Spring Travel: The Curse of the Caterpillar

o

It’s spring. There is pollen everywhere and if you are lucky, some sun. You are suffering miserably. You are also looking forward to traveling on your spring or summer vacation. The dilemma of packing for travel. To bring toiletries or not bring toiletries, that is the question? And what it really means to deal with customs and travel with a portable medicine cabinet, because if you have allergies you are probably carrying creams and any other magical thing to ward off the sneeze or itch. But really, you should have they very basics that you need purchased when you get there, and a small first aid kit. Think of it as warding off all evil. It’s not worth being held up in customs over the littlest thing.

The fashion statement of small cosmetics bags should just be for cosmetics, and that’s it. Even these should travel in a clear bag. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, the ports of call can be a challenge with the toiletry and meds dilema. You will be stopped and asked questions, just accept that you will. So make it easier to deal with. If you are on medications, you need these to be clearly labelled and kept with you at all times. You may wish to keep a copy of the full description your pharmacist prints for you. For the most part, prescription meds make it through okay, but packs of allergy meds that can be used to make recreational drugs are very regulated. Don’t bring large blister packs of allergy meds through customs. Packing liquids and lotions still requires that you store them in small, less than 3 oz. bottle and it’s best to just use a clear zip bag. Have these out and ready for declaration. All airports require a clear bag of some kind and people have been forced to repack and use airport provided bags in some cases.

images

Apothecary

Which comes to the next part. Plan to get to the pharmacy or apothecary upon arrival, and stock up on travel sizes there. The £/€ 20 is worth not being hassled at the airports. I discovered over the years that stuffing little bottle full of products that you will have to have tested by customs officials, and told you cannot take it, and toss is more expensive in the long run. Now this may be difficult if you are going to Asia or a country where you may not speak or read the language printed on containers. Let’s face it, personal grooming products are recognizable for the most part, but it may not be made or have the ingredients you approve of or can tolerate if you have sensitivity issues. If you are the average Joe or Jane, you can get by with the minimal and maybe share with travel companions on shampoos and such. Washing powder for laundry is another issue for sensitive skin and nose people.

Health and Wholefoods Markets are Your Friends

They can be your saviour if they are open when you arrive. One of the first things I did when I hit Glasgow or Dublin again was find the whole food mart. Unscented soaps and laundry detergents and toiletries can be found here,  not to mention organic foods and veg you can get up to your room. Many Gluten Free options as well. You will benefit from keeping fresh fruit around if you are in a place for a few days, it helps your immune system and is cheaper than always eating out. Grab a tube of Aloe Gel to help with sunburn and other scrapes. Natural sunscreen can be grabbed. Yes, I got sunburned in both Dublin and Glasgow last year, go figure.

Flora

If you know you have severe allergies, skin and pollen related, you will need to plan to bring what you can. However, in many English speaking countries, the U.K. and Ireland, you can find the allergy over the counter meds you are used to in the US and Canada. Keep in mind that there are different flora and fauna in these countries than you are used to. I found that because I was also going between islands, I had to plan to have to dump things for all airports if I had over 3 oz in any container.In the U.K. and Ireland, brands like Zyrtec and Benadryl and other allergy medications are known or have equivalents, so if these work for you you can get them there.

You will always find a Boots, or other apothecary. But if you are into whole foods and the whole body approach, you may want to research this a bit for each large city you may visit. I found this really helpful when I was choosing a place to stay as often I would have to rely on the whole market for meals because kitchens had closed at restaurants early or I needed things with ingredients I could decipher.

And Now for the Creepy Crawlies

March of the caterpillars may make your spring really unpleasant. A particularly pesky crawling teen, the larva of the Processionary Moth, can be seen in lines, end to end roaming London. Eradication crews are on the loose throughout the city, and it is thought that this creature came from Southern Europe to invade the shores. Why the fuss? Because the tiny hairs that are shed by this inching creature can cause severe rashes and bronchial problems in unsuspecting humans. 

 

 

Caterpillars in London

Midges are the scourge of the Highlands, and yes, right in Glasgow off the Kelvin. If you are near any waterway in the spring and summer months, these flying fiends bite and some people are very allergic to them. You can get repellents, but the clouds of them are so big, you can just find another way around them. Long sleeves are good for the river hiking and running you may do.

Ticks are a danger in the isles and Europe as they are in the US and Canada and some carry Lyme disease. As you would in any wooded area, check your clothing for the tiny, expanding arachnids. Clean wounds well and monitor. Again, when you are at the chemist, you may want to pick up anti itch and antiseptic creme to be on the safe side.

