Hey everyone! I found a way to be able to share a more interactive map of places we stopped on our road trip. I’m not sure how well it will work out but after some correspondence with a Google guru, this link is what I’ve come up with! This link should provide a list for all the places we stopped. (https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/18d-U3CaW4VKd20Dn5bBvBkWDqAo). Let me know how it works.
So, here’s a general list of things I had to do when I got home to prepare for my next stage:
1. Purchase flight from Bali to New Zealand
2. Send Indonesia social visa application. This isn’t just a tourist visa since I’ll be working/volunteering.
3. Purchase a train ticket to NYC.
4. Deal with my insurance company to finish taking my car off the road.
5. Start and finish my continuing education to maintain my LEED Green Associate.
6. Transfer my employer-sponsored 401(k) to a Roth IRA.
7. Get a travel credit card.
8. Arrange a mode of transportation around New Zealand
-9,10,11,12,13….(n+1) you’d be surprised how many mini-tasks arise when you try to accomplish these things.
Flight to Bali: In the past I’ve had pretty good luck using CheapoAir.com. So, I found a reasonable flight from Bali to New Zealand. I found out it’s quite expensive to fly directly to NZ so I looked into flying to either Sydney or Melbourne. That’s definitely the way to go. So, I attempted to book a flight but CheapoAir declined my credit cards because the charge came through from Indonesia Air. So, I gave up that attempt and contacted my travel agent that I’ve been working with in STA (Student Travel Association) Travel in NYC. He found me a flight; it was slightly more expensive but I had to have a flight secured to prove to the Indonesian Consulate that I’ll be departing the island of Bali.
A couple of days after I had gotten the flight through STA Travel, I got a phone call from a CheapoAir representative telling me that a reservation had gone through. I told him that I had already made a reservation with another agent and that I didn’t want the flight. He said no problem we’ll cancel the reservation and refund the charge. Great! Well, this reservation through CheapoAir is apparently a ghost because I never got an email from them and so I don’t have a booking number. I decided to call Indonesia Air Asia to see if I could get any confirmation from them. Yes indeed I have a reservation with them. They gave me their system booking code. So I sent that along with my credit card statement showing the charge to CheapoAir saying that I was very upset with them and would not use them in the future. So hopefully that gets refunded but I’m losing hope as time goes on and CheapoAir continues this run-around.
2. After I got my flight out of Bali, I printed my new itinerary, highlighted the arriving and departing flight (to/from Bali) along with my passport photos, visa application, money order, invitation letter from the program coordinator which included a copy of his Indonesian passport. All together, reviewed multiple times, then put it all into a bit envelope with a self-addressed and stamped smaller envelope; off it went!
The Consulate received the package the 18th (after business hours), opened my application on the 19th, and sent it back on the 20th! Now that’s a nice quick turn-around. I had visions of the application taking a long time, getting lost or taking forever in the mail, and causing a huge problem in catching my Oct. 12th flight out of JFK. 😦 Thankfully, it all went very quickly and I got my passport back with the visa.
3. Purchasing a train ticket to NYC was probably one of the simplest things that got accomplished. However, I may end up having to pay a fee if my large backpack qualifies as a checked bag instead of a carry-on. We’ll see about that when I get to the train station the morning of the 10th.
4. State Farm insurance has turned into a total pain in my neck. I began calling them mid-late August telling them I wanted to suspend my car insurance while I travel. I guess somehow there was a “miscommunication” and they didn’t understand that the first time. So, when I called back, I tried to make it painfully clear that I’m going to be traveling and I want my insurance suspended. They seemed to get it and said that they would call me back as soon as the paperwork had processed in their system and then I would be able to pay the ˜$80 for a 6 months (or a year – I can’t remember) of comprehensive coverage only. Well, that took about three weeks! About as long as it took for us to get home from the road trip and for me to get another insurance agent and a new policy. My new insurance agent called State Farm a “captive” agency… meaning they DON’T let you go….easily.
State Farm did call me yesterday saying I owed them over ˜$150 so I’ll be following to make sure that in fact I don’t.
5. LEED continuing education can be done over the course of the two years that the accreditation is valid. Do I do that? Nope. No time or energy and I never became very active in a USGBC society with functions that can qualify as continuing ed. The result? I end up buying a webinar package through Green Building Education Services (GBES.com) and banging out the webinars and assessment quizzes in a day or so. I did do one or two webinars before we left on our road trip. The rest I was able to plow through between about 8am and 12:30pm one morning early last week. I reported the credits to GBES/USGBC (US Green Building Council), and renewed my credential (for a small fee).
6. Once I got my continuing education done, I decided to tackle the seemingly tricky and difficult task of transferring my 401(k) to an individual Roth IRA with a different agency. Wells Fargo didn’t want to let me go. He wanted to get me to transfer my 401(k) to a Roth IRA with them. After thinking through the options, I knew I was pretty set on just transferring everything over to my new agency. I had gotten instructions on how to do this and who to send the transfer of funds to. So overall, it went quite smoothly thankfully.
7. I thought my REI “World” MasterCard was a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees. BE WARNED; REI World Mastercard has a 3% foreign transaction fee. So that started a small scramble to get a real travel credit card. This story now gets quite long and complicated but I’ll try to simplify it a little bit.
In the beginning of March and over the course of 3 days, I was forced to move out of the place that I lived by my roommate that was dealing with some issues. Not fun. She didn’t give me back any of March rent or my security deposit which altogether is a hefty sum with housing prices in NJ. So, I filed a small claim and won. I then had to file more paperwork on how I wanted to get the money. That didn’t go smoothly at all…. time ran on into July.
By this time, it was less than four weeks until I moved home. So, over lunch one day, I ran to a CapitalOne branch and applied for their Venture Rewards credit card, but I used my parents home address. Apparently this set off some minor red flags. Then, the credit card was sent to my parents house. I asked mom to forward the card to me; HOWEVER, I had filed my change of address with USPS because I wanted mom and dad to receive papers from the court. Prior to that change of address, my former roommate was receiving forms that were returned (for various frustrating reasons) since that was the address I originally wrote. The card got semi-lost in the mail and I didn’t receive it before I moved home to NY. So now the card has not been activated in the usual time and a restriction was put on it until I could prove that it was me that opened the card and hadn’t been able to activate it because it was lost in the mail.
I then decided to do a “lost card” and requested that a new one be sent to my home address. I asked that it be expedited so I would receive it before we left for the road trip. Did I receive it? No. Didn’t I say this was going to be a long story! Anyway – that account ended up being closed due to their concern of potential fraud even though it was just a confluence of extraordinary life circumstances that led to this mess of a situation.
I subsequently applied for a Bank of America travel rewards credit card but due to Hurricane Irma, their application processing facility in Florida was not running at capacity and it was not certain that I would receive the card before the 9th of October. I canceled that application.
Finally, I applied for a different travel card with a different bank and expedited that card so HOPEFULLY, fingers crossed, that card should come within 2 or 3 days.
8. Mode of transportation around New Zealand: I found out about this thing called “Hop On, Hop Off” (or HOHO) bus tours; basically it’s a bus route with a schedule but at the stops it makes, you can hop off and stay off for a while and then when you’re ready, you book the next leg of your journey. I found a HOHO bus route with Stray Travel. Stray has several different HOHO passes, but I decided to go with their “Stray Everywhere” pass which gives you the most access to both islands and the pass is valid for 12 months. Do I see myself being there that whole time? No, but I will probably end up being in New Zealand for 2-3 months. We’ll see. I think it will become clearer once I actually spend some time there, get my travel legs and head back on and start figuring this out.