand, I guess we’ll just have to go back!
Adjusting to Being Travel Partners
Back in London Andrew and I usually went the whole day without seeing each other during the working week, so suddenly being together 24 hours a day could have caused major arguments. We have had a few spats, mostly over budgeting (I’m too strict sometimes), driving (Andrew hates being a passenger) and sleeping (I hate being disturbed). We also had one very heated debate in Wellington over which sport requires the most skill – this still hasn’t been resolved. Mostly though we’ve enjoyed being together and have gotten used to negotiating what we want to do, see and eat. We’ve also been taking time to do our own things; I’ll write or work while Andrew reads or goes for a run.
We always knew that New Zealand was going to be our most expensive destination but we still set ourselves a £3,000 budget for the whole month – about £95 per day. We found fairly cheap accommodation by researching hostels in advance and booking places through AirBnB. We kept food costs down by cooking and making sandwiches for lunch; we also rarely drunk or went out in the evenings (we were usually too exhausted for that anyway!). Despite living frugally, certain things were a lot more expensive than we had anticipated: groceries, internet, medicine and toiletries in particular. We also used more petrol than we thought we would and did a few more activities than originally planned which bumped up our daily costs. We’ll be publishing a complete breakdown of how much we spent in New Zealand but overall I think we managed to keep to budget without becoming too obsessed with what we were spending.
Upping our Fitness Levels
While Andrew regularly cycled and went running in London, I’m not as fit as I should be – but that’s all changing now we’re travelling. Now we’re out walking most days, exploring new cities and forests, wandering around museums and hiking up mountains. I’m sure I’m already a lot fitter than I was before we left although I’ve still struggled with some physical tasks; in particular, the steeper parts of the Tongariro Crossing were painful for me. Embarrassingly, I also managed to paddle backwards when we went night kayaking and had to ask for a noodle to help me float when we went snorkelling (much to Andrew’s shame).
Learning to Live out of a Backpack
Some of our family members are horrified by our small backpacks, but I’ve actually enjoyed not having many possessions. I particularly like not having many clothes to choose from, it makes things so much easier; this does mean that we’ve had to do our laundry pretty often though. We’ve also been a bit lax about packing properly because we’ve had the rental car to chuck everything in – we might find things more difficult once we hit Australia and are without a car.
Dealing with Accidents and Illness on the Road
We’ve both managed to get sick or injured during our first month of travel, which we hadn’t expected. Andrew had a cold and cough which dragged on for a couple of weeks as well as multiple insect bites which caused his ankles and feet to swell up. I had a few minor accidents, slipping over on the glacier and while hiking and pulling myself face-first into a boat. I also somehow got stung inside my lip by an insect; the whole side of my mouth swelled up at least three times its normal size in only a few minutes – luckily the swelling went down within 24 hours. Mainly we’ve just dosed up on medicine, dusted ourselves off and pushed on but we were ready to drive to the hospital when my faced swelled up to elephant-man sized proportions; luckily there was a nurse next door and a trainee doctor in the room next to us who all reassured me I’d be ok. Wherever you are in the world there are always people willing to help you when you need it; oh, and it’s good to have travel insurance just in case!
Balancing Work and Travel
I was worried about how I’d balance travel and freelance work as well as find time to blog on the road. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy in New Zealand and I’ve often ended up frustrated by the expensive and slow internet. I’ve just about managed to keep up with everything though and rubbish internet aside, sitting down to do a few hours work here and there has actually been quite nice; something normal and familiar from back home to focus on. I’d like to have much more time to blog though and once we hit Asia and start travelling more slowly this will hopefully become easier. My suspicions that we’d need two laptops rather than one have also proved correct – there are plenty of photo and video editing tasks Andrew could be doing while I’m working, so we’ll probably have to pick up a second laptop when we hit Asia.
All in all, we’re so glad to be finally be on the road doing the things we’ve dreamed about for years – next up, Australia!
Do you find it difficult to adapt to travel?