Get Ready to Pack: The Reality of Living Out of a Suitcase

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When you are flying domestic or traveling via car or bus, you usually just dump a bunch of clothing, what you think you will need while gone for a few days, into a case. You may have some sense of how you pack, but it’s a ,”Hey, I am going for a few days” mentality.  At least this is what I have experienced in talking with other people from the US, not much thought goes into what we cram into the case. This is  probably why we get held up at airports, the not thinking about carry on restrictions and what we cram in a case, liquids in too large amounts. If you are going overseas, you need to pack less and more useful clothing, toiletries, devices, and pack definitely more efficiently.

How Are You Traveling?

Will you be on large domestic to international flights? What are their current restrictions on weight and size? You can find most weight and size charts online, but they can still be a bit confusing. You should keep in mind that you may be able to really cram a case full of your belongings, but you have to lug that around for a few weeks and also the planes, trains and automobiles you may use have limited space. When traveling in a train, its a free for all on luggage racks and space behind the seats. You need to monitor your cases and know where they are on public transit. If you can get reserved seating, try to get a seat near or facing the racks to keep an eye on your gear. Check with the airlines, all airlines you are traveling with. This includes the smaller flights you may take in between islands or countries. Don’t rely on what it says on the online travel site you may use to  book, contact the actual carrier or railway.

Start Packing Trial Run

Some people are born packers. Some have been in the military and really know how to pack. Others travel a great deal for their jobs and have learned over time the best way to pack a case and survive TSA. You should rehearse with your cases a few days ahead. Now you may think that you have this down, but it’s better to have the trial run and edit than do so 4 hours before flight.

Start by lining up your clothing and thinking about weight. When you are at home, things go in drawers and closets, weigh is distributed. It’s amazing how much we don’t think of clothing as having weight unless it’s work boots. It adds up quickly, and you will pay for extra weight. Not all airlines let you check the cargo baggage free. Many charge per bag.

Methods

Rolling is something I have learned to do. It also means you can cram more things in in the case, and keeps wrinkles down. That doesn’t mean you should keep cramming. Again, weight is very restricted on overseas flights. I find rolling works well because you can keep some wrinkles out of clothing and even when you start accumulating dirty items, you can have one side clean and the other dirty. You will need to do laundry somehow, many wash in the sink, but some dense items that really doesn’t work well for. Plan to loose a few hours to finding a launderette for wash and dry. Some small items just need a rinse, and packing them just takes a quick fold. You may want to take a picture of when you successfully get the cases packed the way you want, just as a reference for the re-pack. Pack a bag for laundry run.

What to Pack

Lists can be found online about this topic. My experience has taught me this:

Several pairs of jeans, trousers. 4 if you can fit it. Easy to move around in, have pockets. Now my experience has taught me get real levis or non-fashion jeans. That’s right ladies, your hip and trendies have no real pockets. Totally useless for travel. You may want to bring one pair for an occasion. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to do what I have done in the past, get to the army surplus and get some real camos or other army pants that have pockets. Otherwise get to the outdoor store and get cargo pants. Works really well for train travel. Zip off kind make cargo shorts.

Tee shirts. Get plenty of teeshirts that can work as layers. Try to have a weeks worth with you. Sadly you will need to wash things, otherwise you have to lug too much with you. Keep  in mind that many UK and European cities do  not have a laundry set up that you are used to in America. Most of it is service wash and that can take a few days to get back, which won’t work.

One nice set of clothing that packs tight. Unless you are going for a wedding or some other really big affair, one outfit that can go to the theatre or very nice dinner.

Lightweight rain jacket if traveling spring/summer. Heavier weight worn if traveling fall/winter. Don’t bring large umbrella, or brelly. I would advise just buying one there and leaving it if you need. Here in PDX we mostly jacket hood if we have to, and it rains torrents. Think mobile.

Devices. You need a phone and an international plan. Tablet maybe. With new restrictions on the horizon you may want to rethink this. I have to take something because I  blog. Make sure you have your power converter. This trip I am relying on the phone for pictures and will be testing some camera phone lenses out. Cameras can be a hassle when traveling, one more thing to keep track of. But if you are a picture fiend, then finding a travel worthy camera is a sound investment.

Money belt. Yes, you will be a tourist target. Try not to be one. You are allowed one small personal bag on most flights. When out on the street, these bags can get slashed and grabbed very easy. Consider money belts for when you really need to have the money with you. Leaving money stashed in hotel rooms is not really safe unless there is a room safe. Backpacks and or travel bag purses should be on the smallish side and reenforced and antitheft built. If you are going the travel backpack route, I suggest you flatten and pack it in your cases and use when you arrive. If they make you check it, it can get damaged on conveyer belts, or just go missing in the system.

Toiletries

I try to buy most of these when I get to the country I am visiting. This works well if it’s a Western country or one that has a large metropolis. Otherwise, you need to pack your shampoos and such in regulation size containers. Double bag in clear zip lock bags and place in clear organizers. Things get jostled about and even with careful planning, can make a mess before you get there are cause inspection problems. Some things you will need to have like medications need to be packed with you in your. Carry on. Just  bring enough in your budget to get to the apothecary when you get there.

