What Gobi Desert Nomads know about Estate Planning that you don’t: EP Tip 1

Have you visited the Gobi desert?  If not, place it on your ‘to do’ list.  


Goats get a rare treat – water


The Mongolian Nomads live a simple – but hard hard life – in a terrain that is unforgiving….marvel at how they survive.

They have little – of a material nature  – to offer  –  just their hospitality – but its worth the trip just to experience their love of life and their welcoming smiles …and if you are a photographer….its paradise.

This blog includes a few photos I snapped when I was there.

The Gobi is home to about 600,000 Mongolian Nomads – almost half of Mongolia’s population.  

They roam in perpetual search for meager pickings to sustain their livestock stock and themselves.

They roam across vast expanses of gravelly plains sparsely dotted with a short tough grass.

Remote, with long, hard winters at minus 40 C  and short, sizzling summers at +30 C  –  it’s not an easy life.


Inbound dust storm – 10 minutes later – zero visability

While weathered parents and grandparents follow a path that their forbears and nature has laid out for them, they plan the future of their children and children’s children with certainty – direction – determination.

Mother & Child

Mother & Child

I met Bet, a mother, the eldest of 5 children.  Her destiny  – assisting her parents manage their nomadic existence AND facilitating her parents to fund the education of her 4 younger siblings.  Now all professionals.

THEIR PLAN – one day the younger children will provide for her parents in their dotage.   Perhaps a small home on the edge of a town with water, electricity and a plot to keep a few goats.  Their nomadic life a memory.

Bet and babe

Bet and babe

And Bet’s own children – the same long-term plan – one remains on the desert plains to help her and her husband while the others are given the opportunity to be nomads no-more.

The lesson: no matter what our stage in life or our wealth (or lack of it) the time to start planning – our future – our kids’ future – and future generations is NOW.  It’s never too late to start but many things take time to implement so the earlier you start the better the chances of success.

For many people Estate Planning can seem hard – and it can be.  But nowhere as hard as life in the Gobi.





The nomadic people of the Gobi manage to improve the lives of themselves and their future generations – through perseverance and planning.

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A lonely camel

A lonely camel_RGC0736-2

Sand Dunes
Sand Dunes

2014 Travel Tips – Part 3 of 3 – Packing Checklists

Have you ever packed too much gear for a trip?  Or left an important item at home?

For years I loathed packing – even having to think about it.  Then I prepared a packing checklist.  The result….minimum thinking, no stress ….and no more mishaps.

I still pack at the last moment but gone are the days of throwing everything I possess into a huge bag.

A simple checklist – things I need to pack.  If it’s not on the list it stays at home.

It took me about 30 minutes to prepare my list.  I use it every time I travel.  No more days of stressing or kilos of unnecessary gear.

There is nothing more helpful than your own personalised checklist.

A customised packing list  is a useful tool, something you can manage and improve over time.

After every trip delete from the master list items you didn’t use – or make a note that they are only necessary under certain conditions – and to check the conditions for the next trip.  You’ll discover its often possible to travel with just cabin luggage.

There are many online APPS available online  – but I agree with Doug Dyment’s comments:

“There’s an [unnecessary] app for that™: You’ll find no shortage of packing list management applications, generally oriented to what most people believe that they require: a variety of lists for different situations, destinations, climates, etc. In my view, those who feel the need for specialized software to manage such list(s) are completely missing the point; thinking of packing lists in this fashion is actually detrimental to learning how to travel lightly. The successful light traveller uses a single list, updated infrequently. And this can be a simple text document; if you feel the need for some elaborate, feature-rich software to “manage” it, you’re making the wrong kind of list!

A Starters Packing Check List

Below is a list adapted from one originally composed by Doug Dyment.  You can find reference to his website in Part 1 of my Travel Tips Blog series see the link to Travel Tips – Part 1 at the end of this blog

 Remember its a checklist, not a list of things to take….use it as a “worst-case scenario”.   Modify it to suit your personal requirements and travel plans.  If going on a three-day business trip – your bag should only contain a few of the items on your list. If you’re going on a long trip then you’ll tick off many more items….common sense should prevail.

