We have just arrived in our 11th country – New Zealand – and have been travelling for nearly 9 months now. That said, even though we like to think we have this travelling lark down to a fine art, it can still come back to bite you sometimes if you’re not careful.
In the space of 24 miserable hours we got stung 4 times due to our own stupidity, laziness or weariness! Call it what you will.
- First up was our Myki cards used for tapping on and off the Melbourne public transport links. We knew we wouldn’t get the $6 back that we paid for it (which is rediculous) but we wanted to gift them onto fellow backpackers at the airport. We had some remaining balance on the cards, so went to get that refunded which meant we had to give up our cards. They then get recycled to other passengers, for of course another $6. Very uncool Melbourne!
- Secondly we screwed up on exchange rates. We had some Aussie dollars remaining we wanted to change to $NZD but we should’ve planned ahead better. A quick google after we’d done it told us that we’d have been better off waiting until we arrived in NZ… Much better! D’oh!
- Third up was a traveller SIM card. We had one the whole time we were in Australia and of course wanted the same thing for NZ. As we exited the airport tired after an overnight flight we saw what we were looking for. We were however convinced we could get a cheaper deal and so declined. It was only as we passed through passport control we realised what we’d seen was a duty free deal, and now we’d have to pay more for the exact same thing!
- Last up was a really stupid mistake. We left Australia one day and arrived in NZ the next after an overnight flight. What we’d stupidly done was book our hotel for the day we left, not the day we arrived. The worst part of this fiasco was we thought we were way too early for check in and so just sat at the airport killing time when we could’ve gone straight to the hotel and caught up on some much needed sleep! Instead we sat there doing hours of puzzles getting more and more tired before eventually getting to the hotel around 9am. Still 5 hours before check in time, or so we thought. Instead the receptionist told us we were a no show from the night before! How annoying, and stupid of us.
All that happened in one very unfortunate day, but these of course are not the only mistakes we’ve made during our trip, oh no!
We spent a long time researching pre-paid cards and traveller credit cards which wouldn’t charge you for using abroad. Something every traveller should do of course. We opted for a pre-paid card to withdraw cash in countries where credit cards are not widely accepted. This worked out great until the chip failed and the card was useless. We could have got a spare card before leaving the UK for the princely sum of £6, but we decided against it for some reason. That card is now useless to us.
We also forgot to pack the card reader issued to us from the UK bank we have our savings and joint account. We didn’t think we’d need it, but it would seem we were wrong! Even though our bank told us we could go into any bank and use one of their card readers, it’s just not that simple. Especially if they have no idea what a card reader is!
We both had contract phones in the UK with Vodafone which we knew would expire shortly into our trip. We planned ahead on this one, but just didn’t think of everything. We got our phones unlocked which has been great for adding SIM cards from all the countries we’ve visited, but we forgot that our old numbers would no longer exist after the contract ends. This is only a problem when you try to book flights for example, and you get to the end of the process and you bank wants to text you a code to prove its you making the purchase. They simply can’t if your number doesn’t exist anymore! Also, UK banks will not change your number they have on file to a non UK number. Cue us changing it to a family members number and only being able to book something when we know they can let us know the code they text to them. Simple enough in theory, but difficult when there’s a 13 hour time difference involved.
Its fair to say that banks and bank cards have been the main problem for us during this trip. So much so in fact we’re thinking of just burying our money in the garden when we get back!
So, the moral of the story is that just when you think you’ve thought of everything, and got this travel thing all sorted, it really can show you up in the most dramatic of fashions!
Safe travels one and all.