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+Nature has been taunting me with it’s delicious sunrises, dewy grass, and warm sunbeams in the morning, but by noon the rains have set in for the rest of the day. Must be coast life/spring weather?

+Speaking of literally living 200 yards from the ocean, I’m not even sure I’ve seen a typhoon/tsunami evacuation route here. Our house and the neighbors’ on either side of us are the closest houses in town to the water. The neighbors have lived here for 30+ years, so I’m guessing there isn’t a problem? One of the many things I think about at night.

+Let’s talk about seasons. My entire Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Bloglovin’ feed are filled to the brim with everything fall. New Zealand is just going into spring, and my brain is all sorts of confused as to what it should think right now. That being said, I’LL HAVE A SPRING BIRTHDAY NEXT MONTH! I always wanted one.

+There’s a mouse living in our ceiling at least we think it’s a mouse. At night he shuffles around so quietly, it sounds like someone’s walking into our bedroom on the carpet floor. I wake up at 4am every morning thinking some creepster is standing over our bed. #ridiculous

+Tell me: Is there a difference between raisins and sultanas? Because… I’m all sorts of confused. I just bought ‘Sultana Bran’ at the store the other day, but I also grabbed a bag of raisins for oatmeal cookies I have yet to make. Enlighten me.

+Speaking of oatmeal cookies, I can’t figure out my oven. The temperature gauges and different heat cycle gauges have been rubbed off. I’m going into this blind here.  The other day I was reheating leftovers for lunch, and what should have taken 10-15 minutes to do took 60 minutes. I had the temperature gauge all the way up. I think. #idontknowwhatsgoingon Since I’m working at home and Derik’s working full time outside the home, this will be my entertainment/challenge for the month. Baking level went from ‘maybe I’ll blow my face off trying to manually light this propane oven’ to ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing.’

+I walked around half a week with only my left hand in full gel manicure. My poor right hand nails never felt more neglected. I’m sure people I came across on a daily basis thought I was super weird, but what’s new?

+Why is it that it always takes 3599 days to get your WIFI hooked up in a new house? The installer guy didn’t even come over.  A week after the initial installation and connection request, and multiple phone calls after that, he just called me back and had me set it up myself. What a rip off.

+I’ve started putting bean sprouts on everything. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Where this new obsession came from? I don’t know.

+I just began unpacking the three boxes I sent myself way back in May, and there were certain things I already forgot about. I couldn’t imagine unpacking the five we left at Derik’s parent’s house! They should probably just throw that crap away…we would never even notice it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. Actually, (parent’s-in-law if you’re reading this) I hope they don’t! I think our marriage license and my wedding band is in one of those boxes. Not sure which one.

+My phone is currently updating to the new IOS8 software. I hope it doesn’t explode. Any thoughts on the new iPhones? I’m intrigued by the 6+. I know it’s a monster of a phone, but I secretly want to hold it in my hands and check it out. Think of the pictures you could take/view on that thing.

+Since it’ll probably rain this weekend, I plan on getting my calligraphy and watercolors back out and have a little fun. Melyssa has been inspiring me with all her gorgeous instagram posts!

+I’ll also be posting about Hobbiton sometime this weekend. Yes…the Shire! It’s the post many of you have been waiting for, and I have no clue why it’s taken me so long to post it. Although we aren’t huge LOTR junkies, we enjoy visiting movie set locations whenever we can! We’ve also visited two movie set locations for The Chronicles of Narnia. I had no idea parts were filmed here.

+I was so encouraged and loved over my last post, I can’t even begin to tell you (my readers) how thankful I am for you! Between the emails, Facebook messages, comments, and tweets…you all are fantastic.

Happy (almost) weekend!

Travel Blogging Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Alternate Title: ‘The Daunting Task of Travel Blogging.’


Travel Blogging: Braving the obvious obstacle of traveling the world into unfamiliar lands, trying to find internet, and spending those few and far between moments to pump out quality, informational posts for readers; sometimes I’m not sure why we even bother to do it. Travel blogging is one of the most overlooked blogging categories (apparently it wasn’t even a good enough category for Bloglovin’s annual awards), but I’m hoping that will change as people are starting look more into world awareness, curious to see what’s out there beyond the big blue ocean.

