Packing For Your Holiday

Photo by pinwheel

Photo by pinwheel

Despite fewer bookings last year, many of us live for our holidays, planning them for many months – or even for years. We often have a list of places we want to visit and on a bad day at work, there is little that’s more appealing than heading off to foreign climes, leaving all your troubles behind.

However, when it actually comes down to it, going away can end up being kind of stressful. You have to get everything organised for while you’re away, which often means busier days leading up to the day you leave. You also have to ensure you take everything you need with you when you head to the airport.

Many people find packing for a holiday incredibly stressful, but like anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Frequent travellers can pretty much pack in their sleep and while this might seem annoyingly effortless, they have an internal checklist that keeps them on track. You can learn from this by having an actual checklist.

A checklist is great because it minimises worry. It can also be used from one year to the next. You might not take exactly the same things, but if it’s going to be a similar sort of holiday, last year’s list will serve as an excellent framework on which you can build.

You can break your list down into different sections as well, so it’s easier to manage. First, list the essentials – money, tickets, passport etc. These are the items you cannot afford to leave without. Include obvious things such as your house keys because unfamiliar journeys can give rise to some odd omissions. This is the part of the list you have to get right. Anything else can be bought on your arrival and it can be good to remind yourself of this because it will remove some of the stress. There’s always a plan B.

Next, list toiletries. Most of these should remain the same no matter where you are going, although you might not need insect repellent if you’re going skiing (you will still need sun cream though – the snow reflects an awful lot of light). Next list clothes and shoes, which will be the bulk of what you’re packing and then electrical items and any miscellaneous goods that don’t fit in one of the above categories. Clothes are likely to change from year to year, but this approach will give you a rough idea what you are likely to need.

Finally, invest in some good luggage. Cramming your best clothing into a rucksack won’t do it much good and if you’ve bought hand luggage specifically, you won’t have to worry about it being too big to fit in an overhead locker.

Karen Nugent always used to overestimate what she could get away with in terms of hand luggage but since getting a new bag at she no longer falls into that trap.

What To Do In Bangkok

Public seen on CAT

Public seen on CAT by Prachanart

Contrary to what Hollywood movies might tell you, there’s much more to do in Bangkok than visiting the red light district. It is truly a city of culture, wonderment and some of the best dining in the world that will make for a vacation of a lifetime.

Get Spiritual

Before a night out on the town, it’s best to reflect about your past, present and future with a trip to one of the many Buddhist temples in Bangkok. Known locally as wats, one of the most famous Temples in Bangkok and the entire world is the Grand Palace. Another trek worth taking is to the Wat Kalayanamit to see Thailand’s largest indoor sitting Buddha that is almost 50 feet high.

Shopping In Siam

One of the main tourist destinations in Bangkok is the Siam shopping center. Western currency goes a long way in Bangkok, perhaps none more than at shopping centers where visitors can purchase designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Men also like the various haberdasheries where they can get tailored suits custom fit in only a day or two. Thailand locals appreciate it when visitors dress nicely and nothing says style like a form fitting suit.

See A Muay-Thai Fight

Mixed martial arts is a global phenomenon and Thailand is the birthplace to one of the world’s most popular fighting forms. Fights in Bangkok are unique because they feature a pre-fight dance ritual that honors teachers and a live band performs at the matches.

Attend A Day Festival

With all the spirituality and local tradition represented in Bangkok, there’s hardly a week that goes by when there isn’t some sort of festival in the city. Many popular events pay tribute to the Buddhist religion while others are celebrations of local music and even one strictly for vegetables. Along with festivals are various markets where consumers can find clothes, electronics, jewelery and more at bargain basement prices.


Remember, you’re in Bangkok so now’s the time to enjoy the nightlife and live on the edge. Enjoy a drink high above the sky at a rooftop bar and visit some of the cabarets and exotic dance clubs that have made Bangkok an Internationally renowned treasure.

The staff at Gogo Flowers in Bangkok offer tips on Bangkok on their sites blog.  You can also connect at Google + and also as for advice about flower delivery in Thailand.

Budget Travel: Learning To Vacation With One Bag

Travelling on a budget means cutting costs in every way possible. Now that many airlines are choosing to charge a per bag fee for the luggage you travel with (whether you check it on or carry it one), you should be looking into ways you can trim down on your packing. Here is a budget travel guide to travelling with one bag:

Plan ahead

Before you pack, take ample time to check the weather reports and plan your itinerary. That way, you can go through your travel plans, with the weather in mind, and determine exactly what type of clothing you will need to pack in your baggage. This leaves very little room to over-pack on a “what if?” basis.

