Friday, January 27, 2012

9 Days To Go! Pre-Trip Odds & Ends

I'm one of those people who always feels extremely disorganized, yet ultimately manages to convert chaos into productivity.

I'll often write to-do lists and intend to focus on a few specific items each day, and then I'll ignore the list and instead randomly choose a task from the clusterfuck of Things That Must Get Done that lives inside my head. I'll put something off for weeks, and then suddenly become fixated on doing that one thing right away.

It's a weird way to operate, but it's my way. My own haphazard, neurotic way.

Now that you know a bit more about how strange I am, here's a round-up of Things That Must Get Done that I've recently done! I am, after all, just nine days away from my RTW departure. Eeeee!


This is important because I need proof of onward travel arrangements in order to enter my first country: New Zealand. The Kiwis are more than happy to welcome U.S. residents without a visitor visa as long as:

  • they plan to stay for three months or less
  • they are actually going to leave and have proof of this
  • they have enough money to support themselves while visiting (NZ $1000/month)

That means I'll need to have my passport, Australia flight confirmation and a recent bank statement in hand when I fly to Auckland.

I booked a Qantas flight from Christchurch to Sydney on March 5, which means I'll have 28 days to enjoy New Zealand before I hit Oz. This was the first time I ever redeemed frequent-flyer miles (American Airlines AAdvantage miles to Qantas via the oneworld alliance), so I was quite excited to just pay taxes rather than the full ticket price!



One of my roommates is staying in our townhouse, so she recruited new girls to replace the two of us who are leaving. The girl who is moving into my room conveniently needs furniture and is happy to buy almost all of mine! That means I don't have to move a bunch of heavy crap down two flights of stairs.

Look! An unwieldy dresser I don't have to deal with!

I've also got something of a Facebook scuffle going on over this couch. It's a really comfortable couch and I absolutely love it... but it needs to go. Luckily, I have several friends who would like to have it. Come and get it, someone!

I will certainly miss this couch's nap-ability. Ah, well — I'll always have the memories.


These two achievements are completely unrelated, yet nicely demonstrated in this one photo.

My final three travel shots were a piece of cake compared to the six I received during my first visit to the travel clinic, and I'm oh-so-happy to be done with them. Any fear of needles I used to have is long gone by now!

And I cut about six inches off my hair because I needed a change and haven't had my hair this short since junior high. I'm not bringing a blow dryer or straightener on my trip, so expect to see either crazy hair or ponytails in most of my travel photos!


I'm bringing my passport, driver's license and immunization records on my trip, but I'll also bring backup copies of those documents in case the originals get lost or stolen.

Last night, it took me less than a half hour to scan my documents, save copies to my laptop and my email account, and print a few color copies of each to have on hand. I even laminated a copy of my passport and a copy of my driver's license with clear packing tape, just to be safe (and extra neurotic).

Side note: This whole process was made much more enjoyable by a few glasses of red wine.


I know next to nothing about how cell phones really work, so bear with me if this explanation is fuzzy.

My Samsung Vibrant smartphone was locked, meaning that it would only work on T-Mobile's network, so I had to unlock it to be able to insert a prepaid SIM card and use the phone in other countries. My understanding is that one can buy a global SIM card that will work across many countries, or local SIM cards for each country one visits. Is that right? Kind of?

Anyway, I had to unlock my phone, and I found that it's impossible to get an actual human being on the phone when calling T-Mobile. I ended up live-chatting with a customer service rep on T-Mobile's Web site, and she was happy to forward my request to the T-Mobile SIM Unlock Team (yes, that's a real thing). The following day, I received an email with my unlock code and instructions on how to do the deed.

I had my tech-savvy friend do the actual unlocking, as the process required the use of a non-T-Mobile SIM card and I don't just have those lying around. He popped in his AT&T SIM card, entered the code and boom — it was done.

My phone still works just the same, as far as I can tell, but now I'll be able to connect to other networks once I'm on the road. Good stuff.


I've seen the Kindle Keyboard 3G top many bloggers' lists of travel must-haves. It's obviously a great source of entertainment for reading, but its automatic access to free global 3G is the real draw for travelers. It means that, even in the middle of nowhere (with some network limitations, of course), one can hop onto the Kindle's experimental Web browser to check email, update Facebook or send a tweet for free.

I'm not so Internet-crazy that I'd die without 24/7 access, but it's certainly nice to know that I can connect if I really need or want to, regardless of Wi-Fi availability (which is notoriously sketchy in New Zealand and Australia).

And check out Benny Lewis's story about how his Kindle 3G saved him big-time. I hope I never get into a similar situation, but who knows — crazy stuff happens.

I'm already a little obsessed with my Kindle. I used to be a big book-reader before I got so into blog-reading, and I look forward to catching up on books I've been meaning to read for years. I'm also thrilled that I can "check out" e-books for free using my Seattle Public Library card! Technology is so freakin' cool.


This weekend, I'll be busy selling more clothes, donating much more stuff to Goodwill, driving a few must-keep items to my dad's place and otherwise clearing out of my townhouse (I'll be staying at my mom's house for several days before I depart). Oh, and my going-away party is Saturday night!

I can't believe next weekend is the weekend. Time flies... but I'll be ready.


New here?


  1. My kindle saved me in London, my passport got denied at the border (due to it being put through the wash a year earlier), they barely let me in and demanded that I head to the US embassy right away, however I wanted to check embassy rules see if I could just walk in. Turns out you need to make an appointment before going, so I saved myself what could have been a lot of wasted time and fretting because I was able to check the website on my kindle. Best thing ever.

    1. Wow, great story! Also a great reminder to not put my passport through the wash : )

  2. One can read your excitement trough all the post, he he, nice!!

    About the phone, you might want to check out this SIMs which are kinda expensive to use, but they work in lots of countries, including New Zealand and Australia :) I believe its easier than getting a local SIM in every country you're in.
    Anyway, I guess phone usage would (should!) be very little, right?

    And I've had a 3G keyboard and a 3G Touch Kindles, and the latter is a lot better. I really almost don't use the keyboard, and without it you save size and weight (both very important on the road ;) ).
    Also, if You happen to find PDFs you want to add to it, You can use the software Calibre, which converts formats (Kindle reads .MOBI very well).
    Did you check out the Send-To-Kindle email address? Really easy way to add content outside the Amazon store.

    You should do a Twit-cam or something like that on your going away party, for those of us that can't be there!

    Enjoy the pre-travel rush/high! :D


    1. Thank you for the SIM and Kindle tips! I haven't explored the Kindle features too much besides just reading a book on it, but I'm sure I'll find time in transit to look into those things.

      I'll be sure to take some pics at the going-away party and post them!

  3. Sounds like you are making progress. I don't travel anywhere without my Kindle, even if it is just for one night. Hope the rest of the pre-trip planning goes well, even if it is sort of a cluster:)

    1. I was on the fence about the Kindle for a while but am SO glad I bought it. It's worth it just to have so many books on hand, regardless of the 3G. And thank you — the cluster is moving along nicely : )

  4. The excitement is certainly apparent in your post. Good luck with your travels. I enjoy my Kindle so much. There are so many free books that can be downloaded including classics.

  5. Thank you! Ooh, free books are fab : )

  6. SO smart to unlock your phone before you leave... What is obvious to most was not to me. It was impossible to get a quad band phone in Chile... definitely the biggest pre-trip planning error we made.

    The kindle is amazing. It will save you on the many, many, long bus rides ahead.

    1. Oh, no! Hope you're able to figure something out.


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