Archive for June, 2007

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Take from this world only to the measure of your needs, and forgo that which exceedeth them. Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í writings

When I am travelling from place to place, perhaps on a round the world tour or going from one city to another in quick succession, I don’t want to waste too much time at luggage carousels or have to drag a number of suitcases around. Many of the trips I take involve different climates and a variety of events, from sightseeing to staying in remote villages, to media events, to giving lectures, to meeting dignitaries. Packing for such different activities used to be a nightmare of huge suitcases and confusion.

I have now found that a maximum of `three of everything’, if well coordinated, is enough to give variety to my travel wardrobe and also allows items to be washed or cleaned often enough to remain fresh and pressed.

These days I use the charts below to choose what I am going to take. I list under each category which particular things I am taking, e.g. black suit, red dress with black dots, black short-sleeved jacket, red blouse, black trousers, black high heels, might fill the first line. The basic idea is to colour coordinate around a few basic colours and patterns that look good on you and that go with each other. For example, this year I am generally wearing black, white, pink and red.

Having filled in the top chart, I check to see that I have at least 6 different `outfits’ that will take me through the different climates and activities I have planned. Six variations seem to be enough for every trip I have taken, although, of course, if I am clever about it I get a huge number of combinations, usually enough for a different one or two every day. In any event, if you are travelling constantly, the people in town C don’t know that you wore the same thing in town A, provided it is clean and pressed and fresh.

The `other’ category is for things like evening dresses (necessary if meeting the queen, for example!) or snow suits (for ice-fishing) or chador/burkha (for travel in Islamic lands).

I have often been tempted to take `just one more top’ or another pair of trousers – and have usually regretted it. I try not to do `what if’ packing – you know, what if it snows? what if I tear these jeans? what if I gain weight? – and instead incorporate those into the lists below. Most parts of the world have clothes shops if any disasters overtake one.

I can’t promise everything below will fit into one medium-sized suitcase but I usually find it does if I am ruthless. Don’t forget the `stuff’ packing also has to go in!

(To make this work for you, make an actual table of these lists below, so each item in is a separate column – hard in a narrow blog!)

Suits/jackets Skirts/dresses Tops/blouses Trousers Shoes Other




Outfit 1 Outfit 2 Outfit 3 Outfit 4 Outfit 5 Outfit 6





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We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high . . . Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í writings

Flying into and out of Geneva this weekend was quick and easy. My main reason for travelling was to attend the George Ronald, Publishers, editorial meeting and to celebrate 60 years of its founding in 1947 by David Hofman. We celebrated with a wonderful evening meal on the lake, watching the sun go down and the lights come on.

But the my real `flying’ was listening to the music pulsing through the city at the Fête de la Musique, Geneva’s annual musical event. For three days and nights, music of all kinds is everywhere, from classical to jazz to rock to world music – and, amazingly, it is all free! You just walk into whichever of the more than 50 venues takes your fancy and listen – if you don’t like it, you leave quietly and go on to another place.

But I loved everything I heard. And particularly the soaring soprano voice of May Hofman-Ojermark, who just happens to be the owner of GR!

If you are a music lover, watch out for notices of the June 2008 festival – don’t miss it! Music is a ladder worth climbing.

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Taking What You Need

Take from this world only to the measure of your needs, and forgo that which exceedeth them. Observe equity in all your judgements, and transgress not the bounds of justice, nor be of them that stray from its path. Baha’u’llah, Baha’i writings

I’m flying off to Geneva this weekend – for work and some social time with my George Ronald colleagues. I’m away for only three nights, so my little overhead bag will do.

When I travel anywhere, no matter how long or short the journey, I use a packing list – I can’t tell you how many toothbrushes/hairbrushes/throw away cameras I had to buy before creating the list. I have refined it over time to fit in with my changing life – the things that are on it now are things I have actually needed on a trip somewhere. If I don’t need that item on this particular trip, I just cross it off. As I pack things, I cross them off the list. When everything is crossed off the list, I am packed and ready to go!