Health Food Stores

Glasgow https://www.organicfacts.net/organic-products/organic-stores/glasgow.html

Dublin https://www.organicsupermarket.ie/

Edinburgh https://www.realfoods.co.uk/

London https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/nov/03/ethicalfood.fooddirectory2

Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

The Best of Scotland in a Day Don’t let the title confuse you. This is not a post about an – absolutely impossible – attempt to experience this fabulous wee country in 24 hours. Rather, it’s about capturing Scotland’s broad appeal in one day. The assets that have made it one of the top destinations…

via Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

Galway Summer Tempest

On the second part of my Irish journey this summer, I decided to take in Galway, a medieval town on the Western coast. After three days of intense heat in Dublin, a city I never thought I would see such heat in, I took a tranquil train rides through to the West of Ireland and reached Galway city mid- morning. The ride had been filled with views of great fields of green and an interesting political conversation with an Irishman. Warning, if you start up any politics with the Irish, it will be a long conversation. Actually, most conversations, especially with men in Ireland, will be long and take a while to end. It was a wam, bam, 48 hours well spent and I wished it had been longer.

FullSizeRender 5

The weather took a funny turn right after I arrived, I got off the train needing a good long walk, dropped cases at the bed and breakfast and took College down into the downtown area of Eyre Square, passing through the shopping mall that boasted one of the remaining walls of this great walled city of Ireland. I headed down into Quay and Spanish Arches area, chased the lanes around  for a couple of hours. It looked and smelled of rain, so I tried to cram in the sights as much as I could. Then came in the storm. I had been napping at the B&B and the whole place shook. Within 10 minutes and amazing wind storm with hail, thunder and tree bits blew in and was gone. That’s Galway for you.

FullSizeRender 7

A Taste of Irish Feminism: Crestfall by Mark O’Rowe

One of the main reasons I was in Galway was to take in a play as the Arts Festival was in full swing. I had been trying to book plays from overseas and several had sold out but luckily I snagged a seat at the Druid for Crestfall, a play with three powerful women on a night and what their lives had culminated in for that one night. Deep and insightful to the psyche of womankind it gave a great snapshot of real life tragedy and life in a tiny compact stage. I was on the edge of my seat and drawn in, raging inside with the cast. The play ended up with few favorable reviews, but I think that is because the reviewers just could not handle the raw nature of the play. I was relieved to see a man could write about women, actually capture some of the guttural essence of single mothers and other women downtrodden by society. Directed by Annabelle Comyn, and starring Kate Stanley Brennan, Siobhán Cullen, and Amy McElhatton. Three very different women struggling in a dystopian Dublin.

Galway Arts Festival

If you get a chance to come in the month of July, this festival is a good kick off for festival travels. I managed three festivals this trip, and this was a great beginning. In the beautiful surroundings of the city and university, the big top is also filled with concerts and Trad musicians. If you are planning to go, book your accommodations early and try to get them near the river. Taxis can be rough during the festival and you will need to walk everywhere. But it’s a great little city for walking. Many big and small acts come to the festival, with some famous Irish musicians booking in because they like the festival. Keep an eye on the website as tickets sell out fast.

FullSizeRender 2

Dress in layers, you are by the sea. There is a great many shops to keep you busy. I usually don’t do the tourist shops things, mainly stick to galleries of which there are plenty in this town. Plenty of buskers and jewelry and clothing stalls to pass the time with. Galway is one of the arts hubs of Ireland with creativity on every corner. And then of course Galway is a tourist hub, filled with tour buses and bus barns that amazingly manage to fit in such a small downtown area.

FullSizeRender 3

Connemara

The west of Ireland has many magical places to visit, all lush and green. I had planned for months on my day two being a fantastic trip to the Aran Islands. The weather the following day got even worse, the ocean filled with darkness and wind, so I opted for a coach tour of Connemara National Park instead. What a ride; fjords, endless sheep and landscapes, all seen in the mostly rain filled summer’s day. If you can manage it, stay in the park either camping or at a nearby inn. There is so much to see and experience hiking it will take at least a full day. The highlight of the tour was the Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Gardens estate tour. This massive estate was once home to a very wealthy family, but now has been converted to an Benedictine Abbey. The grounds are lush and rambling, you are in for a good walk with many photo opportunities.

Ireland’s west coast and the Atlantic Way is filled with a great many treats for the senses, wear layers and bring your imagination. Two days was not enough, so if you can manage it try for three to four days to explore this beautiful area fully. This is one of the few places where doing a hire car with a group may be your best advantage so you can get to all of the sights around Galway. Just be patient if you drive into Galway, for the streets pack fast and it may be better to park at the outskirts and walk in.

FullSizeRender 4

Spanish Arches

Abbey

Benedictine Abbey

connemarastatepark

Connemara State Park

Victorian Walled Garden

Victorian Walled Gardens

Curse of the Curly Haired Traveler in the U.K.

