I'm one of the luckiest people on the planet.
Through no design of my own I was fortunate to be born in a westernised country with access to top-rate education and well-paying job prospects. This provide me with advantages 99% of the global population could only dream of. Rather than having to worry about spending all my time scraping out a living, I actually have leisure time and can choose what I do with that time. This includes spending a Sunday morning updating the Best Travel Books website, whilst occasionally attending to my children. It also means, within reason, I can travel to any overseas destination for no other reason than for personal enjoyment or curiosity.
Whilst I had no control over where I was born, I like to think I had some control over another reason why I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world. You see, I have a fantastic wife who understands what it means to me to be able to spend alone time travelling.
"Filling your tank" is what she calls it. In the same way that I endeavour to help enable situations where she is able to undertake her own meaningful experiences (like shopping for her 10th pair of boots), she recognises that a week away on my own, anywhere, is what works best for me to recharge my batteries and emerge back into the normal world a better, more grateful person.
Despite the beauty that surrounds us while living in New Zealand, a major downside is that we are limited in nearby travel options so as to avoid spending most of the time in a metal tin can travelling or recovering from the trip.
I'll spend a month or so (not consecutively!) staring at a map, having mentally drawn a four hour travel circle around Auckland, picking out places I haven't been to and that aren't immediate candidates for the annual family holiday, before choosing a destination.
Last year's foray was to Tonga, sufficiently rustic (as evidenced by photo's of rats chewing up the furniture in my room) that my wife had declared this not to be on her travel radar. Her loss, given the amazing time to be had there and one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had whilst swimming with humpback whales.
This year I'm heading to Niue, which is officially defined as being a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. Arriving outside the normal whale migratory season of July to September, there will still be plenty to do. Most of the activities will be on and in the water, checking out the spinner dolphins, playing with sea kraits and snorkelling among the fishes. On land I'll also be looking to visit chasms, caves, historical sites and occasionally frequent a bar - in the interests of getting a feel for the local way of life, of course!
I told you I was lucky.