Preparation

Buying a Bag

Time is rocketing along and tomorrow marks 11 weeks until we depart for London.

In order to travel you need luggage and for some time we have been debating as to what suitcases we need to take.

These are the two small cases which we bought before our trip to the UK in 2014.  These have served us well for that 6 week trip and again for 6 weeks in 2016 when we went to the USA and Canada.

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Although we are only going for 4 weeks this time we felt that we needed something slightly larger as we will have winter clothes whereas both of the other trips were in the height of summer in the northern hemisphere.

So, today we ordered this bag online and it should arrive early next week.

We will take the new suitcase and the blue one pictured above which is the slightly larger of the existing ones as well as a backpack, small daypack and my camera case as hand luggage.  I will be packing a spare set of clothes for each of us in the backpack as we have learned from our experience of spending 24 hours in Los Angeles at the end of our last trip with no spare clothes.

I think we have pretty well seen the end of winter here so in the next couple of weeks I will make sure all of our winter clothes are washed and set aside ready to pack.

I will not really be taking much extra but the clothes themselves are a bit more bulky.  We will be in the one place for 3 weeks and there are washing and drying facilities.

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Staying Safe

Apart from the occasional pickpocket or bag-snatcher, safety is not necessarily a prime concern when visiting other developed countries with similar values to our own here in Australia.

However, in the light of the events in various parts of Europe and the UK in recent years, and particularly in the past few weeks and months, it would be remiss of us not to seriously consider our safety while travelling.

We are not about ditch our plans and realise that there are risks whenever you step outside the front door no matter where you are.

Nevertheless, I did say to GMan yesterday that I do not think I will be walking across any bridges while we are in London.  Pedestrians on bridges have been targeted twice in a matter of months in the UK capital.  I can only assume that the ‘reasoning’ of the perpetrators is that there is nowhere for the pedestrians to escape.  What an awful thought process!

Even though I would love to attend a Remembrance Day service in November that may be off the agenda as I feel that being anywhere there is a large gathering may be too great a risk.

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We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months but at this stage I do not envisage making any other adjustments to our plans.

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Paris Plans

The title of this blog post seems rather odd since our trip is to the UK and primarily London.  However, GMan managed to convince me that a day trip to Paris would be a good idea.

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We have booked our return tickets on the Eurostar and done a bit of research on how to get around as well as what we might like to see and do.  It will be a long day and I know we will only scratch the surface.  I am hoping to take a stroll through Montmartre, see the Sacre Couer, visit the Musee d’Orsay as well as a river cruise and walking some historic areas of the Left Bank.  There may be time to see other sites but I am determined not to rush madly from one location to another.  I would much rather have time to just enjoy the surroundings.

The other thing we have booked is tickets to a show at Royal Albert Hall.  It is the Classical Spectacular which is staged for about 4 days twice a year – in March and November.  You can watch a preview of it here.  I stumbled upon it when I was researching tours of Royal Albert Hall so decided that tickets in the front row of the first level balcony was far superior to a tour.

It is now just over 5 months until we depart and last weekend we met with the housesitters who will be taking care of the house, garden and most importantly our animals.  That was just about the last piece of the puzzle so I feel as though we are pretty well ready to go.

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Countdown – 7 Months

I realised this week that in 7months we will be in London at the beginning of our next overseas adventure.  In the 2 months since my last post we have organised a couple more things.

We booked our accommodation for the night in Cardiff.  As usual, we aimed to find somewhere that was fairly central.  We opted for a large chain hotel which is within walking distance of the train station were we will arrive from Swansea.  It is close to the city walking tour, the stadium as well as the departure point of the cruises to waterfront.  It will be a brief look around but we are looking forward to visiting Cardiff as it will actually be the only place on the trip which we have not been to previously.  The other places on our itinerary are London, Swansea and Cambridge.

The other thing we did was buy a lightweight down jacket for each of us from Uniqlo.  They squash up and can be rolled into quite a small carry bag,

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While it is not high-end fashion, I hope the jacket will not scream ‘tourist’ as I step outside the door.  I chose a mid-grey as it will co-ordinate with the other clothes I will be packing.  I will do a separate post at a later date about what I will be packing but it is mostly black, grey and red and of course, denim jeans.

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Time to Go

Well, I never did get that next post written and now it is almost time to set off on our next adventure.

We bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and have used it a little at home and am confident that it will be the perfect travelling companion and suitable for blogging.  Other than that we are taking our phones (with music loaded), noise-cancelling headphones, Kindles, power board, USA/Canada power adaptor and the various cables and chargers.

I am looking forward to sharing our journey and hope you will come along for the ride.

This is our luggage that we took to the UK in 2014 and the same pieces will be going this time.

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Packing Small

It is now just 4 weeks until we leave so time to get down to some of the details – packing.

One of the great challenges of travel is deciding what to pack.  Apart from the obvious clothes and footwear there are many other things that people choose to take with them when they travel.

For us it is the following broad categories:

Clothes
Shoes
Toiletries/Medications
Electronics
Eating utensils

We stay in Air BnB accommodation and most provide shampoo, conditioner, soap and shower gel.  I do not take any of these items as I can always buy some as required.  We take a mini tube of toothpaste and toothbrushes as well as my facewash and moisturiser.  I will buy a full-sized tube of toothpaste when we arrive.

