Bits and Pieces!

Words of wisdom from someone who needs to follow her own advice!!!


Notify your Credit Card Company before you set off on your travels.   I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve ended up with blocked cards – we’ll never learn.   It’s great to know that the companies are vigilant but it’s awkward when it happens.  Make a note of the contact details just in case – I know they’re on the back of the card but have you seen the size of that writing…try reading that under pressure!!   Lucky you if you carry a backup card – another working card could be useful … unless that’s blocked also of course!


Check out airport shopping before you leave home.   I recently spent €53 on a gift set in an airport and saw it 3 days later in Bristol airport for £29.50!!  Allowing for currency exchange that’s still some difference!   When I got home and checked,  the item was clearly listed on both airport websites.   Browsing in airports is the norm – but I bet you gravitate towards the same brands if you’re shopping  there so do your homework.


You can NEVER pack too much Immodium!!


Prebook your tickets for major museums,  galleries,  etc.  You don’t actually HAVE to queue for several hours outside the Uffizi in the August heat!


It’s OK to compromise – use local drivers, guides and tours – don’t worry,  we’ll still call you an independent traveller!


Try to be absolutely certain about your airport transfer options before you arrive at your destination.  How many times do we fall out of the arrivals hall both hassled and exhausted and just head for the taxi rank because we can’t quite remember what we’d read about the buses or shuttles.


Don’t take anything for granted!   Last year I booked a hotel room with a shower in Lisbon.   We arrived late,  checked in and headed to our room.  Hello!!!… where’s the loo?  It never crossed my mind in this day and age that shower didn’t mean ensuite!  (Actually it worked out OK – the loo was across the hall and we didn’t seem to have to share it with anyone while we were there!)


USA road trips:

3 Absolute Essentials

*After you leave the airport,  pull into the first gas station /supermarket  you meet and buy a styrofoam coolbox for a few dollars.  You’ll get ice there and probably a slab of small bottles of water.  Put something under the coolbox in the trunk – they tend to leak after a few days!

*Find all those cool country music channels on the radio.

*Buy the biggest sack of sour cream and chive crisps (chips for you Americans!) and plonk it between driver and passenger.


3 Minor Essentials





Whatever your budget,  try not to skimp on vaccinations,  holiday insurance and car rental companies.


Don’t overplan.   Here’s the shocker – people actually travelled BEFORE the internet!   We recently travelled to Oxford for a few days. Upon arrival I not only announced where we were eating that night but also WHAT we were going to order!!  Where’s the adventure in that!!  So read less (apart from this site of course!) and keep an open mind!


Finally – memo to self!…. Read the above tips before you set off again !!!


8 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces!

  1. I have to say that I fall into the “planner” category – to excess. I like to create Powerpoints that identify lots of possible things to see and do when we travel, especially to a new area. The idea is by no means to plan out every hour of every day. But I find that doing extensive research and planning, first of all, is just lots of fun. Second, if I’ve never been somewhere, I would like to have a good idea of what things there are special to see and to do. I would hate to return home and then hear or read about someone doing or seeing something really interesting that I had no clue even existed. I also don’t like to waste time planning to see something, only to find out that it is closed on the day I actually visit, or costs so much it is not worth the expense. My fear is waking up while on a trip and saying “well, what is there to do today?” I like to have options which I can then act upon or ignore, but at least I’m not lost for something to do.

    1. Yes I like to know whats to be seen and done before I reach a place so generally have a rough plan… and its so easy nowadays with info freely available. We’ve definitely missed gem over the years – I’m thinking now more in the line of road trips where the route was mapped out and then we discover later that there was some amazing town or attraction a few miles away that we didn’t know about. Like you, I need to know whats planned for the following day – I’m open to change of course, and welcome it, but no way could I sit after breakfast and wonder what to do!!!

      1. Sounds like we are on the same wavelength. I am a big consumer of, and contributor to, Trip Advisor. If I see a general consensus of reviews for a particular place or activity, I am generally not disappointed at all. Of late, I have started to use YELP more often as well. I like that you can do searches by keyword which will scan all of the their reviews. So, for example, we always like to find a good Greek restaurant whenever we travel. We especially like saganaki, but not all Greek restaurants feature that. You can search for Greek restaurants on a lot of sites. But with YELP, I can search specifically for “saganaki” which not only yields Greek restaurants, but also those that feature our favorite item. I will be using YELP more often now for other things as well.

  2. Planning essential but not keeping to the plan is also essential! Leave room for the unexpected and if you miss something, well, think of it as a reason to go back another time. That’s what I have always done and I’ve ended up in old age with oodles of things to do in lots of countries I want to return to. As they say, you gotta have a dream!

    1. Gosh Mari- I’ll have to reread that post myself!!! It’s been a while!! When we set off on our travels many many moons ago, we thought the world far too big to be returning to any place we’d already visited. But while we’ve never repeated a full trip, there are SO places that we’ve found ourselves returning to via a different route or itinerary. And there’s always something new in a place to add to the original memories. In fact, the return visit is usually better because you can skip the ‘must do’s’ and seek out things you’re actually interest in…

Leave a Reply