Holiday & Vacation Packing Checklist

Holiday & Vacation Packing Checklist

One of the most stressful things you have to do before you even get into the car to head to the airport, is packing for your holiday or vacation. This handy list might help you before you start packing and it might help you ensure that you don’t leave home missing essential items to pack into your suitcase for your holiday.

This list is not complete nor will it suit everyone or every type of holiday since a packing checklist for a city break will be different to a packing checklist for a 3 stop long haul trip.

Simply cross out items you don’t need then tick off the items from the list by your suitcase as you pack for your holiday.

The list below does NOT include clothes as everyone is different and hopefully this packing checklist will help with the other items which you may wish to bring. If you spot any omissions please make a comment and we can add it to the list.

Packing Essentials

 

Passports (ensure they are at least 6 months in date)
Drivers License (should you wish to hire a car)
Airline Tickets
Visas if required by your destination
Wallet – Debit and Credit Cards
Cash / Travelers checks
Emergency phone numbers
Hotel, rental car, confirmation details
Copies of your travel insurance
contacts

Guidebooks & Maps
Contact numbers to report lost credit
cards

Electric Plug adapter
Cell Phone adapter
iPod / iPhone Charger
Books and magazines
iPod Earphones (ideal for the flight)
PowerBar

Personal Items / Toiletries

 

Travel alarm clock and batteries
Glasses, sunglasses and contacts
Tampons
Birth control
Anti-bacterial hand gel or wipes
Hand lotion
Small first-aid kit
Travel pillow
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Shampoo and conditioner
Hair Brush
Comb
Cosmetics & Soap
Razor and shaving cream
Sunblock & After Sun
Deodorant
Insect Repellant

Extra Items

 

Locks for your Luggage (and keys!)
Luggage name tags (include phone and
email)

Sewing kit
Hiking Boots (make sure they are very
clean prior to packing if traveling to Australia
or new Zealand)

Camera, Flash & Lenses
Camera Mini-Tripod (for the photo
enthusiast)

Batteries
Camera Battery Charger (e.g. Canon DSLR
type)

Extra film or memory card
Memory Card Holders (to keep them safe)
Journal and pen (if you like keeping notes on where you were)
Sweets for the Journey
Finally is the house locked and is the heating off and everything plugged out?

I hope this packing checklist helps you on your vacation

Remember to put all liquids and gels into your checked luggage.
Remember to check there are no sharp items in your hand luggage.
Remember to ask a neighbour to check in on your house when you are away.
Remember to have a good time on your trip.
Updated June 2015

Enjoy Your Holiday!

Top 5 Things to Do in Christchurch, New Zealand

Top 5 Things to Do in Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand has had it’s share of troubles in the past few years. The last time we were here was 2011 after Two large earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks resulted in much of the city having to be demolished. At the time we were not able to access the city. This time, we found that the residents of Christchurch were some of the Most welcoming people we have met during our time in New Zealand and although parts of the city were blocked off at the time of our visit (July 2014), we still had a jam-packed 3 days in the city.

Even after these huge events there are still plenty of things to do in Christchurch, and these are below, in no particular preference…

This is my top 5 things to do in Christchurch

Take a Tram Ride

The ticket shop for the tram was located only a few minutes around the corner from the Novotel Christchurch at which we were staying. The Tram actually drives through the shopping mall where the tickets are sold which is an ingenious feat of engineering when you see it.  Much of the tram lines were damaged in the earthquakes but this line from New Regents Street and the Botanical Gardens still runs.

Christchurch Tram

There is excellent commentary on board and you certainly learn a lot about Christchurch and it’s history.  The ticket is hop on, hop off and is great value for the day.  On our trip, 2 wizards dressed in Lord of the Rings style garb actually boarded the tram with staffs aloft – something you won’t see every day.

See the Botanical Gardens

At the end of the Tram trip we arrived at the botanical gardens. The gardens are located on the River Avon and welcome over 1 million visitors per year. There are many walking trails and you could easily spend a few hours here. One of the highlights is the Native New Zealand gardens with stunning ferns and native plants. Also, don’t forget to take a trip to the Visitors Centre which was opened in April 2014 and encompasses a cafe with delicious food and botanically themed gift shop which has lots of very nice gifts to bring home. The visitors centre is also a hub for the operational side of the Gardens, with a working nursery, potting shed, herbarium and reference library.

