Two weeks ago, I mentioned in my post The Year With Two Summers that I would be leaving sometime in October to spend a year in another country. This country is in the southern hemisphere, which means I’ll be able to enjoy the North American summer and leave just as summer is beginning down there.
I did not reveal the country because I wanted to make sure I would have the appropriate Visa to be able to stay for twelve months. If it had been denied for some reason then I would have had to choose a different destination.
Not that I’ve kept this a secret, in my offline life. I think all of my friends know by now, and I’ve announced my resignation to my boss.
Well, this week I got the great news: my Visa has been approved.
Five months from now, I will be living in New Zealand.
The General Plan
In mid-October of this year, I will travel to Victoria, British Columbia, to visit friends and family for a week or so. After saying my goodbyes, I’ll take the ferry to Vancouver and fly across the Pacific from there.
My flight plans are not yet finalized, but it looks like Hong Kong will probably be my landing point on the other side of the ocean. It’s a major hub, and most itineraries route through there. I don’t think I’ll see much of it other than the airport, but from there I’d like to take a small side trip to Thailand if it is feasible.
So right now it’s looking like Winnipeg > Victoria > Vancouver > Hong Kong > Bangkok > Auckland.
From Auckland, I plan to spend a month or so backpacking southwards, through the national capital of Wellington, then down through the South Island. I’ve got a laundry list of stops that I want to make, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown among them, but I haven’t begun to plan at this level yet.
Once I’m done touring the countryside, I’ll settle in one of the major cities (leaning towards Wellington at the moment), find a place to live and a job to work.
Why New Zealand?
It was probably about a year ago that I decided to take a trip of this scale. I considered quite a few destinations including England, Ireland, France and Australia.
I figured it made sense to choose an English-speaking country for my big trip. I’d like to explore France when my French is better.
My parents took a big trip before they had children. They hopped around the South Pacific, visiting Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia among other places. They seemed to speak most fondly of New Zealand, and the beautiful landscapes and the kind people they met.
New Zealand has always struck me as exotic and beautiful. Epic land and seascapes, laid-back and interesting people, great climate, and a very diverse geography. Beaches, mountains, forests, glaciers, and cities. To me it represents paradise.
The first question I get asked whenever I tell someone I’m doing this is, “So you have a job lined up over there?”
No. I don’t. This seems to surprise people.
“Well, have you made arrangements to return to your job when you get back?”
I’m a smart person, I’ll be fine. In my culture people are very highly identified with their jobs, as if they cannot exist without them, and to take on another type of work is like starting from scratch. I’m not afraid of losing this kind of ‘progress’. To me progress means getting closer to the life I want to live, one where I earn a living doing something I would do for free. I’m constantly gaining skills and getting better; switching careers doesn’t ‘reset’ anything.
I do like my current line of work, but it isn’t my calling in life. I’ll get into this more deeply in another post, but I’m starting to realize how completely crazy it is for a keen and resourceful person to earn a living by selling his time to a cause that is not important to him.
For those of you who don’t know, I am an engineering tech, I design roads and residential subdivisions and underground utilities. I enjoy my clients and coworkers, but at the end of the day all I’m really doing is helping people to take up more space on this planet, and taking a cut of the profits. It stimulates my brain, but not my heart.
I intend to spend the next few years shifting to self-employment, making a living only from what I really believe is helpful to humanity. This blog is just the beginning of that, but it will be a while before I can sustain myself without selling significant amounts of time working towards someone else’s cause.
So I’m not at all scared of jumping off whatever rung of whatever career ladder I’m on in order to go on this trip, because I know that climbing this ladder is not what I want to do in life. But at the moment my civil engineering skills are still very helpful for getting me to where I want to be. In fact I may pursue similar work in New Zealand, but I’d like also to explore new streams of income while I’m there.
I don’t care what I end up doing. Whatever it is, I’ll certainly be taking a pay cut and making a significant lifestyle adjustment. I just want to see a new country, meet new people, and continue to write.
David Goes Kiwi
Of course, Raptitude isn’t going anywhere. I’ll still be blogging full-bore, from the road. And I want to take you with me.
As my Second Summer approaches, I’ll be launching a new section of this site, tentatively called David Goes Kiwi. There I will post updates as to the progress of my trip, along with a full online photo album. I’ll be documenting the places I go and the people I meet.
This trip is also going to be an experiment in social media. Between now and when I leave, I’ll be establishing a network of contacts overseas, using Twitter, Facebook, CouchSurfing and other forms of social media.
Because of the internet I already have dozens of friends in other cities and countries. Even though we haven’t met physically, I feel very close to many of these people, and I’d like to make some more online friends whom I can meet in person when I’m abroad. This way I can more easily find things to do, places to stay, even job leads, by establishing familiarity with people who are already there.
Social media fascinates me because it is the intersection between the internet and real life. I didn’t always really appreciate the fact that ‘internet people’ are actually flesh-and-blood offline people too. I mean I knew that, but I didn’t quite feel it. Social media has changed that. It’s humanizing the Net at an incredible rate, and I want to explore this concept first-hand while I travel.
This whole undertaking is by far the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. Even just a few years ago, taking on something like this would have been impossible for me. There are so many steps and sticking points to it, too many uncertainties and things to be afraid of. I would have thrown up my hands and given up before long.
But now I’m a different person, and to this new David, this is completely doable. There’s no doubt this trip will help me grow even more.
I wonder who I’ll be when I get back.