Breaking my blog drought

It’s been a while … a long while since my last blog. Not for lack of things to share …  Just wait. For my regular readers, I’ll share the reason for my silence.  For new readers, I have so many “lessons” to share – helpful lessons I’ve learned that I’m confident can help you in your journey.

The Bad Ill-health, hospital, post-op prescription drug haze, medios’ neglect (and my ignorance) of the need for rehabilitation, specialists with the personality of Frank N. Furter (with none of the funside) at one extreme  – and – true carers at the other extreme….... AND then another round of the same all over again ( round two) all in a 12 month period – provides lots of fuel for interesting topics. The Ugly An immediate return to work on both occasions, no down-time to mend, the call of work commitments both real and imagined, married with my making light of the trauma ….  I camouflaged the worst from family and The Golden Door0306work colleagues …. all part of a senseless game that creates a walking, talking, self-deprecating zombi.  Present in body but elsewhere in mind and spirit. The Good Over the same period  a friend cured of cancer, others saved from the brink of financial failure and numerous other reasons to celebrate  – all good news stories that tilt the scales in favour of life being pretty good. I’ve been ploughing a fertile field of discovery for my interests in both estate planning ( in this case my own mortality) and travel (to hell and back and the people you encounter along the way) with insights into an array of good, bad and enlightening. And this week – my 60th.

The age fits me very comfortably.  NOW marks the beginning of some major changes in my life

The Golden Door0252

  • Implementing barriers: no more choking on the ‘no‘ word.  Focus has been a ‘concept’ but is now it’s a living force
  • Moving from efficient to effective use of time – no more efficient attention to needless tasks
  • Achieving goals often set, but hitherto illusive – now firmly in sight

60 years in preparation for the Jack … whose box has just been opened. I return to work next Tuesday.

That’s right, I’ve claimed Mondays for myself. Not a ‘transition’ to retirement but rather a release from the ordinary to enable time for the extraordinary.  … But for … some enforced downtime over the last 12 months I may only have achieved my goals as a lawyer over the next decade. Now I have greater ambitions. Much greater. Achieving my ambitious legal practice goals is nowThe Golden Door0273 in context, they’re just a task to achieve on the way to making a difference. It’s that difference that is my real focus, successfully achieving my current career goals notched on the wall along the way …. just a stepping stone on the journey.

It’s good to be back. Ready to laugh again. Ready to embrace.  And doing both.

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.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your The Golden Door0257comments 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 ? MY INSTAGRAM

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.

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, 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