Start with your own backyard

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, New Zealand

With so many forms of social media these day, it’s hard to ignore all the places that everyone else is travelling to and you’re not. There’s always a Facebook and Foursquare check-in from the airport, a Twitter selfie on the beach, and an Instagram photo of the local food. Ideas of the next dream vacation and holiday getaway often stem from these – with popular destinations such as Las Vegas, Cancun, Hawaii, and New York.

Before my recent month-long trip to New Zealand, a lot of my Sydney friends were excited and even jealous that I was heading there, since they’ve never been before. It’s not a surprise that many of them haven’t: when you’re constantly bombarded with flight deals to other parts of Australia and even South East Asia sometimes for less than half the price of a return flight to New Zealand, it just makes more financial sense to spend a week in sunny Bali or Malaysia. Yet this country just 3 hours away that they’ve heard about and seen so many beautiful photos of is left unexplored.

Similarly back in Vancouver, flying within the country to Toronto or Montreal often costs more than spending a weekend at a hotel in Vegas or at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.

Yes, you are at the mercy of the airline companies if you are flying to your next destination. Dollar for dollar, it makes more sense to fly to the destination with lower cost, especially in Asia where there’s an abundance of low-cost carriers.

So how would most people describe New Zealand after visiting? Usually it’s unanimous: “beautiful”, “amazing”, “friendly”, and sometimes even “the most beautiful place they’ve been”. For the most part, I agree that it’s beautiful, but I have to say that it’s not something I haven’t seen before. While it might sound like a #firstworldproblem, allow me to explain. In a nutshell, New Zealand’s landscape consists of large rolling green hills, dry yellow fields, lots and lots of livestock such as cows and sheep, mountains, glaciers, beaches, and endless evergreen forests. Where does it remind me of? Back home in British Columbia. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime, but I think the best way for me to describe is a different kind of beautiful. It really does make me realize and appreciate what we have back home in Canada, the abundance of good, cheap food, the proximity to different outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and tall mountains for skiing in the winter (not so much for the rain).

Same situation applies when I talk to my friends from Taiwan. Most of them have never visited the east coast or islands, where in some places, the scenery is equally as stunning as parts of New Zealand.

I was lucky enough to have travelled to a lot of places while I was younger, mostly road trips in the United States with my family. If you’re doing a road trip from home, the cost might not be as bad. What I am proposing is this: start exploring the locations closest to you. Whether it’s somewhere within your city that you haven’t been to yet, or a short distance away, what you find there may surprise you. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side!


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