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Thinking About Packing…

Guide books, travel blogs, and YouTube videos will devote a large portion of their energy to a subject that brings many pre-world travellers stress and, dare I say, TERROR!

WHAT DO WE PACK?!?!

What is the right bag? Do I need clothes with special wicking fabric? Should I roll or fold? Do I need packing cubes? What tech doodads do I need? And on and on…

JBot and I have always kept the Rick Steves mantra “pack light, pack light, pack light” in mind in all of our previous trips. And we plan on doing the same again. Everyone gets a bag (carry-on sized), a few days of clothes, and… that’s pretty much it. It is not really a source of stress for us.

The one big item that JBot researched was cameras. Buying a new camera just didn’t make sense. Neither of us has photography training. I really don’t like the idea of having a large and expensive bulky item that flashes with similar fashion to a neon sign: STEAL ME. We both also prefer living in the moment and grabbing quick shots. Therefore, we decided to upgrade our cellphones. JBot found that the camera quality on a Google Pixel 3a was pretty much equivalent to a fancy camera as well, cool! The cloud aspect will be helpful to keep an extra backup of all our photos. He also purchased a two year warranty which will be a good safety net during travel. And for some of us who are a bit dropsy when it comes to cell phones. Ahem.

However, the big reason for wanting to post was to share this video from Lefie. She has a YouTube account in which she talks about the philosophy of minimalism. Her challenge of “what’s the worse that can happen, you will feel slight discomfort?” is an essential question. Especially for us pampered Westerners.

Country Profiles: New Zealand

Photo credit: 2il org/Flickr

Glow worms!

Hobbits!

The How-to-Dad guy!

Suffice to say, we are VERY excited about travelling to New Zealand. It is our second most anticipated place, after Japan. Unfortunately, like Japan, it is also a very expensive place to visit. We will try to do our best to plan well and to have a great time without breaking our budget.

We will be arriving after Mexico City. Most likely flying from LA, unless the situation in Chile improves we switch back to our original route. We have gone back and forth many, many, MANY, times with how to get to New Zealand. We even considered a re-positioning cruise ship! The Pacific Ocean is just too dang big and there is just no easy and quick way to get across.

The number one goal for our trip to NZ is to celebrate our son’s birthday. As per his request, we will be visiting the Hobbiton movie set. It looks really cool!

Travel Advisories: Canada, United States

Visa: Not required

Vaccines: Yellow Fever

Currency: NZD (0.88 CDN) as of 2019 07 02

Other Requirements: Onward ticket with visa. NZ$1,000/month

THINGS TO READ:

PHRASES TO KNOW:

  • Rattle ya dags! | Hurry up!
  • Just popping to the dairy. | I’m going to the convenience store.
  • I’m knackered. | I’m tired.
  • Wop-wops. | Middle of nowhere.
  • Get your A into G! | Rattle ya dags! (Get your arse into gear)
  • Pakeha | Fair-skinned.
  • It was choice, bro! | It was good.
  • Kia ora | Be well.
  • Yeah-nah | No thank you.

STUFF TO SEE:

(Source)

PLACES TO EAT:

FREE OR UNDER $10: (https://www.aucklandnz.com/visit/events)

  • Auckland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery
  • Hiking (Mt. Eden, tallest volcano, or Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill, large Maori settlement)
  • Beaches (Muriwai Beach)
  • Ferry to Devenport, explore North Head (1800s fort)
  • Ferry to Rangitoto Island, climb the summit (1 hour)
  • Goat Island & Ambury Regional Park (day trip, glass bottom boat/kayaks or snorkelling)
  • Manukau Heads Lighthouse (free, donation accepted)

WHERE TO SLEEP:

How To Save Our Planet

Excellent short from WWF narrated by Sir David Attenborough (via Kottke)

(Definition of environmental justice – the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens, the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Environmental justice is an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution.)

There are so many new electric cars driving around Ottawa recently! I mean, hey, the provincial government cancelled a plan to plant 50 million trees and vaguely stated “something’s going on” when commenting on record flood levels in Ottawa but the citizens seem to be shifting towards action.

16 Months To Go

April has sped by like a Shinkansen. Let’s check-in, shall we?

  • We had our initial meeting with our new lawyer. We’re finalizing our new wills later this week.
  • We got our new credit card in the mail (1.5% cash-back on international purchases).
  • Sadly removed Sri Lanka from our wish list due to the Easter bombings.
  • We talked with the oldest kid’s school about the school board’s “Reach Ahead” program so that he can start grade 9 online courses in grade 8. We really liked the sound of the online courses TVO / ILC provides. The first talk with the guidance counselor ended with a “no.” We’re hoping to meet with the principal later? If it doesn’t work out we may just homeschool over the grade 8 year and do it ourselves. Hack your education!
  • I really enjoyed this video from Max Joseph about how to read more books in your lifetime. Lots of sweet bookstore eye candy here!
  • I am also very excited about this Fug Girl’s Guide to London.
 Livraria Lello, bookstore in Portugal.
Livraria Lello in Portugal. One of the “top bookstores” in the world and a famous writing location / inspiration for JK Rowling.

