Author Archives: Wife with Baggage

Travelling? Check! The Art Of Ticking Things Off A Bucket List

Having a bucket list is a start, but it’s only the beginning. Unfortunately, too many people have a physical or mental list which they cram with activities. And, that’s right – they are still on there waiting to get discovered. Not to preach, but there is no point in developing a list if the person is not going to tick things off it once in awhile. Come on – live a little!

For the people who want turn pipe dreams into reality, here’s what to consider. These are the tips which help hone the art of bucket listing.

Regular Holidays
One vacation every summer is not enough. Sure, it’s a nice getaway and helps the whole family recharge their batteries. But, and not to judge, is a beach holiday on the list? Of course it isn’t, because it’s an experience an average person can have on a regular basis. To ensure there is ample opportunity to tick dreams off, it is vital to go on as many holidays as possible. That way, it’s a straightforward task to mix adrenaline filled experiences with lying on the sand sipping piña coladas. At least two to three a year should do the job.

Bigger Budget
Of course, to go on three holidays a year, a family needs a big budget. After all, flights and accommodation for five people aren’t cheap. Plus, the activities which are once in a lifetime cost a pretty penny, too. It goes without saying that money makes a bucket list spin, but how does one save enough? It’s simple really: put the holiday first. Things at home always get in the way, from a renovation to a new car. By placing a vacation first, it makes the family put aside cash every month. The kids can get involved as well.

The Science Element
Just because science isn’t an enjoyable subject doesn’t mean it won’t come in handy. If it is preferable, it is okay to call it logistics instead of science. The pertinent things to remember are the small details. For example, the Aurora Borealis is top five in the majority of peoples’ bucket lists. But, trekking into the Arctic Circle in the middle of summer is a sure-fire way to waste money. The science of the Northern Lights means hunters have to go in late autumn to early spring every year. Any earlier and the constant daylight will scupper the plan.

Risk It For A Biscuit
Finally, it doesn’t matter how much money and planning goes into a bucket list. If there isn’t an element of risk taking, the list will stay full forever. Let’s face it – doing the same thing every year is easy. Not only is it simple, but it’s comfortable and cozy. Trekking through the snow in the Arctic Circle is cold, strenuous, and not guaranteed to get results. But, when it pays off, there is no better feeling in the world. The key is to accept it’s a gamble and go anyway. After all, the majority of activities on a bucket list are once in a lifetime.

This post is a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I liked the content enough to publish it here on Wife with Baggage. I hope it encourages, educates and entices you to travel more!

The Privilege Of Spontaneity

We understand why people get the urge to plan out their travels. It is just the most effective way to get the most out of your trip, both in terms of time and money. The days you are away will be precious and your budget is limited, and that is where a bit of planning can do you wonders, especially given planning is easier than ever.

Image source

The problem is, something special is lost when you know what you will be doing and when. Anticipation just has a way of numbing the most wonderful part of traveling, which is that chance to go off script – something most people’s everyday lives don’t allow. Wake up, get dressed, commute to work, do your job, go home, sleep, repeat. Yeah, the perfect antidote to this mundane routine is shooting off on a wildly unpredictable trip, the privilege of spontaneity running rife.

So, without further ado, here are our top tips for enjoying a much more spontaneous adventure:

Image source

Book Somewhere Central And Forget The Rest
The greatest thing about staying somewhere central is you then having a plethora of opportunities to follow your heart. You have all the attractions you could possibly need and all the transport options at your fingertips, which means you are fully prepped for an unplanned adventure. It is all there. Whether you go north, south, east or west, it is all there.

Image source

Drive Without A Destination
It can be much harder to wing it when getting from one place to the next is done on someone else’s time, which is where car rental changes the game completely. You won’t need to know what time the ferry leaves from which port and then plan how you will get there, or know what platform your train to such and such leaves from. Instead, you can just drive. You can follow the sun or just circle somewhere on your map and then drive. That is spontaneity at its best.

Try Not To Have An Unplanned Day
Resisting the urge to plan just one thing every day is even harder than resisting the urge to lick a dripping ice cream. However, it is usually the most spontaneous days that live longest in our memories. Sure, visiting Buckingham Palace – one of the most celebrated tourist spots in the world – will be up there with the best day outs imaginable, but playing a game of tag in Brockwell Park and the back streets of Brixton will make your smile more in hindsight. So, if it is possible, try and enjoy at least one day where you plan nothing and see where the world takes you.

