Travel Tips – 5 Things to Consider When Packing

If you are reading this blog then I bet you are like me therefore I’m sure you enjoy travelling. I have travelled a lot, for work and for vacation, and I feel it’s time I shared a few travel tips especially for anyone going on vacation.

#1 Carry the right bag

Depending on how long your stay is going to be, and how many mementos you intend to bring back with you, the bag you carry matters a lot. My advice is bring both a backpack and a suitcase. Always remember that the suitcase will definitely remain in your hotel room, but you will need a backpack as you move up and about once you get to your destination.

#2 Ensure to pack lightly

When on vacation, do not carry too much clothing. Hotels generally have housekeeping services so it is not necessary to carry two weeks’ worth of clothing. My main reason however for suggesting you pack light is that the fun of travelling, is getting to bring back souvenirs. Therefore, the more space you have in your suitcase and backpack, the more the souvenirs you can bring back home without incurring an extra charge for heavy luggage.

#3 Avoid carrying too many shoes

I personally believe that when it comes to shoes and vacation, three pairs is a crowd even for ladies. One pair of casual shoes and one pair of comfort shoes should be sufficient, and of course one pair of flip flops.

#4 Leave your gadgets at home

Our gadgets tend to be too cumbersome and unnecessary because during vacation we rarely use them. Carry your phone and charger, a camera and headphones. Everything else, leave at home. Vacations are meant for personal interactions so you better limit the tech gadgets.

#5 Your security is your responsibility

When visiting new places especially foreign countries, it is important to ensure that your travel documents are always secure. Make sure your passport, plane tickets and any other identification documents are packed securely at all times.

Dark Tourism – 3 Things You Must Know

There’s a new sensation in the tourism sector, a new kind of experiential tourism referred to as dark tourism. Tourists are increasingly making pilgrimages to battle sites, places that once experienced history altering wars, devastating massacres and even natural disasters. This phenomenon has earned the definition “dark tourism”.

The experience is surreal, standing in a spot where hundreds if not thousands of people were killed by either an act of man or an act of nature. Tourists are travelling thousands of miles across the globe to access these tragedy sites all in the name of experiential tourism. So, what do you need to know before engaging in such escapades? Here are a few travel tips.

#1 You must be aware that these kinds of destinations attract controversy

As a tourist it is natural to want to document your travels. Everybody loves a good selfie. However, it is important to recognize that in dark tourism, you are visiting a somber site therefore smiling in that selfie may not go down well with some people. Always try to avoid entangling yourself in such controversies.

#2 You must be aware of potential dangers

Majority of the spots visited by enthusiasts of dark tourism were once war-torn areas or areas stricken by natural disaster and there is still a high probability of these recurring. As a tourist, you must be aware of the potential dangers and ensure to take all necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.

#3 You may be exposed to PTSD

Some psychology experts are of the opinion that tourists who make visits to sites of death and disaster may end up somehow disturbed by the visitation. Knowing that you are standing right on the spot where hundreds if not thousands of people were killed may end up inflicting some form of trauma. The jury is still out on this, I just thought it would be good to mention.

Remains of First World War soldiers recovered in Bullecourt

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has just announced that the remains of two soldiers, likely to be Australians who fought in the First World War, were located at Bullecourt in France on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, said the remains had been discovered by a French fossicker in an area known to locals as the ‘Australian line’ and then recovered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

“After efforts to identify the soldiers, the remains will be interred in a nearby war cemetery with full military honours,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“During initial examination of the remains, CWGC personnel discovered a button with a map of Australia on it, supporting the likelihood that they are Australian soldiers.

“The First and Second battles at Bullecourt saw some of the most intense trench fighting of the First World War. Australians achieved amazing feats and sadly also suffered significant losses. General Haig described Second Bullecourt as ‘among the great deeds of the war’.

“Australia owes a debt of gratitude to these men, and all those who served our nation on foreign soil. It is our responsibility to ensure that their service and sacrifice is respectfully honoured,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Australian and British troops fought two bloody battles at Bullecourt in April and in May 1917, with the Australian Imperial Force sustaining approximately 10,000 casualties. Hundreds of Australians who died at Bullecourt remain missing.

Returning to Viet Nam

Gary McKay, the historian on our Viet Nam tours, was asked why he believes his tours are above the rest in their conduct and content. He said:

As the author of more than a dozen books on the subject of the Australian involvement in the American war in South Viet Nam, and as a Viet Nam war veteran (4 RAR second tour as a rifle platoon commander), I believe I have the credentials to ensure that our tour lacks nothing in the way of information and attention to detail.

I have been returning to Viet Nam almost every year since 1993 and for the last decade have been conducting and leading tours three and sometimes four times per year. In the last couple of years I have also been leading and guiding Anzac scholarship winners on tours to Viet Nam. Regardless of whether the tourist is a scholar, a returning veteran or somebody who wants to learn about the American war in Viet Nam or gain an understanding of one of the most complex and costly wars since the Second World War, the McLachlan battlefield tour will meet everyone’s expectations.

Viet Nam is fast becoming a developing nation within Asia and its charm and beauty may well be lost to future generations who want to see the real Asia and all that it means. Do not leave it too late to see this beautiful country and the part that Australia played in it during the days when we were all involved as national servicemen.

For veterans who want to return I strongly recommend my book Going Back which will assist those who may have second thoughts on returning to former battle zone.

Mat McLachlan added:

Our Viet Nam Commemoration Tour takes in most of the major battlefields where Australians fought against their elusive enemy. Gary McKay’s personal experience as an infantry officer and combat veteran (who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in Australia’s last major battle of the war), allows him to explain in detail how the battles developed, how they were fought and why the combatants fought the way they did. As a historian Gary has the knowledge and insight into providing the finer detail and brings the battles to life as you stand on the ground where brave soldiers from both sides fought and died.

The added bonus is that because Gary has been returning almost every year to the country since 1993 he has an incredible insight into the way Viet Nam has developed and changed since the war years. His intimate knowledge of Viet Nam and its culture allows him to take the tourist into a side of Vietnamese life that not many people get to see.

Gary studied Vietnamese at the School of Modern Languages in Queensland to give him a working knowledge of the language, the culture and social history of this beautiful country. Together with the local guides he provides a touring experience that is extremely rewarding and memorable.

Our 15-night Viet Nam commemoration tour departs on March 24.