We're Moving to Australia!

I was sitting on the couch, trying my best to tune into the book I was reading and tune out the conversation going on in our guest bedroom. But our home was constructed in 1926, and the paper thin walls meant I could hear each question and answer, the accents bouncing back and forth from American to Australian. Jared was in the middle of a two-hour interview for a job in Melbourne, and I could tell it was going well. Finally, the interview wrapped up and Jared walked out into the living room. “I think that went really well,” he said. I immediately burst into tears.

I wasn’t surprised that it went well, but I was surprised at my reaction. Jared and I had been talking about moving abroad for over a year. Just a few months prior (at the beginning of 2018), we spent a morning at our favorite coffee shop writing down our personal and professional goals.

One of Jared’s big ambitions was to receive an international job offer.


I’ve always had faith that the Universe listens to our desires, more like waiting for us to give it some direction. The timing of all this only fuels my belief. A few months after writing down our intentions at the coffee shop, a job opening presented itself in Australia. In my early twenties, I spent 2.5 months backpacking around the country, so I immediately had warm feelings about the job location.

After weeks of not allowing myself to think too deeply about our potential future, my suppressed emotions erupted post-final interview. Maybe deep down I didn’t think we would need to choose between our dream of living abroad and the wonderful, comfortable life we’ve created in the Northwest.

We discussed it, started to daydream about what our life would look like, and agreed that Jared should go for it. To be honest, I didn’t invest too much energy into the “what ifs”. I had no idea how far along in the process we would get, so I just continued business as usual. But the meetings and interviews went much faster than I imagined. Every other day it seemed Jared was on the phone talking with a recruiter, his potential new manager, and would be colleagues about the job. Before we knew it he was prepping for the final interview with the big boss.

After weeks of not allowing myself to think too deeply about our potential future, my suppressed emotions erupted post-final interview. Maybe deep down I didn’t think we would need to choose between our dream of living abroad and the wonderful life we’ve created in the Northwest.

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I cried because in my heart, I knew that we would choose to leave.
I cried because I already felt the ache of saying goodbye to family and friends.
I cried because I had just hit a stride in my business, and didn’t want to give up what I worked so hard for (turns out I don’t have too.)
I cried because life as I knew it was going to change completely, and even though I was really excited, I mourned the loss of our current lifestyle.

And still, we debated about it EVERYDAY. It was agonizing the amount of times we went back and forth. We felt so torn. We found countless reasons to go, and the same amount of reasons to stay. We spent weeks untangling our emotions and talking through the options. At the end of the day, we knew that choosing to stay in Seattle was a fear-based decision. So we chose the unknown, the new opportunity, the adventure.

Which leads me to here and now, visas in hand and packing up parts of our life to move across the world. It still feels surreal, even though time is ticking seriously fast. Our departure is at the end of November, meaning we have less than 4 weeks to say goodbyes, try and get in a few more outdoor adventures, and sell or donate a lot of our belongings. Technically our work visas are for two years, with the opportunity to extend. A lot of people have asked how long we plan to be over there and it’s hard to say. While I’m confident we’ll love living in Australia (Melbourne was voted the most livable city in the world 7 times in a row), it’s hard to think about being away from our families and community for too long.

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I hope we’ll stay in touch while I’m away! I’ll be sharing our Australian adventures and how we’re adjusting to expat life here on the blog as well as through my newsletter. So if you haven’t signed up to receive that, head on over to the sign up page.

Lastly, if you know anyone in Melbourne, please let me know! Right after finding a place to live I need to find some good people to befriend! Also, I will be looking for individuals, organizations, and companies in the travel, outdoor and health and wellness space to work with and would be so appreciative of any introductions or connections. Thanks for following along on this journey and for your support.

All photos by the very talented and kind human Chad Cassidy.

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Travel Guide: Sedona, Arizona

In the darkness of our rental car, squished between overnight bags, food and camp gear, we took turns reading aloud from our 23-page aura reports.  Just a few hours earlier, my best friend Laura and I had visited one of Sedona's many new age stores, and left with a new gemstone ring (for her), a citrine crystal (for me) and two colorful aura photos with a detailed interpretation of what the colors meant. I paused at page 14, which asked; 

"Is it a very stressful time for you right now? Are you going through a lot of changes or are you working on too many projects at once? Your aura shows that you are not very energized. You might be active but in reality, you are using up your internal battery. Why not go to the beach or mountains to unwind and recharge your inner batteries?"


