Where to Go (and Where Not to Go) in Mexico

15 February 2013

Visiting Mexico

There are many seasoned travellers who wish to cover the country of Mexico but refrain from doing so because of the news that filters through various outlets about the crime rate. It’s true that Mexico has a problem. A big one. But it’s a vast country and if you do your research, you’ll discover some outstanding destinations. Luckily, your international shipping supremo has done some groundwork for you.

Mexico City itself is a fascinating hybrid of its historic past and optimistic future. The government had a bit of a tidy up here for Mexico’s bicentennial two years ago and places such as the Plaza Garibaldi are well worth a visit. There are also some captivating historical Aztec sites to visit and the city also boasts a number of top-class hotel destinations.

For a more relaxed escape, Puerto Vallarta is fast becoming the choice of the young holidaymaker with its paradisiacal havens (loving my new Thesaurus app!), enticing beaches and authentic Mexican cuisine.

If you wish to brush up on your knowledge of Mexico’s past in between the occasional snorkelling adventure, Cozumel – off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula – is the setting for you with its beautiful coral reefs and rich Mayan history.

Over the last decade or so, Cancún has established itself as the hedonist’s destination thanks to the scores of excitable US college girls and boys who descend on various resorts throughout the city during Spring Break. If you’re planning a fortnight of merrymaking that your parents would disapprove of, spring or summer here is recommended.

Alternatively, if you wish to experience the sights and sounds of this sumptuous city without witnessing teenagers sitting on kerbs, regretting their last Jägerbomb, winter is a better time of the year to explore.

Don’t forget that Mexico is often affected by hurricanes, usually around June-November time. The last noteworthy storm was in 2007 when Cancún was hit hard by Hurricane Dean – many young partygoers lost their luggage and clothes. Actually, a lot of them lost their clothes long before the hurricane arrived, but that’s another story.

Leaving aside Mexico’s fabulously successful holiday scene for a moment, its extraordinary history of drug-related violence requires addressing. The fact is, some areas of the country are extremely dangerous and must not be visited. Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas regularly report serious violent crime and the border areas such as Reynosa, Tampico, Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez remain off-limits for obvious reasons. Highways connecting Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon to the US border have seen an increase in bus and car-hijackings and robberies in the last few years. What we're saying is, "Don't say we didn't try to look out for you!"

It’s also worth noting that as with any other major city in the globe, tourists in busy areas are targets for street criminals. Keep your belongings safe, your valuables out of sight and don’t jump into the back of a car just because the driver bellows ‘Taxi!’ at you through the window.

So there you go. Don’t let bad press make you shelve Mexico as a possibility for your next vacation. We can ship stuff there too. In fact we can ship excess baggage and other things more or less anywhere. That's why we're an international shipping company, right? Get a free shipping quote if you want to be sure.

Posted in: Holidays, Travel

Bite Me - Australian Spiders and Creepy Crawlies

15 February 2013

Australian Wildlife

One of the most off-putting factors about moving abroad to Australia, visiting Australia or generally relocating overseas in that part of the world for many is the presence of spiders. Here are the facts: Yes, some of them are big. Big and crawly. Yes, some of them are poisonous. However, no one has died from a spider bite in Australia for over 30 years. So if you can get past the size thing, you’ll be fine. Having said that, make sure you don’t get on the wrong side of a Funnel Web spider because it’s one of the deadliest spiders in the world. If you suspect you've been bitten by one of the forty different species of Funnel Web spider, make a quick dash to A&E. Signs that you’ve been bitten by a Funnel Web Spider are…well, they’re unpleasant so we won’t post them here. Just do the A&E thing and get some antivenom down you.

Unless you’re Bear Grylls or some other alpha male show-off with a TV show, a Black Widow spider will leave you alone. If you tinker with its nest or provoke it in any way, it will bite you on the hand. From then on, you better put your affairs in order and delete your browser history because you’re not going to be around for long. Or get some antivenom. Actually, do that first.

