Author Topic: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?  (Read 1632 times)

Benpercent

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Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« on: January 14, 2019, 03:34:41 PM »
After seven years of just dreaming about it, I'll finally be going to New Zealand this year, probably in November so it's around their spring-summertime. I'll be going alone, and I plan on spending a week or two simply taking a road trip to explore the country, landing in Auckland first.

What kind of research and contemplation do I need to do to prepare myself for the experience so that I can make the most of it and get around?

This is a radically new endeavor for me, and I don't know where to start.

I mean, I can figure out by myself how to get my passport (which I'm working on), buying the plane ticket, and such. I'm just confused as to what to do once I get there.

Mainly, I'm concerned with setting up a loose itinerary so I make the most of my time there -- I want to go hiking and do whatever is culturally distinct to New Zealand -- keep costs down, and end up at the right airport for the flight home (given I'll be driving far, far away from Auckland).

LifeHappens

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 04:38:49 PM »
I suggest getting an International Driver's License. This will make renting and driving cars in other countries much easier. AAA issues them.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 04:43:57 PM »
I'm not sure where you live but I assume that it will be a very long journey to NZ so you need to build in some time to get over the jetlag and flight.  One week is insane unless you, say, live in Australia. 2 weeks might be ok but 3 would be better.

teltic

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 04:50:39 PM »
Hello!  I just did a 3 week solo trip in Australia & New Zealand!

My thoughts are:

Watch a bunch of youtube videos of "What to do in Auckland" (or whatever city you plan to visit).  Easiest way to find out want and don't want to do.  I had a big list of things I'd like to do, and bunched them up so I could knock out ~5-7 cool things that are close in proximity.  I didn't decide what exact days I wanted to do any of this... But whenever I had down time, I referenced that list!


Hostels are the bomb, yo.  I paid about $20 a night, which leads you to a huge goup of other solo travelers as well.  In Melbourne, I went with a bunch of strangers from the hostel to a comedy club.  It was one of my most memerable nights of the trip... Just imagine ~6-7 people from all over the world (Hong Kong, Sweden, US, German, and some Kiwis) drinking beers and listening to comedy, for free! (they all found out about this event via the meetup app).


If I could go back, I'd rent a car and drive around the island.  There's a bunch of solo backpacker facebook groups you can join, and theres tons of people asking to split the cost of renting a car and gas.  Lots of RVs, too. 

Take a look at Queenstown.  I did Queenstown & Auckland when I went to New Zealand... I wish I spent all my time in Queenstown (although it is very touristy, which means lots of $$$ activities...)


I spent ~$100 NZD per day on my trip... Usually 1 paid activity, 1 restaurant meal (hostels usually have free breakfast... Load up!!), and a beer or two from the grocery store (I'd rather drink at the hostel meeting travelers, than drink at bars meeting travelers... $$$$). 

Enjoy!

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2019, 05:06:52 PM »
I traveled alone to New Zealand in 2017 and it was great.  Most major towns have hostels and they are affordable.  I choose to stay in private rooms in hostels and mostly spent less than $50 a night.  (bunks were likely under $30USD)  Grocery shop for breakfast is a must.  When I went the exchange rate was great so a $10 NZD sandwich was a more reasonable $7USD.   I booked hostels and hotels through booking, hotels.com, hostel world and a few airbnb's.  I preferred to look for a smaller hostels. 

If you want to do any of the great walks book now the Milford sound might be full already.

If you have a car you can also camp pretty easy.  An international drivers license is unnecessary.

ETA:  I hiked the Tongariro Great Walk, and my favorite hostel as the Funky Green Voyager in Rotorua.

I'd second to make sure to take some tours I found them to be worth the price.

 

« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 05:12:51 PM by Fomerly known as something »

AMandM

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 05:10:20 PM »
What exactly were you dreaming about during those seven years?  I'd start by figuring out how to make those dreams come true.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2019, 01:39:55 AM »
If you're really not confident about getting yourself round the country and doing interesting things, have you considered joining an organised bus tour - this one seemed to be very popular with young solo backpackers last time I was in NZ -  https://www.kiwiexperience.com/

At the very least browsing their website will give you some good ideas about where to go. Or get the Lonely Planet guidebook and start planning. It's probably the easiest country in the world to travel in.

imolina

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2019, 03:25:16 AM »
We went about 8 years ago and did not want to drive, so use the kiwi bus but there may more busses now, it was a bit expensive but driving may be tiring.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2019, 05:24:13 AM »
Hi

I have been to New Zealand on an 11-day road trip before. I travelled with a friend. Here are some suggestions:

1 - The South Island is what I would recommend you spend more time on. It is absolutely gorgeous, with stunning scenery everywhere. In particular, the Queenstown/Lake Tekapo/Lake Wanaka areas are lovely, even if you donít like adventure tourism.