More

The Savvy Backpacker – Great article on all aspects for consideration while traveling. Including traveling using underground.

https://thesavvybackpacker.com/europe-packing-list/

http://toeuropeandbeyond.com/europe-travel-packing-list/

Video


Photo © Jan Voigtmann

Icon Factory Dublin Interview With Aga Szot

 

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(c) Icon Factory Ltd / Icon Walk Ltd 

All major cities have art museums. A large metropolis like Dublin is no exception, it has quite a few. But great art I find is always down at street level. Great nonprofit experiences like Dublin’s The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory represent great art. It’s art  that is alive and kinetic, even if it is a few static pieces. Color and subject can make it vibe. I love my mural walks and planned to tour this one next month. In preparation for my trip I contacted Aga Szot at The Icon Factory for a interview to share with you. I am hoping you can come take a stroll with us in Dublin on this fine walking experience. Stay tuned as I will visit and review the experience for you.

Come realize the power of art to help create a clean and safe Environment for all. Please visit their website and donate if you can to help keep this great experience going for all.

How did your museum get it’s start, and how have you seen it grow in the last five years?

Since its establishment The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory has become a highly rated tourists destination in international tour guides, rating higher than Dublin Castle & The Photographic Archive, and has received an endorsement by the UNESCO City of Literature office as an important site for the celebration of Irish literary talent and culture. We have been featured in many national newspapers, tourguides including the front page of the Arts and Culture page of the New York Times.

When we moved into Aston Place in 2010, the surrounding lane ways were in a sorry state, filthy and run down. It was an illegal dumping ground, a harbour for drug-taking,often used as a public toilet and a festering den of petty-criminality. We couldn’t believe that a half mile of lanes in the heart of Dublin’s business and tourist district would be allowed to fall into such a state of dilapidation. In 2010 we began work on the Icon Walk, a series of panels showcasing key Irish cultural icons also The Icon Factory Gallery when we show emerging artists work on a regular base. Once an area to be avoided, the lanes are now a mostly safe, vibrant destination for walking tours and average citizens, also more and more artists are taking part in exhibitions.

Our maintaining the area and preventing its reverting to its previous conditions is reflected by both increasing foot and online traffic. Google has reached out to us to inform us that 10,000 people a month see and search information about our project, check our activities and find us.

All our events are free created to encourage cultural activities for adults and children are fully booked every year. Aga’s Szot studio is one and unique life painting studio experimental installation in Dublin.

There are clear benefits in the increased number of artists, internship and volunteers taking part in the project. Every year the numbers of visitors increases daily, over 200% in 5 years, fourfold increase in tour groups. The Art Festival footfall increased 300% per day over previous years according to our visitor book. Our project encourages locals to care about the area their work.

Has there been anything surprising that happened that you just ran with in an opportunity to create an exhibit?

We now find ourselves playing the leading role in creating cultural & educational experience in Temple Bar including public art installations, art events and activities, keeping area safe and clean, making people feel respected and the area safe without as much as even one Euro of public money.

We were able to provide space to artist for their exhibitions, creations of new artworks for The Icon Walk, and create a Summer Cultural Festival in the lanes during which we opened the new sections to the public.

To this date we held exhibitions by over 50 artists over seven years. In many cases these have been the first exhibition by the artist. Unlike most galleries we do not charge for exhibition space. All we ask is for one image from the artist that we can use in our merchandise to help ‘keep the lights on’. We give facilities to artists to print and sell their works. We give advice and encouragement to the artist in planning their exhibition. We ensure that the money raised from sales goes back to the artist. In this regard we have become a hub for local talent.

What do you consider the most challenging part of running a museum of your kind?

The Icon Project is registered charity and fully based on volunteers. If the Icon Factory could survive on goodwill alone, then the future of the project would be secured for many years to come. We have had thousands of visitors through our doors over the past few years, all expressing admiration and enthusiasm for what we have accomplished but reluctant to give funds.

The Icon project fully depend on funding and every year our big challenge is to get funding for a basic running costs. Despite the previous  years supports Icon Factory received no funding for 2017.

After several years depending on once off funding we now recognise that the Icon Project needs a regular funding base and this is most challenging part for us.

What is the planning process for creating new exhibits? Do you have any behind the scenes video or articles that future visitors can look at?

We have a  good few short documentaries made about our project which you can check on the links below:

Is there a committee that decides to feature something or a finding that becomes available and you build around that? Or does the planning involve a specific structure?

Board members of registered charities are involved in application process for the exhibition. Artist are asked to provide their portfolio and cover letter. After positive application process artists meet with the members to discuss process of setting up the exhibition and work on the featured Icon which will be donated to The Icon Walk project.  

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

This year our exhibition season is planned on a monthly base case no funding crisis.

Do your exhibitions centre on the local only or do you have art and future or contemporary issues come into play occasionally?

All artists locals and international are welcome to apply for the exhibition at the gallery including different art disciplines starting from classical art, drawing, paintings, sculpturing, photography, installations and conceptual work.

