Always Fill Up!

The big day had arrived. It was time to leave my home for the past eight months – Auckland – and disappear south on a major road trip.

New Zealand is known for its majestic landscapes and I couldn’t wait to see the mountains and glaciers I was promised by the guide books.

Of course,  Mount Doom (aka Mount Ngauruhoe) from Lord of the Rings was top of my ‘to do’ list.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was just a four hour drive away and not only could we look at the legendary volcano, the option was there to actually climb it.

To say I was excited is an understatement.

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Ready to hit the road

We filled up on essentials for the road trip. Like, coffee, some sweets, crisps. A weird granola, yoghurt concoction thingy. All the very important things.

Oh, and of course, we did get some petrol too. Some.

Because it was only a four hour drive to the crossing, we knew we could take our time and that there would be plenty of petrol stations along the main roads. No dramas.

So off we went on our merry little way. Tunes blasting out of the radio, we were hanging out of the car windows acting like hyperactive children. Pulling over every five minutes to take photos of a particularly good-looking hill that we had just seen from a new angle.

The closer we got to Mt Tongariro, the more excitable we became. We just wanted to be there! We wanted to set up our tents and try out our little gas burner we’d bought to warm up some delicious, nutritious instant noodles. We were hardcore campers.

Spotting a supermarket, we pulled in to collect some more essentials. Coffee, more sweets,  more crisps.

“Do we need any more petrol?”

“Na, I reckon we can make it. We’re so close now,”

Famous last words.

20 minutes had passed and we saw the little red light appear.

“Shall we turn around and head back?”

“Nah, there’ll be another petrol station soon,”

Our optimism was crushed when another 20 minutes had passed and there was still no sign of a petrol station.

We became pretty desperate. We had gone too far to turn back so our only option was keep going.

We approached a tractor chugging down the road in the same direction but we were too scared to stop the car in case we couldn’t get it started again.

It was beginning to get dark and we needed to be at our camp that evening as our trek was due to begin at 5.00am the next morning. We simply couldn’t afford to spend a night in the car. And there was absolutely no way I was missing our Mount Doom adventure. No way.

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Help.. 

We made some signs with the hope of catching the tractor drivers attention. He pulled over and signalled for us to do the same.

What a spot of luck! We thought we were saved. He could give us some petrol or he would tell us that there is a petrol station one mile down the road.

Err, nope.

He had no spare petrol and was unsure of where the nearest petrol station was.

We were really glad he had pulled us over to tell us that.. Really grateful.

Luckily, the car did start again.

We sat in silence for about 10 minutes. I was waiting for the engine to start making a funny noise or for the car to start shaking. It was surely running on the last of its fumes.

And that was when we saw it.

A road sign with a little petrol station symbol. Second exit at the roundabout.

We literally squealed with excitement!

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We swung into the petrol station and filled up so vigorously, we’re lucky we didn’t end up covered in the stuff. We also bought a jerry can to fill up. You know, just in case.

How on earth we had managed to drive so far with the red light flashing, still baffles me today.

But we made it. Someone up there was definitely looking out for us that day.

So remember, if in doubt, just fill it up. It’s really not worth the stress!

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Travelling: Is solo a no-no?

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The Remarkables, Queenstown –  New Zealand

Today,  we are bombarded with reports of rapes, murders and back-packing horror stories in the media. Tragic accidents, thefts and people being conned. Not to mention all the movies to put us off exploring the globe. Hostel, Wolf Creek.. The Hills Have Eyes! Eek!

It’s not only enough to make you not want to leave the country, but also enough to persuade you to lock yourself in your room and never come out! It’s understandable why so many people are not comfortable with the thought of travelling solo.

But, from experience, as long as you’re sensible and keep your wits about you, solo travelling can open up a world of opportunities. Just because you leave on your own, doesn’t mean you’ll be alone for long.  You shouldn’t underestimate how many people you’ll meet on your travels and how they’ll affect your trip.

I have travelled alone and I have travelled with friends. For me, neither one was more advantageous. You don’t always need your best bud there to lean on.

Luckily for me, I am blessed to have a best friend who, coincidentally, wanted to uproot and venture around the world the exact same time that I did.

solo or nono

 

In fact, I distinctly remember a phone call from her when I was at work convincing me to be brave and ‘just do it!’ So really, I have her to thank for giving me that little nudge I needed to finally grow some balls and head on out in to the big, wide world.

But if you don’t have someone to go with, and you’re contemplating going solo, here are some points as to why it’s ok to go it alone.

Other Travellers

We’re all in this together. People are a huge factor when it comes to what makes back-packing so great. You may have your trusty travel guide to hand, but these people were literally just there! They can offer advice, tell you stories and sometimes even get you a good deal on a place to stay.

Not only can you benefit from their knowledge,  you could gain a friend. Sometimes you’ll change all your plans so you can head off somewhere for a week with a new buddy. Be open to new experiences and go with the flow.

You can be selfish

You have absolutely no one to think about, but yourself. If you want to go for an early dinner, do it. If you want to lie on the beach all day, go ahead. If you want to get a bus to the other side of the country (just because you feel like it), you have no one there to run it past.

My best friend and I are like two peas in a pod. We were fortunate enough to pretty much agree on every decision we made whilst we were away. About 2 months in, we were in Melbourne and not particularly enjoying ourselves. It wasn’t for any particular reason, but I could feel how restless we were becoming. After one quick chat, we were on the phone, booking flights to Vietnam.

I always think back to that and wonder what would have happened if one of us had wanted to stay! Awkward..

Rediscover yourself

Leaving work or uni to travel, is a long road of rediscovery. At home, we are often enslaved by our responsibilities, friends and family. How often do you have time to sit and really think about who you are?

Travelling alone allows you to get back to basics and think about the good old ‘me, myself and I.’ You’ll discover dreams you never knew you had and you’ll become painfully independent. You’ll have only yourself to rely on and that builds character.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll arrive back home thinking ‘I did that all on my own. And I didn’t die. I’m unstoppable!’

There is no one in the world you have more in common with than YOU! So, go on. Take yourself on holiday. You deserve it.

Become friendlier, confident and more open-minded

It’s easy, when travelling with a friend, to just stick to yourselves and not interact with others. When you’re on your own, you are forced to meet new people. Especially if you don’t want to eat alone every night.

I always considered myself quite out-going on the surface, but underneath it all, I was actually quite shy. I used to hate even going to a shop on my own.

But now, I’d happily go out for a meal or to the cinema by myself.

Travelling on your own is a great way to drag yourself out of your shell, and quite often, out of your comfort zone. And my word, does it feel great!

-M