Cruising Myths Debunked
YOU WILL GET SEASICK
It's true that travelling in small boats and ferries may cause motion sickness for the unseasoned traveller. However, a cruise ship is a huge vessel, which means it is less likely you'll feel any movement. Sometimes in calm seas, you won't even notice that you are on a ship. Furthermore, ships nowadays are equipped with stabilizers that prevent the ship from swaying wildly. That said, some people may be averse to sailing at sea, but this can be easily managed with anti-nausea medication.
CRUISE SHIPS ARE CROWDED
With over 3,000 passengers on board a cruise ship, where do you find the space for everyone? And yet, they do. Cruise ship companies understand each passenger's need for personal space, so cruise ships are built with plenty of space for everyone and common areas wide and roomy. For those looking for a peaceful corner to read or relax, there are also quiet areas with fewer passengers easily accessible throughout the ship. Alternatively, you can choose a specific cruise that caters to those seeking a more peaceful ambience.
CRUISE SHIPS ARE CONFINING
Besides the fact that you are at sea and "stuck" on the ship, there is a mountain of entertainment options to explore on the mega ship that you would hardly find the time to feel trapped. Cruise ships today are built like mini-cities, with everything from restaurants, gyms, theatres to pools, spas, night clubs, casinos and even shops. Combined with port calls at different cities most days, you will hardly have any downtime. And if it's the Internet you are missing, don't worry, there's Internet access available most of the time.
CRUISE SHIP CABINS ARE CLAUSTROPHOBIC
This may be true of the cheapest interior cabins that are often small and windowless, but there are other choices of cabins available and not all necessarily break the bank. Choose one that comes with a window or porthole to get rid of that claustrophobic feeling. And if the travel budget allows, book yourself a balcony cabin that comes with a gorgeous sea view. On the other hand, with so many activities on board the ship, you will hardly need to spend a prolonged length of time in your cabin other than to sleep.
CRUISE SHIPS ARE TOO FORMAL
This may be true with cruise ships of the past, with traditional dining at set times and assigned tables. However, cruise ships today are taking on a more informal approach, which means you have the option to dine anytime you want, at whichever preferred eatery you wish. The same goes for the dress code. There are often pre-fixed formal evenings (that are optional), but otherwise, anything goes. You can dress up for a formal dining experience, or slip into whatever is comfortable; the choice is yours.
YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT ON A CRUISE
So, there is a wide selection of food available on the cruise ship all-day round. But nowadays with everyone big on being health-conscious, the chefs are in on it too, churning out more healthy options on the menu. Besides, there's always the gym or jogging track to work it out if you feel just a little bloated. Plus, there's yoga, basketball and a whole host of other activities to help you burn off those extra calories. But hey, you're on holiday, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy the gourmet delicacies up on offer.
5 Steps to Your Free & Easy Holiday
Planning your own holiday is not as terrifying as it seems, it just takes some time and effort. Besides, a customised holiday will guarantee you maximum satisfaction, in terms of comfort, pace, activities planned and meal options. Here's how to get started.
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
The first order of the day is to secure seats on your preferred flight. Besides choosing between full-service airlines versus budget "no-frills" airlines for cost consideration, take note of the number of stopovers and transit time at each stop as well. You don't want to end up spending 6 hours in an airport transit area just to save that few tens of dollars. Also, pay attention to the arrival time of the flight.
To maximise sightseeing time at your destination, choose an early morning flight, or an overnight flight that arrives first thing in the morning. But do note that your hotel room might not be ready for check-in, so you have to leave your bags at the hotel or left-luggage facilities at the airport or train stations in some cities. On the contrary, if you want to check-in to freshen up before beginning your day, then time your flights to arrive after 1 or 2pm. Plan similarly for your departing flight.
CHOOSE A HOTEL
Choosing the hotel's location pretty much depends on your itinerary. If you are going budget and taking public transport, choose a hotel next to a subway station, so that you don't have to lug your bags all around town. Or say you have an early morning train to catch to your next destination, then choose a hotel near the train station, so that you do not risk missing your train due to the morning traffic.
If you are planning to do some major shopping, pick a hotel on the main shopping street to allow for frequent pit stops to drop off your shopping bags and freshen up. Sometimes, rather than fork out good money for a town hotel, it may be cheaper to stay near the airport where hotel rates are likely to be lower and you can commute to town. Once you have nailed down the location, then it's easier to sieve through the different hotels on offer and pick one to your liking.