The list is in two parts – `stuff’ and `clothes’. Here is my present `stuff’ list. You will be surprised, I guess, at some of the items on it. If you can’t think why you might need dried mashed potatoes and a big jug, you have clearly never landed in a soft currency country on a Sunday with no prospect of getting money – and therefore no prospect of eating a hot meal – until the banks open on Monday. When my friend Virginia and I went to the Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995, we ate mashed potatoes until we found a bank able to change our money.

(Men, you will see this is a list for a woman. I also have a list for a man, although much of this list you can use – your list available soon!)

driving licence
international licence
money: UK, USA, other,
traveller’s cheques
US cheque book
UK cheque book
credit cards
insurance details
computer case
memory stick
telephone charger
book to read
phone numbers
business cards
prepared talk/materials
prayer book
readings book
hair drier
bag to carry things
sewing kit
hair scrunchies
shower cap
sun glasses
swim suit
safety pins

make-up bag
contact lens case
contact lens cleaner
hair conditioner
shower gel
buff puff
ear cleaners
nail scissors
face cream

medicine bag
throat lozenges
steroid cream
rescue cream
nasal spray

hair curler
electric kettle
playing cards
blow up pillow for neck
pillow for floor and cover
big jug
cling film
plastic baggies
plastic bags
mashed pots
dried milk
tea bags
washing up liquid
first aid kit
rubber gloves
gym clothes

Cold climate:coat

Tropics:fly killer spray
insect repellant
mosquito coils
malaria tablets
suntan lotion
electric fan

long underwear/slip
See clothes sheet

Work to do:
Materials, talks, workshops
spelling dictionary
red pen
food, e.g. raisins, crackers

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Did you pack this bag yourself?

In their journeys they must not be attached to food and clothing. They must concentrate their thoughts on the outpourings of the Kingdom of God and beg for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. `Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i writings

When I was 10 my mother’s friend offered to drive my sister Bambi and me to the Baha’i summer school in Geyserville, California, a journey of about 500 miles. The younger three children were going to the beach for the weekend.

None of us had travelled before and we were thrilled to be going. My mother brought out two suitcases and helped Bambi and me to pack one of them.

We set out at night, the plan being that we children would sleep in the back of the car and we would arrive in the morning. I was much too excited to sleep!

When we arrived at Geyserville we were given our room assignments and went to unpack before the welcome session. When Bambi and I opened our suitcase, it was full of buckets and spades, tiny swim suits and towels. We spent the week in borrowed clothes, although I seem to remember somebody buying us toothbrushes.

Matching luggage isn’t always a good idea.

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Travelling Companions

Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity . . .’

`Abdu’l-Bahá, from the Baha’i writings

Travelling Companions

Choosing a travelling companion is an important decision. Of course, many people travel alone but for most of us, part of the fun of travel is sharing it with someone else. We like to have someone to whom we can say, `Wow! Look at that!’ It’s good to have someone who can help with the challenges of crossing borders, finding strange addresses and negotiating in a foreign language – someone who can help with the luggage and stand in the other line at the ticket counter, the one that moves faster.

But we want to be sure that our travelling companion is easy-going, doesn’t get upset at delays and knows how to handle the inevitable problems that travel brings. If you’re going to sitting next to your companion for many, many hours on the airplane, train or in the car, you want him or her to be thoughtful and easy to talk to, not borning and not too critical of the fact that you are taking up a little more space than the seat allows! And you want someone who stays with you for the whole journey, who doesn’t suddenly go off on a jaunt by themselves.

There is all sorts of advice out there about how to find the perfect travelling companion. Some people advise looking for someone rich, with good looks, who is hot; others focus on the need for compatibility and sharing common interests. Few, these days, expect the companion to go the whole distance with you, saying that it is unrealistic to expect two people to travel together for more than a few miles.

