Tip 0304 Quality luggage
Look at the stitching, zips, handles, wheels and framing of your intended purchase.
Stitching and in particular around the zip should be good quality. The zip will need to be robust and handles secured well.
Wheels if needed will need to be of good quality also and clearance is a main issue. Internal framing needs to be sturdy and pull out handles should be of good quality also.
The main problem is, if you have a really good quality product this all contributes to weight and here lies the problem.
Out top tip here from experience is to go for a material type luggage rather than hard case type. Wheels are not necessarily an essential unless you are infirm or struggle to lift weight.
Most tourist don't really need wheels on their luggage. When you think about it, you put your luggage in a car to the airport, it then goes into a trolley to the check in counter. You don't see it again until baggage claim, where you put it on a trolley and the transfer driver takes it and you have it delivered to your room.
Remember also wheels on luggage are only any good on flat surfaces.
Tip 0305 Expensive luggage
Don't be fooled into thinking expensive means quality.
We would all like to think that designer retail is a prerequisite for quality but this isn't necessarily so. There are of course some great designer kit out there but looking good is not always the same as being good.
Don't expect quality or practicality, look past the designer label and test your new piece of luggage before you buy.
Also as mentioned before, look at your luggage as a flag in social standing. By this we mean, you are rightly or wrongly judged by your appearance.
For example you might notice that all the transfer taxis, Tuk Tuk drivers and the like, quickly run to all the tourists and in particular to the more affluent looking travellers and this is quiet noticeable if you have the time to people watch.
This is great if you want to be the first to get out of the airport, or away from your hotel or accommodation resort but this may not get you to where you want to be any quicker and will undoubtedly cost you a whole lot more in the process.
Many times we have arrived at our destination to find that the fellow travellers who got into a taxi some 30 minutes earlier than us, are just arriving after a very long short cut.
Tip 0306 Weigh your luggage accurately
There are luggage hanging scales that you can purchase but we can't believe anyone would buy these if you already have body scales at home.
Getting your luggage weight right is easy and this is a fairly obvious tip for most but we share this tip for those that may not have thought of it.
Using your bathroom scales at home is the easiest way and all you need to do is weigh yourself first, then weigh yourself holding your luggage and deduct your own weight from your total weight.
Yes we here you say we all know this but you'd be surprised at the amount of people that don't!
Tip 0307 Luggage in litres
When travelling for longer periods of time, or if you are moving between many destinations, our top tip here is to go for a multi-bag.
This will be a main check in bag and carry on hand luggage combined. Both can be used as either a carry bag or backpack and both zipped to each other.
Most have many functions to them and have wet covers for inclement weather.
We prefer a 65 litre checked combination piece with about a 10 litre hand pack.
Tip 0308 Stay with your luggage
Please stay with your luggage at all times. We have mentioned this before on this website. If we could handcuff you to your luggage we would as this seems to be the only way you will know your luggage is safe.
So many of you wander off, leaving your luggage alone, even if for a few minutes. We see it all the time, at the airports, public places and especially in hotel foyers.
Just gone to get a coffee, gone to the toilet, gone to get a Macca's, gone for a drink of water, I could see it from where I am standing, my child ran off, just getting my tax refund, I thought it would be okay here, thought the transfer driver put it in the luggage holder, there's nothing of great value in it anyway!
You name it I've heard it. There are many reasons why you should stick to your luggage like glue, even if you don't care if it gets taken.
We talk about security in another section of this website "Security" coming soon.
A bag unattended in a public place causes major headaches for everyone. Left at an airport, an unattended bag will shut down the complete airport and cause an evacuation, resulting in major delays and a cost of tens of thousands of dollars at the very least.
Left in a shopping mall, will again cause a mass evacuation, emergency services called.
All these situation cause follow up reports and meetings with risk assessment up dates and procedural reviews, video tape evidencing to name just a few.
Tip 0310 Wear your heavy stuff
More and more the airlines are looking to make their flights look more attractive in value and use every tactic in the book to make you think you are getting a cheap flight pre-booking. And who can blame them, it's their business to get bums on seats.
