Tuesday 28 January 2014

Travelling Light, currency, plugs and other tips

I know many people who buy new clothes, shoes, make up when they go on holiday (Mother) and pack an iron, hairdryer and 2 full sets of clothes, just in case, every toiletry item they think they’ll ever need and end up bringing most of it back unworn and/or unused.
I’ve known people to pack coffee, crisps, nappies and even blocks of cheese as they’re going somewhere new and foreign and are afraid they won’t get a few of their ‘home’ comforts while they’re away for a fortnights break.
There’s a big difference though between being a tourist and an expat, once an expat you’ll NEVER holiday or travel like a tourist again, trust me.
As an expat I’m a regular flyer, back and forth between South Africa and the UK, I however DON’T travel light, with all the family, 5 kids, 2 mums, a dad, siblings, nephews and nieces etc along with friends, my case is ALWAYS full of gifts and a ‘little touch of home’ for some South African friends, there is often little room left for clothing and I tend to pack bulkier stuff as after all I’m travelling to a colder climate. I do have a store of items I leave at my mums, that I’d never wear back in SA, winter coats, thermals, etc. However, this does leave room in my case for the return trip, where I stock up on the ‘home comforts’ such as tea bags, make up and aubergine pickle and pick up Summer sale items of clothing for wearing back in SA.
I’m currently on holiday in Dubai, just a holiday for me, hubby is working and we are extending the stay for a few days, so he has packed work clothes and leisure ware, including a suit that found it’s way into my suitcase. Hmmmmmmm
This trip I’ve only packed for me. I won’t be buying souvenirs or trinkets, in fact I won’t be buying much with the exchange rate as it is, other than a thank you gift, from the airport as we leave for my friend for dog and cat sitting for the week.
My case only weighs 19kg was extremely out of shape, hubbies suit took a battering, and when plastic wrapped to guard against theft at OR Tambo it and most of that is in the form of toiletries, half bottles of stuff such as shower gels and shampoos to use up, although believe it or not, most hotels these days do provide things like this without additional charge.

There are a few things I can NEVER travel without and these are all hand luggage items. For starters it’s a ‘no, no’ to pack anything of value in hold baggage, especially coming out of South Africa.

  •   Laptop, charger, Iphone and cables.

·         Plug adapter to convert from South African to British, Plugs in Dubai and at most airports use British plugs.

 Although I do have a laptop cable that has a British plug also.

·         Cable ties – for return to South Africa to use on the cases.
·         Luggage tags x 2. One used with destination and another with home address to use on return. (Don’t want people at the airport when you’re leaving to see where you’ve come from and that the property is going to be empty for a while)
·         Eye mask and inflatable pillow, not just to use on the plane, but whilst waiting for transfer, the bus and taxi ride to the hotel also.
·         Ear phones, preferably noise reduction for the plane, iphone etc.
·         Spare cell/mobile phone and charger, in case of theft and I also have 2 South African SIMS and 2 British SIMS, as I’ve discovered my SA SIMs on PAYG don’t work in Dubai. Roaming and cellular data switched off the second one boards the plane.
·         Bank cards, South African and British, already had one card declined when checking in at the hotel.
·         Local Currency, not a lot but at least enough to buy a coffee and tip the porter. I’ve always found a few pound coins help for tips, especially in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia and don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ to someone offering to help with your cases at the airport. I chased a thief for hubbies passport, end of last year, who helped himself when ‘helping’ us.

·         Medical aid card or Insurance, don’t forget to inform your medical aid company before you travel.

·         I also pack a face cloth, change of top and under ware as well as a toothbrush and paste, facial wipes and a pair of socks to wear on the flight, a book and some sweets.


  1. I never thought of the luggage tag idea, one for where you are going, & one for when you return home. I usually only have the one tag, listing our home address. Thank you for the excellent tip.

    1. I've learnt a lot of valuable lessons from living in South Africa, not necessary from my own experiences but from others