Thirty-six years ago this week I set out on a very long journey. Here was the advice I took in choosing my travelling companion:

. . . marriage must be a union of the body and of the spirit as well, for here both husband and wife are aglow with the same wine, both are enamoured of the same matchless Face, both live and move through the same spirit, both are illumined by the same glory. This connection between them is a spiritual one, hence it is a bond that will abide forever. Likewise do they enjoy strong and lasting ties in the physical world as well, for if the marriage is based both on the spirit and the body, that union is a true one, hence it will endure.

When, therefore, the people of Baha undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God. `Abdu’l-Baha

The true marriage of Bahá’ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. `Abdu’l-Baha

Love each other with heart and soul . . . `Abdu’l-Baha

I took this advice. It worked.

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Flying High and Dry

`For a man who has love, effort is a rest. He will travel any distance to visit his friends.’`Abdu’l-Baha, from the Baha’i Writings

Flying away to visit friends? Want to beat baggage charges on Ryanair? Hate queueing to check in? Worried your baggage will get lost or stolen or go missing? Don’t want to pay overweight charges? Or maybe you just don’t want to wait around the baggage carousel when you could be enjoying time on the beach.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be offering some simple ideas about what to pack and how to pack it so that you take just what you need and nothing else.

I know of lot of you are visiting the UK this summer for a great reunion! But do you know about the travel regulations in the UK? Read this story!

A couple of weeks ago I flew from Stansted to Italy Ciampino by Ryanair. I was going to the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF) conference at the conference centre at Acuto so I only had hand luggage, as I was only going away for five days.

I didn’t have to check in, having checked in on line and received priority boarding as a result. Going through the security check, I took my laptop and clear plastic bag with toiletries out of my suitcase. But there was a hold-up. The woman in front of me was clearly upset. The security guard asked her to open her case, then peered inside. He lifted out an elegant make-up bag and opened it. Then he began to discard very single thing in it into a cardboard box — lotions, creams and shampoo, shower gel and conditioner, hair spray, suntan oil, toothpaste, lipstick and perfume – all expensive and all in gigantic containers

The woman looked confused. She tried to explain: `When I got to the check-in they said my suitcase was too heavy so I took my make-up case out and shoved it into my hand luggage.’

`None of this can go through,’ said the security guard. `The liquids are more than 100 mls.’

`But it was in my suitcase before,’ wailed the woman. `I only took it out because of the weight. What will I do now?’

`You should have left that in your hold luggage,’ the security guard observed, `and taken out something else instead.’

`Now you tell me,’ said the woman, with feeling.

This is why I started my blog on travel! And thanks to Barney Leith, here it is!


* If you are flying out of an EU airport – or from Albania, Kosovo, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland – even if you have flown in from the United States or are going back there, you can only take liquids, pastes, cosmetics and gels into the cabin if they are in containers of less than 100 mls. (3.5 fl. oz). This includes water!

* All the containers have to be carried in a separate clear plastic, zip-top or re-sealable bag no bigger than 20 cm x 20cm (8 in x 8 in).

* The liquid containers all have to fit easily into the bag and the bag must be completely closed.

* When you get to the security search at the airport, you have to take the plastic bag out of the cabin bag so it can be x-rayed separately.

Oddly, when you get through the security check, you can any amount of liquid in any size and take that on board!

And before you ask, I have no idea what they did with all those huge bottles of liquids taken from that passenger – but I will check that out and post it here!

Happy travels!

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‘My hope for you is that as you travel through the universe of existence you will ever become acquainted with new and wonderful significances; that your knowledge will ever be increased – knowledge without limitation; then you will understand the realities existing in all kingdoms.’
‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Writings

Travelling is my theme: the odyssey of the soul as it travels towards the presence of its Creator; the quest of the mind as it searches for intellectual nourishment; the path of service, the attainment of skills and acquiring wisdom; and the travel of people from place to place around the globe.

Here are ideas inspired by the Baha’i teachings, stories of journeys of all types, spiritual practices that will help you pack your `spiritual luggage’ and walk the spiritual path, and practical tips for travelling lightly, easily and well.

Travel with me!

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