TRAVEL TIPS 9: Technology Security. Stay Alert, Stay Safe!

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Traveling can present some unique security challenges. If you are planning a domestic or international trip, keep these items in mind:

1) Make sure you’ve backed up any important data before traveling.
Ensure that you’ve backed up any important data before traveling. If something happens to your devices while traveling you won’t be able to get the data back without a backup.

2) Keep your devices with you and within sight at all times.
It doesn’t take long for a laptop, smartphone, or tablet to be stolen. This is particularly important in busy and crowded places such as: buses, subways, airports, and at conferences.

3) Are you traveling with sensitive or confidential information?
Only travel with the data that you absolutely need. If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Check with your division to see if they offer blank loaner laptops that you can use while traveling instead of bringing your own. If you are traveling with data on a flash drive, ensure that you’re using an approved encrypted flash drive.

4) Ensure that your laptop is encrypted.
Laptop encryption will ensure that your data won’t be accessible if it is lost or stolen.

5) Are you traveling with anything that is subject to export controls?
It is illegal in some cases to bring certain software or hardware to other countries. Check the country technology laws first.

6) Beware of public computers.
Avoid using public computers in places like hotels and Internet cafes whenever possible. If you have to use one, ensure that you change any password that you entered on a public computer when you return from your travels.

7) Ensure that your computer is up-to-date and running antivirus software.
Before traveling, make sure that you’ve installed all of the latest updates from Microsoft or Apple, and ensure that you are running good antivirus software (such as kaspersky, norton antivirus, mcafee, avg, etc.)

8) Enable a firewall on your computer.
Make sure that you have a firewall enabled on your computer. A firewall will help protect your computer while connected to insecure networks.

9) Only connect to trusted wireless networks.
Avoid joining just any available wireless network. Only connect to those networks that you know are legitimate (such as those provided by a hotel).

10) Avoid using insecure websites on wireless networks.
It’s easy for someone to listen in to what you’re doing on an open wireless network. Most networks that you’ll use while traveling are open. Make sure that if you’re logging into websites while on open network that your connection is secure. This is usually denoted by the presence of a lock icon in your browser, or “https://” in front of the address you’re visiting.

When you hit the road, it’s easy to get paranoid, especially if you’re carrying thousands of dollars’ worth of technology with you. You can alleviate some of your worries by taking security measures to protect yourself against someone running off with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

A) Password Protect Your Devices

What if a thief does get your device—is the trouble just beginning? It might be, if you haven’t bothered with basic methods for protecting your data.

1) Passcode lock your phone and tablet.
Just because someone gets your phone or tablet, doesn’t necessarily mean he also gets unrestricted access to all your email messages, all your contacts. Even if you don’t normally use a passcode or a screen or sleep lock, enable it before you travel. On Android 3 and later, Windows Phone 8, and iOS 4 and later, locking a phone or tablet prevents both access to the device and protects the data storage on it through encryption.

 

2) Password protect your laptop.
Do you really want to join the ranks of people who’ve compromised work data by leaving a laptop unattended and unprotected??

(i) If you’re using a MacBook, launch the Keychain Access utility (in your /Applications/Utilities folder), and then select Keychain Access > Preferences. Select the Show keychain status in menu bar option. Now, whenever you step away from your computer, you can choose the lock icon in the menu bar and pick Lock Screen. Make this process automatic by going to System Preferences and opening the Security & Privacy pane. Click the General tab and select the Require password option immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. You can adjust the time period using the drop-down menu here.

Requiring a password after sleep or a period of time can prevent someone from gaining access to your machine when you leave it unattended.

(ii) You can lock a Windows 7 and 8 laptop by pressing Windows-L. Automatic locking can be set via selecting Start > Control Panel (Windows 7) or right-clicking the screen’s bottom-left corner and picking Control Panel. Select Personalization and click Screen Saver. The Wait box allows you to choose how long to wait before a password is required to gain access. You can also automatically lock on sleep through the Power Options control panel.

B) Encrypt for Maximum Protection

If you want to make sure that your computer’s data isn’t accessible to a more-than-casual snooper or to a thief who has all the time in the world, your best bet is full-disk encryption (FDE). FDE creates a strong encryption key, which it uses to encipher your entire hard drive. The key is held in memory while you’re in an active running session, and tossed whenever you shut down.

An FDE-protected system can only be backed up while it’s active. But this prevents anyone (including governments and you) from recovering your data without a login account and password or an appropriate passcode.

1) Try full-disk encryption for Mac OS X.
Since Lion, Apple has provided built-in full-disk encryption through FileVault 2. You can’t recover a FileVault-protected disk’s data without an account and password. (See “Complete guide to FileVault 2 in Lion,” still applicable in Mountain Lion.) (If you don’t like the configuration and options available from Apple, there’s also Sophos SafeGuard).

2) Try full-disk encryption for Windows.
BitLocker is a built-in FDE for Windows Vista (Business), 7 (Enterprise and Ultimate), and 8 (Pro). Third-party FDE software comes from Check Point, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Win Magic, DiskCryptor.net, and others. TrueCrypt, a free open-source product, also offers FDE under Windows (but not Mac OS X).

3) Encrypt other drives and files.
You can also encrypt external drives, virtual drives (disk images), and individual files using TrueCrypt (Mac and Windows), Mac OS X’s built-in Disk Utility (Mac), and other free and paid tools. Apple added external disk encryption in the Finder in Mountain Lion, too. See “Encrypt any disk in Mountain Lion.”

4) Rely on built-in mobile encryption.
Nearly all iOS devices have hardware encryption built in. When the passcode is active, data is unrecoverable unless a device is jail broken or otherwise compromised. This protection is automatic, and is only absent from the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and first two iPod touch generations. Hardware encryption also allows a quick “remote wipe.”

Since version 3, Android lets you enable encryption in software or hardware (Settings > Security > Encryption). As in iOS, when the device is locked only a hardcore hacker could potentially gain access to the data. (Encryption requires the use of a code, not Android’s pattern-screen lock.)

A version of Bitlocker protects Windows Phone 8 devices, just as with a Windows laptop, and Microsoft requires hardware-accelerated encryption. A passcode protects access.

C) Find a Lost or Stolen Devices

Even if your device is stolen or you simply mislay it in your travels, it’s possible to aid yourself and the police in recovering it if you’ve planned ahead. Theft-recovery software for mobile and desktop operating systems can track a device so long as it’s on a network.

With a location in hand, police are often more willing to visit a home or business, as they frequently find where one device is located, other stolen gear is found. But many thieves are now too clever for such software, and prevent devices from joining a wi-fi network or even wrap hardware in aluminum foil to keep it off a cellular network.

1) Use built-in Apple options.
Mac and iOS users can use Apple’s built-in solution called Find My Mac and Find My iPhone (which works for all iOS devices). This is activated in Lion and Mountain via the iCloud preference pane, and requires Wi-Fi to be enabled to provide tracking information. In iOS, the Settings > iCloud view has a Find My iPhone switch. You can find the current location of devices (Macs and iOS gear) associated with an Apple ID by logging in to iCloud.com with that ID or using the Find My iPhone app (which includes Macs in what it finds).

Find My iPhone/Mac can both lock a device remotely or wipe it clean. Apple goes so far as to allow a Good Samaritan to dial a number you’ve sent through Find My iPhone even when all other calls on the iPhone are disabled.

2) Use third-party software:
Several third-party packages, some available for Mac, Windows, and mobile OS, keep a constant low-level account of where a device is located. Others wait for a remote network trigger, checking in at regular intervals, that a device is stolen before they activate tracking. Some of them let you file a police report, see what a thief is typing, or even use your camera to snap a photo or video of the thief. Options include GadgetTrak, Absolute Software’s Lojack for Laptops, and Orbicule’s Undercover.

 

In all cases, the software has to be installed before a device is stolen, and typically registered and activated. You also want to run a test to make sure it can be located while still in your clutches. While nearly all smartphones and some tablets have GPS radios, computers and mobile devices without GPS can infer a position from nearby Wi-Fi networks using databases gathered or licensed by various parties, including Apple and Skyhook Wireless.

Google relies on Google Sync and its business-oriented Google Apps to let a system admin either erase an Android device or give a user the ability to erase remotely.

D) Always Be Prepared

It’s always hard to deal with the loss of an electronic device that has your personal and business data. By taking measures to secure your systems before you hit the road, you can defeat thieves before they get started, while helping Good Samaritans bring your precious hardware back to you.

There are always two sides of a coin. When it comes to internet, it can play a role of an angel and a devil too. Be-aware!!

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TRAVEL TIPS 8: Voila! Destination – Travel Advice List!

There’s an art to traveling well. Some little secrets you learn on the way, like making sure you find a map at the airport before you leave (even though you use google maps. Don’t forget, smart phones eat up more battery).

Here’s our ultimate travel advice list. Have we missed any? Let us know.

P.S: Following are the General Travel Advice List. Check with your destination country for the safety advice before you fly. Because your safety always comes first 🙂

1) Use your GPS when traveling abroad.
If you’re traveling abroad without an international plan, turn on airplane mode and turn off data to use the GPS without connecting to the internet. Simply load the Google map of the area before heading out the hotel, and you’ve got a fully functional map to navigate the area.

 

2) Get a free cell phone charger if you forgot yours at home.
Forget your charger? Often times hotel front desk’s will have a box full of chargers left by previous guests.

3) Learn how to say “No, Thank You”.
Most travel advice columns will tell you to learn how to say “hello”, “yes please”, “thank you” and “do you speak English?”. But in some countries you really want to be able to say “no, thank you, please leave me alone”. Think about the crowded market places in Asia. Knowing how to say “no, thank you” in their language is going to give you a lot more peace.

