Tips for travelling light

In the world of travel, light is better. The advantages of being able to travel light include saving time, energy and money, all of which translate into a more enjoyable trip.

Why would you want to travel light?
Of course, the easiest way is to travel with a smaller suitcase!  Travelling with carry-on luggage that can fit into the overhead bin in the plane means no lost luggage and no waiting at the luggage carousel. Not having to pay for checked luggage on a plane, or tipping porters, also saves money. Smaller, lighter luggage is easier when navigating stairs, trains, buses or taxis, and when getting through crowds of people.

For carry-on or checked luggage, the first consideration is picking lightweight luggage. Choosing light luggage can save more than two kilos in weight for a carry-on, without sacrificing wheels or durability.  Soft-cover luggage can be more convenient, but you can buy hard cover suitcases that are also lightweight. Search Google for “lightest suitcases” to get some ideas.

Packing Light
Packing for warm climates is easier and requires less clothing. Clothing should be made of lightweight material, mix and match and be able to be worn in layers. One rule of thumb is that all tops should match each other and match all bottoms, drastically reducing the number of articles of clothing that are necessary.

If this sounds boring, add in a fun accessory. For women, scarves are not only light and versatile, but are also safer than wearing jewellery.  Leaving the jewellery at home saves space and weight too!

Clothing that can be worn for more than one occasion or purpose also lightens the load. Pack one good, simple piece that can be dressed up or down with a scarf, belt, or tie.

Since shoes can be a heavy article of clothing, having shoes that are multi-purpose reduces the number of pairs required. Also, pack the lightest shoes and wear the heavy ones during travel.

Packing the Shoulder Bag
Reducing the small items in your shoulder bag may not seem like much, but definitely contributes to the ease of travelling light. Books can be reduced by using an electronic reader such as a Kindle, an iPad, or even just by using the free Kindle reader app on your phone. You can also exchange books with your fellow travellers, rather than carrying multiple books yourself.

Medications can be counted out for the number of days of the trip plus a few extra, always remembering to have a copy of the prescription in case you need more medication in an emergency.  Keep medications in your shoulder bag, close to hand.

If you want to travel with a water bottle, a flexible, refillable one is lighter and more convenient than a hard bottle. Remember the bottle must be empty when you pass through security, but you can fill it from a water fountain after security.

Cameras and smartphones
Bulky cameras and attachments can now be left at home because smartphones can take good quality photos, particularly with special clip-on lenses. The new Google Pixel phone, and the Samsung Galaxy S7, have particularly good cameras.

Final Check
As a final check, either lay everything out together or pack it a day or two in advance. The day before the trip begins, remove two items!  Looking at the remaining items, ask yourself if you really need if and if you are sure you will use it or wear it.

You can use a luggage scale to confirm the weight – digital and analogue scales are available – or you can stand on a bathroom scale with and without your luggage to measure the weight difference.

Preparing your phone for your holiday

Before you go on your next trip, taking some time to prepare your smartphone will help you to get the most out of it while you are on holiday. Here’s what you need to do:

Synchronise and delete unwanted data
Synchronise your phone with your computer before your trip. This will back up all your photos and other data, in case your phone is lost or stolen. (Your travel insurance or gadget insurance can never replace the magic moments stored on your phone.)

Once you’ve backed up, you can delete some things from your phone, to make sure there is lots of memory left for the photos and videos you will take on your holiday. As well as deleting unwanted apps that you no longer use, consider deleting photos and especially videos, because these take a lot of memory. You can also trim videos, just keeping the best bits, to reduce their size.

Roaming
Check that you have roaming turned on for your phone. This will allow you to use calls, text, and data while you are on holiday. You will often need to phone your network operator to arrange for roaming to be turned on. If you have recently changed your phone or your network, roaming will probably be turned off.

Be aware that charges apply for roaming, and it can be expensive. Fortunately, new EU legislation means that your network operator is now more limited in how much they can charge you, and from 15th June 2017 roaming charges in the EU will be abolished. (More information here.) You are best to use wifi abroad whenever you can, rather than your phone’s data connection, to be on the safe side.

It is most useful to turn data roaming off, but leave call and text roaming on. This means that your phone will not be able to keep using data to connect in the background, to retrieve emails etc, unless you are connected to wifi.

Apple roaming information is useful, and Google will give you Android roaming information too.

Know how to work your phone
Two very useful features are Flight Mode and the torch. (The torch illuminates the LED flash on your phone.) Make sure you know how to find these quickly. Search Google if you’re not sure.

Load up with travel apps
In previous newsletters we have covered some of the most useful apps. As a reminder:

  • Download TripAdvisor, open it, then download the offline city guide for the place you are visiting, if one is available. It’s free of charge. Then you can still read TripAdvisor when you don’t have an internet connection.
  • Download some kind of communication app to stay in touch with folks back home. Skype, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger would be useful. Make sure you add your family and friends to the app before you go, so that you can actually contact them!
  • Download a currency converter app such as XE. Load it up before you go away to get the latest exchange rates into the app before you travel.
  • Put a couple of games on your phone to pass the time. Go to your phone’s app store and you will quickly see the latest trending games. Many are free. Make sure the games don’t need the internet in order to work (test it before you go by turning on Flight Mode then playing the game).
  • Use the Sky TV app to record any TV programmes that you might miss while you’re away. (You can often use iPlayer to catch up when you get home, anyway.)