Sure as an outsider travel blogging may seem super glamorous, but it has it’s dark side. Before you consider taking the leap into travel blogging, here are a few things you should be aware of.

We hardly ever get free stuff. This is no joke. I’ve been more fortunate than most, and 3 companies have taken pity on this poor wanderer. I’ll be writing up a couple posts within the next few weeks about my shiny new stuff! That being said, I’ve been blogging for 2 and a half years. Do the math. That’s only about 1 company per year that’s willing to send things to me (internationally) for me to try out and love.

I know bloggers (usually lifestyle or fashion) who get free stuff all the time! Treats for their dogs, clothes, accessories, luggage, the list goes on and on. And what do they have to do for all that loot? Just post a picture or two with a link!

Someday (in my dreams)…this amazing blogging perk will eventually happen to me.

Finding WIFI is harder than you think  while traveling. What’s the number one thing you need for blogging? Let’s not all raise our hands here. Internet. Believe it or not, without WIFI/ethernet cables, there’s not much you can do in the blogging world. Have I been out of the loop blogging-wise in the last few weeks? That answer would be a resounding yes, and the reason why is because I’ve been traveling thousands of miles (USA and back), and moving houses. I think in the last 21 days I’ve had consistent internet for 3 days straight?

But here’s the deal. When you’re traveling, how stupid is it to spend two weeks in one of the most gorgeous locations you’ve ever been in, cooped up in your hotel room surfing on the internet? Not all of us ‘want’ to find WIFI…that is if it’s even to be found. The entire time Derik and I were in the Philippines, we only had the wifi we found in random restaurants along the road. So maybe you’ll get in a good 30 minutes to read emails and instagram, but blogging? No. Way.

As a travel blogger, part of our ‘work’ is to get out there, experience things, and write about them. Doesn’t do much good to head into the jungles of Borneo if you’re spending the whole time going from cafe to cafe, looking for internet, when you could be feeding orangutans and canoeing down rivers.

Some readers have a certain distain for travel bloggers. Most travel bloggers are bunched into one of two group: independently wealthily or  daddy dependent. The funny thing is, 95% of us aren’t either. If you’re curious about a certain blogger and wondering how they can afford such an adventurous life, do some digging in that blogger’s archive. You never know what kind of history you may find up. Whether they worked in SE Asia teaching English and saved every penny they had to travel, currently work 2-3 jobs at home,  or have taken up self-employment via journalism, graphic design, and technical work, the point is…travel bloggers work to afford the life we have.

I can understand being jealous (maybe that jealousy turns to hatred?) of a blogger because they get to do things that you may not be able to, but just remember they have most likely made a ton of sacrifices to get to where they are and what they are doing today! Turn that jealousy/hatred into curiosity, and reach out to that travel blogger and ask them how manage to live their particular life!

I’m often jealous of other travel bloggers myself, as there are a few that seem to just jet off every couple of weeks to a new location. How. IS. That. Possible?! Instead of hatred, I’ll turn my jealousy into pure admiration, as those bloggers have really worked hard, and must have their act together to be able to do that!

We look terrible in 95% of our travel photos. This point correlates with the last. Most world travelers have a different mindset than the rest of society when it comes to material possessions. We’d rather sell all our crap, buy a ticket abroad with the money, find work and a house ‘that will do temporarily.’ In the past three years I’ve only professionally cut and colored my hair once, gone to get a manicure twice, and rarely go out to shop. The thing is, we don’t need ‘things’ to make us happy. We need experiences, adventures, child-like wonder. That’s where our money goes.

That being said, because of our lack of material possessions, we don’t always look trendy, stylish, and put together in travel photos.  I should mention that not all of us have this problem, some travel bloggers go above and beyond to look good…and I’m not sure how they do it.  I’d rather not take an hour to do my hair and makeup when it’s 110 degrees outside; I’d be melting like a candle in 3 minutes flat. It happens. It’s a good thing I always remember deodorant. 

As a travel blogger, safety is a major concern. I want to somewhat blend in with the locals, and not be an immediate target for those who don’t have my best interest in mind. Flashy jewelry, designer brands (not that I even have anything ‘designer’), and unpractical shoes stay at home.

