Thursday, 4 December 2014

Tips for the Traveller

I was recently asked if I have any travel tips to share. I've picked up a few 'En Route' tricks which I'm happy to pass on. Of course things change from one year to another, and my needs may differ from yours, but here goes -

 

  • Travelling light.....um....no!
Minimalist packing is highly overrated.  I know, "don't bring what you don't need" but how do you know beforehand?  I was in Panama a few months ago and needed tablets for motion sickness. You know what's really really hard to find in Panama?  Tablets for motion sickness. It was hard to find anything that I needed when I needed it.  I guess I should have looked for stores before 11:00 PM.  But you get my meaning. I say if you've needed it in the past month, bring it along.   

This doesn't apply if you're going to, say, Paris.  In that case, you should probably just buy it when you get there.  At least that's my excuse.  Medicinal items of course.....also scarves, gloves and anything else that I can justify buying.  And if you happen to need something late at night when the shops are closed, sit and have a glass of wine at the nearest Bistro until opening time. 

  • Keep Snacks with you at all times
Myth - you won't be hungry, the airline is feeding you,
there's plenty of time to have a meal at the airport.
Wrong wrong wrong.  

I admit I'm a picky eater, pickier than most.  Recently I thought I'd be very clever and order the "Fruit Plate Meals".  You know what I got?  Fruit.  Dinner was apples, grapes, and some cantaloupe bits.  Excellent.  Then, snack time!  Apples, grapes and cantaloupe bits. Time for breakfast.  You guessed it.  "Wake up" and have some apples, grapes and more cantaloupe bits (a bit drier by now).  They totally missed the 'Meal' part of the menu.  How about a bun or something to fill me up?  If I hadn't brought some crackers and nuts, I'd have  grabbed that raw meat right off the plate of the guy sitting beside me and swallowed it in one huge gulp.

  • Don't Joke With the Customs Officers
There are a lot of really friendly people working at Customs but there are also many who feel wearing a uniform gives them military-like authority.  Now I wasn't trying to be funny, this was a case of simply not understanding -

"Howdy" he said.  (So glad I got a friendly one)
"Howdy" I replied
"Howdy" he repeated
"How-dee" I answered again speaking a little louder
"NO........  I SAID I.D." he yelled.

So I whipped out my passport.  Well really! Why didn't he say "passport"?  I didn't understand his accent and could have sworn he was just being nice.  It turned out he was nice and laughed along with me but I think that was mostly because other people were laughing too.

It's not always easy to clear Customs and leave the country...
 Keep Your Sense of Humour

You're away from home.  Hopefully, this will be for an adventure and you're out to have a good time so relax because -
  • The person sitting in front of you on the plane is going to put his/her seat back as far as he can.  Even if you can't move your arms and your legs are cramping up, just think.....soon you'll be someplace else, some fabulous place with room for your knees.  And, if there's any justice, the person in front of you will miss their connection.
  • More often than not some idiot checks his bags and doesn't board the plane. This is a big no-no in the airline world so naturally you'll have to wait until they find the luggage and remove it from the plane.  Would be a lot simpler just getting the guy out of the bar, but no one asked me.
  • There's always a baby crying if you're on a night flight.  There's nothing you can do about it - babies cry, so bring some earplugs.  I don't think the flight will take off if the aforementioned child isn't on board.  This doesn't happen when travelling during the day.
  • The pilot will not get clearance to take off for at least a half an hour.  
  • The pilot will not get clearance to land for at least a half an hour.

These are facts of flight.  Accept, ignore, be prepared to be late.

There are loads of travel tips out there, but the most important is relax, have fun, and think of the "getting there" as part of the adventure.