Under Pressure | Week 46 Abroad

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We’ve had two deadlines looming over us this week: Whit’s last day of school, and needing to choose our next location.

We made the novice mistake of booking our Matakana Village house for 7 weeks, not realizing that the last 2 were during a country-wide break between school terms for Easter. Our initial plan was for Whit to be enrolled at the local school for all 7 weeks so that we could catch up on work projects that are embarrassingly overdue, but, instead, we’ve had to cram 7 weeks of backwork into 5.

Five weeks still felt like a lifetime of worktime opportunity compared to the months of constant travel with no break (and sometimes no internet) we’d been having, so we relaxed a little in what we tried to accomplish. Well, now that we’re faced with the end of our dedicated quiet time we realize everything we still haven’t finished. Grrrr.

Ben has been working like mad to find new suppliers for his Reflectoes safety athletic line, add new products to the two other brand lines he manages, and optimize our Amazon ads (it’s a HUGE job he’d been putting off for a while). I have been writing travel guides on our most recent adventures, optimizing old posts, setting up new ad streams, and dedicating more time to regular vlogging on YouTube.

We’ll still have to find time to work in the 2 weeks we have left in Matakana, but we’ve both been working as efficiently as possible this week since it’s all the last of our guaranteed work time. We’ll be glued to our computers (me between my laptop and phone, Ben torn between two monitors) in separate rooms for hours until one of us breaks. We then navigate to the other person, have some distracted chit chat, then agree to a working lunch and get back to the grind.

Staying focused for hours at a time is hard work! How do people do it?

Our other deadline is the fact that we only have 2 weeks left in New Zealand, with no plans of where to go next. With 7 weeks in Matakana, we never dreamed we’d have left this decision to the last minute!

Making plans with mere days to spare hasn’t been an issue until we got to New Zealand. Flying from country to country and finding good housing is cheap and easy to do throughout Asia, as everything is so close together. We often waited until one-two weeks before the end of one trip to figure out the next. That doesn’t work in New Zealand, though, as we learned when getting stuck with wildly expensive hotels and camper van when we planned our South Island road trip only days in advance.

And yet we still find ourselves clueless as to where to go next. When will we learn?

It’s not that we haven’t tried to figure this out, it’s just that there seems to be no clear answer. We often have trouble making exact plans because the options are annoyingly endless, but there’s usually an obvious winner: one country will either be much cheaper or easier to get to than the others, or we’ll be drawn somewhere based on a personal desire to see it. Literally nothing falls into either of those categories right now.

We’re torn between three main options:

  1. Go from Auckland to the Pacific Islands for a couple of weeks then somewhere else for one month. We could start in one and go to another. Our options are Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. Upside- we have family ties to Samoa and Tonga and a personal curiosity to see both of them. We are closer now than we would ever be and we probably won’t make a special trip to these islands in the future if we don’t go now. Downside- they are crazy expensive and frustrating to get to. The islands are much further apart than we realized, and there isn’t enough travel demand for regular or affordable flights or hotels. It just may not be worth the effort.
  2. Go from Auckland to Bali for one month, then on to Philippines (or somewhere else). Upside- Ben really wants to go to Bali. He thinks there will be a big enough expat group living there to find other Amazon sellers, and he loves meeting and sharing tips. It would also be cheap(er) and easy enough to find a local school for Whit to join. Downside- I really don’t want to go. It seems inauthentic and way overtouristed. The more low-key part of the island is the farthest away from the expat hub or church, so one of us will be disappointed.
  3. Go from Auckland to Philippines for one month then to Taiwan or Japan. Upside- we hear a lot about how incredible Philippines is, it’s cheaper than the Pacific Islands, and seems to have lots of expats Ben could meet up with. Downside- the internet isn’t very reliable, we’d be mostly stuck to one place because travel between islands is hard, and we may not be able to find a school for Whit. Also, we both feel moreso obligated to visit instead of excited to visit.

After spending yet another 2 hours glued to our computers researching different travel schedules and destinations last night we are almost no closer to figuring this out. It’s a very tricky puzzle to fit together, and it’s easier to just avoid. But you know what they say about time and money.

Part of the pressure to find our next location is the fact that flights are getting more expensive and good rental units are being snatched up by the day, but also the fact that travel writing is my job and I need to be reaching out to potential contacts in advance. I often contact country or regional tourism boards one month before visiting a location so they can give us incredible tips on where to go and what to do. They also connect us with local brands for us to consider promoting. But promotion schedules and budgets are eaten up fairly quickly, and the longer we wait the less chance we have of these agencies being able to fit us in.

We aren’t letting these pressures get us down too badly, at least.



This week we’ve gone to two different beaches, 3 different playgrounds, taken Whit on a bike ride, and taught him how to play Monopoly (a single game has been ongoing for the past three days…). We are still trying to spend at least 2-3 hours together every afternoon when he’s home from school, so I don’t think he even knows how stressed Ben and I are feeling! Fooling your kids = winning.