I’m not really concerned about cell phone/gps service in Australia. There we will pretty much be in populated areas. However, I am concerned with New Zealand. There we plan to go off the beaten path to explore. So I want to make sure we don’t get lost. I keep going back-and-forth with what we need. Part of me thinks we don’t need anything additional than the maps we have – afterall – that is how people USED to travel. Another part of me thinks maybe I should just research this.
I’ve been considering several options. One is buying the Australia/New Zealand map for my GPS. One disadvantage there is that then I have to bring my GPS with us. Another option is buying a cheap GPS in Australia/New Zealand. Question there is can I find one under $100 and will it work in the middle-of-nowhere in NZ? Additionally, we could rent a GPS from the car rental agencies. But the cost of that rental exceeds the cost of just buying a GPS. Another option is just using our cell phones for GPS coverage. With that both my husband and I each have an AT&T phone, and I also have a Verizon cell phone. So – what sort of coverage does that translate when in Australia/New Zealand? Does it make sense to invest in a SIM card once we land in Australia that will equate to better cell/GPS coverage in Australia and New Zealand? I’m used to buying SIM cards in the countries we visit as data rates are much better than US provider’s “International Coverage” rates.
In the end, I think we’ll opt NOT to get a new GPS or purchase the AUS/NZ maps for my current 2009 GPS. Even though GPS make traveling pretty easy, I will most likely remind myself that both my husband and I are good navigators and it will all work out in the end. I actually love maps and sometimes miss the days when people used paper maps more often.
Another item I have spent time researching is cell phone and wi fi coverage. I have read horror stories about cell phone bills when people return from abroad. I am going to do my best to only post and check email while connected to wi-fi but I still want to make sure I have a backup plan in place. My cell phone provider is with Verizon. For $25 a month Verizon offers a global data plan. This plan only includes 100 mb of data….I am used to 2 gb of data a month so this is a pretty big change for me. Regardless, I think this data plan will at least help me out when I have no wi-fi connection. The representative also told me to power down my phone and power it back up shortly before I leave so that my phone picks up the latest cell phone towers (or something like that). I am also planning on resetting my data usage on my phone so that I can see how much I have used.
I also started exploring wi-fi providers. I have used Boingo in the past in airports and I decided to look into them some more. I learned that for a fee of $7.95 a month I can get wi-fi coverage on up to two mobile devices. I think this is a pretty good deal. The Newark airport uses Boingo as a wireless provider. We will be there for three hours before our flight. I know I will want to go online there. There are some disadvantages though to Boingo. I know they have access points in Europe but I really need to be connected wirelessly to find an access point. Plus the access points might not be too convenient. Still, $7.95 a month for two devices is a price I am willing to pay. I was not willing to pay the $35 a month Europe price which covered computers as well. I think chances are I will use Boingo in Newark and maybe only once or twice in Europe.
Our trip is almost 100 days away. I can’t believe it. I know it is going to be here before I know it. These next few months are already pretty busy that I know the time is going to fly by. The lodging reservations and car reservation have already been made but there are still other things I need to do. Some I won’t be able to do until right before our trip. For now, here is the list of things I can immediately think of.
In the next few months:
Make train reservations!!!! There are four trains I need to make reservations on. I can start making these in a few weeks.
Add our passport information to the Airline reservation
- Sign the kids up for frequent flier accounts so they can get some mileage from the flights (I always do this because you never know how often you’ll be traveling on that airline)
Get Chip-and-Pin credit card. Add husband as an authorized user.
- Figure out things to do daily as we travel. I’ve kind of been focusing on the Alps, Munich and Berlin but I have yet to fully research other areas of our trip
- Discuss activities with my husband so he knows what to expect as we travel. He may immediately say No to something or he might say we should do something. For example I keep going back-and-forth if we should take a Cog train up to the top of Germany’s highest peak. My husband is usually much better at evaluating an activity and deciding if it is something we should do or skip
- Research Paris Musuem pass and RER pass. Does it make sense to purchase or not?
- Arrange for someone to cut our grass when we are out of town
- Look for child size headphones that fit the kids
- Figure out how we’ll charge the Nintendo DS in Europe. You can’t just plug it in as it needs a voltage converter. I’m leaning to looking for a charging cord that connects to a USB port on a computer, then we can charge the DS using my husband’s computer. I don’t think we will need to be charging it too much.
- Determine if there are other electronic cords we can consolidate.
- Purchase new camera
- Figure out how to use my cell phone to make a call in different countries if I need to. Write these instructions down.
- Make reservations at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam
- Make reservations at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Make reservations at the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany
Shortly before we go:
- Print out all reservations.
- Make sure we have phone numbers for all relatives/people we will be visiting
- Contact credit card companies and banks to alert them that we are going to Europe
- Contact Verizon to find out about using my phone in Europe
- Make copies of the credit cards/ATM cards/passports that we will be bringing to Europe. Send one set of copies to a relative in case we should lose our cards. It would probably be easier for someone Stateside to contact credit card companies
- Check out apps on my phone with the phone on airplane mode. I have several apps that have subway maps and city attractions. I want to make sure I can use these apps when I am not connected to the internet.
I will probably add onto this list as I think of things, and I will cross things off this list once I have done them.