Chapter 4 What’s On Your List
In Chapter 3 we talked about Making a List, or Lists…and this chapter will cover what you may want to include on that “list”….for the items on this list can “make or break” your travels. In addition to the “list”….there are some basics to include in your carry on, and I got the following from a travel blogger, Jamie.
When you think of the best parts travel, immersing yourself in new cultures and eating authentic food probably sound more appealing than flying to your destination. But, when you have the right things with you, your flight can be the ideal time to relax and dream of all the discovery to come! To make your time in the sky even more enjoyable, we reached out to Go Ahead staff to hear which products they always pack in their carry-on bags. Here are ten of their favorites to have with you the next time you take to the skies.
One thing is for sure: Digging for your passport and other travel documents isn’t nearly as fun as digging into culture. That’s why having a functional travel wallet on hand is a must—and why we love the colorful selection made by Zoppen. With well-organized pockets for your boarding pass, money, cell phone, and more, you’re guaranteed to have everything you need at the ready. Plus, the wallet’s RFID-blocking material prevents anyone from electronically nabbing ID info and credit card numbers, so you can stroll through busy terminals at ease (and in style!).
If you’ve ever arrived at an airport’s security line just in time to remember you’ll need to toss the full water bottle in your bag, this tip’s for you. Next time you pack up your carry-on essentials, bring along an empty water bottle. You can fill it once you’re through security instead of paying high airport prices for a bottle while waiting to board your flight. Then, you’ll be able to refill it during your adventure (as long as it’s safe to drink tap water at your destination). We love the Hydro Flask bottles, which are insulated to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, making it easier to stay hydrated while quenching your thirst for adventure.
A good read
Far-off places spring to life from the pages of a good book, and bringing a travel-centric tale along during your flight is sure to get you dreaming of all the adventure to come. The Go Ahead team is full of top travel book recommendations, but one of our staff favorites is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. In it, Weiner says there’s a link between inspiring destinations and overall happiness… and we can’t argue with that!
If you’d rather catch up on a good flick while coasting through the sky, noise-canceling headphones are the way to go. While quite reprieves may be hard to come by on busy flights, these headphones help keep any outside noise (think: crying babies) at bay while you tune into your movie or music. Want an option that won’t break the bank? Check out Sony’s over-the-ear headphones, which are comfortable enough for long trips and fold up when you’re ready to pack them away.
Enjoy passing the time on flights by watching movies on your tablet? A portable charger is the thing to bring. One of our top picks is the Jackery Bolt, a small-but-reliable external battery charger with built-in cords. It can provide a medium-sized smartphone with up to two full charges and give tablets and other electronics with USB ports more life. Simply plug the charger in overnight to give it some juice before you take off, and all you’ll need to think about is filling up your wine glass on tour instead of running out of battery in the air.
Like a good travel wallet, a roomy toiletry bag is a must for wrangling all of your in-flight essentials, and one of our favorites is the Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit. The good-looking material is sturdy, the interior is roomy, and you can simply pop your plastic gallon baggie full of 3-oz liquids inside. That way, you won’t need to go rooting around in the bottom of your tote for lotion when your parched hands need some love mid-flight.
While meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, picking up any germs (or sharing your own) undoubtedly dampen the adventure. That’s why using antibacterial wipes is always a good idea, and Purell’s travel packs are a good go-to. You can clean your hands, tray tables, and armrests in flight for a germ-free journey, and then tuck the package in a convenient place—the wipes aren’t considered a liquid so you don’t need to worry about keeping them in your gallon baggie.
An airplane cabin’s dry, recycled air can do a number to your skin, so it’s key to have a good moisturizing cream on hand (get it?). We love L’Occitane en Provence’s creams, which hydrate without feeling greasy—and call to mind bright fragrances in the South of France. If you’re hoping to sleep as you coast through the sky, opt for the lavender scent for an extra splash of relaxation.
A refreshing wake-up may be just what you need after snoozing mid-flight, and a minty lip balm should do the trick. One of our favorites is Smith’s Rosebud Perfume Co. Minted Rose Lip Balm. It hydrates while providing an invigorating kick and a light tint, all in a compact, pretty tin.
