The turning point in my solo travels

It’s okay to change plans. It’s okay to concede that long term travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s okay to stay put for awhile to recover and regroup.

New Zealand - copyright Ngaire Ackerley

When I realised in Mancora, Peru that I was exactly halfway through my travels I wasn’t excited as you may expect. I was upset of how much more I had to get through before reaching my homeland of New Zealand.

Many of you may read that and think I’m silly, heck I have the opportunity of a lifetime to travel, while I’m unemployed and making the most of the time I have before I have to get back into working and reality. The truth is long term solo travel isn’t for everyone. I give it to the people that travel for a year or more in one stint, it isn’t easy and I’m impressed that so many people achieve that.

Me at Guayaquil

Me at Guayaquil, Ecuador

For me, solo travel in South America hasn’t been easy. There are always those moments when you wish you had someone to help put your 19kg backpack on your back, or help out with a language issue, or even someone to talk to about your day. Yes, you meet people along the way in hostels and on buses, but it is difficult to make long term, good friendships. You always start with the typical hello, where are you from, where have you been, what are you doing next and rarely get past those conversations before it’s time to move on.

Iguana Park, Guayaquil

I’m not a big drinker, I’ve basically given up alcohol on this trip, so that puts me in a smaller group of people that socialise sober. So, I have a lot of quiet nights. That doesn’t really bother me so much, as I like to make the most of my days. However, heading into Ecuador I didn’t feel my heart was in it anymore. I couldn’t appreciate the places I was visiting.

Granted this same feeling struck me just after Christmas and I got past it, but this time around it actually started to upset me. I wasn’t crying or anything, but I was sad. I needed to change things.

I looked at my itinerary and kept hearing how Costa Rica was expensive and too touristy, I had previously planned to spend up to 5 weeks there. Instead I decided I’d cut that part short and I’d spend more time in the Galapagos (to try get a cheap cruise) and Colombia (since everyone I meet is raving about that country). So I moved my flights 3-4 weeks early and gave myself a few extra days in San Francisco too.

Inside the Church of San Francisco

Inside the Church of San Francisco, Quito

Granted the next day I ended up in hospital (nothing serious) and then decided to stay put in Quito for a week before my volunteering. So, I have wasted a bit of time in a city in Ecuador. But I needed to. Being on the go all the time is hard, having a base in a good hostel that cooks incredible dinners is a great thing to help me regroup and prepare for the next part of my trip. I can now see what the next few months hold for me and it excites me.

What excites me even more is the thought that by the end of May (instead of June) I’ll be able to hug my family, see how big my nephews have grown, congratulate a few good friends on their recent marriage and eat fish n’ chips on the beach with long time friends again. Oh, and eat a mince and cheese pie, that is on the list for the day I arrive back.

So, it’s with this post that I finish on a happy note. I’ve made changes and I know in future I’ll never travel for more than 3 months in one go, but now the next 3 are all downhill and exciting!

Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand - one of my favourite spots

Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand – one of my favourite spots