2 - If you do like adventure tourism, avoid the really crowded/touristy ones (e.g. Queenstown Shotover Raft) - I found these poor value. Look up reviews online.

3 - New Zealand is an easy country to drive - long straight roads with no traffic - but it is a large country and youíll be driving 2, 3, 4 hours from one place to another. Pace yourself, especially as you wonít have a co-driver.

4 - The wine in New Zealand is great!

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2019, 06:09:31 AM »
In that amount of time, you should decide whether you want to focus on the north island or the south island, because that is not much time! We flew into Auckland, spent a few days there to acclimate, and then flew to Christchurch on the south island.  To me, one of the best things about NZ is that you can camp anywhere! This means much less planning is required (assuming you plan to camp or camper van, which is what we did). We just drove around, doing hikes everyday in gorgeous locations, and exploring towns and cities when we came to them. I think we were there for 3 weeks? We had a loose itinerary of what we wanted to see (2 day hike in Abel Tasman along the sea - highly recommended, you can see glow worms!), see a glacier, see penguins, visit Milford/Doubtful sound, go up into the mountains, hit up the wine countries, but other than that, we were very flexible. Also, we weren't interested in the adventure tourism of Queenstown.

So maybe do some research and get an idea of:
A) what island
B) what highlights you want to see
C) your accommodation plan - camping, camper van, hostels, B&Bs, airbnb, etc, and decide if the time you are going warrants booking things or playing it by ear (if it is not high season you may be fine to just find things)
D) craft yourself a loose itinerary that doesn't require too much driving each day and allows you to hit the major must sees but also allows you to explore as you go.

cap396

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2019, 07:00:49 AM »
Or get the Lonely Planet guidebook and start planning.

This.  I'd recommend buying the Lonely Planet book.  The info in the book is sometimes out-of-date, but I think it's easier than searching a million websites because everything you need to know for planning is all in one place. 

New Zealand is a fabulous country with fabulous people.  You'll have a great trip.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2019, 01:27:04 PM »
Iíll echo going to Auckland for a couple days, then go to the South Island. Give yourself 2 weeks.  We rented a camper van and drove from Christchurch to Nelson (stopping at the hot springs) to Fox Glacier to Wannaka to Queenstown and Milford Sound and then back to Christchurch. Great trip.

Hereís some tips: make sure you have any required visas to enter; if you see animals on the road in front of you, keep, driving, donít swerve to avoid, youíll wreck; car rental and hotel, just as good as campervan; do your internet research and plan your trip, youíll get the most out of it; and, enjoy. NZ has so much to offer.

flyingaway

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2019, 05:44:24 PM »
International Driver's License is just a translation of your driver's license into 4 languages. If you rent cars in an English speaking country, it is really unnecessary.
In most countries, the rental car companies do not need an international driver's license. It is mainly for the police if you are stopped on the road for some reason.

draco44

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2019, 08:19:37 PM »
Enjoy your trip!

For what it's worth, I had a big New Zealand trip back in 2005, and the single coolest thing I did was black water rafting through the glowworm caves of Waitomo (there's abseiling opportunities nearby too). I also loved seeing all of the New Zealand birds at the Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs, hiking the Franz Josef Glacier, and seeing the national museum (Te Papa) in Auckland.

General thoughts:
- The hostels in New Zealand struck me as unusually nice.
- Read up on the Maori before you go to better appreciate New Zealand's history.
- Manuka honey is a good souvenir, as are gloves/scarves made from a possum hair and wool blend. Possums are horribly invasive to New Zealand and eat all the native birds, and have shockingly soft fur.
- Hokey pokey ice cream is tasty.
- If you like the Lord of the Rings, you can visit the jewelry shop in Nelson that made all of the rings from the movies.  At least when I visited, they let you hold a really big version of the ring used for close-up shots.

Faramir

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2019, 12:43:57 AM »
Lots of good advice so far. 

If you're limited to under 2 weeks you can't do it all, so I'd suggest the South Island rather than North Island for more dramatic scenery.  Don't spend much time in Auckland, as far as cities of the world it's not that impressive (I'm from North Island just south of Auckland).  However, for Maori culture, the North Island is better, especially Rotorua.

If you want to do the South Island then fly domestically from Auckland to Nelson or Christchurch or Queenstown by Jetstar or Air NZ and hire a car from there.  There is no need to get an international drivers' licence.  If you want to rent a car you can sometimes get free relocation deals if taking a car from one place to another: https://www.transfercar.co.nz/

Hostels are usually very good, buy some beer or wine from the supermarket as NZ bars are very expensive comparatively.  Take your passport to buy alcohol as supermarkets/liquor stores are very strict on ID (my partner is 39 and she still gets ID'd occasionally); they don't accept foreign driver licence as ID. 

