Thoughts

BEST THINGS:
Seeing so many places that I’ve only seen pictures of or heard about. The world is truly an beautiful place. I’ve been to almost every continent and seen almost every landscape already and I’m still amazed at how clear and pure the lakes are in New Zealand, how diverse and colorful the Great Barrier Reef is, how thick and ancient (and dangerous) the rain forest is and how gorgeous coast lines are. Ive also seen how much damage humans have done to the earth and these places will most likely not last.

Meeting so many people from all over the world and have interesting chats about culture. For example, Ive determined that our healthcare system, our retirement savings and our time off work is absolutely inferior! In Germany, they get 30 days off. In Australia, the employer has to pay 10% towards the employees retirement fund. In Sweden, you get a year off for having a child. What the hell America! Get with the times or everyone will just be in debt from healthcare and not be able to retire from a job they are burnt out from doing everyday of every second.

Feeling so healthy and natural. I was so used to sitting inside at a computer for 10 hours a day. I hike, walk, bike or swim everyday for the majority of the day. I get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. I drink more water than I ever did back home. I feel stronger, more well rested and just amazing.

CHALLENGES
Living out of a bag that you unpack and repack every time you need something. A bag that is also so packed, it takes time to get it to close and forget adding anything to your gear.

Wearing the same clothes. Id love a hoodie and my crocs just for a day! My sneakers (which were brand new) are very worn. Two of my socks already have holes. Im going to have to do a half way new wardbobe purchase.

Meeting new people, making friends and leaving within a couple of days to do it all over again. Its a bit exhausting telling your same story over and over and meeting cool people and saying bye just as quickly.

Food. Food in Australia and New Zealand has been expensive. I spend so much time in a grocery store going up and down the isles looking for sales and then determining what meals I can make out of those ingredients. Also, being solo makes it more difficult because if I want butter, jam, sauce or bread, its just me and I have to be able to finish it before I leave or it will be wasted dollars.

Budget. There are so many cool things to do or try from foods to excursions that I have to pass on because I’m trying to keep my budget. I literally calculate and track my budget almost daily. I will walk up to an hour one way to avoid paying for transit. But counting those dollars make up for mistakes like needing a $70 cab ride to airport so I dont miss my flight. They hopefully add up to allow me to see more places in the long run.

Keeping a journal and taking photos. I originally was pretty good and then I started to procrastinate and almost completely stop. I want to keep a journal and take lots of photos but I get so caught up in things that it becomes a chore. Taking photos when youre by yourself just isnt as cool and sometimes I just forget to snap a shot. Ive read that taking photos causes you to remember things less so thats what I’ll keep telling myself.

PACKING
I’d say out of everyone I’ve seen, Im in the lightest packer range. The only thing that I should not have brought is a camera to usb cord because my laptop has a card reader port. I havent really used my warmer winter clothes yet except as a spare pillow. I also havent need to use to my meds yet except a couple allergy pills for a poison ivy type rash and I was apprently pretty allergic to southern australian mosquitos (I got huge itchy bumps). Other than that, I have worn everything, used everything and even needed to add a couple of other items such as umbrella, sun hat and better sunblock. I also picked up some flats and a skort from another backpacker for a nicer outfit to go out in. I lost my sunglasses already so had to buy new ones.

One thing that I cut that I wish I brought was a charging dock. It would nice to be able to charge all my electronics at once especially since I only have one adapter and not tons of time with outlets.

HOSTELS:
Read reviews and fine print of what they include and do not include. Sometimes, a cleaner hostel in the downtown area with a free aiport transfer, wifi and breaksfast is more worth it than the cheapest of the cheap where you’d spend more money on those extra things anyway.

Personally, I use hostels.com, sort by price but choose a hostel that has at least an 80% positive review. I specifically look for good location, cleanliness, and free wifi (though have had two that have lied). I travel with a sheet, sarong, pillow case and towel so those things I don’t need to rent if they arent included. If it has a good location, you’d spend the money getting there regardless of a free airport transfer. A good location will save you money on transport because you can simply walk everywhere. Everything else is bonus to me. Great hostels lend you free bikes, towels, movies, lockers with outlets in them, go pros!, ipads, internet, computers, linens, soap, food, air conditioning etc. They are like staying in hotels almost! Nicest one is Adventure Queenstown, want the showers, couches and kitchen to be in my house!

If you are traveling by yourself looking to meet people, don’t choose huge hostels or the largest room because its cheaper. Smaller hostels with smaller sized rooms (4-6 people) tend to be solo travelers or less large groups. That means people interact with each other more often, start conversations, plan sight seeing together, etc. It also means that you have less people to worry about in terms of being loud or snoring at night. They typically are also nicer. I stayed at a hostel with 32 beds in one room. There were beer bottles everywhere (including in the shower), throwup on the floor, fighting for outlets, loud noise, smells of people foods, etc. Groups as large as 8 were partying in this dorm. And other than a few “hellos”, no one hung out outside their group. Compare that to 4 person room I stayed in at Port Douglas which had our own bathroom, I met 3 solo travelers and one couple traveling and we talked for hours. Same with my 6 person rooms, everyone so far has been solo travelers in those rooms.

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