For the trip itself, let’s start with the obvious…your camera or camera phone, and the charger. Your IPad, if you use it for photos, and its charger. If you use your IPad for Kindle, then be sure you have the books you want to read downloaded while you have an internet service available. Sun glasses are always needed, and you might think about a case to keep them from breaking. If you like to take notes of things you see, or memorable things that happen on the trip, take along a writing tablet or note pad, and a couple of pens that work. Maybe for you it is your daily Diary. Binoculars always come in handy, but get a good one. REI is where I got mine…very pleased and only $100. A small umbrella is always good to take, for even though you may be in an area where it is not suppose to rain, be prepared in case weather turns bad. Just keep it small. Sunscreen may be needed, so stick in a tube, but it has to be the right size. For the flight, air sickness or Jet Lag pills may work, and the same for sea sickness. Slippers for the long flights are often well used, as well as a neck brace and eye covers and ear plugs. Always good if you plan on sleeping on the flight. And, if you take medications, be sure you have them with you on the flight, not in your checked luggage.
We covered the correct clothes, coats, and hats previously….but also think about personal security. If you have a fanny pack or a pouch, be sure it is RFID, which protects valuables for potential theft of private information. If you carry a purse, be sure it is RFID and has a way to strap it to your body. Men’s wallets should be kept in the front pocket of pants, not in the back pocket. If you use a back pack, they are great but can be accessed from the back, and you might want to look at one that you can carry in front of you, as well as on your back. If you are in a big crowded area, keep the pack in front of you with your arms around it. Speaking of personal security.…let’s think about the credit card and cash that you carry. First, be sure and notify your credit card company that you will be traveling outside the US, and they will probably ask what countries, and the dates, so have this handy. And, be sure and mention that you may be using both a credit and debit card. Regarding US dollars, in cash, for the most part will not be accepted in stores. Use a credit or debit card. However, dollars can be used for hotel tips, etc. but again, not widely accepted. Local cash, which you can get at ATM’s, which are very accessible, is the way to go. I do not recommend keeping much cash on you (maybe $100 converted to local currency) as you can use your debit card for almost all purchases. This process is much more common outside the US than in the US. We will talk more about getting local currency once you arrive at the in-country airport.
Now that you have done your pre trip planning, your pre-trip packing, and have your list of items to take, you are ready to depart and head to the airport. Chapter 5 will deal with “The Airport”….from getting there to taking off….stay tuned.
Effective January 1st…I am the Redding agent for Viking Cruises, and am very pleased with this opportunity. We just completed our 3rd Viking Cruise…and I am now “a believer” in Viking. They are great. No wonder they are consistently rated #1 among the Cruise lines.
Viking Cruises, both in their Ocean and River Cruises, offers cruises where you truly explore your destination-through its food, culture, countryside, and customs. You learn about the lands through which you travel via informative talks that bring history to life through cultural adventures, in-depth pre-trip materials, and on-demand programing-all designed to help you experience the most from your travels.
So, just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you brochures, information, details on the Cruises, both Ocean and River…and we will go from there. Viking is a winner.
Vienna, Austria……ship was delayed in the locks leading into Vienna on Monday night…and we first heard about it early Tuesday morning with the daily announcements. Apparently late Monday night the winds picked up on the Danube and by the time we got to the locks….too high to go through….so we were put on hold in the River for about 2 hours….there were then additional delays and finally cleared the locks at 5 AM…which made us about an hour late to get into Vienna. In that it was a full day, plans were changed and we proceeded to dock at another town about an hour drive away from Vienna. We then boarded Viking buses…and off we went into Vienna, through beautiful farm lands and small towns…arriving about 10 into Vienna.We then had the included panorama tour of Vienna, as well as the walking tour of the Old City….a magnificent old city with gorgeous buildings….just a beautiful place to see and walk through, etc.
Being late, Viking decided to give us a 25 Euro credit per person for lunch….and we ate behind St Stephens church at a great restaurant….finishing up by 2 when we met up again, and then went on the optional tour to the Schonbrunn Palace.