Social media
Just a word of caution: don’t write about your holiday publicly on social media until you get home. Otherwise you are advertising to the world that your house is unoccupied, and you might be in for a nasty surprise when you get home!

Reading material
Put the Kindle app onto your phone. It’s free, and you can get some free and very low cost books, including travel guides to the place you are visiting. This lets you save weight when packing, by leaving your books at home.

If you use Dropbox for storing your files, the Dropbox app has an offline mode, where you can download files for reading without an internet connection. This can be useful if you have newsletters or other files in PDF format that you wish to read.

Pack your charger, adapter and battery pack
Don’t forget to take your phone charger and its cable. You will also need a plug adapter for EU power sockets (check it fits the exact country you’re visiting).

You should also consider a spare external battery pack. These are quite cheap, and are readily available for iPhone and Android phones. The higher the capacity (measured in mAh), the more charge the battery pack will give you. Don’t forget to charge up the battery pack before you go away, because most do not come pre-charged.

A cultural winter getaway in Copenhagen

If you’re seeking a true white winter holiday, Denmark is your place and its capital, Copenhagen, offers the perfect mix of unique culture and snow-covered wilderness. As with most places in Europe during this time of year, things can get a bit chilly, but Scandinavia’s weather has its own special delights.

Exploring alternative Copenhagen and the side you haven’t seen
Denmark’s capital is well known for its old town, harbour and palaces, which should not be missed by first timers, but sometimes the city’s best attractions are hidden. One of the more popular alternative destinations is Freetown Christiania, well known for its sovereign governmental stance and 1960s lifestyle in the heart of Copenhagen. The odd little community is host to art-filled cafes, workshops, restaurants full of organic goods, and your fair share of amazing people-watching.

If you’re looking for a quick break from the city centre, the charming haven of Nokken is ideal for a relaxing day trip. Reminiscent of The Shire, you’ll find hobbit-style, tiny homes, bountiful gardens and spectacular sunset views of the harbour. Stop in one of the cozy cafes around town if you get chilly for a warming glass of “gløgg”, a local’s favourite Danish style hot spiced wine.

A dining experience beyond the tourist food trucks
When locals grab a bite to eat downtown, most turn to the new street food market on Paper Island (Papirøen). You’ll find quality dishes from around the world, most at an affordable price and some filling meals for as low as £5.

For a higher end Scandinavian meal, Noma is a favourite. The location couldn’t be better, sitting dead centre in the city, with gorgeous views of the river. It’s far enough away from the bustle that you’ll have a relaxing or romantic dining experience yet be near the action after dinner.

If you’re new to Denmark, don’t miss the traditional open-face sandwiches (smørrebrød) served in a variety of styles. A trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete until you’ve tasted Danish meatballs (frikadeller), which are being served up nearly everywhere you look.

Escape the city and see the country
This time of year, the snow is sure to be falling throughout Northern Europe, and there’s no better way to celebrate than breaking out the skis or snowboard. Since Denmark is a generally flat country, it doesn’t boast the extreme skiing that France and Italy may offer. Yet for those looking to get outside and take it easy on the hill, Hedelands Skicentre is perfect. The hill is only a 35-minute drive from downtown Copenhagen, making it a great option for a winter day trip. Most of the mountain is extremely user-friendly and has runs for any level of skier. Adult day tickets are only £11, and tickets for children are £6.

“Dyrehaven,” Danish for Deer Park, is another great option to see the countryside. It’s usually pretty quiet during the winter, which makes for peaceful strolls and exquisite wildlife viewing. The park is just north of the city – don’t forget to wrap up warm!

City essentials not to be missed
Nyhavn is one of Copenhagen’s most visited destinations, and while it may be busy, your first view of the port will show you why. The area is full of little restaurants surrounding the canal, and with a quick look around you’ll find that many have great live music. If it’s not too cold, do as the locals do and grab a beer from one of the shops and have a seat on the dock to enjoy the sunset.

For any beer fan, a tour of the Carlsberg brewery is a fascinating excursion. You’ll watch their unique brewing process that seems to provide beer to half of Europe. From the outside, you’d think Carlsberg is a castle for the old Danish king!

The ice rink at Frederiksberg Runddel is ideal for families or couples looking to join this age-old Danish tradition. Every year the area is transformed into a winter paradise offering a classic holiday experience. You can rent a pair of skates for £6.

Copenhagen is an amazing place to be during the winter months. You’ll dodge the tourist rush of summer and receive a true Danish experience, so don’t let the cold discourage you!