The Ultimate Way to See New Zealand: A Camper Van Road Trip

The Ultimate Way to See New Zealand: A Camper Van Road Trip

I was studying in Australia when some friends and I decided to take a 10-day trip around the south island of New Zealand. We had never taken a trip together and all had different ideas about what we wanted to do and see. But once we started researching all the amazing experiences New Zealand has to offer, we knew there was only one way to see it. We were going to embark an epic road trip.   Our journey started in Christchurch when our plane arrived after dark. We hired a campervan with DriveNow and stopped for the night on the side of the road. The convenience of New Zealand is that there is plenty of wild and open space; you are unlikely to be bothered if you hunker down on the side of the road outside of town for the night. With no tour group to follow and no hard-pressed itinerary, we had the freedom to go just about wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Here are some of the highlights from our road trip around New Zealand.   McArthur’s Pass The trip started a bit bleary. On our first day we drove through a blanket of fog. My mind kept going back to the photos I had drooled over before our trip began. I had seen the pictures (and Lord of the Rings), but unfortunately, all I could see now was mist. But then, all of the sudden, it was as if the sky decided to open a curtain. The fog gave way and we immediately stopped the car. What we were viewing was unbelievably gorgeous. California’s...

Pittsburgh: Road Trip Closes, Airport Gates Open

If you read any of our posts about San Diego, Napa Valley, or Portland and Seattle, it was probably pretty obvious that we were having a splendid time exploring the West Coast. But there is one thing all those great places lack, and that’s family Our last few stops of the road trip were spent visiting all our relatives dotting the East Coast before finally touching down in the Peak of Good Living, otherwise known as Apex, North Carolina. The first of these family-stops was Pittsburgh, which will always hold a special place in my heart. When I was in seventh grade my Aunt and Uncle, Dan and Patsy, flew me up to their home and took great care of me for a week. It was my first time on a plane, and I’m pretty sure that it sparked some of the travel bug I’m so infected with now. For years I was telling people that Pittsburgh was my favorite city in the whole world. Of course, this was before I had really been to any great cities anywhere in the world, but that was completely irrelevant at the time. Luckily, this visit to Pittsburgh did not disappoint, due largely in part to the great hospitality Dan and Patsy showed us. Our first stop in Pittsburgh was the classic Duquesne Incline. Voted by USA Today as one of the top ten sites in the world for viewing a cityscape, the incline offers a magnificent birds-eye view of Downtown and The Point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers converge to form the Ohio River. With such an astonishing view comes an...

Chicago: Razzlin’ and Dazzlin’

It started off as a town built out of entirely too much wood. Then fire swept through, causing destruction of epic proportions and the deaths of hundreds. But the result was an immediate rebuilding that transformed the place into one of America’s most important cities. Chicago!! Chicago really is a place like no other. Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, the city provides a surprising contrast to the surrounding vast plains of middle America. Whether it’s the vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, the deep dish pizza and Chicago style hotdogs, or the public art ranging from The Picasso to The Bean, Chicago is a unique city that goes above and beyond its typical association with Al Capone. There are countless ways to stay busy exploring the city of Chicago, but here’s our list of recommendations. Accommodation We almost always choose CouchSurfing over paying for accommodation. Which is what we did for most of our time in Chicago, staying with some great hosts conveniently located adjacent to the University of Illinois at Chicago. But when one of your best friends generously gives you a night at a gorgeous AAA Four Diamond Award hotel, you don’t think twice about packing up and indulging yourself. Our last night in Chicago we stayed at The W, an incredible hotel with phenomenal views of Lake Michigan. Seriously, we could see the lake from our shower. Include that with a feather-bed, down pillows and a five-minute walk to Navy Pier, and you have one happy newlywed couple ☺ Walking Tours There are numerous ways to walk around exploring Chicago, and you can effortlessly spend a week just getting to...

Boulder and Blair Buddies

Since we have both done our fair share of international traveling, we’ve made great American friends abroad who live in all sorts of cool places in the US. Dan’s fellow Australia travel partner, Doug, lives outside Boulder, Colorado, and one of Casey’s good friends she met in India lives in Blair, Nebraska. Both took us in when we passed through their neck-of-the-woods, offerings us a chance to reunite while getting to know a new neighborhood. We’ve always heard great things about Boulder, Colorado; the people are so healthy, everyone hikes and rock climbs, they’ve got great microbreweries… Luckily our high expectations were exceeded, starting at South Boulder Peak. First off, let’s just address the fact that we have been spending way too many consecutive hours in the car on our eastward trek home. The cities in the northern part of the US are few and farther in between (compared to the South) which means lots of nonstop 8 hour drives! Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to stretch our legs and check out the great hiking we had heard so much about. Doug informed us that South Boulder Peak was the way to go, one of his favorite hikes in the area. What he didn’t emphasize (probably not wanting to scare us off) was that the route is pretty strenuous for folks who have spent a good portion of the last 5 weeks sitting. Not to mention that the “path” turns from a walkway into an all-out boulder scramble as you near the top! As if we hadn’t suffered enough dehydration just sitting in the car without A/C, we attacked...

Yellowstone: Where the Buffalo Roam (Really Close to Your Car)

Yellowstone is an amazing destination for anyone who loves getting up close and personal with nature. A popular way of getting to Yellowstone is by flying into Jackson Hole Airport and renting a car for the 56 mile drive to the south entrance of the park. With your car you are then free to explore the park as you please. If you are interested in taking a trip to Yellowstone as a foreigner and you need a visa, you may need to find out how to get esta in the USA. Yellowstone is the ultimate in geysers, hot springs and wildlife. Established as America’s first national park in 1872, millions of travelers worldwide have made their way to Yellowstone to experience the pristine park for themselves ever since. Of course, we had to include it in our all-American road trip! Here’s a glimpse at some of our favorite park sights. This colorful hot spring is located just a few steps away from the Old Faithful Geyser. Yellowstone’s numerous hot springs are a result of geothermally heated groundwater. Water temperatures can exceed 400°F, becoming less dense than the surrounding cool water and rising to the surface. With no constrictions (as opposed to geysers), the superheated water forms beautiful calm pools like the one above. But despite the pretty colors, there is a ‘rotten egg’ smell that accompanies the hot springs, the result of anaerobic bacteria living off the sulphur underwater. Yellowstone National Park is home to numerous elk that often come out to play at dawn and dusk. Spring and summer are the prime seasons that animals pop out their...