So, you've surfed the net, browsed the on-line brochures, paced the floor for several days in a quandary; should you go for hot and sunny, cool and relaxing, wild and adventurous, educational and enlightening or all of the above? Finally you bite the bullet, press a few buttons and the whole thing is sorted. From the comfort of your own PC workstation you have chosen your destination, booked your holiday and now all you have to do is pack your suitcases, or holdall, back-pack, trunk, latest foldaway designer no-crease clothes carrier etc. Groan. This is often where the problems start. Should you travel light, or take everything you could possibly need for all eventualities? What about the weather? Is security going to be a problem? Do you need to hide your money in a secret compartment in the heel of your shoe? Come to that, what about footwear? Is the camera safe - and the passports and driving license? What about special equipment and sunscreen and shades and mozzie repellents and the unforgettable essentials like a foldaway 'anti-poke you in the eye' corkscrew and all those irresistible gadget things that no one could possibly travel without? What about something to sit on?
Don't panic! Pour a glass of your favourite wine, put your feet up and relax. Take a pen and a piece of paper and start from the beginning. There is no need to rush. Think it through carefully, secure in the knowledge that you will not have to dive into your car and make a frantic last-minute dash to the shops. Leisurely ponder, write down a few ideas, pour another glass of wine and go back to that labour saving, panic alleviating shopping phobic's dream-come-true - the PC, and find everything you could possibly need (and much, much more). Press a few more buttons and presto! It's on its way to your front door. You are bound to find several things you can't imagine travelling without and several more things you will never need but desperately want. Internet shopping is fun! All the latest ideas are paraded before you in a choice of glorious techni-colours and they can all be yours in a matter of seconds.
The travel-accessory market is one area of on-line shopping that is able to offer more than a standard shopping service. New, innovative designs appear on a weekly basis providing surfers with all the latest creations at their fingertips. Many exclusives are on offer and new product ranges are seen here first.
The choice of web shops is enormous. Below is a selection of some of the best, with products ranging from top designer luggage to that 'must have' three-in-one beach bag/ blanket/sock sorter. They are categorised under simple headings to save you even more valuable relaxation moments! If you prefer to find your own shops, simply go to your Internet service provider and click on the shopping channel. Alternatively log onto any search engine and type TRAVEL ACCESSORIES, but be warned - there will be 'at least 999 pages'.
Click on 'luggage' for an enormous range of brands - Samsonite, Kenneth Cole, De Bon Leather and styles including back-packs, totes, duffles, suiters, brief- and computer-cases, packing cases and overnight bags. My favourite all-purpose carrier is the Andiamo deluxe jumbo Journeyman. This smart case on wheels has a detachable holdall, a hanging garment organiser and an expandable packing case.
From the home page go to Accessories and click on Packing Aids for a selection of locks, straps, packing sleeves and compartment organisers. There is an excellent little fold-up overnight pack available here. Complete with shirt frame and wash bag and with its roomy expandable design it is perfect for first-night clothes and accessories and will fit neatly into any hand luggage - just in case the worst happens and you are in Paris, France whilst your luggage languishes in Paris, Texas.
Gadgets galore for keeping things safe and secure whilst leaving your hands free. Go to Easy Find Product Index, then Cartom Favourites for a host of great ideas designed for your peace of mind. Locking wrist and ankle wallets, waterproof notebook computer cases, fishing rod wraps, ski carriers, insulated bottle bags for hikers and bikers, radio and cellphone holders and a series of unique marine wrap-ons for easy-on, easy-off securing of small and large items to gunwales and canoe thwarts. There's also a wide range of camera accessories, including straps and harnesses, flash and lens bags and tripod carriers. Everything here is lightweight, durable, smart and made of the highest quality materials.
Close your eyes, imagine what you need, dial up Altrec and they will have it. The right-hand menu is comprehensive, covering everything from roof racks to sleeping bags, climbing equipment to clothes and cameras. The accessories pages are the most interesting, with countless gadgets that will leave you wondering how you ever managed without them. From fold-up umbrellas, irons, hairdryers and clothes steamers, for that 'fresh - just out of the bathroom' look, to anti-motion sickness wrist bands, ear plugs, radios, torches, currency converter calculators, compasses, telephone adapter kits, voltage adapters, cooler bags, no-spill toiletry container kits and a jazzy range of biodegradable camping necessities.
Hot but not bothered
Everything you need for that exotic holiday: a large range of mosquito nets, repellent sprays, citronella candles, mosquito coils and herbal guard sprays; sun protection of every variety including creams, lotions, sunglasses and hats; cool max socks, Windchill, light-weight walking shoes, adventure climbing sandals, Alpine Driflo underwear for comfort in the hottest environment, water tubes and bottles, filters, purification tablets, compact Pertex towels, foldaway wash basins, peg-less washing lines, AIDS prevention kit, useful health and hygiene books and First Aid Kits.
A few shopping tips
It might be wise, as with all Internet shopping, to test the site you have chosen by ordering an inexpensive item to begin with. See if it arrives within the suggested time; check the quality, its likeness to the illustration and its usefulness. If it lives up to your expectations it is very likely other products from the site will do so too.
Read the small print, usually found under the headings customer services, mission statement, quality statement, our promise to you, or similar. Can you return unwanted items and receive a full refund? Are delivery charges included in the price? Are your products automatically insured from the moment of purchase? What kinds of guarantees are offered with the product?
These are simply minor precautions to afford you some protection on the global shopping scene. Most on-line shops deliver goods quickly, carefully and in perfect condition. Credit card details are treated with the utmost respect and confidence. More and more people are switching to this convenient method of purchasing and there are few horror stories reported.