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[Travel] Making a Car First Aid Kit

20160419_222832 Having a first aid kit in the car is a legal requirement for some European countries and it’s just a good idea in general. You can purchase pre-made kits (and we have a cheap one of those too just so we can fulfil the legal requirements) in Halfords that will comply with the applicable laws, but I have kept a personal first aid kit in the car since 2010 with things that we specifically need or use. Also, some countries have a weird rule that the first aid kit needs to be sealed, so this was just easier for us. And having it has come in handy on multiple occasions! I decided to get our current kit out of the car in preparation for our road trip to Austria to check the expiration dates and give it an update before we go again. No surprise, a lot of it had expired as it was put together in 2010! So now it’s updated, and here’s a video about putting together a first aid kit:

The nice thing about making your own first aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one is you can create it around your needs and your likes/dislikes. If you have products you like better than other for first aid, if there’s a pain relief product you like better than another (or tummy remedy!), or if there’s a product you know you’ll need based on your own medical needs…it can go in your own personalised first aid kit. The type of box you use doesn’t matter, but it should be sturdy and waterproof. Alternatively, you could keep everything in a zippered bag (and it would probably squish better). I took a cardboard box we had waiting for the recycle bin and I covered it with clear contact paper. You also could use clear packing tape if you don’t have any contact paper and I added a red cross to the front to make it easily recognisable as a first aid kit. We also always keep it under the front passenger seat so it’s always in the same location and can easily be grabbed or we can tell someone else exactly where it is.

The total cost for putting this together was probably around £20. I bought all the value range first aid items from shops like Tesco, Wilkinson’s, and Asda…and they work. You don’t NEED fancy brands for first aid. Or if you’re really attached to having a certain brand, you always have the option of buying those. Probably the priciest item was the 4head stick!

When I first went to make the kit, I solicited advice from my friends who are first aiders, EMTs, and nurses on what they felt were important things to have on hand in a first aid kit, so this list is medical professionals approved!

Our first aid kit contents in no particular order:

-Box of plasters/band-aids
-Blister plasters
-strapping tape
-micro-porous tape
-gauze pads
-elastic band
-paracetamol
-ibuprofen
-diarrhoea medication
-soap box for above medicine to keep it dry
-gaviscon
-antiseptic wipes
-antiseptic ointment
-sudocream
-medical scissors
-tweezers
-antibacterial gel
-rubber gloves
-burn ointment
-spray on plaster
-4head headache gel
-duct tape (I fold over a piece several times to have a small bit, not a whole roll!)
-nit comb
-sanitary towel

And don’t forget to check with Halfords or the RAC or AA what other requirements are needed in each European country you will be driving through, as they can vary. You also should sign up for temporary European breakdown coverage (we got the highest level of coverage that not only will bring your car back to the UK for you, but give you a rental car to finish out your holiday and provide a way to get you back home at the end. Pricey, but worth the peace of mind) as well as additional coverage through your car insurance. For example, our insurance only automatically covers a few days abroad, and adding coverage for the three weeks only cost £42. Also make sure you have signed up for your EHIC card as well before you go (this is subject to change depending on the terms of Brexit). If you are not a UK or EU resident, make sure you get travel insurance before you go, because you never know! We have a multi trip world plan that costs us around £100/yr, but you can get single trip plans for as low as £8. You can read more about other requirements for driving abroad in my previous post from 2011.

I also always try to carry a mini first aid kit in my backpack when we aren’t in the car just with a few plasters and some antiseptic wipes to clean and cover a cut until you get back to the car.

Obviously, this first aid kit isn’t going to fix all medical problems that arise, but it should cover enough basics until you can get somewhere else to get proper medical attention. And I think the Halford’s ones even include a thermal blanket, but you also could pick one up at the pound shop if you wanted to include one of those for emergencies too.

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This post has not been endorsed by any of the products mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Travel Products [Techish Stuff] Review

I thought I would write up a post about some of the travel products I’ve bought in the past year. All of the links lead to Amazon (and are Amazon Affiliate links). All of the photos have come from Amazon as well. Amazon is my current go-to for pretty much everything I can’t buy in town because I am an Amazon Prime member and get free one-day shipping. Despite all the issues I sometimes have with the delivery drivers, I still prefer Amazon over eBay.