They are getting smart, realising that everyone puts all the heavy stuff in their carry on luggage and are now quite hot on checking weight and size at the boarding points.
So our main tip here is think about wearing your heaviest shoes, coat, jumpers trousers etc to the airport. If you are concerned about getting all hot and sticky remember, the airport and transfers to and from the airports, have air conditioning. Once you get to your destination you can always have a swap around.
Pack your lightest gear in your checked baggage and carry on hand luggage. Take a computer bag with all your leads and power cords and if you must, another for your cameras. These all tend to make up a bulk of weight which may tip you over.
Max out your checked luggage and you can accurately weigh this pre setting off, as mentioned above.
Tip 0309 Less is best
Yes it's true, so many of you pack the kitchen sink!
If you are the "pack everything just in case" type, then go for it. If you have room, the luggage allowance and happy to carry all your stuff, then why not.
When you are travelling for long periods at a time with multiple destinations on the agenda, then this is a different matter.
We will be compiling inventories on "packing for every eventuality" under "List, Inventories and Itineraries" later on this website. Keep an eye out, also we would love to hear via our "Forum" from any of you that have packed for a trip with a suitable inventory that worked for you, for us to include.
Tip 0302 How to wear your bag
We will put up a video shortly showing the best way to wear your handbag or carry bag whilst walking around, particularly in busy areas, where you might feel safe.
Many of you, men and women alike, carry a bag of some description whilst walking about sightseeing. This could be a simple bag holding your water bottle, sun lotion, camera and maybe a towel or something similar. These are often open and easy to have something laying on top snatched or light fingered at a cafe or bar for example. Always place your bags/possessions in front of you and preferably on the table you are sitting at, in clear sight.
The amount of travellers we see with their wallets and purses laying on top of their bags from a last purchase at the local market. I know it's a bit of a pain but please try and get into the habit of putting your purse or wallet away properly and out of sight after each purchase, even if you are moving from stall to stall ready for the next great buy.
Our top tip here is always try and take a backpack rather than a hand held bag, even if it is nearly empty. It is easier to carry and leaves your hands free to take that unexpected photo or climb the next rock. It is also and more importantly, very difficult to grab from you and make for a hard light fingered grab.
If you are in a crowd or very close proximity to others, say at a festival, market, show, on a bus or anywhere that you have close contact to others a great little tip here is to always keep moving. Even when standing still, move your body and keep turning around.
This is where you are most likely to be pick pocketed. Distraction is used all the time and you really need to be alert in these sort of places.
Tip 0301 Walking around at night
You will be walking around at night a lot more than you usually do back home and caution should be used of course. This goes without saying.
Again remember, when in holiday mode we all seem to be in a state of euphoria and tend to forget all those safety measures we know and were taught back home.
Just think about your location and where you are. If you want to explore alleyways, parks, walks and side streets, try and do it during the daylight hours and stick to the main areas at night time.
Even in built up areas of towns and cities just be a little aware of your surroundings and be vigilant. If you are a single traveller, see if you can arrange to join other travellers later, that you have met during the daytime.
If you have to walk alone, wait until others are walking in the same direction. Pick your moments. Use your instincts, usually if it feels wrong, it most probably is.
Never leave your buddy to stay on and find their way home alone. Most of you will like a drink or three whilst travelling but getting plastered in a strange area or place is asking for trouble.
Tip 0303 Confidence
This is a tough one. There will be many out there who have loads of confidence and will know exactly what we mean when we say "walk tall."
For many though we know that confidence is not their sharpest attribute and for you guys we give this a mention.
Try and learn to walk tall. By this we mean have an air of confidence in your manner and purpose in your direction.
This will be hard for some but you can certainly help yourselves by not dithering and know your next move. In other words, appear as if you either know where you are going or move with purpose rather than wander around aimlessly.
If you find yourself in a bar, club or area with quite a few people, try and find yourselves a table or place near the walls, where no one is behind you. Be aware of your surroundings and in particular the people who are around you.
Sadly the vulnerable are the ones mostly targeted but you can reduce this by following a few tips above.
We could go on but you get the idea we hope.
Tip 0311 The roll method
What you don't need in packing are any air pockets. This is an old and trusted method of packing.
