Apr 232012
 

It’s a trick traveling at the best of times . . . even when it’s all going well, there are hurdles.

Very Good Traveling Tip #4 – nuthin’ costs what they it costs

In America, hidden taxes are everywhere. Nuthin’ – and I mean nuthin’ – is gonna cost you want they say it’s gonna cost you.

There are taxes flyin’ in all directions – federal, state, country, hell district for all I can tell.

‘How much are the bananas?’ I ask the woman behind the counter in the hotel lobby.

‘Two dollars ma’m.’

‘I’ll take two thanks.’

‘That’l be $2.50.’

Very Good Traveling Tip #1 – Australian passports

If you are traveling on an Australian passport that has been renewed before its expiry date – expect to be waylaid by US border security. Apparently Australia is the only country in the world that does this, but it means one thing for vigilant Uncle Sam and that is:  you have two passports.

And this in turn means one or both of two things:

1. you are a perpetrator of identity theft, i.e. you are not who you say you are

2. you are perpetrating identity fraud, i.e. you have sold your other passport.

And/or various versions of the above.

Don’t panic though – they are well aware this is a problem. They’ll hive you off in the corner for asking more questions and wave you through with not much ado.

Very Good Traveling Tip #2 – plane tickets

This is wild and I can’t believe it’s taken this long for me to cross paths with such extraordinary bureaucratic idiocy/greed/call it what you like:  if you don’t show on any leg of your international plane ticket – the whole ticket is void.

Can you believe that?

You MUST let them know in advance. Otherwise you’ll turn up to go home and find you have a) no booking and, worse, b) no ticket.

Apparently this applies to almost all tickets, not just the cheapies.

Very Good Traveling Tip #3 – changing money

I am not a money guru. I pay scant attention to financial wheelings and dealings and accept that this means I don’t always get the best deal; and that I might pay extra $$$ here and there, like when changing currencies for example. But hey, I do not have the knowledge to make informed decisions and I’m glazed over before I start when I do attempt to navigate the world of high finance.

Which, let’s face it, is what getting the best deal on changing money is all about.

So flying to the US recently I was wondering – should I change my money before I leave Australia or when I arrive in the US?

I called by the money changer at the airport and I asked her. She gave me great advice and it is this:

The closer to home you are traveling, the more your money is worth overseas. The further away you go, the less it is worth.

Translation:

As an Australian, my Australian dollar is worth good money in Asia but not a lot in the US, where US dollars count/are more valuable.

Considering I was flying to the US, it was best to change money before I left.

Voila!

Very Good Traveling Tip #4 – the wrong side of the street

It can be quite tricky traveling in a  world where they drive on the other side of the road.

Not because it’s difficult, when you’re paying attention; it’s just that crossing roads is something we do quite mindlessly – which can be erratic and dangerous when the traffic comes at us from the opposite direction, particularly with turning traffic.

Make it easy on yourself – as an Australian in the US, walk on the left hand footpath.

Americans in Australia, do the opposite.

This is as simple as walking into the oncoming traffic.

An old rule that used to be universal; one that we seem to have forgotten, judging by the number of people near where I live who walk with their backs to the traffic on narrow winding country roads!

Walk into oncoming traffic: a) they can see you and b) you eliminate surprises coming up behind you: you can see what’s happening and judge your movements accordingly.

 

 

 April 23, 2012  Tagged with: , ,  Add comments

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