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July 18, 2006 at 2:55 am #422
I just got the phone call, and I’m confirmed to fly out of New Zealand on August 26! I did my happy jig afterwards, and I might have to do another one later. Now that I’m in, I could use some help on a few questions I have. I looked back through old discussions on what sort of things to bring, and it was a big help. Here’s my questions –
1.) Is the travel budget a reimbursment deal, or are we actually alloted the money?
2.) Do we get a locker in New Zealand to store stuff while we’re on the ice? I would like to travel around after my term is up, but I’m not sure how I can bring the stuff I need and make my weight limit.
3.) And speaking of weight limit, does the 50 pounds include cold weather gear?
4.) Is it advisable to bring hiking boots or just my running shoes?
That’s all for now. Big thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep going through the process when the contract was up in the air. I think that’s what made the difference in getting WinFly and being on the summer list. Time to do another happy dance 🙂July 18, 2006 at 7:14 am #3148
Hey there, ‘Naner Mel —
Congratulations! You’ll love Winfly. It’ll be cold, but the skies are great!
Now, to try and answer your questions:
1. There used to be a thing called a Travel Fund, but I hear that’s going away this year, to be replaced by reimbursement for actual expenses. Of course, nothing is in writing yet, but that’s the word around the office.
2. No locker, per se, but there will be a secure area where you can put your stuff. You’ll actually put a tag on it (like the airlines), and take the stub with you. When you get off the ice they’ll have your stuff waiting for you. I’ve used this setup a couple of times, and it works like a charm.
3. Yes, your weight allotment will include your ECW gear. However, keep in mind that what you wear on the plane (including most of your ECW gear) is weighed separately, so stuff your parka pockets with all they can hold.
4. Bring your hiking boots AND your tennis shoes – you’ll need both. Also, think about bringing some strappy high-heels for the dress-up parties.
Again, congratulations, and welcome to the ice!
atlasJuly 19, 2006 at 5:05 am #3149ZondraMember
Melissa – congratulations, this is exctiting! Here’s my response to your questions:
1. Atlas, what’s this rumor of a reimbursement? That’s BS. I rely on that $$ they give us. If you’re in the Denver office, do what you can to talk them out of that silly idea. Melissa – in the past they would give us NZ$150 per day, but I think it went up to NZ$200 last year.
2. Storage in Christchurch is great. I leave all my camping and travel gear there while I’m on the Ice.
3. Ah, the weight game. I stressed over the weight before I went down for the first time, but it’s actually not as big a deal as it sounds. You get 75 lbs for your check in luggage, and yes, that includes the ECW that you’re not wearing. However, you end up wearing a lot of the ECW. Also, you’re allowed to bring a carry on bag AND a laptop, and those are NOT counted towared your 75 lbs. The carry on bag is restricted by size, not by weight. So, if you find that while you’re in New Zealand and are repacking your bags, that you’re overweight (there are scales there), put small heavy things into your carry on bag. For example: On my first year, I was bringing a guitar amp with me, and it was small enough that it could fit into my carry on, and my carry on would still be within the size limit. Amps are heavy for their size, and so this helped me take that weight off of the 75 lbs. total for my check in baggage. So, just shuffle things around (ie: put on another ECW layer, put your heavy shampoo & extra book in your carry on), and you’ll find that you’ll be within the 75 lb weight limit. Oh, and one other thing…. after all the shuffling around, if you’re still over, you can always guard mail things to the Ice. That is a free mail service through the millitary post office we have access to. It may come a few weeks after you, but if it’s something you can do without for a few weeks, that works great. Oh, and one more thing… I’ve found that they’re not as strick with weights at winfly, and I saw people get on the winfly flight last year with over 100 lbs!
4. Atlas is right – bring your hiking boots, and your tennis shoes, and your dress shoes…. Oh, and comfy lounging around shoes. I find that a lot of my weight ends up being in shoes, but I’m glad to have them (back in the real world, I only wear one pair of shoes: chaco sandels in the summer, and a pair of boots in the winter… but I wear a bigger variety on the Ice). There are some nice hikes, and it’s good to have sturdy boots. Also, dress shoes are a must (as well as dress clothes)… At Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner, we all get dressed up, and you’ll be glad to have something nice to wear. I hadn’t worn makeup since I was 13, but started again when I got to the Ice (well, just on special occasions). It’s interesting how dressing up can be so fufilling, when you’re at the end of the earth.