Image source

Use Locals Not Apps
Approaching a bona fide local and asking them what their favorite place nearby is the best way to stumble across hidden gems, and without ruining any of the surprises either. When you use an app or a review site you instantly see pictures of all the things you can do, and that dulls some of the magic. But asking a local and then stumbling around the corner only to have your mind blown by the beauty of something is like nothing else. So, yeah, next time you’re hoping to enjoy a spontaneous trip, just stop a local and ask them what they think.

Camping in the Caucasus Mountains

The South Caucasus is the cradle of the oldest civilizations, the region of high mountain ranges and snow-capped peaks. The Caucasian mountains have long become a popular destination for hikers and camping enthusiasts. So, today we’d like to tell you about the most attractive places for the camping in Armenia and Georgia – two hospitable countries of the South Caucasus.

Camping in Armenia
Your trip to Armenia will be undoubtedly full of new impressions. In the Armenian mountains you will find beautiful valleys and dense forests, mountain rivers and lakes. The palette of the sunset in an isolated place and the mountain air in the morning will be the most unforgettable moments of your camping. The large national parks of Armenia are the best choices for camping, the flora and fauna there are kept pristine and strictly protected.

Camping on Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Armenia. The largest freshwater lake in the CIS is located in the national park with natural and historical sites. Camping at the lake attracts ecotourism lovers. Here you can enjoy the most delicious fish, Ishkhan, stroll through ancient fortresses and monasteries, and of course, enjoy the colors of the sunset on the lake. In the park, you can find wild beaches, where you will be in a complete harmony with nature.

Camping in Dilijan National Park
Dilijan national park is the largest in Armenia with rich in flora and fauna. The national park includes forest landscapes and mountain ranges, the lakes Parz, Gosh, Bachnilich, Zhangotlich, as well as historical monuments of Haghartsin, Goshavank, Matosavank and ancient burial places, which are very important for the country’s history and culture.

Camping in Lastiver
Another popular destination for camping is Lastiver. In a small territory there are several unique natural attractions that should be definitely included in “must visit” list. Here is one of the most interesting caves inhabited in the Mesolithic Age. The entrance and walls of the caves have preserved traces of humans who lived on the territory more than 10,000 years ago. Below the caves, in dense forests, there is a cascade of waterfalls.

Camping in Georgia
Georgia amazes with alpine meadows, boundless forests, gurgling rivers, crystal lakes and celestial peaks of mountain ranges. Caucasian mountains in Georgia offer many popular places for camping with unique natural beauty as well as the mild climate for most of the year. Trips to Georgia are mostly organized in the places listed below.

Camping in Adjara
Do you want to combine two great activities in just one place? Camping in Adjara is an unforgettable experience on the seashore of the Black Sea. There are several places for camping on the shores of the Black Sea. Mtirala Park in Adjara is a small corner of the subtropical forest in a mountainous country. Camping in the area can be combined with trekking about the sights. Leave the tourist centers behind and head to the region of Guria. Here the subtropical climate changes to tropical with dense palm groves. One thing that will capture attention is the black color of historical monuments. Black is not only the color of temples and monasteries but also the color of national clothes and modern buildings. You can organize camping both in the Kolkheti national park and on the beach.

Camping in Borjomi National Park
The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is not only the most popular resort region, but also the largest national park in the Caucasus and Europe. This is a great place for trekking, horse riding and camping. Here you can enjoy the clean mountain air and coniferous forests.

Camping in Javakheti
Samtskhe-Javakheti is waiting for those whose hearts are in the mountains. Here are located the largest lakes of Georgia – Parvana, Kartsakhi, Madatapa. Khanchali, Samago and Tabatskuri. Camping in Javakheti will take place along the shores of lakes, through forests and mountain passes. While camping, you can go fishing or take a bike ride.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

Traveling Around The World On A Budget

Traveling the world is the dream. Of course, it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s a pipe dream when you consider the costs of such a venture, right? Well, maybe you don’t have to make do with lounging around on a sunbed in your back garden next time the summer break swings around. Traveling doesn’t have to be quite as expensive as you might imagine if you do your research. And that doesn’t just include budget vacations to seaside resorts. There are ways to see incredible places around the world without crippling your bank account.

