Travel Like A Pro.
What to pack.
With clothing, the lighter you travel the better. With less to unpack and repack (and less to wash). Take mix and match clothing appropriate for the destination. A cheap waterproof scrunch up jacket (parker in a pocket) is great for those unexpected wet, cold or windy conditions, and takes up very little room.
1 x universal multi power adaptor (as every country has a different power wall socket)
1 x power board with at least 4 sockets for the power plugs you usually use at home.
(With these two items you will be able to keep all your stuff charged at once, from just one overseas wall socket)
Don’t forget all the charging leads for your stuff like your phone, laptop, toothbrush, shaver, iPods, stereo player etc.
An inflatable neck pillow for long haul economy travel. (Tip. turn the pillow around so it becomes a chin pillow) This chin support and a good set of noise cancelling stereo headphones will aid your comfort and sleep.
I have found that including a refillable water bottle saves time and money, along with a set of food tongs for cooking is handy, as I use this item daily, and nowhere in the world seems to have discovered their universal benefit yet. A few sticking plasters, and a pen and paper will also come in handy. A few snap lock bags in various sizes are great for keeping snacks or to put wet clothing in, and can also can be filled with water and frozen to use as ice packs to keep things cold on your daily treks and sightseeing tours.
If you plan to do the sights then a good pair of comfortable walking shoes will make your day exploring out seem much better, as having blisters will spoil your sightseeing adventures for days.
Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat for the warmer weather, (or a merino t shirt and hat for cooler.)
A bar of “Wonder soap” for that emergency hand wash and clothing spot removal is good, and if you drink tea then take enough tea bags, as they weigh nothing, and believe me nowhere in the world has tea that tastes as good as home.
As all the airlines are getting tougher on baggage weight I have also invested in some portable electronic scales (like those fish weighing things but electronic and more accurate). These mean you can redistribute items of luggage between your bags, so you never get caught at check in with overweight bags, Do this BEFORE you get to the airport and are told to repack, or get that huge extra charge for the overweight luggage. (I also include a soft scrunch up cotton tote bag for shopping trips, or last minute carry on baggage.)
Use hard shell expandable suitcases to avoid damage, and ones with four rotating wheels means you can spin the case on a dime and manoeuvre it effortlessly in tight spaces. The suitcase should also have a USA approved combination lock which gives you more security and the customs people gain access without damaging your stuff. Identify your case from all the rest with a coloured ribbon or security strap, and put a photocopy of your passport inside.
The Power of the Smart Phone
The young ones know the benefits of the smart phone, so now is the time to embrace a little technology to make your life easier and a lot less stressful on your jaunt through foreign countries.
With a phone that is Wi-Fi enabled you will be able to do emails and make phone calls to friends and family, as well as find your lost partner when they wander off. (For security, do ensure your phone requires a password to use it). One with built in FM radio means you can keep up with local news.
Nearly all Hotels, Motels, Cafés and Restaurants have free Wi-Fi, so just log on and use apps like WhatsApp and Skype to call people near or far with no calling charges. (Yes, for FREE anywhere in the world). You can also use “Google maps” or “Waze” to plan your next journey or find your way around a city. Use “Trip adviser” or “Booking.com” to find the best tours or deals for cafés, restaurants or accommodation near you.
Other Apps like “S Translator”, “Babbel” or “Google Translate” can instantly translate most languages into text or speech. Just type in a word or phrase, ( or speak into the phones microphone) and instantly translate the speech back to your own language, or in reverse into theirs. Great for menu meals and travel directions. (Or just point the phone camera at the foreign words and it is instantly translated to your preferred language.) This is all available and to cleaver for words but so easy after initial use.
If you are a Vodafone customer they have a reciprocal agreement with most countries that allow you to use your NZ phone number and data plan in those countries (with no extra charges apart from a $7.00 a day roaming charge). This is very convenient as you use the phone as you would at home, with only the daily charge and no surprise bills when you return home. This also means you can use your phones “Hotspot” facility to provide free Wifi to your laptop or your friends device (if you want to share). It also means you can access Google maps at anytime if you are lost and need directions. Texting and Emails are also supported, to and from anywhere in the world. It is so easy to keep in touch with no per minute charges.
A cheap rechargeable power pack for an on the go recharge of your phone will come in handy too when you are out and away from your charging station or wall socket. (No more dead phones when you need it most).
Cash is still king while travelling, so get the best rate and convert an appropriate amount to the currencies you will use while travelling before you leave. Do not keep it all in one place, but divide it between pockets, purses and compartments for safety. Try not to use a wallet as they are often bulky and a target for thieves. Credit cards are convenient but carry unexpected conversion, ATM and exchange rate charges, so use these only for emergencies if you can, then there will be no surprises when you get home.
Try to avoid wearing gold jewellery (chains and bracelets etc) while out eating or sightseeing as they mark you as a target for thieves and that can really spoil a good holiday. Avoid wallets, and do not use purses or hand bags that don’t zip closed. Take two credit cards and cash in separate pockets (front is best).
Take a photo on your phone of your passport and drivers licence for ID in case you lose one of them.
On The Plane.
Get there early and don’t forget your Passport and electronic ticket.
If you dress nicely you have a better chance of receiving a free upgrade (although this is still slim these days with the frequent flyer systems).
Join the airlines frequent flyer program you are travelling on before you fly and receive points toward another flight, or a free upgrade on your next trip. These points can be added to by the clever use of credit card reward programs so you can gain free reward flights without flying. (Contact me for the best programs at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ask for a seat in an exit row to gain that all important legroom (paying a little extra for these seats is often worth it, especially for those longer flights) and avoid seating either side of the toilets as they can be a busy and noisy place, and constantly disturbing your journey. Try to organise a window and an aisle seat for couples and you have a better chance of not getting someone seated between you which gives you that extra space for the journey.