Good luck…. see you October (I don’t get to go winfly this year)
ZondraJuly 19, 2006 at 6:25 am #3150
Atlas and Zondra,
You answered my questions perfectly! I feel so much more relieved now that I feel more sure of how to prepare. Zondra, you must be on my psychic network. I was about to post asking about carry ons and laptops specifically. Thanks for the very helpful advice. If anyone else is going down at winfly and is a first timer feel free to get in touch with me.July 19, 2006 at 6:33 am #3151SciencetechKeymaster
Hey Zondra, long time no see! Hope yer doing well. Hey Atlas, it hasn’t been long enough! Ha. :->
Both A and Z are right. You’ve found a good bunch of people.
2) Storage is good. I’ve stored backpacks, luggage, and scuba gear and have never had any problem.
3) The military post office (APO) that Z talks about is almost next door to the clothing distribution center (CDC) in Christchurch. It’s just like a normal post office except shipping to McMurdo is free and shipping rates back to the states are as if you’re shipping from California. Take advantage of it! They’ll even help you. Boxes and tape are available in the CDC. It may just take a while to arrive… In past years I’ve sent extra clothes, yummy things (non-perishable only), and even complete supplies for making sushi to the Ice. You can use the APO for a couple weeks after you get off the Ice before your privileges run out, after that you have to use the NZ post office — which can be very expensive to ship things back to the USA.
glennJuly 19, 2006 at 7:45 am #3152
Naner Mel —
If you haven’t done so yet, go to this link, and look at the USAP Participant Guide. It will answer 99% of all your questions. They don’t send out a copy to everyone like they used to, but all the info is still available. Just can’t sit on the toilet, and read it at your convenience.
Zondra – I’ll e-mail you about the travel fund stuff.
You’re gonna have a great time, Mel. See you on the ice…or in CHC.
aJuly 19, 2006 at 7:55 am #3153
Melissa, I pop in with a suggestion my wife always gives to the women. Bring lots of “girlie” things. Clothing, shoes, lotions, etc. Nice stuff that will help you feel more like you are at home. Summer is a crazy hectic place and loads of fun, but a lot of the girls like their quiet time as well. Best to plan on feeding that side of yourself.
Z would you agree?
MikeJuly 19, 2006 at 8:01 am #3154
One more thing, Melissa. Mail,(now from the states) anything you can do without for the first month. Mark the box with WINFLY, The larger the box the harder it is to get it in an airplane, so while it costs more to mail many small boxes they tend to get here faster. The best is to use the big TYVEK Priority mail bags. They are flexible and can be squeezed into small areas.
When mailing just be aware that if weather delays flights, science supplies take a priority over mail. Snowy years can see your mail delayed into November or more. It’s disappointing but weather is fact of life down here and impacts everything. If it happens you say oh well and live with it. Still, it would be the very rarest of years to be delayed that much.July 19, 2006 at 10:31 pm #3155ZondraMember
Yup, Mike, I agree, bring girly things… It’s funny, I don’t think of myself as a girly girl (as I mentioned before, I stopped wearing makup after that phase I went through at age 13), yet on the Ice, I find that there are many more times I want to feel girly. It must be some subconcious way of ballancing things out in a slightly off ballance place. I admit, I feel more comfortable in carharts, than a skirt, but after that’s all you see (as all the men & women are wearing them), on a saturday night, when there’s a special party, it’s nice to ballance the carharts out with a skirt, or something nice. I’ve acquired a great collection of nailpolish on the Ice (but don’t own any back in the real world)…. OK, enough, I’m repeating myself now…. Melissa, if you have any questions, or last minute packing questions, as you get ready, feel free to email me at: zzzondee (at) hotmail.com …I don’t know how helpful my webpage would be, but feel free to check it out. Probably all the stuff from my first year would be the most helpful for you. http://www.zondra.org
Atlas – I got your email, thanks. Hello to everyone else. I’ve been following allong here, but just have never been at a very good internet connection, where I feel like making post. Anyway, I’m coming down Mainbody, and am planning on staying for the winter this time. (still just an alternate contract, at this time, so I haven’t fully committed yet).
