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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Going down under, looking for any travel tips

My wife and I are going to New Zealand for a two week tour of the country (Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Premiere Tour) starting the week of Thanksgiving. Since we've never traveled out of the country, except for visiting Canada back in the 90s, does anyone have any tips for long, international trips? We've got the usual stuff covered, travel insurance, passports, shots, etc., but anything else that may crop up that we should be looking into before leaving?

I was hoping to hit up a smart center in NZ for my collection of smart center visits while in country, but alas, smart does not seem to be sold in NZ even though they are available in Australia. As a consolation prize, however, we will be there for the world premiere of the first Hobbit movie when it opens in Wellington.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 04:26 PM
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Color me jealous!
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 04:34 PM
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First, I'm jealous, I'd like to visit NZ sometime.

1. We've learned to wait until we arrive in the country to get money. Then use your debit card to get cash. You'll pay less fees that way. The money changer booths charge higher fees.
2. Call your credit card company and bank (debit card) before you leave. Give them your dates of travel and country or countries. That way they won't put a block or freeze on your account.
3. Take comfortable walking shoes! Comfort is more important than looks when you are doing alot of walking.
4. Have fun and try the local foods.
Research about the customary tip for New Zealand. We found that in Germany is
5% not our 10 to 15%.
I don't know about New Zealand but in Ireland the pubs have reasonably priced, good food.

Are you doing an organized tour or traveling on your own?

Last edited by jkjahobbs; 09-12-2012 at 08:27 PM.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 05:07 PM
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What Jill said, although I'm leery of debit cards. If you don't have one, get a Capital One credit card - no foreign currency exchange fees (surprising what those will add to your trip costs.)

Long flight over the water; we usually plan on a couple of days recovery time in the arrival city to make a dent in the jet lag.

Almost sure your cell phone won't work or, if it does, will incur hefty overseas charges. Probably cheaper to buy a disposable cell phone on arrival; if you happen to have an unlocked GSM phone, pick up the cheapest local SIM card available (check it out online prior to flying.)

Remember to slow down at Hobbit crossings!
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jkjahobbs View Post
First, I'm jealous, I'd like to visit NZ somethime.

1. We've learned to wait until we arrive in the country to get money. Then use your debit card to get cash. You'll pay less fees that way. The money changer booths charge higher fees.
2. Call your credit card company and bank (debit card) before you leave. Give them your dates of travel and country or countries. That way they won't put a block or freeze on your account.
3. Take comfortable walking shoes! Comfort is more important than looks when you are doing alot of walking.
4. Have fun and try the local foods.
Research about the customary tip for New Zealand. We found that in Germany is
5% not our 10 to 15%.
I don't know about New Zealand but in Ireland the pubs have reasonably priced, good food.

Are you doing an organized tour or traveling on your own?
Thanks for the tips. Supposedly, AAA can provide currency before we leave and we'll try to use a credit card for everything else. I will have to check into the tipping situation and definitely notify the credit card company.


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Originally Posted by jwight View Post
What Jill said, although I'm leery of debit cards. If you don't have one, get a Capital One credit card - no foreign currency exchange fees (surprising what those will add to your trip costs.)

Long flight over the water; we usually plan on a couple of days recovery time in the arrival city to make a dent in the jet lag.

Almost sure your cell phone won't work or, if it does, will incur hefty overseas charges. Probably cheaper to buy a disposable cell phone on arrival; if you happen to have an unlocked GSM phone, pick up the cheapest local SIM card available (check it out online prior to flying.)

Remember to slow down at Hobbit crossings!
Good point about the cell phone, never really thought about that issue. We will arrive a day in advance to help get over jet lag. We have a Cap One card, but don't really use it. Our Priority Club Visa doesn't charge foreign transaction fees either, so that's probably the way we'll go (earns better rewards for us).

We're using a tour company, so all the in country transportation and lodging is arranged (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit filming locations with Red Carpet Tours, Home).
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwight View Post
What Jill said, although I'm leery of debit cards. If you don't have one, get a Capital One credit card - no foreign currency exchange fees (surprising what those will add to your trip costs.)

Long flight over the water; we usually plan on a couple of days recovery time in the arrival city to make a dent in the jet lag.

Almost sure your cell phone won't work or, if it does, will incur hefty overseas charges. Probably cheaper to buy a disposable cell phone on arrival; if you happen to have an unlocked GSM phone, pick up the cheapest local SIM card available (check it out online prior to flying.)

Remember to slow down at Hobbit crossings!
I thought he's going on vacation. Who wants a cell phone on vacation??
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 08:48 PM
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The first trip to Ireland we got travelers checks from AAA in Euro's. So paid them the lower fee. When we got to Ireland the first thing we learned was that since the travelers checks were purchased in the US no one would take them even though they were for Euro currency. Had to go to the Bank to get them exchanged and guess what we had to pay two different fees. I forget how much $$ we lost on that.

After that is when we learned about using the debit card.
We've used the debit card in both Germany and Ireland with no problem. Usually at ATM machines attached to banks. We do usually stop at the airport to get some money then hit banks as needed for more.

There are some places that you have to use cash otherwise the CC works the best.

Last edited by jkjahobbs; 09-12-2012 at 08:52 PM.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 09:21 PM
 
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I thought he's going on vacation. Who wants a cell phone on vacation??
So he can post pictures on the forum to make us more jealous.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Stretchmobile View Post
So he can post pictures on the forum to make us more jealous.
That's what cameras are for.

Man, New Zealand. If for whatever reason I had to emigrate, NZ would likely be my first choice. If I went on vacation I might not want to come home, heh.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 11:55 PM
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Those inflatable neck pillows are great for long flights, as are noise-canceling earbuds and maybe Ambien or an over the counter sleep aid (really helped when we flew to Japan). I agree completely with waiting to get local currency when you arrive. If you get a Capital One card, you might consider the "No Hassle Rewards" card, we use it for almost everything we buy, then get miles on most airlines. New Zealand - yay! That's on my list. Have a great time!

Edit: (Capital One has several different cards available with different perks, that's why I specified the one we like.)

Last edited by MikeB1; 09-13-2012 at 09:34 AM.
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