Bring the basics

If you are concerned with dressing well on your vacation, then it may be tempting to pack a variety of your most fashionable clothing pieces. However, if you are trying to pack lightly, then you should consider bringing some classic staples that you can mix and match to create different outfits, as opposed to bringing an array of matched outfits. For example, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a blazer, a skirt, and pair of khakis can be combined in countless ways to create a virtual wardrobe of looks out of only five pieces.

Travel size

When it comes to bathroom accoutrements, you can save a lot of space by purchasing travel sized products. Consider travel sized toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving gel, and more when packing for your one-bag trip.

Consider hotel freebies

No matter where you plan on staying, it is highly likely that your accommodations will provide a good number of your travel necessities for free–from hair care products to coffee to an iron. This means that you don’t have to pack them, and you can save that space (and money) when travelling.

Look into laundry

If you plan on vacationing for a while and care about packing lightly, then you should look into your laundry options while travelling. That way you can pack as few clothes as possible and just wash and dry them while you are away. Many hotels offer a laundry service for a fee, or provide on-site Laundromats for their patrons. If your accommodations don’t offer a laundry solution, look for a near-by Laundromat.

As you can see, there are some very basic steps you can take to pack as little as possible the next time you travel. Want to fit everything into just one bag? These suggestions can help you do just that.

About the Author: Ailene Boyken loves to travel and encourages anyone who wants to learn to travel on a budget to start now. You can save money, see the world, and experience new cultures for very little if you plan carefully!

Tips For Using Your Smartphone When You’re On Vacation

Tips For Using Your Smartphone When You're On Vacation

Chinese New Year Smartphone by Mr. T in DC

Today’s travelers who go abroad can pack a multitude of useful tools into their smartphones. Here are tips for using your smartphone when you’re on vacation.

Getting Started

The smartphone’s maps, apps, and GPS abilities mean travelers no longer have to contend with confusing paper maps. You can plan your day’s destinations and head straight to them, even if you don’t speak the local language. However, a language or translating app such as Fodor’s Travel Phrases can make communicating your needs much simpler.

Travel Guides Made Mobile

Travel guides are another popular travel tool for the smartphone. You can purchase e-books for your favorite region or city or select among different travel guide apps. Lonely Planet has a selection of apps and e-books for iPhone and Android that you can read on your smartphone.

Tourist attractions and restaurant recommendations are easier to find with a smartphone. Quiz your fellow travelers on Facebook or Twitter or seek out Yelp for dining options abroad. Don’t forget to check the hours of operation for the places you’re visiting in case your visit coincides with a local holiday.

You can enlist your smartphone to check flight times or find public transportation information if you need to travel by rail or bus. A currency converter app is a must have, also.

When you travel with a group, you’ll want a way to keep track of everyone. Put your day’s itinerary on your calendar app and share it with your group. Collect their contact information in case anyone becomes separated from the group. If someone wants to split up for a day, check the map app for a good place to meet again later.

Your Travel Channel

Your smartphone can also act as a journal of your experiences. Use a note app to list your day’s exploits and enhance your travel diary with pictures and videos. Later, you’ll be able to share your pictures with friends and family or you can use a service to print pictures or postcards. Upload your favorite travel videos to YouTube or other sites as well.

Another way to broaden your travel experience with your smartphone is to buy examples of local music to listen to once back home. Update your blog with your dining experiences and musings on your trip, too. If a younger traveler needs a break, a game or video can provide a respite.

Staying in Touch for Less

Before you depart home, check your voice, data, and texting plans. International rates might be higher than you expect. You may find it cheaper to install a texting app or make calls with a service like Skype. Check for free local Wi-Fi at a fast food restaurant or other public location, as hotel rates for Internet access might be costly.

Schedule reminders if you need to check in with work. Account for time differences if you’ve flown to another time zone so you don’t call too early. Emailing colleagues and family is another option for keeping up without disrupting your vacation.

A smartphone can provide a lot of assistance when you’re on vacation. For your next trip, load it up with beneficial apps and enjoy your time off.

Dawn Knight is an avid travel blogger; she played around with many of these tips during her recent trip to Villas del Mar.

Vail Resorts

I do most of my travelling through-out Asia but the Vail Mountain area provides such an excellent mix of summer and winter fun I might just have to put it on my itinerary for my next trip stateside. See below for detail on the resort area.

Via: Expedia

15 golden rules to live by while traveling

fruit stall in Bangkok
Yes travel tips usually do suck but amongst these 15 are a couple I religiously follow whenever I find myself in a new or familiar place.

11. Do what you want to do. Don’t let someone else — or a guide book — decide. If you don’t want to see the Louvre then don’t see it. Do Paris or London or Rome the way you want to do it. I went through Cairo and didn’t see the pyramids. And while this isn’t a great example, seeing as I’ve regretted that egg-headed decision every day since it occurred — I can live with it. It makes it my trip and my memories and my damn stupid decision.

