travel

tomorrow: packing for a very special holiday

This post is part of the #BlogGreatness weekly challenge. You can find other posts with the theme Tomorrow here and learn more about the weekly challenges here.

I’m typing this post from the International Terminal at Auckland Airport, killing time as I wait to board my flight to Japan. The plane leaves tomorrow morning and I’m beyond excited!

Last year was a very stressful year for us, so when I saw a voucher for seven days at a beach resort in Thailand for sale on Grab a Deal, I bought it without even researching how much would cost to get there. We needed a holiday and something fun to look forward to and help us stay positive. I bought that voucher in May last year and started saving money for the tickets slowly, aiming for a trip sometime in March. 

Then, in November, Ivan saw an offer on Facebook from Jetstar: 2 for 1 flights to Japan. I did a little research on Skyscanner and flying to Japan, and from there to Thailand, wouldn’t be much more expensive than flying directly to Phuket. I love Japan and Ivan always wanted to visit, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We bought the tickets to Japan in November, and in January we got the ones to Thailand.
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I wish I could say that after that all we had to do was wait until our departure date, but alas that’s not the case. I’ve always considered myself to be extremely well organised when it comes to planning, but this time my head was so busy with our residency application, I ended up making a few mistakes along the way. 

First of all: the tickets were cheap because they only included the seats. If you wanted anything else, e.g. luggage, meals, entertainment, was extra. I almost didn’t buy any meals out of spite, but bought a couple at the end. We’re not dispatching any luggage though. That’s right: we’re going on an 18-day trip with only a backpack each. I’m also taking a small bag, but the total weight of both items must be 7kg.

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Here’s what I’ve packed: 1 paid of jandals, underwear, socks, 1 bikini, 1 pair of ponte pants, 1 pair of shorts, 1 skater dress, 1 strapless dress, 1 beach cover-up, pijamas (shorts & tank top), 7 tops, 1 long-sleeved top, 1 cardigan, 1 towel and a small bag of travel sized toiletries. I actually removed two tank tops from my backpack while I was arranging my clothes for the photo. Packing light also means packing smart. 

On my bag I’m taking my camera, iPhone, Kindle, respective cables, wallet, documents, water bottle, sunglasses and a few other smaller things.

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After our North Island motorcycle trip last year I’ve become the queen of repurposed storage. I’ve put my accessories and Lady Danger lippie in a coin purse. During the road trip, I used an old eyeglasses case to carry cables and chargers and another for q-tips, band-aids, and daily liners. 

Tomorrow is the start of a great adventure and I’m not too worried about not being able to buy loads of stuff to bring back home. I want to experience something new with my beloved husband and share a place I visited on my own with him, and then explore a new place together. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter, I keep posting there while I’m away! And you can find me on Snapchat under danipohlod too.

And FYI: when I get back to Wellington, I’ll be 29… ūüėČ

everything you need to know before going on a motorcycle camping trip

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I remember the first time I got on the Ducati 600SS and put my arms around my husband’s waist, helmet and gloves in place, and went on my first motorcycle ride, I was scared but thrilled. It was a cool evening in April, barely any wind, and we went all the way from The Terrace to Seatoun, Island Bay, Lyall Bay and back through Newtown. I was finally seeing some parts of the city I had no idea even existed. I enjoyed it way more than I ever thought I would and, although I’m still a bit scared of riding on my own, I have no problems with being a pillion passenger.

So, when my husband suggested a seven day motorcycle camping trip during our end of the year break, I got really excited. Camping is a great way to save money and New Zealand has a lot to offer to campers. We quickly extended our trip to ten days, and there’s lot to talk about the places we visited in regards to accommodation and activities, but this post is all about the ride. Going on a road trip driving a car has many advantages (you’re not exposed to the weather, you can carry more stuff, etc) but motorcycles are just as fun. Here’s everything you need to know before going a motorcycle camping trip:

1. Educate yourself

First things first: know your motorcycle. Familiarise yourself with the sounds of the engine, understand how it works and how to repair minor damages. Make sure all the papers are in order and everything is working as it should. Study the roads you’re taking, get to know the terrain, the distances. A motorcycle’s tank is smaller and you need to fill it more frequently, so we downloaded an app called CamperMate that shows you anywhere in New Zealand the nearest petrol station (as well as public toilets, police station, groceries and wi-fi spots). It allowed us to plan ahead and decide how much longer we could keep going before taking a break. We didn’t carry any petrol with us and we didn’t have to deal with an empty tank either.