Remember my mantra ‘if it’s not on the list it stays at home’

So here goes…..


dressy jacket   Clothes washing powder/liquid
2-4 shirts/blouses/tops   (surgical latex braid) clothesline
2 pairs trousers/skirts (shorts?)   universal (flat) sink stopper
3+ pairs socks        water bottle
3+ underwear        toilet paper,
swimsuit       antibacterial wipes / liquid
jumper / sweater       (chemical or mechanical) water purifier
rainwear (umbrella?)   analgesic of choice
parka, coat, or equivalent   diarrhoea treatment of choice
pyjamas   infection treatment of choice
necktie, scarf, shawl, hairband,   malaria tablets
bandanna   insect repellent, mosquito net
gloves / mittens   sunscreen, lip balm
sun hat / knitted cap, hat clip   tweezers
1 pair dressy shoes   bandages (other first aid?)
1 pair walking shoes/boots   menstrual, contraceptive, and/or prophylactic supplies
thongs or sandals         vitamins, necessary medications
belt         dark glasses, retainer, case
          lens cleaning cloth/supplies,
travel pack or shoulder bag   copy of prescription (spare glasses?)
lightweight duffel/laundry bag         pen(s), small notebook, glue stick
luggage locks        maps, guidebooks, phrase books
spare batteries for equipment        Post-it® notes, membership cards,
business/calling cards
alarm clock/watch         telephone access numbers
flashlight, head-strap   reading materialrestaurant lists,
Tool with: knife, screwdrivers, pliers         passport, visas, extra passport photos
swiss army knife   vaccination certificates
safety pins, cord, fasteners, sewing kit   copies of important documents(international?) driver’s license, health insurance information, passport
    travel tickets
plastic bags, garbage bags        credit cards & ATM cards,
toothbrush, cap, tooth cleaner, floss        security pouch
razor, blades, shaving cream   camera (lenses? flash? tripod? extra cards & batteries? charger?)
comb and/or hairbrush   mobile telephone (charger/adapter(s)?)
shampoo, bar soap & container   travel computer (flash drive?)power cord/adapter(s)? network cable(s)?)
deodorant   (solar) calculator
nail clippers   gifts
viscose towel (washcloth?)   inflatable travel pillow
[unbreakable] mirror   earplugs (sleep mask?)
packing bags    

Having prepared your own list you can begin to test it and modify it to suit yourself – but remember the mantra – ‘if it’s not on the list – its stays at home’

Having checked these things you can safely head to the airport.

Website links

1          Unconventional Conventions: www.uncon-conv.com

2          click this link to the Travel Tips listed in my first blog in the Travel Tips series:  Travel Tips Part 1 of 3 – Helpful Tips for all travellers

3          click this link to the Packing Checklist listed in my third blog in the Travel Tips series:  Travel Tips Part 2 of 3 – Pre-Departure Checklist

Your Contribution Invited

If you have any comments or tips to add to this blog please do so, your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘comments’ tag on the right hand side of the screen or the comment box below to send a message to me.


Before They Pass Away – Photo essay on the Extinction of Indigenous Races

If you like travel / gob-smacking photographs / thoughtful insights / interesting stories …or any of these  – read on.
Photographer Jimmy Nelson set out to search for the world’s last indigenous cultures.
His goal  – to record rapidly disappearing communities for future generations.  Before They Pass Away.
As a keen photographer – much better critic than photo taker –  I believe that his photos are extraordinary.  His videos and TED talks are also incredible.  A must see.
Jimmy provides a window into the emotional and spiritual lives of the last indigenous peoples of the world with previews of the evocative portraits and stories.
These images may be the only legacy they leave behind – be a beneficiary.
Visit his website at this link:  Before They Die


1         How will you be remembered – Your Legacy ?

2        How many New Years Do You Have Left ?

3        The End is Nigh

4      My travel related website: Unconventional Conventions

Keep your eyes open for Part 3 of my Travel Series – Packing Checklists – coming soon.


If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – I welcome your input – critical or otherwise.


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Share this blog with friends and family that you think may find it of interest.

Travel Tips – Part 2 of 3: Pre-Departure Check List

Rod Cunich preferred (2)Are you planning a trip – a holiday? Locally or overseas?

When heading off on a holiday (or any trip) have you ever worried that you have forgotten to turn on the alarm at home – to clean out the fridge – stop the mail …. just as the wheels of your flight leave the tarmac?    Do you have to drive around the block a few times to mull over your ‘To Do List’?

I find it helpful to have a checklist of the things to attend to before departing  –  a tick list – so that I don’t overlook anything.

I’d like to share it with you….and give you a few tips.  Better to learn from my mistakes than make your own.

You may be asking yourself why I’d bother with detailed travel plans – I’m a lawyer after all.

When not practicing law I help run a family conference business.  We providing high quality continuing education for professionals in some of the world’s most fascinating destinations….see the link to ‘Unconventional Conventions’ at the end of this blog.

Having a list can help avoid unnecessary worry ….avoid you overlooking something on your mental ‘To Do List’.

I forgot my shaving gear. Rwanda Mountains.  Really, he's my first cousin.