MAKE A LIST OF THE SIGHTS YOU WANT TO SEE
Do your research beforehand, on websites, travel portals, guidebooks, and make a list of the sights that you want to see. Note down their opening hours (especially for museums), subway stops, bus services and websites. Check out the attraction's website for more information, like what's on offer, special promotions, extended opening hours or closure dates.
If you would like to venture out on day trips, note down which days the trips are operating and if there are different prices for different days. List down the restaurants and local foodstuff that you want to try in the same way. Finally, complete the list with the "errands" - chocolates for the co-workers, souvenirs for the family, time for submitting the tax refund at the airport. This will give you a complete picture of what you intend to achieve on your holiday.
STEP #4: GROUP THE SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES; ALLOCATE TIME
Group attractions and meal plans in the same area together and visit them on the same day, so that you can save time and money on travelling and see more. Decide how much time you are going to spend at each location. For example, if there is a huge museum on your list, allocate a good half or even one day for it, so that you do not have to rush through the exhibits.
If you have certain must-sees, schedule them at the start of your trip. In case of unforeseen circumstances like bad weather, you would still have other days to attempt them. For your day trips, alternate them with your city sightseeing, so that the coach or train journey can double up as a break from all the walking.
To get to and from the airport, first of all, check if your hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle. Otherwise, hailing a cab is the most convenient way. But there are other cost-friendly options as well, such as city shuttle services, airport express trains or shared hotel transfers. You can usually find this information on the airport's website.
To get around the city, most urban cities would have a comprehensive subway network that you can depend on, with many offering day passes or tourist passes which are usually a good deal. However, do take note of limited express trains which only call at certain stops and keep a map of the subway system with you for easy reference. Buses might be a tad more complex to navigate, but you can always plan your route beforehand and consult the friendly bus driver when in doubt.
Now that you have everything thought out, type them down into a day-by-day itinerary, together with your flight details and a map to your hotel. Include emergency numbers such as the airline customer service number, hotel contact number and embassy contact number. And you're done!
Dressing for Your Ski Trip
A skiing holiday promises loads of fun, but it is after all winter time and the temperatures are low and the air is dry. Dressing right can ensure that you are protected against the elements while you are enjoying that adrenalin rush down the slopes or admiring the view from the resort cafe. That said, most ski resorts today offer warm clothing rentals, so it's not going to be a disaster if you were to forget to bring any particular item along.
Your head loses a large proportion of your entire body heat, so be sure to keep it well insulated with a warm hat. Don't forget your ears too. You can choose a hat that comes with ear coverings, or wear separate ear muffs.
The cold wind may be refreshing, but it is also very dry on the skin. You may not feel the sun's heat, but the harmful ultraviolet rays still exist. The glare reflected from the white snow hurts your eyes and can lead to snow blindness. Prevent all these by keeping your skin and lips adequately moisturized, slap on sunblock lotion on exposed skin and wear sun glasses if you are going to be out on the snow for long hours. Better still, wear ski goggles if you have them.
HANDS / FEET
It is important to keep your hands and feet well insulated, as these parts of your body contain the least body fat and are the first to succumb to frostbite. Get a good pair of gloves with a warm inner lining to keep the heat in and a waterproof exterior to keep the water out. The same goes for foot wear. Ski or snowboard socks and waterproof shoes are a must and if possible, wear boots or hiking shoes for a better grip on the snow.
The best way to dress for cold weather is by layering your clothes, so that it is easy to transit from indoors to outdoors or when the temperature changes. Start with a layer of thermal underwear or long johns that are lightweight to keep you warm. Next, choose some light warm tops, such as tee-shirts, turtlenecks or lightweight fleece sweaters. For bottoms, pick waterproof ski pants, as they are likely to come in contact with wet snow when you sit or fall.
For outer wear, go for a good, thick down-feather waterproof jacket with an inner lining that keeps the heat in. Ditch the scarves as they can be a potential hazard while skiing. Instead, choose roll-neck jumpers or sweaters for keeping your neck warm. For non-skiing activities, you might want to pack an extra warm coat, in case your ski coat gets wet and needs time to dry out.
Travel Health Tips in Indochina
If you travel in good health, you will have a much more enjoyable trip. It would be depressing to rest in bed because of illness during a holiday trip. Hence, it is strongly recommended that you take adequate preventive measures to reduce the risk of falling ill in a foreign country. Read on to learn some health tips for travelers to the Indochina region.