Although arachnids have not been responsible for any fatalities in Australia for decades, snakes remain a deadly menace, and it’s these unforgiving inhabitants you need to be most wary of. Australia is home to 7 species of the 10 most poisonous snakes in the world. Among the most feared are the Eastern Brown snake, the Australian Tiger snake and the not-at-all-misleadingly named ‘Death Adder’.

Then there’s the jack jumper ant. To put it bluntly, these things are vicious little b*****s. They’re venomous, scavenging carnivores and are responsible for more deaths in Tasmania than sharks, snakes, wasps and spiders combined.

For more information about Australian spiders and other deadly (and frankly, unlikeable) creepy crawlies, these links are quite handy:

http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/australian_spiders.html

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/view-image.htm?index=0&gid=11893

http://www.scribd.com/doc/11585526/Lethal-Ants-of-Australia

And we haven’t even touched on the enemies lurking in the surrounding seas. But that’s for another blog. In the meantime don't forget we can handle shipping to Australia for your excess baggage and all kinds of other stuff. It's what we're here for, after all.

Posted in: Moving Abroad

Stepping Off The Plane - Moving To Australia

15 February 2013

Moving to Australia

This is our third blog about relocating overseas by moving to Australia. You can read it in any order you want. It’s not a strict set of rules, more a loose explanation of what to expect and advice on what to do if you're moving abroad. This blog entry from Seven Seas Worldwide is about the bit between getting off the plane and starting your new life.

So you bumble down the staircase out of the plane, experiencing a mixture of excitement and jet lag. What’s next? Well after you’ve looked up at the clear blue sky for a few minutes, reminding yourself why you did all this in the first place, it’s time to go to Immigration for all the necessary inspections and checks. Make sure you have your passport and your ‘Incoming Passenger Card’ (IPC) for handing over to immigration officers.

It might be a good idea to change your currency for Aussie dollars while you’re at the airport. We suggest $20, $10 and $5 notes and $2 and $1 coins. Oh and expect to pay a commission. Don’t forget the usefulness of the information desk too for other things such as short-term accommodation and transport options. Speaking of which, if you’re thinking about hiring a car from the airport, you’ll need your driver’s licence handy. Your entry into Australia will be delayed if you fail to produce the right travel documents and visas. Sorry if we sounded a bit like a customs official there, but it’s true.

Once you’ve been cleared by immigration, it’s onwards to baggage collection, and we all know nothing beats the sheer exhilaration of standing by a slow-moving conveyor belt shuffling battered luggage in a circle for half an hour – none of which is yours. It really is the best way to start a holiday. Especially when, as excess baggage experts, we could have just shipped it there for you in the first place (hint hint).

After collecting, Customs or Border Protection officers may then request to check your luggage. If they do, say yes. It’s for the best. Even if you used our wonderful excess baggage shipping service.

This is the final hurdle. After this, Australia is your oyster. (By the way, the oysters in Australia are amazing).

Posted in: Moving Abroad

Ski Someday - The Slopes of Switzerland by Travis Monk

12 February 2013

Travel and Ski in Switzerland

Our own indomitable travel writer, Travis Monk, braves the slopes of Switzerland in the name of experience, skis and excess baggage.

“Do the ‘Cheese’. Now the ‘Wizard’s Hat’. Now do the ‘Falling Tree’. And the ‘Angry Conker’. And the ‘Pensive Hamster’.” My ski instructor Tomas is reeling off a load of ski moves to me but I'm having a hard time keeping up. This is because I haven’t got my skis on yet.

I was told before I ventured out here that Zermatt, Switzerland offers some of the most breathtaking views of skiers falling over and since I arrived last Tuesday for Seven Seas Worldwide, it hasn't failed to disappoint. The most rewarding aspect of a skiing holiday is watching smug people fall over; though this is something I've yet to convince Tomas who is adamant that I memorise his bewildering lexicon.

With my feet securely inside my snap-buckle ski boots, I slide uneasily down one of the more moderate slopes at the resort, pursued by Tomas and his faithful dog Duke who – despite wearing top-of-the-range ‘dog-skis’ - appears to be managing as badly as me.

