Hapless Traveller Tips

Make a list: sounds silly to some I'm sure but every time you think of something that you may need to pack in your luggage or take in your cabin bag write it down in a dedicated notebook. You'd be surprised how the smallest but most important item can be overlooked.
Buy a Good Book: I know airport newsagents provide plenty of options but do you end up buying a 'compromise' book? Pop into your favourite local book seller and buy before you fly that way you know you'll enjoy the journey.
Guide Book: I'm manic when it comes to researching each new destination. There's a plethora of great guides on the market but for me the DK series is the best. Each guide provides an excellent historical and cultural overview of the country you're going to visit, detailed street-by-street guides, photos to tease you, practical travel information...and the list goes on. And they're an easy read, easy to navigate.
Book light: The overhead cabin light isn't very strong and can strain your eyes. Take your trusty book light with you. It also will be a blessing when you're snug in your hotel bed, your partner is fast asleep yet blissful slumber evades you. Buy the book light from a reputable bookstore (Borders is great) - don't rely on a budget buy from a Dollar Store - it's bound to give up the ghost within a day or two. Once you're accustomed to the luxury of a mid-dawn read you'll go crazy without it.

Sturdy Umbrella: When travelling in winter a sturdy fold-up umbrella is a must. I was told by several frequent flyers to pack a fold-up umbrella. Did I listen? Did I act on their sage advice? No. His Lordship (my partner) suggested it was best to wait until we needed one. Silly move. Consider the exchange rates - for us it's the Aussie Dollar vs the Euro. We could have bought a top quality umbrella before our travels, instead we bought two in Venice. They were light-weight and 5 Euros each. The 'el cheapos' turned themselves inside on many occasions and were unable to withstand the journey. They lasted for two weeks!

Laptop: If you are speedy on the computer then your laptop will be a prized possession when travelling. It's more efficient than scribbling a mass of ineligible words in your travel diary...just make sure your parter, not you, is the 'laptop lugger'!
Skype: This is when the laptop is truly a godsend. We keep our kids in the loop by Skyping them on a regular basis, we emailed our friends with updates via Hotmail, and logged on to get general information about the place were at. Be careful about hotel charges for internet access - some are daylight robbers. You buy 'time' so it depends on how long you are staying at that hotel. If you're there for a few days then you'll probably find it beneficial but if you're watching your budget then keep an eye our for a MacDonald's outlet. We've been told you can take your laptop there, order a coffee and log on with the compliments of this global giant and a wireless network.
Hotel Images on the Net: Do not rely on internet sites to give you an accurate representation of your accommodation. They'll always put the best photos of their rooms on the site - naturally. Although there are some real gems out there in hotel land, follow the general rule of thumb: You get what you pay for.

Keen to read more tips? Log onto my travel blog: http://www.thehaplesstraveller.blogspot.com/