The Palace is a showplace for Emperoress Maria Theresa and the Hapsburg Dynasty….and I cannot say enough in this blog about her and her reign…and I bought a book at says it all, including her 16 children. A powerful woman like Queen Victoria in England……Maria Theresa being the daughter of Charles VI. The Hapsburg Dynasty in Central Europe in itself is a Masters Thesis…what a fascinating story of reign for 650 years. This is a MUST visit….
Back to the ship for dinner…then on to our Optional Concert of Mozart and Strauss by the Vienna Residence Orchestra. This is a small chamber orchestra obviously hand picked as they put on quite a show of music and humor to this private concert. Just a thrilling and fun performance with soloists, ballet dancers, and a great orchestra….a fun evening and well worth it…even for non-music lovers.
Back to the bus by 11…a great day in Vienna…one of the World’s Great Cities…and the 2nd one we have been part of on this trip…the other Budapest.
More to come……
We had decided early on to do some “catch up” on our last day so started off by going to the old Train Station that Audy had remembered. Still there and still old…but a new section built on as well as a huge underground West End Mall…that runs back under the entire busy traffic corner. Then went across the street to the Libri Department store…found a good cap for me and some clothes for Audy…great prices.
Back to the hotel to pack and get ready to board the ship…and left the room about 4 PM to taxi to the boat dock about 1/4 mile away. The greeting from Viking starts at the curb when they get your luggage and take it directly to your room (we had it all labeled in advance)….and immediately felt at home and very comfortable. The folks at the front desk were perfect…check in took maybe 2 minutes.
These Viking River Cruise boats, which are also called shipped, and referred to as a ship by the staff…..are specially made long boats made in Germany…and made for this specific purpose…to transport people up and down and around the Rivers of Europe and the world. Initially designed for the European Rivers…they now are used worldwide, and have become very popular. Viking River Cruises was one of the first to do this…and they are the largest fleet now, and voted #1 by a number of Travel rating services. Clearly #1 at this stage for us.
The first night was introductory…dinner at 7, etc…an outstanding briefing on what was planned for Monday….just a great professional opening experience to start the Viking River Cruise.
Monday started with an early sit down or buffet breakfast in the restaurant, and they only have one big restaurant, but there are options for sit down or buffet, and very well laid out. At 8 we exited the ship and boarded the Mercedes Benz busses for the 4 hour Budapest Panorama Included Tour. . Very well done, and saw areas, such as the Hero’s Square, that we had not seen before…and ended up on Castle Hill at the Matthias Church. This in itself is almost worth the trip to Budapest, but the guide gave us a complete tour of the magnificent church, which sits on the top of the Buda hill overlooking Budapest and Hungary, for that matter. Photos, of which I have many, will attest to both the indoor and outside grandeur. I know this will sound like a record, but one of the most outstanding churches we have ever seen, or been in.
So, in Budapest, 2 magnificent churches, St Stephens Basilica and Matthias Church….the overwhelming Parliament Building right on the river, and the Castle Hill area and Gellert Hill overlooking the Danube River….which is the center of the entire area as it goes under the 9 massive bridges, including the historic and famous Chain Bridge.
The 4 hour bus tour ended up about 30 miles to the north, where we caught up with the Ship and re-boarded….lunch was ready…and off we went up the River…and the days activities on the Ship began. A full schedule from lectures to a Champaign welcome party to the Captains briefing …all very well done.
Our room is more spacious than and on the Cruise Ship….and each room has a full glass window-wall to view the river and the villages and cities that we pass. The beds are comfortable; the rooms are so quiet….the bathroom is plenty big, and the storage areas are great.
At this point, for us…this is the nicest set up we have had on the Cruises…can’t wait for the rest of today.
And, Viking Cruises will be added to my list of Cultural Events and Activities that I will be emphasizing…as this is among the very best way to fully appreciate the culture and history of Europe and the world for that matter….this will sell, as it has over the years, and I am happy to be part of “this world”.
