How to travel on a whim

It's time to take off...

It’s time to take off…

I recently read an article written by Tresa Erikson in a magazine called Woman here in Central Pennsylvania and it really struck a cord with me. Hubby and I regularly hop on our motorbike and take off for the weekend (we don’t have kids) as the state is full of great winding roads through the countryside that end up in quaint little historic towns. Let me share:

When was the last time you jumped into the car and left town with no real sense of where you were headed? It wasn’t that long ago that anyone looking for an adventure would throw some clothes into a bag, toss the bag into the trunk and take off. Ahh, the freedom of the open road. You can have that feeling again. The trick is to do a lot less planning and have a lot more fun.

Jobs, appointments, family activities – the more responsibilities you have, the less likely you can just take off one day on a road trip. You will have to find a time when everyone can go and you will have to pack all the right stuff, but beyond that, what do you do?

You don’t hop online and map out the daily agenda, down to the finest detail. You select a general area to visit, make sure there are places to stay for the night and find a time when everyone can go. Then, you pack for the weather, gas up the car and head out with some cash or credit cards on hand. It’s that simple. You have a general sense of where you are headed, but you don’t exactly know what you are going to do until you get there. You just choose a road and cruise.

You don’t let your odometer or watch dictate your trip. You drive until you see something of interest and then you stop for a visit. It could be a small- town antique mall, an urban art museum or a zip line tour. It could be something you heard about, like a tasty restaurant, roadside attraction or national park. The key is to keep your eyes open and stop as the opportunity arises. Remember, you have no place you have to get to by a certain time, so you are free to enjoy the open road.

Read the entire article here.

Timeless Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags

IMG_1100zip-loc

A Ziploc for every occasion!

As a frequent traveller, I cannot go anywhere without my Ziploc bags. They are perfect for so many uses, they are waterproof, see-through and you can write on them. And they hardly cost a cent!

Travel Bloggers.ca wrote a great article  on them which will certainly give you a few ideas before you pack your bags:

  1. Underwear: It makes it a lot easier when if the customs people decide to open your suitcase and rummage through it – no tell-tale underwear dropping out for all to see! Also great for keeping socks together.
  2. When I’m on a trip I use one to hold all the travel-related ‘stuff’ I pick up like brochures from hotels and attractions.
  3. Souvenir Protector: Pack fragile souvenirs in your suitcase, surrounded by two or three Ziplocs filled with air – or you can use the ones with socks/underwear to help protect the souvenirs too.
  4. Waterproof Billfold: Keep your passport, money, and other precious documents dry by storing them neatly in a sandwich-sized Ziploc. Ever get stuck in a rainstorm with your passport in your pocket? This will keep everything nice and dry.
  5. Jewellery Keeper: Put earrings or other small items into a sandwich-sized Ziploc and slip it into your bathroom bag. It’ll save your more precious items from getting lost.
  6. Electronics: Store all of your electronics, wires, chargers, MP3 players, etc. in a large Ziploc. You can see what’s in it while it’s closed, and it’ll keep your things together in one place so they don’t get lost in the nooks and crannies of your suitcase/bag.
  7. Swimsuit Bag: Put wet swimsuits into a large Ziploc until you get home or back to the hotel – works great for other wet clothes too.
  8. Inspection Bag: We put all of our liquids for our carry-on into one for quick inspection at the airport counter.
  9. Make Up & Liquids: Double-bagging all makeup and liquids such as hair spray, shampoo and conditioner means if there’s ever an explosion or leak it won’t ruin clothes.
  10. Camera Bag: Store your camera in a Ziploc to keep it safe and dry – especially if you’re going to be anywhere near water such as kayaking, boating etc.  It’s easy to remove, take some pictures and return it to safety. If the kayak or boat tips, your camera will be fine if it ends up in the water.
  11. Ice Pack: We travel with a small collapsible cooler for storing bottled water on our trips and just fill a Ziploc with ice every day to keep our drinks cold.
  12. Foreign Currency: Use a Ziploc bag to hold your home currency while travelling, and for storing foreign currency at home between trips.
  13. Wet Wipes: Wet washcloths and add some soapy water to have your own wet wipes on the go. The bag holds the water effortlessly and you can be use the cloth to wipe sticky fingers and lips or clean up a spill.

