“How does one just drop their life to travel?” That’s the message that greeted me on my phone earlier. And to be completely honest, I can’t really answer. I mean, I did. But what works for me doesn’t necessarily mean that it would work for you. And the reasons I went to travel long term may not be the reason you might choose to. Everyone has their own reasons for it. But the question got me thinking. How, and why, did I give up everything I knew to travel?
Well, it’s not really much of a story at all. I was unhappy. Nothing more to it, really. I was miserable at my job. I was uncomfortable at home. I was starting to resent certain people and I was starting to get envious of what others had that I didn’t. I realized exactly what was happening, but I couldn’t seem to bring myself out of the downward spiral. I decided that I needed a bit of a break.
Destination Japan. I took that break. I went on my dream trip. I spent a whole month in Japan, meeting amazing people (Sierra and Lio I still chat with at least once every couple of weeks), seeing amazing sights, and was happy, truly happy, for the first time in a long time. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it. But as the time to go home drew nearer and nearer the happiness began to morph into dread. I knew, without a doubt in my mind, that I would fall into the exact same situation I was in before. A return to a miserable job, uncomfortable at home, resenting people that had no right being resented, and becoming more and more envious of what I didn’t have. I needed a hard reset.
Remember back in the day playing video games on the original Nintendo Entertainment System? I do. I remember it fondly. Mario isn’t working? Blow on the cartridge and put it back in! About to lose your last life? Hit reset! Essentially that’s what I did. I started formulating plans in my head on how to remain as happy as possible. The solution was so simple! I’m so much happier when I travel, when I experience new things, see new sights, taste new foods! I just needed to keep travelling. But how? And where? Questions that needed answering.
Enter the Working Holiday Visa. Inconveniently, the WHV for most countries don’t allow for anyone over the age of thirty (30) to get one. There are, of course exceptions, but they are few and far between. Luckily for me, New Zealand is one of the few that allows Canadians over 30 to come for work and travel from anywhere between twelve (12) and twenty-three (23) months. And if you so choose, you can get the 12 month visa and apply to extend it to the 23 month visa while in the country (as long as the 12 month visa hasn’t expired, that is). It also just so happens that New Zealand was another country that I’ve wanted to visit for ages!
And so, eighteen (18) hours after my plane landed and I got back from Japan, I applied for my 12 month WHV for New Zealand. But how would people react to the news? I mean, I was excited! But what would friends and loved ones say?
For the most part the reception to the news was very supportive. Of course there were holdouts of doubt and displeasure, but that really wasn’t anything to do with my decision. It was more along the lines of selfishness and jealousy. Selfish because it would make those people happy had I stayed home. Jealousy because I was doing something that they were afraid of doing themselves. But I had made up my mind. I got to the point where I needed to stop worrying about other peoples happiness and focus on my own for a while.
I spent the next four (4) months working and planning for my upcoming move to New Zealand. And I found myself sinking into the exact same ruts that characterized my life prior to leaving for Japan. With one massive difference. I KNEW I was going to break out of those ruts. I had a plan! And though the months dragged on, time slowly began to wind down for my departure date. Eventually it was there and I boarded a plane to the future. Literally, there’s a big time difference between NZ and Alberta. Compared to everyone there, I AM in the future!
I’ve spent the past four (4) months travelling around New Zealand and I’m still in total awe of myself for taking the leap to come. It’s quite liberating, but definitely scary, living without a safety net for myself. Sure it can be stressful and I currently just see my finances slipping through my fingers, but that’s part of the challenge. I can work and make money to fund my way around this beautiful country. But I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.
I’ve seen and done so many things that I wouldn’t otherwise. And I’ve met some absolutely stunning and amazing people from around the world. Many of which have become really good friends, and that’s something that I wouldn’t have gained by staying at home and remaining in my directionless rut.
The Moral of the Story
Coming to New Zealand has been one of, if not the best decision of my life. And I know at least one more person that would agree with that statement. It’s made me a happier version of myself, and to me that makes the journey all the more worth it.
So if you’re considering embarking on the most epic journey of your life but are looking for some form of permission, consider this your O.K. to take a chance. Take a risk. Take the leap of faith and go get lost!