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1. Invest in luggage you can sit on
If you’re planning on seeing a lot of Europe, and you’ll therefore be darting from one famed city to the next - on-board inter-country trains, budget airlines and 40-person coaches - expect long waits and queues; on the platform and at the station etc. You’ll be thankful for a suitcase or backpack that can take your weight, for sitting purposes. Trust us, when it’s 28 degrees, the humidity is peaking 90%, and there’s only one bench to accommodate one-hundred travellers, don’t fight for a place to park your derriere, rest it atop your luggage.
2. Buy a hanging toiletry bag & never look back
If it boasts a hook, it’s a winner in our book. Toiletry bags that can hang behind the door and unravel (without the contents crashing all over the floor) to reveal every bit, bob and bottle that you may require in the bathroom, are a gift from the toiletry gods. Once you experience a European basin, as fine as they are in porcelain enamel, there’s no room for lotions and potions, it’s a balancing act at best. An infuriating one. Take a hanging bag and you’ll never revert to a standard toiletry stash again.
3. Know your long haul flight necessities
For any long haul flight, have an empty two litre water bottle in your hand luggage. A full one will be confiscated before the departure gate, but you can fill an empty one on the other side, where most airports provide water taps. Hydration will make the flight more bearable; you’ll likely sleep easier, your body – from your skin to your organs – will function better and you won’t need to pester the flight attendants every 20 minutes for a thimble-sized beaker of water.
4. And on that note, take these things too
The essential long-haul flight list includes water (as mentioned above), toothbrush and paste, because after 24 hours airborne you’ll want to say hello to the customs officer without knocking them out in the process. Face wash will make you feel good before and after a restless sleep, followed by a night moisturiser for extra hydration and a regular slick of lip balm to ensure the air con doesn’t strip your smackers of lustre. Use Clingwrap to stop jewellery from tangling and pop a cotton pad in your blush or powder compact to prevent breakage while in transit. And just one more – take a pen. On-board immigration cards. Enough said.
5. Go-go gadget
In an age where we all own more digital gizmos than Inspector Gadget, hotel downtime is often spent replenishing dwindling batteries. Take a six plug power-board and you’ll only have to worry about one adapter and one socket. European hotels may be generous with their dust ruffles, but they’re often light on sockets, so if you’re loaded with iPods, pads, Go-Pros, Kindles and more smart phones than clean under-garms, pack a six plug board and you’ll be laughing all the way to the power bank.
6. Stock up on re-sealable Ziploc bags
How terribly motherly of us. But don’t ridicule it just yet, a couple of these beauties will come in more-than-handy while lapping up the sights of Europe. Firstly, European airports are far stricter with the 100ml liquid policy than your average, so much so, if you’re bags don’t seal completely, the contents are overlapping, or the bag’s more than 20cm x 20cm, they may get antsy with you. And then there’s the fickle weather (ie, British rain). If you’re outdoors a lot, you’ll want to pop precious belongings such as your smart phone inside a sealed, waterproof bag. Not laughing anymore are we? See, mothers do know best.
7. Roll, roll roll
If you’ve read it once, you’ve read it a thousand times, but anyone who has travelled more than a handful of times knows this – folding is for amateurs. Rolling your clothes not only maximises the space in your luggage, it also doesn’t crease. Say whaaaat? No, we mean it. No need to ask about the hotel ironing board, you won’t be needing it.
8. Get magnetic
Packing for a cruise? Hold onto your sailor hat, because this tip will blow your mind. Take magnets. Madness you cry! Wait, we have our reasons. Cruise ship doors are metal and magnets will allow you to stick important documents and tickets throughout your journey, or even photographs if you feel like making your cabin a little more home-like. Genius! Why thank you.
9. A needle and thread will serve you well
But rarely for sewing. Holes, rips and tears aside, a sewing kit has all sorts of must-have travel accessories. For example, needles for popping blisters after a long day's walk; Rome might not have been built in a day but it takes at least that to walk it, so heed our advice and get puncturing. Thread for tying things, because things always need tying, and miniature scissors, because you would not believe how much you use them. Thimbles are useful for small shots of spirit, especially when there isn't a shot glass to hand, and the measuring tape works wonders when you need to know if that awesome Eiffel Tower canvas will fit within the alcove. Measure up and call home, sure beats guessing.
And then there’s the pin cushion, for squeezing like a stress ball when fellow travellers get annoying.
10. Take a bum bag/fanny pack/money wallet
No we joke, this isn’t the 90s. Wake up and smell the virtual money.
Pack a credit card and you’ll enjoy low-risk, easy-to-access money on the go. Pick the right one and with a little research, you’ll reap the rewards. Find a card that waivers all foreign transaction fees or includes comprehensive annual travel insurance. The world is your oyster, and it’s all bought with PayWave.
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