The traveller’s well-organised medicine bag

My mother is the most organised traveller I know. Everything I learned about packing techniques, what to take, what to leave behind, I learned from her.

The most impressive part of her packing, and the one where I still meticulously follow her lessons, was the family medicine bag. Not only was it full of all the standard toiletries but with two illness-riddled children  (both with severe asthma, one with life-threatening nut allergies) our family trips included antihistamine tablets and ventolin puffers in every bag, as well as a monstrously heavy, buzzing nebuliser for every day emergencies such as a wheezing 5 year old.

When I go overseas, my medicine bag is impressive and designed to ward off any illnesses I may get short of broken bones. And even then, I have bandages for a temporary splint.

This is my guide to a well-organised medicine bag.

Medication

If you are travelling from Australia to anywhere in the world that isn’t New Zealand, Western Europe, the United States or Canada, check out the recommended vaccinations and make sure you are up-to-date. Basic good-sense.

However, you are more likely to come down with a fever, infection or good old belly problems before hepatitis. If you have an obliging doctor, they may be happy to write you out scripts for potential illnesses, which you can have made up before you depart. This can get expensive, but depending on where you are going and for how long it can really be worth it. Some basics to cover are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fevers
  • Stomach problems
  • Severe colds
  • Any infections or problems you might be prone to.

Your standard meds, if you take any, such as:

  • Contraceptives
  • Asthma medication
  • Antihistamines if you have allergies
  • EPI pen

Now for my biggest medicine bag trick.

The best way to transport your meds is to open and cut-up the box. Cut out the side of the box that tells you what the med is and how to take it. Put this rectangle of cardboard over the popping side of the medication packets and wrap it all up in clingwrap. Voila! Securely wrapped and taking up a fraction of the space of the box.

A toiletries check-list:

  • a bar of soap – more useful than bodywash. Get a holder for it.
  • toothbrush and toothpaste, with toothbrush head protectors
  • tampons and pads
  • soft-pack tissues
  • shampoo and conditioner (small bottles, they can easily be replaced)
  • face wipes to make you feel fresh
  • anti bacterial hand gel (keep it in your handbag)
  • band-aids
  • safety pins
  • small scissors
  • antiseptic gel or cream such as Betadine
  • deodorant
  • dry shampoo
  • moisturiser
  • sunscreen
  • perfume
  • make-up – unless you have a reason, be sparing. You will never bother to use as much as you think it will.

People have different ways of packing. You can have one huge bag or separates. I have one for emergency medications, one for everyday toiletries and one for my make up and jewellery. It seems like so much, but if I put it all in one bag it would be impossible to find anything!

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S&G quick travel guide to: Cambodia

My new husband and I spent our honeymoon in Cambodia.

I want to say that this off-kilter honeymoon choice was intentional, but in fact we’d booked our trip to Cambodia before we decided to get married, so it was entirely by accident that we found ourselves at the Air Asia check-in counter sneakily asking for upgrades ‘because it’s our honeymoon’.

I’ve written posts about all the places we travelled, so if you’re looking to see something of this beautiful country I would recommend checking them out.

Otherwise, here is my general guide for travelling in Cambodia:

  • Cambodia outside its two main cities; Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; is worth seeing. It is grubbier, there isn’t always a lot to do, there is poverty and near-death experiences on the roads. But if you only stick to the touristy areas, you’re only going to see the tourist side of the country.
  • Pay extra to travel comfortably. It’s worth it.
  • There is an electrolyte drink for sale in Cambodia called Royal D and it will be your new best friend. It cures hangovers, dehydration, stomach problems, anything. Buy it!
  • Never accept a first offer of price from tuk-tuk drivers in particular, but don’t argue too long over a dollar.
  • Cambodia is a country with a troubled recent history and as a nation they still face huge economic and social development problems. Do your bit as a tourist and buy from registered charities, support legitimate development groups and give back to the delightful Cambodians you meet. Every little bit helps and for less than a cup of coffee, you can help incite change.
  • If you are interested in helping out locally, why not volunteer for a day or a week at a wildlife reserve or to help build in local villages. Your guidebook would be a good place to start looking for somewhere reputable. We volunteered at the Elephant Valley Project.
  • If you love cycling and a challenge, you can cycle around the country. Buy a good bike with excellent suspension.
  • The airports in Cambodia are surprisingly good, if you can afford to fly.
  • Siem Reap is the most touristy city in Cambodia. You may love that or loathe it but either way it is good place to re-charge, get your washing done, enjoy good food and drink and meet fellow travellers.
  • The Temples of Angkor Wat are amazing and if you have the time, buy a three-day pass. Take camera, good shoes and patience to deal with the busloads of tourists.
  • Phnom Penh is a city with a lot more charm than you might think, particularly if you take advantage of the river life.

