So my brother calls me with a dilemma. There is a hold on his Visa and he does not know why. We are coming down to the days before we are supposed to leave for our trip. Not this. Not now. Not the Varela luck striking yet again. My brother finally got word that there is a hold on his Visa due to the fact that he has a felony on his record. My brother has been to Australia twice before and has not had an issue. The Australian government has tightened up their laws in who they let into their country. Not like they were not tough before but they have made it more so. Totally understandable with what has been going on in other countries just in these last six months. But why does this have to happen right now. We are coming down to the wire with everything that needs to be in order to make this trip happen. Well they made him go to get fingerprinted at the jail to send off for a background check. He had to expedite the darn thing there so that it could be read and done in time to clear him for his Visa. The next week he got word that he was good to go. YAY!!!!
The low down from my brother...
The process after applying for a visa to Australia... The visa application on the website you use asks "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"It does not matter how serious or how long ago. You have to answer yes if you have ever been convicted of anything. Upon the rejection an "Immi account" has to be created with the Australian border control and a 20 page visa application completed where it asked you in the application "If you have ever been convicted of a crime?" and then you must give the details of the crime. If you are going on business, you have to submit a letter from the company stating why you are going, Why an Australian cannot do the work, who is going to fund the stay while in Australia on business and how. Along with the application a copy of your passport must be submitted, proof of employment, and an FBI background check. Application for short stay visa is $130 USD. Must get fingerprinted and submit two sets of fingerprint cards ($5 each) with FBI background check. Background check is $50 if you want to wait up to 13 weeks for results or an additional $50. So spending a total of $100 for the FBI background check to get it expedited in time for this trip. The results of the FBI background check can be expedited within 24hours (on a business day). To overnight the FBI background application and fingerprint cards to the FBI processing center in Ohio (was the closest) cost $37 from the UPS Store. Once the results are returned you have to submit them to your visa application on Immi Account and wait for the Australian border control officer to grant or deny the Visa. If there is a Y criminal history on the FBI report the border control officer may request to interview you in person at the Australian embassy in Washington D.C.
Moral of the story is do not commit a crime. Do not commit a crime if you plan on traveling to Australia. They are very strict!
After reading many tips from Pinterest, talking to friends who have gone to these countries, and reading up on it. I came down to the items listed below that I brought on my trip. Mind you this is for a 15 day trip. Many people go for longer but I think you can be smart enough to know what you might need to adjust according to your own needs.
Remember to check the weather before you leave. These places are both Islands so the weather is unpredictable depending where you are.
If you are on a clothing budget I suggest looking through all your clothes before making any purchases. I am a girl and know I have lots of clothes that I do not wear all the time so I might forget about some articles of clothing that I own in my collection. If you still need clothes try asking your friends for some to borrow or heck they might even give them to you. But ask before the trip so they have time to look through their clothes. If you are still in need of clothes after that then I suggest going to Ross, Thrift stores, Salvation Army (they have half price on clothes once a week), and Goodwill (they have different colored tags to indicate extra savings). I am a frugal person in general and I would much rather save money for my adventures at my destinations.
- Pants (X3)
- Capri Pants
- Sweat pants (X2) for working out, lounging, sleep in, and great to travel in on the plane (16 flight people)
- Shorts (X3)
- Swim shorts (x1)
- Bathing suit (x2) Full cover and a two piece
- Underwear (X15)
- Bras (X3) Nude, Black, and a fun print - try to pack the least
- Sport Bra (X2) for working out, hiking, or sleeping in
- Dress (x1) - for a fancy night out or dinner
- Casual dress (x2) - summer time you want something that is easy to put on and go
- T-Shirts (x4) Comfy style for those sightseeing days and just kicking back on the patio with a cold one
- Blouse (X4) So you look better than what you wore on the beach earlier
- Tank Tops (x8) Black (goes with everything) You can wear these whenever and try to get some that can be layered
- Wind breaker / Rain coat (x1) - It does rain sometimes being that you are on an Island
- Flip Flops (x2) casual and beach ones that do not soak up the water
- Tennis Shoes
- Socks (x10)
- IPAD, IPAD Charger
- IPOD (make them playlists and stock up on your favs), IPOD charger
- Camera, lenses, battery, cleaning wipes, camera bag, camera charger
- Card reader
- Large Memory cards
- Car USB plugin ( I have a double one helps if more than one person is traveling with or for multiple devices to be charged)
- Phone Charger
- Battery Banks (help when not around to charge anything and you need some juice for your devices)
- For this trip I took "What I was doing while your were breeding" by Kristin Newman
- Bar of Soap or Body Wash
TIP: Do not pack shampoo, conditioner, and body soap if staying in a hotel they provide it for you.
- Bath Sponge
- Hair Spray
- Hair Frizz oil
- Hand Sanitizer
- Mouth Wash
- Facial Scrub
- Nail Clippers
- Nail file
- Shavers (x4)
- Eye Drops
- Umbrella (it is a beach and it does rain)
- Sun Screen
- Sun Tan oil or lotion
- Lip Balm (x2)
Drugs/ Medical/ First-Aids:
- Tylenol/Aspirin/ Ibuprofen (Just a small bottle)
- Emergent C (one for each day you are traveling)
- Energy Pills (you may an extra boost for a drive or to get through the night/ day)
- Band - Aids (x5)
- Bug Spray (They have bug spray there but ours works better from what I hear)
- Tampons (expect the unexpected)
- Condoms (be safe)
- Lube (in case)
- Make up (try to take as less as possible)
- Facial makeup remover wipes (so much easier than facial wash I think and especially after a long night of partying)
- Regular wipes
- Vaginal Wash (stay fresh)
- Moisturizing Face Cream (prevent them wrinkles ladies)
Only a few days left before it is time to leave the country but what am I going to do?
I have been pinning so many things on Pinterest before the trip so that I could go back to review and make a list. I also contacted friends that have been to one of these countries before to get their input. Also, many friends knew I was going and would send me things to do before I left and while I was visiting.
Now I put a lot of things on my itinerary but I have a new thing about doing 3 of those things in any place I visit. The rest of the time I just go with the flow. I usually end of meeting new people and then I go hang out with them. Hanging with locals in a city is part of the experience but also doing the thing you are supposed to do in the place you are supposed to do it should be on the list as well. It is called BALANCE! I am go, go, go kinda gal and want to do it all but when I do that I tend to miss some of the good stuff. So I have to cut back on all the running around in the countries and cities to enjoy it as well. Being a photographer is hard because I want to capture it all on camera. I also never know when I will be back in the same place so I try to fit in as much as possible. I have to chill out and just be. Live in the moment!
New Zealand -
- Black Sand Beaches
- Other Islands
- Lord of the Rings tour
- City Bus Tour
- Cathedral Cove
- Waitomo Glowworm Cave
- Sydney Opera House
- Manly Beach (Steyne Hotel for drinks at Famous Old Pub)
- Watson's Bay (Lunch at Doyle's great for views)
- Newtown (gay town)
- Luna Park
- Taronga Zoo