ButterFox Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organiser / Carry Case – The Butterfox organiser is one of those packing cube like products that works. When Tim and I travel together I’m able to fit nearly all of our cables for two DSLRs, my laptop (including external mouse), 2 phones, 2 tablets, and 2 kindles. This bag has two small inner pockets so I tucked in a few USB sticks and a card reader. When we travelled internationally, I also was able to include a double plug converter for the camera chargers and laptops. This bag also is great at home for keeping the camera chargers locatable. Much easier to see the mesh bag in a basket of chargers than finding the individual cords, and much easier when you’re travelling to not have lots of cords tangled all over the bottom of your bag. I WISH I had had a bag like this when my mom and I went to Ireland in 2009. We had a connecting flight in Paris (sadly, no chance to see Paris) and I had my backpack filled with stuff. For whatever reason, at CDG you have to go back through security to get a connecting flight and the lady on security did not like my bag full of tangled cords and actually made me empty my entire rucksack for her so she could see everything because “cords”. Literally, the only reason she gave me for wanting me to empty my bag. She also confiscated my awesome EMS caribeaner that I still haven’t been able to replace, but that’s another story. So, bag to organise your cords is a good idea. If you don’t want to go with a bag, maybe you want one of these:

dodocool Universal Grid-it Organization System – Tim and I both have grid-its we bought before our trip to the US in 2013. These were my first attempts at cord organising, and I like them a lot, but the only problem is they can get quite bulky if you have a lot of boxy plugs. The grid is good for flat items though, so it would be a great organiser for USB cables and other flat things. I’ve also seen people use these for more than electronics – you could use one of these for your make-up when you travel instead of a make up bag, you could use one to organize your pens/pencils and other stationary bits, or just to keep track of all the little odd things you take with you that don’t really have a home….and ok, that’s all I can really think of. Again though, these are great at home for securing all those odd cords and things you have no idea where to put because every item comes with a separate USB cable, but you only really use one cable for everything….or you have a video camera that comes with an AWKWARD cable that when you lose it you wind up not being able to empty it for a year. Yeah, that happened. We didn’t take these on our recent trips, but I still think they’re good.

Damai Portable Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer – Another organising case for electronics. I picked this up because it said “fits ipad” and my Samsung is the 8″ version, so I assumed it would fit. It does not, and this case is not big enough for a standard ipad. Maybe the mini would have fit? But it is a great case because it zips shut so unlike the grid-it, nothing ever falls out. And it has loads of little pockets and elastic bands so it holds loads. It also has lots of slots that are credit card sized, so you can use it to empty out your purse of all the unnecessary store loyalty cards if you’ve forgotten before you go, or use it to keep track of attraction tickets. I used this to keep things like USB sticks, extra headphones, my ipod (which is now lost! :'( ), and extra memory cards for the cameras. This wasn’t useful on our short trip to Austria because of space (I took the Butterfox case), but I took this to the US for three weeks to try to keep things organized. This worked, but it also suffered the same problem as the grid it because once you cram it full, you risk it being bulky.
Probably my favourite product, and one we use all over our home is this:

Multi Port USB Mains Charger – 4 Ports USB Charger with UK, EU, US & AU Plugs – These are great! One plug, four USB ports. Like a USB hub but for the outlet. Tim and I each use one upstairs on our bedsides to charge phones, tablets, and kindles without taking up multiple plugs and we keep one downstairs in the living room for charging Tim’s work phone, my fitbit, an emergency phone or tablet charge if one of us starts beeping low battery before bed, etc. They’re also great for hotel rooms where they usually only have one or two plugs for the whole room and you have loads of devices to charge! It also comes with interchangeable plugs for the entire world, so no matter where you are travelling, you will have a charger without needing to pack loads of those little converters, assuming everything you have can charge via USB.

Travel Adapter USA 3 Pin Earthed Extension Lead 2 UK Socket This is a USA plug, but here’s the one for Europe: Travel Adapter EUROPE Multi Extension Lead 2 Pin Earthed Plug 2 UK Sockets. Having two plugs on a short extension instead of a bulky plug at the wall is so much easier! Especially if access is limited because plugs are behind furniture or high up on the wall and there isn’t space for a bulky plug. 2 sockets instead of one because this way you can charge your camera and use your laptop at the same time, or you can charge two cameras, or both you and your husband/partner can use your laptops. I also have a UK 4-plug with a US plug on the end that lives at my mom’s house since when we visit her it’s for a long visit and we will usually want to be charging cameras AND using both laptops at the same time. And since my 4-port plug has a UK plug for it, I sometimes don’t bother switching it to a US plug and plug it in to the extension.

