Tag Archives: travel

Should you quit your job to travel?

Should you quit your job and travel_

I’ve been there. Wanderlust eating you alive, from the inside out. Digital nomads and travel bloggers all over the internet urging you to up and go this very instant.

So, should you quit your job to travel? Before you make that leap, there are a few factors to consider first.

Your employment

How career driven are you? How much do you enjoy your job? Could you work remotely?

If you quit your job to travel, would you get rusty being out of the game? How could you stay sharp or pick up new skills? How might a resume gap look (in some industries nobody will even blink, in others it could be a big deal)?

What will you do when you get back? Be honest: how employable are you really?

In my case I had learned a lot from my job and was prepared to quit outright if I had to. I was confident my resume was strong enough that I wouldn’t be out of work for too long.

But I was also a valuable team member and was able to negotiate an extended leave, meaning I had the security of a good job to come back to. I wasn’t miserable by any means; but my itch to travel was no longer containable.

Also see: How to Take A Career Break to Travel, by Alexis Grant

Your housing situation

Say you do decide to quit your job and travel. What will you do about your home? Rent it out/sublet it? (And what if something goes wrong while you’re away?) Give up your lease? Sell it?

Where will you stay when you get back? How hard will it be to find a new place then?

For me it was an easy choice. Our rental was a typical NZ rental – damp, freezing and unhealthy. I wasn’t going to miss it.

Your current obligations

Do you have pets? Dependants? Family members who rely on you? Any other commitments tying you down? If so how might you manage these from afar?

Your finances

Put simply, can you afford it? How much will you need for your trip? (It all depends on your destinations and travel style.) Will you need it all upfront or do you have a plan to earn money while travelling? Do you have debt repayments, etc to keep up with while away? Are there bills and subscriptions that you can suspend or cancel? How much will you need when you get back – to settle in, cover you while job hunting, secure a home, etc?

Also see: How we travelled the world without going into debt

Enjoying the ride

Will you actually like travelling continuously? A long term trip is not like a brief holiday. Extended travel has very little in common with your typical getaway of a few days or weeks. (There’s a reason lots of big name travel bloggers have now set up a home base somewhere!) Be sure to plan to leave some rest days in your itinerary – even perpetual travellers need weekends 😉


What if you realise you can’t tolerate going back to your old life?

You don’t necessarily need an answer to that now. It may or may not happen. But I’m a big believer in plans. So give it some thought along the way – just in case you fall in love with a new city or country, or decide you want to be a self employed free spirit.

How to explore the US on a budget

How to travel the USA on a budget

My passport recently expired, and I’ve got no travel plans on the horizon any time soon. Just a long list of DIY house and decor projects to tackle (the closest thing to it will be getting travel photos printed and travel footage organised over the winter)!

I suspect my next trip though – whenever that might be – will be back to the US. There’s more competition on routes now and airfares are dropping, which is exciting. And once we’re actually over there it’s not terribly hard to travel on a budget.

Getting around the US

I’d love to do another road trip. We travelled around almost entirely by car (minus a cheap bus trip from NYC to DC) and it was super comfortable, convenient, and frugal. Petrol is practically free compared to the prices we pay here, and we managed to rent a car for just over $40 a day, including insurance. I recommend starting your search with CarHirePlanet. If I was travelling solo, I’d look at joining a tour group with the likes of Grand American Adventures.

Figuring out where to stay

In some big cities there’s just no getting around it – you will be paying out the nose for a place to lay your head. But between Airbnb and Booking.com (plus many generous blog friends who opened their doors to us) we managed to find accommodation for around $50 a night on average.

We moved around on a loose schedule, usually booking at the last minute (the only place this backfired was Boston, where even cheap motels were over $100). If you’re up for it, consider caravan parks, campgrounds and homestays too.

Seeing the sights

Planning ahead is the key here.

If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in national parks (and there are so many! Some of my favourite spots were definitely National Park material) it might be worthwhile to invest in an unlimited annual pass.