Read the entire article from Travel Bloggers here.

Timely Travel Tips…

One small bag for man - one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

One small bag for man – one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

Since we are literally heading out the door to do a road trip for July 4th weekend, this post from Unclutterer.com was very timely! I love being able to take off at the drop of a hat and having your bags packed and ready to go is an essential step:

“I absolutely love getting away, be it a day trip or an overseas adventure. As an avid traveler, I’ve picked up a few tricks to eliminate the stress of getting out the door and onto the road in a timely manner. One of my favorites is to keep items in luggage that I never unpack. It’s always ready and saves me a lot of time. Plus, it keeps me from having to store my travel items in other locations when they’re not in use — the luggage is a great place to store my travel gear. The following are items I keep bagged, even when I’m at home.

I keep a travel toiletries bag packed and ready at all times (very important!)

A small bag for on the plane

If you’ll be flying or traveling by bus or train, it’s helpful to pre-pack a small bag of things you might want to keep under the seat in front of you. It might include extra chargers for your electronic devices (many bus and train seats have outlets), copies of prescriptions for active medicines, a little cash (you may want to buy on-board food), and your own empty water bottle.

I recommend buying an extra charger for your phone and keeping it stashed in this bag. Yes, it’s an additional cost but forgetting it at home or worse, at your destination, is a major hassle. Put it in your bag and forget about it.

Also consider bringing your own earphones if you want to watch TV without using airline freebies, a neck pillow and something light to throw over yourself in case it is chilly. Finally, don’t forget ear plugs, gum or an eye mask/sunglasses for sleeping. Again, these can be purchased and packed well ahead of time.

Read the entire article here.

9 Tips to Tackle Your Emails When Travelling

Why won't they stop???

This recent post from Unclutterer is so relevant for me at the moment and I am sure many of my readers will find it interesting too. Here are 9 tips that may help you to stay on top of the plethora of emails that don’t stop when you are travelling:

  1. Tie yourself to a smartphone. If you want to stay on top of email, you have to keep a smartphone on you. Keep the ringer off and the message alerts set to vibrate.
  2. Enable automatic sorting and color coding in your smartphone’s email program. Have a filter that automatically routes all messages out of your inbox and into separate folders where you are copied instead of listed as the main recipient, all newsletters or read-only emails you subscribe to, and all emails from sources you know are not going to be must-respond-now messages. Have your system color code messages from your boss and/or other very important folks so these messages will catch your attention when they come into your main inbox. (If you’re on a Windows-based phone, there are macros and add-ins for Outlook you can install. If you can legally route your work email through Gmail, you can also do this. I was unable to find an app for the iPhone that enables these features.)
  3. Check messages during lulls in your schedule. As you wait in the line at the airport, switch between sessions at a conference, or grab a snack, process your priority emails then.
  4. Only check work email. If someone needs to contact you about an important personal matter, he/she will text or call you. Check your personal email account on weekends or after you get home from traveling.
  5. Only respond to items that can be handled in less than one minute. Delegate as much as possible, delete or archive anything that doesn’t need a response, and only send short messages of less than a paragraph to the priority emails you respond to.
  6. Manage expectations. Have an automated out-of-office message enabled on your account that says you will have limited access to emails and no one should expect a response until you are back in the office (be sure to list that specific date). Provide detailed contact information for someone in the office who may be able to handle emergencies, and give that person in the office your cell number so he/she can call you if there is a major event. Also, let your office contact know when you expect to be on flights and/or completely out of connection.
  7. Manage more expectations. When you reply to someone from your smartphone, have a “Sent from mobile device, please excuse typos and brevity” signature on the bottom of every message. You might also want to consider posting your return date on your out-of-office message as the day after you return so you have a full day to gather your bearings once you’re back in the office. Under promise, over deliver.
  8. Have access to cloud file storage. Not all smartphones allow you to attach documents, so you’ll need to be able to send links to documents stored online with services like Dropbox. If your employer doesn’t allow file posting online and attaching documents to emails is essential to your job, you’ll want to get the smallest, lightest laptop you can because you’re going to have to carry it with you instead of a smartphone.
  9. Work on email every night when you get to your hotel room. It will add to your workday, but taking 30 minutes or an hour every night to process the entirety of all your email inboxes and folders will guarantee you don’t have an avalanche of messages when you get back to your office.