First of all stuff any shoes or areas of space with pants, socks, bra's, knickers etc,. Line the base of your bag with a towel if needed or some jeans or something soft. Lay any shoes on top and if necessary wrap them in plastic bags. These will come in handy for dirty washing and all sorts of things later on your trip.
Now lay out all your shirts' T shirts' blouses' skirts' dresses and soft items that crease easily. You can even work out the order you would like to use them whilst your away travelling. Make a few piles of these clothes and tightly roll them like sausage rolls and lay them side by side in your choice of luggage.
This will eliminate any spaces and keep your clothes free from wrinkles and creases.
Then slide any other items either on top or neatly around your rolls of clothes.
If you have a lack of hanging space at your destination, your clothes will stay tightly packed and easy to unroll as you need them.
We have yet to find a better method that works well.
Tip 0320 What to take with you
For any paddle no matter how far, we recommend you take some basics, like gloves, hat, fluids and your camera. Reef shoes are a great take as there will be times where you will have to get out and carry your rig a distance, even if just back to your vehicle.
Gloves are a must especially for beginners. This will stop your hands from getting blisters. Inevitably a novice kayaker will grip the paddle to tightly and get sweaty palms.
Fingerless gloves, or ones with the tips missing are good, these protect your hands from blistering up and give air and feel with your fingertips.
Sun protection is essential and remember that the sun will be fierce with the reflection. Keep your neck and legs either covered up or well sun lotioned up.
Fluids and plenty of it. A great way to hydrate as you go is the bladder bag and a well positioned straw pipe. Energy bars and the like are also handy to take, as you will be exerting yourselves more than usual.
We have already mentioned safety equipment and helmets and strapping plaster is worth packing too.
Don't forget your camera and a dry bag or two for splashes and fall outs. Our top tip here is take your spare plain vehicle key with you and leave your remote control key at home or in the vehicle.
If you have to take your mobile phone and anything you really don't want to get wet, then double wrap them in two waterproof bags. You can never have enough dry bags and they also float too, so pick one that is colourful and stands out if you capsize.
Take an additional rope in case of tired or injured kayakers. Being able to tether kayaks together is a great security blanket and helps if you need someone to get you back. If you have ever had to toe another kayak, you will know how difficult this is and is very strength sapping, so take your time if you have to assist.
Tip 0319 Getting the most from your trip
Everyone kayaks for differing reasons and there is no set way to enjoy kayaking, so be mindful of others and their needs.
Personally just being out there on the water is enough for me, anything else is a bonus.
If you are kayaking with others, please be mindful of the slower kayakers. If you head up the narrow creeks and rivers, be aware that the lead kayak will undoubtedly be the one that disturbs all the wild life ahead and the rear kayakers will miss everything on the trip. Share the experience.
Tip 0318 Group kayaking
Group kayaking, like any group activity can be great fun but remember to buddy up.
There will be some that are not as strong, keen or willing to go as fast as others.
Pre kayak planning is the key here and make sure everyone in the group is happy with the trip ahead.
Remember also that you may all set out with the same idea of speed and route but many will and do falter during the course of the trip, so allow to make changes as you go.
Heading off at a great rate of knots and then waiting for others to catch up, is not always the best way of going about things. You will find that the slower kayakers in the group will eventually catch up, only for the others to sprint off again. Remember the slower ones need to rest too!
Sometimes splitting the group into smaller groups is the way to go and then everyone gets what they want out of the trip. If you all plan to get back to base at the same time, it isn't rocket science to know when to turn back.
Tip 0317 Still water kayaking
Still water kayaking is far less dangerous, although care should also be taken here too.
In lakes or dams, you may be tempted to kayak further from the banks and of course inevitably will take you into deeper water. Even on dams and lakes, you often get quite strong winds and can make the water quite choppy. Head winds, tail winds and cross winds all take a part in how long a distance you will be able to travel in the time allocated.
Obviously weather can change very quickly and following weather reports before your trip is always advisable.
Tip 0316 Tidal kayaking
Unless you are going for a good workout, remember in tidal waters that you will be working against the tides at some point. A bit like snorkelling, if you have to paddle against the tides, you are best to set off against the tide and use the current to return.