SAMAR® Extendable Integrated Selfie Handheld Stick – Yep. A selfie stick. Because Tim and I travel alone and we usually get loads of pictures of me some place or him som eplace, but very few of the two of us together. So a selfie stick was purchased in the Amazon day deals for £2. We really used it for the first time when we were in Austria, and we have tons of pictures of us together! And if you have short arms, it’s also good for yourself if you travel alone. The trick to not being “that guy” is to just take out the stick when you want your photo, extend it, get it all set up (mine has bluetooth and then you press a button on the stick to take the picture), go to where you want your photo (set it up while you’re waiting in a queue if it’s a place with a queue!), use it, then walk away to put the stick away. People will like you better.

There’s also things I don’t have that I’d love to have, like a really good portable USB charger. Tim has one of these, but I only have what I like to call “lipstick chargers” and they’re only good for maybe 75% of a charge and only good once before you need to recharge it, but the one that Tim has can be used multiple times to a full 100% and can even do two devices at once. So much easier than carrying around the 3-4 portable chargers I was carrying around in Austria.

I feel like I’ve really rambled on about travel tech stuff and haven’t talked at all about anything else, but this post is getting pretty long, so I’ll do a second post on other things.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Renting a Holiday Apartment

FugenBalconyOn our recent trip to Austria, we thought it would be a great idea to rent apartments instead of hotels so we could do a bit of self-catering to help cut costs. The last time we were in Austria, we were camping with our tent (and car) and had breakfast and dinner at our campsite, so shopping in Austrian grocery stores wasn’t a foreign concept (haha!).

When you are choosing to rent a holiday apartment, you have two options. You can either rent a private home through a site like airbnb or you can rent an apartment in a managed property, similar to a hotel through booking sites like booking.com (what I use)*. I also leave a tab open with TripAdvisor to check reviews of the apartments I’m looking at and a tab with google maps for checking the area the apartments are in for finding out how close they are to public transportation, shops, restaurants, and attractions. I’ve never used airbnb, but I have friends who have used it while travelling abroad, and they’ve had very good experiences. Airbnb also seems like they are on the ball with their customer service if you have any problems. Likewise, booking.com has excellent customer service. I have had good luck with booking.com, but also some less-than-perfect luck. Booking.com suggests not booking properties with a rating below 7, as their ratings are generated based on users reviews. So if you don’t mind renting someone’s private apartment, you might want to have tabs open for both to compare apartments. I also kept open a tab with google translate in case I needed to look up German words I wasn’t familiar with.

Firstly, you need to decide on your location and price range. Booking.com lets you search by towns as well as regions, so I put in “Zillertal” and then ticked the box for £0-£55/night which led me to several choices, including Apart Heim, the place we stayed. I wound up looking at around a half dozen places before making my decision, and one of our “musts” was being close to public transportation as we would be using the Zillertalbahn to get around and would not have a car. We also needed to be close to a grocery store, due to the aforementioned lack of a car. I used Google Maps to look at where the apartment was and zoomed in until I could see the icons. When I saw a shop icon, I googled to find out what the shop was and discovered MPREIS was the name of a grocery store.

Another thing to consider is what amenities you need. It was only my husband and I travelling, so we knew we could stay in either a studio apartment or a one-bedroom. When we travel next Summer with my mom, we will be looking at one-bedroom with a sofabed in the living room as well as two-bedroom apartments. Our only other requirement was that we wanted to have our own private bathroom (not usually a problem with apartments, but many hotels have shared bathrooms). I also looked at what was available in the kitchen and we picked an apartment that had a stove (hob), refrigerator, sink, microwave, and kettle. Our first apartment didn’t have an oven, but the second location did. We weren’t bothered by things like wifi or television since we knew we wouldn’t watch TV and we had our phones for internet. Our apartment provided dish soap, a sponge, and potholders in the kitchen. You also can assume that apartment rentals will include basic dishes and cooking equipment, though if you need anything specific you probably should pack it. Our apartments also included towels and linens, but some apartments do not or charge extra, so check the notes on the listing.

Most apartments also charge a flat cleaning fee between €25-50 no matter the length of your stay. You’ll want to make sure you factor this fee in when you’re picking an apartment as it won’t be part of your total for accommodation and many places will ask you to pay the cleaning fee separately in cash on arrival. Some apartments also charge a security deposit, so again, make sure you read all the information listed on the booking site.

Unlike a hotel, front desks at apartment rentals aren’t open 24 hours a day, so you will need to check and make sure you can arrive at the hotel while the desk is open or are able to ring the landlords when you arrive. This was another mistake I made with our second booking.