I read this not from the beach, or the mountains, but from the backroads in the Cococino National Forest outside of Sedona.  I didn't go there to unwind or recharge, though it certainly was a by-product of the trip. The primary reason was to visit Laura, who's been traveling on the road for the past year and building community through her podcast " Women on The Road".  The secondary reason for visiting AZ was to live a few days feeling "sweaty, dirty, happy." I was craving an immersive outdoor experience, the kind where you spend all hours of the day outside basking in sunlight. I needed the kind of long days that leaves your skin bronzed and dusty, your feet perpetually dirty, and your car (and home in our case) a total mess. In short, I felt like dirtbagging it.

 I arrived just in time to see the prickly pear cactus blooming. 
 Photo by Laura Hughes

Photo by Laura Hughes

And at the end of the trip, my dirtbagging body definitely needed a shower. Laura and I spent four days climbing on red rocks, cooling down in swimming holes, and sleeping on quiet national forest roads. I wouldn't spend anything less than 3 nights here, but I could have easily extended my stay for a week. It's easy to see why Laura has fallen in love with the area, and I'm so grateful that she shared all of her special Sedona spots with me. 

What to Eat, See & Do in Sedona, AZ

 Bell Rock at Sunset from the Made in the Shade trail 


Where to Spend Time Outdoors:

Hiking:  Sedona's trails can be summed up in 3 words - short, sweet and stunning. We chose low-mileage hikes which allowed us to do multiple a day.  Below are some of the most popular trails that we ventured on. 

  • Cathedral Rock: This is one of the most scenic and recognizable hike in Sedona. It's actually more of a climb than a hike, and is around 1.5 miles round trip.  It's short and steep and a moderate climb. Basket cairns lead the way as you climb 550 feet to a wide saddle between two spires. We did this trail a little after sunrise and had the area to ourselves for most of it.
  • Bell Rock (lower Bell Rock to upper Bell Rock trail): Bell Rock is said to be one of the larger vortex sites in Sedona and it's also one of the most identifiable red rock formations. The trail is only .75 miles and takes you along the northern face of Bell Rock. You can keep climbing as long as your comfortable with heights. We took our time and stopped in spots along the way for photos and to see the colors of the rocks change as the sunset. 
  • Boynton Canyon: We didn't do the full 6-mile trail but opted for the short climb up to the Boynton Spire vista area. We were greeted by Robert, a local who hands out heart carved rocks and plays the flute for visitors on a regular basis. I don't know if I can define what the quintessential Sedona experience is, but that morning could have been it. 
  • Made in the Shade: This is a 2.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail. We started just as the sun was setting behind us which cast a beautiful light on Bell Rock. It was a quiet evening on the trail, though other websites point out that it's a popular mountain biking spot. 
 Cathedral Rock after sunrise - We finally got a photo together! 

*Note: A red rock pass is required for all of these hikes unless you find parking outside of the parking lot. You can get a weekly red rock pass for $15 or a daily pass for $5. 

The Red Rock Pass Program is conservation tool designed by the U.S. Forest Service to protect, enhance and maintain Sedona’s red rock landscape for future generations of the public to enjoy. It also helps maintain recreation amenities like picnic areas, restrooms, informational and interpretive signing, and road maintenance. 

Where to Shop: 

Natural Grocershttps://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/sedona/
1915 West State Route 89A - (928) 282-1961

Sedona's community grocery store focuses on providing natural and organic food at affordable prices. We stopped here on our first day to stock up on ingredients for meals and snacks to bring along for hikes. Compared to other organic grocery stores like Whole Foods, I was pleasantly surprised at the lower prices and array of great food options.  

