So here we are at the end of 7 weeks travelling through various countries (UAE, India, Singapore, Australia & NZ). We’ve spent a lot of time talking, talking and more talking. This has included primary and secondary schools, Rotary Clubs, business meetings, churches and university students. In between we’ve done lots of coffee meetings doing catchup with supporters and friends.
So here’s some advice for those thinking of doing the long trip idea:
1. Lock in time out
I’ve made the mistake of not doing this. The idea was to get along to the doctors for a checkup and places like the skin cancer centre. It just didn’t happen and it simply was my fault. In the end I even had to cancel other meetings because of a lack of time.
2. Plan for travel time
I didn’t put enough time in to get from A to B, especially in New Zealand. Because we hadn’t lived there for over 12 years I’d forgotten how tricky it is to get around it fast within a strict budget. I should’ve put in an extra day for travel without appointments on that day.
3. Book in a hotel sometimes
We were really blessed to be able to stay for free at peoples homes. It meant staying on mattresses, pull out couches, spare beds and bed sharing most of the time. I never realised how much my daughter snored until this trip. A real highlight was booking a couple of nights in a Melbourne hotel. Sure, I got it super cheap (why pay full price for anything) but just having that was very special. I highly suggest that every now and then when you ‘re on the road long term to do the same. I know it sounds weird but being able to go to the toilet without having to rush or someone else banging on the door is a wonderful thing.
4. Take time out for friends
Speaking to large groups is great you get the advantage of the masses. However there’s nothing like one on one coffee with friends. Not only do you not have to keep telling your story over and over again, but you get to just be yourself. Sitting down to have a laugh and a coffee while reconnecting is worth the world. I don’t think I’ve eaten and had so many drinks (don’t worry I don’t drink alcohol) for a very long time. To me my relationship with people is even more important than the work I do.
5. Pack lightly
I’m kind of impressed with myself for how little clothing we brought with us. ¾ of our baggage was actually filled with merchandise that we would be selling. The only things I didn’t wear were my swimmers and running shoes. Shoes because I didn’t even have time to get out in the fresh air for some exercise. You’ll find we all pack too many clothes when travelling. I foolishly thought that it would be warm where we were going. In Christchurch it dropped below 9 degrees and I froze to death. Hence, always take a jacket.
6. Rethink the 8 week idea
We got to about 5 weeks and thought ‘it’s time to go home’. I remember when we were travelling for 8 weeks in Africa as a family and we got to about 6 weeks and thought the same. Continually travelling is exhausting work. If you can break it up with a week off I think that would be better. However, for me, I was going to be away from my husband for 7 weeks and that was way too long so I wasn’t going to make that happen. However, thanks to a Kiwi friend we have a week together in Dubai at the end of the trip.
7. Take a trip buddy with you
I had our daughter Liz travelling with me for the entire time. It was a great idea for both of us. I got to see what it was like for her travelling 50 hours just to get to Australia. We got things down to a tee. Liz would set up the audio visual equipment, I would do the talk and she would pack down. Liz only missed one meeting because a colleague from BeyondWater came to a Rotary meeting instead. Liz was stellar and I couldn’t have done this trip without her. I would’ve got really lonely without her and often we talked on how we could improve on our trip. Liz would often keep me in line and remind me about what needed to get done. I highly suggest having a travel buddy. You need someone to not only laugh with but also someone to cheer up. Having a travel buddy is a must.
Snippets to remember:
– Zip lock bags (avoid toothpaste throughout your bag)
– Pack a pen with your passport
– Put your passport and phone in the same place every time
– Get money transferred into US dollars on this side of the world (best rate)
– Don’t be afraid to ask people for help