Even though you paid a cleaning fee, some apartments require their tenants to take out (and sort) the rubbish, strip beds, or sweep the floors. Most places will come with a set of rules, and it’s important you read over these. Google translate can help translate a picture of text. This is particularly important in case there are additional fees for breaking any of the rules!

Have fun and happy planning!

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*But I did make a mistake and wound up booking a private apartment through booking.com….more details in another post on that apartment.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Packing for Autumn in Austria

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Whenever I plan a trip, I immediately start making pakcking lists. Things I know I’ll need, things I might need, and things I need to buy. If I’ve already made my itinerary, I try to match up my outfits to what I’m doing. So for example, if I have a trip to a beach planned, I know that autumatically means a bathing suit and sunblock need to go on my packing list. I also check to see if we will have access to a washing machine (this time, we wouldn’t) and plan appropriately. If there is no washing machine, I think about what clothing we have that could be sink washed and we plan on wearing one shirt for two days, and trousers or skirts for 3-4 days. I also bring Febreeze along on all trips in a small spray bottle to help keep clothing refreshed.

I also immediately start scouring the internet for suggested packing lists for the area I’m visiting to get ideas….and the one blank spot in many websites and travel blogs seem to be visiting Austria in the Autumn. Plenty of packing lists for going in the Winter, plenty of packing lists specific to visiting Vienna, too….but nothing for visiting in the Autumn.

I checked the long-range weather forecasts and saw that the weather was predicted to be chilly and slightly damp, with not many warm days. This immediately indicated to me that I needed to think in terms of layers. Things that could easily be taken on or off (either in public or by visiting a toilet), and easily packed into whatever I was carrying for the day, as well as packed into my main luggage.

Before I go any further, let’s go over luggage. My luggage consisted of my LL Bean deluxe Bookbag (I’ve had it since I was 15 and this was its third trip to Austria!), a borrowed cabin sized bag wheeled suitcase, and my camera bag (Tim had an LL Bean bag and a camera bag). We decided to share the single checked bag for on the way to Austria, and I packed a folding ‘weekender’ bag which we decided to pre-pay for to use as a second bag for the trip home (GOOD idea). The weight limit on Ryanair for both checked and carry-on luggage is 15kg per bag, so I didn’t want to use a bigger bag for fear that it would soon get overweight. Ryanair does now allow TWO carryon bags, but one has to fit under the seat in front of you (my canmera bag) and one in the overhead. They also let you carry on a single carrier bag from the duty free shops in addition to your two carry ons.

Ok, so now that we know how much space we’re working with, we need to think about what we’re packing.

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Toiletries for both of us immediately went on the list. I chose to buy pre-packaged travel sized versions of most things because I wouldn’t feel bad tossing them at the end of the trip to save space, but Poundland does a decent fillable set for £1 if you’d rather fill with your own products. I did also need a refillable pump with my armpit wash (prescription), and I filled a very small container with some aftershave for Tim. As you can see, nearly everything we needed fit into those two clear bags. I also had a separate bag that held both our razors and a small make-up bag that had everything non-liquid in it. I decided to put the toiletries in the checked bag, so I had an additional plastic baggie which I put in the things I wanted in my carry on (my liquid medicines, squash, and hand sanitizer). I packed minimal toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, prescription armpit wash, face wash, deodorant, small body spray, toothpaste, face moisturizer, and pimple cream. My non-liquids included vaseline, a Clinique palate (blush, eyeshadow, mascara), a No7 face powder compact, a folding brush, nail clipper, tweezers, travel toothbrushes, and cotton pads. I went on the principle that Austria is not a third world country, and if there was anything we needed we could easily pick it up either at the Boots in the airport or once we were in Austria. Which we did do as I needed muscle rub, a sewing kit, and Tim needed bodywash partway through as I accidentally packed a 50ml bottle for him. Yes. I forgot my sewing kit. DON’T forget one, or if you need one you will be stuck for days wandering into shops using your German dictionary to ask for a sewing kit. Other than needing body wash for Tim, we managed to make 100ml of everything else last until the last day. If I was going for longer than 10 days, I would probably try to either pack extras of everything, pack bigger containers, or plan on purchasing things once I arrived.

Tim’s toiletries were just shampoo, body wash, deodorant, after shave, toothpaste, and shave gel. I also added a bottle of Dr Bronner’s All In One and a spray bottle of Febreeze to his bag.