So, next time your friend asks if you’ve been traveling lately, you don’t have to respond with the typical, “I don’t have enough money for that.” If you’ve been dying to see the world for a long time now then here are some pieces of advice that should help you see all the great sights you’ve only ever seen in pictures for a very reasonable price.

Picture Source

America.

This is one of the most fascinating continents in the world when it comes to diverse and influential cultures. North America boasts a wide variety of culture across its many states (which are essentially miniature countries in their own right). Still, traveling to the Northern part of this continent might set you back a little bit with your bank balance. Of course, if you want to see something different (perhaps you already live in the United States so you’d like to venture further out into the world), then Central America might be a part of the world that you’d much rather visit.

For the explorer who’s on a mission to experience some of the most culture-soaked spots in the world, you’ll definitely find a lot of that in the center of this continent. Smaller Central American countries such as El Salvador and Nicaragua are fantastically low-budget with regards to accommodation and meals. Most importantly, however, you’ll be seeing fantastic sights for these low prices. Jungles, surfs, ancient ruins, and barely any tourists to ruin your sightseeing experience; this is the perfect part of the world to visit on your travels.

Europe.

Europe is one of the most beautiful continents in the world. Again, much like every other continent, its countries are diverse and proud of their individual heritages. Nonetheless, there’s some semblance of a bond and connection between all the countries in this part of the world. If you’re looking for a budget traveling experience, however, then Far Eastern Europe is definitely the part of this continent that you need to visit. Not only do you pay far less in countries such as Ukraine and Bulgaria than you would in western European places such as France or Germany but you get just as much charm. They’re definitely stunning countries with far more to their culture and story than people might assume from the surface of things.

Picture Source

Asia.

Asia is a vast and sprawling continent boasting many diverse cultures. It’s hard to suggest any single place to begin but Indonesia is definitely a fantastic place to see if you’re on a budget. However, a low cost of living by western standards does not, by any means, detract from the sheer wonder of the country in itself. A full dinner may cost the equivalent of 1 dollar but the meals you can get for such a small amount of money are absolutely delicious. Chili spices, coconut milk, fish, and chicken are just a few of the staples that you’ll find in most Indonesian cuisine and you can’t beat the taste of their local, fresh delicacies. In terms of history and heritage, there are many beautiful and fascinating temples in the heart of Indonesia. The Prambanan and Borobudur temples, Toraja and Bali, are well worth a visit if you want an insight into Hinduism. Most tours come at incredibly reasonable prices too.

You could also look into a cheap room for rent in Singapore if you’re interested in the area of Southeast Asia. This city-state truly is a beautiful combination of modern city landscapes and ancient cultural heritage. If you want to see the world on a budget then this is definitely one of the places you should include on your journey; it’s low-cost and high-reward in terms of the experiences you’ll have. The ‘Lion City’, as it’s often called, is also a very unique place because it’s the only island city-state in the world. Of course, claims to fame such as this aren’t the things that make Singapore such a wonderful place to visit. It has wonderful sights such as Merlion Park to thank for that; home to the Merlion statue, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, this park is just one of many jaw-dropping sights in this great place. The Macritchie Nature Trail, often notable for its incredible elevated walkway towering above the biodiversity of Singapore below, is another fantastic sight that you need to see.

Africa.

To be more specific, you need to see South Africa. Many Northern African countries are worth visiting if you want an eye-opening experience and have some time or resources available to help people who are struggling in places such as Nigeria and elsewhere. Still, if you’re looking simply to travel and spend as little money as possible whilst still having an enlightening and awe-inspiring experience then South Africa is definitely somewhere you need to visit.

It’s unbelievable that you can have a safari experience here that takes you through some of the most stunning locations in that part of the world at a ridiculously low-budget price. Gems such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi are the perfect place to see creatures such as the white rhino; it’s a humbling and thought-provoking experience which might just inspire you to do more to protect these endangered species. Of course, you’ll also want to visit famous tourist hotspots such as Cape Town. Yes, some top tourist locations can be infuriatingly crowded but this one is definitely worth the visit.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

Top 8 Must-See Places in Colorado

So, you’re planning to take a trip to Colorado and looking for suggestions on the must-see places in the Centennial State? Perhaps you want to visit the National Parks or spend a few days exploring Denver. There are plenty of beautiful cabins for rent in Colorado nestled away to give you comfort and luxury on your trip. Here are some things you should consider when you’re in Colorado.

