For most people, the idea of traveling for a year can be quite daunting – yet it is considered to be living the dream. For me, for the last 365 days, this has been my reality. It has been fun, exciting, scary, and full of good times and bad. Today marks my 1 year travel anniversary! In that time, I’ve set foot on 4 continents, been to 9 countries and have had incredible experiences along the way- yet if you want to play the numbers game, these measly statistics pale in comparison to some other speedy travellers on their own RTW (round the world) journeys.
I, on the other hand, have spent much of the last year opting for a slower approach and settling in an area for an extended period of time. After a quick 4-day visit to Hong Kong and Macau, I spent the better part of 3 months living and working in Australia’s biggest (and in my opinion, best) city – Sydney. I have said it numerous times; Sydney is the one place in the world that feels like home in my heart. After my working holiday visa ran up in December, I made my way ‘across the ditch’ as the local Aussies and Kiwis say and set up shop living on beautiful 90Mile Beach in Ahipara, New Zealand with one of my best friends in the entire world, the ever wonderful Kate (of CanuckiwiKate fame). Here I have enjoyed a very different lifestyle to the one that I had been used to living in both Markham (my hometown and epitome of upper-middle class suburbia) and in Sydney. For the first time in my life I found myself struggling to find any sort of job that paid and spent four months unemployed. That being said, there are worse ways to spend being unemployed, than living across the road from a world-famous beach. I lapped it up and embraced the laid back lifestyle.
My parents came over to this part of the world for a nice three-week visit and I proudly showed off much of New Zealand’s North Island, as well as my beloved Sydney to them. I cherished the time we got to spend together –even if at the time we did bicker about little things here and there. Once we parted ways, I made my way over to Cape Town, South Africa where I explored the city for a week, gearing up for my 20-day overland tour with Nomad Adventure Tours where I had the honor of being the blogger on tour! When the tour was complete, I tried my hand at voluntourism- and spent 2 ½ weeks at Zimbabwe’s Antelope Park developing and indulging in my passion for animal conservation. I got to work with LIONS! For 16 days I had the absolute pleasure of getting to feel like I was part of something meaningful – the fight to save Africa’s most iconic species from extinction.
After seven glorious and life-changing weeks in Africa I made my way back to Ahipara, New Zealand. My original plans were going to take me down to the South Island – but a series of fortunate events occurred. With the help of a very good friend, I managed to secure myself a 5week job working as a stable hand alongside beautiful purebred Hanoverian horses. Kate and her boyfriend let me know that they were going to be moving into a new flat and asked if I would be interested in renting out the bottom unit of the house – it was an offer that was too good to turn down. I still lived at the beach, had better views, my own space and most importantly – an income to support all this! Since then, I managed to find myself another job, waitressing at one of the few restaurants in a neighboring town.
Distance covered: 30,000km + (I don’t have it down to an exact science, sorry)
Photos taken: 8, 044
Road Trips: 5
Flats lived in: 3
Hostels stayed in: 7
Number of guests I’ve had stay with me: 7
Travel Bloggers met in real life: 11
Bucket List Items crossed off: 9
Hookups/ road romances: a lady doesn’t tell.
Days spent in the hospital: 0
Here are my 12 favorite photos from the last year of travel!
Hong Kong intersection
Waverly Cemetery, Sydney on the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk
Sydney Harbour at night from McMahon’s Point
Christmas Eve 2011 sunset at Lake Ngatu
Skydiving over New Zealand’s Bay of Islands
Road trip with my soul sister, Stephy, in the Coromandel
At Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Gorgeous salmon coloured sunset in Sesriem, Namibia
Elephants along the Chobe River, Botswana
The future of ALERT’s lion conservation efforts at Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabwe
On a lion walk with the picture perfect Lewa while volunteering at Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabwe
So what’s next?
I will be spending the remaining bit of my time on my working holiday here in New Zealand working up here in the Far North – it has become my home for now, and I have so many friends here that I consider to be family. December 2nd I will be in Auckland to have my last hurrah with the lovely Beverley from Pack Your Passport, and together we will go see Bear Grylls do a chat at Auckland’s Vector Arena. December 3rd, I fly from Auckland to Sydney to Honolulu, Hawaii where I will be meeting up with my soul sister, Steph. We will spend 2 fantastic weeks enjoying a Hawaiian lifestyle and I will be frantically working on my tan before I have to endure an ungodly Canadian winter. December 18th I will arrive in Vancouver – a city I’ve always intended on visiting, but have never managed to have more than a night’s layover at the airport. This time I will spend 2 full days exploring the city with my dear friend Gillie and hopefully meeting up with Ellie (a girl from Antelope Park) and Annie from Wayward Traveller. Then December 20th will be the day that my parents have been anticipating since that day back at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in September 2011. Unlike last year’s beach Christmas, I am hoping that Toronto will give me a traditional white Christmas where I will get to spend it with family and other loved ones.
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Don’t fret though, this isn’t the end of The Mellyboo Project – there are heaps of travel plans in the works for 2013 and beyond, including another trip to Africa and getting to attend my first TBEX in Toronto!
In closing, and in full conceded fashion, I want to wish myself a Happy Travel Anniversary! Here’s to an awesome year gone past, and to many more years of traveling and sharing my experiences to hopefully inspire others to go out and live their dreams and their lives on their own terms!