Packing for overseas tours

Today: packing advice for overseas travel.

When I travel abroad I have 2 lists (oh, I do love a lost) to pack from. One is called ‘to pack: clothes’ and is written ad hoc for each trip about an hour before I pack, the other is called ‘to pack: other’ and is written in stone (or however it is that an iPad makes it appear on my screen’

There are a few things I like to take which are specific to singing/business travel, I.e. I wouldn’t bother on a holiday.

iPad dock: I like to listen to music, podcasts, talks, audiobooks, the dock just makes it easier

Plastic tub: particularly in a self catering place it’s nice to make your own lunch, but annoying to have to buy a new receptacle every trip

Salt and pepper: again, so useful in self catering, but surprisingly expensive if you only use a week’s worth then leave them behind. Oil and balsamic etc on the other hand I tend to buy a bottle and share with my colleagues. I sometimes like to travel with some mixed herbs, but as I’m sure you can imagine a small bag of chopped green foliage is not something to be caught with in an airport so I usually only do this within the uk…

Facemasks: in fact just a few nice pamper type things, nail varnish and remover, leave in hair conditioner, foot scrub, for those evenings when you’re alone and homesick and need some me time after a concert

BBC iPlayer downloads: I love this feature of iPlayer, Auntie stops me getting UK withdrawal symptoms

Hand knitted socks: I use these instead of slippers, but I used to take my slippers when I had some. It’s just so comforting to have something to wear in your room, so it feels a little more like home

Obviously I pack all the normal stuff too, but these are my extras for a pleasurable tour.

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Making the most or the least

I am very lucky in my career in that I get to travel a lot. Usually within Europe, but occasionally further afield, too. Today I am in Brussels, a city I come to reasonably often. Brussels is a beautiful, historic, cultural, vibrant city. So what edifying experience do I have planned for today? Nothing. Unless you count sitting in my b&b watching detective dramas.

Am I doing the right thing? Should I be out making the most of being in a city which most Brits think of as a holiday destination? Is it ok to take it for granted, in a way, that I can come back another time?

When I am in a new city, or somewhere further away, I tend to sightsee, hit the museums, get lost in back streets, struggle with the language etc. However, in these cities I know well, or at least visit frequently, I just chalk them up to a business trip and forget the plethora of activities around me. I always say to myself, I’ll bring the boy one day, we’ll see it together, sightseeing solo is sad.

Am I right? Or ungrateful?

My usual line is ‘it will still be here next time, and if it isn’t, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than not having seen Atomium…’