 

4) Grocery stores are a traveller’s best resource.
Cheap food, local flavours. Find the nearest one to your hotel and you will save yourself a heap of cash. Have a picnic lunch every day.

5) Keep an emergency stash of money.
If you lose your wallet you will still need to eat. An empty Chapstick is a fantastic secret hiding spot.

6) Learn how to drive a manual car.
Stuck at an airport after your flight has been cancelled? You could drive. You will be smacking your head on the desk if they only have manual cars.

 

7) Know how much it should cost in a taxi.
Carry a card with the hotel address and a map. Ask for taxi drivers to use the meter. Make sure they are legitimate taxi drivers.

 

8) Always carry a hard copy map of the city you’re going to.
Save your phone charge for when you really need it.

 

9) Make sure your bank cards work.
There is nothing more annoying on holidays than spending hours on the phone to the bank back home.

 

10) Learn how to take a decent photo.
Don’t come home with a bunch of Instagram selfies. Memories fade and you’ll want something to remember the scenery by.

 

11) Learn basic first aid.
This is just a great life skill, if nothing else.

 

12) Get folders for travel documents and itineraries.
Keep them organised so you don’t have to mess about digging through pockets in your bag at the airport check-in.

13) Use public transport.
It’s fast. It’s easy, it’s cheaper and it will give you a better travel experience. Get a map, learn the different ticket types and if you are heading to London – organise an Oyster Card in advance.

 

14) Ask the locals for advice, tips.
The best beach probably isn’t the most popular one. The locals can help you find those secret spots you will rave about.

 

15) Eat where the locals eat.
Just like tips 14 – the same goes with restaurants. Ask the locals where they eat. Go there instead.

16) Know where the Embassy is.
Seriously! Find it on your map. Don’t think just because you are in a “safe” country you won’t need it. All it takes is a quick Google search, write down the address and put it in a safe place.

 

17) Register your details with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).
OK, this one is obvious but surprisingly so many of us don’t actually do it. In cases like Boston or London, DFAT will be the place your family will turn to. Make sure they know where you are.

18) Be aware of the local laws.
Don’t get drunk on the streets of Dubai or expect to chew and spit gum in Singapore. You’re leaving India – don’t expect our law system to follow you around the world.

 

19) Learn a few phrases of the local language.
Speak to the locals. Experience their culture. Don’t just wander through it.

20) Know the scams of each destination.
‘Thai driver want to show you his best restaurant?’ It’s probably his mate’s. Get on the internet and work out the scams so you don’t become a sucker.

 

21) Learn the art of haggling.
Haggling saves you money. Be bold!! That extra $4 will buy you a coffee.

22) Learn the basic geography of the country you are visiting.
There’s nothing worse than a traveller who has no idea where they are travelling.

23) Learn how to use a compass.
Sounds extreme but it could help in a crisis.

24) Learn how to use chopsticks.
Don’t look like a tourist asking for a fork. Chopsticks are a must.

25) Allow relaxation time to get over jet lag.
You don’t want to be on the go for six weeks straight. It should be a holiday. You should relax at some point.

26) Keep a change of clothes and basic toiletries in your carry-on.
If your luggage gets lost you will be very glad.

27) Travelling via Singapore?
Pack your swimmers in your carry-on and take a break in the outdoor rooftop pool at the airport while in transit. You will feel 100 per cent better getting on the next flight. (Location: Changi Airport T1)

28) Research the airports you are travelling through.
Why? So you can a) find the fastest way through and b) use the facilities. Don’t just sit at the boarding gate.

29) Take Imodium and Panadol / Nurofen.
The cuisine of other countries can be harsh on the tummy.

30) Check if the drinking water is safe.
That includes brushing your teeth, ice in cocktails and drinking water in the shower.

 

31) Be aware of altitude sickness.
Give yourself time to adjust between altitudes, drink a lot more when you are high up.

32) Know the local road rules.
Every country have different road rules. Some drives on left some on right.

33) Be respectful. (Specially for women travelers).
Pay attention to how local women dress to work out how you should.

34) As a treat to yourself, send yourself a postcard from each day of your travels.
It’ll be a nice treat to come home to and make the transition back to reality easier.

35) On your last day in a foreign country, collect all your loose money and give it to the homeless.

Most importantly….. Keep Traveling! Always 🙂

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TRAVEL TIPS 7: Fear of Flying? How to Overcome It!

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“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. We are experiencing some unexpected turbulence. Please return to your seats at this time and keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.”

This is a common airline script that can leave some passengers feeling uneasy, holding the armrest in a death grip.

If you have a fear of flying, you might fear crashing. Or you might have claustrophobia, and fear being “trapped” in the airplane during a long flight. You might fear having a panic attack on the airplane. Whichever type of phobia you have, you can overcome aviophobia. The key to success is to understand what maintains your fear, and learn how to roll it back.

Fear of flying is one of the most common phobias. 1 of every 6 human being has a flying phobia and avoids flying altogether due to fear and anxiety. Millions more fly in various degrees of misery, often resorting to the use of alcohol or tranquilizers to “get through” a flight. Yet this is a very treatable problem. If you want to fly in comfort again, you can!

A) What Causes Fear of Flying? Know what to expect.

A large part of being scared is not knowing what will happen next. Why is the plane going so fast? Why do my ears feel funny? Why does the wing look weird? Why are we hitting turbulence? Why are we being asked to keep our seat belts on? When presented with an unusual circumstance, your first instinct is to assume the worst. To minimize this, learn everything you can about flying and how a plane works. The more you know, the less uncertainly there will be for you to worry about. Here are some things you should know:

1) The plane needs to reach a certain speed so that it can take off. That’s why you may feel like the plane is going super-sonically fast. It is.

2) Your ears pop when the plane moves up or down because of a change in pressure.

3) Certain parts of the wing are supposed to move during the flight. That’s perfectly normal.

4) Turbulence occurs when a plane flies through an area of low pressure to high pressure, which will make you feel a “bump” in the ride. Turbulence has never taken down a commercial airliner, and 99% of people who are injured during turbulence feel it because they aren’t wearing seat belts or were hurt by falling overhead luggage. Turbulence is just like driving on a rocky road.

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Understanding what causes fear of flying can point you to the best path to recovery. Here’s a brief explanation of the cause of fear of flying.

1) Experiencing a “Bad Flight”
You might have experienced a “bad flight” which caused fear of flying. This might have been strong turbulence during a flight, or some other experience you considered to be a “close call”, like an emergency landing or change in planes due to mechanical problems.

If your fear of flying has more to do with claustrophobia and panic attacks on the airplane, your fear of flying might have been caused by a day of long delays and uncomfortable waits on board the plane prior to taking off.

2) Hearing about Bad Events
It isn’t always an actual flight experience that causes fear of flying. You might not have actually experienced a bad flight yourself, but were troubled by hearing about such events.

The heavy media coverage of an airplane crash often causes people to become afraid. Crashes are extremely rare, and so they usually get an enormous amount of media coverage. Many people developed a fear of flying, at least temporarily, in response to the terrorism of September, 2001.

Some people fear losing control of themselves while on a plane, in response to a panic attack. In this case, the occasional media report of a passenger said to have had a “panic attack” who became unruly and had to be subdued is what causes fear of flying. This is usually the result of sloppy reporting, because these aren’t people with Panic Disorder. They’re typically drunk, in addition to other problems. Panic Disorder is a difficult problem, but it doesn’t lead people to run amok on airplanes!

3) It’s Not Always About Flying
People also become afraid of flying for reasons which don’t directly relate to flying. If you have Panic Disorder or Claustrophobia, you might have experienced a panic attack on an airplane, and thereafter feared “being trapped” on a plane should you have another attack there.

Sometimes it’s a challenging life event, typically in one’s twenties or thirties, which causes fear of flying. You might have experienced a stressful period in your life, one marked by job change, relocation, getting married, and having children. People often are shocked to find themselves getting panicky on an airplane during this time of their lives, and become phobic for flying as a result.

Traumatic events unrelated to flying can cause fear of flying, particularly when they occur shortly before a flight. This might be an auto accident or a physical assault, or even a sudden, unexpected layoff. A person may seem to respond to the trauma satisfactorily, but then become very afraid on the flight, and thereafter develop a phobia.

4) The Way People DON’T Become Afraid
There are a lot of causes for fear of flying. The one way people don’t become afraid is this: people don’t set out to discover the most dangerous activities they engage in, and then avoid those.

That’s not what causes fear of flying!

5) Fueled by the Anxiety Trick
Instead, you become afraid, for one of the reasons mentioned above, and come to believe that your fear is an accurate sign of danger. You get tricked by the assumption, “If I feel afraid, then I’m in danger.” You come to believe that your fear means that flying is too dangerous, even though you almost certainly engage in activities, every day, which are much more dangerous than flying.

Maybe you develop a phobia and stop flying altogether, or maybe you continue to fly with fear. Either way, you resist and struggle against your flying anxiety. You try really hard “not to be afraid”.

When you struggle against your fear, you’re literally “putting out fires with gasoline”. This is how the Panic Trick works. The growth of your fear is fueled by your efforts to oppose it.

B) How do People Respond to their Fear?

Many people respond to their fear by not flying. If that were satisfactory to them, that would be the end of the story. But it’s usually not. Most people with a flying phobia still want to overcome it. They see that they miss out on a lot in life, and they keep trying to find ways to be unafraid, figuring they’ll fly again once they lose their fear.

Fearful fliers who continue to fly despite their fear usually try hard to not feel afraid. They hope that by opposing their fear, they can make it go away. This sounds like a reasonable idea, but it usually doesn’t work that way. As the Panic Trick suggests, it’s the things people do in an effort to overcome the fear that usually maintain and strengthen it.

