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How I Traveled for 2 Months in New Zealand on Less than $500

How I Traveled for 2 Months in New Zealand on Less than $500

I always thought you had to have tons of money to travel. Not true! With the tips I learned out of necessity, I traveled in New Zealand on about $250 a month. And I could have spent less if I had known these tips from the beginning!

My best tool for traveling? The Internet! I’ll show you all the sites you’ll need.

Follow these tips and explore one of the most beautiful, friendly, diverse countries on Earth!  (You can use many of these tips while traveling in other countries, too!)

Get informed.

The most expensive part of this venture will be your airline ticket. When I say I spent less than $500 in two months, I’m NOT including airfare. Even still, if I paid about $1600 and used all the techniques I’m sharing here, I could have spent a year traveling in New Zealand for less than $4600!

New Zealand is unique in many ways (there are no naturally occurring mammals!), but two particular aspects make traveling especially inexpensive if you’re well-informed.  First, the government has made major investments into boosting the tourism-driven economy. People come from all over the world, and New Zealanders want you to come.

Secondly, as a country colonized by England, many of the citizens have relatives far away. It is common for New Zealanders in their early twenties to go live in other countries for a while to gain work and education experience and to connect with distant relatives.

Get a job.

New Zealand has worked with other governments to make this process very smooth, an arrangement called a “Working Holiday Visa.”  This is a reciprocal arrangement, so that citizens of either country can apply for this visa for a limited time, and it allows the visa holder to have full employment privileges. In other words, you may be able to work in New Zealand for up to a year. One major caveat: you must be under 35 to secure a Working Holiday Visa.

Now, even if you don’t get a visa or you are over 35, there is no need to worry. I’ve listed plenty of other strategies to save you money and make your time in New Zealand “Sweet as, bro!”

I used BUNAC and highly recommend them:

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    Because of the robust tourist economy in New Zealand, it is incredibly easy to find work quickly. I landed in Auckland, and in two weeks I had a job paying $15NZ (~$12.29 USD at the time of publication) an hour and a room in a house with two young, fun New Zealanders.

    Because work is so easy to find, you can work for a few months to save up money, travel for a time, and find a new job somewhere else. Or you could get a job in your career field and travel on the weekends.

    I used these two websites, which are like Craigslist combined with eBay. I also found bikes, camping equipment, and tons of other stuff.

    Trade Me

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      Auckland Gumtree

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        Pack light.

        When I left for New Zealand, I had no idea what I was going to do or what to expect.  The luggage I packed weighed the maximum limit of 70 lbs.  Rather than being an advantage, this eventually became a burden because I had to store or keep up with all of that stuff.

        New Zealand is a country of islands, and each island has its own personality and flair.  You will want to see as much as you can, and lugging around a bunch of junk isn’t worth it.

        When I was happiest, a had a large backpack and a small computer bag.  Oh, and a ukulele.  Buying clothes is expensive, but there are thrift shops everywhere.  Macklemore’s paradise!

        I will say this: if you wear makeup, bring what you will need.  Makeup in New Zealand is ridiculously expensive.  $27NZ (~$22 USD at the time of publication) for a tube of mascara was the cheapest I could find.

        Hitchhike like an expert.

        While I lived in Auckland, I took public transportation, which was easy to navigate using the Internet. Each region has similar sites which are easy to find through simple searches.  This one is AT Public Transport:

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          I bought a bike for $50NZ (~$40.97 USD at time of publication) that came with a helmet.  It was a piece of junk, but it worked while I needed it.

          Gumtree also has a ride share board that is well-maintained and easy to use.

          The idea of hitchhiking seemed crazy to me.  I’m a 5’1″ woman who grew up in America and was taught to never, ever to hitch a ride.  But it eventually became second nature to me, and I frequently did it by myself.  Hitching is legal in New Zealand, and I found it to be enjoyable because I met many local people who were just lovely and extremely generous.

          Get more tips at HitchWiki

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            Arrange work-trades.

            A work-trade is when you put in about a half day of work in exchange for a place to stay for the night and three meals that day.  No money is exchanged.  By far, some of the best experiences I had in New Zealand came through work-trades.  It allowed me to be in beautiful places, meet interesting people, learn new things, and spend next to nothing!

            This is the key strategy for traveling for a long time with very little money.  I met people who had been doing it for years, going all around the world on next to nothing.  I met a couple from the Bronx who were doing it for 6 months as their honeymoon!