Read more here: http://unclutterer.com/2012/04/03/how-to-manage-email-when-traveling-for-work/

7 tops tips for simple, stress free travel…

Hooray for iron free clothing!

The professional organisers association had our montly meeting this morning and we got onto the topic of travelling and packing tips. Then lo and beyond, here in my inbox is Zen Habits once again with the very same thing: we must certainly be on the same wavelength! I am heading off to Sydney tomorrow and Thailand in a couple of weeks so this blog post certainly appeals to me.

Here are 7 top tips for packing light and travelling easily:

Essential

  1. Pack little. Take a small backpack, and don’t pack it too heavy either: one pair of jeans, 2-3 T-shirts, 2-3 quick-dry underwear,  maybe a light sweater. Wash things in the shower if they get dirty and hang them to dry overnight. Minimal toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush, liquid soap, dental floss, basic makeup. There is no need to check your bag for flights and you can pack in 5 minutes.
  2. Have no agenda. I often ask for recommendations from locals, and get a list of incredible things. I’ll also put everything on a Google Map, so I can see where everything is. Then I toss all that out and let the day lead me where it will. Having no set agenda means you aren’t pressured to get anything done each day, which means you can enjoy yourself fully.
  3. Walk a lot. The best way to explore any place is to walk. Walk all over, with no set directions. Get lost.
  4. Eat lightly. Eat anything you want, but don’t eat a lot. I like to mix fruits and veggies in with the heavier stuff, so I don’t feel so heavy.
  5. Find space to relax. Most people try to do too much, and rush around all day. Stroll casually, find good coffee shops or tea shops to relax in, or a good sidewalk cafe with good wine. Find parks and enjoy them. If it rains, walk in the rain. Read a lot.
  6. Be present. Don’t be on your smartphone or laptop all the time. Don’t always think about what you’ll be doing later, or work stuff. Be fully present, and you’ll have a great time.
  7. Smile at people. Talk to the locals. Ask for recommendations. Find out about their lives.
Read the entire Zen Habits article here: http://zenhabits.net/travel/

5 strategies for surviving the stresses of travel

Gorgeous countryside wherever you look in NZ...

Having just returned from 10 days in New Zealand, I am still on the “travel high” – the high you get when your body still hasn’t adjusted itself back to regular time, when your travel clothes still haven’t been washed and you are busily downloading photos from your camera.

Unfortunately not everyone has such a great time when they travel; there are just so many little things that can go wrong that often do – if you let them!

A recent post by Zen Habits gave me some good insights into how to “go with the flow” and bounce back from any setback that is thrown your way:

From departure lounges all over the world to nice hotels on every continent, I see the same thing no matter where I go: some people are having the time of their lives, and others, well, would rather be at home.

There are probably several reasons for this phenomenon of unhappy tourists, but one of them is that  travel can be overly stressful and unnecessarily complicated. If travel becomes too complicated, you can end up defeating yourself before any external pressures even arrive.

To counter the stress, here are 5 “big-picture” strategies and 8 specific, practical tips you can use to simplify your next big trip. Some of them will help you save time and money – both worthy goals – but all will help you cut out some of the stress.

5 Big-Picture Strategies

Create Your Own Travel Philosophy – Prioritize what’s important to you, and plan your trip according to that. A lot of people have expectations or ideas about travel that they have received from others. I think it’s better to decide for yourself what you value about travel as well as how you like to travel.

As for me, I like to do it all. I go between nice hotels like the one I’m at in Egypt and $10 hostels… or even sleeping on the floor of airports from Dallas to Singapore. Yes, I know it’s crazy, but that’s the point – I travel on my own terms. Why not discover what you enjoy and do that?

Become comfortable with some amounts of stress – I don’t think it’s possible to travel completely stress-free; I’m more interested in finding a low-stress solution. You might be able to avoid any stress at all by escaping reality on a deserted island, but that kind of trip is rarely gratifying in the end. Focus instead on reducing stress by making simple choices.

