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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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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?
 

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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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To the XCAPEPOD!
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Discussion Starter #5
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. :)


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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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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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.
 

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So he can post pictures on the forum to make us more jealous.:wink:
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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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.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
It's always good to hear the "voice of experience" from others that been "there and back again". :wink:

LOL on the cell phone. I'll need one to keep in touch with the family in case of emergencies and just in case the world will end if I don't call the office and I will be very clear about that. I'll also have a netbook and tablet "just in case" although the tablet is more for watching movies/TV shows while waiting in airports and on the plane (ripping a bunch of DVDs ahead of time).

I'm a Canon DSLR user, but for this trip, I decided that I wanted something that could do 1080 video, nice stills in lower light, and had a good zoom while being smaller than an SLR and easier to carry. So, I went with a Panasonic Lumix FZ150. Very impressive unit. My wife will also have my older Canon P&S, so we should have lots of pics and video to share. :)
 

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SLEEP as much as you can on the plane.

will help with your jet lag on the other end.

Use ambien. Not alcohol?

When I lived in Australia, Sydney to DC flight time was 24+ hours. That is enough time to get drunk, crash, wake up with a hangover and repeat again.
NOT a good way to arrive at a foriegn customs office, with a double hangover?
 

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Are you going into Auckland or Christchurch? Probably Auckland with a connecting flight to the South Island. Don't rent a car at the airport, too expensive, there are quite a few place that rent just regular cars at alot better price.

Bring a couple of wall adapters for your plug-ins. Remember everytime you use your debit/credit card there "usually" a handling fee per transaction, this will add up quick. Some banks/CU don't have this fee, check while you are at home, because it's too late when you get back.

Make sure you get to Queenstown on the South Island and plan on staying a few days to enjoy the area. Between the bungy jumping, (The Pipeline), jet boat riding,(The Shotover), wine cruising boat ride for dinner you will have a blast.

Also remeber there have been quite a few major earthquakes the last couple of years and there is still alot of rebuilding going on there.

Have fun, take lots of pictures, repeat as necessary......
 

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Are you going into Auckland or Christchurch? Probably Auckland with a connecting flight to the South Island. Don't rent a car at the airport, too expensive, there are quite a few place that rent just regular cars at alot better price.

Bring a couple of wall adapters for your plug-ins. Remember everytime you use your debit/credit card there "usually" a handling fee per transaction, this will add up quick. Some banks/CU don't have this fee, check while you are at home, because it's too late when you get back.

Make sure you get to Queenstown on the South Island and plan on staying a few days to enjoy the area. Between the bungy jumping, (The Pipeline), jet boat riding,(The Shotover), wine cruising boat ride for dinner you will have a blast.

Also remeber there have been quite a few major earthquakes the last couple of years and there is still alot of rebuilding going on there.

Have fun, take lots of pictures, repeat as necessary......

We're flying into Auckland from LA and the tour company will pick us up at the airport. They are providing all transportation and lodging, so fortunately, we won't have to worry about rental cars and figuring out how to get around. We will be taking the ferry from Wellington to Nelson when we leave the north island.

Good point on the wall adapters. I've bought one and will pick up a couple more and I've checked all my AC adapter/chargers to make sure they can handle 240V power. I also purchased a dual voltage hair dryer and curling iron for my wife. So, I think we're good on the power conversion department. Of course, there is always something... :rolleyes:

I've been keeping track of the latest volcanic and earthquake activity, but I guess you have to expect some of that in that part of the world - Ring of Fire anyone? The tour doesn't spend any time around Christchurch, probably because of the damage there, but we will be several days in Queenstown and surrounding areas.

We've signed up for some helicopter flights, 4WD outings, cruises (TSS Earnslaw, etc.), and hope to work in a hot air balloon flight. Because we are with a LOTR tour company, we'll get to visit WETA and some filming locations that are not accessible to the general public (private lands) in addition to the red carpet opening night of the movie.

This is our "once in a lifetime" bucket list kind of trip, so I plan to make the most of it. I've seen too many coworkers retire or not make it to retirement and put off doing this kind of trip only to never make it or be in such poor health that they can't. We're going to do it now. NZ or bust. :)
 
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