January, 2012

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28th Jan 2012

Disney Luggage

In my last post I mentioned that I had ordered some luggage online. It turns out that I think I got a really good deal.

I have a number of requirements for my Disney luggage, the first is that it must be lightweight. I only get a 23kg allowance per bag and I really don’t want to lose 4 or 5 kilos to a heavy bag. This meant that it had to be soft sided – requirement number 1.

Requirement 2 was that it had to pull along on wheels. I tried a bag with no wheels when I went away with my family at Christmas and it was totally impractical. Especially if I am going to take 2 bags it would just be impossible.Requirement 3 was that it had to be large enough to fit my stuff but not too large that I could not manage to manoeuvre it on my own – also, as far as possible, I would rather not arrive at Disney looking like a refugee!

I imagined these requirements would be easy to manage but apparently not! As I said in my last post, I tried the EastPak shop in the west end who did not have what I was looking for but suggested I look online.When I got home I spent some time measuring how big a bag I think I need and looking what was available. I came across the EastPak warehouse bag (the one in the picture) which seemed just the trick. A quick google told me Amazon had it on special offer at less than £40 – but only in a slightly sickly looking brown colour – I am not really someone who takes style too seriously so I was more than happy to get a half price bag in a slightly dodgy colour.

I got an even better surprise when I went to pay and discovered that I got an extra 10% off clothes (which these bags qualify as?!) so the whole lot came to less than £70 – a bargain if I say so myself. I ordered 2 since the price seemed too good to be true (plus there were free returns anyway!) and they arrived a few days later. They might not be the most pretty but I think they will do the job just fine.

My Luggage Recommendations

After my last post I got a few questions asking about my recommendations for luggage. The biggest question seems to be one bag or two – I would  say most people can manage with one bag for an ICP but I think I will probably be going with two for the CRP but as ever I will keep you informed. The most important thing is that whatever you take you can manage to move it on your own, at Orlando airport you have to get your bags all the way from Baggage reclaim to a shuttle or taxi and when you arrive at housing you may have to get it up two flights of stairs without a lift (or anyone to help) – my recommendation is something on wheels. The other consideration is that you will have to store it for months in your room – the easiest way is under your bed which means a soft bag is best as it collapses nice and small – hard luggage is a little more difficult. I think my latest purchase manages all of these.

In other news

My visa documents arrived on Thursday and I have booked an embassy appointment and started completing the forms. More details in a future post including the usual brand of Dan@Disney advice.

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21st Jan 2012

Shopping Lists and Shopping Trips

60 days has come and flown by and I decided it was time to start seriously thinking about things I needed to buy before I leave. I should point out I am terrible with shopping – I literally loathe walking around shops, so this is really not my thing but it must be done. I am sure the next 8 weeks will be packed full of shopping trips and I am then returning to the Outlet capital of the Western world so I guess I had better get used to it. This week – Luggage and a Cash Card


Top of the list was luggage, I do not have a nice lightweight bag (or two) which will let me take the largest amount of stuff while taking up the least of my weight allowance. My list of needs is a bag of which is lightweight, has a solid handle to pull it along and is made of soft material so that it will collapse nice and small to live under my bed for a year.

I initially went to look in the January sales but while there were lots of nice, cheap bags they were all very heavy and did not meet my, admittedly slightly ridiculously specific, requirements. I did however learn that Eastpak make a really nice range of soft bags so I decided to make a trip to the Eastpak shop assuming that they would have a nice range to choose from – turns out they have a very limited selection. Cue a return home to browse the internet and try to guess the right size of bag from photographs, one has now been ordered so I will let you know how it works out.

Cash Card

The other thing I sorted this weekend was a card to spend my UK savings in the USA. As I said in my last post I was planning to get a FairFX card which I thought was a great deal – it still is, but if you live in London I (or more correctly Amelia Rosenthal) have found an even better one. Metro Bank offer a current account with a debit card that allows free international transactions including ATMs. It offers an amazing interest rate that beats several of the places where you can exchange cash. The only downside is that it can only be opened at their branch which meant a trip across London.

After a few initial problems, details of which I will omit here, I got to their Borehamwood branch more than a little sceptical about the whole thing. I sat down with one of their advisors and asked all of my pressing questions – What rates would I get charged? Is it really free to use cash machines? Is it only a certain type of ATM? Did I need to transfer my account to Metro Bank to qualify?

I got better answers than I expected – yes, it is free anywhere in the world at almost any cash machine. The rate at the moment is 1.54 which is absolutely amazing (FairFX is 1.50) and it will always follow the Mastercard rate which is as good, if not better, than the cash rate. My biggest worry was that I would be forced to move away from my current bank, but that was not the case, they were more than happy for me to set up an account and keep my current one as well – although they did offer me £20 to switch – maybe I will consider it in the future.

So how do I manage to get totally free use of my UK money when I am in the USA? It is really easy – all I have to do is do a transfer from my bank account to my Metro Bank account – totally free and as long as it is less than £1000 (more than likely unless I win the lottery anytime soon) it is there within 2 hours or less. I can also leave something in the Metro Bank account just to be on the safe side. Then all I have to do is use my Metro Bank card at a US store or ATM and I can instantly access my money at a great exchange rate and with no charges. It is a bit complicated but I worked out it could save quite a bit of money in the long-term so I reckon it is worth it.

I would recommend Metro Bank to any future Disney ICPs or CRPs. Currently they only have branches in London but I think they are planning to open more in the near future so keep an eye out.

In Other News

Kristen from Yummy Jobs sent out a list of all of the March and April CRPs from the UK and Canada along with their email addresses – turns out that our March 20th Facebook Group was only missing two people – I sent them an email so hopefully they will get in touch before we go.

I have recently answered a few questions sent in via the contact form about Insurance and Mobile Phones. If you have any questions of your own feel free to send one in and I will do my best to answer them as best I can or point you to the right people to ask – just drop me a line.

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