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

At the moment The Icon Project is reviewing its financial situation and no further exhibitions are planned till the end of September.

The Icon Factory is located in the Temple Bar District of Dublin.

Location

The Icon Factory

Aston Place

Temple bar

Dublin 2

Ireland

iconfactorydublin@gmail.com

Opening Hours

Mon – Sun 11.00am – 6.00pm

For more information:

http://iconfactorydublin.ie/newsite/the-icon-walk/

https://www.facebook.com/TheIconFactory

Videos on Vimeo

Bob Geldof, Sinéad O’Connor and others https://vimeo.com/user33528482

More:

Art Walks: Spring in the UK and Ireland

Science Gallery Dublin

 

 

When Your Travel Budget Takes a Hit, Retrench

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Glasgow Street Art – Free things to do

You have been planning for 11 months a travel that will make up for what little you were able to explore the last time you went to the most spectacular country experience you could have imagined. When you attempted to master the travel experience of that country, you came back with the realization that you barely scratched the surface of its locals and people. You vowed to make it back and explore more than before, and take on an adjacent country to boot. And you were going to go for longer on the same budget because you learned a few travel budget things the last time. Speed forward a few months and you are prepping for the new trip becoming a reality. Tickets and bookings happened for great budgetary prices during the holidays. You have been setting aside a bit per month to buy currency. Then the shocker hits you. A disaster happens, like taxes. You have already invested so much, if you back out now you are at a loss. Can you still go on this amazing trip?

Such a wall of shock hit me this week. I spent 24 hours on one of the most stressful decisions all year: Call it a loss and stay in the US, miserable, or cut the daily travel budget in half and still have a wee bit of debt, but a wealth of experience. On day 2 I decided to go ahead and challenge my already challenged tight budget.

Retrench
It’s an old term from the UK, meaning to get back into the battle. Recover from a loss. My brain had to wrap around how to get a daily budget for food and maybe the occasional fun thing to do paid for after taking a hit to an otherwise already tight travel budget.

Fundraising on funding sites won’t attract sympathy from anyone unless you’re traveling to do a scientific study, so how do you do it. It’s spring, it’s time for a garage sale. You need to clear it out anyway, look for items you can sell in a garage sale and or on eBay. You may be able to get a few days of meals out of it.

Accommodations
Hopefully you were smart and shopped at AirBNB or other sites and found the best rated spaces for your very limited budget to begin with. Think if you can about the type of place you are staying in. Part of a vacation is that you want to spoil yourself a bit if you can. Well, if you plan really well and read reviews, real time, real people reviews, you may find some great bangs for your travel buck. One thing to consider, if you are in a location for more than one night, find one with service or kitchen facilities in the room. Even a small fridge will do. You can pick up a few items of food or a bottle of wine, mix up a picnic lunch and save some money. If you save a bit, and some days you have a bit left over, you have money for a little splurge later. If you are lucky enough to travel and have patience with travel partners, room and other costs can be combined, and you can stretch your more. Just plan for some “me” time on your trip so you don’t get into a horn lock with your travel mates.

Food
Decide how you can save daily expenses in a city. Cities are very expensive to live in, but if you have been a university student in a large metropolitan city like where you are visiting (Dublin), you can find the best places to eat for a tight budget. Think like a starving student. Chose where you stay to help with your budget. Is the place you are staying only accessible to high-end restaurants, and can you walk or bus it to where you can get groceries if you have a refrigerator at your disposal. Granted, one of the great things about travel is fantastic food. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive restaurant in town that has the best. Again, think like a student. Amend look for pop up restaurants, great variety and smaller overhead can help your budget.

Travel
In the city, try to walk as much as you can. It’s the best way to experience it after all. I have been in training for the last two years with travel in mind, I sometimes walk 12 miles or more a day when I am visiting a city. Walking is free, but make sure you invest in good shoes before you leave. Cabs are very expensive, plus there’s the tip you should give. I usually only do them coming from an airport and getting to one if the bus is too difficult. Bus systems in most cities may seem an alien experience to you, but can save you loads of money and you can talk to locals. By keeping your transit to walking and buses, you can save money for a splurge on a tour maybe. Start by booking any train travel about a month out. Many trips can be purchased in advance and be really cheap with your fees being prepaid. If you wait too long, the prices double and treble. Most rain travel is accessible by internet booking now and you can set up an account with the train line that you can access later. Make sure you know where you can pick up your tickets, as not all railway stations have machines.

Entertainment
This year I am going for the festival experience. This means a plethora of overwhelming amounts of theatre and arts venues, and way too many choices. Shop ahead online before you go if you have a particular artist you want to see, or surprise yourself and load one of the festival apps with GPS. Venues with tickets still available will show, and if you are lucky, some days of the festival like Monday or Tuesday are cheap seats days. There are many free performances and street performers are pay as you like.

