Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Before you leave...

Make a list: sounds silly to some I'm sure but every time you think of something that you may need to pack in your luggage or take in your cabin bag write it down in a dedicated notebook. You'd be surprised how the smallest but most important item can be overlooked.

Buy a Good Book: I know airport newsagents provide plenty of options but do you end up buying a 'compromise' book? Pop into your favourite local book seller and buy before you fly that way you know you'll enjoy the journey.

Guide Book: I'm manic when it comes to researching each new destination. There's a plethora of great guides on the market but for me the DK series is the best. Each guide provides an excellent historical and cultural overview of the country you're going to visit, detailed street-by-street guides, photos to tease you, practical travel information...and the list goes on. And they're an easy read, easy to navigate.

Book light: The overhead cabin light isn't very strong and can strain your eyes. Take your trusty book light with you. It also will be a blessing when you're snug in your hotel bed, your partner is fast asleep yet blissful slumber evades you. Buy the book light from a reputable bookstore (Borders is great) - don't rely on a budget buy from a Dollar Store - it's bound to give up the ghost within a day or two. Once you're accustomed to the luxury of a mid-dawn read you'll go crazy without it.

Sturdy Umbrella: When travelling in winter a sturdy fold-up umbrella is a must. I was told by several frequent flyers to pack a fold-up umbrella. Did I listen? Did I act on their sage advice? No. His Lordship (my partner) suggested it was best to wait until we needed one. Silly move. Consider the exchange rates - for us it's the Aussie Dollar vs the Euro. We could have bought a top quality umbrella before our travels, instead we bought two in Venice. They were light-weight and 5 Euros each. The 'el cheapos' turned themselves inside on many occasions and were unable to withstand the journey. They lasted for two weeks!

Laptop: If you are speedy on the computer then your laptop will be a prized possession when travelling. It's more efficient than scribbling a mass of ineligible words in your travel diary...just make sure your parter, not you, is the 'laptop lugger'!

Skype: This is when the laptop is truly a godsend. We keep our kids in the loop by Skyping them on a regular basis, we emailed our friends with updates via Hotmail, and logged on to get general information about the place were at. Be careful about hotel charges for internet access - some are daylight robbers. You buy 'time' so it depends on how long you are staying at that hotel. If you're there for a few days then you'll probably find it beneficial but if you're watching your budget then keep an eye our for a MacDonald's outlet. We've been told you can take your laptop there, order a coffee and log on with the compliments of this global giant and a wireless network.

Hotel Images on the Net: Do not rely on internet sites to give you an accurate representation of your accommodation. They'll always put the best photos of their rooms on the site - naturally. Although there are some real gems out there in hotel land, follow the general rule of thumb: You get what you pay for.

Little Cuppa Kettle: I have friends who take a little portable kettle with them so that they can make a cuppa at night before hitting the sack. Personally I think that's a waste of suitcase space. And when you're travelling you'll be surprised how many places you'll find open in the early hours of the morning putting out freshly baked pastries and whipping up piping hot cups of espresso for the masses on their way to work. But if you are fanatic about your cuppa then by all means pack one.

Travel gear: A lot of people choose to wear jeans on plane trips but if you're like many of us who end up with bloated tummies from sitting down for long periods then I suggest you look for something that doesn't cut into your waistline. www.wysebodywear.com.au has a great new collection each season and the clothing is travel friendly. Check out their Basics range - it's a winner.

DVT Compression stockings: I was recently asked by a future hapless traveller whether or not she should wear compression stockings. I've travelled many times without them but on my most recent overseas jaunt I wore them and found them to be beneficial when it came to popping my boots back on...my feet weren't swollen. I suppose it's a small price to pay - a form of 'insurance' against DVT.

Laundromats: Don't worry about hotels which may not have laundry facilities. If you're travelling in winter it's amazing how quickly your long-sleeved t-shirts take to dry in those warm, toasty rooms. In summer, the dry clime will ensure your everyday clothing will be dry in no time. We always do a wash a night and count of wearing it two days later...just to be on the safe side. I have used plenty of Laundromats in my time and they're all the same as they are here in Oz. We always stay in hotels which are three-star and because of their location there's usually a laundromat in walking distance. Embrace the experience - it's part of the fun.

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