Friday, June 10, 2011

My Top 5 Travel Tips!

So, you might have noticed I have a thing about creating Top 5 lists. There’s the OCD again. 5 is perfect I think, a nice little, tidy, round-numbered group. Love it.

Anyway, here are my Top 5 Travel Tips for you all. I discovered all of this on my recent vacation, so if any of you are planning a trip to the UK espcially, but anywhere really, then these are the tips for you!

5. Cell-phone or ‘mobile phone’ service rocks in the UK. We borrowed a cell phone from a relative who recently moved here and once we arrived in the UK we bought a SIM card from Tesco, a nationwide supermarket. We paid 10GBP, or about $15 for 100 minutes of airtime. As soon as we activated it, we received a bonus 200 minutes of airtime. The 10GBP lasted us for the whole trip. We made calls, received calls and texted back and forth within the UK til our heart’s content. I am sure there are still 100’s of minutes of credit sitting on the phone too. If you’re planning on calling within the UK, and you can get your hands on a phone – you’re golden.

4. Maybe you still have last years precious Christmas Day photos on your camera at home, but if you’re going on a trip, take a laptop or figure out someway to take your photos off your camera regularly and save them. We took over 1000 pictures over 2 weeks and we uploaded ours every day to the laptop. On the last day of the trip, no word of a lie, I dropped our camera in the sea. The North Sea to be exact and the camera was toast. I can’t imagine how heartbroken I would have been if all 1000 pictures had gone with it. They were all OK though. Phew.

3. When travelling with kids, be ready for puke. And by ready, I don’t mean a scrambling to empty a plastic bag mid-vomit, and half a travel-pack of baby wipes. I mean expect your kid to projectile puke all over your rental car and into your purse, and if it doesn’t happen, bonus for you. I got everything I needed for such an event, after it happened once. Get it, keep it together, don’t take it out of the car and keep it for an emergency. A bottle of water, a pack of wipes, some kitchen towel, spare clothes, paper bags and plastic bags to seal away the pukey stuff til the next stop. You’ll be glad you did.

2. If you’re travelling with munchkins, give them a chance to entertain themselves, before setting up a daycare craft centre on the airplane. My 4-year old entertained himself for 7 hours with all his toys that he had chosen to pack in his backpack. I had all kinds of activity books, stickers and felt crafts in my purse ready to go at the first sign of boredom, but he played quite happily for about 4 hours before I noticed he was snoozing on my shoulder.

The Leap Frog Tag Pen http://microsite.leapfrog.com/tag_ca/index.html#/learn_about_tag/see_how_tag_works/and the Leapster 2 http://www.leapfrog.com/gaming/leapster2/both get big shout outs here.

1. If you’re planning on driving, do yourself a favour and download the GPS maps of wherever you’re going. Bringing our own GPS worked out cheaper than renting one with the rental car. Our GPS maps for the UK cost us $70, so sure a map of the country would be cheaper – but let’s just say it was an investment in my marriage! It reduced the inevitable bickering that comes with map reading, asking for directions and getting lost. We could punch in Food, or Gas, or Attractions, whenever we needed to be fed, watered or entertained, and the trusty GPS guided us to the nearest spots. It also helped us plan our days, as we could tell at-a-glance how long we’d be in the car and when we’d be arriving at our destinations. In the UK, where you’re already on the other side of the road, the lane directions are written on the road, there are roundabouts instead of intersections, and mysterious road signs at every turn, take the help, get a GPS and save yourself a headache.

Those were my Top 5 Travel Tips….leave a comment if you have any good ones yourself. I’m going to post my Top 5 Favourite Vacation moments (with pictures) soon!

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