Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'Defensive' packing & planning for a trip.

Packing = Prevention is always better than a cure, so always pack with the following in mind: First, know that you may very well lose one (or more) pieces of your luggage while traveling (and that the more times you change planes the higher the probability of this happening is) . If you pack 'defensively' for this situation & know how to minimize the effects of losing a bag, you could save yourself from having a 'nightmare' of a trip. Rule # 1 = ALWAYS split up your possessions between bags. ALL of your bags should contain (at least) one each of the following: Underwear = Socks, knickers, bras etc Casual wear = T-shirt, pair of shorts & pair of pants Formal wear = Crease-resistant shirt & pants or skirt (these are great to wear when talking to officials!) Shoes = Flip flops or sneakers & a pair of 'nicer' shoes . Medical bag = Any important prescription drugs you take, birth control pills, headache & stomach ache remedies, any 'can't live without' toiletries (specialist type face creams, hair gels etc), essential make-up. Rule #2 = Don't rely on one type of currency. It is always best to have several different types of currency on hand: Cash = US dollars work well in most most countries (even if the country you are in doesn't take them, you should be able to exchange them for the local currency easily enough). Travelers cheques = Keep a copy of the cheque numbers separate & only sign in front of the cashier & only when you are ready to use them! Credit cards =Visa, Mastercard, Amex take whichever of these floats your boat....But remember not all of these cards are accepted everywhere. Rule # 3 = DON'T keep all of these 'currencies' together in one place/bag. This is a very important rule as your bags/hotel room could get broken into & you definitely don't want to be left destitute in a strange country! Prevention as always is best = Use hotel safes whenever you can - if one is provided in the room, use it. If there is no safe in your room = See if there a safety deposit box or a 'communal' safe at the hotels reception that you can use (if using this option check to see how the hotel will identify you & put your belongings in a SEALED envelope & sign across the opening). Rule # 4 = Backpacker alert. If you are backpacking I would take security issues one step further: Money = 'Hide' some of your cash, a credit card or travelers cheques in an 'unusual' place within your belongings (e.g: in a pair of old socks, at the bottom of your sleeping bag, under the insole of your shoes) Even better = Buy a money-belt & sleep with it on! ( I have numerous friends who had their bags 'rifled through' by people in their hostel room while they were asleep, keeping important papers & money 'on' you at all times is sometimes the only way to insure you aren't a victim). Alcohol & 'friends' = Not everyone you meet in hostels are there to be your friend, take care whom you invite back to your dormitory, if in doubt - keep them out! Rule # 5 = Information you MUST carry. I recommend carrying copies of anything 'irreplaceable', this is a MUST whatever type of traveling you are doing: Photocopy the following before you travel = Passport &/or birth certificate , travel insurance documents, flight details & itinenary. Not only should you have a copy of these for yourself, but I recommend leaving another copy with someone at home - that way you can always get this information if you need to. Other information you should always carry = Cell phone #'s of friends traveling with you & of people/places you are visiting, emergency contact details including, Embassy or Consulate phone numbers for the country you are in, next of kin contact details, travel insurance phone numbers to call. Rule # 6 = Insurance. Whatever else you do, don't 'skimp on it! Travel insurance = You never know what might happen before, during or after a vacation so always get the maximum amount of travel insurance you can afford, covering all the activities you are planning to get involved with while away (e.g:: skiing, scuba diving etc). Travel insurance is very inexpensive when compared to what you could lose if you have to cancel a trip, or visit a medical facility while on vacation. These are just a few of the 'defensive strategies' I have learned to use during my years of traveling.....plan for the worse case scenario & you will have all your bases covered!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lake Louise Night Adventures.

Evenings are about having fun in Lake Louise. No matter how cold it gets (or how much snow is falling) you can always find someone or someone's (plural) having the time of their lives and funnily enough, most of the 'action' goes on outside ! It's even more fun for the people who live 'at the lake' = barbecues will be going - even in the dead of winter & I guarantee if you wander up to the lake you will smell the meats roasting and the voices of the 'chefs' as they keep their beers cold in the nearest snow drift. For visitors there's always lots to do, many make use of the lake's ice skating & hockey rinks - well, why not? With hot chocolate being provided by the Chateau Lake Louise and laughs being supplied by those brave enough to give the 'classic' game of broomball a try, it's a great way to spend an evening. Another activity to try is a stargazing trip with or without a guide - a word of caution here though if you do decide to try doing your own trip without a guide, make sure everyone in you party wears snow shoes & always ask a person you don't like to go first - so that when you walk on a snow bank that's too soft they are the ones who fall through & not you !. If the above options are too energetic, you can always opt to spend time touring the 'magical' ice carvings on display or how about a horse drawn sleigh ride along the lake front? There's endless oportunities for fun when you visit or live 'at the lake'.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

'Weather' or not you are ready for Lake Louise !

AHH! Winter weather in Lake Louise....I do have to say coming from England to the sunny climes of Lake Louise was a bit of a shock, as although in Lake Louise the sun does nearly always shine -it can still be minus 30 out ! So if you don't want to get used to squinting due to the glare off the snow, buy yourself some really good sunglasses/goggles before you get here and then never take them off! That being said, I will take sunshine (in any form) over clouds, rain & wind -because lets face it - the sun being out makes everything just feel right, don't you agree? Basically anyone who comes here knows, that the weather in Lake Louise during the 'winter' months (October-May) is either going to be snowing and cold or sunny and cold and on the plus side - you don't need to plan what you are going to wear; just put on everything you brought with you, creating multiple layers that you can remove one by one as necessary! (Of course you know, you are going to look odd wearing 2 hats, 3 pairs of gloves, 4 pairs of socks, a yard or so of scarves as well as nose warmer, but at least you won't freeze to death on your way to and from the ski-hill or while you are out skating on the Lake. (All the 'true' Canadians are probably rolling their eyes at this article and thinking what a wimp I must be to complain about minus 30 being cold..... but let me tell you, when you come from a country with a mild climate (like Britain has) anything under 0 degrees IS cold!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Taking the' back' road to serenity

Getting away from it all and enjoying being the only ones at a 'back roads' camping ground is one of life's greatest pleasures. What makes it all the more fun, is if to get to these campsites you have to switch to 4 by 4 mode in your truck/SUV & traverse some 'squirrelly' roads . My husband & I spent some wonderful summer evenings near Lake Louise fishing secluded lakes, playing cards by our campfire and watching the local wildlife parade by. We have (so far) been to only a few of the many 'Rocky Mountain Forest District' campsites (BC), but are planning to go back again this year to experience many more of them (and as we have never- had to share 'our' lake with anyone else, we know these are one of the few places we can go to find peace, solitude and nature at it's finest - basically perfect places to 'get away from it all'. The photos are of Halfway lake, 3 Island lake & the road we had to take to get there!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hiking the canadian Rockies - Peaks & Trails & Marmots - oh my!

A wonderful day hike near Lake Louise which I did with members of my family (and no, the attached photos are not pictures of them, .........although now that I look at them.....) We were hiking to Cirque peak via Helen's lake. These photos are actually of some of the 'crazy' wildlife we saw while hiking the alpine paths ; Squirrels, marmots and pika are the 'featured creatures' and as you can see they are all just 'doing their thing' as all good wildlife should. I encourage any hiker who hasn't been to the Candian Rockies to make the trip - Prestine air, amazing wildlife and views that are out of this world wait for all. Can you spot the Pika in this picture >>> If you don't want to ' waste your time' hiking boring old need to find the BEST hikes to do in the Canadian Rockies and I recommend the following books to guide you.....they never once led US wrong !