20 October 2015



We've already mentioned Safe Travel before, but it is still one of the top tips for Kiwis travelling overseas for advisories, general information and their itinerary registration service.



For those for whom it has been a while since they travelled, there is no longer a Departure Tax payable at the airport.  This has been levied onto the airlines (who undoubtedly add it into their fares to you!).

Luggage trolleys are free to use in the terminal.  



Contact Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ) if you or someone in your family are receiving any form of benefit or allowance before travelling overseas.



Take out travel insurance when (or before) you book your tickets.  You don't necessarily need to get it through a travel agent either - you can use any broker or insurance agent.  Shop around!

If you have left a house, possessions or a vehicle behind, make sure the insurance payments continue for those in your absence. [NB your home may need continued use of electricity to power your burglar alarm.]



Remember that you may only have liquids to the volume of 100ml each in your carry on, that must fit into a 1l plastic bag (or 20cm x 20cm).  You will find the definition of liquids quite broad.  Everything else should go in your checked-in baggage.  This also means water bottles or containers.  You must empty them prior to customs clearance and may re-fill them after that.

Totally prohibited items are listed on the Aviation Security website.



If you have prescriptions, keep them in their original containers; and have a letter from your doctor listing their names and current dosage.



Decide how you are going to spend your money.

  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • ATM (debit) card
  • Money transfer
  • Prepaid money wallet (like a pre-loaded credit card)
  • Travellers cheques
  • New bank account in the country you are travelling to

Each will have particular rules and fees which makes comparing one option to the next less than simple.  Consider leaving some money in a NZ bank account for ongoing payments and emergencies.

Inform your credit card company of your impending departure and which countries you will visit.  That way you don't have a transaction declined as it is out of your usual spending habits.



How are you going to keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues or clients?

See whether you can take you cellular phone with you overseas and what it may cost to continue your NZ plan; or whether it is compatible with the country cellular network where you are going so you can pick up a new SIM there.

Do you need to take a calling card from NZ or buy one overseas?

Will you email folks or update a social media account instead?



Do you need an International Drivers Permit?  If so, then visit the Automobile Association for the forms to fill in, and where you can lodge your payment for this service.  It will be sent to you via post.  [There is an extra charge for processing an IDP application online or via posting it in.]



Are your wills up to date?  Do you need to leave someone a Power of Attorney over all or part of your affairs?  

23 September 2014

Gemma's lego home

For those leaving an owned or rented property behind to travel, here are some items to consider in the months ahead to make your transition easier.
You've probably been paring down and getting rid of some possessions (do they possess you or you them - hmmm?) but will also have some to store. 
  • Will you use an off-site storage facility?  
  • Store them in a loft / shed / container on your property?
  • Lend large items to friends and family to use?
  • Stash some boxes with friends here and there?
  • Leave your stuff right where it is as you are renting your place furnished?
  • Will you install an alarm system to protect your stuff?  Who will monitor it or respond if it goes off?
  • How will your contents insurance be affected by the various options?
  • What will you do with any vehicle(s)?
  • Will you loan it to a friend?  Will they insure the vehicle or will you need to name them on your policy?  Will they pay the excess in case of an accident; and tickets/fines in the case of traffic infringements?


  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Subscription products
  • Invoices
With the advent of electronic correspondence aka email we often have the choice whether we receive invoices/receipts/mail in our letterbox or via our inbox.
When there is no alternative you can consider having your mail forwarded.
As for magazine and/or subscription products, now is the time to evaluate if you want to continue these.  Will you still NEED them on the road?  Can you switch from a tree mail version to an email edition?
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Telephone
  • Internet
  • Rates
  • Water
  • House insurance
  • Contents insurance
Some utility companies will allow you to suspend your account so you don't have to go through the application process all over again nor lose your credit rating; others won't.  Give them a call now to find out.  If you are continuing any services for tenants, and are paying the bill yourself, can you get it sent to your email account?  Generally it is NOT advisable to continue your own account and have the tenant pay that, unless you can guarantee it will be paid in full and on time.
Will you set up a direct debit for the regular foreseen costs?
If you are retaining a property and not selling off all your material possessions to travel, then you may also have a few ongoing maintenance and service costs to (budget &) pay for.
Which one of these applies to your situation?
  • Lawn or gardening services
  • Chimney cleaning
  • Pool maintenance
  • Pest control services
  • House cleaning / painting
  • Roof cleaning / painting
  • Solar panel / energy system maintenance
  • Gutter clearing
  • Septic tank waste collection
  • Rubbish removal services
  • Emergency repairs


