Timeshares…. a strange micro-world of travel

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From my balcony. London Bridge Resort, Arizona. November 2017.

So with all of the travel I have done in my life and on this blog, I may have briefly mentioned time shares once – like in passing when I explained that we have a timeshare in Hawaii – but otherwise my interaction with this concept has been rather limited.

The fact of the matter is the idea of time shares – or at least the opinion on time shares – has a tendency to be a polarizing topic. In one camp, you have those who see these as a money leak – you pay in all year to get a limited time in one location (that you can sometimes switch if the company you use has multiple interchangeable locals) and if you don’t have time to go every year or forget to book, you loose that money. On the other side, this guarantees a week or two (depending on your agreement) of vacation of your choice and you get to pick where you invest so you can pick a place you will want to go to over and over again or that you know has great trade-ins.

For us growing up, I had no idea we had a time share in Hawaii – we never went! what we did instead was go to Disney World a lot; mom worked for the company so we all got to go to the parks for free and our time share (as it turned out) let us trade in for Orlando, Florida. Even though I had no idea this was happening, it all worked out really well for my family – we had pretty frequent vacations or we could lend it out to others; plus we have now used the time share properly which is nice too!

But what else is there and why did I call it a micro-world of travel?

Well, this is exactly what I experienced at London Bridge Resort, Arizona with Ryan at the Owner’s Weekend.

So what the heck is this, you may be asking.

The owner’s weekend is a week or two that a timeshare will advertise for people who have a time share with the resort or company to come together and spend that time that they pay for all together. This ends up being like a one or two week reunion with people who go every year – the competition over rooms for the next year happens on the Sunday and cam get crazy fierce!

Yes, it is really a weekend where they are trying to get you more involved, spend more time, and spend more money, but you also get to talk to the people in charge to air complaints or talk about any changes you can expect in the upcoming year.

This isn’t to say it’s all costly and that it isn’t a lot of fun. You will get a lot of discounts both in the resort and from local businesses that depend on the resorts for revenue and a lot of these discounts and activities are put on for this week only – at least, at the prices offered at that time. Ryan and I got to do a mixology class for free – including drinks! – karaoke, there was a club, a fancy dinner, breakfasts, and different boat ride offerings.

The odd thing for us was the age difference. No one will be surprised when I say that (especially in this odd owner weekend situation) that the people who own timeshares tend to be in the latter part of their lives. At 26, Ry and I were 17 to 20 years younger than the couple closest to us in age and there was probably an equal age group between there group (minimum) and the main subset of owners. The world geriatric association was thrown around a lot. Still, with Ryan at my side, we jumped right in and had a lot of fun – and a lot of people who had many opinions on our life going forward which was another interesting experience.

So while experiencing this kind of weekend was interesting, just because you decide to buy-in to a timeshare, doesn’t mean you need to use it like this. As long as you book far enough in advance, you can use your time whenever you want during the year, so it is a lot like pre-buying a vacation. The biggest factor is figuring out what you are going to do with it, how functional it is, and demographics.

Ryan’s parents have two or three of these and they use them for really specific reasons. London Bridge tends to be for the parents – besides pools, there isn’t much in the way for kids. There are other lodges (I think he mentioned on in San Diego) that have full water parks and kid centers which are built more for young couples and young families – these also tend to be the more transferable locations in higher traffic areas.

The other cool thing is that these are inheritable – one of the timeshares that Ry’s parents have were his mom’s parents’ first. This means you can take over the existing contract and keep paying on it with your name on the lease without having to start from scratch.

I still feel like for most of my travel, I am more of a free-bird – I want to be able to pick where and when I go somewhere and spend my time and money rather than feel like I have to go to a specific place (or a shorter list) because I’ve already lost the money otherwise. I do really see how this investment can make you actually use your well earned vacation time – something not many people take advantage of and has been proven to improve your life and health!

Next week, I’ll talk more about the resort and give you a better picture of what was so fun about this crazy long weekend in Arizona, but for now…

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Timeshares…. a strange micro-world of travel

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…

It seems odd in our day and age of everyone from our oldest citizens to our youngest plugged in at all times – smart watches to mini-computers on our phones and tablets to digital book readers to individual TVs on airplanes – that any planes that travel across the country (I’m talking the 5 hour flight across the continental United States or the equivalent LA to Hawaii plane ride) could not be built to keep up with us.

