Tag Archives: banking

Sorry, I’ll be busy with Africa.

When in your life do you get to say, “sorry, I cant, I’ll be in Africa”!? I do…for the next month!!

I’m going to be on the South West Safari for 25 days with Acacia Africa! We go from Johannesburg, through Kruger, Chobe, and Estosha National Parks, To victoria Falls, the Oldest Desert and highest dues in the world in Namibia, and end in Cape Town.

I feel like my trip is like some trippy version of time travel, starting in the first world and working my way back. As I listen to the complaints of the cost in Australia made by my friends doing similar trips in reverse, I cant help but be thankful that I am doing mine in the order I am. If I’d stepped off a plane and into India I would have been home for Christmas.

That being said, Africa is the beast of this trip to me. It’s like the ultimate cool, crazy thing…Lots of people work for a year in Australia, tons do the south east asia loop, and its a yogis unofficial mission to make it to India…but Africa…not a lot of people do Africa. I’m still a little undecided on how I feel that I’ll be leaving without volunteering officially this time around, but I think I’ve subconsciously planned that in such a way that will force me to go back.

I will be touring the southern tip of the massive continent which checks many things off ye good old bucket list but Kilimanjaro and Kenya for the great migration are still hanging out.

I have a few more days in India…I’ve decided to fly to Mumbai because trains from Jaipur are waitlisted for the next week except first class which was more than flying plus airport transfers, then I fly Ethiopian Airlines (which supposedly has a safe flight record) to Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. 10 hours of flying for 400 bucks–Why is air travel in Canada so damn expensive!

Anyway, I’m sure I will post again before I leave, but I had to post to share my excitement as I scrambled to get finances sorted today and the lady on the phone suggested I come in later in the week, I got to say, “sorry, I’ll be in Africa”

PS getting 1000USD for a kitty and visas while abroad is challenging and expensive and should be done further in advance than 3 working days.

Hello Sydney!

Good news, my tarot card reader was incorrect about me needing to know plane crash over water precautions. That being said, the flight here was far from pleasant. It’s slowly becoming my life goal to create an airplane policy disallowing children under the age of five from flying. There were 6 infant/toddlers on my flight, 5 of which were a direct block away from me. ’nuff said. In addition, I would like to point out that if you have the middle seat in a three row aircraft please alternate which of your row-mates you disturb to go to the washroom. AND if you are like me and go to the washroom every hour, be thoughtful and proactive enough to book an aisle seat.
Side note: My logic in needing the aisle…a) I do actually go to the washroom every hour in real life and in the air. b) After working in an anti-coagulant unit and seeing the amount of DVT from overseas travellers I insist on getting up to walk or stand often. c) In the case of a mild crash you are furthest from the exterior part of the plane that would get damaged d)in case of evacuation/simply getting off the plane, you are first.

Anyway, I am here! My roommate from first year, Katie, was gracious enough to pick me up at the Sydney airport and let me crash with her for a few days which is much more comforting being in a ‘foreign’ place. ” used because for being as far (15 hours) as it is from Canada, it’s not much different at all. Its like a hybrid of Vancouver and Paris. Mostly I’ve almost died a solid dozen times today because cars get the right of way over pedestrians, and driving on the opposite side of the road leaves me checking the wrong direction for oncoming vehicles. On that note, I keep thinking cars are driving themselves. I did manage to walk down to Coogee Beach today to see the other side of the Pacific. B-e-a-utiful. I must also say it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. I found a lot of cafes hiring, but I really don’t know that I want to live in Sydney. I feel like it would be more sweet to live in a smaller town slash living in the 2nd most expensive city in the world is a terrible way to save money… then again, there may not be work elsewhere, time will tell.

Quick travel notes. They have 3 different phone carriers at the Sydney airport. As long as you have an unlocked phone or an unlock code you’re good to go. SIM cards are free and you can get a 10 dollar pay as you go plan where all text including intnl is 15c and calls including intnl to Can are 7c a minute. You can add on data for $5. I also went to the bank, decided to go with Commonwealth. Banking requires a passport and address. Fees range from 4-10 dollars per month but are waived if you deposit 1000 per month as an under 25, or if you deposit more than 2000 per month as an over 25. The tax file number, which is like a SIN number (for you Canadians) can be ordered on line but needs to be sent to an aussie address, so get that then apply. It takes 2 weeks to get. You can work during that time but you are subject to 45% Taxation instead of 10.

Tomorrow is off to the harbour!


