So, I just got back from what was possibly the most life-changing experience I’ve had to date: a two-week road trip around the Mother Land with… my Mother.
But first I want to rewind back to the week or so prior to departure.
Tuesday, 23 June, 2014 – 2.03pm
Fed up with the shitty existence that is life in dreary, dead-beat Invercargill, I rocked into work (where I worked as an English tuition assistant) and found my boss adjusting the magnetic timetable in the very confined staffroom/kitchen/printing area. I thought to myself, “fuck it”, and awkwardly blurted out without thought, “can I talk to you about something?” She knew. I explained to her that I was frustrated with life in Invercargill, or lack-thereof and that I needed to leave my job in pursuit of *more happiness (excuse the cheesy Will Smith film/Kid Cudi song reference).
*I wasn’t inherently miserable and definitely was not chasing happiness thinking I would find it in another person, job, city or material experience. I was, and still am, happy in myself, with myself and all the aspects of me. I just wanted move to a place where things were happening and moving forward, where opportunity was ever-present, where people were happy, inspired and abundant, where the skies were blue, and where there was generally just more happiness.
Same day, roughly 7.47pm that evening.
I told my Mum what I had done over a $2 bag of Herbert Street chips and a butty. She was in full favour of my decision, agreeing that I wasn’t going to reach my full potential in any aspect of my life here. Mum, who had been going through a particularly challenging time re: her relationship and who was equally as fed up with life in Invers said, “should we take Blue (what we call our 1998 blue VW Golf) on a two-week road trip around New Zealand?” With a mouth full of bread, chips and sauce I nodded and managed a muttered, “shit yes!” It was a little unexpected, but the best things in life often are! Mum needed a holiday/break/to find herself and to be quite honest, I was the same.
Not much was said about it after that until the morning of my friend’s wedding when I reminded Mum to pick me up in Queenstown the next day around 10.00am. And to bring water and panadol because I was going to be horrendously hungover.
Now that the story telling is out of the way, I just want to share some of the awfully cliched but positively invaluable lessons I learned over my two-weeks on the road. And also, some general road tripping tips.
NB: the following is not intended to sound like an excerpt from an amateur self-help book.
- It’s okay to not know - Part of the reason I took you back to the week and a bit prior to leaving was because I wanted to put everything into context for you. I quit my job without the security of having another one to walk into. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, in fact I still don’t, but it’s so much more fun that way because when you don’t have any set plans, you’re far more likely to say ‘yes’, thus open to the endless possibilities and opportunities that will present themselves. What I’m saying is, if you want to travel, explore your options (of which you have infinite), try something new or move away, don’t be scared to take a risk. If you’ve got the right mindset, it always works out for the best anyway!
- You don’t need a plan – You don’t! Whatever needs organised or booked or reserved for a road trip, we hadn’t organised, booked, or reserved it. Trust the process of life and know that you will be taken care of. We did and we were. There will always be somewhere to stay and something to eat so stop looking at your timetable and watching the clock and fucking enjoy yourself. You spend enough time slaving away to meet deadlines at work. Go with the flow of life and keep on rolling under the stars. Embrace the freedom and do what you want whenever you want. You will feel so fucking liberated and refreshed you won’t want to go back to meeting deadlines at work. Note: this is a good thing in my opinion.
- Live in the moment – Simple as that. The past is history and the future isn’t here yet. Stop worrying about what has been or what may be and start enjoying what is. As soon as you find yourself thinking about anything that isn’t this moment, redirect your thoughts to where you are right now and what you’re doing and enjoy it.
- Don’t take life so seriously – Or yourself for that matter! No one gets out alive so you might as well just laugh that shit off. Whether your car gets towed or your haircut looks nothing like the photo you took in – what’s done is done, you can’t change it so you might as well laugh at it. I’m pretty sure your life will be better for it.