In general, fearful fliers usually resist the role of passenger and try to feel as though they have more control of the activity than they actually do. This actually strengthens and maintains the fear. It will probably be very useful for you to clarify your role as a passenger, and become more accepting of that role.

A good review of how you respond to your fear of flying is another key step in overcoming flying anxiety.

C) What People Usually Do?

In their efforts to overcome flying fears, some people have tried such things as:

1) Monitoring the weather channel during the days before a flight

2) Pretending they are not on a plane, or forcing themselves to think about something else

3) Playing loud music on their headphones, in order to prevent themselves from thinking about the flight

4) Snapping a rubber band on their wrist

5) Tensing up their body, and holding the armrest in a death grip

6) Trying hard to appear unafraid

7) Watching faces of the flight attendants for signs of fear

8) Sedating themselves with alcohol and/or tranquilizers

9) wearing “lucky” clothes, avoiding “unlucky” days and flight numbers, and engaging in a variety of rituals

In each case, their efforts to rid themselves of fear of flying, and to feel “in control” of the situation, made their fears stronger and more persistent.

Smoking is not allowed on the airplane, but feeling afraid is. It’s uncomfortable, but okay, to feel afraid. Flying is a come as you are experience. People get more upset when they try to control their fear of flying, and feel more peace as they allow themselves to accept whatever feelings they happen to have at the time.

D) What Maintains the Fear of Flying?

There are three main factors that maintain the fear. These are the factors that need to be addressed to overcome aviophobia.

1) Anticipation
People who fear flying typically experience a lot of anticipation and dread in the days, weeks, and even months ahead of a scheduled flight.

The experience a lot of “what if” worry whenever the flight crosses their mind. They picture fiery catastrophes whenever they see a plane above them, or picture themselves “freaking out” during the flight. They constantly think about how to get around, or away from, this problem.

All too often, this anticipation causes them to worry, lose sleep, and cancel their plans to fly.

Relieving the negative influence of this anticipation is a key step in overcoming the fear of flying.

2) Avoidance
The more fear people feel, the more likely they are to stop flying altogether, or fly only when it’s practically unavoidable.

Each time they cancel a flight, or decide instead to schedule another driving vacation, they experience some relief from that avoidance.

This avoidance is addictive. They come to feel the avoidance has protected them in some way, and find that they become more and more phobic over time.

Reversing the avoidance, and getting some practice with what you fear, is another key step in overcoming the fear of flying.

3) Fighting the Fear
People who fear flying and yet manage to continue to fly often find it a baffling problem. I remember a businessman who said to me “I flew 100,000 miles last year. The last mile was scarier than the first. How is practice going to help?”

The key is that that man, and many others, fight against the experience of fear, every mile. Grabbing the armrest. Asking God to have mercy and spare the flight. Self medicating with alcohol. Wearing good luck charms, and so on.

If you fly in a white knuckle manner, struggling against the fear, this is not the kind of practice that will help you. You get where you want to go, that time, but that kind of flying strengthens and maintains your fear.

You need practice working with, rather than against, the fear.

E) The Best Ways to Conquer Your Fear

It’s a bit of a cop-out to tell someone with a phobia to simply change their mindset or to go out and buy a meditation book. For someone drastically scared of flying, breathing techniques and happy thoughts simply won’t cut it. Here is more reliable option:

– Fear of Flying Courses

If your fear of flying developed from a media misconception, the best way to overcome that fear is with education. We fear the unknown but if you learn the sights and sounds of an airplane you can begin to rationalize what is actually happening on board.

To overcome flying fears, start with a good look at what you’ve been doing when you respond to your fear.

People who want to overcome flying fears also try to help themselves by striving to feel “in control” of various aspects of the flight experience. Since, as a passenger, you don’t control anything about the flight, this striving for control will make you more afraid, not less.

1) Avoidance keeps our fears alive. The more that we avoid flying, the more we reinforce the idea that flying is dangerous. Several experiences of flying safely can help correct these thoughts. Exposure helps retrain our brain to stop sending fear signals when there isn’t a likely danger. One great exposure exercise that I prescribe to clients is to head to the local airport and count the number of flights that safely take off and land.

2) What will you be giving up if you do not overcome your fear of flying? Your ability to see your family? Your freedom to see the world and experience new cultures? A great job opportunity that requires travel? Are these things you are willing to give up?

3) Practice relaxation techniques. When we are faced with a perceived threat our body reacts in the “fight or flight” response. Physiological changes such as accelerated heart rate, sweating, tunnel vision and muscle tension take place to prepare us to run or fight the threat. From an evolutionary perspective, this quick activation system is necessary to react to immediate life or death situations. The problem is we continue to experience these same physiological changes in non-emergency situations such as flying. It is important to practice calming techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, positive visualization and others to counteract the fight or flight response.

4) Therapy can help! If a fear of flying is interfering with you ability to live your life, ask for help.

TRAVEL TIPS 6: Tips to Get Through the Airport Faster!

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With airports that seem busier than ever, airline staffing reductions creating longer lines at check-in and airport security wait times that can be entirely unpredictable, these days the old airport “two-hour” rule often leaves just minutes to spare to buy a magazine, grab a snack or hustle your kids into the bathroom. Saving a few extra minutes here and there along the way can add up in your favor; here are some tips to get you from your front door to your seat on the plane as quickly and painlessly as possible – as well as some ideas to keep you moving no matter what is going on with your flight.

Making Your Way Through the Airport Like a Boss

Suitcase, ID, wallet, cash….. check!! There’s only one thing standing between you and your island getaway: “managing to get through the airport in one piece.” Not everyone enjoys the process of getting through the airport before you head on your journey. The hassle of tugging around luggage, the cringing cry from babies, and the incredibly long and slow process of going through security can make any traveler bug out.

Luckily, many airlines have sped up the process of ticketing and baggage check-ins with interactive kiosks for electronic check-ins. Yes, robots are now taking over – and are actually making things incredibly easy and hassle-free (let’s not jinx this). So what’s the best way to make a smooth sailing through the airports? Follow these tips to be a happy traveler:

A) BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME:

First thing’s first: Just take a deep breath and don’t let the stress get to you. There are tons and tons of crowds, lines, and people who are trying to catch their flights. So just relax, you’ll get there. I promise.

1) Check flight status.
I feel like this tip is almost so obvious that I should not even include it. Few years back when I was studying, traveling from Mumbai to Ahmedabad with my mother, I am certain that in the rush to leave in afternoon, I would not have checked flight status (not even care to read sms the airline sent me) and hired a cab to the airport, headed into the terminal, stood in line and only then discovered the flight was 6 hours late. So —– check flight status!

I recommend doing the same before abandoning your ride or your car just before you head to the terminal; flight status updates change by the minute, so a last-second check is always a good idea.

Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you have put your mobile number at the time of booking, and sites like flightstats.com and tripit.comwill do the same by text, on the Web and through smartphone apps. Easy way; Call up Airlines Customer Care.

2) Before you leave for the airport, make sure you have all important documents with you if you’re traveling internationally – meaning passport, visa, and a couple forms of identification. For domestic flights, government id cards (such as PAN Card, Driving license, Voter ID card, etc.), boarding pass (if applicable), in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. There are two reasons for this: one, by going through this exercise, you make sure that you don’t leave home without these crucial items. Two, you don’t waste your (and other people’s) time fumbling around for them at the moment you need them.

3) Pack everything else out of reach.
Clutter is the enemy of smooth passage through the airport; pack out of reach and sight anything that you will not need between your front door and your airplane seat.

4) Don’t forget your chargers!
Keep your juices charged the night before flying out so you won’t have to fight for outlet plugs that are almost always taken.

5) Try to keep your carry on at a bare minimum.
This usually helps you flow through traffic once going through the x-rays and scanners.

6) Be in a comfort clothes.
The airport is one of those places where you should dress as comfortable and light as possible.

7) Don’t be a party popper. Avoid too many layers, lots of flashy jewelry, belts, boots, loose change in your pockets, heels (because why?) and all that jazz.

8) Get the Right Apps
GateGuru has user reviews on restaurants and shops in dozens of airports.
TripIt organizes all your travel plans into one easy-to-read interface.
FlightAware alerts you if your plane’s delayed.

Note: And check to see if the airport you’re going to has an app to tell you parking lot status and security line wait.

B) AT THE AIRPORT (DEPARTURE)
(i) Before Check-In

1) Prep your documents.
Before you get in line to check in, or at least before you get to the front of the line, dig out and have in hand all the items and documentation you will need to check in. Having this stuff out makes everyone happy – you, airline agents and the people behind you in line who appreciate your efficiency.

TIP: Enter the Terminal Near the Premier/First-Class Check-In. Do this even if you’re flying coach. The elite entrance is often at a quieter end of the terminal with smaller crowds. That means a possibly shorter line at the nearby security checkpoint. If you’re enrolled in the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) PreCheck program (http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck), which lets you go through security like it’s 1999, you’ll often find it near the fancy-traveler entrance, too.

2) Weigh your bags.
Many airports are installing scales in front of the check-in areas; if you suspect your checked bag might be overweight, weigh it before you get in line, and do any swapping between your bags before you reach the check-in counter. This also avoids any scrutiny from the check-in agents about your carry-on bag starting to swell (another topic altogether, which I won’t go into here).
(If you are really serious about baggage weight, you can even weigh bags at home – buying your own luggage scale is inexpensive and will prevent surprises at the airport).

3) Use the Mobile Boarding Pass (If you know how to use it).
You’ll have one less thing to lose. Plus, the airline can update your mobile boarding pass remotely, so you’ll know the proper gate and departure time if they change.