Mystic Bazaarhttp://mysticalbazaar.com/
3058 West SR 89 - 928-204-561

Are you mystically curious? This spacious new age store can satisfy your curiosities with psychic readings, aura photography, vortex tours, gemstone jewelry, and crystals. I knew I wouldn't be able to get out of this store without dropping some cash. I was on the lookout for a larger crystal and found a gorgeous citrine stone that had to come home with me. Laura and I also got our aura photos taken which comes with a 23-page analysis of our results. 

 Photo by Laura Hughes 

Photo by Laura Hughes 

Where to Eat: 

 volcano bowl at Berry Divine 

Berry Divine Acai Bowls - https://berrydivineacai.com/acai-bowls/
2710 State Route 89A - 928-862-4111

My standards for acai bowls are high thanks to living in Hawaii for 7 years. Laura raved about Berry Divine and although I trust this gal with my life, I had hesitations that it would live up to my expectations. Well, it did and then some. In addition to the traditional acai bowl, they offer a soft serve which is a blend of Acai puree, lemon, beet and apple juice, with a bit of cane sugar mixed in. It took me a good 5 minutes of staring at their menu before I could finally decide on something. I went with the Volcano bowl, a combo of Acai, fruits, seeds, and guarana topped with hemp seed granola, kiwi, strawberry, blueberry, and coconut oil.

 Matcha mint smoothie at Local Juicery

Local Juicery https://localjuicery.com/
3150 West State Route 89 - 928-282-893

This spot is an organic cold-pressed juice bar and superfood kitchen. All the recipes are created by a holistic nutritionist/raw food chef who happens to be the co-founder. There wasn't one thing on the menu I wouldn't have ordered if I had multiple stomachs and a larger wallet.  I got the Superhuman smoothie which consisted of 'Pure Greens' juice, blueberries, spirulina, bee pollen, maca powder, coconut flakes, almond butter, MCT oil, and stevia. It's not the cheapest option in town, but most of my travel budget is dedicated to food anyways. 

 Prickly Pear Margarita at 89 Agave

89 Agave - https://www.89agave.com/
254 N. Hwy 89 - 844-828-352

Word to the wise - share plates here. The food portions are massive and it fed Laura and I for both lunch AND dinner. We devoured the mojo Guacamole (lime roasted garlic, sundried tomato & onions) and the Cilantro & Black Pepper Portobello Mushroom fajitas. Their prickly pear margaritas were also delicious and I'll definitely be recreating the recipe at home this summer!

Travel: New Zealand - 3 Weeks on the South Island

From the moment we landed in New Zealand,  I knew that we were in one the most beautiful countries on Earth. Sure, I had spent hours eyeballing internet imagery and knew it was going to be exquisite.  But nothing compares to experiencing it first hand.  The country is the definition of utopia, elaborate with diverse landscapes and climates, brimming with friendly locals, travelers and happy farm animals. As opposed to a lot of the yearlong travelers we met, Jared and I had three weeks to experience the country's vast scenery. With that timeline, we stuck to venturing around the South Island. 



 If you are reading this and are planning your own trip to NZ (whether it's booked or a bucket list) this would be my one piece of advice: go for as long as possible.

To maximize on our time, we adhered to a 2 night minimum stay so we aren't continuously packing, unpacking, checking in and checking out of AirBNB's.  Below is our three week itenerary and a few helpful tips about traveling through the country.  Reach out or leave a comment if you have any questions or additional advice for readers. 

1. Abel Tasman National Park (3 days, 2 nights): 

  • Location: Top of the South Island
  • Distance: 37 miles / 60 km (in full)
  • Size: 55,672 acres and New Zealand's smallest national park
  • Campsite Price: $15 pp, must be booked in advance
For at least 500 years Maori lived along the Abel Tasman coast, gathering food from the sea, estuaries and forests, and growing kumera on suitable sites. Most occupation was seasonal but some sites in Awaroa estuary were permanent. The Ngati Tumatakokiri people were resident when, on 18 December 1642, the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman anchored his two ships near Wainui in Mohua (Golden Bay), the first European to visit Aotearoa - New Zealand.
— DOC Abel Tasman

Beginning in Abel Tasman was 100% intentional.  We needed to experience the opposite season than the one we were in. We enthusiastically traded in short, dreary winter days for the heat wave of summer. Exposing our skin to the sun was marvelous and I was surprised at how the act of wearing a bathing suit could be a source of so much joy.  