            WWOOFing is the most organized system I’ve found for work-trades.  It stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms, and “farm” has a very loose definition in New Zealand.  So does “work” and even “organic.”  You may find a family with a large garden and a llama farm who would like you to come babysit and tutor their children in the evening.  Or a meditation center that wants you to prepare lunch and dinner.  I worked on an orchard pruning trees from 8 to noon, then had the rest of the day to bike into town and play.  Learn more at WWOOF:

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              You can also find some work-trades on the two sites I listed above, TradeMe and Gumtree.

              Do some couch surfing.

              Couchsurfing gives me faith in humanity!  The whole idea is to use the Internet to connect one person who has room in their home for a traveler who is looking for a place to stay.  And it’s all FREE!  The cardinal rule of the Couchsurfing community is that no money can exchange hands. You have to be willing to be social and flexible.  And ideally, when you return home, you return the favor and host other travelers on your couch.  Check it out at CouchSurfing:

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                Work at festivals.

                New Zealanders love a good festival.  Why pay to go when you can go for free?  If you “work” a festival, many of them will give you full admission and feed you in exchange for a half day of work. You can meet wonderful people and have a great time for little cash.

                I spent New Year’s Eve on a beach in the Coromandel Peninsula drinking wine with other festival “workers” and then danced until dawn to live music on the main stage.

                Here are just a few I found with a quick search:

                NZ Festival

                Food and Wine Festivals

                Music Festivals NZ

                Splore 2014

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                Don’t be hostile to the hostel.

                In the US, we stay in hotels and motels, but New Zealand is filled with hostels.

                A hostel is designed with the budget in mind.  People share sleeping space, often getting a bunk in a dormitory room which can be single gender or co-ed.  You share bathrooms.  Plus, hostels have a large cooking space, with all the equipment, pots and pans, and a dining area.   This makes it so you can cook for yourself and save money going to restaurants.

                Many hostels are run by long-term guests who cover the front desk or do housekeeping work in exchange for their lodging.  This is another tip for saving money.  I worked in a hostel that provided lodging and fed the workers.  It was just outside of a ski resort, so many of the workers would then go skiing in the afternoon.

                Hostels can be family-run businesses, and some I found were so warm and welcoming.  I feel in love at Albatross Backpackers in Kaikora!

                Find more hostels at Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand, Hostel World, and BBH New Zealand Backpacker

                Learn my mantra.

                Traveling on the cheap is a whole other ballgame than a luxurious vacation.  While it requires a lot more work and compromise, you get back much more.  It’s part personal development course, part cultural exchange, part adventure.  Yes, you will need to do some planning, but once you get there and things start happening, all the planning may go right out the window.  I had to learn a new mantra, and I suggest you start saying it now, “I’ll figure it out.”

                New Zealand is magical, and things just seemed to fall into place in ways I could never have planned for.  You will figure things out or they’ll figure themselves out.  Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.  I did!

                Say “Cheers!”

                New Zealanders love this phrase.  It has a million meanings, from “Thank you” to “Get away from me now.”  (Yes, I know Aussies use it, too.)  I wasn’t expecting to find an entirely different version of the English language, but I did.  New Zealanders are beautiful people, honoring the cultures of the Maori natives and the Pakeha (people of European descent).  Ask them for help, and they will gladly oblige.  And don’t forget to say, “Cheers!”

                Please share your stories and travel tips in the comments section.  Or let me know if you have questions, and I’ll see what I can do for you.  Travel more, live more!

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                Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

                13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

                Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

                Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

                Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

                1. Stress Eating

                I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

                While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

                I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

                If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

                How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

                2. Nail Biting

                Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

                People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

                Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

                For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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                3. Hanging out with Naysayers

                We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

                Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

                Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

                4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

                Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

                While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

                Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

                Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

                5. Smoking

                Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

                In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

                Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

                Smoking risks

                  6. Excessive Drinking

                  All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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                  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

                  • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
                  • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
                  • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
                  • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
                  • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

                  If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

                  If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

                  7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

                  Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

                  If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

                  A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

                  “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

                  And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

                  While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

                  Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

                  Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

                  8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

                  There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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                  In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

                  Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

                  Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

                  9. Watching Too Much TV

                  I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

                  Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

                  Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

                  It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

                  10. Being Late

                  Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

                  Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

                  Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

                  11. Being in Bad Relationships

                  Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

                  I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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                  Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

                  12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

                  Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

                  Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

                  Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

                  By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

                  Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                  13. Focusing on the Negatives

                  In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

                  Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

                  Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

                  And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

                  The Bottom Line

                  So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

                  Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

                  Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

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