travel

Research darling, research!

Swanning around ancient European countries requires a savvy strategy if we are to justify enduring the 24+ hour airline food and movie fest sans sleep marathon don’t you think? Not to mention ensuring a glamorous entrance at our ancient cliff clinging quaintly cobbled village upon arrival. Now if you think getting stuck behind a pig parade is fun, consider trashing your best Louboutin heels par for the course or are still wondering why heavy baggage hefting isn’t yet an Olympian sport, stop reading now. For the rest of us…we need tactics. Big ones. And Google. Just a small amount of research can prevent a big amount of pain. Trust me, been there!

Research darling, research!

You’ve a list of places you’d love to visit while on that fab holiday and you’ve Googled highlights to add to your must see list. Now, seven further items worth the research:

1: Is the hamlet/village/township/city built upon level terrain, clinging cliffside or an ancient fortification perched atop a bloody great mountain?
Two weeks spent toting a heavy suitcase full of endless wardrobe possibilities up and down Italian cliff clinging villages and I was quickly packing excess into boxes homeward bound.

Solution: Pack light! Wanna know how? See: Packing like a sophisticate

2: Is it historic and thus likely paved with cobble stones?
The death knell for those gorgeous heels!

Solution: Thank god ballet flats are considered de rigueur in Europe!

3: Can it be easily accessed if one hasn’t a car?
Damn! Strike those gorgeous little villas in the Tuscan mountains, the lavender fields of Provence and anything else remotely remote off the list.

Solution: Day tours make great substitutes! I took one which started at a winery. Five tastings later and our party had morphed into one hilarious fun fest. For more on that crazy day and a little taste of the Luberon: Wine o’clock somewhere yeah?

4: Are there multiple platform swaps if traveling by train?
Most European trains have steps. The platforms have steps, few  of the smaller train stations have escalators and if there’s a lift, it’s usually broken. Platforms are mostly accessed via subterranean pathways. This means steps my friend. Steps!

Solution: Pack light! Allow plenty of time between connections (Oh! And here’s a story about a time I sat on a set of train steps with a bunch of perfect strangers eating pizza washed down with cheap red wine: You eez on zer wrong train Signora

5: How far is my chosen accommodation from the train/bu20131215-210108s/airport?

Just one baby jumping, phallus whacking,orange throwing, pig celebrating festival street closure and next thing your taxi driver is salivating as both meter and your flight climb heavenward right before your very eyes. (Spain, Greece, Italy, France)

Solution: Research festival and market activity scheduled at the time of your visit. Put Spain on future agenda – baby jumping is a must!

6: How close is the accommodation to the action?
The outskirts may be cheaper but a quick stroll directly through quaint streets into the hamlet heart and soul means a deeper, more culturally enriching experience.

Solution: Negate public transportation costs by choosing digs close to the hub of activity.

7: And if the hotel/villa/apartment isn’t on ground floor, does the building have a lift?
My traveling buddy’s hubby started divorce proceedings in a stairwell somewhere between the 9th and 14th floor of a particularly arduous curvy flight of timber stairs; though it must be said BOTH their bags weighed the equivalent of two dead bodies. The beauty of the actual apartment and a stiff G&T managed to stifle a potential screaming match. Just.

Solution: Need I say? Pack light!

 Logistics sorted? Prepped for a penis whacking? Anxious to avoid a divorce hearing? Keen to pack mega efficiently to make the most of that well earned holiday? You can do it!!

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Packing according to man…

My buddy and I will soon be sipping cocktails at sunset on the other side of the world. This means endless chats about what to pack. You see, my bud packs as if she’s on a one way ticket while I argue the case for whittling my wardrobe into just one Airline authorised carry on. Yep, I wanna pack like a man. Throw open a bag, shove a bundle of fave t’s ‘n jeans in, spare pair of sneakers, top off with a toothbrush, razor, after shave and Bob’s your uncle. That’s packing according to man. Good for them I say. Bastards.

As for we girlies…an outfit for breakfast, another for lunch, and for shopping, and sight seeing, beach, snow, dinner, concert, night club…per day. Every day.

imageI once spent two weeks in Bali surrounded by an explosion of outfit possibilities from which just three items lived on constant rotation. Sticky, yucky, hot, hot, hot. I left trails of sweat in my wake, not to mention the added discomfort of that post Brazilian experience. Errr let’s not go there. Let’s just say the enticing concept of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothing’ was thwarted only by a desire to protect the locals from visual trauma.

Similar situation on the opposite end of the temperature gauge while on a winter sojourn in Europe with late hubby. We lived in just two pairs of jeans, t’shirts on rotation under a woolen knit, a jacket, fur lined leather gloves, weather proof boots and two scarves. Wore the cute dress just once and froze my ass off. Didn’t help when matching one off heels threw me face down in a sleet filled gutter (nothing to do with that slight excess of mulled wine). Must admit, the jeans did make their own way home.

Which brings me to my point…

Pack light…seriously! Whether stumbling up stairs, hobbling across cobbles or streamlining across a smooth terrazzo, it just makes life easier. Period. Are you listening my lovely friend?

Only your travel buddy will know you survived in just two pairs of jeans, mixed it up with a couple of t-shirts and knits, a few fave scarves, a jacket and sweet little ankle boots. A water resistant hooded puffer jacket for inclement weather, or a $5 plastic emergency raincoat which makes for a bloody good laugh, your choice. Only she will know you wore the same little black dress, kitten heels and touch of bling for those glam evenings over and over. And will she care? No…’cos she’s being just as savvy!

