Looking Back

Monthly Update: January 2017

Kia Ora from New Zealand! Welcome to my first Monthly Update.

If you are a Newsletter subscriber, some of this might be familiar to you. If not, then you’re in for a treat! Hah! That was corny.

But seriously, as I navigate my way through this decision to leave my job, family, friends, and my little MacKenzie behind to somehow find a place to live and work in New Zealand, I want to keep you updated.

Places Visited

Nevada: Las Vegas

California: San Francisco, Arcata, Blue Lake, Fortuna, Loleta, Trinidad

Fiji: Nadi

New Zealand: Auckland, Hastings, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington

January 2017 Travel Map



Summertime on the East coast of the North Island. Napier, New Zealand.

1. It’s summer down here! Although, in Wellington (where I spent only a few days) you’d never know it. It really is “Windy Wellington.” And there was cloud cover or rain every day that I was there. Although, I could really feel the summer heat in Hastings and Napier with temperatures reaching the high 80’s every day.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa – Source

2. The Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa – in Wellington. I only made it through two exhibits – Awesome Forces (all about the volcanoes and earthquakes that are still forming the two islands) and the local flora and fauna exhibit leading up to the Colossal Squid exhibit. Of course, I would spend the most time in those two exhibits, right?

Garden of the Sleeping Giants. Nadi, Fiji.

3. While on my 17-hour layover in Fiji, I decided to take a 5-hour tour of Nadi. The tour included many stops with a local guide, including the local market where I sampled some local pineapple and a tour of the historical Fijian village that was the first established village of the islands. I opted for this tour over another popular day-long boat trip and island excursion because a) it was cheaper and b) it was a chance for some one-on-one time with local Fijian tour guides. More about my visit to Fiji later.

Women’s March members assembling at Myers Park. Auckland, New Zealand.

4. I joined the Women’s March in Auckland! I didn’t even know it was happening until the day before, and I have never participated in a march. New Zealand is one of the first countries to greet the sunlight of a new day, so this march was the first to happen in the world, at least a full 18 hours before the actual Women’s March in DC. Since this was the first time that I’ve participated in something like this, it helped me feel connected to home and still active in my community and country.

The bride and her father singing. Bayside, California.

5. The best of the best in January was meeting up with tons of friends in California that I haven’t seen in years. I went to a true Humboldt wedding, complete with a potluck dinner and handmade favors. We celebrated the 7th birthday of the little guy I used to nanny. During breakfast every morning I played games with his little brother who was just a little nugget when I moved away. I learned how to play chess and Sleeping Queens, and learned everything there is to know about One Direction and Harry Styles (thanks, Niki!).

I shared beers and played bingo with some AmeriCorps Cape Cod friends now living in Northern California. Then, they joined me to watch a horrible sci-fi movie from the 1950’s at the Arcata Theater Lounge – an old favorite activity of mine. On my final day in the US, I was treated to a dim sum lunch and an awesome catch-up session with an old WSP friend in San Francisco. The night progressed by eating my way around Chinatown with two other WSP friends. I was so stuffed! I truly love Northern California and all the people who live there!


My first challenge happened to be while I was in Fiji en route to New Zealand to begin my working holiday. I finally had access to the internet, so I did a quick email check on my phone. That’s when I found out that I didn’t have a place booked for my first two nights in Auckland like I had expected. My arrivals dates got mixed up with the organization that I received my Working Holiday Visa from and I would need to pay an additional $100 for them to re-book my hostel for me.

You might know that one of my biggest causes of anxiety is not knowing that I have a safe place to sleep while I’m traveling. Another one is being ripped off or scammed. Plus, I hate wasting money.

Flowers are calming, right? Nadi, Fiji.

So, I panicked a little bit. Dripping with sweat – not caused by Fijian heat and humidity – I reached out to the one person I knew in Auckland and begged for her to take me in. I was pacing the room with my imagination running wild with scenarios of sleeping on the streets when it hit me. I said to myself, “I am in control here. No need to freak out. You got this.”

From my phone, I booked two nights at the same hostel I would have stayed at, but for half the price. By this time, the girl I had messaged earlier begging for help messaged me back. All cool and calm she says, “Aren’t there any open beds at a hostel?”

Yah, I’m just a freak.

More Next Month

I’d like to include more in February’s update. I’m sure I’ll come up with some good stuff to share, but what do you want to hear about? Tell me in comments below, email me, or send me a message on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat (TransformedThruTravel)!

Read Other Monthly Updates



  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 4:12 PM

    I want to hear more about not just what you are doing, but how your anxieties are manifesting and what you are doing to manage them 🙂 I love your unique concept about combining travel with personal growth and anxiety management.

    • Reply
      Brittany Quaglieri
      February 18, 2017 at 4:08 AM

      Love you, Nikolai <3 I plan to write more about my anxiety. It's an exhausting endeavor, though. Reliving those moments and being able to clearly describe them is difficult. I'm working on it, though!

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