Where exactly do you begin when it comes to planning an overseas trip? Especially if that trip lasts more than a few months?
To start, we started browsing through Pinterest for ideas. And by “we” I mean me 🙂 That was the main source for inspiration, trip itinerary ideas, how to pack for a year-long trip…just to list a few. Most of you know how Pinterest sucks you in; one pin lead to another which leads to another which leads to another…then 3 hours has gone by. It’s a black hole.
Since we have roughly 7 months left before we embark, the wheels are in motion. This post breaks down the “big stuff” involved with planning a trip of this length. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible when it comes to our budget, costs, and ways we save on travel because we want our experience to be as realistic as possible to our readers. We aren’t trust-fund babies going on some extravagant globe-trekking trip. We are your average late-20-somethings attempting to see a corner of the world without spending our life savings…because we want to have a life (and a house) when we get back!
“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark”
– Passports: Make sure passports are valid and do not expire for at least 3 months after our planned departure. Simple enough.
– Apply for Work Holiday Visa. This type of travel visa has an age restriction (18-30) and you have to meet health and character requirements. Basically, to be approved we can’t have TB or any criminal felonies. There is an application fee, but this will vary depending on which country you are applying to. Also, we need to always have enough money for living expenses and to purchase return tickets during our trip. For New Zealand that amount is NZ$4200. We will apply sometime in July, and once approved, we will have 6 months to enter the country. Once we arrive, our visas will be good for 1 full year.
– Research Health Care coverage. We will still need health insurance while in NZ for a year. My awesome husband Michael has been on top of this one. The trick is to find an international plan that meets the minimum essential coverage qualifications for the Affordable Healthcare Act. But here is the really tricky part…there is no international plan that meets the requirements. Wonderful. At least, that’s what we were told by a few health insurance reps. Also, with the Affordable Health Care Act, if you are outside the U.S. for less than 330 days (even with an international health care plan) you can be charged a monthly fee. A fee to the tune of $700 PER MONTH PER PERSON! This fee is for not carrying a U.S. health insurance plan while overseas. But we did find out that as long as our trip takes us at least 331 days, we should be exempt. So if you are going to travel, do your homework on understanding health care coverage and all the nitty-gritty details!
– Transportation. We recently got our first credit card that earns airline miles. It’s important to compare the pros and cons of each credit card deal to see what’s best for you. We decided on Amex that earns Delta airline miles. Even though it has an annual fee, the signing bonus miles deal was too good to pass up. With our typical monthly purchases, we were able to earn enough Skymiles to cover our domestic flights and hotels. Without racking up a huge credit card bill you can reap the rewards of a card like this, just be smart!
Once we arrive in Auckland we are planning on purchasing an affordable used car. Since we will be touring the country for more than a few weeks, a rental would not be an affordable option. A cool possibility, many dealerships have a “buy back” agreement on vehicles with international backpackers. So at least we can possibly get a part of our money back before we leave.
– Tax IRD Number. Given that we will have various part-time employment to supplement our travel, we will need to apply for tax ID numbers. Still gotta pay those taxes! We are doing our homework in this area too so we are not double taxed on our income earned overseas once we come back. Yeah, that can happen if you earn over a certain amount (I think more than $20k combined). Before we apply for a Tax IRD number, however, we will need to set up a New Zealand bank account. And before we set up a bank account, we will need to set up a P.O. Box. There is definitely a particular order to set everything up.
– Accommodation. Since we are going on this trip partly for missionary work, we are working on some living arrangements with friends in Auckland when we first arrive. As we move from north to south, we will check out Airbnb locations, Hostels, campsites at national parks and more friends also in the missionary work.
– Jobs in NZ and WWOOFing. New Zealand, from what we read and hear, is very hospitable to backpackers. A good portion of their agricultural economy is given a boost by international travelers trading part-time work for room and board or a small income. This is an area I’m researching more and will make connections once we arrive. Websites like http://www.backpackerboard.co.nz/work_jobs/index.php are a great resource to start looking.
Another option is WWOOFing. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFing for short) started in New Zealand in the 1970s but can be found worldwide. Groovy. This organization allows volunteers to stay on organic farms and join in with the various projects hosts are busy with. In return for 4-5 hours of help on the farm each day, hosts provide 3 hearty meals and clean, dry accommodation. To check it out, visit http://www.wwoof.net/welcome-to-wwoof/
– Itinerary. Since our trip is longer than a few weeks, we can’t really have an itinerary “written in stone.” We have created a “Bucket List” of things to see and experience along with the associated cost of each. I’ll fill you in on our bucket list in a later post!
– Cell phone. Research available carriers and prices wherever you plan to go. We have T-mobile which will work in New Zealand (score!). We will still have free text, free data, and long distance calls go up from .10 cents/min to .20 cents/min. Not too bad! Signal coverage is decent on both islands but in some of the more remote areas I doubt we will have a signal at all. For this reason we bought the following item…
– GPS from Delorme. This is Michael’s new toy for when we are in isolated areas. It works off satellite signal, so it can send and receive text messages in areas where cell phones are useless. We can track our route while out on hikes, and even send “SOS” emergency signal to a 24/7 search and rescue center if we need help. It’s not a cheap piece of equipment, a basic model will set you back $300, but could save our lives if we run into trouble while hiking up a volcano.
– Packing List. I have created a preliminary packing list to determine the essentials. Packing for a year is a whole different animal compared to packing for a weekend getaway. Almost everything we need will have to fit into a suitcase. Michael and I will each have a backpack carry-on and one large suitcase. And when I say large, I mean within a few inches of the 62 inch airline restriction. The challenge will be keeping it under 50 pounds! I will be writing a post about our detailed packing list right before we leave, so stay tuned!
That’s everything for we are working on for now, I hope you made it to the end of this post! There are a lot of moving parts when planning a trip to another country for a full year. But our excitement builds as we mark off another day on our countdown calendar!