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2. Pack smart, pack light

We carried two saddlebags, with a sleeping bag in each one, a gym bag with our clothes, a backpack and a tent.¬†We stayed at holiday parks and DOC campsites¬†and the people camping next to us would always comment on how compact our gear was. The less you carry, the faster it is to repack the next day before continuing your trip. Try to¬†avoid¬†any unnecessary luggage. No matter where you travel to, there’s always some place you can stop and do your laundry along the way. It also prevented us from buying useless stuff during the trip as we simply couldn’t carry any more than what we had brought with us.

3. Improvise

Most places offer shared kitchen facilities but you need to bring your own pans, plates and utensils, which was disappointing as we could have saved a lot more money if we were able to cook our own meals. So we did the best we could, got creative and improvised. We ate meals that required minimal preparation or had picnics (and we had great meals at cafes and restaurants too). We had to park the Ducati on sand and grass, so we found an used water bottle and repurposed it as a side stand pad, to keep the motorcycle in place. We don’t have intercoms in our helmets, so we developed a way of communicating with each other using gestures and taps. It’s important to use all the knowledge you acquired during the planning stage to adapt, change course or come up with a solution.

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4. It’s scary

No matter how hard you plan and research, it’s still scary to actually go on the road and ride. There were a couple of accidents involving dairy trucks during the Christmas period and every time one of those large trucks, loaded with logs or milk tanks, drove by us and threw a gust of wind us, it’d hold a breath for a few seconds and hold tight onto Ivan. The weather was on our side and luckily we escaped most of the rain predicted for the North Island. It’s tiresome and uncomfortable at times. Keep calm and well rested at all times.

5. Enjoy the ride

But don’t let fear get in the way of enjoying it and having a good time. When you’re on a motorcycle, you become part of a community of riders that will always acknowledge you and greet you with a quick nod as they ride past you. It’s a great conversation starter and kids are fascinated by two wheels. You’re more exposed and also more connected to the road. You feel the wind, the cold and the warmth all around you. And all those hours in silence, looking out the road alone with my own thoughts, were great to clear my head. The journey becomes part of the fun, it isn’t just about reaching a destination anymore but making the most out of every step of the way.

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Now we’re thinking of doing a similar trip, but around the South Island and with two motorcycles. What about you? Would you ever go on a motorcycle road trip?

12 funny things seen on a road trip in New Zealand

When you travel nearly 3,000km, you come across some things that are so weird and cute and curious (sometimes all at once!) that can only be described as funny. ¬†Even the fact that many of those things were spotted in pairs, close to each other, is a funny coincidence! I didn’t take photos of everything, but here’s a list of 12 of the funniest things I saw around the North Island.

 

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Eutopia Café in Kaiwaka was closed for renovations but its exterior showed a lot of promise.

 

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This life-size doll at the Mormors Caf√© in Kaiwaka freaked me out, I didn’t have my glasses on when I noticed it and for a split second I thought it was a real person!

 

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The Christmas spirit was very much alive at the Otamure Bay camping ground in Whananaki. There was even a nativity scene on the beach!

 

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These public toilets are considered the main tourist attraction in Kawakawa.

 

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Tapotupotu Bay has the friendliest crab ever. and also…

 

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Kudos to whoever drew Squidward Tentacles on the sand!

 

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Tirau, in the Waikato, has this giant sheep…

 

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And of course there’s a shepherd dog nearby!

 

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This mini-lighthouse at Anderson Park in Napier is beyond adorable!

 

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But the mini-oil rig on the same lake was a bit odd…

 

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If you ever drive by Dannevirke, make sure to check out this impressive toy car collection with over eight thousand models at Dave’s Den.