The other thing I find incredibly useful day-to-day as well as for travelling is a pill container I picked up in Poundland. It folds over itself and one side has four large compartments (originally labelled Morning-Afternoon-Evening-Bed) and six smaller compartments on the other side. It’s supposed to be a weekly pill organizer, but I used Tim’s dymamo labeller and changed the labels on i onlit so I can keep with me paracetamol, ibruprofin, naproxin, pepto, kwells, antihisimine, and a few Metformin.

So now that I’ve waffled on about toiletries….let’s move on to outerwear, including shoes. You might have noticed from my pictures that I mostly wore a pink fleece body warmer (gilet). I deliberately chose this because I like having mobility in my arms and I knew it would fit over multiple layers and even if I purchased a fleece (I almost did, but stopped myself in the end), I knew the gilet would have zipped over that too. I packed the pink one only because I couldn’t find my black one the day before we left, but in the end, the pink matched most of my clothing anyway.

I also packed a black cardigan, black opera length wrist warmers/fingerless gloves, a headband earmuff thing, leg warmers, and a scarf. I always pack a scarf when I travel even in the Summer because it winds up being useful as a blanket or folded up as a pillow. I have loads of scarfs, but for this trip I took the pashmina I bought in a Vienna market in 2010. I bought one of those tube things (Tuk?) that can be worn multiple ways and a bandana as souvenirs. Both those items will be going into my regular travel rotation as I found them both very useful. You might be laughing at the leg warmers, but I wear a lot of skirts/dresses and a cheapie pair from Primark has kept my legs warm on more than one occasion.

Shoe-wise, I only had the hiking boots I wore most of the trip, and a pair of ankle boots. I hardly wore the ankle boots, but they were nice for my one dress-up day (my day in Salzburg) and they fit in the bottom of my rucksack. Because for the first four days we were staying halfway up a mountain, I was quite glad for my hiking boots. They were comfortable, dry, and generally warm. I paired my boots most times with wooly knee socks. Not particularly fashionable, but again, they kept my legs warm and I felt cute in them. Plus because they were wool I was able to wash them in the sink at our apartment and get multiple days use out of them, so I only packed 4 pairs of knee socks. I also packed 4 pairs of ankle socks for wearing with tights or leggings. I packed 3 pairs of cheap (Primark again) weather sensing tights, 3 pairs of footless tights, and one pair of thicker leggings. And while not strictly outerwear, I also had along a pair of bicycle shorts and a pair of knee-length leggings (to prevent chafing and to protect my modesty!). I only wore tights one day and I only needed leggings for two as my knee socks kept my pretty warm, but I always kept a pair in my bag (except for the day I forgot!) in case I needed them. They don’t take up a lot of room, so it wasn’t really a big deal.

I packed in layers on top. Most of my tops were hiking/exercise tops that also claimed to be “quick dry” (They weren’t and only dried because I had a radiator to hang them on!). My favourite top was a new top I picked up at TK Maxx for a tenner (Retail price was £55!) a week before we left. It was a Reebok brand long-sleeved top with built-in thumb holes to make the sleeves into wrist warmers. My other long-sleeved tops were a Nike top I bought on a trip to the US at a deep discount (mint green with shoulder vents), and a cheap Primark pink long-sleeved shirt. I also packed along a M&S short-sleeved work out top, a black primark T-shirt (didn’t wear it), and 2 camisoles (one black, one nude). I also had a pink dress (worn for travel) and a grey and black striped dress. For my bottom half, I only brought along two hiking skirts – a Columbia skirt I’ve had for years, a grey skirt from H&M that has bright pink shorts under it, and a pair of grey lounge pants/pajama pants. I did wish I had packed one more skirt simply because I got tired of the two I had, but it was manageable. I also wished I had added extra camisoles, as they didn’t take up much space. I also packed slipper socks (well, they looked more like booties) because they took up less space than slippers, 11 pairs of knickers, and 3 bras (black, white, nude). I also wished I had packed another bra, but I was able to wash one in the sink.

Tim’s wardrobe consisted of his hiking boots, 2 long-sleeved hiking shirts, 2 polo shirts, 1 short sleeved hiking shirt, 1 t-shirt, zip off trousers, walking trousers, and cargo trousers. He was supposed to also have a rugby top, but I wound up grabbing a dirty one so he wore his work shirt (button down) for travel instead. He also had 10 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of boxers, sleep shorts, and slipper socks. I think Tim probably wished he had an extra shirt or two by the end and possibly pajama trousers instead of shorts. For outerwear, he had a fleece pullover, fleece jacket, hat, fingerless gloves, and a neck warmer. He didn’t wear the neck warmer at all, but made use of the gloves and hat.

