Don't Buy This Stuff (5)

10 六月 2013

Think of this fifth edition of the ‘Don’t Buy This’ blog as a ‘Fancy Special’.  Our pick of non-essential travel items comes direct solely from The Fancy; an enticing collection of um…’stuff’ for sale designed by occasionally ingenious but largely baffling arty types who think the world needs to be filled with overpriced and innovative solutions to problems no one has. We at Seven Seas Worldwide, experts in travel and shipping abroad, have discovered five travel items from The Fancy you absolutely shouldn’t need.

First up, is the Bell & Ross Flight Compass. There’s no denying this is a snazzy-looking watch with its anti-glare, matt black carbon finish: simple in design but multifaceted in application. Oh and expensive. Stupidly expensive. The dial is made up of three concentric discs, graduated for the hours and minutes with a plane and yellow index marks engraved under the glass. It’s five grand. That’s right. Five thousand dollars. We’re not sure why.

Next, it’s the relatively harmless but still outrageously expensive Cork Board Map, ideal for the well-travelled exhibitionist.  The Cork Board Map (despite the cryptic name) is a map of the world in cork board. It invites you to pin postcards, photos and assorted pictures to the relevant locations on the map. There’s no denying the Cork Board Map would look great on a bare wall in the kitchen, rich with memories of past holidays but there is an element of self-importance about such a concept, plus at $120, your globetrotting adventures would need to be noteworthy to justify forking out for it.

Now this I would actually consider buying. Ladies and Gentlemen, Flamingo Towel Clips. Having just returned from a holiday on the Algarve and still unable to comb my hair down successfully, I know a thing or two about windy holidays, and a pair of Flamingo Towel Clips at $15 would certainly have been thrown into my excess baggage before departure.

This could also be the perfect answer to the ‘weekend getaway bag’ (sorry, these things are actually looking quite purchasable in the cold light of day – well, apart from the watch, that’s ridiculous):  The Large Duffle Bag by Herschel Supply Company. Priced at $120, the Large Duffle Bag (I can’t stand these fancy names they have), is a must-have for those who love compartments – and then get annoyed with compartments because they can’t find anything due to there being too many compartments. The most attractive compartment must be the one at the bottom to keep your shoes in – nifty!

And finally, for those wishing to take to the natural hot springs of Iceland and also want to look a bit like a human Sennheiser microphone, we recommend this floating cap.  Only $117. That’s like two weeks’ of groceries. But hey, it’s your money. This floating cap apparently adds a ‘new dimension to the water experience, one of relaxation and total bliss. How, exactly, this isn’t clear, but who are you to question a modernistic, online novelty item-selling website based in Reykjavik?

Regardless of whether you're stuffing your single suitcase or bringing everything and the kitchen sink on holiday with you, you might want to get a free shipping quote from us to see how much we can save you on your excess baggage, just in case.

Village People Person - Travels in Malawi by Travis Monk

28 五月 2013

Our own travel writer Travis Monk takes a look at village life in Malawi and the travails of an intrepid travel writer with far too many bags to carry on his adventures. Should you wish to unleash the travel writer within, grab a quick online shipping quote to see how much we could save you at the airport with all your excess baggage needs.

Driving through Malawi for international shipping company Seven Seas Worldwide in what we westerners would call ‘rush hour’, it struck me how that there’s not much of a difference between the city commuter and the Malawi villager: when the sun sets, we want to go home to our families. The only disparity is that the Malawi villager prepares food and interacts with their children, whereas we grab something in a microwavable pouch and watch Masterchef. The sun doesn’t really set in Malawi; it drops. The moment it changes colour, it plummets like a stone behind the horizon and within seconds, you become nothing more than a mosquito banquet in the unforgiving darkness.

I was looking for a lodge to rest my head for the night but due to the fact that my jeep was rather cumbersome (plus I was also towing a cage full of agitated cheetahs) it was clear no one would be fluffing a pillow or changing the sheets for this recipient of the ‘Colgate Silver Tongue Travel Writer Award 2006’ (North-West Finals).

As I stopped to break up a fight amongst my precious cargo, a farmer approached me with two boys. They were very friendly and we attempted to communicate with one another with hand signals, drawings and elaborate shadow puppetry. From our disjointed conversation, I had worked out that I had been offered a place to stay. As they lead me to an undisclosed location, I was still a touch concerned that they might rob me, so I threw all my valuables into a nearby swamp to be on the safe side.

I needn’t have worried because soon I found myself standing outside a mud hut with ample parking. The farmer informed me I could have the guest bedroom. I had landed on my feet, although there was a problem when it came to requesting a mosquito net and was presented with a piece of material no bigger than a stamp. ‘It’s a bit small,’ I said. ‘So are mosquitoes,’ said the farmer. We quarrelled for a little while but our argument was cut short when we ran out of paper.

