When I was 19, I made a decision to travel solo to New Zealand. In a time frame of two weeks, I booked my flight, packed my bags, and off I was going. All I knew at this point was where I would stay for the first couple of nights post arrival. I had booked a private room in a hostel for two nights to allow myself to settle in and cure my jet-lag.
After 23 hours of traveling through 3 continents, I arrived in Auckland – Me, my backpack and a copy of “Lonely Planet New Zealand”.
In my first few days in Auckland I met a ton of interesting people from all over the world. Quickly, I grew into my new life of traveling alone and meeting new friends in hostels every night. Btw. this was the pre-smartphone era and I was traveling without a laptop – This meant that it was literally me and the road most days without any connection to the world. If I wanted to be connected to my friends and family, I had to source an internet café or buy phone cards. I know – old school.
I traveled most of the North Island with a car. It was absolutely amazing. I’ve experienced magnificent sunsets, gorgeous beaches and beautiful culture.
I felt inspired, courageous – went skydiving, took photos all day, and met the most interesting people.
I worked in terribly paid jobs as a nanny, waitress, worked on farms milking goats and building fences; used my income to pay for my accommodation and lots of pasta and ketchup (all I could afford to eat).
I concluded my trip with a trip to the South Island – now on a low budget – I traveled the island by bus. I had my first white wine, encountered snow in July, and saw penguins.
Retrospectively, this was best time of my life. I didn’t have anywhere to be, anything to do. Each night I’d drive till dusk and choose a place to stay at.
Lots of times people ask me how I could have been so courageous – Frankly, I grew with my responsibilities. New Zealand taught me to be on my own, to appreciate the small things in life, to work hard, to enjoy every moment; I’m who I am now because of this experience.