Jessica de Heij
I'm a dutch blogger who has the travelbug but i'm currently doing a internship in New Zealand. Read all about my adventures in kiwi land.
# Visited15 countries
Next TripPatagonia hopefully?? ;-)
Travel QuoteIt's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.
Only a few days before I’m off to Thailand. I’m excited, chaotic and nervous. I think it’s been the 3th or 4th time I’m going to Thailand but still every time I’m worried. Worried I forget something or something happens. Of course nothing happens or goes wrong, but first I have to pack my backpack. Every time a challenge. Do I need warm clothes? Do I need to bring my hiking boots? Or is my toothbrush, tickets and passport enough. I always pack too much, but for the first time I’m going backpacking for a short time. Only 2 weeks, that means I don’t need a lot and things I forget I can buy in Thailand. So this is my packinglist:
- Drivers license (for hiring a scooter)
- Credit card
- ATM card
- Student ID
- Photocopy passport
- Moneybelt (to keep everything in one place)
- A small purse
- 1 long plants
- 1 sweater
- 1 long sleeve shirt
- 2 T-shirts
- 4 socks
- 4 sets of underwear
- 1 night shirt
- 1 short and 1 skirt
- 1 bikini
- 1 harem pants
- 2 tank tops
- Walking shoes
- Flip flops
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Basic make-up
- Quick-dry towel
- First aid kit
- Deet bugspray
- Iphone and charger
- Photocamera and charger
- SD-card for camera
- Lonely planet Thailand
- Book to read
- Notebook and pen
So what are you bringing when you go backpacking?
Only 42 days left before I leave for Thailand. This time it will be different. This time I will be travelling with my mom. You might think:”Your mom? Why?”. I’ll explain….
The big trip
In 2009 I had my first big trip. I traveled with my best friends for 8 months through Asia and 4 months through Western Australia. I loved it, I couldn’t shut up about it and I knew I was infected with the travelbug for the rest of my life. I even got my mom affected a little bit, even though she had never travelled outside of Europe. She normally goes on a holiday either in our home country, Holland, or she travels with my dad to France or Austria. [caption id="attachment_1444" align="alignright" width="136"]
So when I got back from my big trip, we made a pact. If I would graduate for my bachelor marketing/communication, she would go with me to Thailand. She went with me to Istanbul a few years back. It was nothing she had ever seen, but she liked it and I was proud of her that she finally went flying for the first time. My dad, he would rather stay on the ground and to France or Austria again something he knew, something he loved.Maybe, my mom will turn into my grandma. My grandpa was a farmer and didn’t like flying either. So after he died, on the age of 70 she started to travel the world. The US, Indonesia, South America. You name it, she went there. I really curious how my mom is going to react to a different world than ours. No brown bread, no cooked potatoes, and no ‘hagelslag’ or Dutch cheese. To me Thailand is a country of an amazing culture, amazing food andbeautiful nature and beautiful people. Here I come Thailand!
Have you ever backpacked with a family member? And what was it like?
There's that word again "security". A reason why a lot of people are afraid to travel around the world. Not knowing where your are going to sleep or eat the next day. You know what? That's what I love about travelling. Never knowing where you might end up, enjoying the most beautiful places in the world and the most awesome people. So you're ready for the next step? This what you have to do:
- Figure out where you want to go: Do you already know where you want to go or is it still unknown. It's very important to know what your budget is. For my trip in Asia and Australia (8 months Asia and 4 months Australia) I saved for about one and a half year. So keep in mind how comfortable you want to travel and where do you want to go and try to save up as much as possible. A good travel source is Lonely Planet. Borrow their guides at your local library (or buy them) or take a look at their website. Lonely Planet is pretty much considered the bible for travelers :)
- Visa's: Trust me, this is the hard part. Some visa's are really easy to get but others are like nightmares, like in Australia last year, or in Russia or China. Trust me, i've been there! haha, but once you got them you already halfway! If you are doing a around the world trip, it's best to only apply for a visa for the first two countries, but check before how hard and how long it takes to get them.
- Vaccination and other medicine: Two months befor you leave it's important to get the right vaccination for the destination you are going to go. So let your doctor know or go to a special travel clinic to get medicine (like malaria pills) and vaccination.
- Flights: Last but not least is booking your flight to your destination. There is no way of knowing when you have to book your flight. Some people do it 3 months before others 6 months before their trip. Take a look at different airlines and I always find Skyscanner a good tool for finding flights. They even use price alerts. That means when your selected route, gets a lower or higher price, you get an email about it.
So how do you prepare for your trip?
What is the worst that happened during your travels?