Those snake farms in Bangkok are boring as hell. I head to the local art galleries, followed by a meal an out-of-the-guide-book restaurant, and after a long walk through the alleys and side streets have a massage at reputable place that caters to the locals. This pattern is repeated in many places I visited. I almost blew a trip to Paris by trying visit every single art gallery the guide books suggested — drove my wife crazy. The most fun we had was a simple evening walk enroute to a wonderful restaurant.

13. Buy your own fruit. It sounds simple. It is simple. Just do it. You’ll love it. And I don’t mean, if there happens to be a fruit stand outside your hotel door you should buy some, because you need to have 9 servings a day. What I mean is, find fruit and buy it. Make it a daily task that you’re going to track down a fruit stand, a farmers’ market (they’re not just in San Francisco) and get some good fresh fruit. The entire process will expose you to elements of daily life you would have otherwise ignored. Trust me: You’ll have memories from your trips to buy fresh fruit.

For fun, dietary and budget reasons I always head to the nearest grocery store or equivalent. As all grocery stores have more or less become homogenized, local markets are your best bet if you are looking for not just fresh food but a unique insight into the culture you are visiting.
More: Thrilling and Amazing Travel Tips! Via kottke.

The beauty of small

Less can come in many forms. You can have fewer things, you can do fewer things, you can use fewer things, you can focus on fewer things. But less isn’t just fewer: it can also be smaller. Small is often downplayed in this world of “bigger means better”. But small is beautiful, and often better.

Smaller suitcases (such as a small backpack) are easier to carry around, fit easier in overhead compartments, don’t require you to check luggage and worry about luggage not getting to the right destination, are easier to pack and unpack.

From: mnmlist: the beauty of small. Via Pack light. Go fast.

Things I wish I’d known before I started traveling

Taxi porter in China
Photo by Thomas Tribe
Chris Guillebeau writes for AC360 his short list of tips that he wished he knew before he started his routine of extensive routine of overseas travel. His is an interesting perspective. I listed my favourites with comments below.
7. Hire a taxi outside the airport, not from the guys who approach you inside as you’re walking out.
Even better, walk further outside the airport to where the taxis pull in, and you’ll get a better deal because the driver won’t have to pay the entrance fee.
Never accept a ride from a tout inside the airport. I have and though it worked out ok, it could have gone badly.
8. Never assume that your taxi driver knows where your destination is. Double-check and get him to ask someone before you go if there’s any doubt.
The Hong Kong Airport tourism desk provides a great service in writing down your destination address for the taxi driver and adding waypoints on the map for you. But not every taxi driver reads so it’s best to show the taxi porter and have her/him tell the taxi driver if possible.
18. The concept of personal space means very different things in different countries. You kind of have to get used to that.
I can accept it but I don’t think there will ever be a time when I am comfortable with the lack of personal space. In Taiwan that means not so much the fact that people are always around you, which they are, but that little imaginary protective bubble that people might observe in Canada doesn’t exist here or isn’t observed. That’s one explanation I use in trying to understand why people here always put my safety at risk when they drive.
24. Never make promises you don’t intend to keep. Don’t tell vendors you’ll buy from them tomorrow, don’t offer to help anyone visit your country, don’t say you’ll write to someone later if you won’t really do it, and so on.
I made this mistake and ended up having a vendor waiting outside my hotel the following morning when I said, ‘maybe tomorrow’.
25. Most important: don’t be a colonialist. Be careful about calling people “locals.” Don’t assume that your culture is superior. People are not stupid just because they don’t speak English or think like you do.
28 things I wish I’d known before I started traveling

Traveling with children

I am traveling again today, this time with the kids in tow. Yay! I love traveling with my kids. It’s a short 4 day trip but we have others planned for both July and August. As fun as it is, traveling with my kids is much more work – here are some ideas I found that make it less so.
Tips for Traveling with Preschoolers

The first preparation is packing, and you’ll find that the “wants” and “needs” lists for little kids may actually be only one list. The trick is to consider what’s needed for keeping little ones content and you’ll soon realize that a lot of “wants” like toys and treats, really are “needs” for a long trip. Get lightweight nylon drawstring bags to hold fun stuff for each kid, then pack them in your carry-on luggage. Or, if your kids are four or five, they can have their own small backpacks full of toys, books, etc. or rollerbags they can happily wheel around the airport.

Safety Issues – Cities in Foreign Countries

In Asia, violent crime is much less of a problem than in American cities. In Delhi, you can wander around the city day or night without constant fear of muggings. You might have to lock up your luggage so that things aren’t taken from your hotel room, but you don’t need to worry about someone threatening you with a knife to take your wallet. A big city in Europe is similar to a big American city, keep a sharp eye out and hold onto your valuables.

