One of my favourite pastimes is travelling. I have been lucky enough to tour quite extensively throughout my lifetime but there are still lots more places on my bucket list I want to see.
Both my parents were born in cosmopolitan cities in Europe so I was bitten by the travel bug at a very early age. Growing up hearing stories, especially from my Mum about all the countries she’d visited and the experiences she’d shared with her Aunt when she was young; certainly whet my appetite to explore.
No matter whether you’re travelling overseas or around Australia, there are a few ways you can come unstuck and a dream holiday can easily turn into a nightmare.
Travelling can be stressful even before you leave home.
Packing is often the first tension inducer.
I’ve been guilty of over-packing in the past but I learned how to streamline my travel wardrobe when I commuted weekly/fortnightly to Melbourne. I did that for 8½ years to work alongside Bert Newton as his Sydney based reporter on Good Morning Australia.
I adore Melbourne but you can experience all four seasons in the one day with temperatures swinging from freezing to sweltering and back in no time and that taught me how to dress in layers.
Not wanting to wait around at the airport for my luggage to come out of the carousel each time was the catalyst for me to learn to pack wisely and minimally. Now I can pack up to 5 days’ worth in just my carry-on luggage.
- Check on the internet to see what the weather will be like both day and night in the places you’re visiting.
- Dress in layers even if you’re going to colder climates as the indoor temperature is always kept cosy and warm. You’ll only need to rug up when you go outdoors.
- Only pack what you can carry yourself.
- Pick a colour theme, mix and match your tops and bottoms so you get lots of different looks with the least amount of items. All your colour coordinated clothes will then match all your shoes and accessories.
- Save space by putting socks into shoes and then into shoe bags so they don’t dirty your clothes, place them on the bottom of your suitcase along with your toiletries so they don’t crease your clothes.
- Only pack comfortable shoes (3 pairs max.) and try to wear the heaviest pair, which is usually your joggers/walking shoes on the plane to help you stay within your baggage allowance.
- Keep room in your suitcase for all the new things you’ll want to buy when you’re away.
- Best advice I’ve ever been given about packing was to lay out everything you plan to take away with you on the bed beside the suitcase – then halve the amount you actually pack and double your spending money. That’s often much easier said than done!
Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to eliminate thieves and pick pockets especially when you’re in tourist hot spots but we can deter them from making us their target.
On a trip to New York many years ago, when petty crime was very high, (it’s very safe now) my friend and I always carried our shoulder bags with the strap over our head and across our chest and we always wrapped our handbag handles around our chair leg or our own legs in restaurants for extra security.
One night we were seated in a restaurant after the theatre reading the menu when a woman screamed out that her bag had been stolen. She was deep inside the restaurant where the thief had walked past us to get both in and out. We felt very sorry for the woman but relieved we’d been diligent and it wasn’t us.
- Register your travel plans with the Federal Government’s smart traveller website smarttraveller.gov.au that way they know who and where you are if something goes wrong. There is a link on their home page to a 24/7 Consular Emergency Centre.
Even before you decide on your travel destination I suggest you log on and read all their excellent advice and warnings.
- Take out travel insurance
- Don’t wear any expensive jewellery – I only travel with a watch and my medic alert bracelet – jewellery becomes a shiny target for thieves and jewellery can weigh a lot if you’re watching your travel allowance.
My closest friend and I got sick in New York once and I can still hear the raucous laughter coming from the hotel’s receptionist when I rang up asking for a doctor to make a house-call.
We had to go across town to the local hospital for treatment, which not only cost us a fortune but we had to pay first before we could even get into casualty to see a doctor.
Then in 2013, on my last big overseas trip through North and South America, I became sick in Cuba and was advised not to seek medical attention until I arrived in Miami so I know first-hand how very expensive it can be just to see a doctor overseas or to purchase medication…that’s the main reason why I always take out travel insurance.
There are ways to avoid getting sick;
- Don’t drink the local water (including ice in your drinks), only drink bottled or filtered water and in certain countries it’s wise to ask for the bottle to be unopened so you can check the seal.
- Most wise travellers I know carry antibiotics and medication for tummy upsets often called Bali Belly or Montezuma’s Revenge depending on the bugs’ country of origin.
- There are also some great ‘over the counter’ medications your doctor may suggest you take along with you too depending on your destination.
- Be sure to get a letter of authorisation from your doctor if you’re travelling with any prescription medication otherwise you could risk getting it confiscated by customs in some countries.
Have fun exploring new locations and enjoying new adventures and experimenting with yummy new foods – one of the best things about travelling abroad is trying the local cuisine.
I hope my travel tips make your time away even more enjoyable…safe travels…cheers Susie
Susie Elelman AM
Ambassador – Australian Menopause Centre