I forgot my shaving gear. Rwanda Mountains.                              I joke, he’s my first cousin.

Below is a list adapted from one originally composed by Doug Dyment.  You can find reference to his website in Part 1 of my Travel Tips Blog series – see the link to ‘Travel Tips – Part 1’ at the end of this blog

OK – lets draft a Pre-Departure Checklist

Make sure that someone knows your travel plans – has a copy of your itinerary and contact details. They can deal with emergencies in your absence. Consider giving them a key and the alarm code.
Suspend your mail delivery, or have it forwarded appropriately. Perhaps to a rented P.O. Box or friend if traveling for an extended time.
If you use an alarm service, notify them of your plans, and let them know who to contact for emergencies.
Suspend or cancel your newspaper delivery and other services like magazines and gym membership.
Inform your bank and credit card providers (s) of your travel dates & locations. If you don’t they may suspend your account(s) when unusual charges appear.  Banks etc now track your spending habits and will suspend credit cards without notice if their systems detect unusual purchases – especially  in foreign country.  This can be a hassle and it happens often – believe me – it can be embarrassing and take time to rectify.
Ensure your passport, ATM & credit cards, international driver’s license, visa(s) won’t expire while you’re away. Most countries require that your passport have at least 6 months left before expiry – otherwise – they won’t let you in.
Make arrangements for the care of your pets. I discovered a cat can place itself in a stage of hibernation to survive forgetfulness – mine, not the cat’s.  I wouldn’t recommend trying it though.
Adjust your air-conditioning thermostat settings & check its batteries as appropriate.
Clean your toilets, and anything else prone to “growing” stuff when you’re not around.
Check your refrigerator & other storage locations for food that could spoil.
Dispose of your garbage – don’t leave perishable rubbish in your outside bins.  They can generate a whole colony of nasties while you’re away.
Clear out waste lurking in your disposal unit.
Schedule the payment of any bills that might come due during your trip – I switched to on-line payment of bills.  Some are automated and those that aren’t can be attended to by a quick visit to the internet from any place on the planet.  I’ve even paid a bill from Antarctica.
If using a mobile phone with a prepaid plan, ensure that it has sufficient remaining time.
Confirm all accommodation reservations before you depart.  There is nothing more frustrating than to find a hotel gave away your reservation minutes before you arrived because you didn’t confirm.  Confirm each flight before you depart for the airport – this can save many hours of sitting around in airport lounges.
Inspect all your doors and windows to ensure that they are secure. Physically ‘lock’ your garage doors by inserting a bolt through one of the tracks in which the door rides – there are usually holes for this (if not, drill one).
Leave your house with a ‘occupied’ look – leave a couple of lights connected to timers to switch on and off while you’re away.   Use energy-saving bulbs, ideally on a timer.  Perhaps add a radio or an old TV to a timer.
Unplug electrical stuff – don’t just turn them off.  Your gadgets will be safer and you’ll save power.  You’d be surprised how much power is consumed when electrical gagets are in ‘stand by’ or ‘off’ mode. Their little hearts keep beating and the cash continues to flow out just as it does from a hole in your pocket.
Water your plants or arrange for them to be regularly watered.
Clean out your wallet – refer to the Checklist in my earlier blog: ‘Travel Tips – Part 1’
Clean your gutters (if you have them) – an undetected overflow while you are away can create a nasty welcome home surprise.
Arrange transport to the airport.  Check how long you must arrive before departure. It varies from airport to airport and between airlines.  An assumption about this timing can cause stress and occasionally – missed flights.

Modify this list to accommodate your needs/ circumstances – or create one of your own from scratch.  Its your checklist.

Tick of each item in the weeks leading up to departure (preferable – as you do them) …. and leave for the airport without that niggling doubt: ‘I know there is something I haven’t done…’.

Helpful Travel Tips

Before racing off to the airport – check the Travel Tips in my first blog in the Travel Tips series at:  Travel Tips – Part 1

In my next Travel Tips blog in this series I will provide tips on preparing  a Packing Checklist and tips for light and efficient packing.


If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘reply’ button below or use the  ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my cousin’s photo) to send a message to me.

Use the “Follow”  link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.

Share this blog with friends and family that you think may find it of interest.


1          Visit my travel business website:  Unconventional Conventions

2          Visit my first blog in this series at: Travel Tips – Part 1

3          Keep an eye open for Travel Tips Part 3 – coming soon.

2014 Travel Tips – Part 1 of 3

Rod Cunich preferred (2)Are you planning a holiday – locally or to some far-flung exotic destination?

Would it be helpful if you had a travel planning checklist and some helpful hits  –  a tick list so you don’t overlook anything  plus some tips from a seasoned venturer?