Which are you – aisle or window?

Just as the world is divided into folders and scrunchers, biters and suckers, so we can also divide ourselves into ‘aisle’ or ‘window’. Whichever you prefer, chances are you’re pretty determined on what you like.

Strangely enough, it isn’t a question of seasoned vs. first-time travellers. I imagine first-time travellers want the window seat more than people who are on planes every month, but each option has its benefits and drawbacks that make you fall into one or other category.

View from a window seat

View from a window seat

And let’s be honest: there are only two seat preferences on a plane. No one chooses the middle seat. Middle seats are for people who lost the allocation lucky dip; they are for the sacrificing half of a couple who gave up the window or aisle to a loved one or for the small child seated between their parents in order to prevent them from running amok all over the plane (thank you to those parents).

I am a long-term fan of the aisle seat. It is a preference passed down to me from my parents and I stick by it. The advantages are numerous. You can get up and stretch your legs anytime you want and are never trapped by large or asleep strangers. You can peer up the aisles to see what’s going on or catch a peak at someone else’s meal to see what looks edible. Historically, it was also the place to get the best view of the one television up the front showing the in-flight entertainment. That shows how long I’ve been flying for.

Lately though, I am coming to appreciate the benefits of the window seat. On long-haul flights the benefits seem greater, I admit. Being able to lean your pillow against the window and those few extra precious inches can be wonderful. The view of course, becomes a real selling point, particularly when flying over central Asia.

Kirst is a window seater from way back – mainly because of the view. As a child she flew over the North Pole and after seeing it from the sky there was no going back. She loves the feeling of extra space and the teeny bit more privacy it offers, plus – no banged elbows or people constantly brushing past.

Interestingly, my Husband has recently informed me that he is converting from a window to aisle preferences, persuaded by my arguments in favour of the latter. This should make picking seats for our next overseas holiday interesting.

Where do you sit? Aisle or Window?

Our Top Ten Long Weekend Getaways from Brisbane

We’ve just gotten back from a lovely 3-day weekend and with the Easter long weekend almost here it’s got us thinking about where to next?

Brisbane is in such a good position for weekend getaways it’s not even funny. We’re super close to beaches, the bush, rainforest, reef, mountains and wine country. And on top of that we’re just a couple of hours flight from the hustle and bustle of some of Australia’s wonderful southern cities. If you’re overdue a much-needed break it’s time for you so get your butt into gear and book yourself a long weekend away. Be inspired by our list below!

These are our Top Ten favourite places for a long weekend getaway…

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How to Survive a Long Haul flight

 

In the past year, I’ve jumped across the pond to the other side of the world 4 times. I’ve been to Europe, Asia and the Middle East and taken my ‘countries visited tally’ up to 24.

Whilst the travel has been fun, it has also been exhausting. I’ve spent countless hours roaming around airports, sitting on planes and battling jet lag – but thankfully after a bit of experimentation I’ve found the best way to survive a long haul flight unscathed, so I’m here to share my top 10 tips with you.

1. Rest up

I’m a very light sleeper at the best of times, so I always take a sleeping pill on the night legs of my journey. I know these aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find they make the flight go a lot quicker and I actually feel well rested when I arrive at my destination. I also always ensure that I have my neck pillow (an inflatable one to save space) and an eye mask to help block out any unwanted light/annoying fellow passengers.

2. Pack the essentials

Don’t you find it interesting how much better you feel after a shower, washing your face and cleaning your teeth? Air travel is no different – in fact I think it’s more important to look after your skin, eyes and teeth when flying because you’re more susceptible to dehydration. I generally remove my makeup when I get on a plane (face wipes are a god send!) and I double up on the moisturiser. I also pop on some hand cream, pop in a few eye-drops so my eyes don’t dry out and of course – paw paw ointment to keep those lips soft!

A few other essentials to take with you: toothpaste/toothbrush/mouthwash – brush your teeth with bottled water if you can and always use your antibacterial gel/hand sanitiser after going to the bathroom. As OCD as it sounds, I have been known to use this to wipe down my tray and arm rests when I get on board as a flight attendant friend of mine told me that these rarely get cleaned!

Some ’emergency’ extras I normally take with me include: hydralyte, tissues, strepsils/throat lozenges, some pain killers and some healthy snacks (mixed nuts are a favourite of mine).

