Who else had dreams of travelling the world when they moved to the Middle East? With Abu Dhabi being in a prime position for reaching far corners of the world many of us had grand ideas to explore as much as we could when we first arrived. But with everyday routines getting in the way how many people do you know that have actually managed to do just this? Not many I bet. However, one couple who have managed to make their dreams a reality and explore lots of amazing destinations are Sarah and Nathan, aka Exploring Kiwis. A couple from New Zealand, currently living in Abu Dhabi and trying to see as much of the world as they can.
I decided to get to know them a bit better by asking them some questions about their travels.
What do you love most about living in Abu Dhabi?
I love that the UAE is such a melting pot of cultures. We’ve met people from all around the world here and have developed a new appreciation for people of varied backgrounds. We’d always considered New Zealand to be diverse (and it is) but Abu Dhabi is a much more varied cultural experience. We love the way that the communities (both expats and locals) have welcomed us with open arms and are especially thankful to have Abu Dhabi as a base for our travels. Aotearoain New Zealand is so remote which limits options for quick get-aways but there are so many amazing destinations within a 7-hour flight from here that frequent trips are that much more attainable. We also love having Dubai, the other Emirates and Oman on our doorstep for ‘stay-cations’. Sometimes it’s awesome to feel like you’re getting away without really needing to.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
We feel very fortunate to have ticked off so many bucket list experiences since we’ve been here—we’ve seen the pyramids and Petra, tracked mountain gorillas in the wilds of Uganda, and swam in the thermal baths of Budapest with snow falling around us. We’re off to Iceland and Norway in a few weeks where we’ll hopefully catch the Northern Lights and we’d both absolutely love to swim with whale sharks so would put those two things at the top of our immediate list. In the long run, we’re aiming to trek to Everest Base Camp (but have some serious training to do before then!).
Tell us about your favourite destination you’ve visited so far?
The impossible question! I felt a real connection to Nepal—as a child growing up in New Zealand we’d always heard about our Kiwi hero, Sir Ed, who was the first to climb the world’s highest peak and it was pretty amazing to finally visit a few months ago, especially considering it wasn’t a place I ever thought I’d see for myself. Both Nathan and I adore New York—the amazing energy of the city is unlike anywhere else, and I also love Thailand. In Europe, we loved Bosnia and Slovenia and as far as cities go, we really enjoyed Prague and Budapest. Guatemala was fantastically down-to-earth and again, somewhere we didn’t really imagine we’d get to visit, and in Egypt and Jordan, we both had ‘pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I’m-here’ moments. To be honest, there are very few places we’ve been that we haven’t loved and even the places that weren’t such a good fit for us were still worth the visit—there’s always something to be taken from the experience.
If you could be transported anywhere right now where would it be?
Home to New Zealand. Though Nathan’s been home a number of times since we’ve been here (and it’s been almost one and a half years), I haven’t. We made the decision that we’d put all of our time and money into seeing the world and though I have no regrets, I do dearly miss our friends, family, and our two precious cats. It’s a trade-off that’s worth making as we won’t be here forever, but it is challenging at times. Being away from home has made me realise just how special New Zealand is too—we come from a pretty special part of the world.
What have you learnt about yourselves on your travels?
I was brought up travelling. My Mum was an air hostess before I was born and when I was very young, Mum and Dad bought a caravan and we toured Australia. Because of that, it’s hard to say just how much I’ve been affected by my travels, but if I could pick out one thing, I think it’s taught me to go with the flow. Plans don’t always work out. Sometimes we get lost, or the weather turns nasty, but it’s just how things roll when travelling and it becomes part of the experience. I don’t doubt that a lot of my confidence in new situations and my ability to smile and get on with it, largely comes from my travelling upbringing which I really value.
What are the essential items you always pack on a journey?
- I love a comfy pair of pants for the plane and my Nikes. When we travel we’re all about comfort and flexibility. When you don’t take much away, gear needs to be multi-purpose.
- We don’t go anywhere without our GoPro and DSLR. I’m pretty passionate about capturing our favourite memories on camera.
- A couple of universal adaptors to plug our electronics in. Since we’ve started travel blogging, we always carry a laptop and also our SkyRoam – http://exploringkiwis.com/2016/07/11/staying-mobile-reviewing-skyroam/ to help us stay connected). Noise cancelling headphones to help us unwind on long flights as neither of us is particularly good at sleeping onboard so having good music helps pass the time.
- As boring as it is, liquid or bar laundry detergent. Travelling light means that every second day or so we wash our clothes so it’s fairly essential.
Your top travel tip?
You need less than you think. One of the best things we ever did when it comes to travelling was to reduce the amount of gear we take away with us. We travel carry-on luggage only now and find it benefits us in so many ways. It means that we can throw our bags onto our backs and wander around town as soon as we arrive at a destination and helps take the focus away from what we’re wearing and look like and shifts it to us being fully immersed in our experience. An unexpected bonus? We never have to worry about airlines losing our bags as they’re always with us and saves money when booking discount flights!
Tell us about your tips for an expat living abroad?
Try to keep your priorities in mind. As hard as it can be to turn down the occasional brunch or splurge, we came here to travel. Because of this we try to limit our spending on things that aren’t a priority for us and then spend it on things that really get us excited. We managed to visit 24 countries last year, having seen so much more than we’d ever dreamed we would—that certainly wouldn’t have happened if we’d not have said no to the occasional outing. The Entertainer’s a great help in this regard as it lets us head out without it costing the earth, meaning we still get to have plenty of fun around Abu Dhabi!
Your favourite place to use the ENTERTAINER?
The thing we love most about the ENTERTAINER is the push it gives us to try new spots—we especially love heading out for dinner and making the most of all of the amazing restaurants on offer! This year we stuck to the Abu Dhabi app but I think we need to organise a Dubai one for next year as we head over there fairly often and it’s just not the same having to pay full price for things!
A big thank you to Sarah and Nathan for letting us get to know a bit more about you. Make sure you check out their blog and Instagram for info on lots of amazing destinations around the world. As well as the best things to see and explore in Abu Dhabi.
Also, if you’ve been wanting to travel a bit more (maybe it’s your New Year’s resolution?) then make sure you take advantage of the buy one night and get one free in lots of hotels with your ENTERTAINER Hotels Worldwide. And remember your ENTERTAINER Hotels Worldwide is completely free when you purchase any one of the ENTERTAINER App products!