Consult your doctor for any required vaccinations or health information before your departure. Read up on the different diseases that may break out in the country that you are travelling to. Check out the World Health Organization (WHO) website for more information.
KNOW YOUR BODY
Make sure your body is fit enough to participate in physically-demanding activities such as trekking or mountain climbing. Consult your doctor if you have any medical history before proceeding with these activities.
Local delicacies are a must-try, but before you start eating, check that your food is in good condition and not likely to cause a stomach upset. Some tips include:
- Avoid food swarmed with flies.
- Do not eat raw meat or seafood if there is no evidence of proper handling of the food.
- Do not eat reheated food, as they are likely to contain bacteria.
- Check if the food gives out a foul smell or looks strange. Alternatively, take a small bite to taste if the food has gone bad. Return the food if you find it strange or if it has not been cooked well.
Never drink water from the tap and avoid ice cubes made from tap water. For food safety, consume only bottled water and ensure that the seal on the bottle cap is intact before you first break it. Use bottled water for drinking and rinsing your mouth.
#5 INSECT BITES
Diseases such as malaria and dengue are prevalent in Asia. These mosquito-borne diseases can be life-threatening, therefore preventive measures are important. Travelers are encouraged to:
- Apply insect repellent that contains DEET.
- Wear long, loosely-fitted, light-colored clothing.
- Sleep in beds covered with a mosquito net and make sure there are no holes in the net.
- Spray the room with insect sprays targeted at flying insects.
Fight Against Jet Lag
Traveling across time zones can be a challenge, especially if you are heading to the United States, where it can be up to 15 hours behind, turning your night into day and day into night. This messes up your body clock and causes jet lag, which can really get in the way of your activities. So here are some tips on how to ease that jet lag and have a more enjoyable trip.
Before traveling, start adjusting your daily routine according to the designated time zone and get plenty of rest. This allows your body to adjust to the new time zone slowly. Set the time on your watch to that of the destination once you have checked in for your flight. Food consumption is an important cue to your body clock as well, hence, avoid airline food if you can, as they are served according to the time zone of the country you departed from.
FLY A DAY EARLY
Trying to keep awake during a full-day meeting, especially when you have just arrived from the airport, is no walk in the park. Therefore, if you are flying for work, you may wish to arrive by one or two days earlier to allow your body time to adjust to the new time zone, ensuring that you will be bright and alert on that all-important business meeting.
DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS
Drink, drink and drink. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Dehydration is one of the symptoms of jet lag and is caused by the dry air in higher altitudes. Hence, it is important to replenish your body with sufficient fluids. However, avoid alcohol as it will further dehydrate your body.
Make yourself comfortable while on your flight. Wear loose clothing, invest in a good neck rest and most importantly, ensure that your seat has sufficient legroom. If not, you may want to consider an upgrade to your class of travel. Sitting upright without enough legroom for long hours may cause your body to generate adrenaline-like substances that flow up to the brain and keep you from having a good sleep.
As a last resort, you may want to consider taking some medication such as sleeping pills, melatonin or even no-jet-lag pills to relieve your sleepless flight. That said, please do consult your doctor first before taking these medications.
With so many awesome places to visit around the world, you will find yourself constantly on the move. What better way to prepare yourself and enjoy the trip thoroughly than to pack light? Not to mention the hassle of repacking your overweight luggage at the airport's check-in counter. These reasons would make you think twice about throwing that extra pair of shoes (just to match a dress, which may be unnecessary too) into your overflowing baggage!
Less baggage means you have fewer belongings to keep track of and less likely to lose them to theft or damage them. You can stop worrying whether you have missed out anything and start enjoying your vacation.
Imagine trying to lug a handful of heavy luggage from point A to B. Before you can start exploring the amazing places you have heard so much about, half of your energy is already drained. Besides, with a lightweight baggage, you can enjoy greater flexibility when taking public transportation, and at the same time save costs and environment, compared to hailing a cab!
#3 ROOM FOR MORE
It doesn't matter whether shopping is in your list of things-to-do, your load will likely increase with souvenirs for your loved ones or the must-buy local delicacies. It's wise and logical to leave some space to accommodate these extra loots, no?
The pain of waiting for your luggage to appear on the conveyor belt and panicking when one doesn't appear - a scenario that most of us have gone through before. Or the time spent unpacking and packing your excessive belongings in hotels. Why not save precious time and enjoy your vacation more?
With less to lose, less to wait for, less to be stolen, less to pack and unpack in hotels, doesn't your vacation sound relaxing already? Here are some tips on how to pack light.
