I hardly ever get jetlag. My bottle of Ambien and I usually become good friends whenever I fly long-haul trips. It helps me keep my sleeping schedule normal. Whenever I land, I take another Ambien that night, pass out, and wake up feeling like sunshine and moonbeams. Yet all did not work out for me this time. My flight from Bangkok left at 5pm and landed in Sydney at what would have been 1am Bangkok time. I don’t even go to bed until 2am. Despite two sleeping pills, I couldn’t fall asleep. And I didn’t sleep on the plane from Sydney to Auckland or the bus to the hostel.
So how have I enjoyed my first three days in New Zealand? I haven’t. I’ve slept. While I did manage to squeeze in a dinner with Craig and Linda from the Indie Travel Podcast and a day at their friend’s wine party, I’ve pretty much slept the entire time here. I landed Friday and was in bed by 12:00. I woke up 30 minutes before the wine party on Saturday and was only awake for five hours on Sunday. Today (Monday), I slept until noon.
I’ve been a complete waste with only two more days left in Auckland and no sights seen except my pillow. Luckily, after three days of hell, the jetlag has begun to wear off. I have energy and an appetite again. Now, I can really see the city.
And the little I’ve seen, I’ve loved. The suburbs are beautiful—houses surrounded by lots of green space and mountains—and the harbor is filled with dolphins, the air is crisp, and the city is clean. And I noticed all that in just about 10 hours of being awake. Something tells me New Zealand is going to be a beautiful place if I’ve noticed all that already.
And I’ve set a challenge for myself. Lately, I haven’t been the best budget traveler. I sort of splashed out the last few weeks in Thailand. Working and traveling means I don’t always have to be as tight with the money as I used to. But while here in New Zealand, I want to be. Originally, I set a goal of $60 NZD per day, but after realizing a meal is about $20 NZD and a bottle of water is $3 NZD, I upped it to $80 NZD per day. So for the next two months, that’s going to be my average budget. The rules of my challenge are:
- I stay in dorms wherever I go but no more than eight people (I’m old, I like privacy).
- I will cook 50% of my meals.
- I will spend $112 dollars per week on alcohol. That’s the equivalent of two beers per day here.
- New Zealand is an adventure-travel mecca, so while I won’t limit myself in the activities backpackers and travelers come here to do, I am going to be selective.
I’m doing this to see if I can be a good budget traveler again as well as to see how much fun and adventure I can have in New Zealand without destroying my wallet. New Zealand is big travel destination for budget travelers and adventure seekers, but the real question is: like limbo, what’s the lowest I can go without falling? (Here are the results of my challenge and how much I spent in New Zealand.)
For more information, visit my guide to New Zealand travel.