How it all came about

I have a shocking memory.

I often have trouble remembering what I did on the weekend, so answering the ‘How was your weekend?’ question at work often results in me standing there for a few moments asking myself, “Shit. What did I do?” Often I only reach the answer after the person who asked me presents a few options. Once my memory has been jogged, I’m all over it.

The other night babs asked me whether I was going to do a post about how I thought of The Unprepared Traveller. The thing was, I couldn’t actually remember. I remembered that we were in Hawaii when I had the idea, but I couldn’t remember exactly where we were, what we were doing, or how I had thought of the idea.

Once he jogged my memory, though, I could remember.

Photo of Ross and Rowie looking at the camera and smiling. Wearing long sleeved shirts.
Walking up to a higher point of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i. Image source: Ross Wood

We were on top of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i. (Well, as close to the top as we could get, anyway.) We thought we had prepared for it. We knew that it was going to be very, very cold. We packed jumpers, wore long pants, I had hiking boots on, we were ready! Only we weren’t. We were not prepared for how cold it was. Ohhhh boy.

After doing a quick Google search to find out what the average temperature at Mauna Kea Observatory is (we were higher than this), I’ve found the following information:

  • The average temperature in December is 2.4°C (36.4°F).
  • The highest ever recorded temperature (on this site, anyway) in December is 6.8°C (55°F).
  • The average number of days in December below 0°C is 24. That’s 24 out of 31 days. That’s 77% of days. That’s a lot.

Guess what I was wearing? One thin singlet. One thin, long-sleeved shirt. One thin jumper (with sleeves that have those weird thumb holes). Long tights (#activewear) that aren’t that thick. Two pairs of socks. Hiking boots.

Guess what time we got there? Just before sunset. So we climbed a bit of a peak, the sun was out, everything was allll good. It was a little bit chilly, but we were fine. And then the sun went down.

Now, if I had done some research other than making the logical assumption that snow = cold, I might have realised that I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS! I could have picked up another jumper at a thrift shop, brought extra towels – anything really. All I could do in that situation was steal babs’ ugly 49ers sweater and leave him a bit more susceptible to the cold.

We had been parasailing in Kona literally that morning. It was so warm. I’m assuming my brain just couldn’t make the connection that although it was warm in the morning, we were travelling up about 4000m and the climate was going to change dramatically. I think this can be explained away by being Australian – you can travel for 6 hours in a car and still be in exactly the same sort of climate – but, really, I should have done more research.

Babs and Rowie parasailing. Photo taken from in the air!
This was our morning activity. Image source: Ross Wood

So we were standing on top of this amazing mountain looking at the magnificence of the universe through the stars in the sky and all I could think about was wishing I’d brought a more significant jumper.

BAM. The Unprepared Traveller came to mind. If I knew there was a blog that would tell me the things I needed to know about places I’d never visited in an incredibly blunt manner, I would’ve read the hell out of that blog.

I wanted it to be a place where I could guide others; a place where I could write a travel diary to stop my shit memory forgetting about all the wonderful things I’d experienced; a place where I could speak to people bluntly and tell them that they may shit their pants if they don’t get enough vegetables and that it’s a really bad idea to wear skimpy bikini bottoms when learning how to SUP.

The Unprepared Traveller is about learning from mistakes. It’s about trying to get past anxiety about new places. It’s about overpacking and underpacking. It’s about being okay with the experiencing new things and being okay with making mistakes.

And it’s about bringing a thick jumper to a cold climate. I hope you like it.

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