1# Try the Longest and Fastest Zipline in Colorado:

Located in the Rocky Mountains National Park, challenge yourself to try out this extreme activity. The Zipline is open all year round, so there’s no excuse for missing out on this thrilling experience. Tour packages are available online where you can choose from four to eight rides. Or why not combine them all if you have extra time and feeling more adventurous in this spectacular national park? Take the opportunity and book this fantastic experience.

2# Experience the Durango and Silverton Train Ride:

For a more relaxed trip, head to Durango in the southwest. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge and Railroad Museum is an excellent place to visit on a day trip. There are a few packages to choose from depending on what suits your time and budget. Visit the museum and take the train ride from Durango to Silverton and back again while listening to the historical narration to learn about this famous railway.

3# Visit the Garden of Gods:

The Garden of Gods is renowned for its red rocks and geological formations. This is a great place to enjoy with the whole family especially if you have young kids who love the outdoors. A vast park with beautiful views, museums and dinosaur exhibits appeal to the younger ones.

You can also join an open-air jeep or a Segway tour to have a more up-close experience. For the more adventurous, hike the trails or go rock climbing. The park offers a free 20-minute nature talk and a 30-minute guided tour each day at 10.00am or 2.00pm. If this still isn’t enough, they have a 5 km fun run every Thursday evening from 4.00pm to 6.00pm. You can easily spend an entire day here with the whole family without getting bored.

4# Go Mountain Biking in Fruita:

Mountain biking trails in Fruita are probably the best in all of Colorado. This is a haven for bike enthusiasts with the many paths to choose from depending on your time and ability. There are quick and shorter paths on 18 roads, which typically take between one to two hours. For more extended and challenging trails, try the Kokopelli Loops with more obstacles and scenic views. Expect to spend up to four hours to do the harder routes.

5# Visit the Dinosaur National Monument:

Another national park worth visiting in Colorado is the Dinosaur National Monument. You can see Dinosaur fossils from the Deinonychus, Abydosaurus and Allosaurus. With more than 800 paleontological sites, it makes a fun historical day trip. The Monument is near the border with Utah, a few hours from Denver. When you get to the visitor centre, take a scenic drive along the Tour of Tilted Rocks and Harpers Corner. If you’re up for this desert adventure, be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection.

6# Visit Aspen:

Famous for its mountains and ski resort, Aspen is also home to local breweries, the Silver Queen Gondola, and mesmerising views. Aspen is a great place to relax in the summer where you can find a beautiful spot to have a picnic and just soak up the green and calming view from the top of the mountains. If you want to visit any of the museums or ride the Gondola, it’s a good idea to book tickets online for discounts and priority passes.

7# Walk Over the Royal Gorge Bridge Park:

The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in Colorado located an hour away from Colorado Springs. This famous tourist attraction near Cañon City is another thrilling experience for visitors. You can walk the 268-metre bridge from one tower to the next while admiring the view of the gorge below. If the bridge is one of the main highlights of your trip, try the Skycoaster at the nearby theme park. For a more relaxed alternative, ride the gondolas and admire the views from 670 meters in the air. More information is available online, and you can buy tickets from their website at better rates than on the day.

8# Experience the City of Denver:

Most tourists travel to Denver to visit the museums, see the parks and go shopping. Whether you’re here with friends, your partner or the family, Denver has everything you need for a remarkable trip. For shoppers, there are famous malls to choose from on 16th Street, Larimer Square and Cherry Creek. If you prefer a sightseeing trip, sign up for the Free Walking Tour to get a better insight into the city’s famous landmarks and history from a local guide. A range of other paid tours will take you around the city and to nearby attractions.

Have a Fun Trip to Exciting Colorado:

There’s a lot of things to do and see in Colorado, from experiencing the city life to hiking the trails in famous national parks whilst enjoying the surreal views. Whether you’re here for a weekend trip with friends or on an extended vacation with your family, Colorado will have something for everyone. Plan your trip and book your tickets in advance so you can have a much more satisfying and memorable holiday.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

Get That Lone Star State Of Mind: The Ultimate Texas Bucket List

Whether you already live in Texas, or you plan on stopping by for a vacation of a lifetime, there are loads of experiences we think you should add to your bucket list. This is the second largest state in the US and is seriously gigantic, so you need to do a little bit of planning if you want to do everything on this list. Book yourself a place in top-notch hotels, such as Quality Inn & Suites NRG Park, and load up your car with all your travel essentials. You are sure to have a fantastic time whatever you do, but if you are stuck for choice, we think you should stick the following on your bucket list. Enjoy!

