Monthly Archives: July 2016
Ask anyone who’s ever travelled solo, and they probably wouldn’t want to adventure any other way. It might be daunting at first, and it’s certainly simpler for some people than it is for others. But spending time alone on the road is among the most rewarding travel experiences out there.
Whether it’s a long trip around the world or a habit of solitary weekend jaunts, here are 10 things everybody learns while travelling alone:
1. You always return home with lots of new friends
Ever noticed that you’re more likely to ask one person for directions than you are to ask a group of people? Solos are more approachable, plain and simple. Lone travellers learn that the benefits of this are twofold: not only will other travellers feel far more comfortable introducing themselves to you, but it’s actually easier for you to strike up conversation with others as well.
2. You can engage with locals on a level that only solo travellers can
You know that local folks are more open, and definitely more curious, when it’s only you walking into that hole-in-the-wall café, or sampling the pungent flavours of that roadside food stall. From a heartfelt conversation on a rickety train, to suddenly having a network of genial families happy to host you for a night, you know none of these incredible experiences would have been possible if you’d been travelling with others.
There is no need to compromise when travelling alone. No need to appease a friend’s unfortunate craving for an overpriced burger and fries, or their incessant complaints about mosquito bites in a jungle where you’re on travel cloud 9. As a lonesome wanderer you travel where you want, when and however you want to – all with a liberating degree of indulgence.
Is your passport is groaning under the weight of international ink? Do your friends forget which country you’re in? If you recognise any of these signs, you’ve been bitten hard by the travel bug in 2016.
1. There’s a big hole in your bank account
A long weekend away or a carefully planned backpacking trip might seem budget-friendly to begin with, but once you’ve been tempted by a tour of the Galápagos Islands or a week in Iceland searching for the Northern Lights things start to add up.
What was once a well-fed bank account is now a shadow of its former self. Its demise may have been inversely proportional to your growing happiness, but you’re starting to wonder whether you might need to find a cheaper passion – well, for the next few months at least.
2. Your kitchen is bare
Thanks to all the time you’ve spent on the road, your kitchen has seen better times. At least you’ve got enough miniature bottles of spirits pilfered from airlines and hotel rooms to keep you going for a while.
3. You need a new passport – again
Those celebratory stamps at Machu Picchu and Ushuaia are starting to look like a costly use of space. You still carry your ink-cluttered passport with pride, but you’re starting to resent the irritating regularity of having to renew it.
4. You receive a warm welcome on every flight
With all the time you’ve spent on a plane, you’re starting to become a pro at frequent flying. From charming the cabin crew to making the most of your air miles, you’ve got the system totally figured out.
5. You forget which language you’re speaking
Spasibo? Shukran? Thank you?
After mastering a handful of new languages this year (well, “two beers, please” at least), you’ve been left struggling to remember the correct way of saying “thanks” when you’re back on home turf.
New Zealand’s roads and trails cut through incredibly diverse landscapes: snow-capped peaks and watery fiords, fertile plains, subtropical forest, glacial lakes and rugged coastline can all be explored on four wheels. Here is a selection of our favourite road trips in New Zealand.
1. For adventure: Ninety-Mile Beach
Officially called Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē, this seemingly endless stretch of beach from Ahipara to Scott Point in the far north of New Zealand is actually only 55 miles (88km).
Incredibly, it’s a designated public highway and alternative to SH-1 – though to traverse the sands you need a 4WD, a sense of adventure and some advance planning to avoid high tide. On one side is the crashing surf, and on the other, rolling dunes backed by green forest.
The Pacific Coast Highway hugs the awe-inspiring coastline of the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, East Cape and Hawkes Bay.
Setting out from Auckland you can take it slow on a six-day tour and take your pick of picturesque coves and bays to explore. Ridiculously beautiful highlights include Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Ohope Beach and Ohiwa Harbour, Waipiro Bay and its three historical marae (Maori meeting grounds) and the beaches of Mahia Peninsula. Be aware that the East Cape in particular is winding and steep and can be a challenging drive.
For One Drive to Rule Them All, head deep into the volcanic plateau of Central North Island where Peter Jackson found the perfect location to bring Mordor to the big screen. Most people come here to ski or tramp, but there are some incredible landscapes and lookouts to be seen from the highway: the long, straight Desert Road (SH-1) to the east of the park is a dry and bleak stretch with amazing views toward the trio of volcanoes.
For even more epic views of Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom), loop round to the southeast of the park to Whakapapa Village (off SH-47) to access the skifield.
Open for the summer months only, Acheron Road bumps through the stunning scree-covered hillsides and open valleys and grasslands of New Zealand’s largest farm. Drivers who brave the 207km gravel road between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs experience all that comes with exploring remote high country.
Feet itching to get out on the road again? Been back home for a while since your last adventure and desperate to start the next one? If your travel piggy bank isn’t quite up to the task of flying you off on the next big trip just yet, don’t let the travel bug get its claws into you – combat the desire to run away from home with our top tips on how to beat it.
1. Get outside
At the risk of sounding just like your parents, a good old-fashioned dose of fresh air really does put you in a better mood – so get off the couch and get outside. As spring brings out the flowers and those much-missed blue skies you might just find yourself looking at where you live in a whole new light. Top tip: reserve this one for sunny days.
2. Take a different route
Travelling means seeing new things – but there are plenty of those far closer to home. Next time you’re heading to a friend’s house or even just popping to the shops, take a deliberate wrong turn and see where it takes you.
You might find an overgrown woodland path leading to a garden you never knew existed, or stumble upon a beautiful historic building you’ve never noticed before.
After all, these things happen on the road all the time – and that road starts right outside your house.
3. Do something exciting at home
Remember the rush of that helicopter dipping over the Grand Canyon or the thrill of that bungee jump you braved in New Zealand? Adrenaline knows no borders and those adventures aren’t confined to foreign climes. Look locally and you’ll likely find something to get your adrenaline thrills.
Why not take a helicopter or hot air balloon flight over your home city, or try a new adventure sport in your nearest national park? And there’s nothing to stop you from posting pictures on Facebook, just as you would if you were on the other side of the planet.
4. Get cooking
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Who hasn’t come back from a trip with a recipe book they always meant to use? Now’s the time to crack it open, and start cooking some of those Indonesian curries or Italian pasta dishes you’ve always meant to.
Your taste buds will never know they haven’t been transported to Thailand or France, even though you’re really balancing a bowl on your knee back home.