20 October 2015



We've already mentioned Safe Travel before, but it is still one of the top tips for Kiwis travelling overseas for advisories, general information and their itinerary registration service.



For those for whom it has been a while since they travelled, there is no longer a Departure Tax payable at the airport.  This has been levied onto the airlines (who undoubtedly add it into their fares to you!).

Luggage trolleys are free to use in the terminal.  



Contact Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ) if you or someone in your family are receiving any form of benefit or allowance before travelling overseas.



Take out travel insurance when (or before) you book your tickets.  You don't necessarily need to get it through a travel agent either - you can use any broker or insurance agent.  Shop around!

If you have left a house, possessions or a vehicle behind, make sure the insurance payments continue for those in your absence. [NB your home may need continued use of electricity to power your burglar alarm.]



Remember that you may only have liquids to the volume of 100ml each in your carry on, that must fit into a 1l plastic bag (or 20cm x 20cm).  You will find the definition of liquids quite broad.  Everything else should go in your checked-in baggage.  This also means water bottles or containers.  You must empty them prior to customs clearance and may re-fill them after that.

Totally prohibited items are listed on the Aviation Security website.



If you have prescriptions, keep them in their original containers; and have a letter from your doctor listing their names and current dosage.



Decide how you are going to spend your money.

  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • ATM (debit) card
  • Money transfer
  • Prepaid money wallet (like a pre-loaded credit card)
  • Travellers cheques
  • New bank account in the country you are travelling to

Each will have particular rules and fees which makes comparing one option to the next less than simple.  Consider leaving some money in a NZ bank account for ongoing payments and emergencies.

Inform your credit card company of your impending departure and which countries you will visit.  That way you don't have a transaction declined as it is out of your usual spending habits.



How are you going to keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues or clients?

See whether you can take you cellular phone with you overseas and what it may cost to continue your NZ plan; or whether it is compatible with the country cellular network where you are going so you can pick up a new SIM there.

Do you need to take a calling card from NZ or buy one overseas?

Will you email folks or update a social media account instead?



Do you need an International Drivers Permit?  If so, then visit the Automobile Association for the forms to fill in, and where you can lodge your payment for this service.  It will be sent to you via post.  [There is an extra charge for processing an IDP application online or via posting it in.]



Are your wills up to date?  Do you need to leave someone a Power of Attorney over all or part of your affairs?  

13 October 2015

Colour-coded packing cubes


I mentioned in passing that we'd got packing cubes for our overseas trip.

These very simple, light-weight bags are great.  We've already had a chance to try them out.

The sets have 4 different sizes in each, all with mesh, nylon and a zip. The largest has a handle too.


The idea is that you pack like with like ie all your tops together, all your underwear together, all your bottoms together etc.

When you need a top you grab the whole tops bag instead of ferreting through each and every piece of clothing in your pack or suitcase.

We are taking it a step further and using colour-coded bags for each person.  As we only plan on taking 4 checked-in packs everyone's packing cubes will be tossed in together.  So when we arrive at our accommodation the packs can be emptied and cubes distributed according to colour.  

The only down-side is that the stitching on one of mine has already come apart, so I will need to inspect each one and see if reinforcement needs to be done before we go.

06 October 2015

DIY stash sacks for our packs


There is no wrong or right answer when it comes to what to carry your clothing and stuff in, but let me fill you in on why we chose packs instead of suitcases in case you too are in the throes of decision-making.

  • There are some places in Europe where suitcases with wheels are not allowed (ie Venice).
  • We needed to be able to hold our children's hands in busy airports and the like.
  • To save money we will need to walk, bus, train and therefore will be more mobile with a pack.
  • The only time Atlas and I went overseas (for our honeymoon over 2 decades ago!) I remember the wobble of the suitcase and how unwieldy it was dragging it down Sydney's metropolitan streets & on/off the train.


We had already picked up a couple of packs from a garage sale, but thought that we needed at least one more so the 3 eldest of us could carry packs, if not the 4 eldest.  The other children would have their day packs (aka normal backpack).  

Thankfully due to providence we were able to order a pack from Bags2Go in Australia that was heavily discounted, and have it brought back by a family member that was travelling there.

Unfortunately it got ripped in transit, forcing us to think about how to stash it during our real trip.  We came up with the combination of a homemade oxford nylon bag, 2 re-purposed US mail bags (that we had previously got our homeschooling resources from USA in), and a Kathmandu bag that had been the wrapping of a christmas present years ago.  


Some other travellers recommend:

  • Wrapping your pack in food cling wrap (Glad wrap / Saran wrap).
  • Putting your pack into a large thick clear bag (not a black rubbish sack as it might be thrown out) and binding it tightly with packing tape.
  • Using a duffle bag to zip it into.
  • Popping it into a wash sack (usually made from Oxford nylon).
  • Using a pack liner as an outer bag 


As for our ripped pack, we hope that repairing it with duct tape underneath and Gear Aid Seam Grip along the 12cm tear will be all it needs.  Unfortunately once opened the tube of Seam Grip is hard to save for later repairs if needed but would be good in a pack repair kit along with the (mattress) needles, upholstery thread (or dental floss), duct tape, and thimble in case something happens on the road or trail.