Ona, Winky, Grub and Sheep Shearing

Continued from Outback Adventure: State Route 19

DSC_3581Our new friends at the local hotel (we discovered that hotels are actually taverns and motels are places to sleep) eagerly welcomed us like long lost cousins to the family. Pretty soon, Shona, behind the bar, and her daughter, Kalani, were trying to get us to sing karaoke and everyone was telling us off-color jokes. It was all good-natured fun and felt like we had stepped onto the set of a Crocodile Dundee movie. DSC_3626Some people went by a nickname and they’ve had the nickname so long, people don’t even remember their real name. There was Shakespeare, Winky (Peter), and Grub (Grub). Sheri became besties with Ona (Fiona), who owned the store and petrol station next door. Soon she was joking with Sheri and urging us to go see a sheep shearing, because that’s where Grub was working tomorrow. Everyone was fairly drunk, so we took it all as pleasant banter brought about by alcohol. Continue reading

Outback Adventure: State Route 19

When we left the coast of Queensland, I had no idea that we would be going on the most memorable part of our road trip in Australia. You might want to read about the driving challenges we faced, as that would be a good preface to this story. Our road trip was fairly uneventful until we left Townsville after returning from Magnetic Island. Google maps had been taking us on scenic routes, often taking us on circuitous secondary or residential streets when a more direct route existed. More often than not, this resulted in more traffic congestion and longer travel times. Sometimes, it would be costly when Google would direct me onto a tollway. Continue reading

Driving in Oz: From Six Lanes to a Dirt Road

Driving a camper van around Australia is a great way to see more of the country, meet new friends and have a great road trip adventure. Once you choose the right camper van rental company, half the battle is done. Sheri did it before and really loved it. Of course, she wasn’t doing the driving and has a very different perspective. As a driver, I also thought it would be lots of fun, but I wasn’t fully prepared for all the challenges that I faced. Continue reading

Choose Your Camper Van Rental Carefully

Traveling around the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand by camper van is becoming increasingly popular. We just spent three weeks driving 8,164 kilometers around Australia by camper van. I found that the company you select for your vehicle can really make or break your self-driving adventure. There are lots of companies in Australia that rent camper vans and what I failed to do was read some reviews on the company I selected. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have used the place we did. We rented from Hippie and received an Apollo camper van. Apollo is just one of several brands from the same company, including, Star, Cheapa Cheapa, Hippie and their manufacturing and sales brand Talvor. All of these companies have received more complaints than good reviews on web various sites except their own. It began with the whole process of picking up the camper. Continue reading

Of Kiwis and other such New Zealand oddities

I’m sorry to report that Sheri and I didn’t see any kiwis in the wild…at least not of the bird variety. What we did see was gorgeous landscapes, much of which is quite unique to this part of the world. Throw in some movie sets, a few good hikes, a great road trip, and it’s easy to see why people want to live here. In retrospect, we should have spent more time here, but New Zealand is expensive and more time meant higher overall costs. The time we did spend here was already budget busting, but I think we saw and did quite a lot for what it cost us. I foresee another trip in the future to see all that we missed this time around.

Our New Zealand adventure was only 7 full days when you factor in the travel days. We only spent 2 full days on the North Island and 5 full days on the South Island. To see and do as much as possible, we decided to rent a car instead of relying on public transportation; more about driving later. Here’s what we did with the limited time we had. Continue reading

We are finally on the road

We have been so extremely busy with preparations that I haven’t even had time to post that we’ve started. But we’ve more than just started, we’re already in New Zealand, our third country on our itinerary and we are lovin’ the scenery and weather. What hasn’t been easy is the rigorous schedule I’ve managed to put us on with only nine days to take in all the splendor of New Zealand.

But let’s go back a week to when it all began. With all our belongings safely in storage, we stayed with Sheri’s closest friend, Carol, on our final night in the U.S. We arrived late because of all the last minute packing we were finishing, but were treated to a wonderful home-cooked dinner. The next morning, we took the Amtrak train from the station in our hometown up to Vancouver, BC. We added an extra day before our flight to Sydney because, in the wintertime, you can never be sure that the train will actually make it. Track closures due to mudslides are quite common, so we didn’t want to be scrabbling on our first day. Continue reading

Our Preparation Timeline

Getting ready for a long-term trip, whether it be around the world or just a month abroad, requires quite a lot of advanced planning. Most people don’t realize how much advance planning is required to bring everything together at the right time. Heck, I didn’t know until I started.

As I look back on the last month before our departure, I realize that things didn’t go exactly as planned. Some things took much longer than anticipated and other things just didn’t get done and will have to be dealt with on the road. I think it would have been wonderful to have had some sort of timeline to help with my time management, but until I actually started working on the tasks, I didn’t know how long things would take. And I couldn’t find that sort of information on the Internet since everyone’s situation is different.

Here’s the timeline based on our hindsight that I wish I would have had, outlining what we needed to do and when. It might be helpful in planning your own journey. Continue reading

Destinations chosen – Updated


After a lot of research, I have come up with the countries we intend to visit during our around-the-world trip. After looking at the list, you may notice some obvious omissions to our list. Some places we have previously visited, such as China and Egypt, aren’t included in this trip, some are war zones or politically unstable, such as Pakistan and Mali, and a few, such as Japan and Antarctica, are just too expensive for us to include this time.

5 Continents, 61 Countries, 15 Months

We have included 62 countries we plan to visit. This list may change and will most likely get smaller as we whittle down the number due to lengthy travel times. I figure that, in the end, we’ll actually end up truly visiting about 4o countries and passing through about a dozen others. They will be visited somewhat in this order, but that too may change. The countries include: New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, UAE, Madagascar, Seychelles, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Continue reading