Well this is it.

When not practicing law I help my wife and son operate a family conference and travel business.

Victoria Falls - Zambia

Rod & son Mark – Victoria Falls – Zambia

We provide high-quality, continuing education for professionals in some of the world’s most fascinating destinations….see the link to ‘Unconventional Conventions’ at the end of this blog.

Helping clients with their estate planning needs as a lawyer during the course of their journey from ‘cradle to grave’ has many parallels with planning for a future holiday.  I’ll explore the similarities in future blogs.

This list of tips is the result of over 20 years of trial and error – many of both.

Whether standing in a queue in a South American airport – where the locals learn their management and efficiency skills from the Spanish – where planes depart according a timetable administered by each pilot’s lover – or packing ‘light’ for a trip that crosses four seasons in three weeks…. these tips will help.


Rod whale-shark spotting – Exmouth WA

Planning ahead dulls much of the pain that can otherwise turn a joy into a nightmare.


1.     Pack light

2.     Prepare a personal packing checklist – in Part 3 of this blog series I’ll provide a checklist and links to online apps. The secret however is to create a list that suits you – and then stick to it. Adopt the mantra ‘if it ain’t on my list it stays at home’.

3.  Learn to pack efficiently – it truly makes a difference. There are many methods. My preferred method is to pack categories of clothing into individual packing bags like these….

Packing Bags

Packing Bags

Whether you roll clothes and neatly pack into the bags or pack items flat, the use of this type of zip-up bag makes packing and unpacking a breeze. Pack them and drop them into your case. On arrival I don’t even remove the clothes from the bags  – just drop them into draws. They’re available at Katmandu Stores and other outdoor stores and cost very little.

I know – I know…I hear you thinking – these things are easy to say but what about the details  – what do I mean by ‘pack light’ / ‘pack efficiently?   For a detailed explanation that is very practical visit Doug Dyment’s website link at the foot of this blog. I can’t do these topics justice better than Doug.

4.    Stay healthy – I have more to say on this topic later in this blog but a universal tip for all trips is to keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand cleanser on you at all times and use it regularly. Never eat, drink or leave a loo without a dash or two (on your hands – not in your mouth!).

5.   Remember, the earlier the departure time of a plane the better the chances of it departing on time.  This is particularly true with domestic flights that operate like shuttle buses all day and fall behind as the day wears on.  This doesn’t work in Spain, South America and a number of other countries for reasons already hinted at. In those places set your expectations on the basis that the plane will leave late or not at all.  That way you occasionally have a pleasant surprise.  It’s just the way it is.

6.   Find experiences – not just tourist spots.  This requires pre-trip planning but as a last-minute measure  – my tip is to ask a concierge (yours or at any hotel) where s/he personally goes to eat/party/enjoy the best the town has to offer.

7.   Check the temperature and weather conditions at your destination(s) and pack accordingly.  The quickest way to locate weather information is to visit the Lonely Planet website – the Worldwide Travel Guide website – or the CIA website. You’ll find links to these websites at the end of this blog.

8.     Check the power adapters you’ll need when you arrive.  Get a multi-adapter to cover each destination. If you have a

Multi-Power Adapter

Multi-Power Adapter

number of items to charge – pack a power-board.  Visit the online link below to see what adapters are available.

9.   Research your destination(s) to get the most out of your trip. In the rush and exhaustion that accompanies travel… pre-planning helps you take-in what you are experiencing.  Avoid that ….’it’s all a blur’ syndrome when you return home.

Following is a list of information that can help you understand your destination, its people and its place in the world as we know it.

a)    General Information about Country

  1. Flag
  2. Official Name
  3. Capital
  4. Population
  5. Ethnic groups
  6. Languages
  7. Religions         
  8. Population growth rate
  9. Fertility rate
  10. Infant mortality rates
  11. Life expectancy         
  12. GDP – what % is: agriculture, industry and service
  13. GDP growth rate
  14. Public Debt
  15. Inflation
  16. Unemployment
  17. Population below poverty line            
  18. Agriculture products
  19. Industries       
  20. Exports           
  21. Exports partners        
  22. Imports
  23. Import partners

b)  History of Country

c)  Religions of Country

d)  Maps

e)  Clothing:  national, regional, ethnic groups

f)   Climate

The quickest and most reliable place to locate all the above information is the CIA website – that’s right – the CIA.  Refer to the CIA website link at the end of this blog.

g)  Music and Dance of the Country

h)  Food of Country

i)    Crafts & Shopping

j)    Electricity

k)   Money: units/exchange rates/ best type of currency to take with you/credit cards accepted/availability of ATMs/special requirements (eg; in Burma they only accept new unfolded US notes, some countries don’t accept some credit cards)

l)    Tipping when and how much – what is the country’s custom/expectation

The quickest place to locate the last six items is the Lonely Planet website. Refer to the Lonely Planet website link at the end of this blog.

