Thursday, 6 August 2015

Mack and May's City Break Essentials

photo of city break essentialsWe both love foreign city breaks. They give us a real opportunity to recharge  our batteries and escape from our normal lives for a couple of days, all while indulging our shopping habit and allowing us to explore new places and discover new restaurants.

Neither of us can say that they have perfectly mastered the art of packing light (we’re working on it!) but we have honed down our list of essential items that we always make sure we have with us when we’re heading off an a city break.  

A decent guide book

Some prefer to do their reading online, and some prefer to just turn up and see what’s what, but we like a good old-fashioned book. Not only can we then get planning ahead of time but we can also read them on the plane and they act as good souvenirs of our trip once we’re back at home.

photo of city travel guide books

A plug adapter

May now has about 7 of these after leaving home a few too many times without them and having to pay over the odds for new ones in various departure lounges. Now, they are usually the first thing to get packed – there is a (to May at least) traumatic story which we could recount here about a trip to NYC, awful humidity and a lack of working straighteners…it ended up with a fraught ‘discussion’ about whether a 3 day trip justified spending $99 on a new set of US straighteners… Anyway, learn from May’s mistake(s) and get yourself kitted out ahead of time. Make sure you check whether you just need a plug adapter to make your UK 3-pin plugs work in a different socket, or whether you also need to convert voltage. This will depend on which country you are travelling to and from - a quick online search will soon tell you what you need.

Space saving storage bags

As we say above, we’re working on learning to pack more lightly, but in the meantime May loves these bags which compress air from your clothes meaning that you can fit much more in your case. The ones shown here were £5 for two from Wilko. Make sure you don’t get the bags which you need a vacuum to make work – you might not have access to one on your way home.

photo of travel essentials

A passport cover/ organiser

It is really helpful to keep your important documents somewhere where you can easily access them. We have been using passport covers for some time now and the ones we’ve been using to date have had a pocket for our airline tickets. May has just received the one pictured here with a My Little Box so is excited to use this on her next trip. It has space for her passport, plane and train tickets as well as print outs of any other important information (hotel address, taxi details etc).

Mini toiletries

Hopefully you will have decided fairly early on whether you will be travelling with hand/cabin baggage only, in which case you need to abide by any rules for getting liquids through security at the airport. In the UK, this currently means that each container must hold less than 100ml AND all your containers together have to fit in a bag of max 1 litre (approx. 20cm x 20cm). Airport security will be quite strict about this and make you put your liquids in one of their plastic bags (which they might even charge you for) if they think your bag is too large. As for the containers themselves, you can either buy a set of bottles designed specifically for travel use and decant the products which you already have at home, buy the cute travel sized products before you go, or even wait and restock at Boots at the airport once you are through security – just be aware that you might not be able to bring any unused products back in full sized containers, depending on the security rules in the country you’ll be flying back from.
photo of mini toiletries and mirror

A good mirror 

We have learnt that mirrors in hotels are often useless for applying make up. They rarely benefit from much natural light, and are usually positioned in really awkward places under strip lighting. We therefore like to take a good mirror with us so that we can pop this somewhere near the window and apply make up in a more natural light.

A spare purse

We find that taking a spare purse is really handy if travelling to a country that uses a different currency to our own (ie anywhere, seeing as we are in England!). This saves a lot of hassle and delays when you come to buy something on holiday, and when you are back home it can be a handy place to keep any leftover change for your next trip. Just think carefully about whether you want to leave your ‘home money’ in your hotel room when you head out for the day – check to see if your hotel has a safe you can use.
photo of purse and passport

Your passport

Hopefully this one will not need any further explanation – although make sure that the name on your passport matches (exactly) the name on your travel tickets. There’s another May story here…

 Happy holidays!

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