Goal-Setting and Vacations – It sounds strange to some, but I suspect manyZen Habits readers will “get it” – I recommend setting a few personal goals for every trip, even a vacation. My goals may be as simple as running a few miles every day or writing two pages in my journal every morning, or they may be more detailed like completing a writing project I’ve been working on. If you have daily habits of productivity and goal-setting, you don’t need to completely set them aside just because you’re away from home.

Forgive yourself for mistakes – I’ve been to 94 countries so far in my quest tovisit every country in the world, and I’ve probably made every mistake you can think of. A couple of months ago in between visits to Iraq and Eastern Europe, I even double-booked myself on two completely non-refundable flights home to Seattle. Yes, I assure you – if a travel mistake is possible, I have most likely made it. Along the way, I’ve learned that whenever I do something stupid, I have to let it go at some point.

Travel Zen – Even if you didn’t make the mistake, lots of disruptions and challenges can easily set you back while you’re in a distant land. Here’s where I invoke the Travel Zen mantra: “Life is an adventure.” If I wanted routine, I could have stayed home.

To read more go here: http://zenhabits.net/13-ways-to-simplify-international-travel/

 

 

7 secrets to packing & travelling light

And no waiting for luggage at the carousel!

I am heading to New Zealand next week, firstly for a conference and then I am taking some days to explore the South Island, particularly Milford Sound.

I am so looking forward to it, but now the challenge begins – how can I take two weeks worth of clothes into a cabin bag? (I am flying Jetstar Light and I know they are Nazis when it comes to weight restrictions!)

So I thought I would share with you my tips for packing light:

1. Coordinate your clothes around one or two basic colors (preferably black and white). This cuts down on the number of shoes and accessories you have to bring.

2. Take as few clothes as possible. Plan on laundering.

3. Wear and carry washable silk clothing whenever possible. It is as warm as and as cool as cotton. It dries overnight.

4. A lightweight rain coat can double as a windbreaker or a coat to keep the chill off in fine weather.

5. Take older clothes that can be discarded along the way.  Think how much shopping can fit in the space.

6. Jeans – never take them as they take so long to dry, take lighter weight pants.

7. Two pairs of shoes – walking and a bit dressier. That is it!

 

Seeing the world…one bit at a time

The majestic Milford Sound NZ

Seeing that today is Saturday, I thought my post should be more orientated towards pursuits of pleasure. My number one pleasure is travelling – whether that be just a day trip out around my home city of Brisbane Queensland or heading to the other side of the world to discover Turkey like my husband and I did in 2010. Hint: you MUST go to Turkey.

In February I am “jumping the ditch” to New Zealand, firstly for a Professional Organisers conference in Christchurch, then heading off on my own down south to the beautiful Fiordlands to explore Milford Sound. My husband and I were there last year after he returned from six months in Afghanistan (the contrast between brown Afghanistan and green NZ almost blew his mind) but unfortunately a snow storm hit so we couldn’t get in. As an image of Milford Sound is still on my vision board, it is imperative that I make it back.

This time I shall be on my own, travelling by bus, staying at a backpackers in Queenstown, eating two minute noodles – and I can’t wait!  Now…where are my hiking boots?

Traveling Lightly Through Life

 

‘A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ ~Lao Tzu

Pack all your troubles in your kit bag!

By Francine Jay of Miss Minimalist.

I’m often asked what inspired me to become a minimalist. The answer: I fell in love with traveling lightly.

After over-packing on a few trips—and suffering the misery of lugging around a heavy suitcase—I vowed never to check a bag again. On my first trip to Europe, I opted for a small carry-on instead (replacing my wardrobe of clothes with a packet of laundry detergent).

The experience was exhilarating! I was mobile, flexible, and fancy free. I felt like I could go anywhere, and do anything, when I wasn’t loaded down with stuff. And I thought, wow, if it feels this great to travel lightly, how wonderful would it be to live this way?

I began to edit the contents of my home with the same fervor as I had my suitcase. As I slowly ditched the extra “baggage,” I could feel the weight being lifted from my shoulders.

Lighten your load

Excess possessions are like excess luggage: they can tie us down, get in the way, and drain our sense of energy and adventure. (Have you ever passed up a job offer because of the hassle of moving, or a vacation because there was nobody to “watch the house”?)