Go Punting on the Avon

We noticed a few signs along the river for Punting. Now, I never punted in my life so I didn’t know what I was in for but it was to be a memorable experience. On a chilly July afternoon, the temperature was about 8C we got to the offices for ‘Punting on the Avon’ and we were welcomed by a chap in 1920s style clothing, we paid and were welcomed on board and given a blanket and 2 hot water bottles which was a really nice touch.

Punting on the Avon, Christchurch, New Zealand

The trip was about an hour from the time we arrived and we got to see the River Avon at a very relaxed pace, while listening to some local history. This was one of the highlights of the trip to Christchurch, as well as being the most relaxing.

Visit the ReStart Mall

One of the terrible outcomes of the earthquakes were that many of the shopping malls were either demolished or are currently unusable. Retail outlets have used an ingenious method for getting back on their feet. Using steel shipping containers, outlets have been able to re-open with great effect.

Restart Mall, Christchurch, New Zealand

Not only is the ReStart mall a colourful and enjoyable place to shop but the stores which are there give great value. We did some of the best shopping in the ReStart mall. Also, check out the Hummingbird Café for great coffee and food.

Eat at Cafe Valentino

After the walking, shopping and punting you will be hungry. If you are looking for good food in Christchurch, you have to eat at Cafe Valentino. Great food, extensive menu and great staff. The mussels were on special on one of the evenings and on the other it was a chicken dish.

Christchurch in conclusion

Christchurch is one of the places which, before I went, I wasn’t sure what to expect and also I wasn’t sure I would enjoy. To me it was just the place we were flying into. But, having been there, having seen the city, having met the people … I flew in so that I would fly back again soon.

It is a great place to visit and I wish I had more time to spend there and with the great people of Christchurch

 

POI Map for Christchurch, New Zealand

The map below shows the above 5 locations which may help with your trip to Christchurch.

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Things which annoy me about some hotels

I really enjoy checking into a hotel and finding that everything is as you like it. It’s your home away from home for a few days, so you want a relaxing time and some time to enjoy the facilities of your chosen hotel.

However from time to time hotel stays are not 100% perfect and I have listed some areas where hotels have let me down in the past in my “Things which annoy me about some hotels” list …

  • Noisy or non functioning air conditioning
    Worse than a window not opening, a hotel which advertises air conditioning and it barely manages to keep the room at 20C or rattles like a coffee grinder when you have it on. Some of the best Air Conditioning was in the US, where you could have the room at 10C if you so wanted.
  • No provision of parking or local car park which is then validated
    This is a real problem for me. If I’m staying at a hotel and there is no hotel parking the least I expect is that the hotel have a deal running with the local NCP or city car park and therefore validate the car parking for you.
    Some of the best examples of this recently was at Future Hotel Bristol and The Bristol Hotel, both of which validated our car parking. I would return to these 2 hotels as a result!
  • Badly maintained bathrooms
    Please enjoy our bathroom but ignore the rusty tap, the missing shower head and the mould around the tiling… also if the toilet takes 30 mins to refill that’s normal …. NO it’s not ! Having a well maintained bathroom is vital to an enjoyable stay.
  • No free WiFi in rooms (or it so crappy you may as not be connected at all)
    There is nothing worse than checking in and then accessing your smartphone or tablet only to find out that there is a charge for WiFi. You may have paid a lot for your room, yet you are not given free Wireless Internet.
    Even worse is when you have chosen the hotel based on the Free Wifi promise, you check in and the WiFi times out or fails to load even the most basic web pages. If I’m paying for an expensive hotel room I don’t want to have to pay $20 or €10 for WiFi.
    Free WiFi is something I now look for in a hotel!
  • Tea and Coffee Facilities – only 2 milks yet 4 tea bags
    You come back after a day out and fell like a cup of tea for 2 only to find that you have to call reception to get more tiny UHT milk packets delivered to your room. Even worse is when no tea/coffee facilities are provided.
  • Finding things left from last visitor
    There is nothing worse than seeing evidence of the last visitor in your room, like a sweet wrapper under a chair and in Australia visible evidence in my hotel that the pillows had not been changed and that the previous visitor had a bad cold! (we swiftly left that hotel)
  • Housekeeping ignoring ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs
    If you are in need of some rest and just don’t want to be disturbed, you hang the little do not disturb sign outside the door… some time later you get a knock or a “Hello, House Keeping” – Why? It’s on the door …. Do Not Disturb!
    In one hotel we were disturbed exactly 1 hour after check-in … asking “Do you need more towels?” — what could I have done in 1 hour which would result in requiring more towels?
  • No electrical plug sockets near the bed
    This is very annoying for iPhone charging especially if you use your smartphone as an alarm clock or radio… or indeed if you log onto Facebook at 2am. Having a plug near the bed or bedside locker should be standard.
  • Uncomfortable beds or pillows
    One of the things I really hate is a hotel which markets the room as having a double bed which is actually 2 twin beds stuck together and you end up falling down the gap.
  • Windows that will not open at all
    I understand for health and safety you have to prevent people from opening the windows too much but when they don’t open at all it really feels claustrophobic – it’s nice to let some fresh air into your room!
  • A TV… with 4 channels
    So we have a TV, lets have a look BBC1, BBC2, UTV and a Local Channel … that’s all?
    You may as not have it at all! I’ll read a book !