Seek out the greatest thrills and spills

(image)

Thrill junkies won’t be in short supply of incredible, death-defying things to do in the state. Want some examples? Well, why not tube down one of the many rivers in Texas, including the Guadalupe which is slap bang in the middle of the famous Horseshoe Loop. Experienced cave divers should take a cliff-jump into the bottomless black hole of Jacob’s Well. Mountain bike through ‘the Grand Canyon of Texas,’ Palo Duro Canyon, which is the second largest of its kind in the United States. Then channel your inner Indiana Jones, and discover some of the greatest caves in existence, including the Caverns of Sonora which date back to the Cretaceous-period. Unlike Jones, you may choose to brave the ‘snake pit,’ which is lying within. Don’t worry; it’s perfectly safe!

Eat your way through Texas


(image)

There are some fantastic places to eat, and you need to add some of these food choices to your bucket list. Dare yourself to eat the ‘burger from Hell’ at Coyote Bluff Cafe. Vanquish the ‘Texan King,’ 72 ounces of pure Texas beef, at the The Big Texan State Ranch. Slurp on the wood-fire roasted oysters at Gilhooley’s, the ultimate seafood dive bar. Savour deep-fried anything at the Texas State Fair, including, we kid you not, deep-fried beer! Then, for those of you with a sweet tooth, stop off at Buc-ees, the convenience store of the Gods, and stock up on some of the finest candy around, including the incredible cinnamon roll crunch popcorn. They may not be the healthiest foods around, but this is your bucket list, so diet plans be damned!


Live and breath Texas


(image)

There are some things Texas is particularly famous for, so you need to add some of the following to your list if you really want to get that Lone Star state of mind. For starters, take a step back in history and remember the Alamo, by visiting the site where the struggle for independence took place. Walk in the boots of a real cowboy and visit one of the many rodeos scattered around Texas, including the Stockyards Championship Rodeo which is held every Friday and Saturday night throughout the year. Then, live out one of the greatest tv shows ever made, Friday Night Lights, and go and see the Permian Panthers in Odessa, the inspiration behind the show, and see them play. Heck, you might even want to throw a ball or two around yourself.

Is that enough?

They are just some of the highlights Texas has to offer. There is so much more, so pick up a travel guide, take a look online, and prepare yourself for an incredible adventure in the southern state.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

Budget Beating Vacation Destinations For Your New Holiday Home

Are you thinking about buying a holiday home this year? A holiday home can be a great source of a second income, boosting your finances dramatically. Of course, you need to make the right decision. You need to choose a place that you want to visit fairly often, and that will be a fantastic investment for you, perhaps growing in value. At the same time, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on your new holiday home. So, what are the best options on the market today?

Make Room For Malaga

Picture Source

First up, there’s Malaga. If you haven’t heard of Malaga, it’s probably because it’s usually overshadowed by more popular resorts like Costa Del Sol. Still, Malaga could be a fantastic opportunity for a future investment or maybe even for your future as an expat. The benefit of this location is that while house prices are rising, they are growing at a fairly reasonable amount. As such, it’s possible to get your hands on a great property for a budget price by using companies like Malaga Property If you’re not looking to spend a fortune on your slice of paradise, this is the destination for you. It’s not too far to travel each year for checkups on the property, and it could be very popular with tourists.

Though, it’s not always seen as the most popular place to visit in Spain that could be a benefit. It might be the ideal option for someone looking for a tropical holiday away from the crowds.

Orlando, We Love You

Pic Source

Alternatively, you might choose to buy a property in a place where the crowds are infamous for reaching insane levels. Orlando, Florida isn’t just a great location for beaches. It has Universal Studios and the little-known family theme park: Walt Disney World. Millions of tourists come here every year, and many are looking for a budget-friendly option that beats the insane prices of hotels on the Disney property. That’s where you can help. By purchasing a home here, you’ll have the perfect alternative to offer excited, easily targeted tourists. Of course, first you’ll need to get your hands on a property, and they certainly don’t come cheap. It’s also quite competitive with lots of people looking to buy up a part of Florida. Disney has even started offering their own alternative for investors.

However, the popularity of this location could be an advantage. It means you’ll easily be able to find services to look after the property, keeping it well maintained when you’re not there.