Conversely, the less stuff we have to worry about, the more nimble we become—and the better able to embrace new opportunities and experiences.

To regain our freedom, we simply need to lighten our loads. We can accomplish that by borrowing a few packing techniques:

Start with a clean slate. Travelers start with an empty suitcase, and select each item that goes into it. Take a similar approach when decluttering: empty the entire contents of the drawer, closet, or room you’re working on. Then carefully consider each item, and decide whether to return it to the space. Choose what to keep, rather than what to toss.

Question every item. In a small carry-on, every item must pull its weight. Demand the same of your household possessions: have a conversation with your stuff, and ask what value it adds to your life. If the answer is “not much,” give it the heave-ho.

Set limits. To keep his bag light, a traveler might limit his pants to two, his shirts to three, and his socks to four. Use a similar strategy to keep your stuff under control: decide, for example, to own only five sweaters, fifty books, or the amount of craft supplies that’ll fit into one storage box.

Use modules. Take inspiration from packing cubes, and gather like items (cosmetics, office supplies, video games) into separate “modules.” Consolidating your stuff helps you see how much you have, weed out duplicates, and keep a lid on further accumulation.

Think versatility. To save space, light packers favor items that do double- or triple-duty (like clothes that can be dressed up or down, and layered for different climates). Use the same principle in your home: choose versatile or multi-functional items (like a sleeper sofa, or all-purpose saute pan) over single-task ones.

Digitize. Digital music, books, and documents are not only easier to transport—they’re also easier to store. Use technology to transform physical possessions into bits and bytes: scan paperwork, convert CDs to MP3s, and buy electronic books instead of paper ones.

Live on the edge. The light traveler addresses her needs as they arise; if she runs out of toothpaste in Tokyo, she simply buys some more. Adopt a similar philosophy at home: instead of stockpiling stuff or holding on to “just in cases,” acquire things on an as-needed basis.

Continue to read this article here: http://zenhabits.net/light-life/

 

Freedom and Opportunity: The Advantages of Owning Less

A great post from the Small Notebook blog:

A life with less clutter

A couple of years ago someone wrote a comment that has stayed with me ever since:

“Two years ago we had a (vague) possibility of going overseas to study, and one of my first responses was “I can’t pack up all of our stuff and be ready 6 months from now!” That was really a wake-up call to me, and I’ve been trying since then to pare down our Stuff, so that we will be ready for any future opportunity.”

I always remember that. I want to like my stuff, but hold on to it with a loose grip.

I like reading about when people have been adventurous and not let their stuff hold them back. Here are just a couple of the many good stories I’ve heard lately.

Rebecca: Three years ago this week I married the love of my life in the UK, two years ago this week we sold everything in our house bar a few sentimental items and the absolute basics, and moved to a ski town in Canada.

It was a really enlightening and liberating experience to reduce our belongings to a few packing cases stored in my parents’ house and two suitcases, and to start completely afresh.

It was humbling to take the things we didn’t want to the car boot sale (yard sale) and have people knock us down in price. It certainly made me rethink a lot of the purchases we made in the first few years we lived together – all those useless gadgets!!!!!

We have now bought a new house in our new home, and, while we do have a lot of new belongings, they are mostly things that make our lifestyle here what we always dreamed of – several pairs of skis for the differing snow conditions, snowshoes, townie/mountain bikes, and a six-month-old puppy! Not all clutter is bad!!!!

Kezia: I recently took the plunge … sold everything and moved to a different country. My story is a bit more ‘off the grid’ because I moved to Syria! As expected, sometimes it gets tough, but more than anything it’s been freeing, exciting, and a true adventure. I’m documenting my experience at Why So Syria?

Meghan: A year after I graduated from college I was working at a job I hated, so I quit and moved to China to teach English and International Politics at a university. I didn’t speak a word of Chinese and had never been there before, but it was awesome anyway. It totally changed my life.

You know what words come up the most often? freeing, liberating, exhilarating…I think I’m going to go get rid of some more of my stuff.

Read more at http://smallnotebook.org/2010/09/13/freedom-opportunity-owning-less/