3. Get comfortable

It goes without saying that if you’re comfortable, it’s going to be an easier flight, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear your ratty pjs in public (yes I am judging you). Invest in some lightweight trousers – there are loads of soft printed pants in the shops right now and they are perfect for travelling – plus they look great with a singlet or t-shirt and a longline cardigan, which is a must if you get cold on planes and the blanket just doesn’t cut it for you. For night flights, I prefer to wear workout leggings with sneakers or slip-ons, a soft t-shirt and a light cardigan. I often find that a scarf comes in handy when they turn the cabin temperature down too!

4. Compression is key

Now it’s not very sexy but I highly recommend wearing compression tights when travelling long haul. Pop them on just as you get on the plane and voila! no swollen feet when you arrive. I do this every single time I travel long distance and swear by it.

5. Stay hydrated

Drink Water. I know it seems glamorous to have a bunch of alcohol and sure, a glass of champagne can be lovely, but don’t go overboard before you get on board! It will dehydrate you further and I guarantee you won’t feel particularly fresh when you arrive at your destination.

 6. Relax

Read, watch movies, do a crossword. Flights are great opportunity to take some time to yourself. Sometimes I just like to look out the window and watch the world go by.

 7. Stopover

Who doesn’t love a stopover? Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, try to make the most of it. Remember when we were talking about ‘feeling fresh’ up in point 1? This is your time to have a shower and change your clothing and underwear, have a drink and a light bite to eat. Airport lounges can be pricey but it can also make a long journey much more manageable. I often book into a lounge and have a shoulder massage and I recently also got my nails done at Changi Airport during a 7 hour layover. You could also take the time to explore -whether it’s a day in Zurich or an mini-break in Bangkok or Israel.

8. Get moving

You’ve been sitting on a plane for 6+ hours so tell me why are you now sitting in the airport lounge? Get up and walk around, explore the duty free shops – heck some airports even have gyms so you can get your blood pumping! Our bodies are designed to move and I can guarantee that even just a little bit of walking in between flights, or after a long haul will make you feel much better. I always try to do some exercise when i get to my hotel as well – even if it’s just a few push ups, squats and star jumps – it’s a great mood enhancer and helps to shake off the ‘lazy’ feeling I often get when I fly.

How to plan a wine-holiday with friends

Wine holidays are FABULOUS!

First up, there’s the wine and it only gets better from there. Wine goes hand-in-glass with good food, so there are likely to be lots of good restaurants and local produce. Wine-producing regions also tend to be picturesque, relaxing and, well… full of wine!

Margaret River Wine Festival

Deep Woods Vineyard

Really, it’s the perfect holiday for a group of friends. The relaxed pace and dedicated focus allow you all to mellow out and enjoy quality time together.

Along with the good food, vistas of vineyards and slowing down of your day to focus on which drop to try next, wine holidays are the best place to learn about wine itself.

Producing good wine is one of those mysterious alchemical processes understood and perfected by a lucky few. It really isn’t as simple as pick grapes – leave for a long time – strain – drink. Visiting cellar doors and talking to the people behind the counter – often the wine-makers themselves if you’re lucky – is the best way to learn more about the process, what makes a good wine and how to pick a good bottle.

Basically, there is nothing bad about wine holidays. I’d rather like to be planning one right now.

If you are keen to organise a wine-region holiday for a group of friends, here’s how you go about it:

1. Pick your region Continue reading

S&G Quick Guide to Noosa

Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast holds a special place in the hearts of both of us. You may have already read B’s wonderful guide to Maleny, which focuses on the beautiful hinterland area, but what about our infamous beaches and stunning National Park? And where can you find the best seafood and icecream? Well dear readers look no further because our Quick Guide to the Noosa is here.

Things to do and Places to see

Noosa is well known for its shops and restaurants but the beach and natural beauty are really what draw the crowds. Our favourite spots and things to do are:

  • Main Beach: Usually pretty calm and often a little crowded, Main Beach is great for swimming, tanning, and people watching. This is really the heart of Noosa. Surfers can also paddle out past the rocks from here to catch some great waves.
  • Little Cove: Just a short walk up hill towards Noosa National Park, lies Little Cove. This is a popular spot for locals and is a lot quieter than Main Beach.
  • Noosa National Park: This place is seriously gorgeous and it’s hard to believe it is so close to bustling Hastings Street. It’s a great way to get active
  • Learn to Surf, go sea kayaking or have a paddleboard down the Noosa river – you can also do a river cruise if that’s you’re kind of thing.
  • Noosa Farmer’s Market: Operating every Sunday morning, you can get amazing local produce, gorgeous fresh flowers, and a coffee to keep you going all in the one place.

Eat and Drink Continue reading