The next morning, I opened my window and looked out over the beauty of Lake Malawi, winding across the landscape like a silvery cable leading to an enormous, though out-of-sight, Apple product. It wasn’t long before a local tradesman appeared and shouted up to my window: “Hello, my friend! England, yes? Wayne Rooney! David Beckham, yes? Hugh Grant! Leveson Inquiry, yes?” I nodded and waved, though I realised only a face-to-face encounter would convince this opportunistic seller that I wasn’t interested in his suitcase of questionable merchandise.

“Hello, my friend!” he said again as I put on my ‘Keep Calm and Write a Pretentious Blog’ T-shirt and squelched through the mud to greet him. He wore a red vest with combat shorts, open-toe sandals and a winning smile which he kept in his thigh pocket. He opened his suitcase to reveal a variety of watches, sportswear and assorted gifts. “Gift for your wife?” he said, showing me a car battery. I declined on account of the fact that I already got her one for her birthday. “Do you have children, my friend?” he asked, producing a puff adder in a biscuit tin. Again, I refused his generous yet deadly offer, irked somewhat by his presence obstructing the paradisiacal view of the lake.

As I watched him depart to deal with a group of agitated cheetahs attacking his car, it made me think about how in some corners of the globe, a traveller needs an equal amount of trust and suspicion if they are to reach their particular piece of paradise. Luckily, I reached mine because I’m an award-winning travel writer (Thomas Cook Writer of the Month, April 2002).

Don't Buy This Stuff (4)

08 四月 2013

It’s amazing how frequently we can write a blog post about new worthless yet purchasable gadget shop tat but here we are.

Of course, this blog post isn’t just about gadgets. We throw the net wider to incorporate all manner of items that you don’t need and shouldn’t buy. As a global shipping company, we believe that holidaymakers should be made aware of the junk thrown at them as a targeted demographic - shiny junk in nice packaging, but junk nonetheless.

Skyfall was not only a terrible James Bond film, it was also a terrible film in its own right – half-baked, badly-acted, illogical, sexist, dated nonsense. What signal did that lady give to James Bond that she wanted him to join her in the shower? None. But in he went – because he’s a presumptuous old lecher. Luckily, the one saving grace of this tedious film which somehow turned Javier Bardem into an ironing board in a wig, was the presence of a really nice rifle case which has inspired this limited edition suitcase from Globe Trotter. Only £5000!

For those going on holiday with their baby son or daughter, please don’t. A baby? What’s wrong with you? What do you expect them to do? They won’t remember anything. They just want milk and sleep, not hidden excess baggage fees and hotel bar entertainment.

If you haven’t just changed your mind however, you might be interested in the Guava Family GoCrib Portable Travel Crib from The Fancy. It’s a funky, portable, lightweight tent/crib that folds into a backpack. Sounds great, of course, but anyone who’s ever erected one of these things on the beach knows that a stiff wind will take it into a bordering country before you can say 'nap time'.

You know what it’s like when you go on a camping holiday. Well, I hope you do anyway, because I don’t. I like warmth and walls and bars that serve wine, so camping isn’t my thing.  But you know what it’s like when you go camping – so much equipment to carry, so much time wasted pitching the tent, so much…hmm, no I can’t think of a third thing. But anyway, if you’re plagued by these concerns, look no further than the Jakpak from Firebox – a tent, sleeping bag and mosquito net that folds into a jacket! It’s an ingenious idea, until you see the promotional pictures of a young man wrapped in what looks like an ill-fitting body bag. I know nothing about camping but even I can see the ‘tent’ in the JakPak looks like it’s been designed to accommodate half a ladybird. Only £150.

That price again. One hundred and fifty pounds. Seriously. Put it in an ISA or something. Or, if you decide you really do need to take this along with every other gadget and widget you own on holiday with you, look at an excess baggage service like ours - it'll save you a bundle on those airline fees. Really.

Don't Buy This Stuff (3)

08 四月 2013

It’s that time again where we trawl through the top gift and gadget websites - normally the last port of call for the forgetful spouse who could have sworn their partner’s birthday was on the 12th - to bring you a rundown of the best (and worst) travel items around. This time we’ve got some items so useless, you may actually feel the question marks forming in your eyes, though as a responsible excess baggage company, we've also included some decent ideas in here too.

Now this sounds like a handy thing to have. A Suitcase Scale from I Want One of Those priced £4.99. Many a time shipping overseas I’ve plonked a suitcase on the conveyor belt at the check-in desk and watched anxiously as the digital reading of the weight rises higher and higher towards the maximum weight allowance. This little contraption will put an end to anguished passport squeezing.