Beautiful Bulgaria

Pic Credit

If you’re looking to invest on a tight budget the place to beat is Bulgaria. I know what you’re thinking. Is Bulgaria really a popular holiday destination? Oh, it’s growing that’s for sure, and the cost is undeniably budget friendly. On average a second home in Bulgaria will cost you just 100K. That’s nearly one-third of what you’ll need to pay for a home the same size in Florida. Will it attract tourists? With its stunning golden beaches and gorgeous scenery, you bet it will.

I hope this helps you choose the perfect place for your new holiday home.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

The Top Countries You Need To Visit At Least Once

Often when you have the travel bug, people can ask you where are the best places to visit in the world. Of course, if you have seen as many beautiful destinations as we have, you can often find it very difficult to answer the question. There are, however, some great places to visit and some of the best destinations are possibly already featured on your bucket list, but I thought I would give them a mention anyway and share some of the best bits about them. I hope it inspires you if you are searching for your next holiday destination.

Sourced image

New Zealand
New Zealand is by far one of the best places filled with absolute splendour, clue lakes, green mountainous regions and very friendly people. You may have seen from some of our latest blogs how much we enjoyed our time there. But if you haven’t caught those blog posts, then here’s a little recap. There are two islands, north island and south island. Both have their own different locations and cities to explore. A quick hint of a great attraction would be if you are a fan of the Lord Of The Rings films as they have their sets there.

Mexico
Mexico is a country that has had a decline in tourists wanting to visit recently, but there really shouldn’t be a reason why you won’t want to visit this enchanting place. There are some amazing opportunities to explore. Head down to Cabo San Lucas and enjoy one of the Cabo yacht charters . Maybe exploring some of the temples in the Yucatan Peninsula is more your thing, full of history and allows your imagination to run away with you. The weather is great for holidays and relaxing, but you also have the hustle and bustle of Cancun if you want a vibrant and busy nightlife scene. There are plenty of options and destinations to consider. 

Canada
There are some great places to visit in Canada. It is a country in Northern America, and the capital city of Ottawa has much to offer. But There is also the huge city of Toronto and the film center that is Vancouver. However, there are amazing lake retreats and vast amounts of forest to hike that if you love the more adventuring type of holiday, then this country could be for you.

Sourced

Italy
If you are a fan of Italian food, then you may already have Italy on your list of places to visit. Perhaps you want to wander the streets of Rome, taking in Vatican City or enjoying the beautiful churches and museums. Or perhaps you want to head over to some of the other famous places like Venice, Naples or Florence. There are some amazing places in this country and definitely should be one for the bucket list.

Iceland

Finally, if you like the idea of checking out the Northern Lights, which is one of the natures wonders of the world, then Iceland is the place to go. The capital city of Reykjavík is vibrant and bustling with restaurants and bars, but heading out will enable you to witness the rugged landscape.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider some other destinations for your possible ever-growing bucket list. There are just too many places in the world to see.

This post was a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I loved the content enough to publish it here, on Wife with Baggage. I hope you are as inspired, intrigued and interested in this content as I am!

The Most Underwhelming Places in New Zealand

Drafting this post was tough. The title alone almost seems sacrilegious and offensive. With its turquoise blue lakes, green meadows, dramatic mountains, friendly locals and bustling cities, how in the world could anyone consider New Zealand “underwhelming?” Let’s be clear. I don’t; we don’t. As a whole, New Zealand is jaw-droppingly beautiful and we may or may not be making plans to return to the island nation soon.

But, there are “sights” that were just “meh” for us. This post isn’t about persuading you to skip these places, rather, this post is to help manage your expectations and give you our two cents. Because, after all, that is why you’re here, correct?

Te’Puia is an attraction in Rotorua. Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity and forests. In its defense, Te Puia offers a glimpse at bubbling mud pools and geysers. However, in scope and grandeur, the geysers and bubbling pools are low and underwhelming. In retrospect, we should not have used road signs to help us make the decision and in many ways I felt the park was like the “Disney World of Rotorua.” Sure, it’s features were natural phenomenons, but you didn’t feel like you were in nature. Sure, there were clean bathrooms, but crowds and ticket prices went along as well. Case and point, there was bus parking. Mike and I usually shy away from places with bus parking. But, you live and learn.

