A “Boomer” and Tripping My Brains Out! Traveling Solo at 63 in New Zealand and Australia…on a Budget!

photo-1444090542259-0af8fa96557e“Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”

                                                    Hunter S. Thompson

My departure is only two weeks away! Funny how the anticipation of a trip, or any adventure that requires us being out of our comfort zone, suddenly creeps up. It’s like the sudden tap from behind given in surprise by a long- awaited friend;  it startles you at first, and then the surprise of it only deepens the feeling of excitement of what is to come.  But… there’s also a wee bit of uncertainty too, and that’s a good thing because it means that we are venturing outside of the safety bubble we’ve been living in.  Suddenly it POPS!  The moment has come, we’re exposed to the unknown, and the question, Can I do this? has to be answered.

The older we get, we tend to like things a little predictable and safe. The older we get, we’re less likely to take risks, and we limit ourselves and potential opportunities.  This was made clear to me recently as I was staying in Brooklyn spending time with my son, who decided to stay in NYC after college and was lucky to find work in his field.  Watching him navigate this busy metropolis —even commuting by bicycle from Manhattan to Red Hook— is impressive.  Young people live life with passion.  It’s why we love their company.  So, fellow aging population–let’s not lend credence to the saying, Youth is wasted on the youth!  Instead, let’s embody the quote by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

I’ve often thought I would like to live in Brooklyn for a year, but all the uncertainties about a move like this paved the way with pot holes of doubt and held me back. This trip, I’ve been implementing the practice of facing the unknown in little ways like driving my son to his job in Red Hook and finding my way back alone, taking the subway, switching trains, and arriving at the right place, learning you can’t be afraid to ask for help. People in New York love giving directions.  If you ask someone who doesn’t know the answer, nine times out of ten, someone else will over hear you and chime right in!  I’m rewarded with a small hit of dopamine each time I learn something new. If we cultivate curiosity, new things, and confidence, our lives will be enriched.

So, I’ve also figured out that all I’m going to bring on this adventure is a 25 inch suitcase and a Pacsafe shoulder bag that will house my Mac air, travel documents, iPhone etc.  There is lots of information out there on what to bring on a lengthy trip including these tips from How I Planned for Nine Months of Travel. Rolling your clothing also seems to be the best way to utilize limited packing space.

I arrive in Auckland, New Zealand, on January 13th and have a room reserved for two days through the Airbnb site. The hosts may even pick me up at the airport!  I”ll spend a day or so in Auckland before meeting up with friends who live in Tauranga  and Whakatane, also located in the north island.  I’ve been told that visiting the south island is a must, but I haven’t figured out this part of the trip yet. I will also be practicing to expect the unexpected. 

I thought it would be a good idea to reread Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, the story of Santiago, the shepherd boy on a journey to find his “Personal Legend.” There are many life lessons to be realized from this story, but since I am trying to quell feelings of fear that rise up to overtake me as I bob to the surface for air, this lesson stands out: Fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

I’ve read that great risks are rewarded with great rewards. My sister Janet has instructed me that nerves are excitement without the breath.   So with that said, I’ll leave you with, “See you on the other side!”


  1. Jayme Holland · December 26, 2015

    I’m looking forward to your trip Connie! I’m a little nervous for you. My mom has a magnet on her fridge that says “leap and the bet will appear”, I can’t wait for the next installment on your blog!


    • connieottmann · December 27, 2015

      Thanks, Jayme! I’m committed to writing these and hopefully doing some art too. Don’t be too nervous for me! 🙂


  2. Norm Rodrigue · December 27, 2015

    Good luck Connie. We are all traveling with you.


  3. Gail Greenblatt · December 27, 2015

    How exciting, Connie! Thanks for letting me join you in this journey through your blog. I can’t wait!!!


    • connieottmann · December 27, 2015

      Thanks for reading, Gail! I’m committed to writing these!


  4. Mary · December 27, 2015

    How incredibly exciting and I will love following you and living life vicariously. My friend Cathy and her friend Fran will be in Aus./NZ Jan-March. Fran is 5’7″ and blonde and Cathy 5’2″ and red headed. Can’t miss them and if by some 6 degrees you should see this duo along the ride then just intro yourself-they are doing just what you are and I guarantee you’ll enjoy them. Old college chums and both just retired so lots in common. Travel safely and leave us lots of instructions along the paths! Xo


    • connieottmann · December 27, 2015

      Thanks, Mary! I’ll be looking out for this duo. Stranger things have happened!


  5. Jake · December 27, 2015

    I’m in Roma with my kids. Having the best time. Thinking of you on the road. Have fun, write lots and keep your foot on the gas!!



    • connieottmann · December 27, 2015

      So glad you’re having fun! My foot is will be putting it to the floor 🙂
      XX Constance


  6. Pat Dube Smith · December 29, 2015

    Good luck and safe travels. It will be an absolute blast. Looking forward to more blogs from you.


    • connieottmann · December 29, 2015

      Thanks Pat! Yes, I think it will be a blast as things have just fallen into place all along the way!


  7. mark turski · December 31, 2015

    best book on where to get off the beaten path in NZ is http://www.nzfrenzy.com. the outdoors shop in downtown Aukland sells them or did in 2011. check out my oct 2011 posts here. you too can boil eggs in a hot spring for brekkie. when you are up on 90 mile beach (see album) and see a “rent boogie board” sign it is for going down the sand dunes not the ocean. wish i had know that! they love “yanks” in NZ. just make sure you know the difference between the All Blacks flag and the national flag. you’ll see the AB flag more often. Don’t be surprised to find 4 star restaurants in the middle of nowhere and focus on red blends rather than just the single grape varieties.


    • connieottmann · December 31, 2015

      Thanks, Mark! What is the difference between the All Blacks flag and the national flag? Both friends I’ll be seeing haven’t mentioned it.


  8. Jenny Mckendry · January 3, 2016

    Connie, What a wonderful exploration you have ahead! Thank you for writing about it!So smart, to practice facing fears. Then there’s your crafted writing ,full of crackling words like cultivate, quell, bob to the surface; which put me next to an unfamiliar cool lake readying for a cannonball.
    Bringing literary observations of hope, wisdom and growth into your writing acts like sunlight on your writing.
    “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering it self”( Paulo Coelho) is so simple, and calming to me.New aspirations are percolating.
    Bon Voyage, Jenny


    • connieottmann · January 3, 2016

      Thanks, Jenny for the supportive reply! I’m committed to keeping it up! A week from tomorrow I’ll be on my way!


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