A slightly more novel item is this nifty approach to hiding your valuables – the Tansafe! Available at Firebox, it’s like the spray can in Jurassic Park that has the dinosaur embryos in it. Only in this case, it’s a suntan lotion bottle and you can put your wallet and keys it in. On the face of it, this seems like a worthwhile travel aid, though one imagines that with time, thieves will recognise the Tansafe logo and swipe it within seconds. Plus, there’s the added bonus for thieves of everything you want to steal in one convenient case.

The Portable Mosquito Repeller from Presents for Men, is mounted on an adjustable strap and looks like a funky watch. However, instead of telling the time, it emits a high-frequency sound that most mosquitoes agree is not cool. Priced at £14.99, this appears to be a clean and efficient solution to warning off the little blighters. There are no chemicals contained within and it does not release any unpleasant smells. Providing this does actually work, I recommend it. If you have one, let me know.

Now you can have a tasty hot beverage wherever you go with the Travel Cup Boiler! Oh and make sure you have a tea bag, milk and some packets of sugar in your pocket too by the way! Okay, maybe you don’t want to make a cup of tea with this device. In the advertising, the primary reason for purchasing this contraption from Presents for Men is to warm up your baby’s bottle. Fair enough. Twenty quid though. Bit steep. Might just carry on living my life on the edge instead.

Leaving the most pointless till last, Gap Year Travel Store present Cash Pocket Tissues. Make people on the train think you’re blowing your nose on £50 notes! First of all, who wants to appear mad wherever they go? Secondly, no one would jump to the conclusion that you’re blowing your nose on a £50 note. They’re more likely to squint, identify them as novelty tissues and go back to reading The Guardian. Still, it’s all a bit of fun, eh?

Don't forget to check out our shipping services for a free excess baggage quote should you be in a pickle at the airport with too much luggage, having forgotten what I just said about the Suitcase Scale...and who can blame you?

Brussels Buddies by Travis Monk

28 三月 2013

Our own Travis Monk, holiday and travel writer extraordinaire, takes a tour of Brussels with a helpful buddy who helps him get a taste of the area.

There is no way I would have discovered this sumptuous view of St. Catherine’s Square were it not for my ‘Brussels Buddy’, a short, energetic lady by the name of Terrine, who accompanied me on the next leg of my tour for international shipping company, Seven Seas Worldwide. The ‘Brussels Buddy’ programme was introduced by the Belgium Tourist Board in 2004 as a way of increasing the number of visitors to the capital and to give Belgians something to do. In fact, by 2006, the programme was so popular with the Belgian public that each tourist was assigned to three ‘Brussels Buddies’ each, whether they wanted them or not.

Terrine had guided me several floors up inside a particular building from where I could take in the beauty of St. Catherine’s Square – a square named after a saint called Catherine - without losing myself in the throng of aimless sightseers. Unfortunately, the vantage point in question was a single man’s apartment who didn’t know we were there. ‘You’re fine. He always has a long bath about now. He’s obsessed with hygiene. That’s why we broke up.’

Terrine offered a side of Brussels I’d not seen before. That’s mainly because it was Picardy. Soon however, Terrine bought a map and we were back in the capital. The most attractive thing about Brussels is how walkable it is. You can walk anywhere. Unlike most European cities, there are pavements virtually everywhere you go in Brussels, allowing you to put one foot in front of the other and get to places you want to go. Of course, in some cases, the places you want to go could be miles away, so get a cab.

The locals are friendly too. As Terrine and I were partaking in the classic Brussels café brunch of ‘flaming waffles’ (waffles brought by a waiter who sets your table on fire), we were approached by one of the resident Smurfs. Smurfs make up about 2% of the population here and regrettably the number continues to dwindle due to Smurfette’s decision in the late 1990s to become a nun. Our little blue friend was adamant that we should swing by the Belgian Comic Strip Center and check out the Smurf memorabilia on display which we agreed to do but only if he ceased his rant about how Avatar was ‘essentially Dances with Wolves - with Smurfs’.

Later, Terrine took me to an area near St Catherine’s that used to be a series of boutique shops and trendy eateries but was bulldozed to make way for an old fish market. The fish is fresh and cheap but I think I rather would have perused the shops and experienced some fine dining at the hands of celebrated Belgian artisans - instead of buying 200 pounds-worth of halibut. They confiscated it at Customs anyway.

7/10, Brussels Buddy.

If you need a hand with excess baggage or you've decided to move to Brussels on the strength of this blog (and who can blame you) then take a look at our international shipping services for some help moving your possessions. Only not your fish, please. It makes our vans and containers smell funny.