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4) But Still Check That Departure Screen
You know the one—right after security, with all the flights on it. Sometimes an airline changes flight info, but there’s a lag before it hits your phone. Check the big screen to confirm your gate, lest you hoof it down to A55 only to discover your plane’s at A17.

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(ii) Between Check-In and Security

1) Reserving Seats
When reserving airline seats for 2 people, get the aisle and window. If no one takes the middle seat you get a full row, and if someone does, just ask to switch so you can sit next to your travel partner.

Tips:
(a) Window Seats Are Chillier Than Aisle Seats. Airplane windows leak outside air a little. At 30,000 feet, that air may be –30F. Move toward the aisle or bring a sweater.

(b) Sit in the seats near the wing of the plane for the least turbulence. The seats along the wings of a plane usually have the least amount of bounce when flying because it has more structural support.

2) Use ATMs instead of airport currency exchanges to save money.
Many ATMs will offer much lower rates than what you can get from the airport currency exchanges.

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3) Skip the long lines for airport bathrooms.
It may seem like common logic, but the first bathroom in the terminal is the most crowded one. Use the next one to skip the long waits and save precious time.

Tip: Certain times are better for using the airplane bathroom. Since most airlines don’t let you stand in line for the restrooms, the best times to use it are right after the plane has leveled off and 15-20 minutes before landing.

(iii) Immigration Counter (For International Flights)

Passing immigration is usually straight forward. You can’t make queues any shorter, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier once you do get to the front of the line.

1) Before you go – Make sure you have checked if you need a visa or what paperwork you might need with you in order to clear immigration. Sometimes countries will require proof of your return airfare or your accommodation in order for you to clear immigration.

2) Have copies of the relevant paperwork with you – Make sure you’ve got copies of your flight itineraries and accommodation details on hand (i.e. in your carry-on luggage) so that you’ve got them with you at immigration.

3) Complete all the paperwork before you join the queue – Fill out your arrival forms on the plane before you touch down, that will save any unnecessary waiting at immigration.

4) Don’t joke, don’t be too friendly, just answer the question – Passing immigration isn’t about being friendly and nice, there is no need to be overly chatty to your immigration officer – just answer their questions and keep it simple.

5) Boarding Gate – After clearing immigration, head toward your Boarding Gate (written on your boarding pass). In between if you have plenty time, you can shop at Duty Free Shopping Centres, have snacks (without forgetting you gonna board the flight). Some International airport have gaming zones as well (such as Changi International Airport, Singapore). Well, thats why I keep on writing to be at airport as early as possible (Appx 3 hours).

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NOTE: If you are travelling on Domestic Flights, you will find Duty Free Shopping Centre and Restaurants at the Boarding Gate Area.

(iv) Way to Boarding Gate Area (For Domestic and International Flight)

Make sure you are at your departure gate early as it will CLOSE 20 minutes before departure time.

1) Speed Up Going Through Security
When going through security, stuff your small belongings like wallets, keys and phones into your bag before placing it on the conveyor belt. It eliminates the need for separate bins and saves you time.

2) Check the flight status boards again. Unless you are really early, your actual flight time is getting close, and this is when you will start to see gate changes and more reliable departure time estimates.

3) With that said, though flight status boards are your first stop for directions, go directly to your gate for any breaking information. The official system updates sometimes lag behind reality, so you want to check in at your gate to make sure nothing has changed. Beyond finding out your flight status, by showing up at the gate you will get a sense of how crowded the flight is, figure out what kind of terminal amenities there are and more.

4) If you forget your wall plug, charge devices through the USB slot on a TV or charging stations.

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5) Put smartphones in airplane mode to save battery and charge faster.

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6) Get free WiFi 🙂 When you’re at the airport, add “?.jpg” to the end of any URL to get around the ludicrously expensive WiFi. Alternatively, you can sit right outside an airport club lounge: Wi-Fi signals often glide through the walls.

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7) To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps,” and the visible area will save for future access.

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8) The order of boarding may be specified by the gate attendant when the time comes; often:

– Passengers in First class
– Passengers with special needs (such as physically handicapped, elderly and those with young children)
– Passengers in Business Class and those passengers holding top tier cards of an airline alliance’s Frequent Flyer program
– All other passengers

Budget airlines often board passengers who have paid extra for priority boarding first, followed by those at the back of the plane.

When no order for boarding is given it may help if those seated at the back were to board first, but this doesn’t usually happen, and aisle blockages are common. To estimate where your seat is, check your airline’s website for seat maps or ask staff at the gate. Regardless of the boarding order given, you are always free to remain in the boarding lounge until the final call for the plane. If you choose to spend the least time possible in a cramped aircraft cabin, just wait in the boarding lounge until you see the last person at the gate, and join the end of the queue. Just remember, the boarding gates close 10-15 minutes before departure and no announcements will be made outside the gate area.

v) Airplane

The days of flying the glamorous skies seem to be gone forever. The seats are smaller, the leg room is more cramped and the airlines are charging extra for everything from luggage to snacks. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to resign ourselves to merely enduring air travel. In fact, there are plenty of ways to improve the experience of travel, despite federal safety regulations and snoring seatmates.

Here are some tips for you:

1) Get in Your Seat and Power Down
When you board the aircraft, find your seat, place your carry-on in the overhead bin (if you didn’t check it at the gate for free) and sit down. Then turn off your cell phone, iPod, portable DVD player, or whatever electronic device you have with you and wait patiently for the announcement from the captain or the flight crew that it’s safe to switch your approved electronic devices back on once again. That announcement is usually made just a few minutes after the plane is in the air.

No airplane can take off while people are standing or talking on the phone. And no flight attendant is going to look very kindly upon you when he’s had to ask you for the fifth time to turn off your phone. And while it’s very considerate of you to offer to switch seats with one half of a couple who are sitting apart, wait until the flight is in the air and the seatbelt sign is off to play musical chairs.

Tensions can run high for passengers and flight crew alike, thanks to new regulations and the number of people packed into the cabin eager to get moving. Do your part to get the plane off the ground and it’ll be a better flight for everyone on board.

2) Bring a Sleep Kit
Sleep kits can be purchased in most airport gift shops these days, or you can build one at home to keep with your luggage. The basics for a sleep kit include a U-shaped travel pillow and an eye mask to block out sunbeams bouncing off the clouds below.

You’ll also want to block out as much sound as you can, and earplugs can definitely help with this. If you’ve got the extra cash, noise-cancelling headphones can make a world of difference, too. They can negate outside noise (crying babies and aircraft engine sounds included) whether you’re playing music through them or not.

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A small blanket or large shawl is the final item you might want to stash with your sleep kit (Though you will be provided with blanket on-board (for international flights). It’s nearly impossible to grab some sleep when you’re shivering. Airlines used to give out blankets regularly, but these days, it’s often another item they can charge you extra for. So if you’ve got a red-eye flight or perhaps you’re crossing a few time zones, it’s best to bring your own sleep kit – but keep it light.

3) Pay for in-flight wi-fi (for Western countries)
Business travelers and the constantly connected will be thrilled to learn that many carriers now offer in-flight wireless internet – for a fee, of course. But for those whose time is money, it’s worth it to stay productive and in the loop while in the air.

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The price isn’t prohibitively steep, especially if you can expense it. Gogo Inflight Internet, to use one example of the service, charges about $12 for one flight’s worth of internet service. A monthly pass for frequent travelers runs about $30. The connection isn’t annoyingly slow, and the ability to tweet / Facebook / Instagram from 30,000 feet (9.1 kilometers) above is priceless 😉

4) Bring Hand Sanitizer
It’s easy enough to be a vigilant hand-washer while you’re still on the ground, where soap and water are pretty easy to come by. The airplane bathroom has both, too, so make good use of them.
But sometimes, you’re sitting in the window seat with a sandwich on your tray and a rumbling stomach. Wait! Don’t pick up that sandwich! Not yet, anyway. First squirt a little alcohol-based hand sanitizer into your palm and rub it around. Airplanes have lots of surfaces that everyone touches, like arm rests, tray tables, overhead bin handles, in-flight magazines, light switches – the list goes on and on. A simple preventative measure, like using hand sanitizer, can help keep at least some of everyone else’s germs out of your system.

C) AT THE AIRPORT (ARRIVAL)

IMPORTANT: For Transit Passengers, check with the Help Desk Customer Care for your next connecting flight.

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When you reached the destination, follow these Quick Airport tips to get out from terminal building faster:

(i) For Domestic Flight:

1) Baggage Claim.
Before step down from airplane, you will be informed for the baggage conveyor belt number. Check your Flight No. on status board at Baggage Claim area.

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2) Head towards “Exit” sign board.
After claiming your baggage, you can sit and have snacks, book taxi (if you wish to, but it will be 10% higher than the outside cab. Regardless Safety First!). You will spot foreign exchange counter, hotel bookings, holiday bookings, cafeteria.

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(ii) For International Flight.

1) Move quickly to Immigration Counter (As it will be again a long queue)

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2) Baggage Claim.
Before step down from airplane, you will be informed for the baggage conveyor belt number. Check your Flight No. on status board at Baggage Claim area.

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3) Custom Clearance
Note:Some airports have duty-free shops just before the customs station.

Last stop after you’ve passed immigration and collected your bags in customs.Usually customs requires you to complete a declaration about what items you are bringing into a country. For the average traveller this might involve declaring some food or alcohol, but not much else.Before making your way to customs you should make sure that you have thrown away any food you may have taken from the plane, as well as any fresh fruit and vegetables, the vast majority of which are prohibited from being brought into foreign countries for quarantine purposes.You must fill out a customs declaration and if in doubt, declare it!

