Chapter 4 What’s On Your List?

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!).

2

Water bottle
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.

3

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!

4

Noise-canceling headphones
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.

Portable charger
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.

6

Toiletry bag
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.

7

Antibacterial wipes
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.

8

Hand cream
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.

9

Lip balm
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.

What to Know Before You Go…Chapter 2

Chapter 2  The Internet, Web Resources, and the Travel Agency

As you start your trip planning and you are trying to determine where you want to go, use the Internet. There are a number of travel sites, but the best way, in my opinion, is to use Google and put in such things as “vacationing in Australia, or Europe, or France, or the Caribbean, etc”. Many site will come up and you can take your time and look at all of the many places that you can see and things that you can do. On our recent trip to Australia, we knew we were going to Cairns as our first step on our journey, so my wife Googled Cairns. From Cairns, which is north on Sydney, we were able to go out to the Great Barrier Reef, rode the train up to and through the Rain Forest, then rode the Skytrain back down over the Rain Forest to sea level, and back to the city of Cairns, which in itself is well worth seeing. We found all of this on the internet….then went to our agent, who had also suggested these attractions, and made the ticket arrangements.

And, you can use a site like Expedia to get an idea of flights into almost any destination in the world. They will give you prices and times, although the prices are often on bad connecting flights , or bad times, but it gives you a very good idea of when and where you can go. Trip Advisor is another good one, as this give first hand experiences from travelers.

These sites, and many others, are great for travel information, but not always good for ticketing. As I have said, and will say many more times, the local travel agent can get the same, if not better, price….they can give you the experiences of other travelers, and they can do the “hard work” for  you, such as the reservations and ticketing. That is their job. But, you can do the pre-planning by using the Internet to get your general idea of where, when, why, and what you want to do.

A word about the Travel Agency. Only the good ones have survived the Internet. And they have survived because they can offer a service that the Internet cannot. As with almost any professional services these days, you can get almost any service on the web. But, you get what you pay for. I have planned and taken trips using nothing but the internet, with sites like www.hotels.com, and  www.expedia.com, and they were good trips. But, for the most part, I was “flying by the seat of my pants”. And, when all said and done, did not save a penny. Now we use an Agency exclusively. And, a couple of other factors as to why to use an agency….(1) some are specialists, like with Cruise Lines…(2) many of the agencies are really experienced. :Been there done that”  is true for many and this experience is passed on to you…..(3) Your individual travel agent in an agency will become “your good friend”, and they will have your interest foremost in their mind as they plan for you. This is that valuable factor…and can make the difference in your travels.

Next section is entitled….”Make a List”….and this is one of my favorites, for many do not do this until they get someplace and say, “I should have made a list of these things to bring”. Stay tuned.

Viking Cruises….Ocean and River

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    ron@ronlargenttravel.com   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….Day 6…Tuesday

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……

 

Eidfjord, Sweden Mountains and Water, Fjords

Located in the middle of these giant mountains, the fjords, which are bodies of sea water that flows in to the inner part of Norway (kind of like our bays)….Eidfjord is a little tiny place literally dwarfed by the soaring mountains around it. Breathtaking is an understatement…. We have never seen anything like it, including the glacier areas of Alaska. The mountains soar 4000 feet almost straight up ….. With sheer cliffs coming down to the water. We went to the museum….saw a video, and then got one, as it is the best way to show this incredible area. Not many of the cruise ships come in here as they can only handle one at a time..but well worth it if only for the natural beauty.

A bit cloudy and colder today as we are getting closer to the North Pole…..but a great day to just enjoy this incredible beauty.

By the day, becoming more impressed with Norway. Very clean, …..very, very progressive, and very industrious…..which is so key to surviving in these cold areas. By the way, leading country in the world for electric cars…all over the place..and all models…

Off to Bergen…the 2nd largest city in Norway and former capital….more later.

Located in the middle of these giant mountains, the fjords, which are bodies of sea water that flows in to the inner part of Norway (kind of like our bays)….Eidfjord is a little tiny place literally dwarfed by the soaring mountains around it. Breathtaking is an understatement…. We have never seen anything like it, including the glacier areas of Alaska. The mountains soar 4000 feet almost straight up ….. With sheer cliffs coming down to the water. We went to the museum….saw a video, and then got one, as it is the best way to show this incredible area. Not many of the cruise ships come in here as they can only handle one at a time..but well worth it if only for the natural beauty.

A bit cloudy and colder today as we are getting closer to the North Pole…..but a great day to just enjoy this incredible beauty.

