All posts by Errin Elizabeth

Just a 24 year old American girl learning about the world through her own eyes, one country and experience at a time. I started travel in June 2013 and the addiction has grown to a bit of an obsession beginning with Germany, adventuring to New Zealand and now in Australia. With every new place comes new people to meet and amazing things to see that one could never imagine. Welcome!

Bathtubs, Hitch Hiking and Life

Some ideas where to go, what to do and how to live life…

1. If you’re going to have a fire lit bath on the beach and watch the moon rise in the most spectacular way that you’ve ever seen, start the fire before the sun goes down and expect it to take 3+ hours to get the fire going and heat up the water. Also… have enough wood to keep it going so you don’t have to continue to run around like an idiot looking for fire in the dark. But it’s totally worth it because it’s the most wonderful bath you’ll ever experience. I’ll give you a hint to where this bath is, it’s in the south island near Abel Tasman at a lovely little camp ground.

2. When picking up a hitch hiker, do it on purpose and not because you’re pulling over because you’re lost and then let them convince you to drive to Cobb Valley, which is in the middle of no where with no service and it’s cold and super windy and just basically crap. So the hitch hiker was Julien, who is a 20 year old German with more energy than anyone I’ve ever met. He ran to the top of a mountain, took selfies and was back down within 2 hours. Still had enough energy to do it 5 more times. It ended up being quite an experience though, you learn that you have to continue on your path and if your first instinct is that you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it!

3. Caravaning isn’t for everyone. “Yeah, we’ll leave in 5 minutes and meet you there…”. 2 days later, you still haven’t met up. But, you will eventually,  just not according to your plan. They’ll end up having one experience, you’ll have another and in a few days, weeks, whatever… you’ll see each other again!

4. The nicest hostels aren’t always the coolest. Now, they are the most beautiful and you truly feel like you’re staying in someones home, which is great when you are traveling. But, you tend to meet the coolest people and have the most fun at the cheap, semi-run down hostels. You meet people that you’ll get to know and have a ton of fun with for a few weeks, then there’s the people who will always been in your life and you’ll see again in another part of the world. It’s truly amazing.

5. Hitch hiking. Now. My mother has been a bit upset when learning about the hitch hiker that Kaitlin and I picked up (wondering who Kaitlin is? You’ll find out eventually), well anyways, my mother was so upset! I tried to tell her that she watched way too much news and that there’s really nothing to be worried about, but she still can’t handle it. I told her my plan to travel up to Cairns after harvest in April, which is to take off and just start driving. Kaitlin might be with me, she might now. I might meet someone else from harvest to travel with or I might meet a backpacker who needs a ride for a bit. I have no idea, but she definitely didn’t want to hear it. Even though I’m 25 and could have kids and a house and all sorts of stuff instead, it scares her more that I’d be traveling and meeting people instead of being in my comfort zone. It scares me to ever be afraid to leave my comfort zone.

6. If you don’t like a job, leave. Quit. Find a job you like. Don’t do anything that doesn’t make you happy. There are plenty of jobs all over the world if you just look. And go where ever you want to go! Save up money, buy a plane ticket and go. Seriously, it’s that easy.

You’re welcome 😉

Koalalalala! Did you know that they sleep 20 hours a day?! I wish that was socially acceptable sometimes...
Koalalalala! Did you know that they sleep 20 hours a day?! I wish that was socially acceptable sometimes…
Bungy Jumping... Basically, just do it.
Bungy Jumping… Basically, just do it.
Last harvest at Wither Hills, picking some grapes for the Port wine.
Last harvest at Wither Hills, picking some grapes for the Port wine.

