My past month has looked something like this:
2 weeks of a tour in the South Island
1 week in Australia (GLORIOUS, AMAZING, FREEING… need I go on?! Why else do you think I’m moving there)
1 week back in Wellington
1 week of backpacking through South Island solo (more on that later…)
1 week in Wanaka
In the next few days, I have:
1 last day in New Zealand crammed with Hobbiton and the Waitomo Glowcaves
1 one-way ticket to Melbourne
2 hours gained from New Zealand to Australia (LOVE)
167 days of my NZ visa unused
365 beautiful new days on my Australian visa
SO MANY NUMBERS. All I know is that after 44 days of bouncing around, I’ll have my feet firmly planted in Melbourne for awhile.
Last week was the turning point for me – and how I knew that I was pretty done with New Zealand and ready to move on.
In six days, I stayed in six different hostels, sat on five different buses, pushed along my hunk of a suitcase six different times to get to each of those hostels (one of which involved two deadly hills that never ended), and traveled the same routes I had seen just a month prior on my South Island tour. From Wellington — Picton — Kaikoura — Christchurch — Dunedin — Christchurch — Wanaka in a crunched time frame, I think I saw the same 10,000 sheep, mountains, hills and rain that I once loved.
I was exhausted, and quite frankly, a bit jaded. That’s so sad, coming from someone who was once SO eager to move here in the first place.
Hmm… this felt all too familiar *coughacertainmousecough*. I wasn’t about to toddle in New Zealand for six more months if I felt that everything was blurring together and not as exciting anymore.
Here’s truth #1 that people rarely tell you: Backpacking, or anything to the extent of constantly being on the go, is draining. Physically, mentally and emotionally – it’s so draining that I grumbled to myself at times in the pouring rain, “I don’t want to travel anymore, I’m done.”
Well, that’s 50% true. Travel, as many know, is tough – it’s not all happy, cheery, bungee-jumping goodness every second. I’ve realized that since I left California, I’ve changed, fluctuated, and then reverted back to my roots – sometimes all three in a day, sometimes over the span of a month. When I’m settled, with a home and comfortable job, I go crazy and want nothing more than to be on the open road, exploring. When I’m on the open road and living out of a bag, I crave a sense of being settled and having a clean place to return to every night. We always want what we can’t have, ay?
But travel also changes you – for the better. It always does. In comes the importance of balance and knowing what you truly want. In total, these mere 44 days were enough for me to realize that I’m really not cut out to wander from place to place while struggling to push along or carry my belongings.
To put it frankly: I’m not that hardcore badass traveler whom some think I am. Duh.
Truth #2: The sense of being a nomad and bobbing around from place to place (especially if you don’t have a plan or an end date) wears on your emotions like you wouldn’t believe. Well, this goes for some more than others, but for me, it rings true 100%. As a Virgo, I’m extremely stubborn and hard-shelled; deep down, I’m emotionally sensitive and I get attached to places very easily. Despite my love for travel and seeing new places, it usually takes me awhile to adapt and adjust to a new setting. And most of the time, I’m reminiscing about the past and what I just left behind (such a fault).
I was emotionally distraught in Auckland, Picton, and now Wanaka – all because of the same sense in which I felt like I was starting all over again.
And then I reminded myself why I wanted to try living down in the South Island rather than continuing in my beautifully safe bubble in the north – to challenge myself. These days have been bumpy, rainy, painfully cold, and with their challenges, but I’ve prevailed. Most importantly, I know I tried it out – if I didn’t, I would have regretted it. And now I understand that I’m fully ready to move on to Australia.
On the bright side, I actually see a future for myself – for the first time since I set foot on the plane to New Zealand. I have a better understanding of myself now, far better than in October (or even March) and no matter how much I change, I know what I want deep-down and what will make me happiest in the coming years.
THAT’S my truth – now go find yours. <3