My family and I like to plan one big trip a year to somewhere we have never been and if it’s international and far away the better. We typically do this during the summer when my wife and daughters have more schedule flexibility but this year we did it over the holiday season which outside of being away from our immediate families was a great time to not only have fun but reflect a bit on the year.
It’s important to take this time to reward ourselves and remember why we work. Beyond life sustainment, opening your minds to new cultures and ways of life is really something we enjoy, and I think benefits us a lot. The time spent with your family away from smartphones, their friends and other distractions with our daily lives is something that I can’t get enough of and is immensely enriching in re-bonding with them. Seeing them and us return to “to do lists” and our hectic schedules when the trip is over is a bit disheartening but also makes you really appreciate these short windows of time to get everyone together and enjoy each other’s company as we all have fun and learn new things.
This year’s trip took us on an 18-day adventure to Australia and New Zealand. Getting there often puts this location on the back burner for many of us but its well worth it. My wife and daughters love to get involved and lead the planning on this which makes it great for me as I know their vested interests will be covered. The plan this year was around adventure activities, but you can’t help getting a well-rounded education in different cultures, ways of thinking and local slang. Although the point is rest and relaxation, I do keep my eyes open for how folks do business and often discuss with chatty and friendly tour drivers and fellow travel guests what’s happening locally in a wide variety of issues from sports to their economy and politics.
We share far more in common and as global citizens, it’s a shame we don’t think and connect more with others to appreciate what we have and learn new ways of doing things that can improve the quality of our lives and communities. This can be from the mundane to more grander observations. On a small note for instance, I fell in love with a way of making coffee called a long black. It’s basically two shots of expresso and the rest hot water. I was able to drink it without adding any milk to it, something I haven’t been able to achieve stateside. When I returned from my trip, my daily coffee seemed so weak in comparison that I’m going to figure out a new way of making this for myself. Later I found out that this is just an Americano ordered at Starbucks, but it still didn’t taste as good so somethings up.
Another observation was the use of roundabouts. They are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand. Outside of the big cities, you will find yourself rarely coming to a stop sign or signal light making travel a pleasure as you seem to be always moving. I was wondering why we don’t have more of these in the U.S. On the sporting front, the sports that I saw on TV and were talked about are games like cricket, Australian football (no helmets and these guys really go at it) and more obscure sports like the darts championships. I would watch and try to understand rules, but cricket is something I’ll need more instruction on. Games can go over 5 days long and it somewhat resembles baseball but more a much more gentlemanly game in appearance.
Politics, 65% of the folks in Australia support Trump. Whether you are a supporter or not isn’t the point, but how countries think and why are of interest to me. One driver even asked me about what I thought about the recent tax reform. They would ask me my opinions and what struck me is that folks are far more knowledgeable about what’s happening in our country than what we know about them. I honestly did not know the Australian prime minster’s name before I went on the trip nor what common issues the locals are grappling with. It made me think that I need to re-subscribe to the Economist or Financial Times, maybe national geographic that cover more global issues to reconnect with the global scene.
The real estate in both countries are on fire just like the states and maybe more so. The average 1-bedroom apartment in Sydney is easily over $1m and small post card sized homes in the suburbs same price range and higher. I found this true in Melbourne and Queenstown, NZ, where prices for real estate is bonkers. Perth may be a better buy. It’s more dependent on an improving mining industry and that is on the recovery as a couple from Perth mentioned where you can still get a decent home for $300K. It made me really appreciate the value I get for my money in Austin where we live and felt bad for young couples trying to figure out how to make it work in these countries.
Getting back to what we toured and participated in, challenging yourself to do new activities is both something that’s good for the mind and soul. It develops your courage and improves your confidence that you can learn new things and makes you realize that there is a lot more life out there worth experiencing. From zip lining in the New Zealand forest canopy, to scuba diving on the Great Barrier reef to climbing to the top of the outer arch on the Sydney Harbor bridge, we proved to ourselves that taking the courage to try new things is exhilarating, rewarding and worth doing. Many of these are definitely “bucket list” items for many. In New Zealand, we learned about the Maori people and their culture who were the first inhabitants. My daughter’s new expression when she meets folks is “Kia Ora” or welcome in Maori language. Everyone should visit New Zealand, especially if you like raw, unique scenery and especially if you are an avid outdoor adventure seeker.
Now, this all takes planning, time and financial resources. Before starting my own real estate business, I thought about the rewards that would come with being an entrepreneur. What that lifestyle design would look like is something that I was looking forward to after 20 years in the corporate world working for someone else. If the business was to be a success, it was going to not only be fun and challenging but of equal importance was schedule flexibility to take these types of long getaways and the financial rewards would need to be enough for me to take my whole family on these long trips and do things we always wanted to pursue. I could not have taken this much time off at my corporate job and even though I was doing well, the financial resources to pull it off would have been more challenging.
In summing up, when planning on your goals for the year, make sure you know why you are working so hard, understand that there are some amazing places to go, doing that with people you want to be with and having the time and resources to pull it off really can make your life even more special. Consider international travel where you get to meet some amazing people, witness new lands and cultures and doing this with your family away from all our daily distractions I can bet that your life will be so much more enriched.