After the trip I will start listing the upcoming Viking Cruise Ship trips, programs, tours, etc…and having been on 3 of them within the past year…can give first hand experience thoughts…so stay tune…all for now…Tuesday morning, Dec 12th……
We started off the day with a leisurely breakfast in the Club Lounge….and got out on the street about 11…..heading to the Square to find the Blacksmith….and it was cold and sunny and cloudy, but dry. On the way to the square were many little Christmas Shops….and other various shops, so very active and busy…leading up to the Eye Tower…which is kind of in the middle of the downtown area of Pest. Budapest is actually the combination of two old cities, Buda and Pest….split by the Danube River….with Pest the flatter area on what would be the east side of the River….and the location for many of the older buildings, the government seat, etc. St Stephens Basilica is on this side, along with many of the other historic buildings.
We found the Blacksmith…and then walked over to catch the Hop On Hop Off to go to the Central Market, which is the indoor market that has all kinds of fruits and vegetables on the lower level and then food restaurants on the 2nd level, of which there are probably 25 or 30 places to eat with chairs crammed in around them. We were there at lunch, so extremely busy. We managed to find a couple of interesting shops that had local handmade items….so did some minor shopping before we bought some Gouda chees and bread and had a filling lunch sitting on one of the inside benches, like the locals.
WE then caught the yellow hop on back to the hotel area…took a break….then about 5 it started raining and we had planned to take the night Hop On as it was the Lights Tour on the bus. we left the hotel in plenty of time for the 20 minute walk along the river to Dock 8….but the further we walked the harder it rained….and finally we got to a congested area of walkers and traffic and found out that we had to go down to a lower level to catch the bus….as we found that there is actually a lower level road right along the river that cannot be seen from the upper road where the hotel is. Well, raining hard, hard to see, and a lot of foot and car traffic…and after we kept asking, we found that we had to go to the lower level for dock 8. There was a huge line of people all with umbrellas in a long line that was actually blocking the sidewalk…and finally found, after Audy asked someone in Spanish, “what was this line?”….only to find if was a line for the boat restaurant. We then found that Dock 8 was back down the dock area a bit, so off we went at a run walk….and apparently as we approached the bus area…the bus left and we missed……we waited a few moments…then gave up and headed back to the hotel…still hard rain.
We decided to go on to the restaurant that we had planned to go to after the bus ride (that did not happen)…..and followed good directions to the restaurant, which was a 20 minute walk from the hotel…..where we stopped for a few moments while I took off my soaked T shoes for my other shoes…then off we went.
Found the restaurant and as we walked in were told it was “closed for a private Christmas party”. Well, makes sense, as it is a nice restaurant, so decided to come back on Saturday….
Walked back down to the corner and the Costa Coffee, which usually has good food….got off all of the wet coats,etc….and Audy went up to the counter only to find that almost all of the “food” was gone…..as it was late in the day.
Back on to the street and went about a block and saw a good looking Italian restaurant that was full…so went in and ordered a pizza and salad that was made right in front of you….a very fun looking place with a lot of young and old….and a great setting. The manager came up and greeted us…very nice place. We really had good food…..all great.
Well, just as we were finishing we noticed that some of the lights went out in the back of the restaurant and the long and short was that they lost power in the back of the restaurant…and could no longer cook food….and it kind of threw all into panic, which is understood.
We really enjoyed watching the “goings on”…and for about 30 minutes watched people come and go, and leave….and finally asked for our bill…and our waiter, who was a bit “rattled” to start with as Audy had both a bottle of water and a bottle of ginger…..asked me if card or cash…I said card, and off he went. After about 15 minutes, and talking with the very nice manager about what was going on….and our thinking that with the power off they could not process the credit card….we offered to pay in cash….although we found we did not have enough Hungarian Founts…..so then knew we had some Euros…etc….well, the waiter had never priced from the menu…so this became quite a humorous exercise, to say the least. Long and short…we ended up paying with the card, as all of their billing is on the internet…but a very fun and funny evening.
Back to the hotel in the rain…a good nights sleep and Day 3 is suppose to be rain, and snow, and clearing, and cold. We shall see….with Matthias Church orchestra concert tonight.
More to come.