Use a good retractable long handled carry on bag (so you don’t trip over or kick it constantly while wheeling it) for your essential stuff. Pack electronic devices and charge leads along with a change of clothing and a good book or games and colouring books etc for the kids.
Remember only 100mls per item of liquids are allowed in carry on bags. So pack all other items in the stowed luggage.
If you plan to make a lot of stops on your journey then might I suggest joining “Priority Pass” which for a fee of around $40.00 per passenger per visit allows you and your travel buddys access to airport lounges throughout the world, giving you a quiet space to doze in comfortable lounge chairs. With toilet and shower facilities also available if you want, before indulging in free refreshments and a light meal at no extra cost before your next flight departs.
If you have planned ahead then you will have downloaded a couple of movies, an audio book, some games or music to your phone, laptop or iPad before heading to the airport, so you have something to do while waiting between flights, or on the plane. A good set of noise cancelling stereo headphones will enhance your listening pleasure and cancel out the noise of the plane engines as well, giving you a quiet and less interrupted sleep.
In Business Class.
Check the airline promotions as some have deals that include chauffeur drive cars to and from the airport at every stop, and as they are free within a 100km range (Aprox). This can save a bundle on transport costs. They will take you from your home, and they also collect you from the arrivals point, avoiding the need to queue for taxis or shuttles, and take you to your accommodation and back to the airport for your next flight. If you travel through Dubai then in most cases overnight accommodation in a plush hotel is also free! (including transport to and from).
Shorter lines to check in, and priority boarding are just some of the pleasures of Business class so once through customs head to the free airline lounge where you will be greeted warmly and asked to relax in the comfort of a large soft chair where you can unwind and start your journey with a refreshing drink and a light meal of your choice at no extra cost.
Have a shower, refresh and have a sleep until you are called to your plane, ready for departure. Then straight on to the plane before all the other passengers. It is so nice to turn left instead of right when boarding and settling into those soft large comfortable seats.
At this time you will be offered a glass of fruit juice or champagne with a snack to help you acclimatise to the extra space and comfort of “Business”.
Top class meals and drinks are available at your request and if you wish to stretch your legs a little and socialise there is often an on board bar on some aircraft, with more drinks (tea, coffee, juice and alcoholic drinks with snacks available, all inclusive. Power plugs and USB ports for charging your devices are provided at your seat.
The TV is personal and much larger for watching movies (of which there hundreds to choose from), There are a variety of soft drinks, water and snacks available in your personal mini bar, and when it is time to rest on long haul flights a nice attendant will make up your lay flat bed so you are comfortable and wake refreshed.
First off the plane to collect your luggage is also a bonus, and your bags always come off first allowing you to be first in line at customs to enter your country of destination, and another chauffeur may await you to take you to your home, hotel, or family accommodation. (Check with your airline)
It costs more, but with no jet lag to get over, it gives you two more days of jetlag free fun and exploring enjoyment at your destination after a long haul flight, And to be fair, your relaxing holiday or business trip started at the airport lounge in your country of departure, so keep an eye out for specials and keep accruing those airpoints to achieve that much deserved upgrade (for FREE).
If you are lucky enough, or rich enough, (or spoilt), then First is a real experience.
True First class gives you even more leg room, a cosy personal cabin on some planes with all facilities, exquisite meals, cooked to order, and the very best in Champagne and drinks varieties, with the personal service you may never experience again.
You may have access to a separate bar area on some planes, with supplies of food and drinks at your request, and a shower in a bathroom larger than most at home, is available on some airlines.
I have never paid for First class travel as firstly and honestly I could not afford it, and secondly at double the price of Business class I do not see the value (but some do I guess).
I have however upgraded free on my collected air points to see and feel the difference, but for me two Business class travel flights for the price of one First Class works better and is much better value.
First class airport lounges are less busy and the facilities less crowded as there are less passengers in this top tier class. Showers and facilities for resting or sleep are slightly better also.
With some travel times approaching a day in the air I say the journey should be as comfortable as possible. I tend to try to arrive in the shortest amount of time to destination as I find every stopover is another day wasted,with waiting around airports and getting through airport check in and security. This may not be of too much concern if you have the time to spend a few days enjoying many stopovers in your round trip adventure.
Each to their own. Happy flying!
A few tips on Canal boating,
Take gloves for the rope work required in the locks. I have found that attaching the rear rope first naturally brings the boat in closer to the bank, and releasing it last helps with departure from the locks without hitting the sides.
Take it slow when manoeuvring as the boat takes a few seconds to react, these boats are not like a car. Use small corrections a few seconds before required, and you will cruise easily. I feel it takes a day or so to get to grips with canal boating, but it really is a pleasure once mastered. Do not be tempted to leave the umbrella up while moving as it is likely to fly away in that unexpected gust of wind, and believe me they never fit under bridges while up.
Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen as someone has to stand out all day driving the boat. Will it be you?
Do a grocery shop the morning of your departure for the essentials. This should provide you with a good breakfast, lunchtime snacks and drinkies at the end of the day. There are very few shops actually along the canal and any supplies are a good walk or cycle away. Don’t forget your scrunch up bag or back pack for carrying stuff back as plastic bags are not always available and cut into your hands on the walk back. Nominate a Captain, Chef and deck hands early to save arguments later on.
Avoiding queues at tourist destinations are best achieved by pre booking online.
Some of the lines to popular tourist attractions can be a 4 (yes four hour) wait.