About Nicole LaBarge
Welcome to Travelgal Nicole. I’m an American Kiwi living in Wellington, New Zealand. I’m originally from Wisconsin and have lived in London, Japan and have lived in NZ for the past ten years.
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My first trip overseas was to France for my high school French class. I think any American will tell you going to Europe and seeing just how much history there is and how old everything is mind boggling the first time. I flubbed my way through the French immersion part of the trip but if there was one thing I learned it was that I wanted to travel more.
In between high school and university I wanted to take a gap year to travel. My parents were completely against it. This was not something Americans did back then. I was able to do a summer internship for Save the Rainforest in Panama before heading off to college in the fall.
I took several trips during college – you know the right of passage of spring breaks in Mexico, a Christmas break in Hawaii, random trips to Canada and Iceland, until my senior year I found myself back in Europe studying abroad for a semester in Scotland.
I graduated college just after 9/11 and found the job market in the States had tanked for recent graduates. I had no idea where I wanted to live and I kept thinking about travelling. I had loved my time in Scotland and wanted to return to the UK. This time I decided to live in London. Some may call it the rat race but I loved the fact that after work I could walk past Buckingham Palace or go to the Tower of London. And there was always someplace in Europe I could go for the long bank holiday weekends. At the end of my two years of living in London I had done and dusted Western Europe and most of Eastern Europe.
When I returned home from London I had no clue what I wanted to do. I still wanted to travel and had found an opportunity to work in Japan for the tourism board bringing over American students to teach English to Japanese kids. The kids were great, but the experience was not for me. While I was in Japan I decided to give myself one last opportunity – either Australia or New Zealand to live for a year.
And New Zealand it was! I really thought I would have gone to Australia but the visa was only for 4 months and I had really wanted to live and work somewhere for a year. Once I arrived in NZ I found the job market to be really good and found a job quite easily. One year turned into two due to new visa scheme that opened and then I had enough points to earn residency and needless to say some 10 years later I have citizenship.
I now own a consulting company and work for several businesses throughout the year. I use the breaks between my contracts to travel abroad. I originally focused on the Pacific Islands and Asia but in 2015 I went on my first trip to Africa. I spent six months travelling from Cairo to Cape Town.
I spent 2016 working and travelling and trying to find a balance. I went swimming with humpback whales in Tonga and finally visited China along with a few islands in the Central Pacific.
In 2017 I spent six months in South America visiting all 12 countries. Some of my favourite places were Rio, Machu Picchu, Colombia and Valparaiso. I had a great time in South America before heading to the Caribbean.
In 2018 my big trip is to West Africa. I will head first to Milan to visit a friend and then onto Gibraltar to meet up with my travel buddy from East Africa, Claire! We are taking the ferry to Morocco and then heading south to Cape Town! This trip runs from November 2018 to April 2019. From there I’m not sure I’ve my next trip as I’ll probably need a rest from all the travelling.