Road Tripping Through Australia
When years are spent dreaming about traveling to a new place, there is a strange mix of emotions that occurs when one finally arrives at said location. The excitement of being in a new place combined with the wonder of the unknown and a hand full of hopeful expectations is usually the trio responsible for the lovely endorphin rush a traveller experiences as he or she walks down the terminal. After leaving baggage claim and taking in that first breath of “fresh” air (usually a combination of car exhaust and jet fumes), he or she realizes it’s time to test whether the reality will live up to his or her imagination…
Now, picture our team of seven (and a “half” – baby Malakai!); loading a tower of surfboards onto our two rental camper vans in Sydney Airport, and each member full of his or her own preconceived hopes and expectations for the trip. We had a few set plans and goals, but none of us knew exactly what it would entail. However, we were all independently confident that the timing and purpose of our 20-day road trip was more than just a holiday!
During the trip we covered 14 hours of coastline, from the cold and quaint Stanwell Tops (a little beach town just south of Sydney) to the warm and trendy Maroochydore (just north of Brisbane). Every night, we bundled up in our camper vans and awoke with the sun to a new town and new adventures. From miles of clean beach breaks to arguably some of the best coffee shops in the world, Australia was beginning to live up to its reputation.
Beyond the obligatory tourist stops (which naturally included meeting some kangaroos), we spoke at schools, hosted some “brekkies” on the beach and sampled as many surf spots as possible. But as with most Surfing The Nations trips, I was reminded of the amazing “ohana” this organization has given me around the world. Four years at a normal job might not sound like much – especially to older generations – but spending four years at STN is likely comparable to measuring in dog years. Deep bonds of friendship are created after being at STN for just a few months, but when that number is multiplied by the hundreds of people who come through our programs yearly, times four years, it equates to a huge international family! A family that simply allows you to “pick up where you left off” every time.
On each of our STN international trips, we give our team members one goal: make a friend for life. While each day in The Land Down Under looked a bit different, there was one main theme: connection. From reuniting with former STN staff to making new friendships along the way, we not only got to experience a real taste of life in Australia, but the trip took on a greater meaning. When we prioritized making connections as we traveled, we added purpose to our adventure. Instead of worrying about their own expectations, our team was released to simply be in the present. I learned that as I let go of a tight plan, it clears my schedule to include spontaneity and surprises, and in the end, ultimately creates a space for reality to surpass my imagination.