We took a 2 hour water taxi ride which dropped us off at Totaranui, a popular beach for locals.  On the way in we saw seals, sting rays and got a historical background of the park from our driver.  Once we were dropped off, we started towards our first camping spot at Onetahuti Bay. Out agenda was simple; soak in the sunshine and get some water therapy. In between that we cooked, read and made conversation with other campers. Two in particular, a couple from Wellington were on a tour promoting a waste-free life. Read about how they inspired my post about reducing waste while traveling here.

The second night we camped at Te Pukatea, a section of the trail accessible only by boat or hiking. There were only 7 campsites, and we found ourselves alone much of the time. We enjoyed the quiet and reveled in our distance from technology. For some, having no cell phone service is a cause for a breakdown, but we love it. Jared actually kept his phone off the entire three weeks! 



  • Make sure to sunscreen your entire body. I forgot to cover my feet and my poor feet burned, which then caused them to swell and created nasty blisters. 
  • On the day you hike out, stop at Hooked On Marahau to refuel before hitting the road. I don't typically eat meet but holy hell that burger was divine. 
 But seriously, a burger and beer after hiking is so necessary. The Hooked Cafe is conveniently located right outside the park.

But seriously, a burger and beer after hiking is so necessary. The Hooked Cafe is conveniently located right outside the park.

 2. Punakaiki / Paparoa National Park (3 days, 3 nights):

  • Location: West Coast 
  • Established: 1987
  • Size: 10,6181 acres

From Abel Tasman we drove south west towards Punakaiki.  Jared had found a sweet off the grid cabin and we splurged by booking 3 nights. We  didn't have any plans, which was probably a good thing since a cyclone rolled in and we couldn't leave our cabin! We were safe, but stuck in the cabin for over a day. We did manage to take a quick trip to the popular Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. A short, paved loop trail  takes you through incredible Limestone landscapes.  It was one of the most "touristy" things we did, but it was fascinating to read about the rocks 30 million year old history and how they were formed.  

* We found the cabin on Canopy Glamping. Our off the grid-hut was built by a local builder and artist, and consisted of two small timber huts, adjoined by a covered outdoor kitchen and living area. Everything from the furniture and decor, to the materials used to build the hut were intentional.  


3. Wanaka (4 nights) 

Wanaka was one of two towns we stayed in and we fell in love with it instantly. Any location that combines easy access to the outdoors, healthy creative food options, and a friendly community immediately has me daydreaming about a move.  Wanaka gets bonus points for being surrounded by water. Everyday, we followed the same simple pattern of coffee + breakfast, a hike followed by lunch and another coffee, downtime (reading/nap), a walk around town, and dinner. I love staying in a place long enough to develop a little routine. Below is a list of hikes we did and cafes/restaurants we ate at. 


Hikes in Wanaka: 

  • Roy's Peak - 10 miles roundtrip; 4-5 hours
    The proximity of this hike from town makes it an accessible trail for travelers. From the lake level, a steep gradient begins and doesn't let up till you finish at the top. There is a 4,000 feet elevation gain in the (almost) 5 mile climb. The views are spectacular and urge you along the way as you pass farmland, tussock and on a clear day, Mt. Aspiring. 
  • Rob Roy Glacier - 6.2 miles roundtrip; 2-4 hours
    This trail can be summed up in one word: diverse. Along the short 3.2 mile walk to the glacier, you pass through a gorge, beech forest, and an alpine valley. The drive to the trailhead felt longer than the hike itself, but the valley floor is gorgeous and home to adorable roaming cattle and sheep. 
  • Isthmus Peak - 10 miles roundtrip; 4-5 hours
    This peak tops at around 4,543 feet and is similar in  length and elevation to Roy's Peak. The track overlooks Lake Wanaka and Lake Hāwea, with views of the Southern Alps and the town. It's a long steady climb that's well maintained and not as crowded as Roy's. The best part (in my opinion) was walking through the fields of alpine tussock. 
 Moody clouds rolling in as we climb to the top of Isthmus Peak.