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Customs officials vary in their severity around the world – in some cases they issue on-the-spot fines for failing to declare restricted items, so we always declare anything we’re not sure about.In some countries (Australia included) they X-ray all incoming bags before you are allowed to walk out of the terminal, in others you can pick your bag off a carousel and basically walk through without answering any questions or declaration at all. Just be honest, declare anything you have that you’re not sure about and you will always be fine.

The customs border usually has two parallel passageways for travelers:
– GREEN CHANNEL: Nothing to declare
– RED CHANNEL: Goods to declare.
Though they might be separated only by a signpost, be sure to choose the right one, to avoid trouble.

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You should choose the red channel (goods to declare) if you:

– Have to pay taxes on goods you are bringing in.
– Have to fulfill customs formalities.
– Are not sure whether you have to declare something.

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You should choose the green channel if you:

– Do not have to pay taxes on goods you are bringing in.
– Do not have to fulfill customs formalities.
– Are not carrying goods that are forbidden.
– Are not carrying goods to which restrictions apply.

NOTE: If you are bringing in more goods than the goods on which you do not have to pay taxes, then you have to lodge a declaration and pay taxes to Customs. You should choose the Red Channel.

3) Head Towards “Exit” sign board
After custom clearance, you can sit and have snacks, book taxi (if you wish to, but it will be 10% higher than the outside cab. Regardless Safety First!). You will spot foreign exchange counter, hotel bookings, holiday bookings, cafeteria.

(D) AIRPOT DELAYS: Six Ways to Cope!

Nothing throws a wrench into your travel plans quite like a big, hairy airport delay. And there’s no shortage of reasons why your flight might be late: unpredictable weather, technical glitches, airport security problems, congested airways…..even U.F.O.’s. According to China Daily, an unidentified flying object that appeared above China’s Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport disrupted a total of 18 flights in July 2010. The U.F.O. hovered in the air above Hangzhou City, causing all inbound and outbound flights to be delayed for several hours.

Whether flying saucers or snowstorms are keeping you grounded, it’s important to know how to protect yourself in the event of a flight delay. First, you need a backup plan. Make sure you have options, like a hotel reservation or an alternative flight, in case you’re stranded. Second, you need to know your rights as a passenger. Read (or at least have access to) your airline’s contract of carriage in case of emergency.

Let’s get on to what you can do about it if (hopefully not “when”) an airport delay happens to you. Here are a few tips to help you cope in the event of software switches, storms or other airport snafus.

1) Watch the weather.
When it comes to the weather, you don’t need to be Jim Cantore (He is an American meteorologist. He is best known as an on-air personality for The Weather Channel) to know when a storm might affect your travel. If you are flying in winter, there’s no excuse not to know at least a couple days ahead of time that your flight could be threatened. Particularly in the case of a winter storm, weather forecasting is pretty reliable 48 – 72 hours out. Summer storms can be less predictable, as thundercloud formation can occur fairly quickly. But forewarned is forearmed, and it’s not like you need to look for red skies in the morning of your travel these days to know that you might have a problem.

2) Consider getting a hotel reservation.
Most hotels don’t charge your card until you show up at the front desk, so you can usually safely book a room and cancel if your flight does take off reasonably on time. If you’re stuck in an airport without easy Internet access, a good tactic is to have on hand the phone number of your preferred booking Web site.

Subsequently look for off-airport hotels that offer shuttle service to the airport so you can ditch your rental car or otherwise count on a ride to the airport without too much trouble or expense.

3) Pre-program your cell phone.
While we’re talking about phone numbers, you really don’t need an elephant’s memory to be able to call a reservation site, a hotel, your airline or any travel service outfit; you just need to program these numbers into your cell phone before your trip starts. Save the contact number for your airline (use the frequent flier program phone number if you have elite status of any kind, as the service is better), reservation sites, car rental companies that permit drop-offs near you, and your travel agent if you have ever used one – even if the agent didn’t book you into your current jam, he or she might be able to get you out of it.

4) Know your options.
If it looks like things might get ugly, make sure you know some of the alternative flights on other airlines; if this is too much to remember, just try to remember on which airlines the best flights are available. If you know a few flights on a couple of airlines within a few hours of your original flight, you’re way ahead of the game when you try to transfer your ticket to another airline. Ultimately you’ll have to get your original airline to sign off on the transfer, but at least you’ll get to the airline desk armed with information and maybe even a tentative reservation on the other airline.

A good way to do these searches is to use online flight booking sites, such as cleartrip.com or kayak.com. The best of these allow you to adjust several parameters on the fly, including airlines displayed (in case your original airline will grant exchanges only on select airlines), flight times (so you can see flights close to your original departure time first, then expand from there) and alternate airports (perhaps you can get within a reasonable drive of your original airport). You can also filter results by the duration of your itinerary, in case you are looking at absurd routes, connections or layovers on some of your results. These sites can offer a very fluid and customizable view of what is available to you airline by airline, hour by hour, airport by airport.

5) Check the airline website.
In the past, airline call centers have been utterly crippled by the high call volume that happens when there are masses of flight delays. Most airlines have figured out that the Web is a much better way to distribute information, and will have alerts, updates and sometimes even suggestions on how to proceed.

6) Call ahead to the airline.
This is likely to be your least effective tactic, as in all but the most extreme cases (and sometimes not even then), the airlines won’t tell you that your plane is delayed even when the entire airport is about to shut down. This is because the airlines fare better if you show up and sleep on the floor than they do if they let you stay in your hotel room an extra day.

As soon as they let you off the hook by saying you don’t have to show up at the airport, they’re on the hook for refunds, vouchers, hotel rooms, ticket transfers and a huge host of things they simply don’t want to give you.

Learning to cope with these travel hassles is essential to enjoying your trip.

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TRAVEL TIPS 5: Flying Solo. Everything You Need to Know About Traveling Alone.

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”

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Travelling alone can seem daunting from the comfort of home. What happens if you get stranded somewhere? Can you go out at night solo? Won’t it feel weird to eat in a restaurant alone? All these worries and more (Will I get attacked by bandits? Or my car stuck in a ditch?) plagued to all first solo trip travellers.

You need not be an intrepid traveller to enjoy taking a vacation solo, nor do you need be part of a group tour to discover all the cool and exciting experiences that this great big planet has to offer. Regardless of gender, anyone can vacation alone and really enjoy it—in fact, sometimes even more so than when being tied to someone else’s agenda. You just need to follow some basic guidelines. So, gather your sense of adventure, and take that solo holiday!

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Numerous factors will help you determine where and when to travel solo. With thorough research, you can narrow down the many locations and types of travel to put together a trip that suits your needs perfectly.

Advantage of traveling alone: Traveling alone makes you more open to others, as well as more approachable to friendly locals and fellow travelers. You’ll meet people more easily and be invited into their lives more readily; you’ll avoid difficult travel companies and enjoy the freedom of making all the decisions. When you are alone you experience the world unfiltered by anyone else’s chatter or perspective.

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of exploring a new place on your own terms. Learn how to make the most of your next solo travel adventure with these tips:

A) WHERE TO START FROM?

1) DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to preview a potential destination. But remember, official tourism websites have an objective to paint only the rosiest of pictures to attract visitors. If you want the real lowdown, a great source of information online is forums like TripAdvisor,WikiTravel. These are the best spots to receive in-depth information from locals about safety and culture, as well as to have your questions and concerns answered in an unbiased manner.

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2) CHOOSE FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS
A five star hotel or chain hotel is not your best choice. When looking for accommodations, watch for words like “lively”, “friendly”, and “family-owned”. After reading your guidebook, double check the hotel onwww.tripadvisor.com and filter the reviews by solo traveler.

Look for room rentals in an apartment, which gives an automatic connection with residents. Even if your landlord doesn’t take you out on the town, you’ll at least scoop up a few local tips.

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Bonus: as a solo traveller, you have tons of options to choose from. Hostels are of course ready-made for solo travellers, but you might wind up spending more time with other tourists than with locals.

3) STAY CONNECTED
Look for warnings about destinations you are about to visit. You should also research reliable hotspots like Internet cafés close to areas you will be staying to ensure you can regularly connect with loved ones about your whereabouts and ongoing itinerary.

4) PACK SMART – BACKPACKERS!
When travelling solo make sure all of your essentials are in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. That means a complete change of clothes for hot, cold, and wet weather, walking shoes, medication, and all of your identification and important technology. Split up your cash and credit cards into different spots so if you lose one set you still have another. Dress for comfort and always have some emergency cash stashed on you.

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5) PACK A BOOK
A good book, a magazine or even just postcards to write or your travel journal to jot in – are all legitimate activities at a bar or restaurant if you get to feeling a little bored/lonely/exposed, so carry one of them with you at all times. And as a last resort there’s always fiddling with your smartphone.

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B) AT A DESTINATION

1) BE AWARE
Personal safety and protection of your valuables can be a big concern but needn’t be such a fear that you become paranoid. Don’t dress like an obvious “tourist” (fanny packs, cameras swinging, and home country flag patches) and don’t flash money, expensive technology or wear pricey jewellery. Be aware of your surroundings and stick to main roads and well-lit areas when possible, but walk with confidence and purpose if you end up in unsavoury locations.

2) BE CREATIVE
It’s prudent not to let strangers know you are alone. Little white lies are perfectly acceptable such as letting people think you’re waiting to meet someone until you’re sure they are trustworthy. You can also be creative in finding spots to stash stuff like hotel keys and cash when you must leave them unattended like when swimming at a pool or beach. Travel gadgets designed for this purpose are easily obtainable.

3) BEFRIEND PROFESSIONALS
Discover secret spots by getting to know local service people such as store clerks, hotel staff, security guards, taxi drivers, and servers. Tip generously to make a lasting impression. Travel writer Marcia Frost, owner ofWineAndSpiritsTravel.com says, “When I travel alone, I always eat at the hotel’s bar. Bartenders have the inside scoop on things to do, and you never really feel like you are dining solo when you have someone to talk to!”

