I have been traveling for as long as it takes to carry a baby to term.

Which begs the question—have I birthed any major plans for future travel destinations?

The answer is yes. But I am not quite ready to reveal them. All I will say is there are plans in the mix. In the meantime, I am trying to remind myself to stay in the moment and fully appreciate everything I have come to learn and love about New Zealand after over half a year here.

What I’ve been up to this last month

Half a year in New Zealand

There was much to celebrate this last month: Jonathan turned 37 and I celebrated 6 months in New Zealand.

I landed in Wellington on November 21, 2014 which made May 21 exactly the half year mark. I traveled around the country for about 3.5 months and have been living and volunteering in Hawke’s Bay for about 2.5 months.

And I still feel like I’m learning about this place.

Being in one location for so long really puts things in perspective. We can’t possibly understand a nation (let alone a single city or region of that nation) and its people if we are just flitting around from place to place.

Hell, I barely understand my own upstate hometown back in New York.

But we can learn a whole lot more if we simply stop for a moment and start living rather than “traveling.”

Living in the midst of travel

I now know the secret to learning about a place and its people. It's to pretend to be settling down there indefinitely. Make no mistake, my time in Hawke’s Bay is limited and I’ve been transparent about this fact with everyone I’ve met including myself.

I just haven’t set limits for myself based on it.

I have devoted myself to this path as if I mean not to deviate. By doing so, I’ve opened myself up to a place without the limits of being a traveler. And that’s the whole point to deviating in the first place—to evade limitations set by norms of any kind.

The mindset of “Well, I’m traveling” can introduce its own set of norms.

Fending off thoughts like “I shouldn’t do this because I’m going to leave” has been an incredibly difficult challenge for me. Which is exactly why it’s been so important to keep fending them off.

Daily, I call my attention to the present. While I have a realistic outlook on the future, even making plans for new destinations and opportunities as I go, I remind myself to put my whole heart and mind into right now.

So far I feel I have been successful at directing my attention to the moment before me.

But I worry as I near the next stage of my travel plans that focusing on the now will become more difficult.

Leaving all over again

I’ve gotten very comfortable here in New Zealand. It’s almost starting to feel as if leaving here will be like leaving the USA again.

What I mean is leaving here will be bitter sweet.

I am already excited about my travel plans after New Zealand just as I was so excited to leave the USA for Iceland last Fall. I was over the moon elated and excited to finally be embarking on my grand journey across the world for the first long-term travel experience of my life.

At the same time, I was sad to move out of my apartment of 6 years, say farewell to a job I loved, coworkers and friends I cared about, and family who cried as they watched me walk toward the airport security checkpoint.

I will feel this sadness again as I say goodbye to similar things when leaving here.

Six months is not a very long time in comparison to a lifetime built back in New York. Nevertheless, my time here in New Zealand is significant to me since I spent a huge portion of my life dreaming about visiting this country and then I put all of myself into this place since arriving.

I'm going to miss New Zealand. But at least I'll leave knowing I put every ounce of my being into my time here—with no limitations, not even myself holding me back.