The majority of  planes will have all the extravagances we’ve come to somehow need from an USB port to your individual television that allows you to pick your own entertainment – whether games, shows, movies or radio – but, as I learned coming home from Boston, not all these planes have been updated. Again, I’m not talking the dingy plane from LA to San Francisco here (this flight is an hour so, of course, you don’t have time to use the extra amenities).

With this in mind, it’s important to always have some back up supplies whenever you are planning on getting into an airplane – especially if you have little ones! And I know that I have spent the last two weeks talking about what a pain it is to have stuff in a carry-on bag when space is limited, but if you pick well, these are a few things you really should have.

1. Book/Book Reader.

Personally, I am a classic book person – paper and weight – however, I fully understand peoples love of electronic book readers that allow you to bring as many books with you as you want with none of the heft to worry about. If you bring the electronic version (and this really goes for anything that needs a plug to charge), you must, must, must pre-charge! Not to mention bringing all of the needed chargers so you have something to read on the way back. Again, I love a book-book – no need to charge, worry about the charge, and I love the feel of weight transfer that happens once you get passed the center of a novel.

If you don’t remember to pack one – or if you haven’t hit a book store in time for getting to the airport – stop by the airport bookstore. Many novels have started getting their start here and the variety is seriously worth looking through. I have worked in publishing and the airport novel is a real thing!

2. A portable battery pack.

These come in all shapes, sizes, and loads now and, if you plan on using your phone, you will really want one. Again there are things you will really need to check here. Just like any other electronic, you must charge this before hand or it really won’t do you any kind of good. Remember that the charger for the battery pack is not usually the same as the chord you use to charge from the pack but you will need both. Finally, remember that these really are necessary when you’re on a lower tech plane since they won’t have the installed USB ports!

3. Sketchpad/Notebook.

If you are stuck on an airplane for hours, why not let yourself get creative? Take the time to unplug from everything – for me, this excludes music – and just go for it. If you want, here are a few ideas to get you going. First, on one short ride (an hour which was more like 40 minutes with take off and landing) I did a sketch page of character poses and designs – no erasers and just go. Don’t forget to write the start and finishing time as well as your when and where.  My second suggestion is for sketching or writing. Put your music on shuffle and for every song write a small ficlet or a small sketch inspired by the song but only lasting as long as the song plays (this means 2-5 minute outputs) and again, title and date them.

This mean you most definitely need to remember your supplies (whatever those may be), including sharpeners, extra lead and erasers, just in case.

4. Downloaded movie.

Sometimes, despite all the data telling us we should, we just don’t want to unplug. Our lives are so busy, all we want is a few hours we have to spend on a plane catching up on a new movie we missed or an old favorite that just lets you unwind. Again, you have to bring your charger because you will definitely need it – and remember that you’ll have to really think about your device! Everything from storage and data needs to size may cause you issues. You can also look at what your airline offers. You may not have all the built in tech features but you may get wifi and some have downloadable offerings – all you have to do is bring the device to play the features.

5. A personalized Sleep Kit.

Another way to unplug is to just take a nap. This isn’t always easy with aisle sizes shrinking, more people in the plane, and all the other noises that are just part of plane travel You can customize this for your own particular needs. You can pack everything from melatonin or other sleep aids, eye mask, ear plugs, ect. Then if you want to really use the time to get in the beauty routine, consider adding in your favorite, hard working moisturizer, eye cream, and lip balm. Flying is rough on your skin and it’s a flight, not a runway show; why not use the time to your benefit?

That’s it for my suggestions. And let’s just be honest, whether you flight is tech’ed out or not, if you pack well and make your choices based on your needs, are any of these really a problem to pack?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…

Going Geek

My first night in Paris.

The long climb. Montmartre, Paris, France. February 2015.
The long climb. Montmartre, Paris, France. February 2015.

So last week I said I’d start recounting my trip from the beginning and we’re continuing here: my first night in Paris.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a night worth mentioning, except to note the manners of my hostel roommates while throwing my hat in the arena of discussing behavior and etiquette in hostels.

But then, the night took a turn.

While I was spending my first weekend of reading week in Paris, my family in Los Angeles we’re spending there Valentine’s weekend in the LAX Marriott attending the Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One.