 

Do you have anything to add to this list?

What was the worst thing you ever saw in a hotel? (Please don’t mention names)

Keep Your Belongings Safe at airport security checks

Keep Your Belongings Safe at airport security checks

In the past 6 months I have experienced two separate incidents of items going missing at airport security checks. Basically, people stealing things from they security trays. The items went missing somewhere between the entrance of the X-Ray machine and the area where you are cleared and can enter departures.

Having retraced the steps in my head I can see now where the window of opportunity might exist for an opportune thief to strike and take your belongings from your security tray.

Here’s the scene, you are preparing to have your belongings scanned and you are preparing to walk through the X-Ray device. It can be a bit stressful, take off your belt, take off your shoes, empty your pockets, turn off your phone, take your laptop out of its bag, do you have any liquids or gels? … Therefore you are a bit on edge just waiting for this to be finished and you might not be fully alert to the possibilities.

So if during these airport security checks, you leave your tray and just want to get through the X-ray door / device, your tray is still on the entry side of the X-ray machine. Anyone can now take an item from your tray and place it in theirs. This is what I believe happened – I had walked through and my tray was unattended. An easy thing to do especially if you are simply wanting to get through security.

Security at Airports - airport security checks - Keep your belongings safe in the airport security areaSo the tip is, stay with your tray, once your tray starts to enter the X-Ray machine you can then walk through, knowing that by the time you get through your tray will be just about exiting from the X-Ray scanner. If you happen to get stopped by security, try to identify where your tray is and keep your eyes on it. The security personnel are normally very nice so if you think you are going to be delayed and your tray is unattended having been checked you might ask them to remove it from the conveyor belt while you are undergoing the final manual security checks.

Things to do between Christchurch and Dunedin, New Zealand

Things to do between Christchurch and Dunedin, New Zealand

This post has some great things to do between Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand. Christchurch is a lovely town, most famous for the tragic recent earthquake.  Having visited Christchurch 6 months after the quake we did not venture into the city which was still recovering but did see the outskirts. The trip to Dunedin brings some nice stopping off points, places to see and places to stay.

Timaru Gardens

The first major stop on the way to Dunedin is Timaru, a great stopping off point. There are some nice cafés around the town, but if you find yourself there on a Sunday or a Bank Holiday try Stafford Street! One of the points mentioned in the Rough Guide to New Zealand was Timaru Gardens. The Timaru Botanical Gardens are splendidly maintained, with many walks around a scenic lake and tree lined walkways.  There are also some roses to be seen during the summer months and Timaru also has an annual rose festival.  Driving can take it out of your so if you need to stop, it’s worth stopping in Timaru for these gardens – great for stretching the legs en-route to Dunedin.

 

Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki Boulders are located about 76km north of Dunedin. The huge spherical Moeraki stones are located on a stretch of Koekohe Beach near a place called Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast.