Moody clouds rolling in as we climb to the top of Isthmus Peak.

 Feeling wind and freedom at the top of Isthmus Peak.

Feeling wind and freedom at the top of Isthmus Peak.

Where to Eat & Drink in Wanaka:

  • Ritual Espresso Cafe: Anything off the breakfast menu + delicious baked goods + coffee
  • The Big Fig: "slow food served fast" - Modern Middle Eastern eatery right on the lake and open all day. Finish off your meal with one of their carrot cakes.
  • Francesca's Kitchen: Arrive early or book reservations in advance. Authentic, affordable Italian cuisines and an extensive New Zealand wine list. 
  • Kika: One of our top meals while in New Zealand. The trendy spot is tapas-style dishes that are inventive and seasonal. We were close to returning for another dinner but opted to try something new. Jared and I shared the Roasted cauliflower, whipped tahini, pine nut furikake and dates, the Roasted carrots, harissa, yoghurt, rye granola, and the Lamb shoulder, preserved lemon, rosemary, chilli.  I would order it all again in a hearbeat.

4. Mt Cook National Park, (2 days, 1 night) 

  • Location: Central part of the South Island 
  • Established: 1953
  • Size: 174,772 acres 

Staying overnight at the bright red Mueller Hut was one of the highlights of the trip. You know how some trips (or more specifically hikes) are about the journey? Well this one wasn't. This hike was definitely about the destination. It is only 3.2 miles but has a total elevation gain of 3,280 feet. I hadn't looked into it until I searched online and saw the estimated climb time of 4 hours. That long of a trek for that short of mileage usually means one thing- UP. The first bit is stairs, stairs, and more stairs. We passed a guy coming down who said "this was the stairway to heaven, now it's a stairway to hell." With my mental and physical energy focused on the uphill, I couldn't be bothered to think about tomorrow when we too, would be headed back down.  

We finished in 2.5 hours and I hastily bundled up on the deck of the hut, ate my sandwich and fell asleep in the sun. The remaining hours of the day passed slowly. We chatted with day hikers, explored the surrounding area and made a little home in the bunkhouse we shared with the other overnight hikers. 

Our hut warden for the night was Neville, a local kiwi who had been volunteering at Mueller for the last 10 years. He pointed out the mountain ranges in view, gave us a history of who climbed it when (shout out to Freda Du Faur, first female to climb Mt. Cook), and what stars we would see as the day shifted into night. 

Within 12 hours, we experienced the the most spectacular sunset and sunrise. At almost 6,000 feet up, we had a 360-degree panorama encompassing glaciers, ice cliffs, and some of New Zealand’s highest peaks.


5. Kepler Track (3 days, 2 nights) :

Location: Fiordland National Park
Distance: 37 miles / 60 km
Hiking Time: 3-4 days 


The Kepler Track is one of nine great walks in New Zealand. Great walks are New Zealand's premium tracks and are accessible from major towns that are well serviced by local operators and accommodation and transport providers. They are well formed/maintained and easy to follow. (Abel Tasman is also a great walk!) 


By the time we began the Kepler Track, we had hiked 6 days in a row. My body felt simultaneously strong and drained. I knew it would be a great hike but I was also craving stillness and a soft bed. We had originally planned to do the hike in 4 days but ended up finishing in 3 because that soft bed was calling both our names. Not to mention we were both getting eaten alive by mosquitos and we had hit a hiking breaking point. 

We started the hike in mid afternoon but walked a relatively flat and shaded 9 miles to our first camp spot at Broad Bay. We began the second day early, knowing that we had 15 miles to go with the most elevation gain of the trek. We stopped at the Luxmore Hut for a quick snack, bathroom break, and to layer on more clothes. Now that we were at the ridge line, the temperatures were much cooler and the wind was whipping. Raindrops felt intermittently as we  walking along the spine of the mountains. It was the highlight of the hike, looking down at the lakes and seeing other mountains jut out from the water.

At around mile 10 we began the descent and with every achy step we got closer to our home for the night, the Iris Burns Hut . Sleep came really easy that night. On day 3 we began the trail early, moving quickly through the beech forest and finally back to the car park.  We were able to book an extra night at our AirBNB and were enjoying and a shower and Netflix by sundown. 