- A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything – Enough said really. Tell me a time you were angry, stressed, disappointed, hurt or worried when a good night’s sleep and/or a deep belly laugh so hard you cried didn’t make you feel better. Go on.
- Don’t settle – I should actually write a full blog post about this one but for now I will leave you with this: Don’t settle for anything less than the best. Believe you deserve it and believe you can have it and you will. It’s as simple as that. Remember: the only difference between you and the people you see who have everything they want is that they were bold enough to believe to they could have it.
- Life is meant to be FUN – What is the fucking point of life if you’re nothing having fun with it!?!? Please, someone tell me! Because I’m even seeing people my age living their life like they’re just paying bills until they die. I’m going to write a full blog post about this too because there is nothing I am more passionate about than the belief that life is supposed to be fun. Keep coming back to keep an eye out for blog posts on 5 and 6!
- Love yourself first – Fortunately, and without sounding conceited, I just do. Not in vanity or pride, but rather in that I have made peace with who I am, I accept everything there is about me and I just think I’m actually pretty awesome. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Nevertheless, self-love is integral to having a good life. And if you don’t like the term self-love, let’s call it confidence. When you love yourself, or are confident, you’re more open to opportunities, you’re more assertive in that you know exactly what you want and what you like, you will attract more loving and genuine friendships with other’s because you’re strong enough to tell anyone who’s mistreating you to get fucked because you know your worth, you’ll land yourself a babin’ BF, or GF if you’re that way inclined, who loves you to bits and with whom you build a strong relationship because rather than compensating for your lack, they compliment your whole. Clearly, this is something I could talk a lot about too. Let me know if you would like a full post on this topic and tips on how you can work towards self-love.
- Road trip playlist – Create one. There’s nothing like flying down the open road with the speakers blasting and you singing your ass off to your favourite anthem. I realise I just created the cheesiest, Crossroads-esque image in your mind but you know it’s true. Check out my Road Trip playlist on Spotify if you’re stuck for ideas!
- Camera – iPhone cameras are okay, but if you can get your hands on a proper camera with all the bells and whistles, take it. A GoPro could actually be a really cool idea, too!
- Car charger – I hadn’t thought about one of these bad boys until I hit the road and I have no idea why I was so late on it! The car phone charger alone changed my life.
- Google Maps – Download it. When you’re struggling to navigate a new city, big or small, Siri will get you out of the stickiest situations and get you on the quickest route.
- Pack comfortable clothes – Chances are you’ll be doing a lot of driving. Apart from when we went shopping in the bigger cities, I lived in leggings, an oversized jumper of some description, a scarf, beanie and ugg boots. Something a lot like this, actually. NB: it is winter in New Zealand at the moment.
- Take a good book – Something I wish I had done. Internet was a bit scarce and when we didn’t have any or weren’t given much at our accommodation, a good book would have gone down a treat. I can’t read when driving or else I’ll get car-sick, but for those of you who can it would be a nice alternative to music, too.
- A notebook – Journal, diary, whatever! There’s nothing quite like the novelty of jotting down your thoughts overlooking the spectacle of the Southern Alps at sunrise. Or whatever pensive views you might come across on your travels.
- Stop off at viewing spots – I am guilty of flying past viewing spots because I didn’t want to stop off only to get stuck behind the line of heavy vehicles I just finished passing. Even if it is your home country, on a road trip you are a tourist too. So, if pulling over means you can get a Instagram worthy photo you can upload to show off how much you’re #lovinglife, pull the fuck over and take in the view.
- Check the weather – Check for weather warnings/road closes (you can do this on MetService.com if you’re in New Zealand) because you really don’t want to drive for three hours to find the highway you’re on has been closed off due to severe weather like floods or slips.
- Take it all in – The sights, the sounds, the smells, everything! This could be the last road trip you take for a while so e n j o y it. Even if you get to a town/city that wasn’t quite what you were hoping for, still try to make the most of it. Look at it this way, you weren’t going to know if you didn’t go, right?