We also each had a kag in a bag and I had an umbrella. They weren’t needed, but we don’t travel without them!

As far as electronics go, we both packed our 10 inch laptops (didn’t pull them out for anything other than watching cartoons), DSLR cameras (with lenses), tablets, and mobile phones. We also brought the camcorder (barely used it), my ipod (didn’t use at all), and a tripod (also didn’t use at all). For charging our mobile devices, I picked up 4-port USB plugs that came with 4 changeable plugs for the UK, US, EU, and AU before our trip to the US. These plugs come in handy around the house too as they only need one plug to charge up to 4 devices. We also packed some emergency chargers, which can be picked up for as little as £5 to as much as £30, depending on capacity. I have three small lipstick sized chargers and Tim has a larger one. Since they also need to be charge via USB, having the multi port plugs was a big help. These chargers came in handy as we took lots of pictures on our phones for instant sharing and used our phone for internet access. Since our laptops and camera battery chargers didn’t have EU plugs, we also took along a two-plug converter. Out of all the electronics, we only used my laptop twice (once to watch cartoons and once to look up something that we could have looked up on the tablet), and I don’t think Tim used his laptop at all. We had planned on using the laptops to remove pictures from our cameras and possibly even post them while we were away, but a lack of wifi at most places prevented this and we didn’t take as many pictures as we had thought we would. Would we take the laptops again? Possibly. Only because knowing we had the capability to back up photos and clear off memory cards meant we weren’t afraid to click away, and loading my laptop with some silly cartoons (in English) meant we had a small amount of comic relief to wind down to in the evenings if we wanted it. Plus the laptops are so small they don’t take up much space. Tim’s fit into his camera bag, and mine was in my rucksack. We also had a small electronic luggage scale, which comes in handy for making sure all your bags meet weight requirements!

We took along a railway atlas (because…..train geeks.) and maps of the area as well as a German dictionary and phrasebook. The dictionary came in handier than the phrasebook did as I do speak German, but we occasionally needed to look up either an unfamiliar German word or how to say something specific in German (like sewing kit!). Yes, my phone had Google Translate installed, but that requires having signal and we couldn’t count on that. (I did later discover I could download an offline German dictionary to Google Translate, but I’m not sure how good it is). I also had a small notebook about the size of an airline ticket, though we never needed it. I organized all our tickets and itinerary in an A5 display folder from Paperchase (£2.50). This wasn’t entirely needed, but it gave us an easy place to keep track of train schedules and tickets and a place to pop in brochures we wanted to keep. We also brought along baggies of teabags because we remembered how horrendous Austrian tea was, and knew we would need the pick me up first thing in the morning.

I did not take a handbag along, instead I have a camera bag that functions as a handbag. I used a small Cath Kidston travel wallet for my money, debit card, credit card, and driver’s license. All other cards stayed at home in my regular purse. I used a wristlet from Cath Kidston that I usually used for makeup as my purse and kept my passports, travel wallet, and travel cards all in one place. It also gave me a small purse for the evenings we went out without our cameras. I did wish I had brought along a cross body bag for these evenings though, as my small wristlet wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to take.

We also each had a folding shopping bag and folding rucksacks. I had been wanting to get us folding rucksacks for a while as we tend to take our large bags with us on holiday but then find they are too big to use as a daypack (like a day out at an amusement park), but the cost of some of them (£21 for a Sea to Summit) always put me off. I found some on clearance at trespass for £6 so I picked them up, assuming with the trespass name on it they would be good quality. They were…..ok. Mine seemed to have a factory defect on it with one strap not attached to the bag (hence needing the sewing kit!) and Tim had a strap start to go on his. But I was able to rig them back together with some duct tape (I always carry a little!) and safety pins until I was able to get my hands on a sewing kit.

The only other thing in my bag was a selfie stick (used to take “selvsies” as Tim called them), Bagpuss (I made sure I had room for him, but could have left him at home) and Hamish, the scottish rubber duck. We both had 750ml water bottles attached to a carabeaner on our bags. We took them empty through airport security, then filled them and used one of those Robinsons Squash’d to flavour them.