Speaking of photos, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The worst part about being a travel blogger is the obligation to take a million photos. I love being a shutterbug, and photography is one of my biggest hobbies, but the incredible sense of guilt I feel for not ‘documenting’ a certain part of a trip is stupid and unreasonable. Derik always ends up having to give me a reality check or two as I usually go crazy with taking a picture of everything. I want to make sure I can properly portray the location, feel, and flair of wherever we are traveling to, as I feel that my pictures can explain a place my words can’t.

However, when I go photo-crazy, I lose track of what’s important: really experiencing and acknowledging what’s going on around me. There’s only so much you can experience behind the lens of a camera, sometimes we need to put that camera down and take things in with our own two eyes. Yes?

Pinterest success just isn’t happening. Sure a travel post may get a pin or two here and there, but it won’t ever take off and get those 10,000 referrals a day from Pinterest like other posts about life hacks, not using shampoo, and sunburn remedies. #whatswrongwithpeople

Apparently ‘self and domestic’ help is the latest and greatest.  I suppose that’s what Pinterest is made for after all.

We’d rather be outside than sitting on our computer all day. As I’m typing this, I can hear the roaring waves from the ocean crashing on the gorgeous white sand beach not even 100 yards from my back porch. I already spent 2 hours this morning walking around enjoying the sunrise, can I go back and try to spot a penguin or two instead of writing this post? The point is, travel bloggers would rather be out traveling and living, than sitting inside on a computer all day. What’s the point in living life if you can’t actually live it? You don’t have to be on some remote island to enjoy the outdoors, take adventures, or be spontaneous. Seriously now.

Our hearts get all warm and fuzzy when you tell us we inspire, encourage, and enlighten you about world travel. The number one goal of a travel blogger is to share with readers the amazing world we live in. We want you to travel too! The only way (besides buying you an airplane ticket) we can get you to take the first step into a life full of adventures all over the world is to show you that it’s possible! When we get emails, tweets, and comments about how we’ve encouraged you to travel as well? That makes all the hard travel blogging stuff totally worth it. YOU are the reason we write and will continue to write. So for that? Thank you.

Travel bloggers are lovers of life. Travelers see the world a different way than most. We’ve been given five senses (taste, touch, hear, smell, and see), two legs, two hands, a brain, and a big heart to go see what we haven’t seen before; to experience life a way completely different than our own. We crave discovery, a chance to learn, and enjoy getting lost.

As a travel blogger I have the opportunity to share my perceptions of the world with thousands of readers I’ve never met. It’s crazy really. Yeah, travel blogging is difficult, and maybe not physically rewarding, but I love it anyway. Thanks for reading and being such great supporters!

Finding Work in New Zealand

I realize I’m on a kick with all these New Zealand posts, but I think quite a few of you are curious why and how we came to be living in New Zealand. Last month we talked a little bit about getting a work-holiday visa and doing the whole ‘campervan New Zealand‘ thing,  and this week I wanted to get a little more detailed about finding work in New Zealand.

Queenstown, New Zealand

First of all, I think it’s important to note that finding work on a work-holiday visa will be remarkably different than finding work on any other kind of residency visa. You’re in the country temporarily and employers know that.  You’ll have to sell how valuable you would be (even temporarily) to your future employer.  Also remember that you are a living, breathing, billboard of the kind of worker employers see you as. If you decide to walk into an employment agency like you just rolled out of bed, think of the kind of person you are selling to them.

Strangely enough we found the reverse to be true as well. Derik and I walked into a couple employment agencies with college transcripts, resumes, and visas in hand, all dressed up in business-casual like we were ready for our job interview on the spot. We learned later that a lot of these agencies are looking for part-time, man labour, entry-level jobs, and when they took one look at all our info they thought we wouldn’t be interested in any of the jobs they had to offer. I know this sounds completely absurd and I feel weird writing that, but I’m wanting to be honest and open about our job search process.

Ok so let’s dive into finding work in New Zealand (on a work-holiday visa) a little bit more:

What kind of jobs are available?

There are so many different kinds of jobs available that laying them out for you would take years. The seemingly most popular jobs are: nannying, construction work, fruit-picking, and jobs within the tourism industry. It’s fairly simple to find a job, it’s just a matter of where you look! You’ll have to check out (be sure to put on the New Zealand filter or it will default to Australia) and Trademe to get an idea of what’s out there, and possibly find some job opportunities!

