If you told me in November of 2009 when I moved to New Zealand that I would still be here 18 months later, I’d tell you that you were mad.
It’s certainly not how I envisioned things going; yet, as I’ve learned in the last year – things don’t always go as planned.
A mate who now lives in Spain told me recently that four years ago we graduated from the University of Iowa; it’s shocking when days turn into weeks, which turn into months, which bloody hell – turn into years.
I certainly never would have expected life to take me to small villages in Ireland, one of Europe’s most inspiring cities – Edinburgh, the markets of Turkey, the fjords of Norway, the canals of Venice, or the mountains of New Zealand.
I consider myself beyond lucky when I think of the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve seen.
Luck perhaps isn’t the correct word to use. As anyone branching off into the life of long term travel knows, it certainly has its ups and downs. Be that living in hostels, dealing with budget issues, overcoming travel planning woes or the unknowns that come from leading a life of uncertainty, long term travel is by no means easy.
Overcoming these obstacles is part of the journey and ultimately adds to what becomes a life changing experience.
So 18 months later, I’m still in New Zealand. There have been no shortage of obstacles to overcome in Aotearoa, don’t get me wrong – and ironically perhaps, these obstacles have added to my love of NZ. Overcoming the challenges life tosses at you inevitably shape you into the person you ultimately become.
Like many of my previous experiences traveling abroad, I originally arrived in New Zealand on a working holiday. Working holidays are a fantastic way to properly assimilate into the society of a country you’ve traveled to. You can absorb the culture and take it in as if the country were your home. You get to know its people, see it from their eyes as opposed to the eyes of a tourist.
You begin to get the place. Understand what makes it tick.
New Zealand is a country with no shortage of space. It’s a land of sweeping vistas, towering mountains and thick and uninhabited bush. It’s a country with 4 million people, 40 million sheep, and 100,000 square miles of land. New Zealanders love their sport – while there is no question of their love for ‘the rugby,’ they also have a special appreciation for the beautiful country they inhabit and make plenty of efforts to get out and explore it.
Lately, I’ve been right with them.
Whether it’s on a multi-day hike, a cross country mountain bike ride or a trail run in the mountains after work, I’m doing as much as possible to get out and properly experience the stunning scenery I’m so lucky to live near.
As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve returned to New Zealand to run NZbyBike.com. I spend my days promoting mountain biking in New Zealand – it’s an epic place to ride, and inevitably, I’ve fallen in love with the sport myself. It’s a bloody great job, yet it’s by no means easy running a web start-up and has been taking up a significant amount of my time.
I’ve developed even more of an appreciation for bloggers like Steph from 20 Something Travel who balanced full-time work along with developing and running a superb travel blog.
What are your tips for balancing an active life, with a full-time job along with maintaining a travel blog?
Leave your advice in the comments section below and I’ll put together a post featuring some top tips later next month.
In an effort to keep budget travel and backpacking focused posts coming your way more frequently, I’ve taken on a fellow American expat and travel blogger as a contributing writer for Backpackingmatt.com. Expect to see more content from Australia-based Lauren Fritsky of TheLifeThatBroke.com over the coming months with a focus on budget travel and backpacking in Australia.
Thanks for following along – for daily glimpses into my life living in New Zealand, be sure to follow me on Twitter.
‘Life’s a Journey‘
Please leave your tips for balancing work, travel, and an active life along with running a blog in the comments section below. Alternatively, email them to me at matt (at) backpackingmatt (dot) com and I’ll feature the best in a post next month.