I have the bittersweet honour of penning my final column this week. I will miss you, our awesome, engaged readers, but it's time for a new adventure.
My first trip with Travel was to the Kingdom of Tonga. I spent a day in the company of Stan Walker and his dance crew, guided to a stunning secret beach by Tanoa International Dateline Hotel's Soni Havili. I spoke to so many strangers during those beautiful days on Tongatapu, and felt real connections were easily made. Mate Ma'a Tonga. You have my heart.
• Premium - Ask Away: Handy Japanese phrases to remember
• Ask Away: Tips for mile-high skincare
• Ask Away: Tips for handling long-haul
• Premium - Ask Away: Last minute hunt for a DoC summer sanctuary
Next up was the lush, baroque, hodge podge of South America. In the Galapagos, a wild seal played with me as I was snorkelling, the most wonderfully thrilling thing that has ever happened to me. Another day a very old, very large sea turtle gave me an inscrutable look as she fed beside me, her body longer than my own.
I often think of the night in Santiago a friend and I went to get a simple open-faced focaccia with tomato basil and mozzarella, at midnight. I learned that Michelin Star restaurants cannot compete with a humble meal of that kind.
My next trip, freshly heartbroken, was to Japan: Yokohama and Atsugi. I ran into my ex in Hong Kong airport. Despite the set up, It was not a romantic movie moment and I cried all the way to Japan. Later, safely installed in beautiful Atsugi, a temple dedicated to romantic love told me to avoid dating and "wait". My hosts seemed bummed out; "Ah, so that's the least fortunate fortune slip". In Yokohama, a pet meerkat decided I was A-OK and gave me a snuggle. The fortune slip's advice was spot on.
This is a mere sampling of my adventures. In Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong, I found mind-boggling luxury and incredible people. While exploring Stewart Island/Rakiura for a week, I found snow at sea level and indescribable peace. Go there, go there, haere atu.
My favourite tips are long haul flight related, particularly pertinent for us adventurous Kiwis. Get a good neck pillow - mine is the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow. Build a pillow fort with the tiny pillows the plane loan you: pop one in the small of back and elevate your feet. If you bring an empty eco bottle through customs and then fill it up you'll be the smuggest person on the plane.
Ask Away returns in January. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org