Feature Friday has arrived, and our guest this week is Suzie! She’s taking the time to share with us her travels, as well as personal experiences. Suzie has visited 38 countries, has been on 4 continents, and has lived in 3 different countries. Her love for travel has not diminished over time, and she strives to travel the globe with her travel partner, her husband Sam! Let’s kick off the start of September by seeing what Suzie has to say about her adventures!
1. Thank you for being a part of Feature Friday. Can you tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
I’m Suzie, an ex-primary teacher turned full time backpacker. I travel with my husband, Sam; he is my rock and shows me that I am stronger and braver than I think I can be. I love life on the road, have horrendous fashion sense and am obsessed with starry skies.
2. What country do you call home?
Home is England, one day we will go back to; but not for a long time yet (sorry mum!)
3. Which countries have you recently travelled to?
In the past ten months we have travelled to France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Luxembourg on our European road trip. After that, we travelled by train from the UK to Hong Kong, spending time in Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia, China and finally HK. From there, we flew into Vietnam and Thailand for a bit of a rest before moving to New Zealand where we have visas to stay for 23 months.
4. How long was the journey?
We have been on the road since August last year, three months camper-vanning around Europe in a self-built camper. Two months travelling by train from the UK to Hong Kong. One month between Vietnam and Thailand and the rest of the time road-tripping round New Zealand in another self-built camper!
5. Why did you travel to all these countries?
Some of the places we visited because we have always wanted to see them, or to do something there. Some of the countries were on the route and we love to see new places. I am obsessed with architecture and history, whereas Sam loves nature and hiking so we often end up in more places than initially planned. Moving to New Zealand has always been a dream of ours – our first trip together was to New Zealand, and we always said that one day we would come back and live there. Seven years later, we made that a reality.
6. What native dish was your favorite to eat?
I loved chäsbängel, a fondue filled baguette from Switzerland, but then I love anything that involves melted cheese! If you ever want good cheese, then Switzerland is definitely the place to go.
7. What was the most unique thing you ate?
Craving a little bit of home, Sam ordered ‘sausage rolls’ when we were in China. When they turned up they were what can only be described as bacon-wrapped meat spiders. They weren’t particularly unusual in terms of the content, simply the presentation.
8. What was your most unique mode of transportation?
Since we left in August 2016, we have travelled in pretty normal ways – campervans, trains, cars, busses, planes and ferries. We did a camel safari into the Thar Desert in India in 2015, riding a camel is an interesting experience and probably the most unique transportation I have had so far in all my travels.
9. What was the weather like during your trip?
The weather has been varied. We spent Christmas in Siberia and temperatures got as low as minus 40 °C, and within 6 weeks we were in Thailand where temperatures were 75 degrees warmer at +35°C! We have had snow and ice, and even experienced a cyclone in New Zealand, right through to burning sunshine. Packing for such extremes in a 34L rucksack has been somewhat challenging!
10. Where was your favorite place to go in New Zealand? Why?
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and varied countries in the world. In my opinion, the whole country is stunningly beautiful but my favourite places are those out of the way ones that have no light pollution because the starry night skies here are insane.
11. Did you learn anything during this trip?
I learn things on every trip, I think that travel forces you to learn – about yourself, about different cultures, about the world, about how to be the best version of you. I have learnt how to be stronger mentally, how to let go of things, how to read little bits of Cyrillic and Mandarin, histories of countries, how to be a good global citizen (I hope) and I’m still learning every day.
12. What was the best part about your trip?
I went skydiving. Me. I did it. I am afraid of flying, so the idea of jumping out of a plane is simply incomprehensible. I cried making up my mind about whether or not to sign up. I was convinced I would wet myself because I was so nervous. And it honestly looked like I was doing some crazy birthing video as I tried to calm my breathing. But, I did it. And I would do it again. Told you I was braver than I thought.
13. What was the most challenging part about your trip?
Spending over 300 hours trapped on trains across Europe and Asia was a challenge. Not being able to get off and just breathe fresh air whenever I wanted was tough, mix that with sweltering temperature inside (the trains on the Trans-Siberian keep the internal heaters at a toasty 30-32°C) and a lack of fresh food – there are only so many packet noodles you want to eat in a lifetime – and 50+ people per cabin, you do start to go a little stir crazy!
14. What is your favorite picture you took on this trip?
This picture wasn’t actually taken by me, because it is of me, but it is still one of my favourites. I like to refer to it as my ‘rock album/yoga vid’ picture. For me though, the picture is better because of the ridiculousness we went through to get the picture taken. Our friend came to visit us out here in NZ and he found a picture on the internet and decided he wanted to recreate it, so we found the place. The place being the main road to Mount Cook, which means it is a well travelled road. We had one of us in the road, one photographer and one lookout yelling to let us know vehicles were coming!
15. How does New Zealand compare to your home country? Were your expectations met, or did they differ completely?
New Zealand is rather similar to England in its culture, but life is far more laid back. Despite the similarities, NZ is just so much more than England. The landscapes are more extreme, more photogenic, and you can do the most insane sports out here. Also, there are far fewer people in New Zealand, so you can go for miles without seeing another soul, and I quite like that.
16. If you were to go on this trip again, what would you do differently?
I would spend longer travelling in each place whilst travelling, sometimes it has felt that we are just moving from one place to the next with the travel being the star as opposed to the places. I’ve always been a big fan of more time in less places travel, rather than trying to pack loads in and getting burnt out. I feel like this time, I was close to being travel exhausted at several points.
17. If someone else was to go to New Zealand, what advice or tips would you give them?
Time. You need lots of it to do this country justice. Also, learn to use your camera properly before you go. But those tips are important for any trip really.
18. Do you have any more travel plans lined up? Where to next?
We always have travel plans lined up! We are hoping to spend the next five years travelling, more if we can afford it. After our New Zealand visas end, the plan is to take part in the Mongol Rally, a charity drive from the UK to Mongolia and after that we will spend a year travelling around Asia. Beyond that: the rest of the world is waiting.
19. Anything else you want to share about your trip?
About a year before we left the UK, I had a full nervous breakdown. It took a long time to recover enough to be out in the world. At the time, I couldn’t leave the house on my own, I couldn’t even go to the kitchen on my own. Anxiety is a huge factor in why I travel. Travel isn’t my therapy, but it has helped me exponentially. You never know what life will throw at you, so grab every chance you have to do the things that make you happy.
Thank you Suzie for taking the time to share about your travels, and your personal experiences. You’ve definitely covered a lot of ground, and I was exhausted just reading how many places you visited; I can’t imagine doing a trip that long without some time to relax. I’m so happy to hear that travelling has helped with your anxiety, as it does with mine as well! It was a pleasure having you kick off the month, as we continue our Feature Friday series!
Did you enjoy what you read? Get to know more about the blogger!
Suzie travel full time with her husband, Sam. She began her blog as a way of keeping family and friends back home in the UK up to date with the adventures they were having. She also writes about mental health issues in relation to her travel story. Suzie went on her first trip abroad before she was even one year old and the passion has only grown from there. She has a strange fascination with Russian history, loves ballroom dancing, baking, and buying stationary. Connect with her at the following: