After rolling into my hotel as a hot a sweaty tourist with 2 large suitcases and a raging headache, I showered and took off on foot to start discovering all that New Orleans had to offer at 5pm on a Sunday. Too see my adventures getting here take a look at Adventure is now… and for a bit of background on me check out Solo Female Traveller on the Move
Step 1 – Getting There
So in my quest to visit America, I have not given myself any time to really save up. I also now have a full time job so I couldn’t take too much time off either. However, because I like a challenge I’m still planning to go to at least 2 American cities and Australia. This trip will be like most of my others, I will be travelling by myself, but I will be meeting up with friends in both Orlando and Brisbane.
I am always looking for the best deals on flights. For this trip I am budgeting at most $2,000 on flights and around $5,000 in total.
$2,000 – flights
$3,000 – accommodation, activities and spending money.
I always start looking for flights on Expedia, they have a really great range of companies to search from and can definitely give you a starting point.
I try not to book on Expedia as I always have a terrible experience. You can never really change or get a refund, you can’t mix and match your flights, or specify what is important without compromising other aspects of your trip. Have a look at Kayak, Sky Scanner and Flight Centre.
I also try to price out individual flights versus round trip, especially in the planning stages while I’m trying to decide where I want to go and what I want /how I want to get there.
For example, while I was in the early stages of planning this trip I was going to go to New York and only spend 3 days in Orlando. I also looked at spending some time in California and Texas. though while researching what I wanted to do and where I would stay, nothing jumped out at me and made me decide on Texas or California as the place to visit on this trip. I have however always wanted to visit New Orleans. Something about the history and the culture there just really interests me.
I also am a member of the Qantas frequent flyer and I desperately want to get to silver membership!!!! I almost made it last year but my points expired before the end of my last contract so I missed out!
So the final flight plan I settled on:
- June 4th – Auckland to Chicago
- June 22nd – Orlando to Brisbane
- July 3rd – Brisbane to Auckland
On Expedia the trip was looking around $2200.
To be honest I was kind of disappointed, I didn’t want to spend like half my budget on flights alone!
By chance I decided to search my full itinerary on the Qantas website as I had chosen the fully Qantas trip on Expedia and had decided to fly Qantas if possible so I can finally attain the coveted silver membership.
And buy was I happy I did! I found the Qantas website so useful! You can choose each individual flights to choose price or arrive or depart times. I managed to shave almost $500 off the total price. As I am always travelling on a budget, always looking to the next trip, this is always a bonus.
So my final flights are as follows
- June 4th – 6:20am depart Auckland fly via Brisbane and LA a finally arrive in Chicago at 3pm on the same day
- June 22nd – 7:30pm depart Orlando fly via LA and land Brisbane at 6am on the 24th June
- July 3rd – depart 6:55pm and arrive in Auckland at 00:00.
All in all, I think I paid $1850 including the visa fee for booking and paying online.
These flights will add just over 300 points to my membership which will take me well and truly into silver level which will be amazing for my next adventure at the end of the year.
I’m really really happy with my flights. Now you may be thinking why are you going to Chicago, and how are you planning to get to Orlando???
I decided to book another flight from New Orleans to Orlando, I like to book southwest mostly because of the free luggage and the great prices. I probably could have booked either united or American airlines which would add points to my Qantas membership. However, I like the free 2 bags that southwest offers more.
This flight is June 9th 7:55pm arriving Orlando 10:35pm.
I was/am a little worried about how late I booked in regards to storing my luggage. I have emailed my hotel about storing my luggage for the day but I have yet to hear back.
My final thoughts on booking flights
Shop around! Look at sky scanner or kayak, southwest won’t show on any discount sites be sure to check their site separately.
I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to book like 6 months in advance or a week out. I booked my flights and then the next week air New Zealand and Qantas released cheap flights to LA, but my flights wouldn’t have been too much different as I have several legs of the trip.
I know it’s been forever since I last posted. This is due to several things the least of them being my contract with DCL.
My contract started on October 27th 2014 and ended on March 30th 2015. It was originally supposed to be March 27th but I pushed out my contract by 3 days in order to have a vacation in Orlando before flying home.
What can I say about my contract? It was a steep and severe learning curve for me and also a complete and utter culture shock. The college program did almost nothing to prepare you for what life on board is like.
My first month on board was the hardest time of my life. I felt completely useless and unwanted most of the time. I messed up everything there were living challenges as well as working challenges. Managers who won’t back you no matter what and being so exhausted you don’t know which way is up. You are thrust into a completely new environment and in the guest services position you have to know everything about the ship, the itineraries and also what’s on offer in each port. This of course gets easier with time and one of the ways I learnt about the ship was my trainer used to tour me around the ship after work. We would go for walks and find all the places. She would fill me in on handy hints and common questions and answers.
At the end of my first month I was ready to quit. I was so tired I had no friends, internet on board was a crazy $20 for less than 500mbs. Because of this I felt like I couldn’t talk to my friends and family. I cried while texting my mum and dad but ultimately decided not to quit as this was a dream I had been working towards for so long.
Months 2 thru 5 were a lot easier, to start with our management team changed and I found a lot of support I didn’t realise I was missing. Our team got stronger and stronger and soon we were bringing in results that 3 and 4 day cruises had never seen. Due to this my team earned first a half day off and then at the end of contract a whole day off!!!! This in itself was amazing. I also came 3rd top Guest Services Hostess twice which is an amazing confidence booster.
Some Notable Moments:
- Swam with Dolphins and stingrays
- Living in America mean free shipping on online shopping which then equals mail!!
- Making new friends from all over the world
- Breaking Disney records for friendliness and problem resolution
- Captains recognition parties, my favourites being the dessert gala and St Patrick’s Day in the guest nightclub area.
Earlier I mentioned I had extended m contract by three days, this was due to not being able to exit the ship on my B1/2 visa at the end of my contract unless I finished work in a Bahamian port. So this took a long time and a lot of frustration before it was finally resolved and sorted. Basically in the end my manager approved the 3 day extension and the crew office approved a flight delay. This ensured that I could spend a week in Orlando before flying home.
By the end of my contract I had decided that I would be returning. My end of contract review was outstanding and I am hoping to explore a couple different roles once I get back on board.
If you guys have any questions in regards to life on board or of my experience on board leave a comment below.
Bye for now
So if you have been following my process you all know that recently I dyed my hair purple and it was amazing!
However since I got the call to arms from Disney Cruise Line I have been battling the purple to get back to a natural colour. After I came back from Walt Disney World I was really broke. It is thanks to my wonderful father that I have been able to afford anything. I have been living on his good graces since I got home. Because of this scenario I have been trying to fix my hair myself as cheaply as possible.
So let’s take a walk down my extra fun crazy hair experiments.
Live it up large with purple hair, rock it like it’s the most awesome thing you’ve ever done because you love it.
Get a call from dream employer regarding position. Accept position realise purple hair not acceptable. Cry, cry a lot.
Put on your big girl pants and do all the web searches and watch all the YouTube videos about hair colour removal a home.
Mistakenly listen to your father and try to bleach the colour out??
Realise this doesn’t work. Research how to remove pink hair!!!
Try dying your hair a dark brown.
Discover it wasn’t dark brown.
Try vitamin C hair caps and other homemade solutions
- Baking soda and vinegar
- Baking soda, crushed vit C tabs, dish soap
- Anti-dandruff shampoo
- Baking soda, crushed vit c, shampoo, dish soap,
- Sterilising solution
Try dying hair a mahogany brown to mellow out the red.
Notice how dry and sad looking hair is
Pay a professional to fix your mistakes.
Love your new Disney approved hair colour!
So what is the moral of this story??? Pay a professional??? Don’t dye your hair crazy colours???
Be yourself and persevere through it all!
So I finally got my flight details and my sign on paper work!
I now know for sure when I am arriving in Orlando!!!!
However before we all celebrate and throw our sassy hats in the air, I have some details about my flights you may all be interested in.
The Dream Flights:
2am – wake up, breakfast, finish packing, freak-out. ETC.
4am – Leave for the airport, cue dad complaining about it being “the middle of the night” and “do you really have to leave?”
5:15am – check in for my first of many flights in one 24 hours period
8:15am – depart Auckland City for Sydney
Spend 3 hours on a plane
9:45am – Arrive in Sydney
Spend 4.5 hours at Sydney airport
2:25pm – depart Sydney for Dallas, Texas.
Spend 18 hours on a plane
1:45pm arrive in Dallas, Texas
(At this point I would like to note that it will still be the 27th of October)
3:25pm – depart Dallas for my final destination of the day ORLANDO, FLORIDA!
7:00pm – arrive in Orlando, be sick of planes. B excited for friends and Disney!!
7:30pm – catch a bus to Walt Disney World pop century resort!!!
8:30pm – meet roommate! Hope like hell my friends love me and are coming to visit, also txt mum and dad let them know I’m alive!!!
As far as I am aware I should have this day off (Food and wine any one???)
Contract signing and schedule review
Disney Cruise Line traditions and training
4:30am – roll outta bed and check hotel room for items that belong to self
5:00am – get on the bus for the Dream.
(Side note if you miss this bus you have to get yourself to the port at your own cost)
11am – begin living the Dream!!!
So now there are only 9 DAYS TO GO. I have to get my A in G quick fast.
To Do List:
- Buy black flats (Sunday!!!!!)