 

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And to finish this list off, a creepy bulldozer in Ngawi, a fishing village on the south coast on the way to Cape Palliser.

 

What did you think? Any favourites? ūüėČ

the wanderlust tag

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Like I said before, my word for 2015 is explore and wanderlust is the greatest fuel there is to adventure. Today the girls over the #BrunchClub shared the Wanderlust tag, which is a series of travel-related questions, and I decided to join in and post my answers.

Where was your first plane to?

From my hometown in the Northeast region of Brazil to Curitiba, in the South, where I lived for 17 years before moving to New Zealand.

Where have you traveled to that you would love to visit again?

Japan, for sure! How can you not fall in love with a country that makes videos like this?

You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?

Capri, in Italy, for a luxury romantic holiday. And even if you skip the luxury, the scenery and food and wine make up for it.

Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or car?

Road trips turn the journey into part of the fun, but planes cover longer distances, so it’s hard to choose. And just the other day I caught myself looking up prices for the Trans-Siberian Express.

Favourite travel website?

Skycanner for cheap tickets, Pinterest for inspiration.

 

New York City

 

Where would you travel to just eat the food?

India. Sightseeing can wait, first let me try all the different curries, the variety is astonishing!

Is there a place you would never go again?

I wouldn’t say “never”, but Paraguay is way down my list of countries to return to.

Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

Not really… I know some of the letters and numbers but always get the order wrong.

Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?

Window. It’s crammed anyway, might as well enjoy the view.

How do you pass the time on the air plane?

Playing Monopoly with my husband on his phone, or watching movies. I admire those who can read on a plane but I get too distracted.

Some of the other blogs participating: Sarah Sees the World, The Life and Times, Bunny Eats Design, This is Meagan Kerr, Move Love Eat, Becca Jane Lee, xoxBubbles, Love from Jess xo, The Confetti Room, Child of Ponderings, A Food Awakening Blog and My Foxy Corner.

(photos taken in 2008, in Shanghai and New York City) 

up, down & all around: my end of the year north island adventure

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Happy new year everyone! May 2015 be kind and awesome to all of us! ūüôā

Last year was incredibly overwhelming, the good moments were so meaningful but the bad ones were just as intense. I feel stronger than ever, having survived so many challenges in 2014, and very proud of everything I’ve achieved. It wasn’t easy, but all the more rewarding.

And this road trip was exactly that: an amazing reward. After five years living in New Zealand Ivan and I were finally able to enjoy a long holiday and visit the lighthouse in Cape Reinga, on the top of the North Island. Looking back at all the crappy jobs we had, the long hours and low wages, and where we stand now, knowing that our lives improved so much, fills me with gratitude.

 

 

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Here are just a few of my road trip stats:

– 2,815 km traveled

– 11 cities visited

– 10 days on the road

– 1,422 photos taken

– 4 holiday parks, 2 DOC camping grounds and 1 motel

– 1 very reliable Ducati 600SS

My head is full of post ideas and I’m so excited to share it all with you!

And you? How did you spend the final days of 2014? Any plans for this year?

travel on a budget: 4 ways to save money

Austin Ban

 

On my previous post in my On a Budget series I talked about the importance of planning and I promised a post about saving money. No matter how long and meticulously¬†you plan it’ll all be pointless if you don’t commit so keep in mind that it’s all for a good cause. Here are¬†4 ways to set aside some extra money for your dream holiday.

1. Know your money

Before doing anything else, grab your bank statements and study it hard. Take note of exactly how much money you make and how much you expend each week and month. You need to know exactly where your earnings are going as it is so easy to lose track of small expenses. When I first left my parents house and moved to NZ, I used to carry a notebook with me every where and write down every single cent coming in and out of my account and wallet. I’d write down even coins I found on the sidewalk, it all added up! I only bought a TV a year after arriving in Wellington and by then I had a part-time minimum wage job but I knew exactly how many hours I had to work to pay for it. I guess I should do that again, now that my income has improved a bit I end up taking a few things for granted and overspending. Having a clear picture of your financial situation will allow you to determine what kind of sacrifices you’re willing to make.

