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Travel Tips

What Not to Pack

Airline employees and savvy travellers know better than to check their luggage.  That means efficient packing is paramount.  Though these tips may seem controversial and against accepted travel wisdom, you’ll be more comfortable, better dressed and less of a target if you follow this practical advice.

BLUE JEANS

Unless you’re going to a dude ranch, bulky blue jeans are a waste of valuable luggage space.  They can also be uncomfortable to wear for long distance travel and can discourage gate agents from offering you that coveted upgrade. Designer or discount, jeans are still taboo in some clubs and fine restaurants. Instead, travel in non-wrinkle cotton or linen pants, which are classier and lighter to pack.

WHITE ATHLETIC FOOTWEAR

Runners, gym shoes, trainers, call them what you like but don’t call them stylish.  There are many other ways to keep your feet happy while promenading along the boulevard.  Try wearing a pair of chic loafers like the French do, and café waiters will assume you parlez like a local. If you must wear athletic footwear, at least avoid white. 

BACK PACKS

Nothing says “tourist” louder than a bulging backpack.  A more sophisticated way to travel around town is with a canvas messenger bag.  Sling it over your opposite shoulder for better security than a backpack, which is often accessible to everyone but you. There will still be enough room to carry cameras, guide books and the ubiquitous bottle of water

Of course there will be times when you absolutely must check your luggage. In that case, bring your valuables onboard and use a comination lock and luggage straps on your checked bags.  But if life is a journey, why not travel light?

© 2011 – 2013, My Flying Fingers. All rights reserved.

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The Perfect Travel Map

MAP QUEST

Anyone who has ever used a free tourist map quickly learns  it’s only worth what you paid for it.  You’ll make the most of your time and travel dollars with a pocket-sized atlas filled with useful information, not glossy advertisements.  Here are some of the best.

PARIS

L’Indispensable’s “Paris par Arrondissement” classifies the city by arrondissement, or neighbourhood, which is essential for carefree meandering. Though updates are published regularly, I still use my 1998 copy paired with a current RATP map for the Métro (subway).

www.ulyssesguides.com  or at most newsstands and bookstores in Paris.

 LONDON

Best selling “London A-Z” is both an atlas and a guide book. Clear, detailed maps of the city centre and nearby areas are broken into grids for easy reference.  The central underground (Tube) route is on the outside back cover. A downloadable edition, “London Visitors’ and Tube Pocket A-Z Map” converts the paper version for your Windows based pocket PC.

www.a-zmaps.co.uk

BANGKOK & CHIANG MAI

Nancy Chandler’s maps look like what a diligent friend might bring back after a trip to Thailand.  Brightly annotated with highlighters and rainbow ink, there is a method to her psychedelic madness as hotels, shops and markets appear in different colours. A separate compact guide details everything from accommodation to transportation.  Worth ordering ahead of time.  www.nancychandler.net

 VENICE

Part of Venice’s charm is in getting lost, or so I like to remind my husband after we round another corner to nowhere.  It’s true that maps aren’t much use in this beautiful, maze-like city. Once you’re familiar with the Grand Canal, use the vaparetto or water bus stations to get your bearings and follow the signs.  The yellow markers are official, the rest are placed by helpful Venetians.

  If we’re renting a car, a road atlas is essential, otherwise I pair a city map with a transit route guide. My husband likes to bring a map of the entire country, which usually provides other entertaining information.

 Get your hands on a real map ahead of time and get your bearings as soon as you arrive, jet lag notwithstanding. For the best maps for other destinations, see what the experts, like Frommer’s, Lonely Planet or Condé Nast Traveler recommend.

© 2010 – 2013, My Flying Fingers. All rights reserved.

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