4) OUT AND ABOUT LIKE THE LOCALS
It’s much easier to meet people if you use public transportation and stay in local homes, small inns, or bed-and-breakfasts. Don’t isolate yourself in a rental car or big hotel.

5) MEET PEOPLE
Vacationing alone is a great way to enjoy doing your own thing without restrictions, but eventually you might get lonely. A good way to meet people is to be a real “tourist” and join a group tour outing. Or seek out like-minded groups of locals that share a hobby you enjoy and attend one of their functions or go to a local church service of your faith. Having something in common is a wonderful ice-breaker.

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6) EAT BIG
You might be tempted to live on fast food, just to avoid awkward restaurant situations. Don’t. In fact, fancy establishments are fantastic places to dine alone. Waiters are happy to help solo diners who smile and say, “I made a special trip just to eat here. What do you recommend?” Social folks might want to eat at the bar, but there’s no shame in taking a table for two.

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7) BE ADVENTUROUS
Try things that really push you outside of your comfort zone, after all, you’re on an adventure! It doesn’t have to be something extreme like bungee jumping or dangerous like hand-feeding sharks. It could be as tame as singing karaoke at a local bar or taking a windsurfing lesson, as long as it’s something you’d never consider doing at home. You might be surprised to discover what you’re capable of when no one is watching.

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8) BE A GOOD SAMARITAN
No matter where in the world you go, helping hands are always needed. Whether it be opening a door, aiding the elderly, taking someone’s picture, or even going so far as volunteering at a soup kitchen, walking dogs at a local shelter or participating in a beach clean-up. Even the smallest kindnesses are appreciated and often lead to new friendships as well. So always be on the lookout for where you can help.

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9) AVOID UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
If you’re not comfortable doing things on your own at home, then vacationing solo might not be for you. If you’re not sure, then you might first try being part of a group tour or cruise to see if you like it. Once you’ve tackled vacationing solo successfully, you’re sure to feel a renewed sense of confidence and pride you would never have had experienced had you not done it alone. Go for it!

10) GET AN EARLY START
If the thought of bar-hopping alone makes you die a little inside, just recast your day. Wake up early, enjoy a leisurely breakfast (when all the good stuff is still available on the hotel buffet) and head out for parks, museums and other daytime-only activities. If you pack your day full enough, you’ll be ready for bed by 9pm.

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11) REVEL IN IT
Even if you do get lonely, don’t lose sight of all the things you can do when you travel by yourself. But the real bonus of solo travel is much larger: pure freedom. You can take the exact trip you want, and even if you’re not quite sure yet what that might be, you’ll have a great time figuring it out.

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12) TAKE PHOTOS
Making photography a mission, even if it’s just little odd details you notice about a place, gives a little structure to your day. And you will notice more odd details, because you’ll have the time and attention to look around. Your friends at home will appreciate your perspective and the story that comes with it.

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C) SAFETY

There’s no reason to fear that you’ll be any less safe if travelling on your own – but it helps to follow a few tips for keeping safe.

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1) Avoid arriving at strange airports or stations late at night; get an official taxi to your accommodation.

2) Always let people know where you’re heading, e.g. your friends back home, via social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter, or the people at your accommodation.

3) Pre-book your first night’s accommodation. Ask at reception about any areas that you should avoid.

4) Store the phone numbers and addresses of your accommodation in your mobile phone.

5) Be open to new experiences, ideas and people (without losing your commonsense). But always trust your instincts. Smile!

D) 20 THINGS NOT TO FORGET:

1) Be flexible, it is the best way to adapt.

2) Start travelling when you are young.

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3) Learn the basics of the local language. Use them often. It is the best way to show respect, break down barriers and start conversations.

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4) Manners are universal, use them.

5) Don’t judge, instead say, “Isn’t that interesting? Tell me more.”

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6) Respect local customs. It is not about your way, you are the visitor.

7) Bargain, it is an expected part of a transaction. Do not over bargain. 50 cents is nothing to you, but may mean a days worth of meals to the person you are haggling with.

8) Party?? YES. Have fun?? YES. But do not go so far to extremes that it means you trash the local area and people die.

9) Leave a good impression of your culture on the countries you are visiting.

10) Have off the beaten path adventures and enjoy traveling to the touristy stuff too – just add a different angle to it.

11) Travel in a style that is in alignment with your values and suits your likes and interests. Ignore everyone else’s opinion.

12) Do as much local as you can: local food (eat street food), local transport, local accommodation.

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13) Smile. Smile. Smile and Laugh often 🙂 you’ll meet so many new friends this way.

14) Celebrate local customs and festivals with the local culture in their traditional manners.

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15) Learn about other religions, not necessarily to believe something new, but to understand and perhaps to bring light unto your own beliefs.

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16) Don’t rely on technology to help get you around, you will end up lost when the map app crashes.

17) Travel for longer in fewer places.

18) Don’t be afraid to blow the budget on those once in a lifetime experiences.

19) If you get robbed or bad things happen, don’t get hung up on it. As long as you are safe and well, let it go and continue to enjoy yourself.

20) Be prepared for reverse culture shock when you return home as it could really mess you up. (Hahahaha)

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Solo travel is easier than you think and it’s more rewarding and intense than daily life. Give it a try, it’s better than staying at home.

Do one thing each day that scares you and push those comfort barriers a little further out each time.

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TRAVEL TIPS 4: Traveling with Kids. Get Smart!

Travelling with children is challenging, but a bit of forethought can help reduce parental stress. If your child is old enough, involve them in planning for the trip so they can get excited about it. Make sure to include enough family events and child-oriented activities to amuse them while on holidays.

In many cases, keeping your trip simple will reduce the number of problems. Remember that young children have short attention spans and get tired very quickly. Complicated trips requiring lots of travelling, jam-packed itineraries or too many visits to adult-oriented attractions, such as museums, can be difficult for children and aggravating for parents.

A) PLANNING THE TRIP

Explaining everything you can to your kids ahead of time will (hopefully) ease the thousands of questions they will have before travel day. Tell them all about how the plane works, what is expected of them, where they are going, etc. You can pull up a map and show them where they are going on the map or show them pictures of what your destination looks like.

You can also print out fake plane tickets and have a practice run of what will happen in the airport so they know exactly what to expect when the day arrives. You can even have the plane “take off” and explain the loud noises and fast motion that happens during takeoff (fake clouds to sit alongside your fake plane, optional).

1) If this is your first trip with your children, plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt. If you want to see more than one place, be realistic about what you can cover with little ones in tow. The less you feel you have to pack in, the more enjoyable and stress-free the holiday – and you’ll be better able to take the odd day indoors in your stride if the weather is bad or the kids need to rest.

2) If your children are still of napping age, try to schedule flights right around nap time so they are good and tired for the flight. Even if they only get a short nap in, it still makes the time pass quicker.

3) If you are travelling with another family, or adults, before you go, discuss what each person wants to do, agree how to split chores or take turns minding the children, and talk about the balance of spending time together and apart. Come to an agreement about the way you’ll split the bills (taking into account the smaller share of expenditures for the children).

4) If you’re going down the hotel route, always check for special family deals, from discounted rates to free meals for children; many international chains offer these. Most hotels and guesthouses provide breakfast, but unless it’s included in the room rate, it’s often a waste of money for children, particularly if they only eat a piece of bread or a bowl of cereal. If breakfast isn’t included, try asking for ‘complimentary’ ones for the children. Alternatively, you could take along something to snack on for the first day, and buy in a simple breakfast to eat in your room thereafter.

5) If you’re going overseas, see your doctor at least two months before you leave to discuss your plans. When making the appointment, mention the ages of your children and ask if they need to come to the appointment; when you go, bring everyone’s vaccination records, and ask the doctor to note down their blood groups for you. If any of your children has a pre-existing medical condition, ask for help in identifying a doctor in your destination who specialises in the same condition. Children under 18 months won’t be given any travel-related jabs.

B) PACKING

1) There are a number of instances where you might need to carry extra documentation when travelling with children. If you have an adopted child, you must take their adoption papers; and if you’re the only parent travelling – regardless of your marital status – you might be asked for proof of consent from the other parent for your child to travel. This is more likely in countries where overseas adoption and/or child trafficking is common. If the name on your child’s passport is not the same as yours, or if your child bears little resemblance to you, the chances of this being an issue increase.

2) If you’re heading for the heat, choose clothes made from natural fibres – sweat irritates delicate skins and can lead to prickly heat or sweat rash. Expect to change your baby up to three times a day – particularly if they’re not used to the heat and will sweat a lot. Children will need two sets of clothes per day, moisturizers, sunscreen and sunhats with wide brims and neck flaps are worthwhile when playing outdoors. Equally, don’t overlook the fact that children’s eyes are more vulnerable to glare than yours; get them sunglasses, with elasticated straps, which stay on better.

If you’re heading towards the cold climate:

– A snowsuit is an easy option that you can throw one your baby’s clothes to keep him/her extra warm.

– Keep their fingers warm on the slopes or when they’re playing in the snow with a warm pair of gloves with elastic cuffs to keep the cold out.

– Thermal underwear is great for layering when it’s extra cold outside.

– Pick up an extra warm hat to ensure their heads stay warm in the cold. This one even comes with ear flaps and has fleece lining the inside.

For wet climate:

– Keep the kids warm and away from the rain with an umbrella.

– Don’t forget their raincoats.

– A sturdy pair of rain boots, like these Chooka boots, can definitely come in handy for unexpected rainy days. Have the kids wear them on the plane to save room in your suitcase.

3) Avoid sweets. Resist the temptation to keep them going on a long journey by feeding them sweets. Pack a mixture of savoury snacks like cheese cubes, bread sticks, dry fruits– anything to avoid arriving in a strange city with children in the middle of a sugar rush.

4) Don’t forget to pack medicine. It should already be on your travelling list, but having kids along means carrying a small first aid kit is all the more vital: plasters, antihistamines and sachets of painkilling syrup can save a lot of stress later on. Antimalarials are also available in liquid form.

5) Child monitors can be a real help to keep an eye on young children in crowded places such as airports and shopping malls. The parent carries a tracking device – about the size of a TV remote control – while the child wears a watch-like contraption. Should the distance between the child and the tracker exceed the user-defined range, or if the bracelet is removed, an alarm sounds. Furthermore, once the tracker sounds the alarm, you can push a button to set off a bleeper on your child’s bracelet to help you track them down.

6) Remember the baby wipes. Even if all your children are long out of nappies, don’t forget the baby wipes. They’re useful for washing hands, cleaning toilet seats, and wiping down restaurant tables. In the same spirit, little bottles of hand cleanser can be a lifesaver in some countries, but check the travel regulations for liquids well in advance.

(i) AIR TRAVEL

1) Depending on the age of the kids, have each child bring a small backpack filled with their toys and goodies for the flight, with his or her name on it, and identical snacks, so everyone knows exactly what is theirs.

2) Avoid those really cute pull bags, as inevitably they turn as the child pulls, the child gets upset, and you end up carrying a very unmanageable bag in addition to your own carry-ons.

3) When possible, load their bags with some of the other things that you need, such as bottles, diapers and wipes. Even very young kids can carry a small backpack filled with their own diapers. This saves you space in your bag and makes the child feel like a “big” boy or girl.

4) Pack many more diapers than you think you will ever need, and two packs of wipes (one in the main bag, and one that is readily available.)

5) When traveling with a baby, always make sure to have an extra bottle and formula in case you lose one.

6) In addition to the main carry-on that will most likely end up overhead, pack one small bag with absolute essentials that will always be with you. Make sure to have enough formula for one bottle, spit up rag, one diaper and a few wipes and one small toy. This way you do not need to search overhead for a diaper change.

7) If you nurse, make sure to wear something that is loose and bring a light blanket or make sure to get a blanket on the plane when you board.

8) ALWAYS bring an extra pair of clothing for all the children and for you as well. Trust me, you do not want to spend the flight covered in vomit or anything else that seems to happen when traveling.

9) Make sure to have plenty of extra plastic bags for soiled clothing and throwing away food and trash during the flight (bring the fruit and veggie bags from the grocery store as these take up no room.)

10) I know that some people give their kids medication to relax them for the flight. I personally can’t suggest this one as some had a bad experience with a reaction where not only didn’t it make the child sleepy, but did make them throw up the entire flight. If you do want to give medication, be smart and try it out ahead of time. And definitely make sure to check with your doctor to give the proper amounts as sometimes with flying amounts differ.

12) If your children still crawl around on the floor, one way of keeping them reasonably clean is to take a plastic sheet that you can put down anywhere for them to play on.

13) If your child is on bottles, bring what you need to make up fresh ones along the way; to save space, fill spare bottles with water, then add milk powder and top up with boiling water when you need them.

14) Check the latest restrictions on hand luggage before travelling. The more stringent regulations relate to carrying liquids, gels and creams, which includes baby foods, drinks and nappy cream. The standard instructions are not to carry over 100ml of any single item, although exceptions are usually made for essential medicines or supplies for children under two. You can also get away with more (up to 400ml) in the way of milk and drinks so long as these are decanted into bottles and no-spill cups; if you carry the same in the original cartons or bottles, you’ll be asked to leave them behind. There are also discretionary limits for baby food – these are generally kept vague, but as long as you don’t have more than what security staff deem to be a reasonable amount for the flight, you’ll usually be fine.

The best way around the restrictions is to decant creams into small bottles, and bring just powdered milk; you can get hot water to make feeds on most flights, and as soon as you pass security, you can buy bottled water too.

(ii) RAIL AND BUS TRAVEL

1) When booking tickets, make a point of asking for deals for families and young people. In many instances, a family travelcard reduces the cost of ordinary tickets by so much that it’s worth buying one even for a single trip. Such deals are usually restricted to travel outside rush hours. To buy a railcard, you usually need to show identification for one or both parents, and have photographs with you.

2) If you’re travelling with more than one child and you want space for them to play, it’s a good idea to buy more tickets than you need, or book out an entire compartment. This might sound elitist, but sharing a packed carriage can be overwhelming when you’re with small children.

3) When you’re boarding a bus or train, decide who is going to get on first, who will go last and who is stowing the luggage so as to be sure nothing and no one gets left behind. If you’re on a train, establish limits in terms of how far older children can stray and how long they can be away for, emphasising that they always need to come back to you when the train slows down to stop.

C) HOW TO DEAL WITH THE MOTION SICKNESS IN CHILDREN

The symptoms of motion sickness include blanching (becoming pale), headache, dizziness, complaints of feeling sick and, ultimately, vomiting. Motion sickness can occur on any mode of transport, but is more likely when travelling by boat.

Suggestions to reduce the risk of motion sickness include:

1) When travelling by car, take frequent rest stops.

2) Make sure your child looks out the window, rather than at a stationary object inside the vehicle (such as a book).

3) Fresh air can help, so open a window if possible.

4) Anti-nausea medications are available, but check with your doctor first as some medications may not be suitable for children.

5) Make sure your child eats something before travelling, but avoid heavy or greasy foods.

DURING TAKE-OFF AND LANDING

The change in cabin pressure during aeroplane take-off and, in particular, during descent and landing can hurt a child’s ears. Swallowing eases the pressure, but the trick is getting your child to swallow at the right time.

1) Drops that numb the eardrum (Auralgan) can ease the pain. You can buy these without a prescription.

2) During takeoff and landing, make sure to have kids drink or chew gum. Make sure the baby is either nursing or drinking a bottle. Explain to them what is happening, and if they are too small to see out the window, play a game where they have to tell you when you are finally in the air or when you have finally touched ground.

3) Once you land, let the other passengers off first. Make sure you have everything and carry baby in carrier until you exit so your hands are free for the other kids.

4) If you need help, ask. In many airports, those little carts are available to help people traveling with small children.

D) AT THE DESTINATION

1) Most tourist accommodation isn’t particularly child-friendly, so once you’ve checked in you’ll probably need to make some adaptations yourself. Start off by checking locks on doors and windows to make sure the room is secure. Check the sturdiness of the fittings – wobbly balconies and railings are unsafe and mean you should change your accommodation straight away. Point out things such as loose towel-rails or curtain rails to the staff and either agree that you can’t be responsible should they fall down, or ask for them to be fixed or removed. Use insulating tape to cover exposed wires or sockets or block them off with furniture that’s too heavy for your children to move. It’s also a good idea to check the temperature of the hot water; it’s often scalding, so you may need to warn your children.

2) Once you’ve researched your destination, prepare a list of possible activities that take various lengths of time and suit different weather conditions. If you’ve more than one child, give each a turn to make choices from the activities list.

3) Breastfeeding in an unfamiliar destination can be a worry, and it is worth doing some research into local attitudes towards feeding in public before you go. If in doubt, try finding some female company, perhaps in a women’s clothing shop. Another idea is to head for the ladies’ toilets of a posh hotel; these are usually spacious, with seats and pleasant surroundings.

4) Apart from taking photographs, there are lots of ways to help your children preserve memories of your trip. You could buy a postcard for each destination and help them to note a single memory on the back, alongside the date or their age. You could also get them started on collections of things that can be found in most places, such as badges, paperweights, model cars and boats or toy animals.

5) If your children are keeping a journal, encourage them to draw and list things they see and eat; they could also collect autographs and doodles from people they meet as well as ticket stubs and labels to stick in. If free mini-maps of places you visit are available, get extras for the children to stick into their books, and help them circle the places you’ve seen. If you’re encountering different languages, put in lists of new words and add more as they learn one set.

6) Local toys are often worth seeking out, and make great gifts to take home. Apart from the novelty value, kids tend to like playing with the same things that local children have, and it can help with making friends.

7) Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view.

(i) Meal routines for children during traveling:

Toddlers and young children are often fussy eaters. Travelling to unfamiliar places with new foods and different mealtime routines can further disrupt your child’s eating habits.

Tips:

1) Relax and remember that a healthy child will never voluntarily starve them self. Trust them to eat when they’re hungry.

2) Try to keep a little bit of familiar mealtime routine, such as having breakfast in the usual way.

3) Don’t assume you’ll always find something they’ll like on a restaurant menu. Carry plenty of their favourite snacks and drinks when touring around.

4) Ring ahead and see if the restaurant you’re planning to visit has a children’s menu.

(ii) Travellers’ diarrhoea in children

Children with travellers’ diarrhoea are susceptible to dehydration.

Tips to reduce the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea:

1) Avoid risky foods such as seafood, undercooked meats, peeled and raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurised dairy products.

2) If you are unsure of the water supply, only drink bottled water, carbonated soft drinks or bottled fruit juices.

3) Use bottled water when brushing teeth.

4) Wash your child’s hands frequently.

5) Avoid eating foods from street vendors.

E) THINGS TO REMEMBER

1) Check in advance with travel agents, airlines and your accommodation for child-friendly suggestions.

2) Children have short attention spans and get tired very quickly.

3) Make sure there will be enough family events and child-oriented activities to keep them amused while away.

4) Take a medical kit containing items such as baby paracetamol, thermometer, anti-itching lotion, oral rehydration preparation and bandaids.

5) Pack plenty of toys and favorite snacks.

6) When flying, encourage your child to eat or drink during take-off and landing to prevent ear ache.

 

TRAVEL TIPS 3: Packing Tips! How to Pack Your Suitcase Like an Expert.

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When it comes to packing for a trip how many of you feel a little… um…. stressed out? Yep, me too 😉

‘Have I taken too much?’, ‘Should I bring that thing that I might need, (even though I never use it at home)?’, ‘Should I take my straighteners?’, ‘Are 12 pairs of shorts a little excessive?’, ‘My bag won’t shut!’ Sound familiar?

Some travelers jam two weeks worth of gear in their bags for a long weekend. Others pack a bit too lightly and forget important things like medicine or passports. Savvy travelers strike the perfect balance and bring just what they need – with a little help from our list of road-tested packing tips, of course!

A) PACKING 

Prioritize your comfort and the security of your stuff. Necessities may be small, but they are mighty! Before leaving on a trip there are a lot of little things to think about and scenarios to plan for.

When packing your clothes, you don’t want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. Follow this simple step-by-step guide and you may even have room left over :p

1) Pick the right bag for you.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a trusted bag. Whether you need a bag with wheels, straps, or both. If you prefer the ease of a suitcase but also the comfort of a backpack, get a mix of both! It’s possible to get backpacks that unzip like a suitcase so you can find things easier.

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Note: Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. Check with your airlines first before start packing your bags.

Most airlines these days are charging passengers for checked luggage, regardless of weight. This means everyone is now trying to cram clothes and gear for a two-week vacation into a carry-on and a purse or a small backpack, both of which are usually heavier than the person carrying them. Don’t be fooled – flight attendants are onto passengers who try to bring too much stuff into the cabin, and they’ll make you check it, even as you try to board.

Simply stick to the guidelines and you’ll be golden. A small carry-on suitcase that’s light enough for you – yes, you – to lift up into the overhead bin is fine. One additional bag, like a purse or a laptop bag (but not both), is also allowed. It should fit under the seat in front of you and leave enough room for your feet.

Not only do these rules follow the official guidelines, but it will make you far comfier on your flight if you don’t have a huge bag crammed in at your feet, a shopping bag tucked in by your hip, and a sore shoulder from lifting your overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin.

2) Get a water proof bag or bag cover.
Chances are you’ll meet all kinds of weather on the road, so a waterproof cover will help to keep your backpack and its contents in tip top condition.

3) Dryer Sheet
Put a dryer sheet at the bottom of a suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

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4) Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, trousers, jeans, skirts and t-shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.

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5) Fold Clothes Together
If you have clothes that need to be folded, use tissue paper to keep them from wrinkling. Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded it so it’s less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.

6) Have a day-by-day plan.
Pack some essentials at the top of your bag so you don’t have to unpack everything when you get to your destination, and you can just to get to what you need at that time. For instance, if you’re arriving late at night, put your PJ’s, tooth brush and toothpaste near the top so you can get to them easily.

7) The Bundle Approach
It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but I’ll do my best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least ½ to ¾ the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.

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When you finish, place your “core” in the middle. Now you’re going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there’s excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.

What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It’s compactly packed and doesn’t waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.

To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.

QUICK TIP: Pack heavy things in the middle of your rucksack, as close to your back as possible. This will put less strain on your back when you carry your rucksack.

8) Line Collars – Man Shirts
When packing, line collars with a belt to keep them crispy.

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9) Suit Coats
Pack your suit coats inside out to keep them clean and avoid creasing.

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10) Vacuum Sealed Bags
Cram the most into your carry on. Vacuum sealed bags can save you a ridiculous amount of space in your carry on. Makes the need for checking a bag obsolete.

11) Shoes Packing
A shower cap is an easy way to cover the bottoms of shoes.

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12) For Liquid Bottles
Prevent messy spills in your luggage. Just unscrew the lids and place a simple patch of plastic wrap on the top and screw them back on. This will prevent any liquids from ruining your trip.

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13) Buddy up!
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live with out your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going natural – it’s liberating!)

14) Take advantage of the soft cloth shoe bags.
Good quality shoes usually come with material bags enclosed in the shoe box. Don’t throw them out! They are perfect for storing jewelry, sunglasses, and small evening bags. They also are great to protect your clothing from the heels of your shoes. Plastic grocery bags are a suitable alternative. The idea is to keep your shoes separated from your clothing while keeping restroom, airport, and sidewalk germs at bay. When you return home, toss them in the wash and have them ready for your next trip.

15) Hanging Organizers (Ideal for those who travel frequently for short duration)
Save time packing on the go! – Hanging organizers can be packed ahead of time making it really simple to slide into your suitcase and leave in a hurry.

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16) Dry bags (Optional)
Organize your bag by separating out your clothes into categories (shirts, tops, shorts, jeans, pants, leggings, etc) and packing them in separate bags. It will make things easier to find and will add another layer of waterproofing.

Quick Tip for first time traveler: When preparing for your trip, do a packing trial run. Pack your bag full of everything you think you’ll need, then unpack it all and half it. You’ll be very glad you did later.

B) WHAT NOT TO PACK

1) Don’t pack too many clothes
Here are 2 very good reasons why: i) you will want to bring back souvenirs and buy more clothes when you’re away anyway so you need to make sure you have room and ii) you’ll probably end up wearing the same few pieces the whole time anyway.

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2) Don’t get a bag that’s too big
While it may seem tempting to buy a large one and fill it with things you ‘might’ need, don’t forget you’ll spend a lot of time carrying your backpack around. So the lighter it is, the better for you.

3) Don’t pack your entire beauty routine
If you use eight different products to tame your wild curls or have an elaborate face-washing regimen down to a science, let loose a bit when you travel instead of carrying an army of beauty products with you across the globe. Trust us – you won’t look like a cave woman in your vacation pictures if you use a shampoo/conditioner combo for a few nights. If you’re adventurous enough to leave home and explore an exotic destination, we bet you can also handle leaving behind a few hair products.

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TOP TIPS:

If you are staying at a major chain hotel that will offer complimentary toiletries – use them! Don’t bring your own 24-ounce shampoo and conditioner bottles to the hotel and then stuff the hotel ones in your suitcase to take home. If you don’t use them on the road, you’ll probably never use them at home.

There are lots of products that have multiple uses. Opt for a shampoo/conditioner combo. Bring a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Let your moisturizing body wash double as a shaving cream. Share your shampoo, soap or toothpaste with your traveling partner. Buy a make-up compact that contains more than one color, such as an eyeshadow quad.

Lose the bulky containers. Instead, try zip-top bags. We stuff and pour everything we can into them, including hair products, lotions, cotton balls and even sunscreen. (Note: Do not put large liquid-filled zip-top bags in your carry-on luggage; according to TSA regulations, liquid-filled containers may be no larger than 3.4 ounces by volume.) To prevent spills, put all of your liquid-filled baggies in a larger plastic grocery bag – and be sure not to pack it next to any sharpened things. ALTERNATE OPTION (THE BEST ONE): Just unscrew the lids and place a simple patch of plastic wrap on the top and screw them back on.

4) Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.

6) Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.

C) PACKING STRATEGIES

Lists work for some and bring no benefit for others – personally I can’t function with out them. Make a list before packing so you can plainly see what you have, what you still need to get and what you have, but don’t really need.

Keep your final list with you so you can quickly refer to it when questioning whether you bought that thing you’re about to delve into your over packed bag looking for… and then find that you didn’t even add in the first place.

1) Scan important documents before leaving for your trip.

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2) Keep loose chargers and cables organized with a glasses case.

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3) Use a spring from an old pen to protect chargers from bending and breaking.

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4) Use a binder clip to protect the head of shaving razors.

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5) Use a pill container to keep jewelry organized and untangled.

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6) Tuck your soap and wash cloth together with this easy-to-fold pouch.

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7) Keep hair clips tidy with an empty tic-tac container.

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8) Keep your travel-size containers and refill them, instead of buying new each time.

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9) Pack some plastic bags to keep wet cozzies and dirty shoes separate from the rest of your things.

10) Don’t forget to pack your camera 🙂

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I have learned the hard way on several occasions and it’s worth the extra effort to pack smart.

D) WHAT TO PACK IN A HAND LUGGAGE

1) Keep your important things with you
Bags can get lost – it’s an unfortunate fact of life that we just have to accept if we want to travel. So just in case, make sure anything important/special to you gets packed in your hand luggage, (just in case).

2) Spare clothes
Keep a spare clothes in your hand luggage to change into upon landing if you’re taking a long flight – you’ll instantly feel freshened up.

3) Keep your valuables close
Pack your cash, jewelry, daily medication, laptop, tablet, mobile phones and technology chargers in your carry-on bag.

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E) FINAL PACKING

1) Stand Out From the Crowd
Add a tie/belt/strap/scarf to your suitcase/backpack so you can easily identify it at the luggage carousel.

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2) Don’t forget to lock your bag.

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ENSURE YOU’RE INSURED
Sometimes however hard you try things can go wrong. Make sure you get insurance so that you can replace those essential items in case they get lost or stolen when you are away.

F) THE RETURN TRIP PACKING

Nobody wants to go through the hassle of finding and matching dirty socks on the last day of a vacation, and it’s not like your washing machine cares if what you feed it is wrinkled. Instead of wasting those last few hours in paradise, bring along a compressor bag like the Eagle Creek Pack-It. Just toss all your dirty clothes in (plus a dryer sheet to combat the stink) and these compressor bags will reduce their content’s volume by up to 80 percent—leaving you with plenty of extra room for souvenirs, gifts, and such.

TIP: Go casual, simple, and very light. Remember, in your travels you’ll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had.