Soulmated ? !

Unlike the chess equivalent, the last move makes all players a winner.

Have you visited Fiji?  Even the new luxury resorts are contagious.

Isolated from the locals by fences and a socio-economic divide that can only be measured in light years, the infection they spread is jaw-numbing.


The symptoms begin to appear before you even exit the airport.  They grow unrestrained.

Two days into my three-day visit my jaws ache, and my heart has swollen.

It’s inevitable …. this Fijian plague …. a direct consequence of the ever-present goodwill that comes with every utterance of the local greeting: Bula, Bula and the warmth of the grin that follows.

That’s right – smiling, laughing and being continuously overwhelmed with generosity takes it toll.

All the self-imposed barriers we erect around ourselves to survive our busy lives are rapidly stripped away and we stand naked. Exposed to genuine courteous social interaction with no purpose beyond …. genuine courteous social interaction.


Beyond the decadence of our delectable resort, we visit old friends, Suli and her husband Amos – locals we first met over a quarter of a century ago.

They remain in the same cottage in the same coastal village living life the same way as their ancestors have for as long as history records.

Their son, an international jet-setting environmental advisor returns to village life after each trip and sheds his first-world self like a snake sheds its skin …  and steps into another world he contently shares with his family and his community.

Our friends, their daughter-in-law and grandchildren host a kava ceremony to welcome us and then treat us to fish caught only hours before, cassava, spinach and banana from their garden garnished with that wonderful Fiji dish of fresh coconut milk and greens.



Spoilt to the point of tears Margot and I savour every morsel to the sound of our friends sharing glimpses of Fijian history through song. We sit stunned,  the music hypnotising, the setting breathtaking in its simplicity, the physical and emotional generosity humbling.

Sitting on hand-woven flooring we talk hypnotising and international politics, families, the economy, climate change, the changing world that is Fiji.  Worldly people. Admirable.


We left with gifts … unexpected and embarrassingly valuable. … unique handicraft created by Suli and presented to us to celebrate our 25 years of friendship. Pure and simple.

What we carried away however hypnotising a lot more …. a reminder of the power of human bonds, no matter how much time passes between touches.


Their farewell serenade:

Life is a checkerboard of pieces, all part of the one game.


Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.


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.



Estate Planning Tip 1

Estate Planning Tip 2

Estate Planning Tip 3



WILLS FOR PETS ?:    Wills for Pets ?


Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.

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, or 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