Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Travelling the Loulou Way (usually with overladen suitcases...)

After posting my post all about my new Travel Fax, and showing some of the essentials that I can't travel without here I got to thinking that travelling whether for work or play can be a really stressful experience for some. I am one of those people that has to check the tickets/passport/currency hundreds of times during the journey - you know in case between getting out of the front door and into the car a squirrel pick pocketed my handbag, or while in the car (having not left it) somehow the tickets jumped out of my bag and straight out the window. This is a personality trait that drives my darling Mr P slightly mad. Not only is he bemused my constant checking of said items (he does now let me look after his tickets/passport etc after getting most fed up with me asking every time I checked mine if he still had his) but finds the whole process a tad annoying (me? annoying? surely not?)

And as I have also mentioned before we are planning several trips over the next few months (Paris, Whistler for Skiing etc) so the art of list making, packing and travelling without forgetting anything becomes a must. So here is the Loulou guide to travel preparation (otherwise known as how to travel fabulously)

1. Preparation is key
  • Research your destination: what is the weather going to be like? Are there any strict dress codes you will need to adhere to? Are there any must haves that you should get before you go (mosquito repellent, suncream, ski goggles etc etc)
  • Check out your suitcase size - does it fit within the airline guidelines that you are travelling with - you would be surprised how these vary! Is it still rugged enough to survive being thrown all over the airport, on and off the plane, chucked into car boots, buses, trains....
  • Is your passport still in date with enough longevity to get you into the country you are travelling to!
  • Do you need a visa?
  • What are your top sees and dos while you are there? I find this so exciting to make a top 5 must sees so that even if the trip goes completely off plan I still get to see the essentials while I am there otherwise I know I'll regret it.
2. Budgeting and Spending
  • What are the rough costs of things out there and how much are you likely to spend? This is essential for budgeting. Key things like breakfast/lunch/dinner (wine), travel, excursions and of course you must not forget the discretionary budget for souvenirs and the like (handbags for example)
  • What is the currency exchange rate like, and will you get stung for using your debit card? The majority of banks in the UK load heavy charges on if you use your debit card overseas, and several credit cards are following suit. Last year after reading the advice on Money Saving Expert ordered a US Dollar FairFX card for my trip to LasVegas. The principle with this card is simple you load up the card with cash and use it like a debit/credit card. The exchange rate is better than most cash exchanges here in the UK, the money loaded is insured if you loose your card you can get another one sent to you, you can really quickly and easily top the card up while you are away. I was so impressed I've just ordered myself a Euro card ready for the Paris trip.
3. Packing Lists
  • Being a planner nerd this is one of my favourite bits, lists of what I need to buy before we go, what to pack to wear, what accessories to take, what bags I'll need. I love all the list making :0)
  • When it comes to bags - think practical as well as pretty. There are numerous restrictions on the size of hand luggage but if you are like me you also want to look sophisticated and stylish not like a back packer (not that there is anything wrong with back packing its just I'm more gorgeous hotel with cocktails than youth hostel). I always have the following:
    • Large tote bag - usually large enough to fit the kitchen sink, with a cross body strap for easy carrying and security at the other end
    • Possibly another hand held bag usually a black Longchamp Le Pliage (handbag size) which is  perfect for slinging in iPad, magazines, newspapers etc but still looking stylish (much better than a carrier bag as well for those Duty Free purchases)
    • Evening clutch bag - usually my Anya Hindmarch Luce black patent clutch as it goes with everything and a sparkly warehouse chain mail number as that has a long cross body chain strap if I know I'm off out dancing (hands free dancing is the only way!)
    • Day bag - a cross body canvas bag, usually one with lots of pockets, that is perfect for all the essentials when sight seeing but safe and secure as well

What I carry in my hand luggage
  • Key essentials - passport, tickets, Filofax, travel guide, purse, pens etc
  • Key needs - glasses, sunglasses, spare contact lenses, make up bag, anti bac hand spray, wet wipes
  • Entertainment - iPad, iPhone (charger!), camera, earphones, books/magazines if not on iPad,
And then in my main suitcase
  • Clothes - day clothes, evening wear, travelling, warm evening wraps/cardigans etc
  • Swimwear - bikini, swimsuit, sarong, beach towel
  • Shoes - (for me flipflops x 2, heels x several, trainers - usually wearing, flat spangly sandals
  • Toiletries - sun cream, aftersun, haircare, wash bits, toothbrush/paste/mouthwash etc etc
  • Linen - (or plastic) bags for dirty clothes and storing any dirty shoes on the return trip
4. Airport Style

  • For some reason I really think about what I'm travelling in clothing wise far more than I should - maybe it is because I always hope that someday I'll get a free upgrade to travel First Class (sigh) but I think mostly it is because you have to cleverly layer your clothing when you go from freezing cold UK to stifling hot Mediterranean. Especially as most airplanes seem to love having the air conditioning on -10oC. My icons for best travel wear have to be Jennifer Aniston and Rachel Bilson, they always look snug and cosy as well as comfy but stylish. So here are my top tips for travel wear:
    • Think Layers - vest top, cardigan/sweater, scarf/wrap. Remember it will be cold on the plane but potentially sweltering when you get off of it
    • Think Comfort - I'm not a high heel traveller, usually I'll be in a pair of flat sandals (if it is warm in the UK) or a pair of converse. Classic and comfy - can't go wrong
    • Think Chunky - anything particularly bulky that you want to take with you try wearing on the plane -saves room and weight in your suitcase - I wore my Nike walking boots when travelling to Vegas (we spent the weekend in the Grand Canyon) so as to save room in my bag as they were so heavy!
So there we go - the extensive top tips from me for travelling in style. Do you have any travel essentials that you can't travel without?



  1. This is a great post Loulou! I tend to carry a laptop if I am going home as I have my old desk to use. This was very comprehensive and for my trip I will be lazy and just use your list.

  2. Went we went on a hiking vacation (to Ireland) I also wore the hiking boots for the exact same reasons.
    Import additon to your list: nowadays it seems rather custom than exception that luggage gets lost (as in: sent to a different location than you are flying). This happened to me and I vowed to carry the following (it took 2 days before I got my suitcase):
    * carry contact lenses? Put the liquid and boxes in your hand luggage.
    * carry absolute necessary clothes in hand luggage: like underwear, socks, maybe spare t-shirt.
    * carry essential cosmetics in hand luggage. Yes, you might buy everything new, but chances are you won't find or like the products.

    This does make the hand luggage a bit bulkier, but if your suitcase gets lost you will thank me forever LOL