It took me right up until the moment the plane lifted off into the air to believe that I was really jetting off to the other side of the world for a year. I was so wrapped up in getting everything moved out of my flat in time and drinking with all my friends whilst I still could, my brain didn’t really register what was going on. So in short very little preparation actually occurred. Which to be honest I think is probably the best way, it gave my brain very little opportunity to start panicking, meltdown and ultimately rethink my entire decision. Truthfully I think there is no particular way to prepare for a trip this big, everybody will have their own ways of getting ready, but let me give you a little insight into my, limited, preparations for my journeys to New Zealand.
Step one I arranged all the big ones before even telling anyone I was going, I booked my flights, sent off my visa application, applied for a job and arranged my first few nights of accommodation. At least with these done I could rest easy and not panic about arranging things last minute, also when people asked I could give them solid answers about my plans as opposed to having people look at me with an unnerving look of terror like my boss did when I told him my job hadn’t yet been confirmed. (It has since been so panic over.)
Step two with the big things pre-arranged I then kind of stopped planning. I still had a couple of arrangements to make such as confirming my job and arranging my long term accommodation but bar that I didn’t want to get too set into a plan, because guess what they tend to change, especially when travelling! So I know I’m dropping by Australia on the way, first Perth and then Tasmania, and I know I’m heading out to New Zealand to work a ski season in Mount Ruapehu but after that who knows. The ski season ends in October and I have a year long visa a whole country to explore, a passport crying for some stamps and an awful long way back home. I have a rough plan of what I want to do and where I want to go but I don’t want to set it in stone because that’s half the fun of travelling making things up as you go along and this is going to be an adventure.
Step three took the most time and stress of all… packing! I both simultaneously hate it and love it. Weirdly I really enjoy making detailed packing lists (I have a bit of a list fetish) and I love gradually purchasing items to take on my travels, but I hate cramming everything into a bag and I hate hate hate having to decide what to leave behind because there just isn’t room. Here’s the problem I’ve been backpacking before, spent a few months at a time trekking around various different continents, but I’ve ever been away for such a length of time. The other problem? I needed to pack for all seasons, I’m going to be enjoying some Australian sunshine first and hopefully later on some New Zealand sunshine but I am also going to be spending a few months in the snow, which means packing for all seasons and my god ski gear is bulky! So with my old backpack on the verge of falling to pieces I purchased a new one and set out to cram it full with all my shit, and let me assure you it is very much crammed full. I wouldn’t like to say I’ve over packed but I have most definitely over packed! It’s probably going to turn out that I will not wear any of these items at all I’ll probably end up living in the same one or two outfits and I have a sneaking suspicion that a fair amount of stuff is going to get thrown out along the way but you know always better to be prepared! Seriously though, if you have a couple of tops, some underwear, your toothbrush, bank card and passport you’re probably golden. Ok well maybe you need a couple of other bits but remember other countries have shops as well and I can absolutely guarantee you will find a h&m in any country you go to! I promise I’ll let you know successful/unsuccessful my packing has been at the end of my trip, I have a feeling it’ll err on the unsuccessful side, but who knows you might get some (what not to do) packing tips from me!
And the final step? Get excited! In between all the shopping, panicking, packing, farewell drinks and tears (trust me there were a few of those) there were these odd time out moments where I just sat and appreciated what I was about to experience. The only real preparation advice I can give you is to make sure you enjoy those giddy excited moments because trust me there is nothing quite like the fizzy, slightly nauseous, anticipation you get before embarking on an adventure!