Wilson and I recently had a staycation in the most beautiful city in the world - Vancouver. I love how my home can bring me so much joy. On a sunny winter day we wandered the streets of Vancouver discovering new little sights in our city. I have never felt so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. I love traveling and learning new things about a city but learning and touring your own is something very special. Tour your own city, surprise yourself.
When Wilson and I traveled this summer there were a few different technics we used. One was looking up things to do and planning out every step of the way and the other was just leaving it up to where adventure took us. Both were really fun, but they both have their pros and cons and I will tell you those now.
Pros of Research: You don't miss anything, you see everything you plan to see; you have a pretty good idea of how much money you will need to save; you have an idea of where you're going and how you are getting there; and generally, you will know more about the things you are seeing.
Cons of Research: You feel bad if you don't stick to the schedule (at least I do); you don't have very much spare time to see something you maybe didn't plan on; and you might be disappointed if something isn't exactly what you had in mind.
Pros of Adventure: You have the thrill of the unknown; you aren't limited to a schedule; you are okay if the plans change; you are surprised; and you have no real expectations that can be disappointed.
Cons of Adventure: the border guards might be both confused and not easy on you; you have no idea what to expect; you might miss things that you later regret not doing or seeing; and you might feel stressed about what you're going to do.
I recommend a mixture of the two, I personally had more fun on the trips we didn't plan out because I love adventure and leaving things up to how we feel that day, but that isn't ideal for everyone. If you plan a couple things and leave the rest to the unknown, you get both experiences. Let me know what you have tried and enjoyed in the comments below.
For our final trip of the summer, Wilson and I headed off to New Zealand to hang out with my sister and her boyfriend. We arrive with no itinerary, no expectations, and no plans. It was going to be quite the adventure. We started the trip in Queenstown exploring the shops and gathering informational pamphlets. We then planned out what we thought would be the best for the trip and then went about it. We went zip lining, on a cruise in Te Anu and on a luge adventure.
We also went snowboarding in Wanaka. Snowboarding was a definite highlight because where we live snow sports are usually available between November (if you're lucky) and March (we went in August/September). It was also a treeless slope. They call it a snow field there and that is exactly what it is. Nothing but the face of the mountain and snow. Not a tree in sight. It was such a neat experience being in the snow on vacation.
New Zealand is one of my favourite countries by far because everywhere you look you see mountains. The first thing I said when we left the airport was "let's move here". I cannot begin to explain how amazing it is. This post has more pictures than necessary to try and show how incredible the scenery was. I would highly recommend going sometime in your lifetime. You will not regret it.
After New Zealand, we went to the Gold Coast before going to Sydney, Australia. We were in the Gold Coast for one day, but we hung out with some amazing friends and explored Surfer's Paradise. Someday, I would like to explore the Gold Coast further because everything about it looks so beautiful.
Sydney is always so nice, we did the typical tourist things like seeing the opera house, Bondi, Manly, and the city. We went shopping and to Hillsong Church. We also spent two days in the Blue Mountains exploring and adventuring. We went on the world's steepest train and took a cable car across a canyon. We stayed in an Air B&B which saved us quite a bit of money and also made us feel more at home. We ate at a restaurant called Pancakes on the Rocks which is open twenty-four hours a day and seriously worth the wait in line. We spent a little over ten days in Sydney relaxing and hanging out before heading home on the final plane of the summer.
This summer was filled with adventure and exhilarating experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world. There is nothing better than traveling with the person you love most and seeing a new place. If we were to do it again I wouldn't change anything but I would probably space it out a little more. Travel the world when you can. You will never regret the experience of a new culture or place and the vacation part is something we all desire.
Packing and unpacking are probably the worst parts of a trip. I have personally learned a lot about packing in the last couple months, and I thought maybe I would share my tips with you. Packing is a delicate procedure that should not be taken lightly. I used to be chronic over packer so I know the feeling of wanting to take your whole wardrobe with you and not wanting to be under prepared. I will also tell you it sucks more to drag five suitcases through customs because you didn't pack correctly. There are two different ways to pack, summer and winter, and I'll tell you about both.
Summer is my favourite style of packing because it's light and fun. You should never leave your house stuffing your suitcase. You should not have to sit on your suitcase to close it and you certainly should not be close to the 23kg (50lb) limit. You can survive on a carry on sized suitcase but I wouldn't recommend it if you are a shopping addict or need to take along your memory foam pillow. For hot destinations, you need few things, depending on your itinerary but I'll generalise it and you can customise it.
Socks & underwear (x the amount of days you will need them / not be in your bathing suit)
Bathing suit (x2)
Shorts (x3 max, you will probably only wear one pair)
Shirts/singlets (1/3 x days away)
Jeans/dress (1 each)
Sweatshirt/Windbreaker (1 each)
Shoes (flip flops, chucks/slip ons, runners)
Your toiletries are your toiletries, take what you need and want but try not to over pack. A few things I always take are: cheap shampoo, conditioner and body wash (in case you need to ditch them for weight purposes); hair product/ straightener; tinted moisturizer (my favourite is MAC's Studio Moisture Tint); mascara, eyebrow pencil and blush, etc; Sun Bum sunscreen and Aloe; and finally, Nivea body lotion.
Winter is almost as fun but way heavier. With winter packing, you should still not be stuffing your suitcase to the max or be close to the weight limit but you have to distribute weight - a little differently. We all know that your bag doesn't pack the same way twice so it's best to leave room for expansion. For cold destinations, you must make use of both your carry on and your suitcase to get the most out of your space.
Shirts (1/3 x days away)
Socks and underwear (x days away)
Shoes (boots, runners, converse/vans)
Sweater & Flannel (x1 each)
Again, your toiletries are your toiletries, take what you need and want but try not to over pack. Cheap shampoo, conditioner and body wash (in case you need to ditch them for weight purposes); hair product/straightener; makeup; body lotion.
Gloves/ Scarf/ Beanie
Extras: Camera; book; phone charger; converter; gum; etc.
Keep your suitcase as light and empty as possible keeping in mind you will probably buy things along the way.