6. Te Anau (3 nights)


Our AirBNB was situated out of town on a lovely farm and we didn't venture to town that often. Multiple people told us to go to Doubtful Sound vs Milford (because Doubtful was the less busy/chaotic spot) so we did book a full day tour though Go Orange cruise.  Despite Seattle-like weather, cruising through the fjords was gorgeous and it was a nice break from being on our feet. We did drive up to Milford Sound just to take in the scenery and stopped to do a quick hike to  Lake Marian . The rest of our time was spent on the farm or near Lake Te Anau. It was the perfect way to spend our last few days in New Zealand. 


8 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste While Traveling

There is almost nothing more I love than traveling, but I struggle with the fact that my penchant for exploration, namely on far-off continents, comes with an environmental cost. Back in 2013, the New York Times published a story called "Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel"  and after returning from New Zealand, I can relate. Our flight from Seattle to the north island, (with a stopover in Hawaii) was a 14,000+ mile air journey. In carbon emission terms, we expanded our carbon footprint by 1.646 tons of CO2e.

In case you're curious about what a carbon footprint is..... 

Carbon footprint is defined as "the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to, directly and indirectly, support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide. (timeforachange.org) " These gases are generated by our everyday actions including transportation, home energy use, diet choices, recycling practices, and waste production. In 2014, the average American's carbon footprint was 16.4 metric tons while the global average was about five tons per person in 2013 (New York Times).


Our first stop upon arriving in New Zealand was Abel Tasman National Park. During our first night of camping, we met No-Waste nomads Hannah and Liam.  The couple had recently left their home in Wellington to travel the south island in search of a new home, and host events along the way to talk about their zero waste lifestyle commitment. 

Even if you don’t have a goal of zero waste, everyone can do small things to reduce their waste footprint.
— Hannah Blumhardt

For three years, Hannah and Liam have been living without a trash can, buying food in bulk to forgo plastic, and creating their own personal care products from scratch. Lacking pretension but not passion, they talked about their concern for the environment, and offered up advice on how to move through the world without creating more waste. 

Our conversation had a strong impact on me and urged me to reflect on the choices I make out of habit and convenience.  As we backpacked our way through the country, I began to take notes of no-waste wins, losses and what we could improve on.

 typical breakfast scene // Multi Compact Titanium Cook-set from Snow Peak + Hydro Flask Coffee Mug 

typical breakfast scene // Multi Compact Titanium Cook-set from Snow Peak + Hydro Flask Coffee Mug 

Here is a list of practices that are easy to adopt and can make an impact even if it's a small one. While I don't plan to ever stop traveling completely, I can commit to traveling better and more efficiently. This is just a starting point and I'm interested in learning more about further practice and habits I can implement.  If you have any suggestions, please share them with me in the comments below. 