If you’re more of a big city person like me, major centres often have a lot of free attractions; and of the ones that aren’t, many have specific hours or days where you can get in for free. And if you’ve got a lot to pack into a short time span, then the CityPass may be for you – definitely one for travellers with more money than time.

Daydreams and wanderlust

Wanderlust (or bust)

I’ve been finding myself daydreaming a lot about escaping to the other side of the world – the Americas in particular.

There’s the Galapagos Islands, with their incredible wildlife.

There’s Bolivia, with its otherworldly, eerie salt flats.

There’s Cuba, with intensely colourful architecture and history in Havana and beyond.

But I think it might be North America I especially want to return to. There have been so many great deals on flights of late and they’re bound to get better – Air NZ now flies to the south as well (Houston) and American Airlines is due to enter the fray this year. I’d love to do another road trip across the US. Returning to New York, of course, to explore more boroughs and gorge on deli sandwiches. Heading down through the southeast, and then zigging up to the Pacific Northwest to see Portland, Seattle, maybe even up to Vancouver. (Yeah, it’d be a loooong leisurely trip.)

At least dreams are free.

What travel destinations are you dreaming of lately?

Foodie Friday: Japanese indulgence

Light and fresh are the two words I’d pick to sum up Japanese cuisine. While it took a day or so to adjust, the food definitely agreed with me. I grew up on a diet of rice, and to this date my stomach still does best with Asian food – I have trouble digesting heavier meals.

Also, impeccable? Someone on the Japanese food subreddit commented that while they’d encountered some food that wasn’t up their alley, they’d never had a bad meal there – and I couldn’t agree more.

Udon noodles in Tokyo - NZ MuseI’ll never get tired of udon and tempura.

Burnt ramen noodles at Gogyo restaurant Kyoto- NZ Muse

You definitely wouldn’t want to eat burnt ramen too often, but it’s certainly something special.

Champon noodles in Tokyo - NZ Muse

Stumbled across champon noodles, which turned out to be his new favourite dish.

Sushi in Kyoto - NZ Muse

Sushi (say no more). Lean red tuna, get in my belly. The miso that came with this particular meal was mind blowing – the most complex and subtle I’ve ever had. Like with Vietnamese pho, I doubt we’ll ever find that here at home.

5 things you really, truly must do in Tokyo

Sumo stadium 2015 - Tokyo must do

Although we briefly visited Kyoto – and swung through Osaka for lunch – most of our week in Japan was spent in the big smoke of Tokyo. Spoiler: I LOVE it. (I feel this way about most global cities, to be fair.) Here are a few things that stood out.

Stay in a ryokan

A must do in Tokyo: Stay in a ryokan
The whole guesthouse experience is just so unique, from the sliding doors to the tatami mats and the baths. It was an incredible introduction to Japan. Also: Sleeping on the floor is amazingly comfortable.

Order food via a ramen machine

Ramen machine for ordering food in Tokyo

Need I say more?! Didn’t think so.

Go shopping

Uniqlo cardigan haul from Japan

Everything is SO cheap compared to home. I’m madly in love with the merino cardigans I got at Uniqlo for practically nothing.

Also, as an Asian person, shopping in an Asian country makes so much difference, be it bras for the flat-chested or glasses for the flat-faced (you know how the plastic frames that are hot right now have only tiny inbuilt nubs designed to perch on high nose bridges, rather than traditional nose pads?! I found some with extra-big ridges).

Visit a park

Just some sake barrels in the park, enroute to Meiji Shrine
Every city needs green spaces, and Tokyo does them well. Ueno Park brought to mind San Diego’s Balboa Park, crammed with attractions (a highlight were the turtles in a pond!) and at Meiji Shrine, we saw an elaborately dressed bride getting wedding photos taken.