As a fellow fan of the show, my family was bringing my official series one script book (9 is my doctor!) around to the attendees for them to sign. Two of these actors were John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato).

Through the wonder of technology, my mom was able to connect us through the Google Hangouts app and I was able to chat with these actors about my trip in an extremely unique encounter.

John Barrowman launched himself in a string of questions in French which I didn’t understand until I was able to explain that I was visiting Paris but living in London. And if you know anything about Barrowman, what transpired next will be of no surprise.

While he signed my book, he talked about the things I should go out and do while I was in the city (and when John Barrowman gives you advice, it’s going to be an adventure). One of his main points of contention was to pay attention to where actual French people were and where they were eating and to avoid going to the tourist based establishments as they wouldn’t really give you a taste of Paris—at least, the real Paris.

His other advice was to look at the gay districts of Paris and basically wander and play and generally explore. The call was quick so I didn’t get the exact names of the gay clubs and areas he listed but after a quick look I was able to figure out the basics.

One area was Montmartre which also houses Sacre-Coeur and a great view of the city. I was basically instructed to wander the area and take it all in—not just the landmarks a book guide would point out to me. While I’m not sure if this is the clubbing area that John was describing (to be explained in a moment), the area is beautiful and if you don’t mind the climb (or climbs as you weave yourself through the district area), everything from the views to the street art to the buildings are well worth the effort.

The other area I discovered was the younger, “hipper” district (which I can see being an area where the shenanigans john described might occur) of La Marais. This is a great place to wander around and I think would be an interesting area to work and live in. it was very artsy filled with boutiques and small art galleries and shops where (I really witnessed this) the owners will lock up midday to go grab lunch and make their way back later leaving nothing but a back soon sign.

While I wasn’t in either of these districts at a time when the nightlife was buzzing, john described scenes wherein the party goes all night and into the morning and it’s common to see patrons stripped down to nearly nothing and just enjoying themselves. I wasn’t able to explore this side of Paris on this pass—there was a concern, among others, about being a single female venturing alone into the city at night—accompanied by others at some point, these areas and experiences are something I look forward to seeking out.

Shortly after getting off of chat with John (which I will never get tired of writing) after good nature teasing about my missing Gallifrey and best wishes on my travels, I found myself in an equally lively chat with Naoko.

While she did not give me places to go, we chatted for a while about my plans for reading week and she very teasingly (yet, with great authority) told me to not listen to John (in the sense of me staying out of trouble) and to remember to study!

While my first night in Paris didn’t involve much going out into the city or adventure in the traditional sense (I was knackered by the time I got to the hostel from the day of travel anyway), it was most definitely a very unique fan experience and a travel story that I will not be forgetting.

These kind of things, even if not part of the traditional ways of exploring a city, allows you to gain new perspectives on your travels and makes each trip a unique adventure worthy of sharing.

Plus, it was just so cool!

So to wrap up this week, be open to anything, even if they seem odd or unexpected and thank you so much, family, John and Naoko.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Going Geek

From the Road

Day 4 Book nerd/Reading week adventure

Inside Time. Clock of Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France. February 2015.
Inside Time. Clock of Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France. February 2015.

While I’m currently part way through week 4 (and falling completely in love with Lyon), we’ll start our adventure at the beginning of this travel saga: getting here!

After getting up ridiculously early (at least, I thought that at the time–again a story that will follow!), and making my way through London’s tube system to get to Victoria Coach Station (only getting lost between stations once, I swear!) for my 8am bus, getting me ticket, and following their check-in procedures, the trip over to France was a really positive experience.

While I talked about why I chose this bus system over other means of travel a few weeks back, now that I’ve made the trip, I definitely can say it was not only a good choice but a lot of fun. I mean, I was in a bus that was in a train…. Like, I was looking out of a window and I could see the walls of a train.

Despite this fun – or rather because I want people to enjoy this kind of trip as much as I’ve enjoyed it – I think there are some things that need to be said.

To start, a few weeks back I fount this post I really like which listed some good manner rules of staying hostels (though I may add to this at some point in the future with new examples!), so I thought I’d likewise give my list of dos, don’ts, and basic code of conduct when using coach travel:

1. Get there earlythis goes twice for families and groups! Seats are first come first serve so if you want to be together, it’s simple: be the first ones on the bus! This time will also let you get settled in, get out what you’ll need, put your carry on away and otherwise just be ready for the long haul that coach trips tend to be.