These large boulders are what are known as septarian concretions (if you like your geology) exposed through shore-line erosion. They originally formed as ancient sea-floor sediments (during the early Paleocene era), over 60 million years ago. They are amazing to see and worth visiting – best though if the tide is out! Be careful as the tide can come into the cliff face and you might be cut off.

 

Accommodation in Dunedin: 315 Euro Hotel, Dunedin

Once you arrive in Dunedin, you may need accommodation. The 315 Euro Hotel is a nice hotel (located up an alley, so might be hard to find and don’t let that put you off). The check-in was handled very well and we checked into a studio room which was nice, bright and airy. The room included facilities such as convenient hairdryer, tea coffee facilities, and a small kitchen area if you wanted to cook for yourself. There was lots of space in room and it had Satellite and Sky TV. Other facilities in the 315 Euro complex included a sitting area just inside the main doors and a laundry (handy when traveling). The only negative is that the curtains in the room could be a bit thicker as I’m sure you could see into the room from the outside if all the lights in the room were on (no blackout curtains as far as I recall)

Hotel Link: http://www.eurodunedin.co.nz/

 

Monarch Wildlife Cruises – Peninsula Cruise

Having checked into your hotel, you may want to find out what is happening nearby and most hotels have a number of leaflets and flyers advertising local amenities and trips. Having found one for the Monarch Wildlife Cruises, Peninsula Cruise, apparently this is one of the best ways to see of the Otago Peninsula and it’s wildlife. The Otago Harbour Wildlife Cruise with Monarch Cruises starts at their HQ located on the wharf just behind the Chinese Gardens in Dunedin. The Monarch Wildlife Cruise includes the spectacular Taiaroa Head and a scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour. You should also pay the extra few NZ dollars for the guided tour of the award-winning Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve, Penguin Place.
Well Worth Doing !

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Link : http://www.wildlife.co.nz/tour_two.html

 

Chinese Gardens Dunedin

The Chinese Gardens in Dunedin are of an authentic Chinese design and was built by the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust has built the Garden and upon its completion, handed over to Dunedin City Council.  The Garden is an example of a late Ming, early Ching Dynasty Scholar’s Garden, surrounded by a four metre perimeter wall and features a lake with traditional walkways and stonework. The design of the Chinese Garden was laid out to use authentic Chinese materials and was built by a team of craftsmen from Shanghai. Hand-made wooden buildings, hand-made tiles, lattice-work and hand-finished granite paving stones adorn these authentic exquisite gardens. The Chinese Gardens are open from 10 am to 5 pm, 7 days per week and 7pm to 9pm on Wednesdays.

Chinese Gardens Dunedin Link : http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/facilities/dunedin-chinese-garden

The Beautiful Timaru Gardens
The Beautiful Timaru Gardens

Map of Locations : Christchurch and Dunedin

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If you have come across any other Things to do between Christchurch and Dunedin please leave a comment.

  • Timaru Gardens 94%
  • Moeraki Boulders 100%
  • 315 Euro Hotel, Dunedin 80%
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruises 100%
  • Chinese Gardens Dunedin 100%
Lanzarote Airport Transfer Service

Lanzarote Airport Transfer Service

Lanzarote Airport Transfer Service – My Experiences

Imagine landing at an airport and finding out your travel agent never booked airport transfers for you. This happened to me when visiting Lanzarote Airport. At this stage I had no way of getting to my hotel and I was quite annoyed with the agent.

Having got a few prices from each transfer services at the airport, some of which were quite expensive and obviously trying their luck, I chose one. I ended up finding an excellent airport transfer service from a company called ‘Canal Travel’ which brought us from Arricife Airport to Los Farriones Hotel.

I found them to provide a very reliable service the owner Rafael was excellent in helping us on our arrival.

On departure back to the airport a week later, they were right on time (they were actually there in advance) at our hotel, and took our bags from the lobby. This level of service helped make departure from the hotel that bit easier.

I was well impressed and certainly recommend them if you are travelling to Lanzarote they are the ideal Lanzarote Airport Transfer Service.

Canal Travel
Website: www.canaltravel.com