Many women I have met have remarked how lucky I am to have such curly hair. I have often found it so odd that many women really get into the straight, sleek look to fight their curls, the maintenance on this alone is a forturtune. And how do you keep it up during travel? Spend hours on flat ironing many of us curly girls do, but the equipment needed and using power conversion, what a headache. No one is ever satisfied. But traveling with curls, especially out of the country, can be quite a bother.

Travel hint: bring a sock defuser for drier, or use your sock.

Curls are special, and they need to be treated as the wild, live things they are. You straight hair ones can just comb and be done, us curlies gotta keep it under control. So hard to do when traveling as you have to have an arsenal of product to control it. You could just braid it, as one person said to me. Problem is curly hair really shouldn’t be braided. It snaps and breaks or starts creating Rasta braids immediately. So, finding products that work without blowing your whole travel budget is a must.

Then come the fun part. Finding hair care products that will work. Ask any curly, they are not all the same and once you find a routine that tames, having to use other products can really get your dander up. Now, try shopping in another country where you may find some of the personal care products you are familiar with, but they don’t work with curly hair. Some of the companies and conglomerates that own supermarket brands are international or even owned by British companies. Problem is that most of us curlies can’t use these products, they just don’t work. We have sponge hair, the product can just sit there. They are for the normals, the straight haired no fuss people. It’s tragic being different.

You can only travel with very limited supplies of any liquid due to airlines regulations. Traveling with tiny containers is a true pain, and when you have long curly hair that one container is just one use. So, hot off the plane in Glasgow I started my mission. Find shampoo or at the very least hair conditioner and controlant of gel to combat the soft water. That’s right, the bane of curly hair, soft water. Every town in Scotland had their soft water, because you have to remember that the water is not going to be like where you live, water is unique to its filtration and percolation path. So minerals and such can just add to the frizz. Why the fuss? My hair is big, and fitting in an elevator or other close confines is very important. Never mind making sure others can fit in with you.

Oh, and many US products like DevaCurl are not imported, they use an ingredient that may not be approved by UK standards for import. I found this out about halfway through my trip. They also don’t have Ulta there, yet. So you need to hunt a bit in the shopping malls. Or research ahead of time using a product search in the UK and Ireland. Here’s some of what I found on my last trip.

The bare minimum is get a deep conditioner, leave in curl creek, and gel. This should help combat most of the soft water frizzy frustration. Be prepared for sticker shock on products.

Added problem for me, very scent sensitive. Let’s just not go there.
Sally Express, Sally Beauty UK
http://www.sallyexpress.com/

We have this chain in the US, so seeing a familiar name was a relief. But they don’t carry all the products we have in the US and Canada. The still sell some of the professional Clairol and L’Oreal products we are familiar with, but the other brands are UK. Which can be a good thing since the UK has better ingredients governance and regulations than the US does. If you look online, you will not recognize the brands unless you have been in the UK. Did find a deep conditioner here that helped make it through most of the trip.

Boots UK Chemists
http://www.boots.com/toiletries/hair
Boots does have a high end section in their hair care department. There is a wall of products, many of them sold in the US that you will recognize. One of these is Bumble and Bumble, which does have some curly hair options and lines, but I have bumbled with these and found that they tend to be goopy. I was able to use the curl defining creme to help get by. They also carry Mixed Chicks line which works for some curlies.

Unite Hair
http://www.unitehair.co.uk/
Some of the products from this line work well for my curls, the 7 Seconds product is great. You may need permission to get into the site as it’s UK based and accessing from US can be spotty.

British Curlies
http://www.britishcurlies.co.uk/
Or contact the experts. Filled with other curly haired people looking for products. Check out the forums, I am. Find out best places to stock up at the beginning of your trip. They will also know your water type concerns if you ar in certain areas.

Article Turn Your Frizz into Curls

While you may not want to get a cut from a salon you don’t know, and of course it takes a while to find and trust a hairdresser, look for a salon that specializes in curly cuts, and if you walk in and someone on staff has curly hair, you will have an ally. They may sell products that will help you out. We all hate having to be the whiner at the counter, but if you find a curly haired soul sista or brotha dresser you can look into their eyes and say, “ So with the water here and the fact I need to buy product, any advice ?” I walk in and just hold my hair up and go, “Well, about this”. It usually works without much words. Also, you don’t need to get a cut if you are not comfortable, just maybe a treatment since your hair may be in a daze from travel and water adjustments.

Also, sticker shock will happen. VAT tax and hair care products pricing can add up. Though some product lines in the US are quite spendy, with most averaging $25.00 a bottle on the high end products.

Glasgow
Belle And Blackley
Alan Edwards (Hey the dressers got curly hair, go to the City Centre salon)

Edinburgh
Medusa (need I say more)
http://www.medusahair.co.uk/

London
3thirty Hair
http://www.3thirty.co.uk/

Dublin
The Curly Look (by Appointment, contact them first)
http://www.thecurlylook.com/

The Natural Cut
http://www.thenaturalcut.ie/