By the day, becoming more impressed with Norway. Very clean, …..very, very progressive, and very industrious…..which is so key to surviving in these cold areas. By the way, leading country in the world for electric cars…all over the place..and all models…

Off to Bergen…the 2nd largest city in Norway and former capital….more later.

 

 

 

Day 14–Bergen

 

The day in Bergen started out cold and windy and continued though the day…..we got on the mid day included excursion….guide was ok but not up to the par of the others….too young and inexperienced. But this was the Panoramic Bergen excursion…so we did get to see this gorgeous city built around the fjords, with the wharf area being the world showplace. The wooden houses in various colors are on the postcards in the Bryggen area right along the harbor, Marina, etc….and it was busy, in spite of the wind and rain. Bergen has over 250 days of rain a year…so thus was a normal day for the locals…in fact they said it was pretty mild. Oil and gas and the related industries are driving this area, and even with the high taxation, is frequently voted the happiest city in the world. After the tour we told a short walk from the hotel, which was the Radisson Blu right downtown..and this was a perfect location so we walked a few doors and had a great snack in a locally owned place…..very nice. We walked for a few minutes more then decided too nasty so returned to the ship ….Audy had a good rest and I decided to explore more….and went back out to see what we had not seen in the downtown area such as the fish markets and other shopping areas. Rain and wind off and on but got to see their main shopping and tourist areas….very impressive. The plan was to stay on the ship this night and then disembark the next morning….and go on another city tour…which we did and this one covers additional parts of the city..well done…and then to the hotel, as we were then on the Bergen to Oslo extension. After lunch locally we walked through the fish market areas and saw the sights as today the weather turned sunny and the area is so beautiful. Got to the food area and, along with the other thousand tourists got to have our Local pancake and ate it standing along the stores and shops….just enjoying the locals, Etc…

After a rest went down the street to a Brew and Bar…and clearly one of the most delicious hamburgers we have ever had, Norwegian style. Back to the hotel and prepared for the early departure from the hotel to the train to Oslo. 68 folks on the extension so we got on the train early for a good seat..so the start of a good day.

 

In Summary, Bergen is a must, and is a must for many of the Cruise lines…due to the history connections with the Vikings and with the historic trade of the area. Due to its critical location, it was a key player in the Hanseatic League….which established traders the primary reason for being . Bergen was the capital of Norway with the King living here…and being the center of the fishing trade…started out being a wealthy city..and then with the oil discovery in 1969….one very wealthy and affluent place. Well worth the time. Off to Oslo…

 

 

Juneau, Sitka, Alaska Glaciers

Monday was our day in Juneau and we arrived about 11:30am…..and disembarked about noon to find our excursion which is to the Tracy Arn Fjord and on to the South Sawyer Glacier and then back to the Sawyer Glacier. These are historic Glaciers that have become popular as they are not so massive that you cannot get up close to them but can actually get up to within a mile as we did. Tracy Arn Fjord runs south from Juneau and is about a 3 hour jet boat trip to the Glacier itself. Enroute we saw a couple of whales but nothing like our return where a couple of them decided to out on a show. At one pint in the return we just stopped, turned off the engines and watched. The boats are about 40 passenger tri hull style that sits about 2 feet in the water so as to go over the small ice patches easily. There is the captain in front in a small cabin then a covered and uncovered upper level and an enclosed seated area with small toilet and crew area for snacks Etc on the main level. These are older boats but quite safe and very functional for this kind of trip, and they have been doing this for years. All 3 crew members talk and explain what we are going through and one of the crew members, Ryan, really put on a show that the end. Very funny…talented guys. Very cute and a story in itself as I woke up laughing about them.

 

The Glaciers are so hard to describe as they are combinations of ancient ice, sediment, new rain that turns to snow and ice, and the natural elements. The result is the most unusual colors and configuration that one could imagine…see to believe kind of thing. At South Sawyer we got fairly close but the at Sawyer we got up real close and that is where Ryan went out on the side rail and scooped up ice that we then got a photo with. It was here that we went up to the captains area and spent about 30 minutes as he held the boat steady and we watched for the ice to calve, or fall, from the main Glacier. Small pieces kept falling off and all of the photographers were up on the top with their big cameras waiting for that big moment when the big piece would fall off. Well, finally it did…quite an event, as the guide told us that this was a rare occasion….and we were there.

The trip back was interrupted 3 or 4 times by stopping to watch the whales. At one point a whale was swimming with us about 1/4 mile from the boat…..doing his dives, etc and putting on quite a show.

 

Got back to the dock at 9 and caught the shuttle bus back the short distance to the ship area and back on the ship and to our room….a great day