Set Your Daily Budget
The reality is if you only have so much money to take with you, budget the cash divided by days. Logical right. There are articles and books on doing cities and places on x $ per day. Many things can and will add up to an expensive day. Taxi rides to and from to the airport if public transit is a no go. Food. Food doesn’t have to be extreme. There are plenty of great priced places and great articles out there on top food choices on a budget. Don’t forget farmers markets, many towns have them and you are supporting locals v. Corporate farms. If you can get the breakfast at the inn deal, sometimes they are a bit tasteless.  Then you only have to worry about dinner. If you are very conservative and keep your big splurges down, you can save from your budget for a great treat at the end. Remember, really experiencing a place is all in the wandering. I keep a list of free things to do in each city on my phone. And warning, going to the pub is much more costly in Europe than in the US or Canada. So if you can get that kitchenette, it’s cheaper to buy bottles and stay in.

So, the budget vacation doesn’t have to be boring. True travel adventures don’t need to be costly if you plan ahead and think about real value. Avoiding high costs like car hires unless you have 4 people minimum will help keep your budget under wraps. Public transit and walking everywhere save money for food and the occasional theatre ticket. It can be done, besides, it’s what the locals do.


© 2017 photo by Alison McEwan

Suit Case Limits on European Flights: Check All Airlines Restrictions

downloadAfter months of keeping an eye out for suit case deals, reading articles and comparison charts by brand, a decision had to be made. I am flying in about a month and needed to get the reality check purchase made. Restrictions on size being the main criteria, small European flights are indeed small, like flying match sticks, and have no overhead room. So, how do you get that in that small but useful cabin bag size working for you and What features do you really need?

When I first started considering the small plane flights, I remembered one of my hops last year and how I barely made the size restrictions on that last leg of my Transatlantic  flight, and the fear and expense of having to track two bags in the hold. There’s nothing like getting to your dream vacation spot and your luggage takes days to catch up to you. I was using borrowed travel cases and learned so much about baggage “hate” that trip. This year I decided I had to budget for new cases and invest in sizes that fit the minimum or under in dimensions for the overhead bins in the cabins, and that they had to work for the smaller planes. After doing research on the internet, I decided I had better call the airlines for Aer Lingus restrictions on my tiny flight and was glad I did. The online references really weren’t clear, going mostly by weight. The case size was restricted to a 18 inch tall bag (length) and I had to research how to get the carry on under a good budget and afford the purchase of a second larger case. In my initial research, I found that if I bought cases according to maximum measurements, I was averaging a huge sum of money for specific sizes. I am sorry, I know there are people who love the designer thing, and some that are professional travelers, but most of us can’t spend $500.00 or more on luggage. That covers quite a few nights in a hotel. But what about buying cheap cases that may bust in the hold? How can you meet a tight budget and have cases that survive the trip? Check out reviews online and hope for the best. After some research and looking at some reviews, I made a choice that fit my budget and the size restrictions. I also went in with the mindset that if the cases made it through two Transatlantic trips, meaning two vacations, it would be a good investment. Why get a expensive set of luggage when size restrictions could change in the future?

Your carry on bag should contain all toiletries you will need immediately upon landing, and at the very least 2 changes of clothing. If your baggage is delayed you have something to work with while you wait for the cases to catch up with you.

Measurements for Consideration

55cm x 40cm x 24cm Cabin for Transatlantic, 18 inch tall for smaller planes.

90 x 75 x 43cm (35.5 x 29.5 x 16in) Checked Luggage size

Contact your airlines for intercontinental flights sizes before you board. The restrictions can vary per airline, but many airlines buy the same planes. The above is an average.

Luggage Restrictions for European Fights 2017

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Criterion

Hard-sided meeting European cabin luggage restrictions 18 inches tall, 4 wheels not 2, for smaller intercontinental and island hopping flights.

Wheeled, preferably spinner second case under 62 inch restrictions

Small travel backpack/day pack with iPad pouch and place to hide passport, etc.

Spend amount less than the price of one very expensive piece of luggage. Buy a set of2 for the price of one American Tourister.

Purchase Made: inUSA brand, Model: San Francisco, spinners( 4) on both cases, self locking TSA lock combo included (we’ll see about that).

imagesI finally made a choice after reviewing several cases on Amazon. I also chose a situation where shipping was free, since I was finding many of the cases were costing a great deal in shipping fees, thus adding to the price. My considerations were meeting the size restrictions and including spinner wheels height extension. After years of standard cases and lugging a case that was too bulky across Scotland last year, I decided it was time to scale down and streamline, bring less clothing and do more washing. Not something you want to have to do on your trip, but planning your trip to include space and time to do laundry unfortunately has to be done. I planned for laundry in Glasgow and Dublin Stops, with research on Yelp for reliable machines.

Other Considerations: TILE brand luggage and pets GPS tags, DYNOTAG permanent luggage tags. Osprey light daypack, featuring space for camel pack or laptop, tablet, and padding space, hiding space for passport.

Research Your Cases

http://www.luggageontour.com

http://nymag.com/strategist/article/the-best-rolling-luggage-according-to-frequent-fliers.html

 

 

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Travel Apps Round Up 2 and Clearing Space for Snaps

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Room for Your New Travel Snaps

Grab your smartphone and hang on. You are going on your trip in a month or less and getting extremely excited about everything your will do. You plan on taking snaps everywhere and wonder about the fact you already have a zillion photos on your phone. You have you hard copy itinerary and have booked on a travel app you are sort of liking but not sure is really your thing. There is so much to see and do, and you will get a hundred brochures on sites when you hit the hotel. Overload awaits you. Not if you start planning and clearing out the old, and setting the stage for the new.

