So Close, yet so Far

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 11. Travails, Sydney by Flurin1 Comment

My original fall break plan was to do a road trip through New Zealand. It has always been on my bucket list to rent a campervan and do a minimalist tour of some country. Just me, the road and canned beans with steak, with the occasional stop at a restaurant to make sure I don’t go crazy. So, I was excited when the opportunity presented itself this fall. A six day trip was a little shorter than I had originally envisioned, but I thought it could be a good introductory trip to see if I would like to do this sort of thing in the future. This relatively short amount of time meant that I had to do a good amount of research in order to maximize what I could see, especially in a country such as New Zealand. First, I decided to tour the South Island rather than the North Island, because I was more interested in New Zealand’s natural beauty than cultural relevance. Once that decision was made, I started to look at possible sightseeing locations. This alone took me a couple of hours spread over about a week. The list was extensive, but I was satisfied that I could cover a large portion of it, if I planned well enough and managed my time carefully. This brought me to the hardest part of planning, which was figuring out the best route. I think I must have spent a total of three to four hours trying to figure out the best route in terms of sightseeing opportunities, travel time and best starting point. Now that I had figured out the particulars of my trip, I was ready to booking everything.

Booking my plane ticket was relatively easy, because I was really just looking to maximize my time there while minimizing my cost, so I ended up booking a non-refundable ticket with Jetstar. At this point I was feeling pretty excited about the whole affair and was enthusiastically browsing for the right camper car to book. After some searching I settled on a modified mini-van, since I wasn’t planning on going off-road, it afforded me a good amount of comfort due to its size and it came with a portable grill. Everything seemed to be going well until a little window popped up on my screen while I was checking out. This window then gave me the devastating news. I was informed that my driver’s license had to either be in English, I had to have a government issued international driver’s license or I had to have my license be translated by an approved translation service in New Zealand, in order for me to drive there. When I first read this message I was concerned, but not panicking, however once I realized that I had left my international driver’s license at home and, after doing some research, that there is no translation service in Queenstown, where I was flying into, I started to panic. My panic quickly turned into sadness, because I knew, due to previous situations involving non-refundable tickets, that there is no way I was getting my money back for my ticket and because my hopes and excitement for this journey had so suddenly turned sour. To add insult to injury, the process of selling the ticket and then changing the dates of the ticket, for the buyer, was also a very frustrating experience.

As a whole I think what made this situation so frustrating was how far I had already gotten in my planning. If I had known earlier about the driver’s license rules, then all of this emotional pain could have been prevented. But, I guess I live and learn, especially from such an unfortunate event.


  1. Hi Flurin,

    So sorry to hear about this travel blunder! I’m a bit of a planner myself, so I understand how incredibly frustrating it is to have a spotless plan designed in your brain, only to have it go awry due to some sort of silly administrative issue. Kudos to you for attempting to do the journey alone in the first place! This only means that when you actually get to go on your bucket list road trip (which, you surely will in the future!) you will be uber, uber prepared. I do hope that you made the best of your Fall Break regardless of the mishap. Sometimes the back-up plan, or even the unplanned, ends up being wonderful in ways that you could not have imagined yourself. Even if you did end up having to hang around Sydney for the break, I think its a rather cool and sunny place to get ‘stuck’. Stay positive!

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