Posts Tagged With: Credit Card

Thoughts on traveling in New Zealand so far

We wanted to quickly say that Brooke and I have been flattered and delighted by the number of views and comments we’ve received on the blog so far. We are really glad that people seem to be enjoying (or at least reading) our travel journal. As a reminder, if you’re interested in keeping up to speed (and don’t mind some more junk in your inbox) you can sign up to get an update via e-mail every time we update the blog which is about once a day. To do so, just click on the “follow this blog” link on the right hand side of the screen.

Baby lamb photographed from the side of the road!Our trek through New Zealand continued today as we’ve made our way to the southern tip of the North Island. Our spaceship is now docked in the capital city of Wellington. A day driving in rain ended with a stay overlooking the city and a warm bowl of soup and delicious pizza on Cuba Street in the heart of the city. Another day driving through rain and small towns on roads that you fear might turn to gravel made us twice as glad to arrive. We look forward to explore New Zealand’s most hyped city.

We touched down in New Zealand a week ago and now we’re getting the hang of adapting to the long-term travel lifestyle. Turns out that all I really need to start the day has been a hot shower with good water pressure. Success at at every stop so far. And all Brooke needs is just a solid cup of coffee somewhere along the way. We’ve also found that living in New York City for the last six years has prepared us well for this trip. Dealing with nighttime noise, small beds, smaller hotel rooms, navigating public transportation and even discussing living in NYC (a city that everyone knows and has a thought on) has all worked to our advantage. And, of course, I’ve been blessed with the perfect travel partner who is helping to make this trip amazing each day.

Over the past week, it’s been a blast to soak up all the small differences that we’ve found so far while traveling. I’m getting pretty quick at converting kilometers to miles, centigrade to farenheit and US dollars to New Zealand dollars, but still get thrown for a loop when I have to figure out how much $7.99 NZD per Kg of zucchini really is. There are lots of small but unique contrasts in language, social behavior, and more that we thought were worth sharing.

Coffee for a long drive to Wellington!The first lesson we learned is that coffee is a whole new ballgame here. While there are vibrant, independent coffee houses every two blocks in New Zealand, ordering a cup of black coffee will only reward you with a confused look from the barista. Thanks to our new friend Jason, we’ve learned that a “long black” is what we’re after. It is basically a shot of espresso topped off with steaming hot water. Delicious and strong but not cheap. The minimum we’ve paid for a solid cup of joe has been about $3.50. And there are never refills. American coffee may be living up to the cliché of being on par with mud in comparison, but at least you can get it by the gallon for a couple of of bucks at the local gas station.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that although everyone speaks English, we keep stumbling across some different words. In all public buildings, restrooms are just called the toilet. Which makes us feel relatively crass when we ask “Where is your toilet?” when at a restaurant. Sort of on par to “Point me to the crapper!” but it gets the job done. You “hire” a car instead of “rent.” On a menu, appetizers are called entrees. And entrees are called mains. When spoken aloud, websites such as is referred to as “dub dub dub Rugby dot co dot en-zed”which is just fun.

Paying for purchases is also a bit different. Everyone takes credit card, but entering a pin number is much more common when you charge a purchase. Signing is decidedly against the norm and they check our signature against the signature on the card every single time. Since no one ever checked in the US, I would sometimes sign faux names like “Johnny Tellyawhattodo.” That won’t fly here.

Lastly, the people we’ve met so far are an incredibly friendly, well traveled bunch who are endlessly hospitable. It’s interesting to hear how they see America. It gives us some perspective on our own country. For example, we forget that, say, since Texas is almost nothing like Maine, 50 different states really does translate to 50 different mini-countries.

Overall, we are glad we started with New Zealand, because even though there are some small and interesting differences, we can generally clear up any confusion by asking a few questions. We are intimidated by our anticipation of how this will work in the next several countries we’ll be in (Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore) where English will be much harder to come by. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!


Categories: Cell Phones, China, Discounts, Diversions, Health, Museums, New Zealand, Wardrobe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Best RTW Credit Card

Our credit card is going to get a lot of use as we circle the globe, so we were careful to make sure we’re taking the best credit card for a round the world trip. A Masterful Mastercard. A Visionary Visa. Some Prize Winning Plastic. Since we’re traveling light, we wanted to have one primary card that can satisfy all of our needs.

Among thousands of options, we quickly found that NOT all credit cards are created equal. For starters, American Express and Discover are not widely accepted in Europe and even less so in other parts of the world so those options were tossed out immediately. Also, the goal was to find a card that has a very low or no foreign transaction fee. An average card may have a 3% to 5% transaction fee per international purchase. An additional three percent on just about everything you buy can add up quicker than parking violations on a NYC based FedEx Truck.

We searched, read reviews and looked at fine print until our eyes bled. We decided on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Chase card had quite a few things going for it. First, they offer a somewhat-rare 0% Foreign Transaction Fee on all purchases. Nice. Chase also offers a 24-hour customer service line to help when you’re in a pickle. Better than dealing with this person. Next, the card is a Visa managed card meaning near universal acceptance. They also have a generous rewards program that amounts to 2% cash back or 2.5% towards travel rewards along with an introductory offer that allows you to earn the equivalent of $500 in travel vouchers if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. We’ve never been big on the credit card rewards and don’t quite fully understand the ins and outs, but this might change that.  And finally, the card is actually made out of pure Sapphire gems. Making it both the heaviest and most valuable item we’re bringing with us. Okay, that’s not true, but it is a cool looking card made of a deep dark blue.

Chase Sapphire Awesomeness

Worth pointing out that there is a pesky $95 Annual Fee, but the fee is waived for the first year you own the card. And we’re pretty likely to cancel the card next June if they insist that we pay that full amount. Also the current rate on the card is pretty lousy 15.24% so it is in our best interest to pay the balance every month.

Last but not least, since this is a bit of a higher tier card, the application is a bit more stringent. Brooke and I both applied just in case there was a delay in the processing (Chase had indicated it could take up to 30 days) or some other problem. I was satisfied when I found that I had been approved with a solid credit limit. That was until we found out just minutes later that my wife was approved with a credit limit that was five times that of mine. Not that credit standing is a competition, but I certainly felt a bit snubbed knowing that I am 1/5th as desirable from a credit point of view as my wife. Our friend Jack, who works in risk management at HSBC, pointed out that since I had already left my job when I applied for the card, that may have impacted my credit. Words of comfort for my woeful credit limit indeed.


Categories: Budget, Credit Card, Finances, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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