Mexico – Tips

January 25, 2009

Write down the names of your guides ):  I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember any of them

Don’t go horseback riding unless you are really confident with horses.  I swear I will never ride a horse again.

Don’t bother brushing up on your Spanish, you’ll hear much more English. (At least in the fancy hotel area…I wanted to test my Spanish but had a hard time getting people to talk to me in anything other than English)

Everyone will tell you to bring sun block and bug repellent.  Then when you get places they’ll say NO bug spray, ONLY specialized sun block because otherwise you damage the environment.  By the way, the specialized sun block never sinks in so you spend the day looking like a kabuki theatre star ^_~

Don’t go in summer.  While we went in winter and had more rainy days than I would have liked, even the first day was scalding and worse weather than that would be torture not vacation

Always bring your swim suit, you never know when you’ll end up in a cenote

Bring lots of pesos.  LOTS.  Everyone and their brother is hoping for a tip and you can afford it–they can’t afford to live without it.

Take a full day in both Xel-ha and Xcaret.  If you are doing something specialized in one (say, the dolphins) do it on a seperate day or you won’t have time to enjoy the rest of the parks.

Bargain!  Just about everyone has the exact same wares so it’s to their benefit that you buy from them rather than go one stop over to buy from someone else.

Get some jewelry, heh. I don’t usually care about jewelry but their purple stuff was sooo sparkly and I can’t find anything remotely similar in the US even at super expensive places

Hope you like to drink because everyone wants you to sample their tequila


Tips – New Zealand

March 27, 2007

1. Spend a month there.  Seriously.  If you’re going to go to the other side of the world, you ought to make it worth it.  If not, spend two weeks on the North Island or two on the South Island.  North was more developed, things were closer together.  South had lovely scenery.  We tried to do both in two weeks and spend more time driving than we really wanted to.

2.  If you want action, go to Queenstown

3.  My favorite adventure was Dragons Blackwater Cave Rafting though it’s more crawling through a river in a cave.  The raft was just a tube that you float on for a few minutes in certain parts of the cave.  The post-trip hot tub was HEAVEN.

4. We were fine to book hostels about a day in advance though we did go in low season

5. Learn to drive stick.  Or ahead of time, make sure the car is automatic!  After a stressful hour or so of Alex giving us a crash course, we ran back to the rental place begging for automatic….and got the last one.

6.  When reserving the ferry from North to South islands, make sure you also reserve the TIME you want to go 😛

7. Use http://www.newzealand.com to get an idea for where things are and what you want to do

8.  Just because it has a webpage, doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a side of the road bungalow

9.  There are phone booths all over the place in the major towns but it was nice to have a cellphone.  Adjusting Beth’s for use in-country was more trouble than it was worth though, we ended up backtracking to Auckland in horrible traffic to rent an NZ cell.  Mostly we used it to call ahead about the activities we booked, as recommended.

10.  Once they get the plane set up to go to Milford Sound, use it, because there’s a whole lotta nothin in between and you don’t want to waste that kind of time just driving

11.  Fill up.  Gas stations can be few and far between, especially on the South Island

12.  Beware of crazy New Zealand drivers!  They are speed demons =o Polite, always polite, but ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

13. I dunno that I would bring a laptop.  Some places had guest computers, others had pay-to-use computers but I can’t remember seeing a lot of wi-fi hot spots

14. Bring a raincoat 😉

15. Keep snacky food in the car as restaurants can be few and far between and keep odd hours.  Unless you’re in one of the bigger cities, a LOT will close around 5pm

16. Worship the I-SITE! There’s one in every city, even small towns, and it has all the information you need.

17.  Many bridges can only fit one car at a time.  The fatter arrow means that direction has the right of way.  I think.

bridge1

18.  DRIVE ON THE LEFT!  You get reminded of this constantly though plus reminders not to fall asleep.