2. Stay flexible. Okay, so you came in early, got comfy, but the hear a ruckus about a family that was late and now a five year old will be sitting on her own if someone sitting alone doesn’t move. If you are one of these people (comfy or not), please do everyone a favor and volunteer!

True story: this happened on my coach—I was not sitting alone, but I gave up my seat so the dad could sit closer to the others once it was sorted—and no one moved very quickly which meant scolding and some not very nice glares.

If you can help out in these situations, do it! This may mean asking your seat mate if they would mind if you both gave up your seats (even if they say no, it doesn’t hurt to ask!)

3. Don’t shame people. This is a basic rule of life for me, but linked with coach travel and the example above, this is key.

If the girl sitting by the window alone doesn’t want to give up her seat, she was early and she’s not obligated to move to appease any other passenger. Talking loudly about or pointing out how rude a certain person is not to move won’t do anything but annoy everyone else on the bus.

Shaming only works if the person you are shaming has something invested in the situation which causes them to behave how you want them to—a stranger may not care what you think about them, so why should they do anything to help you out? They don’t and won’t.

Plus, you don’t know their story, so you don’t know why they are doing (or not doing) something. Maybe there is a reason she need to sit by the window or in that part of the bus and she can’t move seats because of that—you simply don’t know so stop fixating and keep going. It’s not the end of the world!

4. Have everything you need easy to access. Or may need. First and foremost, this is important for passports if you are going to be crossing borders. They will be checked, so have it ready so everyone can get through security and back on their way.

You need snacks, a book, your game system, whatever, have it with you where you don’t cause a commotion or too much noise. If you are digging through your bag, you are probably taking up space and jostling the person next you or at least bothering them which does not make a happy travel partner.

Which brings us to…

5. Watch the noise! I don’t care what time of day your trip begins and ends, if it is longer than an hour (sometimes not even that long!), someone will be trying to sleep. Respect your fellow travelers and keep the volume down.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk or have fun if you’re with people, just don’t yell or listen to music or watch videos or anything else that makes noise without your earphones.

6.And seriously, stop making (constant) phone calls! While I understand you have to contact someone if they are picking you up, letting them know when you are heading out or will be arriving soon, but I don’t want to know your life story so keep it quick and share your news when you actually see them.

There are a lot of reasons not to do this but mostly, just respect the rights of all your fellow passengers to not want to share in your life story/drama. Phone calls should be short, to the point and done quietly, for everyone’s sake!

7. Don’t be late getting back. On long trips, you’ll get a break part way through usually somewhere there is a store and a quick stop café or diner. That’s great: get out, stretch, take a walk, hit the bathroom, grab a bite, whatever you need to do, do it! However, you have to prioritize.

If the driver gives you a time limit, that’s the time limit. Know what you need to get done, go do it, and get back. If you don’t, one of two things will happen: 1. You’ll get back to a bus full of angry people who are going to be late for their plans because of you (unpleasant); or 2. You’ll get back to no bus (most the time this won’t happen—there are count-ins—but seriously, it’s been done!)

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So those are my basic etiquette tips but there are undoubtedly many more that can be tacked on.

I, however, have to get running back out because I’m traveling and my day isn’t over yet!

In the meantime: share a story from your travels, good or bad, or some of the hard and fast rules you’ve discovered as you’ve traveled.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar!

From the Road

Final prep, part 1…

Last minute check list and to dos before heading out.

grey cities. La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Lyon, France. February 2015.
Grey Cities. La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Lyon, France. February 2015.

This week is my last week of prep before heading out for my first real solo travel excursion.

While I’m technically still on my first solo adventure (moving to London for school), I’ve had a pretty stable (almost) home away from home experience in London. I came over not knowing anyone but knowing that I was going to be in a dorm with a bunch of fellow students and that I’d have a network of people right away who would be there with me throughout the year. So, basically, not quite the same as solo traveling.

Anyway, this trip (as I’ve discussed over this last month) is a pretty big thing and I‘ve had to consider a lot while planning as a young, single, female traveler. In that light, these last bits of wrapping up besides packing (which I’ll talk about later), here’s my list of things to do before heading out.

1.  If you didn’t nail this down earlier (ie, this was a quickly planned trip so I’m finishing this process!), go into Google Maps and map locations. You can make different maps for the various cities you are going to visit or whole countries if you want in order to figure out a basic schedule of what sites you’ll be looking at together. You’ll be able to see which places are close enough to make a good day out so you aren’t trekking back and forth every day! I still suggest this as part of planning your accommodation, but, even after that, you can pop a few more last minute places before you head out.

2.  While looking things up and mapping them out, it’s just handy to look up where your country’s consulate is within the county(s) you are visiting. Not only is it sometimes fun to see how the area consulates are set up in, but in case of a bad bind, it’s already conveniently pinned! Traveling by yourself, it may also be handy to know where some of the emergency services are located near where you are staying.

3.  On that front, it’s good to have some on hand emergency numbers. Not all emergency services have the same number so look them up and key them in your phone along with the numbers of where you are staying and anyone you may know around the area. If you have an emergency contact, you should make sure that there number is easily accessible and actually note it along with the name (and this is true for everyday life, as well as travel!).

4.  Go over your travel and reservation itineraries and have all of your paperwork in order, together, and easy to get to. The days right before and especially the day you leave is always crazy, so have everything you can/will have on hand when you walk out the door together in a folder early (seriously, this is overlooked to many travelers detriment!).

5.  Don’t just look at your large scale travel in this last minute preparation. How you are getting to your first destination is just as important as the travel you’ve spent all that time planning! After all, if you miss or just mess up your first large scale send off because getting to your first check point went awry, you’re whole trip can get pretty turned around. And remember, you’ve done your research, so if there is something earlier in terms of said large scale travel options, it doesn’t mean you should switch things around—you picked what you did for a reason! (Long term readers: remember the Irish Ferry timetable debacle? Earlier was decidedly NOT faster!)

6.  Lastly (for this week’s post), give someone you trust your itinerary. The closer they are to where you are going the better since they’re more likely to be able to get to you if trouble occurs. Just basic details like where you are going to be on which days and the addresses and numbers of the places you are booked at. Really simple and it will give both you and your loved one(s) some much needed peace of mind.

The rest of my pre-trip items will be covered on Friday’s Silk Sheets and Grilled Cheese on what to pack and some inspiration I’ve looked at to help that along. In the meantime, go out and get some things you may need for packing—travel size shower products, books, ect., but we’ll cover that more on Friday with all the choices and reasoning behind them.

So until Friday: hope you stay tuned for the adventure, and happy travels!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Final prep, part 1…

Getting there and staying…

Well, staying temporarily.

Quite a Day. Louvre, Paris, France. February 2015.
Quite a Day. Louvre, Paris, France. February 2015.

If you’ve tuned in the last couple of weeks, you know that my focus for now is getting ready for my first leg of the book nerd tour during my reading week. So, the planning saga continues.

This week, I’m talking about major travel bookings—basically, travel and lodging.

You can look back at some of my first posts to get some break downs and comparisons of transportation and accommodation types and some tricks to save some money, so I’ll let you look back at those for more general ideas.

One of the things I learned this week is that France is expensive. This isn’t my first trip so I knew Paris, like many metropolitan cities, costs, however, last time I visited I was with family so didn’t see the bills to really understand how much.

In this expensive light, the best advice is to give yourself time to shop around and check all your options before putting any money or reservations down (not everything can be changed once you accept the terms!).

TRANSPORTATION:

When it comes getting to and around France you have some options but, in this case, time should be taken into account as much as funds.

If you are strapped for cash, coaches can get you from London to Paris at a cheaper rate than train lines, but they also take around 8 or 9 hours to get there. This can be a plus if you book an overnight bus and can sleep on long moving trips like these, but, if time is limited, you don’t want to waste a whole day on the bus. (Cost and time is also huge for traveling between cities—look at length of your trip as well as cost because cheaper trains may give you a nice experience but they can stretch the 2 hour train ride to 5 or more!)

Avoid some costs by research, booking early and seeing if you can find any discounts or coupons (no matter how you choose to travel!).

One item I forgot to look at (but really wish I had) is thinking about long term/whole trip travel. While it is generally thought (and in your average case true) that booking a return trip saves you time, money, and hassle, sometimes booking a few different one-way trips is a better way to go.

For me, for example, I’m going from London to Paris to Lyon. Thinking ahead, I could have booked one way from London to Paris another one way from Paris to Lyon, and then one way Lyon to London, instead of return trips between London and Paris and between Paris and Lyon. On the way back, I now have to pay for two trips between big cities (which adds up) but I also have divided my time in Paris to a few days at the beginning and a day at the end of my trip rather than three consecutive days.

This method does not guarantee savings but it is definitely something to consider when you are planning—one way tickets can really be your best friend! And, as always, read any and all fine print before you head out and buy anything (including how and where you get your tickets!).

HOUSING:

If you’ve read my accommodation breakdown mentioned above, you’ll know that I’ve grown to love hostels. For me, they are a great chance to meet people and make memories and stories that hold a unique quality you won’t find staying in private quarters, like hotels—though you do have to be wary of what you give up in terms of privacy and luxury.

This trip, I’ll be hosteling again but, for the first time, I am doing this alone—and I won’t lie, it’s a little daunting. For single travelers—especially young ladies—hostels are great and fun (and something that I think should be experienced) but you have to plan smart.

Look at the areas you are considering staying at and their security ratings. Weigh the benefits of private rooms, all girl dorms, or mixed dorms, but also the size (a mostly empty room may seem nice when you get a cheap price but sometimes you have to consider safety in numbers and look at fuller, larger count room). What I’ve experienced and heard, the communities at hostels are pretty safe (depending on WHERE in the world you go) and people look out for each other, but it’s always better to play it safe!

One thing about hostels is you ABSOLUTELY have to read all the fine print. Look at what is included (and not included, Wi-Fi, food, kitchen access, ect.), times for checking in and out (seriously consider 24 hour check in if you’re looking at cheap travel—off hours are cheap but don’t necessarily fit check in deadlines!), curfews and staff availability, late and cancellation policies, lean towards those that have luggage storage (and ask if you can use this after check out as well if you’re in the city longer than your checkout time), and obviously location.

I always map out where I’m coming in to the city, where I’m leaving it, and where I want to visit while I’m there before I look at hostels. You may find a really cheap place, but if you have to walk for hours (I’ve had this happen!) to get where you want every day or spend more money on transportation than you would have just booking a closer accommodation, are you really benefiting?

A Disaster in Planning: The hours of misguided hiking with all our baggage (in more ways than one!). Stratford Upon Avon, Summer 2013.
A Disaster in Planning: The hours of misguided hiking with all our baggage (in more ways than one!). Stratford Upon Avon, Summer 2013.

There is one thing that I’ve noticed in my French bookings I hadn’t seen before: most hostels I looked at didn’t allow access to your rooms during most of the day for cleaning (no siestas here!). This is important to consider because as a hosteller/ backpacker, sometimes you will want a quick lie in for an hour in the afternoon because you are moving around so much or just issues of jetlag. While this is your prerogative and we all want to see as much as we can when we visit new places, these limitations are something to really take into account.

The last thing I can think of is if you start and end in the same city, you don’t have to stay at the same place. Sometimes it’s nice because you’ll have some knowledge of the people and area but there is no obligation! If you hate where you are staying the first time around, look at the cancellation policy and find a new place to stay on the way back. However, don’t cancel until you have the other place locked in (you don’t want to end up with nowhere to stay!)

Anyway, that’s all for now folks. Thanks for sticking around!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

ps. Any stories or bits of advice are always fun, lovely and appreciated so comment below!

Getting there and staying…

This week the trend…

Is waiting.

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The Sundial. Hampton Court Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, England. Summer, 2013.

And yet there is so much I have to get done.

I’m waiting for my Visa paperwork to get processed (I sent it all out yesterday, so keep your fingers crossed for me), my housing confirmation, work research, and the next four weeks (give or take a few days) until I leave.

But in the meantime, let’s cover some of the day to day items and coverage that a person would need when moving (permanently or temporarily) to a new country… This could also be helpful to the average traveler who is hunkering down in one place rather than running about like most of us crazy American Euro-trippers.

HOUSING

While I covered a ton of temporary lodgings earlier in this travel blog, it wasn’t until I started this moving process that I realized the differences and similarities in looking for long term residences.

