The Currency Game
While money in different countries is a whole other issue, its important to research what currencies are used in the countries you are going to. Small devices like camera batteries can be charged with only a converter and may not need a transformer. Higher powered devices like cell phones, laptops and hair straighteners might need the transformer to make sure too much current isn’t hurting the device. In Antibes, France I had to go to the hairdresser because I burnt my hair off using my American curling iron on too high of a setting. Needless to say, a hairdryer is on my list of ‘things to get when I get there,’ along with a pocket knife. Check out this World Electricity Guide for country specifics.
If I didn’t think about it, I would pack my iPod, laptop, digital camera, Garmin GPS, webcam, and cell phone all along for the ride. Fitting those into a backpack with my J.Crew shorts and Polos is going to be pretty tough.
Instead of emptying my backpack and finding an unwieldy collection of electronics, I’m downsizing. The first order of business is getting the most options out of the least number of devices. I’m cracking down and buying an iPhone.
This is harder than you think. I need one not in a contract with a service provider that is as new as possible with the maximum amount of memory. Oh yeah and I can’t spend hardly anything on it so it’s tough. The biggest difference between the 3G and 3GS is the video camera in the 3GS. This would give me the potential to make video calls home over Skype instead of having to haul my laptop, buy a netbook, or use an internet cafe. Otherwise, the iPhone replaces my iPod, GPS, and phone as well as giving me access to Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter, so I can still keep up with life back in the States. I can’t wait to pick out a dozen applications and buy a pink case for it. The biggest frustration is getting one. Ebay has plenty that are well over $600, which is more than my plane ticket cost me. And Craigslist is full of scams, I’ve tried to contact a few of them with no luck.
Downsizing my other electronics is going to be hard. I probably won’t bring a laptop because frankly it’s bulky, heavy, and New Zealand is a completely developed country. There’s also a WordPress app for the iPhone so I can update this blog remotely (I know, you’re excited now). Probably getting an international phone number freaks me out more than anything, since everyone back home doesn’t really know how to use those. Luckily, Vodafone has prepaid SIM cards for data, so I don’t have to worry about that.
But what do I do when I get back in March? I’m offloading my expensive Verizon account because my mom wants her own personal cell phone again instead of just her work phone (a horrible Palm Treo), and because their overseas service isn’t very good. A couple on my Ireland tour paid to activate their international roaming, and Verizon never did. American phone companies are overly resistant to the SIM card option, so that’s out too.
At least in the next year I’ll have had phone numbers on 3 continents, so if anyone is trying to reach me, whether friend, family, foe or shark, it’ll be a hell of a lot harder. Unless I give you my number.