Yesterday my lovely mother took me on a handful of errands that made me remember all the annoyances about travelling.  I’ve already had vaccinations but that was more exciting than irritating  (even though yellow fever put my arm out of comiss for a week).  On the list: international drivers license, hiking shoes, money belt, insurance, youth card, hostel card, phone plan, bank, camera shopping (k, that’s a little exciting).

So this post is more so an FYI for anybody travelling that may not have a hyper-organized Mom to sort out their procrastination problems for them.

International license cost: $25. Get it at the CAA.  They need 2 photos, you can take them there or bring your own.  It’s a cardboard pamphlet good for a year.  You CAN get it under a GDL license.  Initially they didn’t want to grant it to me, but because Alberta’s system is different, but you just need to follow the same conditions while overseas.  Is it worth it to get it? who knows, but it’s 25 bucks that could make or break me getting a job as a pizza delivery driver.

Hiking shoes …because I learned my lesson about trekking in runners on the Inca trail.  We went to Mountain Equipment Co-op (Mec) because my  mom found a bunch of shoes on sale.  Obviously I ended up buying the only ones that weren’t on sale.  I ended up getting light trail shoes.  Yes, I might climb Kilimanjaro…but I think they might not even be legit enough for that endeavour.  I want them for carrying my life on my back for two years, walking through rural areas, and on light hikes (as they imply).  I definitely want to hit trails while I’m there…but my post marathon runners lead to serious pain climbing Inca in 2010, so I bit the bullet.  Things you may want to research: whether or not you want goretex (water resistance), what you want the bottom of your shoe made of, weight, breathability.  One thing I can say is you want to try these suckers on.  I would have for sure gotten a different pair if I shopped online, but with such rigid soles you need to know it fits.  I ended up getting Merrells w/out goretex because it minimizes breathability…I’m too much of a princess to hike in the rain, and will be in hot climates.  I got vinyl soles that grip way better than the others I tried on, and are still very flexible like a runner.

Money Belt Also MEC… they’re nerdy and inconvenient but necessary.  I won’t go in to the detail I did about shoes but I will say they have lines now that have wires in the belt so thieves cant cut it off, special pockets where people cant scan your cards (tap and go is a bitch!) through your belt, and water resistant if you’re sweating (hot climates)…but also keep in mind breathability.

Insurance Get it from the Travel Cuts/The Adventure Travel Company. Hands down the best plan.  It’s cheapest, you can chose what level of coverage, you can pay less if you’re not  going to the USA, you can book up to 18 months (Most max out at 1 year), whatever you don’t use you can be refunded for, you can extend over phone while away (others require you to be there in person). It’s through RBC but trust me you can’t get close to their rates in branch, at CAA, or anywhere else!

Youth Card its an ISIC card for anybody under 26 not in school…pretty much the same benefits: discounts on hostels, buses, and museums around the world.  Valid for 12 months so get it right before you leave (same as the drivers).  It’s also another form of photo ID…they also need a drivers license sized photo for the card. For $20 bucks, it’s another form of ID…and you’ll make it back quickly.  In Peru I used my ISIC card once to waive a $25 museum fee.  I didn’t get the hostel card…its $35 and only works at certain hostels, slash you can work at most hostels for a few hours a day for free accommodation so I didn’t think it was worth it.

Phone…As much as I’m ‘getting away’ I still want to be able to talk to my friends and organize skype times.  Also, if I’m planning on working I’ll need a number.  So Telus is a bunch of bozos…essentially I will tell you this, pay 50 bucks, get your phone unlocked if it isn’t already and find somebody to take over your plan if you have one.  Then get a cheapo plan wherever you go…pop in the new SIM card and you’re done.  Telus tried to sell me on an international plan that would be close to 100 per month plus my charges for texts, data, and phone.  I want to keep my phone while I’m away because it can connect to wifi, there are also global phones you can get that cost 20-50 cents a minute but they’re 1999 nokia styles.

Bank So here’s the deal.  If you are going to work anywhere you need to open your own bank account in country with new credit cards etc.  In Aus if you don’t do it within the first 6 weeks it becomes a bit of a train wreck.  If you were to use your foreign credit cards you’re going to lose money on every transaction you make because of the exchange.  That’s about as far as I got with that…oh, and if your card expires while away you can change your address and get your new card sent to you on your travels (if you have an address).  I also recommend putting money on your card ahead of time if you are going to south america as they have VISA and Mastercard ATMs more than regular ones.  The catch, if you simply take out money as a debit you will pay interest on it immediately.  Also, if you’re doing S.Am. (Peru specifically, but other travellers said it was the same elsewhere) get a Mastercard…it’s accepted 2:1 over visa.

I’ll get to cameras another time as I’ve been typing for what seems like ages already…If you have questions on any of this feel free to comment =)