I didn’t want to go on a skiing holiday but I was roped into it by my friends Jocasta, Alexandra and Pip-Pip. I had visited Jocasta’s apartment in the Dordogne valley during the summer to finish my latest advice book ‘How to Throw a Memorable Funeral Wake’ whereupon Jocasta mentioned she was going on a two week break to Zermatt and that my company would be most welcome. I get the feeling I was only ever invited because I have a helicopter but nevertheless I accepted.

The nearest I had gotten to the skiing experience before this is when I fell down a flight of stairs and lost my wallet, so Tomas had much to teach me. A local skiing instructor can set you back about £50 a day. That’s for a good one. There are many unskilled skiing instructors operating in Zermatt and they’re easy to spot because they often refer to skis as ‘long flat shoe things’. They also complain of the cold and their lessons last about fifty seconds. Tomas is a competent instructor, though he has a distracting moustache which has caused me to ski into a tree on more than one occasion.

Later in the day, my pals and I took a trip up to Klein Matterhorn using a cable car. This was a particularly arduous trip as there is no cable leading up to Klein Matterhorn, but we got there eventually. There’s no prejudice up here: Professionals and beginners can be found rubbing shoulders and falling over together without discrimination.

If this skiing trip has taught me one thing, it’s that human beings can’t just go to a picturesque location, find a nice bench and admire the view; they have to attach unnaturally long things to their feet and risk injury there too.

I’m just skimming the surface of the human condition here. Well, I would be, but I don’t know how to skim either. Fortunately I do know about shipping which is why I can safely say that if you want to send your skis ahead as excess baggage you probably want to get an online shipping quote now. Or your skims. Or anything else, for that matter.

Posted in: Travel, Holidays

Don't Buy This Stuff (1)

12 February 2013

Excess Baggage Ideas

If you’re travelling abroad or relocating overseas soon, you’ll want to buy a load of unnecessary travel items to accompany you on your journey (and later on, the fill the attic).

I’ve found a few interesting holiday-related gizmos on the website thefancy.com - a refined location on the web for all manner of stylish, purchasable objects that you never knew existed – and thought you might want to take a gander before you print your e-tickets and stuff your passport in your bumbag.

I may have been a tad harsh when I said earlier that these items were unnecessary. Some of them are. In fact, plenty of them are. However, the Stowaway iPhone Wallet Case looks like a rather nifty invention for the seasoned traveller. A flap at the back of the phone lifts up to reveal a compartment for storing your most important credit cards, debit cards, library cards, Blockbuster membership cards, whatever. It’s quite a thick case, naturally, so if you’re one of those iPhone users who occasionally looks to the heavens and says ‘Why can’t my iPhone be marginally thinner?’, then this is probably not the case for you.

Should you have travel sleeping or breathing comfortably on the plane, or you just want to make the passenger next to you think they’re flying with a Storm Trooper, why not bring the Breathing Travel Mask onboard with you? Well, there are a number of reasons, really. If it works, great, but if it doesn’t, you’re essentially a strange person with a robot-face who keeps scaring the children.

Parents going abroad with a little one may be in the market for one of these. After all, they’ve decided that going abroad with a baby is a good idea, so they’re probably not the wisest owls. Actually, out of all the travel gadgets, this could be the most practical – a bag for baby things which you can open and let the baby sleep in like a miniature travel cot. Aww.

Perhaps the stupidest thing in my list features one of our most recent comedy classics. ANapoleon Dynamite Sleep Mask. Yes, this is a novelty item that is funny for no longer than twelve seconds but, hey, a mask is a mask and it will earn you geek points. Not sure who with. The Elder Geeks perhaps.

Leaving thefancy.com for now, take a look at what Firebox is offering the campers among you. Ladies and gentlemen, the Camper Van Tent. As camper van tents go, this is pretty snazzy and will break the ice with fellow campers. Either that,or they’ll just stay away from you all week and call you the ‘Weirdo Tent Guy’.

Remember, a build-up of unnecessary travel items may well result in excess baggage, which we can fortunately help with - get a shipping quote online now.

Posted in: Travel, Packing