Personal Travel Blog
Older archived travel blog about Chris and Alan travels together. Just two Kiwis would rather travel than work, and are doing their best to ensure they don't get to the end of their lives with gas still left in the tank.
We were older when we started travelling, in comparison to most kiwis. Things like study got in the way (Chris has a PhD in environmental management, and Alan is a web programmer), and so we didn't take our first OE until into our 30s. With that came a lot of built up dreams and anticipation about life outside our little archipelago, as well as a huge student debt. The UK was off the cards, mainly because we didn't want to hang out with drunk Australasian 20 year olds and work scummy bar tending jobs, and Europe was off because of the cost; besides, Chris hates French food. Maybe it was the stories she remembered hearing from her Aunt and cousins during their 2-year world tour, or from her grandparents after their frequent overseas trips, or maybe it was just the thought of all that yummy food and the low travel costs, but Asia was our first regional destination.
In 2006, as an incentive for Chris to hand in her PhD, we booked tickets for Bali, with a stop-over in Singapore (cheaper than a direct flight in the wake of the Bali bombings). And in off we went. During that trip, Chris landed a job in Brisbane, Australia, so we cut down our trip length from 6 months to 3 and a half. We loved Asia, found travel very easy, and were hooked.
We made the most of our time in Australia, with loads of road journeys up and down the east coast, as well as short trips to Vanuatu, Vietnam, Kalimantan, and the US (although the latter 4 were of course for work!). Still, this was enough to realise the travel bug was still very much alive in both of us. So when Chris's contract ended, and with a sizeable house deposit in hand, we decided there was no time like the present, and made hasty preparations for a year's travel in the Americas. The idea had been on the cards for around 6 months, but we spent only 2 months in earnest planning. After our whirlwind tour in Asia, we now have a different travel style. Loose plans only, no fixed dates, just stop if we like a place, and continue if we don't like it.
Alan has been riding bikes since he was a youngin', usually his primary form of transport. Most of Chris's family ride; Her brother rides a Ducati, her sister a dirt bike, and her brother in law both dirt and road bikes. Her aunt and uncle rode, and her cousin had just left to ride from Russia to London. Chris's first experience was riding little 125cc bikes in Asia (Thailand and Laos). In Laos, we took two little 'postie bikes' around the Bolaven Plateau for 5 days, on tarmac and dirt roads. It was an amazing experience, not only for the fact that we were able to get off the tourist route, but because being on a bike is such a richly sensual experience - you (literally) feel the weather, the smells are more vivid, you travel more slowly and on different routes so you see more, and then there is that sense of freedom that comes with being exposed to the elements. We loved it.
So when Alan jokingly suggested doing the next trip on bikes, Chris jumped in. She got her licence, went to motorbike school, and that's where it started. The cost of renting bikes is high in the US ($100 per day), whereas new bikes are cheap and have great re-sale value (75%+). We figured why not just see how we go, and anything over 10 days means we wouldn't lose money. At the beginning of the journey, Chris was called all sorts of things, crazy and ambitious being two of the most common. One major problem is her height: 5'2'' is quite short when Enduros (Dual Sports) are in order, and so she rides only a putt-putt 250cc. Now, in Mexico, she is just a girl on a bike, with a husband who is carrying most of the load.