Thursday, 31 March 2011

Shopping list

All Strines will know, but probably few others, the dollar is above parity. The long term average exchange rate between the Aussie and the greenback has been around 0.7 - that is, one Australian dollar would buy around 70 US cents.  At the moment, AU$1 will get you around US$1.03.  While this is absolutely shit for our exporters, it is truly brilliant for people like me travelling to the States.

One of the things I'm planning to buy is a bluetooth keyboard - probably the Apple one.  Here they cost AU$99.  Which would be about right if the dollar was at 0.7, as the US price is US$69.  But given the Aussie is worth a wee bit more than that, it's complete bollocks.  Someone is making a killing on exchange rates.

This will make it practical to type on my iPad, or even my iPhone. (And will cement my position as Apple's bitch). And will hopefully make it all the more likely that I'll actually type stuff.

While flash cards have dropped in price significantly in the past year or two, they still cost around 50% more here. So I'll get a nice big fat fast SD card too.

There are a few other doodads I'm going to get while I'm there that aren't available or aren't worth shipping over here.  Like these pretty and practical sporks by Light My Fire.

Brilliant to have in your handbag and/or car, for meals on the run.

Also recommended by one bag are these little tweezers, which can fit on your keyring.

(Googling for images shows that both of these are available locally, at not ghastly prices, for example at Fusion Gear, although I couldn't find the shipping costs.)

I also need to get another pair of black mary jane crocs (told you I wasn't particularly fashion conscious), as I've nearly worn through mine. The Australian Crocs website charges twice as much as the US one, so I'll get those over there too.

Which is why I'll probably have to check my luggage on the way back.

Packing list

I'm a wee bit of a control freak.  Which means I've already started thinking about my packing list for NY.

I travel light - carry on only, at least for the outbound flight.  International flights have a maximum weight limit for carry-on baggage of seven kg (15 lb).  Given the bag itself usually weighs 1.5 to 2kg, one has to be very discriminating in what one packs.  I've travelled with carry-on only when travelling with infants and older children, when travelling for several weeks at a time, and when travelling in winter, and all of the above.  The kids get a bag each; JD and I share a bag; and the fourth bag has the in-flight entertainment (books, electronica, snacks etc).  It helps that I'm not remotely fashion conscious, and that I am only taking a second pair of shoes in case my main pair get wet or damaged.

There are oodles of websites which purport to generate packing lists, but the one I've found most useful is that at  For each item the author includes on his list, he explains why it's necessary and which particular brands/models he's found most effective.

Because this blog is mainly for me, and because its always a good idea to have a copy of your packing list somewhere where you won't lose it, here is mine.  (And I will be editing this as I go.)

Dramatis personae

The players most likely to appear in the following posts, cunningly disguised by something like their real names (because otherwise I'll forget and use their actual real names). And I figure most of you know them anyway.

Ab - me (dur!)
JD - my beloved husband of 14 years and counting
Jos, Ky - my sons, both pre-teen

Noni, Gopa - my kids' nicknames for my parents
El, Kate - my sisters, both younger
BK, Nick - their respective spouses
Leesie and Caitlin - my nieces, El's daughters
Sam - my brand new nephew, Kate's son

Here's what we look like (or did, at Kate and Nick's wedding late last year):

BW - an internet forum, current motto "Suck it hores" (we're a klassy bunch)
TPW - another internet forum
K&A - where I work

Why am I here?

I promise I'm not going to get all existential about it.

Rather, like the good engineer/scientist/accountant that I am, I'm defining the scope. Establishing the parameters. Setting out my hypothesis. Which means you, dear reader, will understand why I'm doing this and whether you're likely to be remotely interested in what I'm intending to write about.

I have (at least) two fabulous trips coming up in the next nine months: In a little under three weeks, I begin a two week solo holiday in New York city. No kids. No spouse. No worries!  And then, from the first of January 2012, we will embark on a three week tour of India (with kids and spouse, and my sister, and my parents). We may yet make it to Japan in September (my sister-in-law lives in Tokyo with her family), but that's going to depend on how things are going post-quake/tsunami/nuclear reactor meltdown.

Most of my travel has been to developed countries - NZ, Europe, US - so I am expecting India to be a pretty full-on culture shock. And something that I want to record and revisit, so it doesn't all end up a jumble in my mind. To do that, I will need to keep a travel journal, and a blog seems the most straightforward way to do that. The NY trip will be a dummy run, a test of the waters (and the technology), to see whether this non-writer can sustain writing a daily journal without boring myself witless. I hope I don't, but if I do bore you, dear reader, well that's just stiff sh!t. This blog's for me, but you're welcome to come along for the ride.

ETA: Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'll go back and edit posts. Often.  Because I can.