10.           Passport & Visa Information

The quickest place to locate passport and visa information is the Commonwealth’s DFAT website or their SmartTraveller website. Refer to these website links at the end of this blog

11.           Time      

Search for World Clock to compare local time and destination time and prepare a quick cheat sheet so you know when to contact home.  Access World Time website link at the end of this blog.

Country 1

Home Time

Country 2

Home Time

Country 3

Home Time







12.        Communication

Make a record of all hotel contact details on your itinerary.  Check if your mobile phone will operate in your destination. Ensure that you have global roaming activated. Alternatively, you can buy cheap local SIM cards for your Australian phone.  Make sure it isn’t locked to your home service provider such as Telstra – if yes, get it unlocked before you go or buy a cheap unlocked phone – many are available for under $40.  Check your hotels have internet access. Most towns have internet cafes.

13.  Safety

Take care of your personal safety.

If you own a valuable watch – leave it at home – take a cheap one with you.  That way you will still own your good watch when you return home.  Consider a digital watch that shows the home time and local time.

Always carry your belongings securely and leave as many of your valuables as possible in a hotel safe. Keep small amounts of cash in your wallet and the rest in a moneybelt or other safe place – definitely not in a back pocket.

Tip – leave your day to day wallet/purse at home.  You’ll never need much of its heavy contents – only take what you’ll need.

Sample Wallet

Sample Wallet

I take a thin flip back wallet.   I keep mine in the front pocket of my ieans – it contains one credit card, some cash and a copy of my passport.  The rest I leave in my passport wallent safetly stored in the hotel safe.  Don’t keep all your eggs in the one basket.

Hotel concierges and guides are familiar with local safety issues and you should consult them and heed their advice.  If they indicate a ‘no go zone’ – don’t test them.

14.  Passports

Leave you passport securely locked in a hotel safe. Keep a photocopy of the identifaction pages of your passport on you at all times.  Email a copy of the identifaction pages of your passport and appropriate visa pages to yourself and leave in your inbox.  That way you can access a copy of your passport anywhere anytime. Use an internationally accessable email service (such as ozemail.com.au, gmail.com or yahoo.com) if yours is not readily available worldwide

15.  Health, Health Risks & Immunisations

Get current and reliable information concerning health issues and required immunisations at your destinations.

 For individualised vaccination advice and heath warnings (for a cost of $20) go the Commonwealth Travel Health Adviser website.  Their link is located at the end of this blog.

For general non-individualised heath advice and warning visit the World Health Organisation (WHO) website and the Commonwealth’s Smarttraveller website located at the end of this blog.

In any event, ask your doctor.

Regardless the destination some health issues are common in most destinations and you should be prepared.

  • Travellers’ diarrhoea.  Take care with food and water hygiene.  Avoid high- risk foods such as salads, shellfish, raw / undercooked meat and fish and un-pasteurised dairy products.  Drink bottled water with intact seals.
  • Gastrolyte, loperamide and Ciproxin 500mg should be carried.  1 – 2  doses of Ciproxin is often enough to settle travellers diarrhoea.
  • Antispetic gel, wipes or liquid is a must.
  • Good insect repellent – containing DEET, Picaridin or Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus (Mosiguard)
  • Good quality sun screen

Why is salad and other uncooked food high risk?  The ingredients may be washed in contaminated water or handled by food preparers who don’t wash their hands as we do.  Need I say any more?  Cooking protects us from a multitude of sins.

Travel Tips Parts 2 & 3

In future blogs I will provide tips on

  1. Important things to check before you leave home – now available at: Travel Tips – Part 2 of 3: Pre-Departure Checklist
  2. Packing Checklists


If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the  ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me.

Use the “Follow”  link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.


 Handy Website Links:

1          Our conference and travel business:  Unconventional Conventions 

2          Doug Dyment’s essential packing site: One Bag

3          Travel Power Adapters

4          CIA Country factsheets website:  CIA Website

5           World Travel Guide

4          Lonely Planet Website

6          World Time website: : World Time Website

7          Smarttraveller for Visa requirements, Safety issues: Smarttraveller Website

8          DFAT for visa and passport information – drill down to find “Top Travel Tips” and Health and Safety”: DFAT Website

9          Commonwealth Travel Health Adviser (for tailored personal advice): Travel Advisor

10        WHO for general health issues: WHO Website