Step 6: Tie up loose ends
Believe it or not, you have a lot of contracts and other links to home that you will have to work on before leaving for New Zealand. I was not really aware of what needed to be done until about one month prior to take off and a friend of mine mocked me because I did not contact my bank yet. After a few minutes of panic, I started to make a list of what needed to be done. I have extended the list below to other case scenarios that did not apply to me but more advice can’t hurt, right?
1 Book an appointment with your banker
Your bank can make or break your trip. Fail to notify them that you are going overseas and you will see your credit card cancelled and no access to your funds. So here are the three things that you should be doing at your bank before departure:
- Notify them that you are going overseas so they do not cancel your card. Don’t get a “yes yes” for an answer. Make them write on your file that you will be in New Zealand and possibly neighboring Pacific islands for up to 12 months. Tell them that you will not have access to your current phone number overseas so they should implement other security check on your account.
- Give power of your account to one of your friends or parents. Just in case things go wrong – and it does happen sometimes – it is always handy to have somebody that has access to your account that can show up to a branch for you and solve your problems. Believe me, a mother will not leave a branch until her daughter get sent some money to start her trip!
- Get an international credit card if you don’t already have one. Most credit cards are international nowadays but some banks offer credit cards with no international fees and not ATM withdraw fees. Great to be able to get some cash out while on the road.
2 Secure the payments of your loans
Keeping with the bank and money stuff, make sure to have a plan for your loans. My bank did let me pause payments for 12 months in exchange for a small fee and the subscription to a loan insurance. Getting a loan insurance was on my mind anyway, just in case something happens I’d be covered. It is never pleasant to have to spend extra but the security was worth it.
3 Deal with your car
Depending on your relationship with your car, you have 2 options to deal with it before your trip:
- You either can find somebody to give it to and get them to run it at least once a month so it is still ok to drive when you come back. There may be some registration or other annual paperwork that goes along with your car, make sure to fill them up ahead and leave some money behind for it.
- Sell your car to pay for more travel, especially if your car is second hand, get rid of it so you can see more of New Zealand or even buy a car here and sell it back before leaving to have the cash on hand to buy a new car back home, it may be time for an upgrade ;)
4 Organise your break from school
Postponing your education is never an easy sell, to yourself and to your parents. Prepare carefully what you will say and how you will present it to gain their support and the support of your school. Not every school will let you take a gap year in the middle of your degree. In the best case scenario, wait until you graduate and get on with your travel before taking on your next degree or the professional life.
When coming back, you will have to justify this gap year when going back to school or job hunting, nobody likes a blank page on a CV. It will be up to you to show how valuable this trip was, and there is more reason than you can count:
- Figuring out what you want to do with your life, the famous “finding myself”
- Packing a tons of transferable life experience
- Gaining confidence in dealing with stressful situations
- Opening your mind to different cultures
- Become fully bilingual, that one is not to be used by Americans saying that they can now talk New Zealander.
5 Fill up your contact book
New Zealand’s internet is not always reliable and all your adventures may cause you to loose your mind and maybe forget your phone on the shore of a lake or the top of a glacier. Should this unfortunate event happen, you may need a back up. Get yourself a contact book and write all friends and family’s addresses on it so you still have something somewhere. I also had a Google Spreadsheet done so I could access it when I did find a decent internet access.
A side note to this would be to learn how to use area codes. New Zealand’s area code is +64, you need to use this code instead of the first 0 in the phone number that you are trying to call. My phone number in New Zealand was 0204 567 *** which means that if you would like to call me from overseas you will need to dial: +64204 567 ***
To dial the “+” symbol, press long on the “0”. If your phone does not have this option, try replacing the “+” by “00” (Double zero)
Now you will have to do the same thing to call back home so make sure that you know your country’s area code before leaving.
6 Quit your job
The right way to leave a job is always to give your manager an honest reason and plenty of time to find somebody that will take over. Nobody likes to be stood up at the last minute, so make sure to share your plans with her/him.
That way your manager will be more likely to become one of your references, having work references is very important in New Zealand.
This part is a little more tricky but, depending on your relationship with your manager, try to leave the door open for a comeback. Having a job already lined up for after your trip is a great safety net and will wipe out all “end of trip anxiety”.
7 Get the right paperwork sorted out
By now this should have all been done, but for he sake of over preparation, let’s go over the list of paperwork to have ready again:
- I suggest a Working Holiday Visa, check out my full step about it.
- You will need a passport valid for at least 3 months after your departure date from New Zealand so if you need to renew it, do it now.
- International Driver License:
- This simple booklet translating your home driver license into many different languages including English will make your whole trip much easier.
- Plane ticket:
- Follow all my tips to get a cheap plane ticket on this step.
- If you choose to get a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand, it is mandatory to have a comprehensive medical and travel insurance, if you choose another type of visa, it is just strongly recommended. See Step 5: Get a Medical and Travel Insurance for more info.
8 Check up with your doctor
Before any big trip like this, I strongly advise you to get in touch with your doctor. Not that you will need any special vaccines to visit New Zealand but because you may want to double check that everything is ok. If you do have any prescription, ask them to write one for you in English that you will be able to give to an NZ doctor to get a legal NZ prescription. You may also want him to prescribe you with your usual medication, even the simple things like Paracetamol.
Make sure to check how much of each substance you can bring with you and in case of doubt when landing in New Zealand, declare it! There is nothing wrong in over declaring, if may help you save on hefty fines!
9 Phone contract and other subscriptions
I know how hard it is to deal with phone company, but cancelling or at least pausing your phone plan will be essential as you will not want to be paying an extra $70/month for something that you will not use. However, you will still have to try to keep your number s make sure to do it the right way.
I personally chose to get a new cheap as phone for my trip to New Zealand and I got it there when landing, however if you choose to use your current phone in New Zealand, make sure to get your phone carrier to unlock it for you. iPhone users, you are in for a real pain in the...
Don’t forget about pausing or cancelling your other subscriptions like magazine, Netflix (that do not work in NZ), Loot box, cable… they will be no use to you during your gap year.