See a sumo match

Sumo wrestlers - Tokyo 2015

As it turns out, we were in town for the very start of the autumn sumo tournament. I wasn’t sold on the idea of shelling out for sumo tickets (and didn’t want to gamble on queuing up on the morning of the match) but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. The bouts are short so the pace doesn’t flag, the atmosphere surprisingly lively and the rituals fascinating. And we got to see one match that was clearly a bit of an upset! We also saw some of the wrestlers before and after, as people lined the pavement outside like a red carpet to watch them come and go. What  a way to end our last full day.

8 things that surprised me in Japan

8 things that surprised me in Japan

Roughly in order of occurrence:

They eat lotus root!

This is a food I remember fondly from childhood. I guess I always presumed it was a Chinese thing. We’d have it in this rather plain, watery, chicken type soup. (Yeah, not very exciting – the lotus was basically the only part I enjoyed.) In Japan, we were served lotus root at breakfast, and alongside sushi one night.

The quiet is real

And the courtesy signs/warnings on public transport, incessant. No loud, obnoxious, inappropriate phone conversations on trains around here, thank you.

The only place that was remotely rowdy (bearing in mind we’re not drinkers and didn’t do anything remotely night-lifey, ha) was a little ramen restaurant we stumbled into – it was noisy in the way Gina’s Italian Kitchen in Auckland is.

So is the cute factor

Particularly when it comes to roadworks/construction. The billboards I expected, but these little surprises were next level.

Food isn’t just divine, it’s affordable

We ate well in Japan, and yet most meals clocked in about NZ$20 or sometimes less for both of us. That just wouldn’t happen at home.

The toilets are like nothing else

I was prepared for bidets. I was NOT prepared for heated seats and buttons in the wall you can push to lower the lid – so you don’t need to touch the toilet itself. GENIUS.

Everyone’s so well groomed

I was a slobby heffalump in comparison. No surprise.

Umbrella stands everywhere!

So, it was pouring buckets when we arrived in Tokyo. The first things we bought at a 7-11 were two white umbrellas. It wasn’t long before we realised practically every building has an umbrella stand at the entrance. Heck, at our last hotel, there were secure slots for individual brollies, with a lock for each one.

It’s really family friendly

For example: specific diaper disposal and diaper change table in the bathrooms aboard trains. Stroller service at the sumo stadium. High chair attached to the wall in a public toilet, presumably so mum can have a moment to relieve herself.

Just a few random thoughts. More of a debrief to come next week!

Wednesday Wanderlust: Places I’d rather be…

What I REALLY would love right now is to get away and be spoiled, somewhere luxurious like…

Minaret Station

Much as I love the city, I also really need space around me (hence, living in the burbs). I quite like the sound of escaping into the Southern Alps to a chalet accessible only by helicopter.

eagle's nest

Eagle’s Nest

Russell is a sweet little spot in the Bay of Islands and Eagle’s Nest is probably the ultimate place to stay. Infinity pool, Jacuzzi, personal chefs and spa therapists – yes please.

the farm at cape kidnappers

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Hawke’s Bay is one region I haven’t really explored (but would like to). As well as all the usual luxuries, I love the sound of the amazing food – straight from the veggie garden, inhouse pastry chef and local meat and seafood.

When was your last holiday?

#BlogGreatness: Counting down to Japan

By: Moyan Brenn

One month (God willing) until we leave for Japan!

I am desperately in need of some R&R. To be honest, it’s probably going to be a pretty full-on trip.

We are there for a week – the plan is to spend most of it in Tokyo, but also get away for an overnight trip to Kyoto and Osaka. (Because fooooood.)

I’ve already built a Google food map, so I’ve got a fair few places to look for – while also leaving room to explore and discover random gems along the way. Nothing worse than the frustration of spending ages hunting for a restaurant, particularly if it winds up being fruitless.

What I DO need advice on is the following!

Phones – sim cards/wifi and data

Should we get a pocket wifi doohickey? Or look into a sim card with data? I am positive we’ll want to be able to get online in Japan to look things up and get directions. Remember we’re in NZ and roaming charges on our own telcos are exorbitant.