July 19, 2006 at 10:49 pm #3156
Naner Mel —
You’ll discover at your first Halloween party that there’s alot of guys down there that like to feel all ‘girly’, too. For some reason, though, cross-dressing is an accepted activity – Halloween party, or not.
It’s a very strange place, but we all love it.
After a doing a season, you’ll understand.
aJuly 20, 2006 at 1:11 am #3157
Melissa, I almost forgot. Mail down a nice halloween costume. The halloween party is one of the more fun things your first year. The costumes are elaborate and you will feel more at home if you send one down. Again, mail it now.
MikeJuly 20, 2006 at 1:25 am #3158
Do you still have that spaghetti strap dress you wore last year? Think I could borrow it? And what size pumps do you have?
I won’t be doing the thong thing like you did, though. I think everyone saw WAY too much when you were trying to get up off the floor.
aJuly 20, 2006 at 1:48 am #3159
One more thing for all of you coming down for the first time. If you aren’t already a world traveller, this trip may be an eye opener for you. From your home to Christchurch, it is almost a 24 hour trip. There are a few things I have found that make the trip nicer.
First of all go to Radio Shack and get a pair of noise canceling headphones. I’m not sure how they work, but it is incredible how much quieter the airplane is when you wear them. You don’t have to be listening to music or anything, you just turn on the switch and the noise goes away. I’ve never really been able to watch the airplane movies until I got my headphones. You can hear like you are at home.
Get an MP3 player and load it up with you music. The music on the airplane music channel is seldom what you like. You have 2 routes to go with this. You can buy an IPOD type device that has a large 20gig or more hard drive. These are the most popular because all your music goes on it. It has a slight downfall in that the hard drive requires it to have a rechargeable Li battery built in. When the battery goes dead you need to recharge it. Most of the time no problem, but if you don’t have anywhere to plug it in, then you are out of luck. Some have optional battery packs you can buy, that use plain AA or AAA batteries. The other option is a flash card player. RIO was a popular one, but went out of business. These have a card like your camera. They hold only what the card holds. Typically 1 gig or less. You can buy cards to load up and install, but it’s a pain in a way. The advantage is that they need less power and many can be run on regular batteries. When the battery dies 15 hours into the trip, you put in a new battery. That’s the one I use when traveling. I also use it in the gym 1gig is enough music to last a week of exercise without repeating much.
On the flight, count on your bags not arriving when you do. It’s rare but happens every year to someone. That said, pack a carry on with a change of clothes and toiletry items to hand carry on the plane. I have a backpack with lots of pockets. Rather than put it in the overhead compartments on the plane, I put it under the seat in front of me. I can get into it during the flight for books, mp3 player, snacks etc.
The flight from LA to Aukland is 12+ hours. Ask for an aisle seat. That way you can get up anytime and stretch without climbing across sleeping neighbors. Some people trade in their air miles to upgrade to business or first class. Way nice if you have enough miles. I suffer through the flight and save the miles for other trips.
You will arrive in LA in a big group of people on the ice. Try to stay with someone who has been through the process. LA can be intimidating. If the lines are long and you have a chance of missing your flight, they will let you through the line, but it’s easier if you have a large group to coordinate it. In LA (and then reversed in Aukland) you will arrive in the Domestic terminal from Denver and will have to go to the International terminal for the overseas flight. If you haven’t done that before stick with someone who has and don’t leave their side.
On the plane wear very comfortable clothing. Take off your shoes and get as relaxed as possible. You probably won’t sleep well, but on and off if you sleep 6 hours of the 12 hour flight you will adjust ok in Cheech.
MikeJuly 20, 2006 at 6:21 am #3160
Wow, this is all super helpful! I am so excited to get this going now. I will be sure to bring an extra tube of lipstick for the guys 😉 This is my first time flying international, so Naner Mel will definitly be following someone. I hope other first timers make it to this discussion, it could really make a difference for people who are unsure of what to expect like myself.July 20, 2006 at 9:29 am #3161
Naner Mel —
Since this is your first time down-under, keep watch on the weather in CHC. Remember, it’s winter in the southern hemisphere. Here’s a link for a 10-day forecast, from The Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/NZXX0006?from=36hr_topnav_business
Bring a jacket, and probably something for rain.
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