Queenstown oh yeah baby! Every tourist that goes to New Zealand, also goes to Queenstown. You would think it's really big, but it isn't. It's just an little town where the most tourist come to party and the locals to enjoy the amazing ski area called "The Remarkables". The town was actually named after a queen Victoria because of it's beauty. A town fit for a Queen. I don't know if Queen Victoria was beautiful, but Queenstown was definitely amazing. Ok, it was overcrowded with tourists but that was exactly nice for a change. For the last couple of weeks I felt sometimes like the only tourist in New Zealand. Crazy right? The first day I went for a walk to the skyline. You could also take the Gondola, but I decided to walk. Much cheaper and more time to make beautiful pictures. It took me 2 hours to get the top. I was totally exhausted when I finally reached the top, but it was totally worth it. It was one of the most amazing views I've ever seen. The sky was blue so you could see as far as the eye could see. I took like a million pictures while I tried to catch my breath. Look at that amazing view..... On the top you have some tacky tourist shops and overpriced coffee, so I didn't stay too long. I took another route down. It took me along a old waterpipe. One of the first of this area. It was a beautiful way down and in the afternoon I walked along Lake Wakatipu with the amazing mountains in the background. I now knew why everyone stayed here, it's such a magical place. One of a kind.....
After windy Surat Bay, I drove along the coast to Te Anau. Where famous sounds where. You know...the Milford Sound and Doubtful sound. Te Anau was a really beautiful place with a beautiful lake and the sounds in the background. It was a little town, that mostly popular was in summer because now it was almost desserted. But no worries, without the tourists it was even more beautiful :-)
The next day I headed to Milford Sound. 120 km to the Sound and 120 km back. The highway to Milford sound dates back to the 1930's but I was happy it gave me the opportunity to go there. I also wanted to go to Doubtful Sound but that was almost impossible (unless you have lots of money ;).
On the way to Milford Sound[/caption] The Lonely Planet warned me about the big buses headed to Milford Sound. They told me to avoid the mornings and late afternoons. But ofcourse I didn't listen. In Te Anau it was pretty much desserted, so Milford Sound would be the same, right? I was totally wrong!! Lots of big buses, especially chinese. Yeah, chinese are pretty much everywhere. But in the end, I did a pretty good job of avoiding them. Cheers for me. :-) And it was a pretty amazing view. I didn't do a boattrip to see the sounds upclose but the drive was well worh it. Alrighty and now back to Te Anau. Another 120 km's and after that heading to the party and ski town called: QUEENSTOWN!.....
Before I left Mt. Cook, I took one last look at the amazing view. Staying longer was no option, because there was so much more to see in the South. Early in the morning, when my carwindows were still frozen, I decided to drive more south, towards Oamaru. I drove along a few beautiful lakes that New Zealand has to offer: Lake Aviemore, Lake Benmore and Lake Waitiki.
Around noon I arrived in Oamaru. Best described as a sweet, little town. I rang the doorbell at the hostel, that was situated just off the main street. A woman in nightgown opened the door:"Love, come on in! It's a bit of a mess (you might say that!) but I decided last minute to go to London, to see the olympics and my son, who lives in London". She decided to close the hostel for 2 weeks. "Oh, and you have to take this". She gave me a list of all the backpackers that made reservation in this hostel but were going to the Empire Hotel backpackers.
Before she send me off for my mission, she gave me some tips about what I should definitely should see here in Oamaru:" You have to go to the penguins tonight, just after sundown, just follow the smell, oh and don't forget to go the farmersmarket, oh and you have to see this en that....." A lovely women but a minor case of ADHD.
I drove with my list to the Empire Hotel Backpackers where I also was staying. It took me quit a while to find the hostel. You wouldn't think it would be so hard because it was on the main street. When I arrived, I was one of the few in the hostel, but that didn't matter. It was a beautiful old hostel (from 1867) with a lot of history and I enjoyed the little town and the nice weather. At night, I went to look for some penguins. I smelled the smell, but no penguins....
This morning I looked out off the window. It was mostly grey, but on the bright side....it didn't rain. Yeah, just another day in the fall. Falls here in the Netherlands are mostly like that. You are lucky when it doesn't rain and really, really lucky when you see some sunshine. But the weather doesn't get me down, or at least i'm trying, but this make me also realise that I was really lucky in New Zealand.
Even in the winter I got lots of sun. On the westcoast it was raining, buy hey...when doesn't it not rain on the westcoast, right? But it's not only the sun that made me have a fantastic time. It's also the amazing people i've met during my 9 month stay in New Zealand, but what are now the most awesome things about New Zealand:
Relaxed lifestyle: That's not only the best thing in New Zealand, but the best thing when you travel. The only thing is what you think about is what are you going to do today and where are you going to sleep tonight. That's most awesome feeling in the world and that's why I love travelling so much. No worries about money or things that you have to do. Just living your life and enjoy :-)
The charm of the traffic: Ok New Zealand isn't most biggest country and certaintly doesn't have the biggest roads, but that doesn't matter. It makes people more nice, they are taking an effort. It's normal for trucks to stop along the road to pass you by. Everyone actually stops when you want to cross a road. Yeah, I know! Unbelievable, right?
