Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Tips: Before You Leave

It's almost time for my next around-the-world-concert-creeping mission, so I spent much of today running around the shops in a complete panic, because I'd forgotten to do a bunch of stuff. Here are my top tips for prepping for any overseas trip - concert or no concert.

1) Up the limit on your bank account. R1000 a day ain't going to get your very far in a country such as England, where they charge you R14 to use the loo. Increase your limit to the maximum amount possible (or realistic), and take it upon yourself to call your bank if your card does happen to go missing. Also, tell the bank you're going to be out of the country - you won't be very impressed if the fraud department block your account because someone in Scotland has just bought a Mumford & Sons hoodie on your card.

2) Activate roaming on your phone. And control your temper when the guy in the shop says he doesn't know how, and that you should call customer care instead.

3) Find an international power adapter. Believe it or not, not all power outlets are the same, and your phone charger might not fit into the socket in Dublin. It'll also suck if you miss out on that photo op with your favourite band member because you couldn't charge your camera battery.

4) Pour all of your toiletries into teeny tiny little bottles. No more than 100 ml of liquid is acceptable on overseas flights. Because if I took 101 ml, I'd most definitely be up to something...

5) Check the weather forecast. Think you're escaping Cape Town's 13 degree highs for a lovely sunny summer in London? Think again. London and Cape Town have had just about the same temperatures for the past week or so, so I think I'll skip my high-waisted shorts and crop tops, and pack some boots and a scarf. Remember that time I went on a 'summer holiday' with nothing but t-shirts and skirts, and left Grahamstown in 4 degree weather? Let's not repeat that.

6) Check and re-check the important documents. I don't just mean that you should be sure your passport is still valid, but also that you have all your concert tickets, confirmation emails, train tickets, bus tickets, confirmation for other internal flights, and the credit card that you used for all of the above. Last thing you want is to pitch up at the T in the Park box office and not be able to collect your tickets because that confirmation email is chilling in the depths of cyberspace, and you have no laptop.

7) Pack in advance. You'll forget the most basic things (like comfortable shoes and your toothbrush) so pack three days in advance so that you have time to make sure you have everything. This also gives you time to run to the shops when you realise you don't have a travel-sized hairbrush or a universal adapter.

8) Make travel plans before you leave. So, you board your plane in Cape Town, disembark at Gatwick... and then what? Be sure to check coach and train timetables and routes so that you know exactly what to do. If you're hiring a car, print out directions to the place you're staying beforehand. 

That's it for now, but I'm sure to add more as I begin my marathon packing session tomorrow.

"I packed my case, 
I checked my face, 
I look a little bit older, 
I look a little bit colder"

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In-Store Music - Get Me Out Of Here!

I do not currently have a job. Don't panic, I'm not going to start shouting about the economic tragedy that resulted in my being an unemployed graduate - on the contrary, I quit my job so that I could go to England to-- no, nothing, I mean I resigned because I just did, OK?! 

Moving swiftly along. I have been without a job for exactly two days, and I'm so bored that I'm ready to start pulling my hair out strand by strand. (For a full account of my unemployed adventures, follow me on Twitter, but be warned, it is primarily an account of my strange new eating habits.) To occupy myself today, I took a wander down Kloof and Long Streets in central town, in the hopes of finding some interesting clothing items in the little hipster shops. (Not that I was planning on buying anything, this London trip ain't paying for itself.) Standing at the doorway of a promising-looking shop, I suddenly found myself being pulled away by the irresistible gravity of music. Yes - the neighbouring shop was playing something that sounded far more interesting, so off I popped. If you would believe it, this clothing store had drawn me in because of its music! OK fine, it was only Band of Horses, and I didn't end up buying anything, but it does pose an interesting question: does music effect how you shop?

Let's look at another example from later in the day: I was drawn into another shop when I heard the unmistakable sound of dearest Chris Martin, wailing the lyrics to 'Speed of Sound'. Ah yes, it was enough to make my heart beat faster. Fast forward three minutes to the beginning of the next song: it was David Guetta, and I hightailed it out of there faster than you could say "Where dem girls at?".

Music does, of course, set the tone for any kind of shop or public place: a designer boutique is much more likely to play Michael Buble than Rihanna, you're unlikely to hear Usher in your grandma's favourite home industry, and any hipster-shop owner with a brain in their head would leave the freaking David Guetta at the door! Seriously now, play some Foals, Imagine Dragons or Alt-J, and leave the dance vibes to the keeper of the swimsuit store down the street. 

And one last thing: if a customer is shamelessly singing along to a song, they are clearly enjoying it, and you should refrain from changing it. This is not at all aimed at that shop in Canal Walk that cut The Killers' 'Runaways' short and replaced it with Rihanna halfway through my Glee-style enactment. BUT if it was, I'd have only one word for you: rude.