We also discovered on our job hunt that many employers write notices for employment within local newspapers. Best part about living in a digital age? Those newspapers are online! While we were testing the job-market waters in Queenstown we would read the Otago Daily Times job section to see what was available. Newspapers offer more personal job listings whereas online sites (Trademe and Seek) list more corporate  jobs.

If during your job hunt you find a company you’re particularly interested in working with, don’t be afraid to drop in and ask if they have any openings, even if they haven’t listed with a local employment agency! Derik found his job by directly emailing the company he was interested in working with, and what they had available for him was exactly the kind of job he was working for.

Full-time or Part-time? 

It really depends on what you want. Full-time is a bit harder to find, especially on a work-holiday visa, but it can be done. Derik is working full-time as a project manager with a construction retail company. We spent a good month and a half finding a job that would continue to build his resume, and were initially turned away from jobs just because of his work-holiday visa. Most companies don’t want to hire anyone full-time that’s going to be around for a year or less, but with his job we got lucky. He’s doing project work, meaning once he’s done with his one big project (ending in December), he can choose to stay and sign on for another project or be done. Right now we’re toying with the idea of staying in New Zealand longer than a year, and if that’s the case,  we’d like him to stay with the company and get a solid work visa once his work-holiday has expired.

I, on the other hand , am working part-time as a freelance blog designer and travel blogger. We originally thought I would work outside the home, but my design business picked up in June and hasn’t slowed down! It has paid the rent and more during the time Derik was waiting for his project to start (it just started late last month), and I feel incredibly humbled and blessed to be able to work from home and do my part in contributing to our finances! I’d love to share more on how I got started with working from home, and what my income looks like, but that’ll be another blog post down the road.

All that to say, full-time is great, and so is part-time! Both are available, so do what you’re comfortable with. If you’re one of those people that needs variety in their life, give working multiple part-time jobs a try. :) But remember, you’re in New Zealand to explore one of the most gorgeous countries in the world, so don’t waste your time working your life away. Do what you can to ‘break even’ and save a little extra for travel. What more do you need?

Queenstown, New Zealand

What about vacations?

I didn’t realize how terrible vacation time was in the USA until I moved abroad. You’d be lucky to get even two weeks paid (maybe unpaid) vacation per year, and even at that you’re afraid everyone at work would hate you for taking those two weeks.

Being an ESL teacher in Korea was wonderful because you got paid holidays (sometimes those holidays were 3-5 days), and two weeks paid vacation on top of that! I know others who received 4+ weeks, but let’s be realistic, they were the lucky few.

One of the greatest things that I learned about New Zealand employment opportunities was that each employed person (whether full-time or part-time) is entitled to 4 weeks annual paid vacation. 5 paid sick days (after working 6 months), and 11 paid public holidays! You may have had to reread that last sentence, and that’s ok, I read it like five times. If you don’t believe me I’ll send you my ‘worker’s rights’ email that was forwarded to me right after I was approved for my work-holiday visa!

New Zealanders love to work, but they love to play more. I won’t complain.

What’s the minimum wage? 

Minimum wage as an adult is $14.25 per hour. However, if you have experience within the specific area of work you’re trying to get a job in, you can actually make a lot higher of a wage. When you receive your initial job offer and the wage isn’t quite what you’re expecting, don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit more (be realistic though).

Sure minimum wage here is twice as high as back in the US ($7.25 right now), but remember the cost of living is also a lot more in New Zealand, so it equals out.

What if I like my job and I want to stay longer than a year?

If you’re in New Zealand on a work-holiday visa from the UK you can actually extend your visa for another 11 months quite easily. However, if you’re from anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to apply for a completely different visa. Derik is interested in staying with his company for more than a year, so he will most likely be applying for a straightforward temporary work visa.

Life changes though, so we’re not going to bank 100% on staying past our year until the time gets closer. You never know what other great opportunities are out there!

Queenstown, New Zealand

The cool thing about being on a work-holiday visa is that you don’t have to feel pressured to have a job 100% of the time. It’s not a regular work visa that makes you leave the country when you loose your job. Relax, enjoy, holiday in New Zealand, and do some work on the side. You only have one life to live (or more like one year to work-holiday in NZ), so do it well.

All photos taken in Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand