Subject: Another new Ziner from Aussi
Dear Don and Linda,

It seems to be OK to tell you a little of our story!

Since we joined (July 6) I have been astounded and delighted at the variety of the emails that have been coming through and the wonderful friendly co-operation which is obviously what you are all about. I think it's great.

How I found you was by typing Travel wardrobe hints into our search engine, and up came Linda's recipe for 30 days in Europe out of a carry-on bag.

We are about to take the trip of a lifetime, but we intend that it won't be the last.

Our story is this. I'm not known for my brevity, but will keep it as short as I know how!!

John worked for nearly 10 years (from 1971-1981) with Trans Australia Airlines, since amalgamated into Qantas. During that time we took advantage of our airline staff concession opportunities and in 1975 took our FIRST TRIP to Canada and US, with our 10 month old daughter. We flew from Sydney to San Francisco, to Vancouver, Victoria then train across the Rockies (which was SUPERB) to Banff. Stayed Banff Springs Hotel, drove to Calgary, flew to Toronto. Stayed with former Aussie nursing friend. Flew to Montreal, staying at Imprevu Hotel in the French quarter, just so we could taste the flavour of history. As you would be aware, Australia is only 200 years old, so buildings 500 years old intruigue us to say the least. We took the train to Albany, and drove to Glen's Falls in Upper NY State, staying with a lawyer and his wife, old family friends. They spoilt us to bits - taking us to NYC for a weekend, paying for our accommodation at the Plaza and baby-sitting while we went to see the NYC Ballet at the Lincoln Centre (ballet, theatre and music are some of my loves - I danced for years). I have to say I totally fell in love with New York City. From NY we went to Boston and really did the tourist trail. In October 1975 USA was getting ready for Bicentennial 1976!!! Trip home was back via LA.

We absolutely lost our hearts to North America, and to North Americans. We met some beautiful people and made lifelong friendships on that trip and subsequent ones. John is a railfan, and models Santa Fe. We took full advantage of our concessions and returned every second year, taking our two girls with us. We've seen lots of California and have friends in Orange County. Stayed on the Queen Mary, done Disneyland x 4 and never tire of it, Universal Studios, Disneyworld (Florida), San Francisco, El Paso and Dallas TX, Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington DC. We adore New England. Wherever we had made contacts we stayed with people. But otherwise we were spoilt by the fact that we could stay 50% off Hiltons and Sheratons, so stayed 5-star. Then John was made redundant from the airline and our travels ceased!!

We worked our own small business- industrial screen-printing - for 24 years (from 1976), doing it tough most of the time, including mortaging the home we owned, and eventually losing it to the bank in the 1990 era of 25% interest!! I am a registered nurse, and have appreciated the capacity to be able to work to put dinner on the table when things were tough. Two years ago we were able to sell our printing business, having already commenced a part-time international marketing business which is now doing well for us. With this new venture we intend to have restored to us the capacity to TRAVEL!!!!

Four years ago our daughter, the one who took her first trip to US when 10 mths old, obtained a US Immigration Visa in a Diversity Visa Lottery programme. We have some wonderful friends living in Seattle who sponsored her, and she has since married a gorgeous Seattle boy. So our last trip was 3 years ago to Seattle for their wedding, accompanied by our other girl who was able to spend 7 mths over there. We had a month away, and it only served to remind us of our addiction to new places and new people! Our girls are now 27 and 23.

12 months ago we attended a reunion of airline employees and WON, in a raffle, 6 nights Transatlantic crossing in the QE2: top deck, outside deluxe cabin, Princess Grill (called Category P1)!! We have to take it by end of this year, so recently booked to sail Southampton to New York on October 24th. Our proposed route is Brisbane - London. Sail to NYC (my heart does backflips of joy at the thought of sailing into New York Harbour). Then home via Seattle, where we will have a week with our kids and long-term friends.

The reason for the trip is to not waste our QE2 prize. But the whole thing is going to be done on a very tight budget. We have a long-time friend, a travelagent who is helping us put together the best airfare deals.

As a registered nurse, I have been working for 5 years with a specialist surgeon. He recently attended a unit at St Marks Hospital in London, UK, which is the world foremost in the work that I do (computer-aided muscle testing). So part of our trip is now to include 1-2 days with me observing at St Marks.

So this is where we would appreciate the experienced advice of Travelziners.

Considering our very limited funds and of course the exchange rate, can you recommend where to stay in the London, UK, area. Because we've been warned it is so costly we were not intending to stay, but will now need to for me to visit St Marks. I'm also not sure what John could do for 6 hrs a day while I play nurse.

Then, because of our love for NYC we want to stay for a couple of nights before flying to Seattle. Same question - where can we stay on a shoestring budget of Aussie dollars?

The main other question is clothing for QE2?? We don't want to take more than 1 small case each, but requiring a dark suit for John and some formal outfits for me (mix and match, based on black to do us 6 nights) will need more than a carry-on bag each, I think. And what is the weather like on the Atlantic, last week in October? The rest of our trip we will do in jacket &jeans, with some tailored pants for St Marks. Am I on the right track?

As mentioned, I am thoroughly delighted to have found you, and look forward to sampling the advice of experienced Ziners.

Cheers from Gold Coast, Australia. Margot.

PS. Re Linda's 30 days out of the carry-on: what time of year does that article apply to? Did you have a coat or jacket in addition, and what kind of shoes apart from the sandals?