Having decided to spend the next year Down Under in Australia, it was easy to reminisce about the first time I left home and headed for those distant shores. It seemed like yesterday and déjà vu struck me as I waited at my gate to leave. This time I had a bit more experience under my belt and was more excited than nervous about what the future held.
With a yearlong visa in hand, my general plan was to visit Western Australia, Tasmania and Melbourne as these were the areas I missed the last time I visited. I also wanted to focus on working with native animals at an animal sanctuary where they rehabilitated orphaned or injured animals.
So before leaving home I contacted friends seeking advice on whether they knew of any opportunities and emailed a few places I found online. I got a hit with Peta, one of the owners at Absolute Backpackers in Mission Beach, Queensland. She put me in touch with Tanya, who ran Cassowary Coast Wildlife Shelter in South Mission Beach. After emailing Tanya to explain what type of experience I was looking for, she said to text her when I arrived in Australia and we’d work something out.
With this in mind, my only tasks on arrival in Sydney were to check into my hostel and pick up a SIM card so I could contact Tanya. I could figure the rest of my life out when I got there.
The second time you do something is always easier than the first, and planning for my second round-the-world trip was no exception. Despite not really having any solid plans once I’m in Australia, I was confident that things would sort themselves out.
My parents weren’t exactly thrilled when I told them I was going to travel again and would be away for at least a year. My mom took on a fatalistic view of the situation, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop me from leaving again. After all, I’m spending my hard-earned money, and it’s my life to do with as I wish. Her main strategy was to alternate between encouraging and overprotective. She thought I was being a hippy and just hoped I would get it out of my system so I could come home and settle down. My dad simply laughed and shook his head in disbelief. He’s a homebody and would never willingly choose to be away from Hawaii for very long.
I decided to use the same backpack as it had held up pretty well, and, by this point, I had the packing and unpacking of it down to a science. I planned to cut the number of things I brought with me because the 18+ kg pack I left with the on my first trip was a bitch to hump around (although I know people who were lugging 20+ kg around!).
It’s always hard to pack for a long trip because you want to plan for every circumstance, from snowing to sweltering, but can’t. You have to pick clothes and footwear that will survive the harsh conditions of life on the road, continual wash and wear and be made of quick-drying materials. You should also pick things that are comfortable to wear and stuff you really like because you’ll be stuck wearing it over and over.
I also eliminated my first aid kit as I didn’t really use anything from it last time. If a need arose, I could always pick up medicine from a chemist once I arrived. I also ditched extras, such as small gifts from Hawaii for people I met. While this is a very nice gesture, it also added weight that I didn’t need. People would just have to enjoy my sunny disposition and leave it at that.
With my life packed away in boxes once more, it was not difficult to envision living out of a backpack again. While it would be hard to give up all my beloved tv shows and films (especially since I was finally able to catch up to the current seasons), I knew new experiences awaited and was excited for the prospects.
Filed under Hawaii, Travel