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I have decanted the facewash and moisturiser into small containers which I know hold enough to last me for 6 weeks.

GMan will pack deodorant and his razor and I will add my make-up which is the same as what I use here – lipstick, mascara and blush.

In my next post I will discuss the electronics we will be taking, including the new tablet.

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The Countdown Continues

It is now only 8.5 weeks until we depart on our next big adventure.

This is from my previous post – 4 weeks ago.

TO DO

Buy tablet (waiting until 60 days prior to be eligible for GST refund)
Decide on phone SIM
Intercity train travel in Canada – probably not until we are in the country

To be precise, it is only 58 days until we leave so we are now able to buy and be eligible for GST refund so on the weekend we are planning to check out the tablet we want to buy.

GMan ordered the free phone SIM card which is available with our travel insurance.  The SIM card arrived in the mail today.

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We have booked our intercity travel in Canada because when I checked the available times it was obvious that some had already sold out.  We will be catching a train between Quebec and Montreal and again from Ottawa to Toronto, however, we opted for a bus from Montreal to Ottawa as there are more departure time options on the bus.

The final piece in the puzzle is a day trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls.  I had wondered about whether it would be feasible to do it independently using public transport and although it would be possible, I do not think we would gain the best experience.  I am looking at tours which seem to be quite highly rated and include a couple of other attractions as well as the falls in a full-day trip.  We have yet to book a tour but will probably do that in the next few weeks.

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Counting Down in Weeks

It is now less than 13 weeks until we fly from Brisbane to Chicago to begin our next overseas adventure.

As a result of several overseas trips in the last few years, pretty well everything is organised.

DONE

International airfares booked
Domestic airfares booked
All accommodation booked except 1 night in Halifax (Air BnB request currently pending)
Car rental booked
Travel insurance booked
Overnight train Chicago to Boston booked
Tickets to 2 shows booked
Visa waiver requirements completed for USA and Canada

TO DO

Buy tablet (waiting until 60 days prior to be eligible for GST refund)
Decide on phone SIM
Intercity train travel in Canada – probably not until we are in the country

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At the moment my main focus is on finding out as much as I can about the places we want to visit.  I recently bought another book for my Kindle.  This is not a general travel guide but a specific volume about scenic drives in the maritime provinces.  It covers several of the areas we plan to visit so I am enjoying finding more about the things we can see and do.

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Playing with Packing

I have been mulling over the options of clothes to pack for some time.  We will be away for 6 weeks staying in 2 states of the USA and travel through 4 others followed by 5 provinces in Canada.

The daytime temperature range is likely to be from about 18C up to around 35C with overnight temperatures dropping as low as 10C.  We live in a fairly temperate area of Australia so this just about covers the full range of what we experience over a full year.  Therefore, I need to pack what we regard as both summer and winter clothing.

I travel fairly lightly and am looking at pushing the boundaries a bit further this trip so this morning a laid out the basics that I plan to take.

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There are 15 items including the hat, scarf and 2 pairs of shoes.

Here are some of the combinations for the warmer weather.

When it is cooler there are plenty of options, too.

I have not shown the footwear with each outfit but they are white sandals and lightweight red mary janes.

There is also a pair of charcoal grey travel pants which could be swapped for the jeans in any of the photos.

These items will form the core of my travel wardrobe with the addition of a few more pieces.

Most of the combinations I have shown are tried and true outfits that I have already worn and am happy with how they look.

 

 

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Countdown – 5 months

Well, it is now 5 months until we head off to the maritime provinces and cities in the eastern part of Canada via the USA.

Almost all of our accommodation is booked.  We are spending 2 nights in the central part of New Brunswick and have yet to finalise our plans there.  The only other night of which we are somewhat unsure is one that we had earmarked to be on board an overnight ferry from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  We got as far as booking the ferry in October last year only to discover 2 days later that the company had lost the contract and would not be running the service in 2016!

Our fares were refund without any problem but the next issue was how to get from Maine to Nova Scotia.  Apparently the contract has been awarded to another company and everyone is ‘hopeful’ that the service will run in the summer of 2016.  Although we would prefer to catch a ferry we are not prepared to keep hoping until the last minute when the entire itinerary is dependent on that piece of travel.  We have decided on an alternative plan and that is to fly from Boston to Halifax.  This will mean an extra night in Halifax which is no problem but we will just book that closer to the time.

We have decided to allow until mid-March (4 months before we leave) to get some clarification regarding the ferry service but if we cannot get some definite details by then I think we will go ahead and book flights.  We do not want to leave that until the last minute and end up paying premium prices.  We will not be booking any car hire until we are sure where we will be arriving in Nova Scotia – Yarmouth (ferry) or Halifax (plane).

Unlike our trip to the UK in 2014, we do not really have much that we want to purchase before we go.  We have appropriate suitcases and our passports are current.  We are planning to buy a tablet to replace the netbook but will wait until less than 60 days before we travel in order to be able to claim the GST under the Tourist Refund Scheme.  The only other thing that I can can think of is a USA/Canada power adaptor.  I will buy one like the UK one which had a USB port as well.  We can then plug our 2 plug/2 USB powerboard into it which will allow us to use 2 power outlets and 3 USB ports at the same time if necessary.

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