Clear out the last years photos from your phone. Sounds easy right? It actually is, but we tend to hang on to every picture of our cats doing weird things, and foodie shots. If you are on iPhone and have iCloud account, you should back up your photos to the cloud regularly and there is a feature that lets you do that. So, check that you have uploaded and backed up your camera rolls then clear off your phone. But with all the sharing, images keep popping up on all devices and can be annoying. You need to do a two-step process with iPhone:

How to Set Up iCloud Phone Library and Optimize Storage

Then take the extra step to get the photos off your iPhone after you have verified that the photos have been backed  up in drive.

Clearing iPhone Photos

So if you are an Android or Google Phone type, you will need to check out these ideas to help save and clear your stash of snaps. Many of us use Google drive and this should be easy but you will need to take a few enabled steps.

Clearing Photos and Images on Android Using Google Drive

Travel Apps

Now that you have freed up some space on your phone, and checked what apps you can get rid of because you don’t really use them, you can now start looking at some travel apps. There are many websites that help with booking, but there are some apps that make travel more fun and organized if you try them out and get used to the interface before hand.

Google Trips v Tripit

I have just started using this little gem. If you have a Gmail account, any of your booking confirmations that come in can be automatically added for your trips. I just started my trip planner for July and started manually putting my flight info in. It would be handy if Justfly.com did an export to the app directly. You can access off line as well through your Google account in case the phone is not available, like at at hotel lobby.Google Trips

I can manage my hotel and accommodations on Booking.com easily enough, and export confirmations to my Wallet app so I can just walk in and show it as confirmation. Sometimes it’s good to have a mobile app that has a very user friendly interface. You may have to try a few to see which one has the ease of use that works for you before you hop your plane.

Tripit is a similar program but you can send your itineraries from any email to it and it will add automatically, Google defaults to Gmail of course. It’s a bit more involved, has a few more features. I say try both out for bit before your trip and see which you prefer.

Duolingo

Traveling to France or another tongue you do not speak? Try an app for translation on the fly. Gone are the days of flipping through a translation book, plonk in you language and ask it to translate. There are short lessons in this app that will help you a bit with the language basics. For more in depth in a language, search for that particular language app at the app store. Try it free to see if the interface works for you.

Citimapper

Free alternative to Google Maps with transit mapping included. Works in most major cities. Warning, data hog.

XE Currency

Check all the currency exchange rates at a glance. Smartphone app and web site conversion. This has been a go to standard for years. Currency converter. You can check their rates, look at world currency values up to date by the minute.

Easy Currency Converter

Great little app, available on Android. Includes bitcoin.

My Currency Converter

iPhone app, very clean and easy to view, use design. I always go with easy of use, otherwise it’s smash the app time on the phone.

Travelex Money App

Need to top up your Travelex money card while traveling in Europe, you can do it through this app. What I don’t like is it default loads to try to get you to drop $1k on it immediately as they do make money off you. But being able to slip the currency in on the phone when getting money from your bank while abroad may have even high fees is a good idea.

Usage Hint: Data suck is high in these cities, download travel map apps that allow for offline use when necessary, WiFi doesn’t follow you around, you have to find it. Good WiFi finder app is a must. Live GPS will kill your data space.

More

 

Hopper

Yelp

Skyscanner

Spotted by Locals

GoEuro

WiFi Finder

Atlas Obscura

UseIt Europe

Local Apps

Check out the city you are going to for their local tourist apps as well, usually on the city website or local tourist board site. Some of them have great walking tours and information about smaller museums and sites that you would otherwise have to dig through Trip Advisor for. Don’t forget the What’s On sections of most online newspapers. There will be links to all local attractions and advertising for apps.GL_ipad

Local Apps Ireland

http://www.ireland.com/en-us/what-is-available/articles/apps-for-ireland/

Belfast

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/visit-belfast/id405725557?mt=8

Galway

https://galway-app.droidinformer.org/

http://townapps.ie/project/galway/

http://www.loveconnemara.com/french/things-to-do-t46565

Scotland

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/visiting/getting-around

http://everyedinburgh.com/8-essential-edinburgh-apps-you-need-to-download/

http://www.travelinescotland.com/apps

Glasgow App Developers with local apps http://appdeveloperscotland.co.uk/

Articles

http://budgettraveller.org/20-best-free-travel-apps-travelling-around-uk/

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/02/10-best-travel-apps-free-paid-for

https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-travel-apps/2/

https://www.danflyingsolo.com/best-apps-for-travelling-2017/

 

Suit Case Limits on European Flights: Check All Airlines Restrictions

downloadAfter months of keeping an eye out for suit case deals, reading articles and comparison charts by brand, a decision had to be made. Flying in about a month and needed to get the reality check. Those small European flights are indeed small, like flying match sticks, and have no overhead room. So, how do you get that in cabin bag size working for you and planning to shop.