The stunning scenery: I travelled quit a bit in Asia (8 months) and in Australia (4 months) and off course Europe, where I'm from, but there's nothing like the scenery in New Zealand. It's the most amazing scenery I've ever seen. Lakes, Mountains, Forrest and you gotta love all the desserted beaches. Can also be quit anoying, though. You have to stop like every 10 minutes, because of the change of landscape and the amazing view, but it's all worth it.
Pub and cafe culture: New Zealand has just like Australia a big pub and cafe culture. A good barista isn't hard to find. So do you have a business meeting or just meeting a friend. The barrista is bet place to go and on friday everyone heads to the pub. Have one of the most amazing wines of New Zealand or one of the different beers New Zealand has to offer. Always a good way socialize with your colleagues or your best mates! :-D
Toilets everywhere: Oke, so if the last 4 reasons didn't convince you. This one definetly will. You probably know the feeling, you're in the middle of nowhere and have to pee. No worries, even at the most desserted places there's a toilet and always super clean and free of charge. One time I was doing one of the great walks, the Abel Tasman track. I found myself on a totally desserted beach. Just me and the birds. I almost felt like Robinson Crusoe totally on a desserted island. So there was like nothing there, accept a toilet hidden in the bush. What more do you want, right? ;-)
UPDATE: Meanwhile I'm already back in Holland and started my first week back at school but I'll still want to share my stories and adventures around the south island of New Zealand. Hope you enjoy it! :-)
The first thing I did the next morning was look out of the window. It was totally blue! After I had my breakfast and dressed, I walked outside. It was magical with the amazing blue sky and the high mountains of the Southern Alps. Totally different than yesterday, when it was raining and cloudy and you couldn't see a thing.
I packed all my things because my plan was to drive to Lake Tekapo today, but first I had to get a icescraper because it was quit impossible to get the ice of my windows (I tried it with carton, but the layer was so thick that, that even was impossible). I found one, but I had to be careful because even the streets were frozen (I almost fell becaue of the ice!!). I drove the whole day. Ok, normally it only takes a few hours to drive to Lake Tekapo but that's impossible, because every 10 minutes you see some amazing nature and everytime it's totally different.
So in the end I had way to much photo's :-) Around 4 I arrived at Lake Tekapo and I was not the only one, there was a whole bus load of backpackers. Yeah, lake Tekapo was pretty touristic but still amazing with the blue-green colors and the southern alps on the background. I enjoyed the beautiful sunset and after that I went straight inside, because it started to get really cold, it was almost freezing. I choose a nice comfy chair near the fire and drank a nice warm tea. One of my roommates just arrived.
He didn't had a lot of money left and there was no ATM arround and he still had to pay the hostel for the night. I would've offered him some money, but I also didn't have a lot of money left. His plan was to maybe play some gitar, and sit in the middle of the room, to see if people would give some money for him. After 5 minutes, he was already back....the hostel gave him a free night! How nice....gotta love NZ!
Back to the hostel, back to where I started. Every backpacker knows the feeling of a hostel. A place to meet people, a place to gather information for your next trip, a place to party but also a place that you can call home.
But how come people think like those and those are mostly the people that often haven’t been in a hostel. Ok, I’ll be honest there are few dirty ones outthere. But hey, what about normal hotelrooms. They are sometimes even worse than hostels. When looking for a hostel you can find some amazing hostels outthere. My favourite is still Margaret River Backpackers (WA, Australia), where I stayed for 2 months. I loved the big terrace, where you could just enjoy your breakfast in the sun but a hostel is not only the facilities. It’s all about the people. Not only the people you meet there but also the people who run the place.
I had that in Margaret River, but also in Tagong. A small village in southwest China, near the border of Tibet. If you even can call it a village. It was more like a monastery with a few houses around it…..;-) When I arrived in Tagong, the hostel owner of the hostel was already waiting for me at the square. Her English was pretty bad, but sometimes you don’t need any words. We went to the hostel but before I brought my backpack to the room it was first time for a cup of tea and something sweet. After that she showed me the room, which I shared with 7 other people. It was an amazing room, It almost looked like I was sleeping in a monastery, I loved it.
And now I arrived in “The Brown Kiwi”. Supposedly the best hostel of Auckland. The hostelowners are two men and a bit crazy from time to time. Yesterday 4 girls from Germany arrived and he showed them the room :”And of course we’ll be there to tuck you in at night and read a bedtime story”. Hilarisch!
What is your best hostel / backpackers experience?