Traveling: For Dummies

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” ~ John O’Donohue

 

I have been traveling for a few years now and always end up in different living situations; a hostel, a house with numerous amounts of people, a camper van, etc. and a popular discussion is comparing our countries, families and ways of living. For some of us who are rarely in our own country for more than a few months at a time, we realise that our friends and family have a hard time understanding why we want to leave, how we travel and why we can’t stay in one place for more than a few months. This tends to be one of the hardest things to try and explain to people who don’t ever leave their comfort zone. Their fulfilment in life is easily found; you graduate college, find a partner, get married, buy a house and have children, but for some of us, it’s not enough. For me personally, I’ve been having a hard time internally dealing with the American “norms”. You’re taught at such a young age from society; movies, magazines, family, etc. that your life is completed by marriage, a stable job, a house and children, but as I’ve gotten older, I couldn’t imagine being at that place in my life right now. Thankfully for Facebook, it’s so easy to keep up to date with everyone’s lives.

I turn 25 in two months and if you would’ve asked me 5-10 years ago where I would be at 25… well lets just say that I was WAY off.  Never could I have imagined living in New Zealand, Germany, Australia working at an amazing winery, working random jobs at cafes, bars, restuarants and being surround by so many amazing people from so many different cultures and being so content with such a simple life. But at the same time, I feel like I’m getting too old (obviously not that old), but still, too old to be living like a college student; out of a van with absolutely no plans for the future, no permanent job and no care in the world. But then I remind myself that it’s okay! I don’t need to be like my friends or the people on tv or have the best things in life. How many people who have all of those things are truly happy with themselves and their decisions? When I left, I only brought a hiking bag and a back pack. And I’m so happy with just having that. I’m actually overly thrilled to have my own bedroom with a twin sized bed and a small dresser. It’s crazy how fast things change.

So the most popular questions: Whats next? What are you doing after Australia? When will you be DONE traveling? Are you going back to school? When will you “settle down”? How can you move so much? yeah.. i think you get the idea. Well to attempt to answer these… whats next? I have no idea and thats the beauty of it, isn’t it?  Back to North Carolina for school? Probably not. Meet a man and buy a house? Most likely not. Stay in Australia for good? Possibly.  The good thing about school is that it will always be there. Ive learned in the past few years that you can’t plan your life. Ever. You can have goals and places you want to see and someone you want to be, but if you can honestly tell me that your life has worked out exactly as planned, I’d have to call bullshit.

How do I travel? Well… working harvest at wineries is about 6-12 weeks of 12 hour days, 6 to 7 days a week with pretty good pay. Thats enough for me to live on for a few months after that. Then you run out of money and get some random job at where ever you can and wait for harvest to com back around. Gumtree is a great way to find jobs, housing, cars, basically anything that you want. Meanwhile, I can pick almost any country in the world that makes wine and that I want to visit, then I go there. Once you start this, you become addicted to the exciting feel of experiencing and seeing something new constantly. Meeting people from all over the world, experiencing their cultures, seeing the beautiful landscape and understanding why people in that country are the way that they are.

For example, in New Zealand, everyone is so RELAXED! Yes Americans, people can work to afford their lifestyle and still have time for themselves. Most stores there close at 4 or 5. Almost nothing, including restaurants, are open on Sundays and basically, work is a way to pay for food and somewhere to live, but it’s not their life. The biggest city, Auckland, has half of the countries population. There are many more sheep there then there are people. The land is so untouched and so beautiful. When I was in Blenheim, you could drive for hours and only see vineyards. and more vineyards. and more vineyards. And everyone is so friendly!!! Kaitlin and I ended up staying with a young married couple in their house that we met the day we got to Blenheim and Kaitlin stayed with them for three months during harvest. Would that ever happen in the states? Most likely not. But there, its normal.

Now, I’m in Adelaide, Australia and it’s another lovely country, although it’s a lot bigger than New Zealand and the money is a lot better. People are still just as friendly, although the cities are bigger and so is the country. I’m looking forward to really exploring Australia more after harvest in April! For now, I’m working for Hardy’s Tintara Winery and living in a lovely house with 6 Frenchies!  It’s quite an exciting time right now.

Anyone have any ideas of where I should travel to next? I’m thinking Asia, Bali, South Africa… the possibilities are endless!

