Last week we marked two months on the road. It happened to coincide with our seventh wedding anniversary, our PADI Open Water Diving certification, and one year to the day since we bought our one-way ticket to New Zealand. Though it passed with little fanfare, I think it deserves some attention.
Two months into our trip there are a lot of things to reflect on.
We are in our second country and are still having a hard time believing this is real. It feels innate. It’s hard to explain. It also feels strange saying something this incredible feels so natural, because we know how fortunate we are to be doing this. But we can’t deny it just feels right. I guess some of these worries were for naught.
So far, we haven’t had any serious bouts of homesickness, but this isn’t to say we don’t cherish our time with family and friends. We also happened to catch an Andrew Zimmern Delicious Destinations episode on Minneapolis/St. Paul last night and all it did was make us even more excited to return to Minnesota when we’re done here.
I think there are many reasons for the lack of homesickness. We have been able to talk to family and friends quite frequently thanks to social media, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and email. We were also fortunate to spend nearly 10 days with family in Auckland, so that helped satiate any longing for family we might’ve had. Additionally, eight years in Chicago trained us, for better or worse, to go long periods without seeing family and friends. Finally, many of you know Ben used to work a lot of hours, so we have really just been enjoying our time together. I am sure it will hit us eventually, but right now we’re good.
So far we’ve been really happy with our gear. The sleeping bags I was hesitant about were necessary during our six weeks in Lucy, since it was cold at night (aka Ben was right). While we haven’t used our tent yet, we still have plans of doing so in the future. Our layers for winter in New Zealand proved to be enough to keep us warm on snowy mountain tops and at outdoor rugby stadiums, and so far our swimwear, shorts, and t-shirts seem to be working for the hot climate of Australia.
The only thing I wish I would’ve done differently was with my shoes. I brought my hiking boots, a pair of Chacos sandals, and my Tieks flats. After showering in my sandals each day in New Zealand, I wish I would’ve brought a cheap pair of flip flops along with a pair of tennis shoes instead. I was trying to have the Chacos be my multi-purpose walking shoes, beach shoes, and shower shoes, but it isn’t my favorite set up. However, in the whole scheme of things that is really minor. All things considered, we are really happy with our gear.
Two months in and we have been able to recognize our “one month per country” plan was
a bit ridiculously ambitious. After nearly two months in New Zealand, we have again planned two months in Australia. There is just no way to see these countries without spending a lot of time in them.
These first two countries have also really made it difficult to travel slowly. Before we started our trip, we read dozens of posts and articles about how slow travel is the way to experience locations while also being easier on the budget. Yet, we have found it nearly impossible to travel slowly in these two countries. Our “must see” sites have been pretty spread out requiring more movement than slow travel typically requires.
In Australia, we are also traveling differently than we had originally planned. Prior to coming here, we had planned on using Transfer Car, iMoova or other rental car companies to get around Australia. We weren’t familiar with them until we started doing research for this trip, but basically they have people move their rental cars or camper vans from one location to another for hugely discounted prices. For example, if there are a lot of cars in Perth, but they need more in Sydney, Ben and I could go on their website and sign up to move them. Typically it costs about $1/day and depending on the car, the company might pay for your gas and/or insurance and/or provide camping gear. The downside is that there isn’t always a vehicle available (or going to your desired destination during your desired dates). We ran into this issue in trying to get from Cairns to Alice Springs where we’re meeting friends and therefore had less flexibility.
Our pre-planned trip itinerary has also changed. Due to our longer-than-expected time in both New Zealand and Australia, we have missed the good weather window for Indonesia. So, instead of heading there next, we will actually save Indonesia until April or May so we can take advantage of their nice weather.
Frankly, the most important thing that has changed, albeit slightly, is our ability to roll with things. Ben and I are admittedly bad at having things go wrong. Neither of us like to feel stupid and we often do (too much) research in order to make sure we will get things right. However, with trips this extensive, things are bound to go wrong, and we’ve already gotten a lot better at rolling with the punches. My dad used to sing “Roll with it, Baby” to me when I was growing up and just a few months into our trip I think I have finally been able to do it.
We are currently in Alice Springs, where we’re meeting up with friends before traveling to Uluru for the next few days. When we get back we’ll take our one and only iMoova to Broome (1,700 miles, 31 hours of driving, less than five days to get it there). From there, we’ll pick up a camper van and drive the coast of Western Australia down to Perth where we’ll connect up with some new friends that we met in New Zealand on our slightly hazy wine tour. At some point we’ll leave Perth and drive the southern coast through Adelaide, Melbourne, and eventually end in Sydney to spend some time with our friends Matt and Nicole who live there and hopefully meet up with a few other friends who live there as well. You can check out our route on this map. We are planning to hop on a flight to Tasmania from Sydney where we will spend some time eating and drinking our way across the island before heading to our next destination: Thailand!