5 things I never leave at home

IMG_5758I am usually the person who has everything in their purse – need contact solution? check. Nailpolish? Check. Tissues? Pens of various colors? Extra 50 hair ties? Check, check and check. I’m the person who goes away for a weekend with a suitcase (bigger than those tiny carry-on little things), a giant purse and possibly a laptop bag (due to the large amount of things I have in my purse, the laptop sometimes doesn’t fit). And if I’m flying on a long haul flight, add a travel pillow and refillable water bottle. But what are the five items it all boils down to that I can’t live without? Important documents aside, here’s what I never leave at home:

  1. iPhone and charger. This goes without saying. I make sure to update my apps to include a dictionary from English to the local language of where I’m going, possibly a tour guide or map. I try to have a lot of things prepared on my phone, just in case. There are also times when I don’t bring my laptop, so iPhone has to do all the work.
  2. Extra battery pack. Especially with my iPhone getting older and it’s battery life decreasing all the time, you never know when you’ll need to recharge and won’t have access to an outlet. I originally bought mine when going to a music festival, but bring it everywhere now.FullSizeRender
  3. A book (or two…or three). Ok, I’m not the best at judging the correct amount of reading material. On beach vacations, I read a book a day. If I’m traveling for the sake of exploring, I barely read. So it depends on what you’re doing, but I always have a few books of different genres with me in physical copies. And the rest I have as e-books, but I don’t like to rely on having a power source to read (also, electronics and beaches, pools, rain, sand etc. don’t mix well).
  4. Fluffy/warm socks. These are an essential for flights. I basically use them as in-flight shoes. I don’t want to wear my shoes for long haul flights, but I also don’t want to walk around the cabin barefoot or annoy my fellow passengers. So I opt for fluffy socks, which keep my feet warm and safe from whatever may be on the airplane floor. Tip: a plastic bag to put them in after use is always a great idea.
  5. Notebook and pens. You never know when inspiration will strike. I also like to jot down notes about interesting events or things we encounter. Everytime I forgot to bring a notebook, I ended up buying one at the airport (or train/bus station) on my way to my destination.

And, as we’ve said many times before, do not, under any circumstances, forget earphones. Personally, I use them only for the plane/train/bus parts of my travels because babies cry, people talk loud and it’s nice to be able to drown that out. Once I hit the ground at my destination, though, I rarely wear them so that I can enjoy the sounds of the place I’m visiting as well.

I hope that my tips helped you and let me know in the comments what you can’t leave for a trip without!


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British Airways and long flights

When I was booking my November flight to San Francisco, I had several options and routes to take. Having been very happy with British Airways in the past, I decided that I’d go for the Prague-London-San Fran route. A quick flight to London and then an eleven-hour flight to my final destination. Yay. I’m no stranger to long flights, so I decided to go for it, remembering the brand new British Airways Airbus that I flew with from Johannesburg a couple years ago.

Pre-Flight

British has a fairly straightforward pre-flight policy. You can get reminder e-mails and text messages, which I definitely went for, as life can get a little hectic so it’s good to have that little reminder 24 hours prior. I got to pick my seat and things were pretty good.

Layover

I had a three hour layover in Heathrow, which is a little bit longer than I would’ve liked, but everything at Heathrow was smooth, I got food (my favorite Pret-a-Porter that I always get whenever I’m in London), coffee (Starbucks, obviously) and had plenty of time to hang out. I didn’t really feel like shopping, so I opted for searching for an outlet to charge my phone and iPad. Now, considering how many signs alerting travellers to the need to have your devices charge, else they may not be allowed on the flight, they do not have enough outlets. I had to wait patiently and then run to one when I saw someone leaving. On the other hand, there’s free wi-fi. So you win some, you lose some.

Boarding and connection information was well displayed and carried out and I was soon happy to be on flight number two.

Flight

Considering the length of the flight, it was rather smooth, with a few bumps along the way, but nothing major. Honestly, the only, but big, let down was that I had always flown on brand new planes when flying with British, so my expectations were set pretty high. And as soon as I got on the plane, I was disappointed. The plane looked older than I am, which had me a little worried, but everything went fine and there were no problems along the way.

