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Where I’ve Been and How I Travel

OK I guess I should confess to where and when I’ve been out to see the world. I’ll also talk a bit about my travel style. If you care about the rest of my life read about me here

Where I’ve Lived

Although I was born in the UK we immigrated back to my mother’s home of New Zealand when I was seven so living in Scotland and England probably doesn’t really count – except it gave me a British Passport which has been immensely useful over the years.

I then stayed put for over 10 years getting an education in New Zealand. My first ever independent backpacking trip was to Nelson and Christchurch, in my last year of high school. I got my first job overseas during uni (vasity, college) which was a rather pleasant summer (1981) in Sydney, Australia

After graduation I lived in the mining town of Broken Hill, NSW for a couple of years and then lived and worked in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea for another year.

I then went back to uni, in Australia’s capital city, Canberra.  Australians say its the most boring city in Australia – but most of them haven’t lived in Broken Hill! Canberra is worth a stop if you are in the area just for the planned architecture and its amazing museums.

I then got bored again and got a working holiday visa for a year (1986)  based in Vancouver, Canada, from where I headed onto London, England, the classic working holiday hang-out for New Zealanders.

Coming home eventually I landed a job in Cromwell, Central Otago, New Zealand (near Queenstown).  After another trip away I ended up based back in Wellington in 1992. I’ve owned a house ever since then, but in 2007 my partner and I moved to Perth, Western Australia for a couple of years. In 2009 we returned to Wellington – but I am not happy about the winter weather – not sure where the next top will be

Countries I’ve visited

Australia:
I’ve seem more of Australia than most Australians, I’ve been to the northernmost (Cape York) southernmost (SE Cape, Tasmania), easternmost (Byron Bay) and westernmost (Exmouth, WA) points on the mainland. In 2007 we drove 35,000km of outback road in a 1985 Toyota Landcruiser, I’ve driven the Gibb River Road, the Oodnadatta Track, circumnavigated Tasmania, and the Nullarbor plain. Favourite places: Western Australia’s deserted beaches, and Adelaide’s Barossa Valley (for the wine).

Bell Gorge, WA

Bell Gorge, northern Western Australia

Oceania: 

Fiji.  Classic beach resort holiday – had to do it once, probably wouldn’t return until democracy returns to the place.

Tahiti. Expensive and beautiful and remote – but a nice stop-over en-route to ..

Easter Island.  As the travel agent pointed out to me – the beaches aren’t very good – but that’s hardly the point is it! If you get the right flights you can make it a stop-over on the way to South America.

South America: 

Six months travelling meant I only just touched Brazil – spending a couple of nights at Iguasu Falls (totally worthwhile seeing), but I also got to Chile, Argentian, Paraguay, Uraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador.

North America:

Much of British Columbia including the stunning Vancouver Island, Washington State, LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Vermont. Also Mexico (my first experience with a non-speaking country, solo without any Spanish!), and yes Mexico is in north America – ask them!

Europe: 

Parisian restaurant - interior

Cheap breakfast spot near the Gare du Nord, Paris - yes really it was cheap!

I have family in Ireland and England so I’ve been back several times, I’ve also toured France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Monaco, Austria, Italy, Greece, Hungry, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Middle East: 

Turkey (yeah I know but only a little bit of its in Europe), Syria, Israel, Egypt, Dubai.

Far East:

India (twice so I’ve covered a lot of it: Rajasthan, Delhi, Sikkim, Kerala, Goa, Madras, Hydrabad), Nepal including trekking (almost) to Everest Base Camp.

South East Asia:

Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong.

My Travel Style

As a geologist I have seen some truly remote parts of the world – but the logistics are sorted for you, so its not really hard to do – unless you get bored with camping and having no life but work 12 hours a day which I did. When I travelled in the early days I was a classic backpacker – I worked and saved everything I could, and then I took off and travelled for as long as I could afford to.

It took me 6 months to get from England to Australia via India and SE Asia in 1989 and in 1992 I spent another six months in South America. Both times I was solo, and this was long before  the Internet and cell phones. I’ve travelled with my brother, and with friends for shorter trips. Six months was really the limit of not just my money but my patience – I got burned out both times.

These days I travel with my partner – who didn’t used to do a lot of travel – but has adapted wonderfully. While he still has a traditional job we tend to go for shorter periods (up to 2 months). But he’s going to retire soon, and my job can come with us so.. watch this space.

Has my travel style changed over the years?  Well these days I travel with my partner – I don’t stay in dorms. I will still do the occasional dorm if I’m by myself – quite often I get given a room to myself (because of my age I suspect – I’m not even 50 yet!). I like 5 star accommodations – but I rarely can afford them  – but the online hotel booking sites have changed the game significantly – I would rather to most of the trip and zero or one star and then splurge at  really nice resort for the last few days, rather than do middle-of-the-road for the entire trip. I haven’t couch surfed – it hadn’t been invented when I was a poor backpacker – now – I’m not sure it feels like taking advantage of people a bit.

I’m not huge into cooking my own food – I love to eat the local food – to miss out on pasta in Rome is a crime – and its my food budget which has probably changed the most over the years as now I have the money to spend on it.  That said sometimes the local food is just bad and overpriced (e.g. outback Australia) – so self-catering is a good option then. When I am travelling solo I don’t ever get drunk, with my partner this can be an option (sangria, Sevilla, springs (cloudly) to mind).

I never did much hitch hiking but in the absence of other transport options I have done so in Greece (transport strike), Finland and southern Chile. My partner flatly refuses to do bus journeys longer than about 8 hours-  I find this a convenient excuse – I’ve done some shockers over the years – and world is a better place thanks to cheap airfares as far as I am concerned! I like trains too – the trip from Adelaide to Perth was a fulfilment of a long held dream.

Wellington's new International Airport

Wellington's new International Airport - leaving is so much fun!

Where I still Want to Go

Antarctica

Lord Howe Island

Walk the Camino de Santiago (Spain)

River Boat Cruise in Russia to the Black Sea and also through Europe

Trans-Mongolian Train

Philippines

Burma

Samoa

Washington DC

New York

Most of Eastern Europe

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