How long have you been travelling?
I caught the travel bug in 2003 when I went to a conference in Sydney during grad school. It’s embarrassing but it was going to see the musical Mamma Mia in Sydney that did it (as in the live version, not the movie). Once I’d seen the show in Sydney, I became obsessed with getting to New York to see more Broadway shows.
What’s been your route?
My partner and I did a short around the world trip in 2004/2005 in my grad school summer vacation (Southern hemisphere summer, Northern hemisphere winter – not ideal!).
Our around the world trip included: Russia, France, England, Hong Kong, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, the US (including Hawaii), and Australia.
After grad school, I spent a couple of months in Asia and then moved to England for awhile.
I moved back to New Zealand and, for the last few years, I’ve been going on around 3 international trips a year, including spending two months a year in NYC. I’m planning on leaving New Zealand and starting open-ended travel from May 2013. I’m planning on applying for the Canada Working Holiday visa which New Zealanders are able to get up until age 35 (the age limit is lower for nationals from some other countries).
This year I’ve been to the US, Tonga, and Malaysia.
What’s your favourite and least favourite country?
The US is probably my favorite. New York is my absolute favorite place and I love Hawaii. My favorite beach destination is the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.
I don’t have a least favorite country but my least favorites experiences have been visiting places in winter (e.g., Paris) or beach destinations that didn’t live up to expectations (e.g., Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam – in the month I went, the sea was gray, rough, and unsuitable for swimming).
I expected to love London because of the theatre scene but I couldn’t take the dreary weather and lack of consistent sunshine in summer.
Whatís been the most awesome travel experience youíve had?
Most recently, a romantic couple’s trip to the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.
If you wish you knew something when you started traveling, that you know now ñ what would that be?!
I wish I knew more about slow travel and accommodation alternatives instead of hotels and hostels. I spend a couple of months a year in Brooklyn by subletting an apartment off Craiglist.
What was your weirdest travel experience?
Being alone on an island in Tonga that had no electricity. It was like being on Survivor but with a basic hut. I was the only tourist on the island and only 3 locals live on the island.
Where to next?
I have a one way ticket to Hawaii booked for May 2013.
What advice would you give to any Aspiring Backpackers?
– If you’re going on a one year around-the-world trip, build in a couple of 1 month stints staying in the same place. For example, rent an apartment in New York or Thailand for the month.
Give yourself a chance to unpack, take a vacation from your vacation, and live like a local.
– Pick travel activities based on your own interests. I don’t particularly like visiting museum, monuments, ruins, or temples so I hardly ever do these things. If you personally don’t like visiting churches, you don’t have to just because you’re in Europe. Do your own thing. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to go to local supermarkets. Whatever you like is fine.