When I first started considering the small plane flights, I remembered one of my hops last year and how I barely made the big time size restrictions on that last leg of my trans Atlantic flight and fear of having to track two bags in the hold. I was using borrowed travel cases and learned so much about baggage hate that trip. This year I decided I had to budget for new cases and invest in sizes that fit the minimum or under in dimensions, and that they had to work for the smaller planes. After doing research on the internet, I decided I had better call the airlines for Aer Lingus restrictions on my tiny flight and was glad I did. The case size was restricted to a 18 inch tall bag (length) and I had to research how to get the carryon under a good budget and the second larger case. In my initial research, I found that if I bought cases according to maximum measurements, I was averaging a huge sum of money for specific sizes. I am sorry, I know there are people who love the designer thing, and some that are professional travelers, but most of us can’t see spending as much art a three night stay in hotel on cases. But what about buying cheap cases that may bust in the hold. What and how can you meet a tight budget and have cases that survive the trip? Check out reviews online and hope for the best.

55cm x 40cm x 24cm Cabin for Transatlantic, 18 inch tall for smaller planes.

90 x 75 x 43cm (35.5 x 29.5 x 16in) Checked Luggage size

Contact your airlines for intercontinental flights sizes

Luggage Restrictions for European Fights 2017

download-1

Criterion

Hard-sided meeting European cabin luggage restrictions 18 inches tall, 4 wheels not 2

Wheeled, preferably spinner second case under 62 inch restrictions

Small travel backpack/day pack with iPad pouch and place to hide passport, etc.

Spend amount less than the price of one very expensive piece of luggage. Buy a set of2 for the price of one American Tourister.

Purchase Made: inUSA brand, Model: San Francisco, spinners( 4) on both cases, self locking TSA lock combo included (we’ll see about that).

imagesI finally made a choice after reviewing several cases on Amazon. I also chose a situation where shipping was free, since I was finding many of the cases were costing a great deal in shipping fees, thus adding to the price. My considerations were meeting the size restrictions and have I got spinner wheels. After years of standard cases and lugging a way to bog case across Scotland last year, I decided it was time to scale down and streamline, bring less clothing and do more washing. Not something you want to have to do, but planning your trip to include space an time to do laundry unfortunately has to be done for us non jet-setters. Planned for laundry in Glasgow and Dublin Stops, with research on Yelp.

Other Considerations: TILE brand luggage and pets GPS tags, DYNOTAG permanent luggage tags. Osprey light daypack, featuring space for camel pack or laptop, tablet, and padding space, hide that passport.

Research Your Cases

http://www.luggageontour.com

http://nymag.com/strategist/article/the-best-rolling-luggage-according-to-frequent-fliers.html

 

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Smartphone or Camera for Travels?

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On my last trip, I relied solely on my smartphone camera for taking pictures while traveling. It was an older iPhone model but still did the job. However, it was very limited to its uses, and the clarity is somewhat lacking. I am contemplating the idea of getting a separate camera to take on this trip. But of course this brings up several things to think about.

Smartphone Camera
Your smartphone has a camera. It works great for selfies and other “get it now” pictures. However is is not a fine detail image builder. There are apps that you can get that mimic other digital cameras interfaces, and using one of these you may like. However unless you pick up a lense kit for your phone, you won’t get great picture quality. And even some of these lenses will only go so far. Check out some reviews on lenses for smartphones and see if this may be all that you need. Save money for splurging on something on the trip.

Budget
Always a tough one. The price of a really good camera can equal the price of a plane ticket. It’s always a matter of what can you afford? Most of the camera manufacturers like Canon, Sony, and Ricoh, have several models within ranges for their camera offerings. A decent camera starts in the $375.00 range and can go up to $800.00 for basic models. Do you want changeable lenses? Then you will need to pay more. The fixed lense models are more affordable, but some have less than desirable digital interfaces. Some models still have the classic camera mirror, others do not. However, mirrors are not a good thing when traveling as they will break. To find your camera for traveI, I would suggest going to a larger electronics store or camera store and look at models that you can test out. Then, see if you can get better pricing online. Pay attention to the interface for working with the camera. Does it feel like you are going to have a long learning curve on this software? Camera software is known to not be easy to work with.

Another Device to Keep track Of
Cameras have always been delicate pieces of machinery. Traveling with them means careful packing, often in a case specific to them. That means another case to keep track of. If you get a slimline style, you can get away with a very small padded case and stash it with your daypack. I am a big fan of a small daypack backpack for all travel as you can keep a lot in it for your day as you may not be able to get back to your lodgings in between all your touring for the day. You may want to get a locking mechanism for any external pouches you store camera in for anti theft deterrent. There are a vast array of camera back packs out there now with the padding and compartments built in to keep parts from jostling, and messenger bag styles as well.