Looks like a lot, doesn’t it? I started looking on YouTube for packing tutorials and found lots of tips and tricks, but the one that appealed to me the most was an Army Roll/Ranger Roll as demonstrated in this video:

I used this technique on everything except for my knickers (too small and slippery as they were all microfiber) and bras (yeah, there is no way of folding bras. haha!). It WORKED. We really did fit nearly all of our clothing in the two rucksacks, and I think with a couple of better choices (less bulky clothing items) or a better rucksack (on designed for travel/backpacking and not one designed for schoolbooks) we might have been able to manage without the extra suitcase, but we were glad we had it for the trip home as there was plenty of room for lots of chocolate! I also used zipper top bags to compress things further. You can buy space bags for travel, but the zipper top bags work just as well and are easier to replace if they rip.

Things I wish we had packed:

-A sewing kit (mentioned above)
-Extra plastic zipper top bags for snacks OR plastic containers.
-Additional camisoles (also mentioned above)
-Hair elastics
-Dry shampoo
-fleece pullover for myself
-pajama trousers for Tim

Things we didn’t or barely use:

-tripod
-laptops
-black t-shirt
-camcorder
-make-up
-notebook

Everything I wish we had taken are all things that are small enough to add to a bag in the future, and all the things we didn’t use could either be left at home or didn’t take up much space to begin with.

For the return we decided to check an additional bag, and we needed it! Even after abandoning some of the clothing (all Primark buys – socks, my shirt and cardigan, tights, and a few pairs of underwear for each of us), we needed the space for the 3KG of chocolate we purchased! Plus since we had the room, we were able to put some of the heavier books into the checked bag to take some of the pressure off of our shoulders.

I know I wrote a lot, but I hope this helps you plan your packing for your next adventure!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Planning Austria

September 2015 032

Recently, my husband and I returned from a a rather spontaneous trip to Austria. I say spontaneous, because we planned it 2 days after I received my British passport (yes, there will be a post about that) for travel the following month. We originally planned for a long weekend away to one of our favourite places, the Zillertal area of Tirol, but then realised Tim’s week of Autumn leave happened to be right after his long weekend, so a 10-day trip was put into place!

We booked our plane tickets with Ryanair, and I was pleasantly surprised at the cheap fares. However, once we added in checked bags (1 going, 2 coming home) at £15 and paid for our seats (£5 each each way), it soon added up and I was surprised to discover that British Airways actually offers cheap European flights that include both one bag and your seat selection for around the same price once you add in all of Ryanair’s extra fees. So, my suggestion is to shop around on several airlines before making your final selection. Ryanair might wind up being the best or go to the destination you need, but you might find BA or Lufthansa or Austrian Air offered a better price.

We flew into Linz, simply because it was the cheapest Austria option for flying with Ryanair. We needed to actually be closer to Innsbruck, and could have also flown to Munich, but after all the problems being reported with cross border trains in the weeks leading up to our trip, it was a good thing we chose to fly directly into Austria.

Our options to getting over to our first destination included rail, bus, or a car. We might have also been able to book a flight on a smaller, local, airline, but we skipped that option all together. We don’t like travelling by bus for long distances, so we also didn’t bother looking that information up. I did price out a rental car and I found a car for around €10/day. However, as my husband is a former BR staff member, he retained his BR privs and we get 4 48-hour free travel passes on OBB, Austria’s railway, so I began to look up trains.

Remember what I mentioned above about the border issues? Yeah, our train should have been a corridor train that crosses into Germany for about 45 minutes with no stops, but due to Germany deciding to close the borders, this was going to become a nightmare with a 90-minute delay! In the end, Germany decided to allow the corridor trains, so we were fine and in fact, things worked out so well that we managed to snag an earlier direct train to Jenbach without going out of our way to Innsbruck and got to our destination a lot earlier than we thought we would!

For rail schedules, I downloaded an app to my phone called OBB Scotty. For ticket prices and buying, you will need a separate app called OBB Tickets, but the Scotty app will prompt you to download it if you want to buy tickets. Also helpful is the DB app as DB has schedules for all European countries. The nice thing about all of these apps is that they seem to be automatically working in English for me. And if you’re using Chrome to look at websites, Chrome can automatically translate things into English.

Our schedule looked like this:

24 September- TRAVEL Stansted-Linz-Fügen
25 September-Brenner/Brennero (Italy!)
26 September-Achenseebahn/Achensee/Spieljochbahn
27 September-Zillertalbahn Dampfzug
28 September- TRAVEL Fügen-Zell am See
29 September-Salzberg
30 September-Pinzgauerlokalbahn/Krimml Wasserfälle
01 October-Pinzgauerlokalbahn Dampfzug/TRAVEL Zell -Linz
02 October-Pöstlingbergbahn/Linz
03 October-TRAVEL Linz-Stansted-Lincoln

We did have to modify our plans slightly as due to the no trains to Germany thing we had to cancel our plans to visit the Chiemsee, but we replaced it with a quick trip to Italy instead, so not all bad!