8 Ways to Reduce Waste While Traveling 

  1. Bring Reusable Bags: Some countries and cities have a ban or fees on plastic bagsbut you can avoid wondering or worrying about it by bringing your own. This may be the most talked about habit to adopt, but it's also probably the easiest. Bags are lightweight, easy to pack, and don't take up much space. They are great for toting groceries, can be used as a beach bag, or as extra luggage on the way home. 
    - BAG IT UP  
  2. Use Bee's Wrap for Food: The natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage, Bee’s Wrap is washable, reusable and compostable. The wrap is made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, and helps to keep foods fresh. Instead of protecting a sandwich with a plastic bag, or throwing out fruits or veggies because there is no way to properly store them, wrap it all up in Bee's wrap! Wash it with cool water and gentle soap and it's ready to reuse. 
  3. Invest in a Set of Reusable Utensils, Coffee Mug, Water Bottle, etc: Do plastic water bottles irk anyone else as much as they irk me? I understand that water in a lot of countries is not safe to drink, but for developed nations who can drink safely from the tap I don't see the point? My Hydroflask water bottle and coffee mug accompany me on my travels and we use Snowpeak's Compact Cook Set while backpacking/camping.  
  4. Use Public Transportation When Available: This tip really depends on the type of travel you are doing. For example when we were in Europe last year, we relied solely on our feet and the train.  The infrastructure was there and it was simple and cost effective to utilize. In New Zealand, we rented a car because we were driving all the way from the north end to the south end of the island and the train didn't go 90% of our destinations. Wherever you're going, public transportation is worth checking out. It's better for the environment and typically better for your wallet too.
  5. Support Restaurants & Shops With Ethical Practices: There are a number of ways to seek out places that value our environment and the people it sustains. I recommend researching options before you go. Jared and I both really enjoy food so I created a spreadsheet of the places we might want to try out in the town we were visiting.  A short read through the restaurant's website lets me know if they source locally and what their sustainability standards are. Asking for a locals opinion is also a great option once you get to your destination. 
  6. Offset It - When you buy carbon offsets, you pay to take planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in exchange for the greenhouse gases you put in. Some airlines allow you to purchase offsets but it might not be during the booking process (some have separate sustainability pages you need to navigate too).  For example, you can put money toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I haven't done a ton of research on organizations that are working to offset costs, but below are a few with a larger online presence. 
  7. Learn About Local Recycling - I'm not the only one who has stood in front of a few multi-colored bins wondering how to sort out my rubbish right? The logistics of recycling can be really confusing, but it's our responsibility to figure out the proper bins for our various waste. Since each country or state is different, learn the waste management system before you get there. Even better, try and go for items that are compostable and use your reusable utensils and containers. 

  8. Go Digital - I admit I am very fond of all things print - I love magazines, books and newspapers, especially in other countries.  I've reconciled with this by sharing when I'm done with them - like leaving a read newspaper in a coffee shop for someone else to enjoy. Or giving a finished book to a flight attendant or host if they are interested in it. Otherwise, it's easy enough to keep things digital like flight tickets and entertainment in the form of e-books and podcasts. Oh and one thing I really regret doing is taking a bunch of tourist/visitor information pamphlets. Trust me, you won't want them once you're home!  

Postcard from New Zealand


New Zealand 

Arrived: Seattle > Honolulu > Auckland > Nelson. We left Washington on the 25th, landed on the 26th and have been exploring the South Island for almost 2 weeks. We have one more week before returning back to the states. 

My first impression is:  the country has uncomparable beauty, the locals treat you like family, and our 3 weeks is barely enough time to hit the highlights! 

The highlight so far: I wouldn't be lying if I said each section of this trip has been a highlight, but we recently stayed overnight at the Mueller Hut in Mt. Cook / Aoraki National Park and that was really special.  While the journey to get there is short (5.2 km / 3ish miles), you gain over 3,000 ft of elevation. It's separated into two parts, stairs and rock fields and to be honest, neither are that enjoyable. BUT, once you get to the top and finish scrambling to the Mueller Hut it's instantly worth it. We arrived early, claimed our bunk, and spent the rest of the day reading, napping and chatting with other backpackers and hikers. Watching the sunrise and sunset over Mt. Cook was phenomenal- so much that I didn't even mind the cold temperatures. 

I'm most looking forward to: 

  • Our last backpacking trip - 4 days and 3 nights on the 60 km loop Kepler Track
  • NOT backpacking and relaxing for our last few days near Fiordland National Park
  • Clean clothes

I'm surprised at: 

  • the amount of diversity in landscape and climate just on the South Island. We've spent over 20 hours in the car driving to all our destinations and it's never been boring because of the change. One trip we are going through a warm subtropical in the far north and then a few hours south we experience cool temperate climates. 

I learned: that approximately 180 million years ago, New Zealand broke away from a giant landmass called Gondwana. It drifted nearly 3000 meters to where it sits today.  Polynesians sailed here in the early 1300s, following their ancestor Kupe, who named the country Aoeteaora - "Land of the Long White Cloud." 

The best thing is that:  simply that we are able to be here. Escaping our rainy days and experiencing sunshine and warmth has really been good for the soul. We've been off the grid and without wi-fi a fair amount which has been helpful in allowing us to disconnect. The trail has been our place for enriching conversation and an opportunity to connect with other travelers.