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Ever fed kangaroos? Me either!! It was amazing.
Ever feed kangaroos? Me either!! It was amazing.

Tips to Living Abroad in a Hostel

Ever stayed in a hostel before? A night, a week, a few months? Well, for those of you who have little to no experience in a hostel, let me give you a little insight into how to survive and what to expect. So its your first night, you’re uncomfortable. Do you ask the guys if you can jump in on a game of pool? Do you go on the hostel bar crawls? Or do you just sit in the lobby on your computer and headphones? Hostels can be what you make them, but mostly, it’s so much fun! There’s always those people who are only around for a night or two, or a week. But you also have the people who are living there. Actually living. Why? It’s cheap, someone else cleans the bathrooms and kitchen for you and you don’t have to buy any sort of cleaning supplies! I, personally have spent over half a year living in a hostel, five months of that in one specific hostel.

 

Here are a few tips and tricks to make life a bit easier…

 

  1. Be sociable! You’re living with so many different people from so many different backgrounds and there’s so much to learn from everyone. Also, learn to respect that everyone is from different backgrounds with different experiences and different tastes in food… food!! Oh the food!
  2. You WILL NOT. I repeat. WILL NOTTTTTT get raped, killed, drugged, sold into sex slavery, stolen from (unless you’re stupid and leave your stuff open and all over for everyone to see) so basically, use a lock or just put your stuff away. The movie Hostel… totally not true. Don’t be stupid.
  3. Hang up the shower mat when you’re done so it’s a bit drier for the next person. After a few showers, the shower mat will be soaking wet and that’s just gross.
  4. Don’t leave fish on the counter in the kitchen for an entire day or even in the fridge. Or anything else that spells horrible for that instance or even left overs that have been there for a few weeks.
  5. Cooking food for all the women in the hostel will NOT get you laid. It’s a lovely, welcoming gesture, but keep your expectations low. Yes, it is a hostel, but that doesn’t mean that sex is always on the table.
  6. Always accept a hot water bottle for bed. I’m seriously buying one when I get home because they’re absolutely amazing, plus most hostels in warmer climate places don’t have heat.
  7. Do not, i repeat, do not put the tv remote, or any other used item in the hostel in, around or near your mouth. You are currently living with 10+ people and one of the many problems with this includes the fact that you don’t know who has touched that, what they touched before they touched it and OH YEAH, you’re putting it in YOUR MOUTH while you’re sick and sniffling and snorting and couching so who’s to say they weren’t doing the same thing! To top it all off, after you take it out of your mouth, don’t offer it to me. Just don’t.
  8. Bring an extra pillow if you can. Hostel pillows and blankets aren’t really known for their comfort and warmth, which is why most of them offer hot water bottles for night time to keep the toesies warm and don’t expect the beds to be comfortable. Think more of… children’s bunk beds. Foam mattresses, bunk beds and a pillow that is so flat that you barely know its there.
  9. Speaking of which, ever lived in a sorority? Or remember hating sharing a room with another person in college? Well… time to relive your nightmare, expect there to be anywhere from 6-20 beds in one room. Sometimes there are female and male bed dorms, but I usually try to get the mixed sex rooms… believe it or not, men tend to be cleaner and have less things than woman.
  10. People who live there work all different hours of the day and if you’re in a dorm room, you shouldn’t expect everyone to go to bed and wake up at the same time. If you are a light sleeper, bring earplugs. One person could get home at 4am from a night bar shift and another has to wake up at 6am for a morning café job. Sometimes it’s the same person!
  11. If you can, stay at a hostel that offers free breakfast. It will only be dry cereal, bread, nutella and maybe jam, but it sure beats trying to cook at the same time as everyone else. Plus, its free. Duh.

After my experience at Mount Backpackers in Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand, I’ve realised that a hostel is a family. An extremely strange, weird, messed up, beautiful, loving family. Don’t miss out!

Family BBQ on Christmas Day
Family BBQ on Christmas Day
Another family Christmas Day photo on the beach
Another family Christmas Day photo on the beach