For discounted touristy things try https://www.bookme.co.nz/ and check a few weeks/days before you go.

Enjoy your trip, it will be great regardless of how much or little you plan.



BOP Mustache

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2019, 01:49:16 PM »
I live in NZ, grew up in Auckland and now live in Tauranga. Done lots of hiking and road trips. How long are you here for? Note weather is way better in February/March, still a bit cold in November.

PM me if you like very happy to help!

swashbucklinstache

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2019, 04:46:05 PM »
If you're from the US, consider registering your travel with the state department so they know you're there. In NZ this is of course not really a super necessary step, but it could potentially be helpful in the event of disaster. That's doubly true if you ever travel to more off the beaten path countries.

Look into what kind of plugs they use to see if you need a converter from standard US plugs.

Maybe buy a microfiber towel if you're staying not in hotels and especially if you move places. It's a nice-to-have, from experience, not a need-to-have.

Strongly recommend hostels. You can be alone as you want or as social as you want and change at a moment's notice at exactly your discretion.

I've had success planning out when I'll move from city to city and maybe 1 activity a day in a google doc or something. For NZ you might want to do a little more planning, with the large distances between things, just so you don't end up spending more time driving than you need to. In more compact countries I usually just pick one thing a day and then laze around or go to the beach the rest of the day :).

Have fun! Don't get too drunk is my other recommendation haha. Be humble and kind.

GuitarBrian

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2019, 06:18:24 PM »
I'll echo the other suggestions. Hostels are the easiest way to raise the social experience for solo travelers.

I haven't been to NZ, but I've done a lot of solo traveling and the recommendations above are good ones!!

With the long flight, and jet lag, 2 weeks will end up being very short. If you can add days, that would be a priority.

For things to do on a daily basis... Once you arrive at a hostel, there will be recommendations from the staff, or talk to other travelers and join what they are doing... It is easy, and most of the other travelers are looking for company...

Good luck on your trip!!

screwit

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2019, 11:51:08 PM »
If you are planing on driving,  be aware that it will take you significantly longer to get anywhere than you think it will.  Roads curve around the geology, are narrow and take much longer than you think.
We spent 4 weeks there, doing the southern part of the the north island and the northern part of the South island. It was NOT enough time for me! We were in a little camper van and mainly on campsites.  I found it really quite expensive - from memory we were paying $40NZD per night. If you're young (which I assume) buses and hostels are by far the more social option.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 12:54:19 AM by screwit »

patrickza

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2019, 12:12:10 AM »
I suggest getting an International Driver's License. This will make renting and driving cars in other countries much easier. AAA issues them.
Don't waste your time and money, you can drive in New Zealand as long as:
    -you have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit, and
    -you havenít been given a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
    -you came into New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
    -your overseas licence is in English, or you have an accurate translation, and
    -you havenít been granted a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand.

https://www.nzta.govt.nz/driver-licences/new-residents-and-visitors/driving-on-nz-roads/

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Travel Alone Overseas for the First Time; What Do I Do?
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2019, 06:33:42 PM »
Kiwi here. Travel around NZ is pretty easy. It's a very large country, the size of the UK, despite the population. If you're going to self drive it's hours between towns. There are loads of buses etc.

Check out Auckland for the culture - waterfront bars and restaurants, shopping, museums, get yourself acclimatised.
Then Taupo for the scenery
Welllington, quite a different city to Auckland, you can visit  the studios that did Lord of the Rings, see the beehive etc. Take the ferry to Picton, which is the cheapest cruise with AMAZING scenery that you will ever get. It's gorgeous.

Drive down to Nelson - lots of markets, lots of fruit and produce, kind of hippyish
Kaikoura - think seals, whale watching, fish and chips on the beach
Christchurch - quake tour, maybe a walk up the Port Hills
Drive down to Dunedin stopping at Oamaru steampunk museum, Moeraki boulders, perhaps inland to St Bathans and night in the haunted Vulcan Hotel. Dunedin is a university town and used to be the capital.
Bus to Qtown and then drive to Alexandra, Cromwell, few more inland areas that are fun to explore.

I'm from Chch, I don't know the top end that well so maybe others could chip in more ideas there!

Some advice
- don't make mistake of thinking we're hobbits. This is not a tiny safe country. Take the same precautions you would at home.
- this is an expensive place to be
- we take our laws seriously, especially our customs laws. Don't bring in anything without checking. Drive safely - assume you will take  longer than it says to get somewhere. We're a territorial bunch who value what we have, so don't disrespect it by littering etc.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 06:38:35 PM by AnnaGrowsAMustache »