What do You Really Need
Traveling means keeping things compact. Unless you are a photojournalist, chances are you would not need to have a higher end camera traveling with you. You are taking a chance with any electronic device in damage at the airports and other transit for your travels, train racks are brutal. Not to mention the target you become for theft because cameras are easy to grab and resell. Do you want that stress on your tour? I know that I don’t. However, I would like to have a camera that takes better pictures than my iPhone can. But a large extensive camera loaded with features is really going to be more than I truly need. I need to find one that is a few steps up from a camera phone model, with an easy interface to work with. Don’t need learning curve with electronics on vacation.

Tell us your camera stories

More…

http://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-travel-cameras
https://www.lifewire.com/best-camera-cases-and-bags-to-buy-4078328
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-iphone-lenses,review-2366.html
http://phandroid.com/2017/02/21/best-android-camera-apps/
https://iphonephotographyschool.com/best-camera-app-for-iphone/

Planning Your Travels and Keeping Track

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You have been living in America or Canada your whole life. You decide it’s time to adventure past your borders. You have mostly flown domestic or done a border hop to the US or Canada. Because the borders and cooperation between countries was fairly easy for years, you never took much notice of what it really requires to travel beyond. You’d be surprised at how many people forget they need a passport until about 6 weeks before travel, if not a few weeks. I have met people where I have asked how fun their passport pictures have turned out after they told me about their trip. I got the deer in headlights look. If you are lucky enough to live in a very large American or Canadian city with embassies from most countries available to you to stand and line and wait hours, you can wait physically in line for help with this. If not, you have to go to a passport center and wait some weeks, up to two months to get your passport. Then you need to figure out what visas are required for what countries. And if you will need to get shots for disease prevention. That cheap flight that attracted to you visit somewhere exotic suddenly becomes very complicated.

Americans have been traveling abroad more in the last few years. The economy is still not great, but many more people seem to be venturing out. But now we have countries, including our own, tightening borders and placing restrictions on travel. And face it, Americans tend to over do most things. Packing or not packing right is no exception. Then there comes the keeping track of how you travel.

Files

I travel with a folder filled with many things. I may be an electronics nerd, and I use a lot of travel apps, but I know that things happen with electronics, that you will not have WiFi on the plane and sometimes having a hard copy to prove you paid in advance for a tour just feels a little more secure. It also helps organizing yourself if you have planned a crazy itinerary that isn’t all included in say a travel site like Booking.com.

I also have a digital folder in Google Docs and may do one in Dropbox as well just in case. I also have a folder with my professional CV and such. Yep, being a teacher means looking for the next year’s classroom while on vacation sometimes. Sigh.

The hard copy file though is my talisman. It shouldn’t be, maybe it’s better to think of it as a touchstone. I have printed copies of itineraries, booking confirmations, the list I started of gyms and other facilities. Oh, and the gym routine for the month copy so if I can get to a gym I can keep up with my plan. I know, you are on vacation, but I think of travel as a serious adventure and training and keeping fit helps you get through the marathon. Plus if the bathroom facilities in your accommodation are lacking, you have a backup shower. Also if you book in advance for theatre and comedy shows like I am doing for Galway’s Arts Festival and the Fringe Festival, having a hard copy of receipts may be a good idea. I do keep lists on my smartphone as well, but if the battery dies I am out of luck.

What to keep in this folder? Well, flight details are good. Yes, you should join the online website of your flight providers, not just rely on digital access when you need it. This way you can do things like make sure you have seats, because JustFly can only do so much with that on some participating airlines. It may say you have a reserved seat of choice, but when you get there it’s another story.

Any prepayments for tours. Yes, tours abound when you are traveling. You may book a tour or two from the city you are in. Many of them do not have cash facilities for when you get there and you will need to book online. Having a printout with a ticket is still the thing on many tours, they don’t all have online ticketing where you can download to your smartphone’s wallet app. And since many tour companies have very similar names in certain regions, it’s a good idea to have a hard copy with name print out and any tour meetup instructions. See, paper is really good for notes. Note that because tourist season is insane, it is best if you can book tours a month out, so retain your receipt. Many good tours get booked solid.

Notes on Your Smartphone
Yes, they all have a note app. You could also get Google Docs app to just play it safe. You should have a travel folder online as a backup and a document about your trip with notes, dates, etc. Travel can be overwhelming. I know for a fact that Fringe Festival is going to be massive and cramping 3 days of it is a marathon. Having a diary doc will work if you don’t have a travel journal. I have to do this since I blog. I will of course write bits in my hard copy journal while visiting sites and museums for notes. But constantly using your device in a heavy data city will rack up your minutes. Paper is cheaper.

Travel Checklist

Six or More Months Out
Shop for plane tickets. Great sales happen during end of year holidays. Shop even earlier and tickets will be less than half. Do research on visas.
Start booking rooms and reading reviews. You can change them later, but if you are going during high season, festival season in Europe and mean your fav city is already booked solid, you may have to stay in a neighboring town.

Two Months Out
Passport, Visas applied for 3 months out hopefully. Check embassy websites to see the requirements for the country you are coming from. Many countries are now revising their visa requirements.
Cases-Research luggage sizing allowed on all flights. European flights are restricted more than US flights and many of the newer small planes have very little overhead space.

Get laptops and electronics cases, sleeves suitable for travel. TSA is moving towards all electronics packed in the hold.

