TRAVEL THURSDAY: The Early Stages of Planning a Getaway

Whangarei Falls

Another week, another Thursday! This week, AJ shares his advice on the early stages of planning a getaway. You’ll be booking flights before you know it.

I need a break. I’ve not had a very good couple of months. Some long time friends have started phasing out of my life, and my first job’s gotten incredibly stressful and catty. Not only that, I’m experiencing growing pains at my second job. Then recently, my life-long hero Chester Bennington succumbed to his demons. What hope do I have of facing mine?

I could host a birthday party, making cocktails for all my guests, but then that leads to second guessing that they’re not there for me, they’re just there to get white girl wasted. But I’ve found that the greatest cure to periods of depression is a trip. To reset, to make stories, to pretend that I live an interesting life. So I’ve booked the time off work, and I’m off for five days, to reset.

But AJ, how do you know where you’re going? What are you going to do? Fear not, my little dumpling, I’ll run you through what I’ve done and will be doing with this trip.


This has always been the hardest part of deciding where to go for a mini trip. In the past I’ve gone to places because of concerts and festivals (and, in one case, for an internet girlfriend). I opened up Skyscanner and Air New Zealand’s grabaseat┬áthis time around, so that they could help me along.

Table of flight costs
Trying to book a flight is difficult when there’s so many options!

Hello, what’s this? Cheap tickets to Hawaii?! I daydreamed viciously about firebreathing, surfing, and Lilo and Stitch after seeing that. Sadly, the flight home wasn’t on the right day. I had to relegate Hawaii back to the bucket list.

I decided to throw a dart at a map of New Zealand. The first three hit the Pacific Ocean. I thought the fourth did too, until I walked up to it and noticed it had hit a small collection of islands off of the coast of Whangerei. I started laughing, not stopping for a good half an hour. I didn’t know there was a place called Hen and Chicken Island in this country!

Hen and Chicken Islands
The classic method of picking a trip randomly

There’s one Hen Island, the massive Taranga, and five Chicken Islands: North-West Chicken, West Chicken, Middle Chicken, Eastern Chicken and Big Chicken. I was heavily amused and decided yes, I wanted to camp there. However, it’s a conservation area, so once again I had to scrap my plan.

I am going to Whangerei, though, as that’s the closest part to the Chickens that I haven’t previously visited.


Plane is the typical answer here. But I’m a Mr. Krabs type of person and would like to save as much as I can, so I’m flying to Auckland and getting a $1 bus ticket to Whangerei. That’s 50p (give or take) for you Brits!

Every year for the past five I’ve gone to Auckland. I’m starting to know the city like the back of my hand! I might as well stay there for a couple of days, too, to catch up with my friends. I’ll be getting the bus back down (sadly, the return ticket isn’t as cheap) and then fly back home (an absurd amount of coin!).

I’ll also need to rent a bike in Whangerei… More on that later.


The interesting part of planning this. 9/10 I’ll pick a shared room in a hostel and familiarize myself with my companions. I still regularly talk to a Singaporean girl I shared a room with in Auckland once upon a time!

There are other time where I’ve set up a tent, crashed on the floor at friend’s houses, couch-surfed (more on this on a later blog) and even slept on the seats in Wellington airport.

This time, I’m going a bit fancier. Three nights in shared rooms, one night in a proper hotel. I’ve never paid for my own hotel! The hostel I’m staying at in Whangarei is near Whangarei Falls, which will make a great Instagram photo. The issue is (and this is where the bike comes in…) it’s an hour walk out of town.

Map of Whangarei
Whoops. Always study your accommodation before you go.

In an area where three people were recently shot.

I should do my research with these things.


This is the stage that I’ve currently gotten up to. Normally I decide by a) making it up as I go along or b) having friends choose for me, but this time I might do some studying. I mostly want to chill, some time to myself to get away from all the stress and drama at home. I want to decide where my future lies, too: whether I move to the UK or to Melbourne, or elsewhere in New Zealand. I need a breather, so maybe I won’t look for the nearest sky dive.

Whatever I do, I’ll write all about it.

Whangarei Falls
I can’t wait to stay here for a couple of days!

Thank you, AJ, for another majorly informative post! I’d never heard of Skyscanner before… Now, if I can just find the cash to update that pesky passport!