The benefits of long term travel and what I hope to take home with me

As the trip is coming to an end, I’ve started to become pensive and analyze what all this meant. What have I learned? How will this affect how I continue to live my life? Or was it just a collection of memories for years to come?

It all started with a dream. I saw a video called “Would You?” in 2004. It was an inspirational video done by a travel journalist to promote his blog, theglobaltrip.com, where he wrote about his daily travels for 16 months straight. The video was a collection of photos he had taken around the world and every few seconds he would ask questions related to travel starting with “Would you …”. From that moment on, a round the world trip become part of my bucket list. I think it was because of the places he saw, or the message he was trying to convey: “Would you dare?”

We did.

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Last stop: Queenstown

I can’t believe it’s here. The last stop in our trip before heading back to the US. We chose Queenstown in South Island New Zealand for no specific reason. We’ve heard from people we should visit Queenstown, so we did. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago, “why are you going to Queenstown?” I would have answered: “Why not?”. There is no specific reason why this is our last stop either, not that it’s a bad one, we LOVE it here!

We bought our flights via Jetstar, a low-budget airline here in Oceania and South East Asia for $120 round trip from Auckland to Queenstown (and that’s NZD!). Once on the flight, we get the airline magazine and start reading the things to do in South Island New Zealand. There are hot springs, glacier hikes, boat cruises in the fiordland Milford Sound, lakes and lots of hikes. Fiordland you ask, yea, I had no idea what that was either. After visiting Milford Sound, now I can tell you that a fjord (where the name Fiordland comes from) a is a long, narrow inlets with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity. It was amazing. Anyway, I digressed. As you know, we rented a car and decided to drive around 1,000+ km to visit the beauties of South Island in 7 days, ending in Queenstown for 3 days to chill before heading back to the US.

It has been 3 great days.

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Helicopter, Ice, and lucky weather: Fox Glacier Heli-Hike

I had heard someone recommend we visit Fox Glacier while in New Zealand. I did not know what Fox Glacier was, yet alone what a glacier is. I admit, I’m ignorant. I thought a glacier was really a geyser, and I was going to see water shooting out of the earth. I guess I was wrong! Isn’t that the reason I’m traveling, to learn? Thank god we learn new things everyday!

For those of you that are ignorant like myself, a glacier is large amounts of ice constantly moving. INSERT WIKI DEFINITION. Here in New Zealand they have over a thousand glaciers but Fox Glacier has been named one of the most beautiful and important glaciers of South Island.

 

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Long Distance Driving sucks … unless

Ok, maybe long distance driving doesn’t suck completely, but prior to this trip, the vast majority of my long distance driving experience includes driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back. I’ve driven to Tahoe a few times and once from NYC to Ithaca and Boston, but that’s about it. I haven’t really been a big fan per-say.

I’ve thought road trips were fun if I wasn’t the driver, and even then, I wasn’t too happy about being the passenger either. So when Sara suggested we rent a car in New Zealand and drive around for 10 days, I was not looking forward to it. Luckily I went with the flow and had the time of my life driving!

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Hanging out with Mama & Baby Kangaroo

Today we visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia. It’s about a 30 minute drive south from downtown Brisbane. After driving in Australia for about 7 days, I’ve gotten quite comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road. For those of you that don’t know, Australia’s roadway (and similar to UK, New Zeland and most of South East Asia) is setup so that you drive on the left hand of the road and the driver’s sit is on the right hand side. But that’s besides the point!

We arrive to the Lone Pine Sanctuary and park. Walking to the box office and even before we go in, we find ourselves experiencing what must be a natural high for a turkey. He was running full speed in circles flapping its wings. It was a local type of turkey native to the sanctuary and they roam around freely. We were in for quite an experience.

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Great Barrier Reef & Shark Experience

We signed up with Deep Sea Diving Den to sit on a fast boat to the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns knowing it would take an hour and a half. During the journey, the guide Dan asked the certified divers to gather on the second deck of the boat next to where the captain sits to discuss the dive site. He asked us if we wanted to go with a dive guide (instructor or divemaster) or with a buddy. Giovanni and I nervously stated that we would be each other’s buddies. We had never dived just the two of us before without a guide. Staring outside the boat window, I still couldn’t believe the reef is 2000 km long. And I wondered if we would be disappointed here in Australia after having dived in Indonesia and Thailand.

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Culture shock in Sydney

As I speak with friends, they’ve mentioned their curiosity about the culture shock upon my return. I’m also curious as to how this “culture shock” will affect me or treat me when I hit home in a month or so.

For the last 6 months we’ve been traveling in various parts of Asia including Jordan, Iran, India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We’ve gotten accustomed to different traditions, foods, currencies, languages, and more. I figured Australia and USA are similar countries and I would experience some type of culture shock when arriving to Sydney.

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Pre-planning while traveling – Our stop in Sydney and other cities

After almost 9 months of traveling, Sara and I have gotten rid of the “fear” of the unknown of a new city. What I mean by this is not knowing the transportation system, the hotels, the currency, etc. of the city we’re visiting. It’s not because we don’t care about this new city, but more because we really care and want to learn from the locals. But also because we don’t want to spend the time reading about the future instead of enjoying the present and the current city we’re in. It’s a new strategy Sara and I have decided to apply in the last few cities we’ve visited including Sydney, Bali, Gili Islands, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Cairns.

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2-week motorcycle trip in Bali

After my mom left Ubud, Sara and I had 2 and a half weeks to “kill” in Bali before heading to Hong Kong. We were debating between just staying in Ubud or renting a moped to go tour the island. We had already spent 7 days in Ubud and really enjoyed our time but wanted a change of scenery. However, I admit I was afraid of driving a moped in Bali: lack of license, opposite side of the road rule, and the countless stories of people getting into accidents. Regardless, I put my fear aside and headed to the police station to get a drivers license.

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