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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Flight risk

It is no secret to anyone who knows me, that I am terrified of flying. Funnily enough, the more I travel and the older I get, the more anxious and overwhelmed I become. I mean sure, before I hop on the plane, everything is great. I'm excited, feeling brave and usually I am well on my way to getting sufficiently boozed.

However, no matter how much I prepare myself for what is to come, an overwhelming and heart stopping fear creeps up inside of me as soon as those plane doors are shut. I go from being a placid traveller, to a cabin crew's worst nightmare.

Get me a drink!

Have you seen Bridesmaids? Because that pretty much sums me up.  I break out in a cold sweat, I start freaking myself (and anyone who is near me) out, recalling horrible things i've seen on t.v or read about in the paper. Of course it doesn't help that I became mildly obsessed with Air Crash Investigation back in '09. No- things definitely went down hill from then. 

I just don't get it. I mean how does a giant plane stay in the sky? How does it not fall?  Why is it that when I'm just about to travel, there is suddenly an influx of newsworthy plane engine malfunctions and or/crashes broadcasted for the world to see?
Lucky for me, I'll have  my good friend Amanda who has absolutely no idea just how much she is going to regret having me for a 'flight buddy' for our 13 hour flight to Los Angeles. 

Only 30 days until take off.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

T- minus forty days...


With only forty days to go before I leave the country, I have finally received confirmation of my UK Visa.  I am now legally allowed to work in the UK for two years under their youth mobility scheme. Watch out London- here I come. It is such a relief to have this box checked so now I can finally explain (to any potential travellers) on how to get the visa sorted for the UK. 


Here goes...

1. Make sure that your passport is not going to expire whilst you are planning to be over in the UK. You do not want to have to apply for a new passport over there, as your visa will be issued to the passport you apply with. 

2. Make sure you have at least $4000 NZD in your bank account. To apply for a tier five youth mobility visa, you must have 1600 pounds at the time of your application which is roughly $3200 NZD. To be safe, I would make sure you have over $4000 NZD.  To check the exchange rate, simply click the following link:

3. Go to the bank armed and ready to battle. Make sure that you get them to print off a statement of your funds on an original letterhead and a further letter (on an original letterhead) that states exactly how much money you have in that account and how long you have been with that bank. Now you might get lucky and have a bank that is far more helpful than mine. In my case, it was not easy to get all of these documents and I ended up paying the bank three separate visits. If in doubt, print off my photo below and tell your bank that that is what you need.  Signed, stamped and on an original letterhead.

4. Before you leave the bank, check that every single page of every single document is on an original letterhead, stamped and signed correctly.  Note that the UK border agency only accepts bank statements from 28 days or less before the application is made. 

5. Go and get four passport photos of yourself. You need two for your application but it pays to have a couple spare.

6. Now for the scary part: go online to and read all the information available about the youth mobility scheme. Then when you are ready,  fill out the online application form and the appendix seven form. You need to complete both.  When you are doing your online application form, you will be told that you need to front up with 180 pounds (360 NZD) straight away and you will also need to go to a biometric centre within two weeks of completing the form. When you complete your online application, you will be told where your nearest biometric centre is (mine was not actually that near) and you will be forced to make an appointment then and there. I would recommed filling out your online application when you know that you have a few free afternoons coming up that you can go out and do the biometric.

7. What is this biometric business? It is not as bad as it sounds. You simply book an appointment online for a centre in your town, print off your completed application form and your appointment time and then literally spend five minutes whilst a lady stamps the form and takes your fingerprints. Done and dusted.

Once this is done, it is time to send off your application to the border agency. For New Zealand, you send off all of your information to an Auckland address. It is then sent on to Manila. - Strange, I know. When you complete your online application, you are told what address to send all your forms to.

At the end of it all, you should be sending:

1. As many bank statements that testify to the fact that you have over 1600 pounds in your account. Make sure you include both original versions and photocopies.

2. Your completed online application, printed and signed. This will be stamped when you do your biometric.

3. Your appendix seven documentation (found on the website.)

4. Two passport photos.

5. Your actual passport. Once again, make sure you photocopy it for the agency to keep on file.

Put all of this information in a track and trace envelope and voila! Make sure that you also put in a self-addressed track and trace envelope with all of your documentation so as the agency can send your visa and passport back to you.

To be honest, it is not as hard as it sounds and I received my visa within three weeks of applying (much to my relief). If you do have any concerns or questions, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A pound a penny

Christmas has come and gone and with it another year!

It is hard to believe that we are now looking down the barrel of 2012 - the year of the apocalypse apparently... so we had better make it a goodie!  I don't know about you but I have had a fabulous Christmas and New Year. Both days were full of good conversation, food, wine and of course the traditional (and often slightly drunken) resolutions.

For me, I asked myself and the lucky family members who were seated near me for Christmas and/or New Years, three simple questions:

1. High of 2011
2. Low of 2011
3. Goal for 2012

I won't burden you with the highs and lows of 2011 but with such an exciting and nerve racking year ahead of me, I was eager to tell anyone who would listen, my goals and plans for 2012. I mean, they sure beat my normal annual goals (lose weight, meet the love of my life, stop drinking so much, pay off my credit card)... No- not this time. My goals are all to do with visiting as many countries as I can, to find the best espresso in Europe, to trace  my Irish heritage (turns out I have relatives in Waterford)  and ..well.. I suppose the other goals wouldn't go totally amiss.

Anyway- what does all this have to do with my travels you ask? Well not a heck of a lot except for some particularly exciting gifts that I received that truly got me revved up about my trip! I mean I am literally eight weeks out now!!!!

Oh and I realise that I have not finished my promised list on how to get a UK visa, but never fear- it is on route. In fact when I arrived home from my summer break, I had a courier post 'card to call' waiting for me, which means that my UK visa has arrived (hopefully.) Once I have actually clarified that my visa is good to go, I will absolutely ensure that I write out a full comprehensive list on how to go about getting this monstrous visa sorted.

Nevertheless, back to my gifts!

My first pound(s) from my dear old dad

A bag weighing device from my sister (which will certainly come in handy)

A much needed guide to London from my brother

A cute luggage tag from my mum

Happy all round!

Now, one gift that I received probably deserves its own blog entry... Emma- you know what I am talking about. As soon as my camera is charged, I will post a photo. Readers- be prepared for what is coming, as this was no ordinary gift....