A-Z holiday shopping and travel planner

THE jingle bells are tolling and the traders are calling out to potential shoppers. What does all this mean? The holiday season is upon us!

THE jingle bells are tolling and the traders are calling out to potential shoppers. What does all this mean? The holiday season is upon us!

While we celebrate the festivities differently, with Christians hitting church and atheists taking to the bar, one thing is for sure – we all do engage in some kind of festive shopping. Or travel.  
Here is an A-Z guide on how to go about these two key aspects of the holiday season…

Experience has shown that festive seasons like Christmas register the highest numbers of road accidents. This is because of the sudden increase in the number of travellers, which exerts more pressure on the roads. If you can, avoid travelling at the eleventh hour.  
Also, remember to strap yourself with that seatbelt.  
Bus travel is cheap, flexible, and widely available to all upcountry destinations.  
Remember – for your own comfort – that the back row does not recline. If you don’t like to be inconvenienced, take a window seat.
Any time the bus stops, know that it may depart without you if you are not back before the scheduled time.
If you intend to travel by private means, make sure your car undergoes routine mechanical inspection before embarking on the journey, paying particular attention to the tyres and brakes.  

Coming from town, people in the village generally expect you to do financial favours to them. To avoid getting into unplanned expenditures, move with small denominations of money. Desist from pulling large amounts of cash out of your pocket, as this will draw unnecessary attention.
Pack dull colour clothing to cut down on washing while away. Coordinate your clothes around one or two basic matching colours to reduce on the number of shoes and accessories you have to carry along.
It is now possible for almost any family to own a small digital camera just to capture those precious moments. Remember to carry along accessories like batteries and memory cards.
Double check before leaving the house that you have all necessary essentials to travel with. The best way to ensure you’ve packed everything necessary for your trip is to make a list of your daily needs for one week, from your medications to the ATM cards you use.
The longer your trip, the more chances of suffering fatigue. Consider having ample rest the day before.
The common trend with most people is to buy food from vendors right from when they set foot in the bus. However, most of these vendors are just conveyor belts for counterfeit goods, since they don’t have to worry about repeat sales.
If with kids, make a “goody bag” for each of them, to contain a variety of fun activities, snacks and beverages. Include toys that are inexpensive and would not be missed if lost, crayons, etc.
Ladies, consider carrying a less flamboyant handbag than the ones you carry to those corporate parties. Make sure it contains all the items that you may suddenly need while still in transit. 
The importance of this cannot be overstated, especially bearing in mind that it may be the only way you will be identified in case of an accident.  
This gadget comes in handy for music lovers both on the journey and while in the village. This is because the music options in the village may not be able to meet your urban tastes.  
This is a thick light envelope in which items that are fragile and need protection are kept. It is important especially for people travelling by bus, as these can be a little congested.
Avoid traveling on weekends or at the eleventh hour. This will help prevent having to wait for the next bus when one is full, and give your child a chance to stretch about before the bus is crowded. You could also consider travelling at night so that your child can sleep through the ride.
Lemon has natural antiseptic qualities. Lemon juice dabbed on insect bites will take away the itch, burn and help dry it out, so no need to worry about all those mosquitoes and crawling insects.

This should ideally depend on your health condition, but a few items are a must: antibiotic cream to apply to any physical injuries, anti-diarrheal medication, band-aids and insect repellents.

You may need to jot down a few things like requests for favours and dates of important social events you will need to attend.  
Do not accept any sort of offer from anybody you have just met. It could be that boy offering to carry your luggage onto the bus, or that smartly dressed nice young man sharing a seat with you. Many people have fallen victim to spiked food and ended up losing valuable belongings. 
This is one of those family-oriented games that can engage the entire family. There is a host of other options like chess, ludo and draughts. 
These consist of a small wad of cotton wrapped around either one or both ends of a small rod, usually made of either wood, rolled paper, or plastic. The most common use for Q-tips is to remove earwax, hence it has come to be known as ear pads.
You could call it an itinerary. This should basically lay out a rough sketch of how long you intend your stay to be, and what activities you wish to undertake.
One may need a pair of these to deal with the typical upcountry setting with its network of murram roads and the resultant dust they whip up.  
This is a must for the guys, considering that a barber shop may not be at one’s convenience in the village.
Who needs formal shoes when they are going to sit back, unwind and throw their legs in the air? After all, you are escaping from the strains of formal office life in the city.  
If your village is near the city, travel by taxi is the best option. Compared to buses, they can make stops at your whims.
These are some of the most overlooked items. Some people even find it a little awkward to move with a stash of panties in their bag. But together with bras, tights and vests, pack these first.  
These are substances containing a harmless form of a virus or bacterium that you take to forestall the disease which the said virus causes. Water born diseases, malaria and fever are especially rampant upcountry.
To secure the safety of your wallet, make sure you always keep it in your front trouser pocket, not the back trouser pocket. Since the fronts of your thighs are very sensitive, it’s difficult for a pickpocket to get it out without you knowing.
If you have been having your water boiled, do not take things for granted while upcountry. Before you settle down to any water, make sure to ascertain if it is boiled, or at least from which source it was fetched.
It is the reason you set out to travel in the first place, isn’t it? Take as many things as possible from town that resonate with the festive season; Christmas cards, music DVDs and movies, calendars and wall hangings.
This is a must have. It is where you make entries of various facts about the events, achievements and failures of previous years and the present, and projections for the New Year.

Make sure all the zippers on your bags function properly. For maximum safety, you could secure the zip with a small padlock.


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