Week Of
Packing: Pack everything you would need for a mini vacation in the carryon in case luggage gets misplaced. Get trackable luggage tags. They have a online app that you can use to track luggage with and you can upload pictures of luggage and contents in case they get misplaced in travels. This supposedly helps if your tags get separated from bags. Take enough clothing and plan to wear some items several times. Baggage allowances are less than domestic US or Canadian flights allow.

More Reading

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/travel-apps/

https://www.brit.co/travel-journals/

Terrorism and Travel

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On May 22, another act of senseless and cruel terrorism occurred in Manchester, England. The fact that it targeted children and young adults has shocked many in the world, however brought together a beautiful city of caring inhabitants. This is their city, and they will not allow this terrible atrocity to do further injury. The government’s response is to go into the UK Terror Level of the highest “Critical”. Troops are deployed to work with law enforcement.

I remember my first trip to London back in my university days. I arrived a few weeks after a terrorist attack. I was very young and had just come from the bubble of American life where we were mostly untouched by such acts. I read the local papers and went to where it happened and looked around. Londoners were determined to carry on. It was a truly humbling experience to talk with locals.

Many other cities in the UK are on high alert now because they have very public events going on. In Scotland, where I am going, concert venues are stepping up security and soldiers are being deployed to guard nuclear facilities and infrastructure that may be possible targets.

As a traveler the summer, you will be experiencing heightened security on planes due to the new laptop and devices restrictions. There will now be another layer of security in airports due to these recent events of terrorism in several cities around the globe. Prepare yourself for longer times in customs and be patient. Much of what is being done is for your security. Add an hour to your pre-flight time.

Show solidarity when you travel. If you are traveling to any of the cites recently affected by these events, show your support in your tourism by participating in the economy and talking to local people. Listen to what they are saying and experience their cities’ greatness. Let them start the conversation.

For more reading:

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/uk-england-manchester-40007967
http://www.scotsman.com/regions/glasgow-strathclyde/scottish-concert-venues-increase-security-after-manchester-attack-1-4455976
http://www.scotsman.com/regions/edinburgh-fife-lothians/in-pictures-armed-police-deployed-across-scotland-1-4455556

Smartphone or Camera for Travel Pictures

On my last trip, I relied solely on my smartphone camera for taking pictures while traveling. It was an older iPhone model but still did the job. However, it was very limited to its use. I am contemplating the idea of getting a separate camera to take on this trip. But of course this brings up several things to think about.

Smartphone Camera
Your smartphone has a camera. It works great for selfies and other “get it now” pictures. However is is not a fine detail image builder. There are apps that you can get that mimic other digital cameras interfaces, and using one of these you may like. However unless you pick up a lense kit for your phone, you won’t get great picture quality. And even some of these lenses will only go so far. Check out some reviews on lenses for smartphones and see if this may be all that you need. Save money for splurging on something on the trip.

Budget
Always a tough one. The price of a really good camera can equal the price of a plane ticket. It’s always a matter of what can you afford? Most of the camera manufacturers like Canon, Sony, and Ricoh, have several models within ranges for their camera offerings. A decent camera starts in the $375.00 range and can go up to $800.00 for basic models. Do you want changeable lenses? Then you will need to pay more. The fixed lense models are more affordable, but some have less than desirable digital interfaces. Some models still have the classic camera mirror, others do not. However, mirrors are not a good thing when traveling as they will break. To find your camera for traveI, I would suggest going to a larger electronics store or camera store and look at models that you can test out. Then, see if you can get better pricing online. Pay attention to the interface for working with the camera. Does it feel like you are going to have a long learning curve on this software? Camera software is known to not be easy to work with.

Another Device to Keep Track Of
Cameras have always been delicate pieces of machinery. Traveling with them means careful packing, often in a case specific to them. That means another case to keep track of. If you get a slimline style, you can get away with a very small padded case and stash it with your daypack. I am a big fan of a small daypack backpack for all travel as you can keep a lot in it for your day as you may not be able to get back to your lodgings in between all your touring for the day. You may want to get a locking mechanism for any external pouches you store camera in for anti theft deterrent. There are a vast array of camera back packs out there now with the padding and compartments built in to keep parts from jostling, and messenger bag styles as well.

What do You Really Need
Traveling means keeping things compact. Unless you are a photojournalist, chances are you would not need to have a higher end camera traveling with you. You are taking a chance with any electronic device in damage at the airports and other transit for your travels, train racks are brutal. Not to mention the target you become for theft because cameras are easy to grab and resell. Do you want that stress on your tour? I know that I don’t. However, I would like to have a camera that takes better pictures than my iPhone can. But a large extensive camera loaded with features is really going to be more than I truly need. I need to find one that is a few steps up from a camera phone model, with an easy interface to work with. Don’t need learning curve with electronics on vacation.

Tell us your camera stories

http://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-travel-cameras
https://www.lifewire.com/best-camera-cases-and-bags-to-buy-4078328
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-iphone-lenses,review-2366.html
http://phandroid.com/2017/02/21/best-android-camera-apps/
https://iphonephotographyschool.com/best-camera-app-for-iPhone