We changed locations twice, so we had a 4 night stay in an Apartment in Fügen, 3 nights in an Apartment in Zell am See, and 2 nights in a hotel in Linz. I will detail our stays later, however you can read my reviews of the first and last place on TripAdvisor. On average, we paid €50/night for our accomondation, but both apartments also charged a cleaning fee.

The nice thing about renting apartments is you get to eat on your own schedule, and you generally have a bit more space. The downside is you have to buy all your own food, but more on that in a later post.

Over the next few days/weeks I hope to post about our entire trip, since after all, my blog was originally a travel blog!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Local Emergency Numbers

Now, before anyone panics, NO, I didn’t need to call for Emergency Services.

I texted Tim’s sister earlier today to tell her that the house was warm* and she wrote back with “Is the house on fire? Call 999! LOL” And that got me thinking about emergency numbers while traveling. Now, Tim hadn’t told me that if there was an emergency to dial 999 instead of 911, but I knew the UK emergency number was 999 because I watch a lot of British TV shows. But if I was traveling in another country, I don’t think I’d be able to tell you. In Canada, it’s also 911, so I’ve never had to look up an alternate.

I checked out Wikipedia for emergency numbers, and I found out that dialing 112 in many countries will also lead to emergency services, and that emergency services can be dialed even from a simless/networkless/serviceless mobile phone by dialing 112. Good to know.

The Wiki entry, complete with list of countries and their emergency code by continent can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_telephone_number or if you’d rather look things up alphabetically, you can check here.

Please check before you go on vacation to another country what you would need to dial in case of an emergency.

[*it’s a bit of a mocking point with Tim that his house is always on the cold side…or at least, it used to be until he re-arranged some of the heaters and got an extra space heater]

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Gearing up to Go….

I’m just about ready to embark on my two months trip to Canada. I leave tomorrow morning, bright and early, and I have to take a plane from Philadelphia to Detriot, then Detroit to Winnipeg. Then, I spend the night in a hotel in Winnipeg and take a Via Rail train on Sunday morning up to Dauphin. I was going to take Greyhound, but I found that the train was a little cheaper, got in earlier, and I love trains. Good thing too, with a man being decapitated on a bus headed to Winnipeg!

But anyway. Packing is always fun. Especially when you get to your destination and look at your suitcase and think “the heck did I pack that for?”, which is exactly what happened to me when I went on Ships and Dip III in January. I packed TWO bags to take to my cousin’s house in Orlando, and when I got onto the ship? I alternated between a skirt or a pair of shorts. I didn’t even touch anything else I had packed for the bottom half. I think I got it down pretty well for this trip. Two pairs of pants, a skirt, two pairs of lounge/yoga pants, a few pairs of sleep shorts/boxers, 5 t-shirts and a peasant blouse. Sarah told me not to worry about trying to squeeze in a sweater and told me to raid her closet if I need one. Sarah also passed along a great packing tip, that has saved me from having to pack a second checked bag!

Instead of spending money on those Space Bags – make your own! Sarah told me she and her husband use large Ziplock bags for packing their clothing when they go on long trips. Just put all your clothes into the bags, seal them up with leaving a small opening at the top, and squeeze out all the air! I tried this with a few 2 gallon sized bags I had laying around and I actually have extra room in my suitcase – enough that I can pack two skeins of yarn to start a knitting project up there!

Another thing I did was eliminated packing heavy books to read on the plane or up at their house by getting audio books. Librivox is a service that offers FREE audio book versions of books that are in the public domain. I was able to download several old favourites, as well as the audio book version of Bleak House, so I can keep up with the Burn-Gorman.Com Book Club read-through of it while I’m away. These are mp3 versions of the books, however, so if you want to have them as iPod audio book format (m4b), you will need to convert them. Fortunately, I found a free converter for Windows, and I understand Apple computers come with a converter.

My last task for today before I go to sleep is going to be packing myself a Bento lunch for the plane. One of my favourite blogs to read,Lunch in a Box, has a great post about packing a bento for the airplane, giving you tips on what you can pack and how to pack things to make the most of your space. I plan on taking an Uncrustable and a Bagleful with me.

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