- Buy white socks
- Get my hair cut and coloured ……….. Professionally (Tuesday!!!)
- Pack my bags
- Get my “original medical papers” back from the doctors
- Have a margarita filled leaving dinner!!!!!!! (Friday!!!)
I’ll put up a packing list for you guys soonish….. Once I’ve finished deciding what I’m actually taking!
So as you know last month I applied for and received the C1/D visa which is a transient visa / seaman visa for working on board cruise ships. Once I received this I though bam! I’m so in! time to start planning my vacation at the end of my first six month contract with the Disney Dream. However when u sent an email to the casting assistants asking for my travel dates and asking about how I would organise my return flights as I would love to spend a week at Disney World and a week traveling the states, they said I would need a different visa.
A DIFFERENT VISA!!!!! Are you kidding me?????
So I did some research and it turns out I needed to get the B1/2 visa at the same time. If I had applied for it at the same time it wouldn’t have cost me any extra either. But because I didn’t I had to cough up another $192 NZD to pay for the visa. Unfortunately it’s not really an option to not get it as I want to visit my friends in the states before coming home. So on Thursday morning I quickly filled in the required ds-160 and made an appointment for Wednesday the 15th of October. Now I have been through this process 3 times already. In 2009 I applied for and received a j1 visa for camp America. In 2013 I applied for the j1 visa for Walt Disney world and then again in 2014 I applied for a c1/d visa.
So I’m pretty smooth at filling in all the required information and making the appointment. This morning the only paperwork I needed was my confirmation of employment, confirmation of appointment and my ds160. When I went in there was no one in line but most of the seats in the interview waiting area was full. Now they only have 2 people conducting the interviews. So it took around an hour to get from paperwork to interview stage. They said that the employment paper made it really easy to approve the visa, as it proves income. The only questions I was asked this time around were “Are you ready for your holiday?” And “What did you do on your last visa?” And then he approved my visa for ten years!!!!!!
So even though it did cost (my dad) an extra $200 it is well worth it. However learn from my mistakes and apply all together 🙂 So now I’m looking at Contiki tours as I would love to travel a bit of the great US of A before heading back to glorious New Zealand.
Here’s a few tips about the B1/B2 visa I found useful;
- B1 is the business part.
- B2 is the tourism part.
- The length of time you can stay in the USA for is 6 months at a time on the B2, but is subject to a case by case basis decided by your immigration/customs officer.
- My visa is good for 10 years (!!!) but they can be issued for as little as 6 months. Though word on the web is that on second application you would then be issued with a 10 year one.
- There is to be no working while on this visa. This is why I have combined mine with the c1/d
- You do not need a certain amount of money in the bank to apply, but I was told that my employment papers made it easier to get as it made me financially stable.
Have any suggestions on what tours I should do? Leave me a comment below!!!
One of the steps required for the Walt Disney World International Program is to get a Criminal/Background check. Disney requires this so they can verify that you are ssomeone that they feel comfortable employing, as well as being able to sponser for the J1 Visa to enter and work within the United States.
This back ground check requirement is not to be acquired before 6 months prior to your arrival at Disney otherwise it is considered invalid and you will need to obtain a new one.
I received an email from Disney on the 5th of February 2013 asking me to begin looking into acquiring my criminal history check, which I would then submit to Yummy Travel.
For New Zealanders follow this link : http://www.justice.govt.nz/services/criminal-records/get-a-copy-of-your-criminal-record.
For Australians follow this link : http://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/police-checks/national-police-checks.aspx#forms.
There are several differences between the Australian and New Zealand requirements. One fo the main ones being that the Australians have to pay for their criminal check whereas New Zealanders do not.
Ok. So applying for the criminal check is relatively straight forward. In the email Disney states that you do not have to do step 3. This confused me but what I believe it pertains to it the letter asking for the criminal check to be hand signed and on an official letterhead. However I did this anyway as I was worried about it being of importance to the visa which required that.
So I scrawled a few line on some spare paper shoved my application form, a copy of my passport and 2 passport photos into an envelope and sent it off to the government. I finally received it on the 20th of February. Many people had a long wait for theirs and it can take up to a month so try not to panic or stress too much.
Small confession…. I have stressed and worried at all stages of prepareing for this internship. It is the single biggest thing in my life at the moment and one point where my life can suddenly take many different and exciting paths. Because of this I am always worried that 1 small thing will mess it up and I will lose this single most important moment in my life.
Try not to do this as it is very draining and sucks. Haha
After I received my criminal check in the mail I scanned a copy of it and sent it off to the yummy travel email address I was supplied : BackgroundCheck@yummyjobs.com
I then added the paperwork to my Disney folder which houses all of my important Disney involved information.
Hope this helped anyone who is confused about the process
If you have any questions about any of the process just ask and ill do my best to help out now that ive been through it