2. Take inventory and sell the excess

Last October I moved house and for an entire year I lived quite nicely with several unopened boxes in my garage. Some of those things were personal belongings that I only keep for their sentimental value, but the rest was just useless stuff. Pretty and in good condition, but rendered useless over time for me. Maybe someone else would be interested in buying some of it? And there are so many ways of selling unwanted items: online auction websites like Trade Me will take a commission out of your sale but you can use Facebook groups instead. You can also create a nice ad and put it up common areas in your workplace or at your local supermarket. You can also organize a good old yard sale, put up flyers around your neighbourhood and spread the word. Be realistic about prices, prepare to bargain and save all your profit.

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3. Turn skills into services

What kind of hobbies do you have? Do you play any instruments or know any other language? What about turning that skill into a service you can offer for a fee? Create an ad on sites like Fiverr or Gigbucks¬†and reach out to people. Alternatively, let your friends know of your intentions and offer to mow their lawn, baby-sit, pet-sit, give private lessons…. NZ is famous for its DIY mentality but not everyone has the luxury of time these days, so take advantage of that if you have lots of spare time on your hands. Do extra shifts at work or you can even go a step further and take up a second job.¬†Got a spare room but don’t actually feel like taking up a flat mate? List it on Airbnb¬†and host guests travelling to your location.

4. Cut down to the bare necessities

Ok, making more money can be quite challenging. What about spending less then? Make your meals ahead of time and instead of buying lunch, take it from home. Change your internet/mobile plans or provider for a cheaper option, switch power companies, take shorter showers, walk to work or carpool. Go a semester or even a whole year without buying any new clothes/shoes. Reduce the amount of nights out or define a budget for when you’re having drinks with friends and stick to it. Favour free activities over paid events. Grow your own vegetables, stock up on groceries on special, join loyalty programs so you can pay discounted prices, shop smart. Pay your bills on time and setup direct debt/online billing as most companies offer nice discounts when doing that. Exercise outdoors or at home instead of joining a gym. I always joke that you should shower at the gym if you’re paying for a membership just to get your money’s worth but we all know there’s some truth in that. Always carry a full, re-usable water bottle with you. Instead of buying books and magazines, borrow them from the nearest library. Don’t pay for cable, Netflix is coming to NZ early next year (if you’re with Slingshot, you can access it now). Put a strategy in place that works for you and always keep your end goal in sight. ¬† ¬†

Sometimes we waste so much time creating excuses to justify why we can’t do something that we forget so many people actually just do them. I’ve done them, five years ago, out of necessity. Now I’m saving money because travelling is my priority but it takes discipline, commitment and creativity. What about you? What do you do when you need/want to save money? Feel free to leave a comment and share it with me.

(Photos by: 1. Austin Ban & 2. Jonas Nilsson Lee.)

my sunny weekend in auckland in 8 pictures

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view from Mission Bay during sunset on a warm Saturday evening

 

I always have a good time when I visit Auckland and unlike most Wellingtonians I would totally consider moving there some day. This weekend I was very busy attending The Blogcademy (the last one to be offered in New Zealand!), so I didn’t have much time to walk around the city like I usually do, but the few new places I got to meet were great and a post about my new favourite cafe is coming up soon. I had a wonderful time, sometimes a short holiday is just what you need to recharge.

Below are seven more photos showing the highlights of my weekend in Auckland.

 

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The Blogcademy workshop

 

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lunch at St Kevins Arcade

 

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Sky Tower from the corner of Queen St and Wellesley St

 

 

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fresh orange juice from Scullery Cafe on Karangahape Rd

 

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my prize for “most inciting post on Twitter” and my graduate certificate

 

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tiramisu ice cream on a deluxe chocolate cone from Giapo on Queen St

 

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coming back home to a sunny, but still chilly, Wellington

 

I also shared some other photos that you can check out on Instagram and a post about my experience as a blogcadette is on the way too.