Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So you want to do a working holiday, eh? 14 useful travel tips.

( Beware, I haven't written for a while and you could encounter some dreadful grammatical errors. Please read at own discretion.)

1.) Take your money with you!..(or an adequate amount for large planned purchases)

If you are planning on making a purchase of over $2000 on say a car, you are going to come across some difficulties when trying to make an online transfer from you Canadian bank account to your new foreign account. Either it will limit the amount of money you can transfer per day, week or month, or it will cost a lot of money to make an international transfer. Plus you may not be able to transfer from your domestic account to your international account at all. This can all be surpassed if you just take your money with you. Risky it may seem, but if you are traveling to a relatively safe country baring the risk surpasses the inconveniences it creates. You can also use third party international transfer companies to transfer your money but it seems to be less safe and takes upwards of 2-3 business days. Plus, it just feels sketchy to be handing off your hard earned cash to some unknown third party even if they are a legitimate business.

2.) The post office

Michelle and I spent some time online trying to find the correct forms to get our IRD (SIN) numbers once we found them we printed them at the local library for 50cents a page. Little did we know if we walked a block to the local post office they were free. I think between the two of us there was about 12 pages that we printed for no reason. Also New Zealand post offices have other useful and free resources that are actually useful. We also picked up a sheet that is kinda like a bill of sale/registration sheet for the car which was also free. So, make sure you stop at a post office it could be useful.

3.) Unlock your phone

Before leaving I never really understood what unlocking really even meant. This essentially is a fee you pay your cell phone provider and it allows your phone to then be hooked up to any cellular provider around the world. I had to pay about $30 with telus to have my iphone 4 unlocked and allowed me to use the same phone which is great. Didn’t need to buy a new phone, didn’t have to re-add a million numbers, still have all my music etc etc. It’s just a good thing. 

4.) Day old pies

This is very New Zealand specific but it’s still a good tip regardless of where you’re traveling. Here in NZ pies are the medium of choice for eating food. Chicken pies, Steak pies, vegetable pies, and they are all pretty awesome, and best of all you can usually find day old pies for cheap. I’ve found them for as low as $2nz, which is cheap considering the average cheap lunch in NZ runs about $14. These pies are usually the size of your fist and are a good(ish) meal replacement, which is perfect if you are on the go trying to save money. I’m sure you can find other day old goodies as well in any country. I know for a fact in Canmore, Ab you can always get awesome day old bagels for cheap. 


                                                    A day old meat pie makes this girl smile.

5.) Rain Jacket

Coming from the prairies rain isn’t really a thing we have to deal with. Even if it does rain it’s usually for short intense bursts and everyone just wings it. We run from car to building or building to building and hopefully it’s finished raining by the next time we go outside and most times it’s done within 30mins. Elsewhere in the world rain can be an everyday ongoing occurrence and NZ is no exception, especially in the ‘winter’ time. Having a nice comfortable water proof jacket, and ideally one made from gortex material goes a long way. It’s ultimately makes a huge difference in the quality of your experience and general mood. Plus with a few layers underneath it can be used in very harsh cold conditions which may save you from having to pack a winter jacket. 


                                               My relatively new Arc'terxy Beta has been superb

6.) Permanent address 

There is a sequence of events that needs to happen if you want to live and work in another country. If you want to work abroad you need to have an IRD(SIN) number and a bank account and for all that to happen you need a permanent address. Contact the hostel you will be staying at for the first few days/weeks and confirm that they will write you a letter confirming that their address is your permanent address, otherwise find a different hostel.

7.) Update your Resume/CV

When moving abroad employers are going to notice your phone number, and address straight away as it's usually right next to your name on the front page. This is a huge determinant of who is going to make the short list for interviews. Most employers aren't going to be willing to jump though the many hoops (time zones, long distance charges, people without proper visas, people without IRD numbers etc) to hire you even if you are highly qualified. Even if you are within the country if you don't update these two simple things it's going to make finding a worthwhile job very difficult.

8.) Bring your outdoor gear

In NZ specialized imported goods are pricey. A petzl climbing harness back home is usually about $70cnd and here it is $180nz. This is simply redonkulous, and it's well worth it to pay for an extra checked bag even if you only go climbing/hiking/etc a few times. 



                                             An amazing day out climbing at Mt.Maunganui.

9.) Compression Bags

Buy some compression bags. I prefer to have one for each type of clothing to create a simple organized backpack and you can bring a lot more clothing. Plus with compression bags there is the added benefit of having them in another bag that is either water resistant or water proof, which will come in handy if you plan on doing any camping or trekking around.

10.) Don’t let other people touch your shit! 

When you travel your life is dependent on what you have in your bags. When Michelle and I sluggishly slopped off the plane in Honolulu a very keen caffeinated Japanese shuttle driver was stoked to have won our business as we agreed to use his shuttle. He then continued to grab Michelle’s bag and quickly walked ahead of us not telling us where exactly we were going with her bag. I was busy carrying two backpacks weighing in at about 55lbs and Michelle was wearing her backpack and carrying a 20lbs duffel bag and we were completely at his mercy at this point. Sure if bad came to worse I could drop everything and tackle the guy, but then I would have literally left all of my stuff randomly in a dark American parking lot, which isn’t ideal. So just say NO! to people who want to touch your stuff.

11.) Bring the macbook

You don’t need to buy a special converter or a new cord just get the slide in plug that is appropriate for your region. Sure you will have less reach with your charger but it will cost you way less. Our new plug was $10nz. A converter at a drug store is $35+nz and full new cord is over $120nz


12.) Visit a museum

Museums provide useful insight to local culture, history, geography, flora/fauna and more. It's good to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and this is a great way to do it. In my case I was even asked about my understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi (a founding New Zealand treaty with the Maori ) which I learnt all about for free at the Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa in Wellington.

13.) Bring in-ear/noise cancelling headphones and a few mellow podcasts or audiobooks. 

Not only are they nice for cancelling out the drone from airplane engines it''s a great way to block out any unwanted noise and distractions which can dramatically increase the quality of your sleep. Hostels can be full of 18 year olds looking to get drunk and no one wants to hear about how many shots of jager they had last weekend. I find podcasts are a nice way to distract me from my surroundings and allow me to escape from my own dialogue and stressors.


                                                       Sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
14.) Make Lists/Notes 

Traveling can be hectic chaotic and overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be always. Keeping notes and making lists can really help. It helps to keep you focused, it helps you to remember things and also allows your to become more creative. Now if you could buy that in a pill you’d be all over that. Keeping notes compensates for being tired, not being able to remember things people said with thick accents or just to remember small details, numbers and perhaps fun creative ideas that are fleeting. Lists are also great for motivation. It feels great to work towards having everything crossed off a list of things to do by the end of the day.