Travel Challenges

Baby Baboons

Baby Baboons, Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Sometimes I feel like challenge should be my middle name. That or unlucky.

This month’s travel blog linkup is all about challenges and while I don’t want to jinx my upcoming trip to Borneo I thought I’d open up and be honest with my top 3 travel challenges (rather than writing a book on the topic).

Getting sick and injured while travelling

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

The key here is having decent travel insurance for the countries you’re travelling to. I’ve ended up in hospitals in Thailand, America, Ecuador and Colombia, all while travelling solo. Some were more serious than others and often than not I was admitted and ended up on IV fluids at a minimum.

I’m a super careful traveller (believe it or not), bottled water to brush my teeth even. But what it comes down to, is that sometimes shit happens and you just have to deal with it. I’ve learnt if things aren’t better or improving overnight chances are they won’t so its better to just get medical help.

A Chichico having fun in my hood

A Chichico having fun in my hood – volunteering in Ecuador near the Amazon

It’s bloody scary when you don’t speak the language and can’t find an international hospital and have to attempt to communicate your symptoms to get proper help. When I’ve been on my own there’s been the odd occasion where I was able to get a local who spoke both English and the local language to translate, it cost me a few meals and a great deal of thanks, but helped put my mind at ease compared to the times where I had no local assistance.

I’ve had insurance providers refuse to pay for treatment abroad and advise I fly home, but when it wasn’t live and death, just discomfort (sea urchin spikes in foot) I told them to get lost and I’d finish my trip. So you don’t always have to listen to people, but need to remember if you don’t follow their advice and things get worse they may not cover you.

Standing at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Standing at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park (definitely worth not giving up the travels for)

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Leaving the comfort of what I knew to move alone to the other side of the world with no job, no friends and no long term accomodation

This was definitely a challenge when I left New Zealand to move to London. There were plenty of times where it frustrated me, as I’m sure it does for any expat moving abroad for the first time.

Daffodils in Putney, London, UK

In 6 months I think I’d moved about 4-5 times before finding somewhere semi-comfortable. It took me about 6 weeks to find my first contracting job in the graphic/web design field, because I had no contacts (when friends moved to London it was a lot quicker for them with my contacts). It probably took me about 2 years before I started feeling like I had friends and had made a life for myself.

And yet it ended all too quickly.

Olympic mascot hunting

Olympic mascot hunting

For all the trials and tribulations of my time in London I felt free in many ways. Freedom isn’t something to take for granted. Travel was usually monthly and when I wasn’t travelling abroad I was bopping around London and the UK in my spare time. I’d joined sports teams and made fantastic friends through my co-working space and blogging network.

5 years on and it was time to move on to the next life changing challenge…

Leaving London and moving back to New Zealand

Some may read this and wonder what the challenge was in this. It’s a hard one to describe and probably more of a mental one than my last big move.

Yes, I had to find somewhere to live and a job, but more than that I had to find a new life and way of living again after spending most of my adult life abroad in London and travelling.

I’d done a big 8 month backpacking stint travelling and volunteering through Africa, South and Central America and a bit of North America. Now it was time to start the next stage of my life.

Baboon walk, volunteering in Namibia

Baboon walk, volunteering in Namibia

Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier

Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Breeding herd of elephants running

Breeding herd of elephants running, Etosha National Park

Zebra staring, Okavango Delta

Zebra staring, Okavango Delta, Botswana

The job and flat thing sorted itself out, granted things were different, the job opportunities weren’t what they were in the UK and the future of house buying was just as scary as London. But I made it work.

Coming back to NZ alone I found it was the relationships, friendships, support networks that I’ve found difficult to regain and create. People do and don’t change and that takes quite a bit to get your head around when you return to your homeland. I’m still working on this aspect 3 years later…

Whakapapa Skifield - Happy Valley at sunset

Whakapapa Skifield, New Zealand – Happy Valley at sunset

I’ve think I’ve probably changed a great deal over the last 10 years, since I left NZ, studied in Austria, lived in the UK and travelled the world, returned to my homeland, experienced the death of one of the most important people in my life and more recently brought my own home. All these things tweaked my life in different ways. Changed how I look at the world, life and the people around me.

The last 3 years since I returned to NZ have been be the most challenging in my life so far and sadly I know they won’t be the last. I think challenges teach you something, help you grow and can sometimes improve your life. I’ve learnt sometimes challenges are worth considering in more detail than jumping head first and they also aren’t something to discount immediately.

What are your biggest travel challenges?

Owl, Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

Owl, Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas