It all sounded so amazing and dreamy. A trip of a lifetime travelling the world with your best friend, visiting far away countries and seeing the places we dreamed of seeing all our lives. We were on holiday for almost 2 years. Well, 1 year, 11 months and 5 days to be exact but it all started a long time before we went away and I can see now it all finishes way after the date we returned. We started planning around 6 months before we both quit our jobs. Once we decided to finish the trip after 2 years away, its took more than one month just to ship the car and move into our house in Nelson. Is that still holiday time?
Okay, it’s no ordinary holiday I’m talking about and if you didn’t read the blogs I wrote when we were away you’re no doubt wondering what someone could do for 2 years away from work, and why someone would even want to have that much time away from their career. It’s a long and complex story but let’s say we were lured into it by a good friend who made the entire thing sound way to easy. The ‘entire thing’ bit was to drive around the world in our own car through three continents and 51 countries!
So, we sure do have a good photo album and lots of memories but what else did we walk away with after spending what would have been a good deposit for an Auckland rental property? The answer is plenty. Here’s just a few of the things we learned that will continue to benefit our lives and careers.
A big number 1, Communication. Most of our trip was in non-English speaking countries so we soon got sick of not being understood or understanding others, so we had to learn enough of the predominate language to get by. But it was so much more than just basic spoken communication. We crossed dozens of land borders and because we had a car, we had to deal with twice the number of officials so being able to read body language became second nature. Perhaps the best skill though was to have people see our point of view and understand our sometimes over-complex situation and want to help us. It was not an option to just shrug and turn around, it becomes critical to the rest of the trip that we have everything completed and done correctly every time.
Keeping my cool, no matter what! And I mean no matter what. It might be an extreme situation to be faced with an armed security contractor in a rhino sanctuary that has his automatic weapon trained on your chest because he thinks you’re a poacher, (long story but a real situation) but keeping a cool head to talk him around until he puts the safety catch on his weapon was a great feeling… makes resolving disputes over rosters and shift times seem extremely trivial and never worth losing your cool over.
Have some patience. I think that inside all of us is a catalogue of jobs with times relating to each one. We might have never see the job or process before but for some reason we have an expectation of how long it should take. However, when an immigration official in a small west African country takes 2 hours to just stamp our passports, it completely stretches the bounds of normal tolerance. Even though I often thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t have the process down every time. After several less than comfortable situations I found the best thing was to just let things happen no matter how much I wanted to have my 2 cents worth.
Getting some EXTREME Determination! Before we started the trip, we had never been off-road driving at all. So, the first real test I had of this was driving the length of Guinea, only around four hundred kilometres but it took four gruelling long days in low range 4x4 crawling through bogs and streams and along mud tracks! There were times where my brain was almost paralysed at the thought of the enormous task ahead but, we made it to the sealed road eventually, as I expected we would. We did get stuck but learned pretty fast and most importantly, never gave up.
So, it was far from being just a long holiday. I really do feel far better equipped to handle whatever arises in a professional situation now. I just need the job to prove it.
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!