Huka Falls is pretty. The water rushing through the rocks is bright blue and frothy. The sound of the water is like a roar and the green forests surrounding the falls is dense. You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque sounding place. But, for whatever reason, we did not see why it was New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction (according to www.greatlaketaupo.com) Maybe the website got a little carried away. Or, maybe the stat is accurate and Mike and I are just ignorant. With alllll of the great places in NZ, Huka Falls, while pretty, does not rank as high as the hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or cruising Milford Sound or a road trip to Glenorchy.

 

Tauranga is a coastal town with one good hike, but that is about it. Being a Florida girl, I am a sucker for coastal towns. They are usually busting with fresh seafood restaurants, quaint shops, and miles of beaches. Tauranga is not a town, it is a city, with a port and lots of traffic, especially for New Zealand standards. True, we were there during peak season, but except for our hike up Mount Maunganui, I did not see the appeal to the town/city at all. Our hotel was overpriced and mediocre, at best, and the restaurant selection was not what we had hoped for.

 

When it comes down to it, New Zealand is the opposite of underwhelming. Most of our moments in the land of Kiwis were full of overwhelming beauty, kindness and excitement. We spent two weeks road tripping around the islands and want to go back for two more as soon as possible. And when we do make it back, we will return to a few places, but these will not make the cut the second time around.

Hiking The Tongariro Apline Crossing in New Zealand as a Novice Hiker

To be honest, we are not super experienced hikers. First, we live in Florida, so even hills are impressive to us. Secondly, while we’ve hiked in Kauai, Namibia and Colorado, we don’t even own proper hiking boots. We have gotten better over the years, but we are absolutely, 100% novice hikers who seem to be the right mixture of physically fit, blissfully ignorant and outdoorsy-but-also-like-to-shower-every-night kind of travelers.

In our current age (mid thirties) and state of health (active and healthy) there are not too many trails we wouldn’t attempt. True, summiting Mount Everest is not on my list, but Kilimanjaro is, completing the Napali Coast Trail in Kauai is and hiking the Tongariro Trail is. Only now we can say was, since we finished the hike in just over 6 hours in December 2015. It is certainly one for the books and every bit as impressive as I’d hoped it would be.

Here is a synopsis of our 6 hour hike, in tennis shoes, on the Tongariro Trail.

Hour 1: Park, wait for the bus, ride the bus and then start hiking (Note, 99.9% of people do this. If you park and start hiking, then ride the bus back to your car you will be hiking against the flow of foot traffic.) The first hour is easy – both in general and in comparison to the rest of the hike. The first hour consists of gravel trails, well-kept boardwalks over marshy land and a slow uphill trek. There are also port-o-potties, or temporary toilets for you to use. These are the only facilities on the path, so take advantage of them.

Hour 2: Hour 2 is up and down and even perfectly flat at times. Leaving the toilets is almost straight up, but then you reach a crater like stretch suddenly the earth looks like Mars.

Hour 3: The third hour was the highlight for me. After reaching a high point and sitting a boulder to rest and eat a snack in the clouds (literally), we marveled at the Red Crater and the prismatic pools of water below. This is also a good stopping point for lunch.

Hour 4: Stopping for lunch bleeds into the next hour, but the trek through a valley and alongside other ponds is easy enough and allows your food to digest some. If this part of the trek looks like the land of Mordor, you’re a solid LOTR fan.

Hour 5: Rises and falls in the land create for changing views of the valley below and it is tough to not trip over the loose rocks as you forget to look down at your footing while staring at the stunning beauty that is all around you.

Hour 6: The last hour is the longest, because that is just how time and life work. HOwever, for me, this was the most rigorous as it is almost entirely downhill. My body is built for uphill climbs, but downhill over the course of an hour can really wear on your knees and ankles, so be prepared. The downhill trail brings you down from the mountains, foothills and ends in a forest. This forest is the only shade found on the entire trail.

Things to know before you hike:

  • Pack water and food – more than you think you’ll need.
  • Plan on spending a few days in the area as weather might not cooperate and this causes the trail to close for everyone.
  • Dress in layers. We added and peeled off layers all day long.
  • Socks were more important and helpful to us than hiking boots were. We had water wicking, warm socks that kept dirt and small pebbles out; which was paramount.
  • We did not have walking sticks, but I can see how they would be helpful.
  • Pack sunscreen and sunglasses/hat for sure! At some points you are in the clouds, but other times the sun is intense and there is no shade to be found.
  • Did I say to pack water and snacks? The average time is 7 hours.