Just like when you are budgeting for hostels or hotels, when you are looking at long duration housing, you have to look at the numbers. When you see prices, what do they include? What is the time span covered by that price? What if you need to extend your stay? Is your contract flexible? Do you have to have a contract? Is it a fixed price? Do they have pricing exemptions that can give you a better deal (my brother in law has asthma so they get a discount on their electricity because he needs a breathing machine.)?

These all are things you have to consider no matter where you are looking, locally or not. The issue really arises when you are looking for somewhere to live when you aren’t even in the country you are looking at. So, here are some tips:

TALK TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN: Just like I talked about last week, the more people you tell, the more likely it is that someone (or many someones) will be able to put you in contact with people living in your destination. Touch base with co-workers, family, friends, and acquaintances; I really mean anyone. This will not only leave you with a good number of people close to where you are moving that you can contact in emergency situations, but they may be able to find people that have space or scope out places that you can’t. Just remember it means you will need to thank and really maintain those friendships.

USE YOUR RESOURCES WELL: again, like with works, using the connections your friends and family give you well is important, using the resources that are specific to your situation(s) will also give you a step up. For me, this was getting I touch with the housing resources my school has. This is campus housing, student Flat-share lists and facebook pages. All of these guarantee housemates that have aspects in common with you—like the need for quiet times because you have work to do.

MAKE YOUR OWN CONNECTIONS: Go through my list on housing. These are all temporary housing options which will wrack up so charges (for lower costs, focus on hostels and the like) while you find something once your boots hit the ground (there are a few short comings that come with this that we’ll cover further down.) You can also do searches on the internet; sites like Craig’s List have postings for just about everything including rooms for rent. Just check this stuff out or ask a connection to and never pay anything until you get eyes on the place (that’s how you get scammed.)!

TRAVEL PLANS

Just like when planning any kind of travel that involves air travel, there are always sites that will give you deals and researching these sites are a great way to save money. As a student, I was able to get an even better deal through a student specific site. All I had to do is make a profile—they have the condition that they will not sell your information—and search. As a student, you can also get a great deal by shopping and booking a one way ticket rather than guessing at a final return date. Buy your second ticket closer to your exit date and see what deals you can get then. This allows you to mix and match based on the best deals at the time you need your ticket.

Most of the inner city transport I have covered before. Go take a look at the history if you’re interested.

PHONES

When you are going to be out of your country for longer than a vacation, just extending you current plans features (data and international calling) can cost you a lot more than what is worthwhile. Instead, think about picking up a low cost phone when you get there; stop in at a market and get a phone you can update minutes on for when you absolutely NEED the contact in your new or temporary home.

Go ahead and extend your data if you think you’ll need it but more importantly, make sure you are using any and all WiFi areas you can get your phone on (there are aps that help find you hotspots so do your research!). The less data you use, the less chances to incur fees.

Get international phone apps. I’ve talked about WhatsApp! before and I know I talked about having some issues with it, but with a year (at least) in another country, I have a feeling this app will help get me through. Look at what these apps use before you ship out, because if they run off of data, this can add up just like international messaging!

Look for alternatives. If you have your computer, Skypeing or Facebooking from your computer gives you your connections and face-time with loved ones without using up your phone. For long story sharing, start a blog, a tumblr, a twitter, anything social media that can keep you in touch—just keep it off your phone! You can also use these as a way of keeping in touch with out of country friends if/when you get back home!

Of course, this does change if you are moving your residence permanently. Then, get your new phone for the country you have moved to and decide what to do with your old one (if you’ll be traveling back for work or the like, it may be worth it to hold on to your phone a little longer).

Banking

I’ll write more on student banking later, but even if you are not a student, if you are going out of country to a single place for a long period of time, opening a bank account can be a path you want to take. Again, this is for long term. Some reasons for this can be limiting the conversion fees, paychecks are easier to deposit directly, and as a student (we’ll cover more fully later), your loans will run from government to school to you through this account. This is where temporary housing can be an issue; to set up your bank account you need an address—talk to the bank if you can if there is no way around these issues.

Again, I’ll run through this whole banking thing in an upcoming post.

Thank you for reading and have a great week!

Travel well,

I’m Leave on the Wind, Helping you soar.

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