If you are renting your property out to tenants:

  • Will you appoint a property manager to co-ordinate tradesmen and do inspections?  
  • Will you negotiate a service contract directly with the tradesperson instead; and have a friend or family member do inspections?  
  • Will you permit the tenant to contact service personnel themselves if something goes wrong?  
  • Will you set up an automatic payment or direct debit from the tenant to a separate housing account?
  • Will a friend/family member or colleague have access to a housing account to pay bills; or will you do everything online?

If you need a tenancy agreement, the basic one can be bought from local booksellers, or downloaded from MBIE where there is also more information about tenancies.

Make sure that you lodge the tenant's bond with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment along with the appropriate form.


If the property is not being lived in:

  • Have you checked with your insurance policy on any exclusions?
  • Will you put a padlock on your letterbox if you have someone clearing it on your behalf?
  • Do you have automatic security lights installed outside?
  • Do you have lights on timers inside?
  • Does the house looked lived in from the the outside?  Washing on line? Shoes or gumboots at back door?
  • Might you allow a neighbour to park their car in your driveway?
  • Consider adding security stays to some of your windows so that you can leave them ajar to aid air circulation.

Take a look at the list on the NZ Police website of how to protect your property.

15 November 2012

After seeing what our landlord-friends have been through with their property across the road from us, I was extremely hesitant about letting our family home while we are on our NZ tour. Do we rent it furnished or empty? How do we store our possessions if the later? What is the market rate? Who would look after it?

What would it take to finish all the major and minor renovations? One of which was tending to the garage, that still has lead-based paint to strip off it. After a quick discussion with Atlas I have learnt that the boards are too brittle and would be a fire hazard if they were to encounter a heat gun, so what to do?

Enter epiphany number 1. As the garage footprint is a small one, we wouldn't be able to replace it with a modern day shed, which incidentally come in 3 common sizes of 'small car', 'medium car' and 'large car'. Ours obviously was erected in the day of tiny cars – no wonder it quickly transitioned from a place we stored our vehicle to a general storage area. So we don't really need to re-build a place for a car. What we do need is a place for storage. The concrete pad is just the right size for a 20 foot hi-cube shipping container, and would take care of the current need for temporary storage of the items we have to sell; and then the longer-term storage requirements whether or not we rent our home furnished or not, there would still be personal things we'd want to lock away.

Once upon a time I wouldn't have entertained having a shipping container on site as they are so, how do you say...industrial. Gaining favour in the construction of domestic and commercial architecture I now am fascinated by their potential! If we weren't touring I would want to find a piece of land and be tempted to build a container house – not just the functional kind but something kind of quirky.

Alternatively we could replace the 2x4 structure and construct an eco-shed out of bottle bricks or the like.

As for the other questions, I still like the idea of renting the place furnished to some degree. I am a bit hesitant to have other people sleeping on our mattresses, but I guess that is what protectors are for. Insurance is supposedly higher on renting out a furnished property, so we will have to weigh up whether it is worth it. Though as I keep pressing on with the plans for our location independent tour I am less possessed by our possessions and feel more blasé about the inanimate objects we may leave behind. I am looking forward to the children having less to clean up, there being less house work to do, less stuff that needs to be maintained....enforced simplicity if you will.

What I can not predict is how the children will adjust to the change. Years ago when we made the decision to trial a tv-free environment, it was 2-3 weeks before I no longer heard 'I'm bored' and the children were more settled. This time we will be leaving behind much of what I would term good, solid educational materials; but am hoping that life on the road will bring opportunities for each child to discover, learn and entertain themselves in ways unfathomable.

What 1 new positive habit can you start to forge today?