On long kayaking trips, you can plan to go out and come back with the tides, so check your local tides at your planning stage.
In creeks and rivers, be aware of king and low tides or you could be in for a long walk with your kayak in certain areas.
Always assess your access into water and pay particular attention to rips and waves if you are planning beach access. Waves appear very small until you enter the sea.
Estuaries are very deceptive and we have seen many accidents at these points. Here you will find much turbulence and caution shared with local knowledge is a must.
Tip 0315 Safety in kayaking
There may be some of you out there that would be concerned, if you have a fear of falling in the water, especially the non swimmers but there are many types of kayaks out there that are very difficult to tip over or fall out of and with the correct PPE i.e., life jackets and buoyancy aids available these days, you really have nothing to worry about.
Your main areas to be concerned about is with tides, rips, currents and wash from other marine vehicles. If you are planning open water kayaks, please do your research and brush up on your sea rules and regulations.
White water kayaking is best attempted after you have built up a level of experience and there are obvious dangers here. Always wear a safety helmet, a valuable lesson learnt from our past white water experiences.
Tip 0314 Distance and speed verses quality recreation
If you need distance and speed, then narrow and long is the key.
Be aware, the slimmer the kayak/canoe the less stable it is and takes a fair bit of skill to balance when not moving.
If you are more looking for a recreational kayak and happy to cruise along but with a certain amount of speed, stopping regularly for photos and maybe fishing, then we recommend go for a wider but longer kayak.
The smaller sit on kayaks are great for manoeuvrability and ideal for fishing and weaving in and out of areas but are not great for long distance kayaking.
Tip 0313 What type of kayak
There are so many types of kayaks out there to purchase and being confused is not uncommon.
Surf ski type, sit on, sit in, skirt, double, single, foot paddle, rudders you name it there's a type for everyone.
Our top tip here is, go second hand first and see what works for you. Kayaks do hold their value and you can always sell it on for your next one.
We personally prefer to use a sit on type with length. This gives us speed and stability, they have great storage space for longer travel and don't fishtail.
Fishtail happens when your kayak is short and each stroke pulls the kayak left to right. If you look at the tip of your kayak whilst paddling there shouldn't be too much movement to give you more speed.
Is a rudder an essential piece of kit? This is open for debate!
Personally, after you have kayaked a few times, you will find it easy to steer by using less or more pressure on your stroke and therefore a rudder is not really necessary.
Having said that, if you intend kayaking in areas with a lot of turbulence and/or currents then a rudder makes for an easier time.
There is a reason why there are new affordable and expensive kayaks. Many people will purchase a small cheaper kayak and if kayaking on their own it usually doesn't matter too much as you will not have any idea on how fast or slow you are travelling and if you just need a kayak to get out on the water and leisurely paddle or need it for fishing then you're all good.
The issue of the more affordable small kayak comes into play when you need some speed or are travelling with others.
Weight of your kayak is also a major consideration, as you will need to be able to transport it to and from your point of entry and having ease of loading on and off your vehicle of preference.
Another great tip for loading onto vehicle roof bars is to fit a plastic sleeve over your rear roof bar to be able to roll the kayak up onto the racks. This will cause minimum scratch damage to your kayak and make life a little easier.
Tip 0312 Why kayak at all
There of course will be some that will be wondering what the fuss is all about but seriously, if kayaking is off your list then travelling may be off your list also.
Kayaking opens up some many inaccessible areas that you wouldn't believe. You could quite easily live in an area for 10 years and not see what is just around the corner from you.
The wildlife in particular gravitates to the water's edge and we have seen things that no one could possibly see from even just 10 metres away.
Jabiru stopping for a scavenge, Spoon bills seeking out nesting sites, Stingrays scuttling out of their divots, sharks up stream for the gill cleansing, ospreys in abundance, sperm whales breaching by your side, shags airing their wings off on tide swept fallen logs, swamp harriers swooping, we could go on forever, not to mention dabbling at a bit of fishing and other activities.
Why kayak at all? Please getoutgotravel on the water.