Where Have We Been?

Ever wanted to keep track of where you’ve visited?  You can use push-pins of course, but why not try a scratch-off map instead?  Apparently they can be hard to scratch, but it does look nifty!  There’s a few versions, but here’s one that I’ve found:

190f53827b1a353aece4293a0376ceef

https://globetrotclub.com/collections/posters/products/scratch-off-world-map

 

“Travel to Russia,” he says, “It’ll be fun!” he says.

Nope. Nope. Nopity nope.

“The Human Family” – Maya Angelou

I pricked up my ears during the Olympics this weekend upon hearing the lovely voice of Maya Angelou. Her voice is so majestic/powerful/confident/amazeballs.  Sorry for the Apple advertising, but her poem about the diversity of humanity rocks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztMfBZvZF_Y

Rainy Days / Hot Days: NFB Films

After a month (more?) long drought in the Niagara region we are finally having a proper rainy weekend! Like many afternoons so far this summer spent escaping the heat and humidity, we are finding ourselves turning to indoor projects. Lego is always a big hit, of course, and we had a brief success with one of the Green Kid Crafts project boxes. JBot found some super-on-sale dance games for the Kinect which has been a great way to stay active, and we still spend lots of time with our week’s supply of library books. Then there is the never-ending home-repair projects, the forgotten stack of board games, and other toys waiting to rediscovered…

Sometimes it is fun to try something new however and one of our favourite discoveries this week has been the kids cartoons on the NFB website. T-Rex hadn’t seen many of these yet and really enjoyed them! The Log Driver’s Waltz and Blackfly get sung a lot around here, and the kids have watched The Cat Came Back at school. T-Rex really liked:

Peep & The Big Wide World:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/peep_and_the_big_wide_world/embed/player/

Peep and the Big Wide World, Kaj Pindal, National Film Board of Canada

How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/how_dinosaurs_learned_to_fly/embed/player/

How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly, Munro Ferguson, National Film Board of Canada

The Dingles:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/dingles/embed/player/

The Dingles, Les Drew, National Film Board of Canada

The Girl Who Hated Books:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/girl_who_hated_books/embed/player/

The Girl Who Hated Books, Jo Meuris, National Film Board of Canada

(There are a lot of great films for adults as well. My own nostalgia leans towards Waterwalker, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and The Man Who Planted Trees. Have fun exploring!)

 

Disney Parks

Check out this great Disney mash-up made by Lindsay McCutcheon!

We have a family vacation to Disney World coming up soon and I wanted to blog about some the helpful hints for planning for trips like this:

  • During Disney World’s slow season they offer special incentives to attract people to the parks. For example, with the package that we bought, we have 7-Day “Park Hopper” tickets, our hotel room, and FREE “Quick Service” Dining Plans to use the week that we are there. G-Man is turning 10 a few days before we go and qualifies for the adult meal plan which will work out great. His tastes have moved beyond the “hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza” that seems to fill most of the kid’s menu options at the majority of the restaurants.
  • We had a lot of success booking with a travel agent rather than through Disney Park itself. Once those annual free dining plans vacations are available,  travel agencies buy a large number of rooms during that season. Trying to book directly through Disney didn’t work for us but going through Small World Vacations worked great!
  • Finding your way around Disneyland in California or Paris is relatively easy. These parks are a reasonable size to get a grip on. However, Disney World in Florida is massive and you really need to do some homework before you go. It feels sort of counter-intuitive to have so much research to do before a relaxing family vacation but, if you are like us, being prepared and feeling like you are making educated decisions really helps with our family’s economy and enjoyment.
  • Disney’s website is a good start for reading about attractions, special occasions, hotels, and dining. It is also where you will make all of your reservations for Fast Passes (basically a reservation for major rides), dining, and buying any of the other extra bells and whistles you want. Example – Disney has a photo service, they deliver special presents to your room or dining table, etc.
  • There are many excellent resources to help you wrap your head around Fast Passes, dining plans, restaurants, whether to stay on-site or not, which hotel to chose, how early you need to make all of the all-important reservations. My favourites are Touring Plans, Disney Food Blog, and Mouse Savers. Touring Plans publishes guidebooks of course but one of their major assets is their planning software on their website that helps you to create itineraries that minimize your wait times. If you are thinking about taking a trip to Disney World, try planning at least a 6 months (or more) in advance so that you can pick the best time period for you. Restaurant reservations begin 180 days before your date and they fill up VERY QUICKLY. There are different levels of dining plans. If you chose the “Quick Service” option like us there is only ONE “table service” restaurant that you can make a reservation at – “Be Our Guest” it takes a dedicated plan of attack to score those seats.
  • We chose to take advantage of the sale on dining plans but we are also super excited to go during Disney’s Halloween season so that we can go to the “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.” This is the only time that you can enter the park in costume. Plus, Halloween is awesome. And trick-or-treating at Disney sounds super awesome!

How to Travel With a Baby

Funny video from New Zealand Youtube channel “How to Dad” (via Laughing Squid):

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