We are Terry and Maura, TravelKiwis from Wellington, New Zealand.
We are both just into our 50s; we’ve sold our family home and small business, intending to see a bit of the world. Finding somewhere in Europe to live for a while.
Usually, at 50, we should settle down and enjoy the odd trip away.
However, we have decided to challenge ourselves by planning a travel adventure and a new way of living without many possessions.
Selling our house and most of our possessions, we are now ready to start a life of travel and housesitting.
To give you a bit of background on how TravelKiwis got to this place …
Who are TravelKiwis?
Terry has a sales and business management background, while Maura is an Accountant and did a great job running our business for over five years.
We spent three years living in England, not long after we got married. While there, we had several trips around Europe and have always intended to return, and now we are nearly there.
We recently found our travel diaries from our 80s adventure, transcribed them into a blog at travelpod.com and searched tmm-mam (our initials).
It was quite eye-opening to read after all these years of the times we slept on trains, under bridges, beside rivers, and even on park benches.
Terry’s run-in with Ouzo, Maura’s martial arts on some potential thieves, things we would not want our sons to be doing!
So sitting on a wonderful beach at Port Douglas, Australia, for our 25th wedding anniversary got us thinking.
How could we have a more relaxed lifestyle?
So what did we do?
We got back to New Zealand and bought a small business. Not quite the idea of a relaxed lifestyle, but as our youngest was still in college, we put a plan in place.
In five years, we wanted to start our travel adventure.
When our three sons were all in their 20s, yes, we would miss them, but we left New Zealand to start our slow travel adventure.
Our adventure began on the 14th of February 2016 (St Valentine’s Day).
What is TravelKiwi’s blog about?
To show you how you can travel with less at a slower pace through unfamiliar countries where language and culture are all new to you.
We initially planned a four-month trip through South East Asia and China.
Our inspiration to travel for four months came from a three-week trip to Singapore, Japan and Koh Samui in Thailand.
We loved that brief experience so much that we had to return to Asia for a much longer visit.
This is going to be an amazing adventure.
Welcome to our TravelKiwis Adventure
When we decided to give up our jobs and sell our home and business, we knew we wanted to travel through Asia to Europe. But not having spent much time in Asia, there was a lot of research to be done.
Fortunately, we had more than a year between the decision and our planned departure, so off to the internet, we went. It was, along with many other sources, a goldmine of information.
As we researched, we kept adding places we wanted to visit, and our two-month South East Asia trip became three months. And when we decided to add China, it was now four months.
One thing we learned from our first trip around Europe was to take more time in each place we visit.
During our 1980s 60-night European trip, we tried to see as many places as possible, staying only a day or two.
We saw many places but didn’t get to know them well.
How will we Travel to Asia?
On this trip, we will spend at least three days in most places (apart from our group tours) and up to a week in several places.
We want a good feel for the places we have chosen to stay, the people, the food and the sights.
So we have broken the adventure down into four different trips to make it easier for our planning:
- Australia – Singapore – Malaysia 26 days
- Thailand – Laos 24 days
- Cambodia – Vietnam 34 days
- China – Hong Kong 32 days
Then Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi for four nights in the desert. And only with 10kgs of luggage.
Four Months in Asia with Carry-on Only
“I am not spending four months travelling through Asia with carry-on luggage only!”
That was Maura’s reaction to my suggestion that we forgo checked baggage and take what we could carry onboard the plane.
I had a good laugh before explaining that it’s going to be hot in Asia, and the bigger the bag, the more you pack, the heavier the bag, the heavier the bag, the heavier the bag, the more you sweat, in the humidity.
Maura said something about ladies not sweating but perspiring.
I hate waiting for my checked luggage in airports!
So much time is wasted waiting for bags and queuing to get through customs. With carry-on only, we could skip waiting for luggage and are first through customs.
More time seeing places, less time waiting around! Genius!
Maura had forgotten about the conversation until she opened a package from Santa containing two small backpacks. These would fit into the overhead lockers of a plane.
We had a good laugh, and Maura came around to see my logic. We were committed to carrying on luggage only.
Leaving Wellington on Valentine’s Day, we made it to Paris on the 13th of June with only 10kgs.
And once in Europe, we would be housesitting as well as travelling.
What is House Sitting
If you don’t know much about housesitting, like us, we have plenty of information for you.
You can click on this link to find out more ➡ Housesitting.
Or you can check out this website, Go House Sitting.
We discovered the benefits of slow travel and living like a local from housesitting assignments in Sydney.
When looking after a home and its pets, it became the ideal solution for keeping within our travel budget.
We signed up for a few housesitting websites, including Trusted Housesitters.
If you want to check out the Trusted Housesitters website and learn more, then click on this link Trusted Housesitters.
It will also give you a 20% discount on your membership when you sign up.
Keeping Safe while Travelling
As part of our travel planning, we needed to ensure we had adequate medical while travelling.
Especially in Asia, where it is important to ensure the travel insurance coverage is available for emergency medical care.
We chose CoverMore Travel Insurance.
The online claims process and contact from CoverMore were so easy. And one of the reasons we keep renewing each year.
For an online quote, click on the link above to get started.
How to Book Sightseeing Day Tours
We know once we talk to fellow travellers in the countries we visit, they will probably recommend places of interest to see in Asia and Europe.
This is why we use local tour operators available through Viator.
The selection of available tours, with the advantage of booking while in a city or country, makes the process much easier to manage.
Depending on how we feel, we can use Viator for the must-see places in Asia and things to do in Europe.
TravelKiwis Preferred Accommodation
We have booked many accommodations, but we understand we must be flexible. Why?
You want to stay longer when you fall in love with a place like we did when visiting Koh Samui in Thailand.
Or you need a longer break from travelling, so you need to be flexible with your dates—one of the reasons for spending 6 Days in Hoi An while in Vietnam.
We have planned to allow this flexibility, so we have signed up for Bookings.com and Airbnb.
GAdventures or Intrepid?
We decided for some of our Asian adventures, we would use a tour group.
A tour group is an ideal solution when you don’t feel confident about a country or lack the expertise to navigate the country by yourself.
15-Day Intrepid Tour of Thailand and Laos
Laos is a relatively new country for tourism, so we chose to explore Laos with Intrepid.
Knowing it would be just us for many of our adventures, taking a tour is a chance to meet other travellers. Some of whom we still keep in touch with.
And the highlight of the tour was the Two Day Mekong River Cruise.
15-Day GAdventure Tour of China
China was the only country on our four-month Asian adventure we were most nervous about. We hadn’t booked any accommodation or travel, knew nothing of the language, and felt slightly intimidated.
Fortunately, while planning, we came across the GAdventure 15-Day Tour.
The tour started in Beijing, heading north to some lesser-known places. Taking in Xian and Yangshuo before finishing in Hong Kong. And what an adventure it turned out to be.
If you want an unsanitized experience of China, then GAdventure is right for you.
Highlights are the unrestored Great Wall of China, biking ancient walls of the Xian city and staying at the Shaolin Monastery for martial arts.
Keep in Touch with TravelKiwis
This travel blog is a way of keeping in contact with you so you can be inspired by what we are doing.
We want to share our experiences, love of flavoursome food, different cultures, the people we meet and the places we see.
It has been so much fun planning this trip!
In upcoming blogs, we’ll cover these trips in more detail.
Tell you the resources we used for planning, how we got house-sitting assignments, and more.
And you can always join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram by clicking on the links.
Terry and Maura – TravelKiwis
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