KNOW THE WEATHER
Check the climate of your destination to avoid bringing unnecessary clothing (read: overcoat in summer). Winter wear carry the most weight, but you can save space by vacuum-packing them; put them in plastic bags and suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner to make them tight and thin.
OUTFIT OF THE DAY
Planning what to wear from day one to the last day of your trip will ensure that you won't over pack more clothes than you need. Mix and match your clothing to avoid having 5 pairs of jeans for your 5D4N itinerary. Additional tip: fold and roll your clothes to make more room for others.
Get a set of toiletries in travel size or if you are easy with any brand, most hotels do provide them. But if you are particular about using your own favorite brand, just transfer them into small containers. This applies for skincare products. It's easier to purchase a set of travel-sized skincare than to haul a heavy luggage filled with bulky beauty products. You will be surprised by how much weight and space you can save.
PACK OUTSIDE YOUR BAG
Make a checklist, gather all the items and lay them out. If you pack directly into your luggage, you will be tempted to throw in extra items. Once you have made the final edit and removed the extras, you will find yourself with a lightweight yet sufficient baggage!
Remember this when packing your suitcase for your next vacation: Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of redundant stuff you bring with you!
Travel Tips in Korea
- Wear appropriate dressings at Panmunjeom and Buddhist temples (no shorts, jeans, sandals).
- Use both hands when giving something to a Korean, especially the elderly or authorities.
- Bring your own fork if you are not used to chop sticks, which is a common utensil.
- Pour drinks for others and allow them to pour for you - it's impolite to pour your own drink.
- Out of deference to an elderly or a senior, it is advisable to initiate the pouring of drinks with the free hand guiding your pouring hand.
- Do be cautious if what you're eating is covered with green peppers. Some of the peppers are so hot they will make your insides burn for hours if you are not used to them.
- Not everybody speaks English. Be patient and try to communicate in another way such as hand gestures.
- In line with South Korea's recycling efforts, many hotels do not stock toiletries in the bathroom, such as toothpaste and toothbrush. Please bring your own.
- Never leave chopsticks in your rice.
- Never beckon anyone with palm up using one finger, as this is the way Koreans call their dogs.
- Writing someone's name in red is taboo as this symbolises death.
- Don't expect apologies when pushed or jostled in the street. It may be disconcerting to visitors, but Koreans view this as unavoidable living in a densely populated country.
- Don't forget to remove shoes prior to entering private homes or even your own hotel room if you're staying in a traditional lodging.
- Don't leave your camera or anything that's heat-sensitive on the floor if you're staying in traditional housing or hotels with floor heating. Koreans heat their buildings via pipes embedded in the concrete floor.
Lightweight cottons and linens are worn during summer, with light- to medium-weights in spring and autumn. Medium to heavy-weights are advised during the winter.
Moderate climate with four seasons. The hottest part of the year is during the rainy season between July and August, and the coldest is December to February. Occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods. Spring and Autumn are mild and mainly dry and are generally considered the best times to visit.
Planning Your Europe Trip
For a first time traveller to Europe, the task of deciding where to go can be daunting. Every country is brilliant in its own right and you cannot afford that 3-month absence from work to take it all in. Here is some information that may be useful in helping you decide when and where to go.
WHERE TO GO
Whatever it is that you would like to see, Europe has a city to fulfil your wishes. If you fancy big cities, visit London, Paris, Rome, or any other European capital. If the quaint old town vibe is what you are looking for, try Lucerne, Venice or Prague. For history buffs, there's Berlin and Warsaw. And for scenery hunters, just about anywhere in Europe will do, all you need is a train ride.
WHEN TO GO
The busy months in Europe are in summer when the weather is sunny and the days are long. However, in some countries such as France and Italy, locals close their shops and restaurants to take their own vacations in summer as well. December is another busy month due to the Christmas season, especially in locations where Christmas markets are a main draw, such as Paris, Prague, Vienna and Munich.
Europe has a temperate climate in general, with the summer months in June, July, August and the winter months in December, January and February. But since Europe spans a wide range of latitudes, countries in the north such as Sweden will experience longer and colder winters, while countries in the south such as Italy will remain sunny and warm late into autumn.
Most of the countries in Central and Western Europe have adopted the Euro as their common currency, amongst them popular destinations like France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece. However, do note that some countries, although part of the European Union, are still using their own currency, for instance, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Denmark.