Food

The food was not that memorable, but I was pleasantly surprised that even though I was sitting towards the back of the plane, I still got my choice, but there’s really nothing of significance to report here.

In-flight entertainment

Let me just say, I didn’t even know what to pick. There were so many options that I decided to avoid napping altogether and instead just watch movies and tv shows. That’s what flights are for, right? So, the 11 or so hours passed by pretty quickly.

TIP: This tip is for flying in general, check out seatguru.com when selecting your seats, they have helpful info based on your flight! :)

What are your experiences with British? Let us know in the comments :)

 


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Airports: the Best and the Worst

I have been to many, many different airports while traveling. Some are very efficient and easy to get around, and some not so much. Here are some of the airports that I have traveled through and my experiences.

IMG_7318

JFK – Good

Generally I have had good experiences at JFK. It is a huge airport, so sometimes getting from point A to point B can take time, but I think it is pretty efficiently laid out. Of course if it is the first airport you land at when you enter the US, you have to go through customs, before re-checking your luggage and continuing on your journey. They don’t have the most efficient way of doing this at JFK, I had to leave the terminal completely before re-checking my bag, which seemed like a waste of time. Different airports work differently, sometimes there’s a conveyor belt you put your luggage on right after customs and sometimes you have to go to counters and re-check in. Of course, if New York is your final destination, then you don’t have to worry about that.

Paris CDG – Worst

I always have problems at CDG. I always felt like it was a huge, disorganized airport. Switching from one terminal to another usually means having to go through security three times and passport control five. This made me miss my connecting flight at least four times. On top that, they tend to lose my luggage. Three times in a row my suitcase didn’t make it on the same flight as me. Once they had no idea where it went and it probably traveled around half the world, without me (lucky bastard). On top of that, the workers at CDG always seem to be surprised and annoyed at the fact that I don’t speak French. Isn’t CDG an international airport? Shouldn’t they assume I don’t speak French??

Zurich – BEST

I love the Zurich airport! Sure, it’s small and there isn’t much to do, but it’s SMALL and you don’t have to worry about making your connecting flight, because it only takes like 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. And now they even have Starbucks, which is a great addition to the already amazing airport. I never had a problem there (knocks on wood)! Even with a short layover I manage to get to my flight and even get coffee before boarding the flight. Whenever possible, I fly through Zurich because I’m never worried about making it on time.

Munich – OKIMG_7319

The Munich airport has its positives and its negatives. On one hand it’s a little confusing and the signs aren’t all that clear, so I wasn’t too sure of where I was going. On the other hand, though, they have free coffee! And what could possibly be better than free coffee after 10 hours on a plane? It was pretty good coffee too! Other than getting a little lost, I didn’t have any problems. Passport control was a little disorganized and I had to wait for quite some time, but it wasn’t too bad.

Amsterdam – Good

Amsterdam is one of my favorite airports to transfer at. It’s pretty big, but it is manageable and easy to get around. On top of that they have two Starbucks’s (I think you can tell coffee is very important to me :P). Sometimes it can get a little confusing, though, when you are traveling outside of the Schengen. From what I could tell, most of the international flights were directed through passport control and then through an interview process at gate D1. There they would scan your passport and interview you about where you are traveling and why and all the usual questions. Then they would tell you your actual gate number. Then you would go talk to another person, who would also scan your passport, type some things into the computer and then finally let you go to your gate, without telling you what he/she was doing. So, keep that in mind when transferring in Amsterdam.

Frankfurt – OKIMG_6474

Frankfurt Airport is enormous and usually feels like a ghost town, because of how big it is. It is pretty clear where you have to go, so even though it takes you quite a long time to get from one terminal to another, you don’t get lost. Read more about my experiences at the Frankfurt airport here!

 

Hope this is helpful! If you have anything to add, please comment and let us know what you thought about the different airports!

 


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