Ten Tips for Keeping a Toddler Busy on a Plane

This time of year, every parent gets anxious about their travel plans and keeping their young kids occupied on long plane flights. Besides packing a few great travel toys you’ll want to have some airplane activities that won’t break or get lost. Here are our top ten airplane activities for toddlers and preschoolers that won’t increase the size of your luggage!

Its the little things

Despite my flight to Hong Kong later today being just a ‘throw some t-shirts in a bag’ kind of trip, I’ve just spent 40 minutes scrambling around the house looking for that last little item. ‘Losing’ things drives me nuts which put the kibosh on my plans for a relaxing pre-takeoff morning. They need to design thumb-drives with GPS locators.
It’s alway these little innocuous items that always disappear and cause huge delays so to serve as a tip, find those little gadgets the night before even if your trip is an easy one like mine.

Resources and tips for short trips

I’m heading out tomorrow early evening for a day trip to Hong Kong. After leaving my job at the lab, something I haven’t mentioned to anyone other than my wife, I no longer have a work visa for Taiwan so I, like many others before me, am off on a visa run. If all goes well I’ll return with a visa entitling me to an extendable 60 day visa.
My usual method of travel is to simply grab a bag, throw some clothes inside, ensure my id/money is all set and run out the door. For a trip like this I become a planning fanatic –– I have lists all over my desk. My Travel todo and packing list is a good help.
Here are some resources I have compiled for a short trip such as this:
A couple last minute tips for travel
36 Hours in Hong Kong
7 Reasons To Travel With One Bag
Lack of Sleep and Creativity
Avoiding a stomach virus while traveling
Losing your luggage
How to Pack Really Really Light
We Carry Too Much With Us
Some stories related to travelling to Hong Kong:
Buying Bags in Hong Kong
Milan Station Hong Kong
Hong Kong – World’s Best Airport

WiFi Protection for the Frequent Flyer

Some good advice from the Wired Wiki.

Nowadays when we’re on the road, you have very little to worry about when it comes to getting the information you need, corresponding with e-mail or instant messaging or writing up those important spreadsheets. As a nice bonus, if you’re just bored and need to entertain yourself on a ten hour flight somehow, you can just sit back and watch some YouTube videos, since a lot of airlines are now providing cheap in-flight wireless internet. But here’s the thing; wherever you have a new way of transferring information, snoops also have a new way of stealing information and sending bad information. So it stands to reason that this new trend of providing free wireless internet in airports and in flight is also suffering a bit of turbulence in the form of malicious hackers.

Wired: Secure Your Wi-Fi While Traveling

Charging your laptop at the airport


Here’s an excellent tip from magazine Girlawhirl, which suggests when traveling on the road to bring an adapter that can turn one outlet into four. It’s a common problem to see people huddled around the scant few outlets available but if you come prepared and ask politely, problem solved. I have a couple small two prong adaptors in my office which I take with me for this very purpose.


What Foods Can You Carry On The Plane?

I now make it a point to not eat at all. Certainly whatever is on offer at the terminal is unhealthy at best – I can live the rest of my life without yet another fast food burger. On board the aircraft I now request fruit, which though seldom plentiful, keeps me satiated until I reach my destination. For long trips I bring nuts and cheese with requests for some noodles if necessary.
The TSA website states that you can carry on:

  • Beverages brought from home or purchased before reaching the security checkpoint in a 3 oz. or smaller container and in your quart-size, zip-top plastic bag.
  • Canned or jarred goods such as soup, sauces, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and jellies – 3 oz. or smaller
  • Cheese in pressurized containers, Jell-O’s, pudding, whipping cream, yogurt or gel like food substances – 3 oz. or smaller

What Foods Can You Carry On The Plane?

A couple last minute tips for travel

I’m on my way out the door in a few hours for a brief trip to Hong Kong and I thought I might share a couple things I have encountered as I prepare.
1st tip: Don’t assume that that packing cube you have had tucked away in the closet for the past 6 months is going to smell fresh and clean. I have 5 packing cubes and all of them smell like vomit. That’s a smell that I don’t want on my clothes so I am doing some last minute cleaning and freshening of all my bags.
2nd tip: Thoroughly check all those hidden pockets in your luggage of choice. This can be fun if you find money or some memorabelia from your last trip. Not so fun is not checking and having a pocket knife, pills, or some unknown liquid be found by security. Clear out the pockets and remove another reason for security to make your life unpleasant. In checking this morning I found old receipts, melted candy, and a toy truck.
If you are traveling – have a fun and safe trip!
Photo via mayhem.