Sumo tickets

We’re hoping to catch a sumo match (or at least, T is). Tickets go on sale next week, so fingers crossed! That will determine our final itinerary. I’m leaning towards buying normal chair seats, which I think will be not only cheaper but more comfortable for us. He’s far too large to enjoy the traditional box seats, I suspect. And yes, we could line up for cheap tickets on the morning of the match … but time is the more precious commodity on this trip. Anyone care to comment on box vs chair seating?


One non-food thing on the agenda is staying in a ryokan. Originally I thought we’d do this in Kyoto but I’ve got a recommendation for one in Tokyo that sounds pretty good. Thoughts?

Top free things to do around New Zealand

It’s true: New Zealand can be an expensive place to visit. But there are definitely some free natural attractions to add to your itinerary. Here’s 9 free things to do/sights to see that I can vouch for.

Tane Mahuta, lord of the Waipoua Forest in Northland, NZ - NZ Muse


See Tāne Mahuta, our largest living kauri tree

It’s just a short walk through the Waipoua Forest to Tāne Mahuta, aka, Lord of the Forest. Stick to the walking tracks; the environment is delicate.

It’s free to visit; that said, the Footprints Waipoua tour is quite amazing, with Māori guides sharing songs, stories and insights.
Mt Eden summit crater - Climb a volcano!


Climb a volcanic cone

You can absolutely take your pick, but Mt Eden is a popular one close to the CBD, complete with panoramic views and a neat crater at the summit.

Cathedral Cove - a must-visit in the Coromandel


Cathedral Cove

Magical is the only word to describe this beach. It’s a bit of a hike to get to Cathedral Cove, but more than worth it.

And a little further down the Coromandel coastline lies Hot Water Beach. At low tide you can dig your own hot water spa pool in the sand. But get there early and stake out your patch. Maybe bring a gang.

Huka Falls
By: Rick Rowland


Huka Falls

The Huka Falls are our most-visited natural attraction. The roar and spectacle of the thundering waterfalls are just spectacular.

Te Papa Tongarewa - National Museum of NZ in Wellington
By: Jodie Wilson


Te Papa

Our national museum is an absolute must-see, and entry is free. DO IT.

Milford Road State Highway 94
By: macronix


Milford Rd/Milford Sound

The Milford Rd leading into Milford Sound is just bursting with amazing sights around every corner. Waterfalls, the Homer Tunnel, the Mirror Lakes, the Chasm … the journey itself really is half the pleasure.

That said, you really need to take a cruise to see the best of Milford Sound (or a scenic flight, perhaps?), otherwise you’re just chilling at the end of a really long dead end, picturesque as it is. More on that part of our South Island road trip.

Pancake rocks at Punakaiki - NZ Muse

West Coast


At high tide, the ocean sprays up through blowholes at the ‘Pancake Rocks’. There’s a lovely cafe across the road, too. Then drive north along the Great Coast Road; the stretch between Westport and Greymouth has been voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet. More on that part of our South Island road trip.

The "Nuggets" at Nugget Point
By: Will Ellis


Nugget Point

Around Nugget Point you can spot yellow eyed penguins if you time it right. Plus, the coastline is magnificent. More on that part of our South Island trip.


Baldwin St Dunedin
By: Stine Homann


Baldwin St

Said to be the world’s steepest street, the sheer angle of Baldwin St is a bit mind-boggling.

Introducing: The Blue Spring/Te Waihou (aka I live in paradise)

I had no idea this place even existed until recently. Know how I found out about it? Instagram! All in the name of work, of course.

Near the Waikato town of Putaruru, the Blue Spring is so ridiculously pure it supplies the majority of New Zealand’s bottled water. Photos don’t do the blue, clear water justice.

This was a quick stop for us on the way to Taupo so we parked at the Leslie Rd carpark to make it a 10 minute walk to the stream. (There’s another track from Whites Rd to the downstream part, which apparently takes 90 minutes to walk.)

Blue Spring Te Waihou near Putaruru

Blue Spring Te Waihou near Putaruru

Blue Spring Te Waihou near Putaruru

Blue Spring Te Waihou NZ near Putaruru