Same goes for beach bound breaks. A pretty sarong and swim suit or two by day, a cute singlet cover up to sass the look in time for late afternoon aperitifs; a cotton shift, sandals and bling for lounging around beach side bistros sipping cocktails at sunset while batting lashes at bronzed hunks…oops, am I thinking out loud?

Inspired to pack light for your next holiday? Stay tuned! A few handy hints coming up cos’ for this trip? I’m gonna pack like a man!

Packing like a sophisticate…

Ten tips for packing like a sophisticate..

We girls are often guilty of overpacking, be it a weekend at the coast or six in exotic destinations. Can’t help ourselves, however dragging heavy bags up stairs and across cobbles sans baggage carrier is not fun, hence my last post sharing ideas for getting the most out of a minimum wardrobe selection, essential for packing light.

Now to pack that carefully selected series of outfits into a suitcase with minimum wrinkle, weight or worry. Suggestions brought to you by the trials and tribulations of a woman who will one day have a ‘Jacques‘ doing the work for her. Jacques the butler. He will also provide fabulous massages and stroke my…but I digress…

Some swear by wrapping items in tissue paper to minimize creasing. Tried this once but the tissue quickly became annoying or I became lazy, actually both; for I left a long trail of ratty paper in my wake. Good for giving slippery items grip, not so for patience. “Jacques darling could you…?

Others vouch for the ‘bundle’ method; where items are laid half in the bag, the other half across the inside of the open lid, followed by smaller items to form a ‘barrel’ over which the lid side half is then folded back into the bag. Tidy. Tried that too. Yes the whole lot can be easily lifted out and hung, or items slipped out and the bundle restored to wrinkle freedom as extolled however, just one silken shirt turned my bundle into an ugly explosion. “Jacques! Jacques! Please restore my…?

Have also tried those clever little zippered light weight fabric cubes; one for knits, another for shirts, another for undies, travel power gadgets and so on. My tidy mind adores them but they do leave a lot of empty air in between and around the sides.

My solution? Roll with a tad of fold. Why? (a) makes 100% use of the space (b) is perfect for soft weekender bags or backpacks (c) doesn’t shift when the bag is placed upright and contents drop (d) you can see everything at a glance (e) almost zero creasing if done well and (f) well Jacques’ time is better spent pouring your G&T than pawing your delicates. Which brings me to the point….

How to pack like a sophisticate.

1) Choose the right 20140202-201652.jpgsize bag to ensure contents will pack firmly enough to prevent movement and zips close without effort; then tie a brightly colored tag on for easy carousel spotting

2) Pack rolled socks, undies, scarves and ties inside shoes. Pop shoes in cotton drawstring bags and place at the bottom end of a wheeled bag. Saves space, prevents shoes from soiling clothing while keeping their shape and the weight balances the bag itself when upright

3) Roll jeans, knits and t-shirts and all things crease resistant and place them on the floor of the bag. Jeans at the wheel end next to the shoes, lighter items to the top.

How to roll jeans and long pants:
• lay out flat, lengthways, front side up
• fold front of one leg over front of other leg
• fold the crutch point in to even the width
• roll upwards from cuff to waist taking care to smooth out ridges as you go

How to roll t-shirts and shirts:
• lay out flat and fold sleeves in (long ones in then down, parallel to side seams)
• take outside edge and fold 1/3 in, lengthwise
• take second outside edge and fold this over the first, edge aligned with the fold
• now roll from hem to neckline taking care to smooth ridges as you go

Easily crushable delicate items should be rolled inside their dry cleaner plastic bag to buffer creases, then placed at the top end. (When bag is upright the contents sink and items at wheel end will absorb the crush). Alternatively, like suit jackets, delicate items can be left unfolded and layered on top.

4) Fold suit jackets ‘backwards’ and place on top

How to fold a jacket:
• Holding the jacket with front away from you, turn the shoulder pads back towards you, then fold the suit into the bag so that the inner lining is facing outwards
• Pop a rolled-up t-shirt on the inside corner of the fold to turn the sharp, wrinkle-prone fold into a less wrinkled curve around the shape of the rolled-up t-shirt

5) I like to keep delicate undies and silk scarves together in small soft weight zipper cubes and slip these in around the edges

6) Snake belts around the perimeter

7) Slip power adapters and other technical gadgetry into bags of their own and pack around the perimeter near the shoe end

8) Layer toilet bag at the shoe end, cosmetic bag and jewelry roll around the perimeters

9) What else? Depending on destination:
• A large empty zip lock plastic bag for wet swim suits and dirty laundry
• Small laundry kit for bathroom rinses
• Mini torch for finding your way without lighting up the neighborhood
• Mini good quality WiFi speaker to blue-tooth and share your iPhone/Android music
• Mini manicure set for ripped nails, cutting labels off clothing etc (or Swiss Army knife)
• Mini sewing kit for when you catch that damn hem
• Small selection of medicinals for hangovers, sore eyes, throats etc
• Paperwork for any prescription medication

10) Stash a photocopy of Passport, license and critical documents in a pocket in case carry on bag is stolen.

Easily crushable items are the first you’ll hang at your destination, followed by bathroom dwellers. The rolled goodies below the removed item will be visible and readily accessed direct from the bag.

Minimal unpacking! “Jacques, pour another G&T then come ‘exploring’ with me…?”

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