Top Travel Hints

People who travel learn along the way……… and often get asked for a few suggestions!

Well I have certainly been learning over the years and I think I’m a much better traveller than I was in the early days.

So what are these hints?  Some are to do with: Packing! Flying! Accommodation! Getting around and Eating!


The old rule “don’t take too much” is so important.

In the days before you leave, put everything out on a spare bed and don’t pack till the day/night before you leave. This gives you a chance to review what you are taking and then NOT add things when you do pack  – just because you have some space…..resist the temptation to add!

It doesn’t really matter how long you are going for, 3-6 weeks or longer you tend to need the same amount of clothing. I find no matter what the season you need things in 3’s:   1-2 dresses if summer,  3 bottoms, 3 tops , 3 sets underwear,3 scarves ( 2 and a pashmina) 3 pairs shoes and a light jacket or cashmere cardigan or heavier coat for winter. I find it easier to wash as I go  (use hotel shampoo if you don’t take any wash)  so having more clothes is too much. I get favourite outfits and wash and wear them a lot.

It might be different on a cruise but then you have to be clever. Go for a base colour – black /navy and add highlight colours to make it look different. 3 of everything !

In the suitcase I always roll – it really does stop creases. I also pack underwear in large ziplock bags . Always makes it easy to find in the case and also good for dirty clothes. I pack my shoes in the socks you get from the airlines One for each shoe. keeps them from touching the clothes. Into the shoes  – if there is space,  I put vitamin bottles or travel electrical plugs. anything small

Aim for no more than 14kilo in weight.Then you can manage your bag easily.


When booking try and get your seats sorted early. Everyone will have their own way of choosing their “best ” seat but a few little tips include:

In a row of 3, if there are 2 of you, book an aisle and a window and hope no one chooses to put themselves in the middle…. If it’s not a full flight it will be left. If someone turns up then one of you will offer to swap and give them an aisle or window. They’ll love you!

Pay extra for extra leg room in bulk head but avoid bulkhead with cots! Go onto seat guru and look at the seating suggestions.

Don’t take too much on board. I only  take only  1 bag  on board. Not a handbag AND a carry on. It’s too much to carry or wheel through a big airport. I use a Longchamp medium size bag and take: passport holder, small wallet  – not my usual big one, phone, ipad with books and podcasts loaded, small bag of essential toiletries  – small deodorant, nose drops, eye drops, sample sized face cream, lipstick, a few pantyliners ( yes girls they keep your undies fresh) pawpaw cream,toothbrush (though they give them out on board) earplugs,  – spare set underwear, and light change of clothes ( leggings and long top: or light dress if going to summer (and these one one of the sets of 3 clothes!)  and always a wrap. Try not to lug around magazines, bottles of creams all too heavy.


Hopefully you get the right accommodation. Check out the blog post ” How to pick the perfect accommodation”. Use the search button to help you find it.

Getting Around:

Make use of your phone. You can either get a new travel sim for your own phone OR buy a cheap preloaded phone when you get there OR check out where you are going first and see if there is a company offering phones for rental when you arrive. There is a good one in Paris called Insidr Paris . Comes loaded with helpful apps like maps and Uber, links to museums etc

Make use of the buses and trains and buy tickets in bulk to save time lining up.

Walk as much as you can. It’s the best way of getting to know a place – even in strange cities. Take walking tours. They are usually run by interesting people and don’t cost a lot – some are free.

Use maps on your phone  when walking. Load where you are going when you have wifi and then  follow on your phone. I also use my ipad . It’s better than the tom-tom.  On the ipad –  you are the blinking blue spot,  so you can tell where you are!!!!

Very good for the person without the map reading gene!

Use trip advisor forums to investigate how to get to and from the airport. There is always someone with a great suggestion.


We always make copies of important documents and then email them to ourselves. Passport details, insurance forms, bank numbers, itinerary, bookings, plane flight details. This works in the case of theft or missing luggage.


We all love food – but it costs so much you have to be smart. Avoid tourist places . They may have enticing menus but are generally boring and have way too many frittes, fries, chips what ever you call them in foreign  lands. Once or twice but after that no more frittes. Go local. Follow locals! They know where all the good food is served. Ask the local shop keeper, apartment owner, barman, little old lady. People are friendly and will give great suggestions.




Not long till the next Swim Trek

To get you in the mood I have included this to tell you how I got into swimming!

Life is going swimmingly!

“You do realise this swim trek is a swift swim?”

That sentence leapt from the email. What have I done I asked myself?

My husband, a keen swimmer was wanting to go on a swim trek holiday. Some people choose walking holidays , some choose to cycle (activities I enjoy)  but my husband wanted to swim! “I don’t swim” I said. “You’ll love it!” replied my husband!

I did think it sounded great,  puttering around on a boat in the blue waters of Sardinia, enjoying the scenery whilst my husband swam.  Then I found out I couldn’t go on the boat unless I was a swimmer! I’d be left at the hotel on a small island all day by myself.

So I decided to take up swimming.


To start with, I couldn’t swim the length of a 50 metre pool, so I quickly switched to a 25 metre pool and took a few lessons. I’d recently retired so had time to get to the pool each day and swim. Slowly. Up and down.

I was slow. So I added fins. I persisted. I started to enjoy it.

I counted down the days till we left. I checked the website describing the swims we would be doing – 2-3km a day. Each day. Every day for 6 days!

Then we had to email our swim times over 1km. Proudly I entered 32 mins. I was quite chuffed that I could even swim a kilometre. Then that email arrived. A Swift Swim. As opposed to their usual leisurely slow swims – let’s enjoy the scenery type swim. I was the slowest by far.  Longer distances for more experienced swimmers.

I replied quickly saying I would wear fins , would improve daily, and know when to get out of the water. They agreed. I’m not sure if I was pleased or not.

We arrived on the beautiful island of La Maddalena  and I felt physically ill during the orientation chat,  when meeting our fellow swimmers  and telling “our swim story”. I was the least experienced swimmer, and despite my husband’s constant encouragement started to wonder about my stupidity at joining the swim.

On the first day I hyperventilated during the orientation 300 metre swim. It was only our beautiful, caring, encouraging guide, Italian Francesco, my fellow swimmers and my husband who kept encouraging me that I did some of the afternoon swim.



Then slowly and surely I got in to swim a little after the other swimmers had started. About 3 km after! Then on day two I swam about 2 1/2 km. The next day I jumped in earlier and sure enough covered about 3 1/2 km. And each day it increased and as it did so did my confidence and my enjoyment. The swims were challenging, safe, but most of all fun. The waters were clear and beautiful and I would hate to have missed out.

At the end of the week’s fantastic farewell dinner I was presented with Francesco’s ‘Capo Bianco’ for the most improved swimmer. What an honour! The friends we made on that first trek have remained friends and we have swum together several times, included a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar – from Spain to Morocco. No I didn’t do that!

Who would have guessed that 3 years later with 2 more swim treks to Sardinia and gorgeous Greece I would become a very keen swimmer. I’ve joined a local squad and though still not very fast and still sometimes using fins, I actually love swimming.

July 2nd we start our week-long swim trek in Montenegro. I’ll keep you posted on my swim journey. I’ll be sending in a post to this blog. Read along as I swim!


Who said you were too old to take up a new sport?