Al Arabi Travel Agency

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Packing lightly and efficiently… how is it done?

On Twitter recently, I caught a discussion about the best way to pack light so I thought it’d make an interesting little blog post to discuss some ideas and tips about the best way to go about it.

I love flying business class. It was a fantastic experience… the one time I actually flew in the cabin. As you’ve probably guessed, I do pretty much all of my travel in economy class and, thus, my baggage allowance usually sits around the 20-23kg mark. I used to constantly arrive at the airport in a sweaty state of fear that my suitcase would weigh too much and I’d be charged for excess baggage so I recently decided that enough was enough. Pack light, take only what I need and (hopefully) become a far more efficient traveller.

Furthermore, as I detailed in THIS POST, I’ll be backpacking around Italy in September. Isn’t it funny how the thought of carrying your entire luggage on your back (for pretty much 2 weeks straight) will frighten you into carrying less? I’m also going to include some community tips from Twitter.

Let’s begin!

  • Write a checklist. I find this really helps you sit and think about exactly what you need. In my experience, packing without a checklist caused you to pack far too much.
  • Plan your packing by day. This doesn’t work quite as well if you’re going on a long trip but, if you’re going for less than a week, plan your outfit for each day in advance and just pack what you need per day.
  • The packing vs rolling debate. Personally, I swear by rolling my tshirts and trousers whilst other people fold them. I roll mine very, very tightly and I find that I can fit more in a suitcase this way but it may well depend on the materials/tailoring of individual garments.
  • Stuff socks inside shoes. I can’t stress this one enough.. space inside shoes is just wasted space; use it! This tip endorsed by @SimonPThurston!
  • Pack underwear last. As the smallest garments in your case, pack your underwear right at the end. This was, you can use underwear/socks to ‘plug’ any small gaps that might be left over.
  • Toiletries tend to take up a lot of space. I try to collect sample sized deodorants, shower gels, shampoos etc. from the promotional stands that are put up in the malls and then keep them in a cupboard until my next trip. They’re usually about the right size for a 2 weeks trip and they take up far less space than the full sized toiletries you’d buy in the supermarket.
  • A follow up to the previous point – are you staying in hotels for your whole trip? Why not find out what toiletries they provide and pack accordingly?
  • Lots of opinions about toiletries. @papalurchdxb suggests ‘take no toiletries with you and buy at location’.
  • Pack according to the climate you expect. If you’re visiting Miami in summer, you’ll hardly need a winter jacket.
  • Via @SurenaSays on Twitter – ‘Buy a luggage weighing scale, it’s made (packing) much less stressful for me’
  • Via @chuiee – ‘For a holiday, carry a pair or two of jeans and a lot of tshirts. Re-use jeans’ She also says that you should ‘add a newspaper inside of pressed clothes while folding them to prevent it from having fold marks or creases’
  • From @ClaireRDXB – ‘Only take a carry on suitcase’
  • We’ve also had a tip about colour coordinating your outfits. @missmaxine says ‘I pick a colour, then stick to it. Makes it lighter and easier as everything then matches i.e. black and grey, or white etc.’

 So there we go – tips for packing efficiently. Many thanks to our Twitter contributions and please do keep the suggestions coming in by comment! 


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Today, we’re talking visas…

With the introduction of the VFS service in the UAE, some travel visas are now processed at service centres rather than the traditional route of going to a respective embassy.

VFS Global is a global outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments worldwide. The company manages visa issuance-related administrative and non-judgmental tasks for its client governments. With 610 Visa Application Centres (VACs) and operations in 69 countries across five continents as at 31 March 2012, VFS Global serves the interests of the diplomatic missions of 37 sovereign governments. The company has successfully processed over 44.02 million visa applications since its inception in 2001.

Some visas still require you to go to the embassy rather than the VFS application centres so it’s prudent to speak to the relevant embassy when you book a holiday. To the best of our knowledge, the following countries require you to get a visa through an application centre, rather than the respective embassy, in the United Arab Emirates:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Italy
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

Of course, the adaptation of VFS is an ongoing process and we’d advise that you check with an embassy at all times to ensure where you need to go to get your visa processed. The following page will advise which countries require you to attend a VFS application centre:

You can also click the map (opening an interactive flash file) which will allow you to see which VFS application centre you should attend depending on the visa you wish to apply for.

If you’ve booked through us and need more information about how to apply for a particular visa, please give your travel consultant a call and we’ll make sure to find out the best possible information for your particular requirements.

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FCO Kenya Travel Advisory as of 02/07/12

Good morning everyone,

Today, I had a friend ask me if he felt it was safe to travel to Mombasa given the recent attacks and bombings that have affected Kenya. I thought it would make a good blog post for anyone else who was concerned about travelling to the country.

Currently the United Kingdom FCO (Foreign and Consulate Office) has advised against all but essential travel to certain areas of Kenya. Here’s a map for you to see the affected regions:

The US Embassy has also issued a warning to its citizens warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks within Kenya. The message is quite clear:

  • Strongly consider any travel to Kenya.
  • If you do go to Kenya, be extremely careful.

To view the entire FCO advisory, please click on the following link: