Guess what! This time next week I will be in New Zealand! It’s been a bit of a mixed bag of emotions booking this holiday: I’m very excited, but also very anxious as it is the first holiday that I’ve ever done alone (technically, I will be in a group but still, I have to get there alone and I don’t know anyone). I really like to throw myself in the deep end with these things. I could have just gone to Cardiff for the weekend and worked my way up but no, other side of the world it is. I’ll be sharing posts when I get back about my time there but I thought I would share how I got to this point before I go as it’s a bit of a short story in itself. I’d also love some last minute travel tips if you have any to share.
A couple of years ago, when the pandemic was in full swing, I binge watched the Lord of the Rings movies with my then-partner and I was completely blown away by how beautiful they still looked, greatly in part due to their setting in New Zealand. I’d also heard a lot of good things about the country and always felt like it was somewhere that I would enjoy visiting. After a bit of research we agreed that we would go and I began looking at itineraries, travel advice, the best time of year to go etc. I was very excited. As New Zealand was being very sensible about lockdown I bought an extra week of holiday from work for the coming year so that I could book it as soon as they opened their doors again. The plan was that we would hire a campervan and drive around both islands. However, once the discussion of putting money into the trip became a reality, my ex backtracked saying that they didn’t realise I’d meant for the year coming (despite discussing buying the extra holiday together), they thought I had meant in two years time, which I simply didn’t believe as this seemed to happen whenever we made plans to go anywhere. You can’t force someone to go on an expensive, long vacation with you though. I was very disappointed but I never let go of the idea of the trip.
Fast forward about a year, I had bought a house with this now-ex, we’d moved in and had been in our house for about 10 months when we broke up (that’s a story for another time). I left and moved in with friends and he had to buy me out of the house. Suddenly, for the first time in a long time I was in a position where I had no big responsibilities, I wasn’t tied to anyone, and I had money. The opportunity was too good to waste and as soon as the house money came through I put some aside some for a trip to New Zealand. The added bonus of it representing a big middle finger to my ex was pretty nice too.
With opportunity however also came the need for action, and this is where I started to chicken out. I don’t usually do things spontaneously and I have never been on holiday anywhere by myself before, let alone to the other side of the world. I tried to convince a couple of people to come with me but it’s a huge amount of money and a long time to be away so I didn’t want to push too hard. Knowing myself well, and therefore knowing that this would happen, my past self had intentionally told a lot of people about my plans to force my future self to do it. I knew that people would ask about the trip. The longer time went on without me making any progress, the less people would believe that I was actually going to go. Eventually, I would reach a point where I would rather buy my flight tickets than face having to admit that I got scared and decided not to go. It may be an unorthodox and self-manipulative way of doing it, but it worked.
My intention had been to keep my original plan and do the campervan trip by myself, but I weighed up the pros and cons of travelling alone vs in an organised tour group and in the end general safety and having everything organised for me won out against shyness and personal space. I booked a two week tour through Kiwi Experience where we will visit both the North and South islands in a group of 18. It is now a week before my trip and unfortunately Kiwi Experience haven’t done a lot to quell my anxiety. Firstly, there was a problem with my trip planner where I was unable to book my extra activities (such as Hobbiton, or whale watching) for a long time. Secondly, I thought that there would be a bit more contact than just an initial confirmation email, maybe a list of what to pack or a ‘just two weeks to go!’ note. I eventually had to phone them to see what was going on and they fixed my planner issue and didn’t seem fazed when I mentioned I had only received the confirmation, they seemed a bit confused as to why I was nervous but maybe I’m just too high-strung for New Zealanders.
My main concerns are primarily around the other people on the trip and being around them for so long. I can be very sociable and enjoy spending time with people but after a while I need to re-charge my social batteries and be alone for a while. I’ve also never stayed in a hostel with shared accommodation before but I know a lot of people (generally my more outgoing friends) that have done so and are incredibly nonchalant about it, so I’m sure it’s fine. I think my worst case scenario will be that I get there and I will be with a large group of outgoing, energetic 18 year olds, but it should be a mixed bag of people.
I’ll definitely follow this post up with details about my trip so keep an eye out for that in the future! In the mean time though my blog will be quiet for the next few weeks while I’m away.
If you have ever been to New Zealand what were your favourite parts? Have you got any travel tips? I love trying new food when I’m abroad, what’s something I should definitely eat while I’m there? If you also get a little anxious around people but you have travelled, how did you deal with it?
Some pics for illustrative purposes from my last trip to Barcelona: