|Facebook, Twitter and
Skype are a few examples of outlets that are a blessing and a
curse. It’s easy to find yourself using any of these technologies at
late hours to stay in touch with your wonderful friends and family
back home. Beware. If you spend too much time with them, you won’t
allow yourself to live in the present. This can lead to isolation
and loneliness. By spending time with people down the street, you’ll
create a wonderful local group of friends with whom you can share
the good and bad times.
Make sure you understand any important traditions of your host city.
For example, Japan has levels of bowing. France and many other
Western European cities have different levels of formality woven
into their languages. Time and punctuality are often treated very
differently between cultures. It’s important that you understand and
respect significant cultural behaviours in order to be accepted and
set your expectations.
If you move to another country, learning the local language is
important for communicating basic needs, but even more important to
develop friendships. However, don’t fall into “The Perfect Language
Trap”. The one who will be most insulted by your language mistakes
is – YOU. Most foreigners will be delighted that you at least tried
to speak their language, even if you butchered it. You immediately
receive compassion, some language tips, and someone who will be glad
to help you as you transition. Also, you may begin some of your best
friendships with hilarious language blunders. Remember, laughter is
a very bonding experience!
Packing Tips to Save Space and Avoid
Regardless of whether you prefer hard-sided or
soft-side luggage, Pullman cases or garment bags, wheeled cases, duffel bags or backpacks,
you need a packing strategy. For starters, never pack any valuables--financial, medical,
or emotional--in anything but a carry-on bag. Then consider the following tips to manage
the rest of your luggage. And never overpack: luggage that's too heavy to carry to your
car won't be any lighter when you're dragging it to the airport check-in line or at your
1. MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
Make a list of the items you'll need to take on
your trip. Concentrate on mix-and-match clothes, shoes and accessories. Emphasize neutral
shades, complimentary colors, and clothing that may be hand-washed and drip dried. Don't
forget specialty items such as resort wear, bad-weather gear, and, if appropriate, formal
attire. Then check the list and eliminate anything that you can't justify the second time
2. LAY IT OUT
Lay out all the clothes you plan to pack. Then, one
more time, weed out what isn't essential. A good strategy: Eliminate what you KNIOW you
can buy at good prices at your destination. For example, if you're headed to Ireland, buy
jumpers (translation 'sweaters') there. Sometimes you may be travelling to both 'warm' and
'cold' places in the same trip. This situation may mean you buy a jumper or coat when you
get to the colder place. Just make sure you leave room for your purchases or bring a
foldable tote bag.
3. PACK BOTTOM TO TOP
Pack bags from bottom to top, heaviest items at the
bottom, lightest items on top. For an extended trip, however, pack according to itinerary-
clothing for the last stop at the bottom, garments for each earlier stop layered on top.
Underwear and socks can be stuffed inside your shoes and around the edges of the luggage.
Another way to lighten your load: wear your heaviest shoes and bulkiest clothes on the day
of departure so you won't have to pack them - also helps with the weight limits for the
4. FIGHT THE WRINKLES
Items like slacks and ties can be loosely rolled to
keep wrinkles away. For other garments, minimize wrinkles by wrapping them in tissue paper
or plastic bags used by dry cleaners. And be sure to unpack as soon as you reach your
destination. Accept the fact that some wrinkles are inevitable no matter how carefully you
pack. Hotels will usually lend you an iron and an ironing board or fall back on a
time-tested trick: hang wrinkled clothes on the shower rod in the bathroom, close the
bathroom door and run the hot water. The steam will eliminate many wrinkles.
5. REMEMBER THE ESSENTIALS
Leave room in your bag for travel essentials:
plastic bags for soiled garments, extra film and books, a small umbrella and a travel
clock, a copy of your travel documents, and a foldable tote for packing the purchases
you'll make during your trip. And remember three all-purpose items favoured by most
experienced travelers: zip-lock bags, a Swiss Army knife, and a tube of multi purpose
6. PACK YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION
Place a piece of paper in your luggage with your
name and telephone numbers where you can be reached on the road. This information can be
used to contact you if your bag is lost and your external baggage tags have been removed.
|Some Tips on Tipping
Want to make an otherwise confident traveler
squirm? Just ask about tipping.
"No one is comfortable with tipping,"
suggests Thomas Kinhaven, who has managed swanky hotels in Chicago, Dallas, New York and
Hawaii. "Every traveler feels they need to know more. Everyone feels they don't know
the local rules."
Although tipping has become more a world wide
phenomenon, the U.S.A is still the most 'tip orientated' nation. With a fairly large
number of outbound tourists their approach to tipping has been exported. Thankfully a lot
of countries only expect a tip if something 'extra' happens. Not so in the U.S. where it
is seems to be considered a natural 'right'.
Visitors to the U.S.A can feel quiet intimidated by
tipping. I did every time I visited. You soon learn to go with the flow, but don't tip if
things are not up to scratch! I have followed my own advice a few times and suffered the
verbal comments from waiters who considered it their 'god given right' to receive a tip.
Here is a quick guide to tipping practices in the
The commonly accepted rule of thumb is about 20
percent on bills under $10 (and never less than a dollar on bills under $5) and 15 percent
on larger bills. In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, however, consider tipping 20
percent. And the larger the dining party, the larger the tip you should leave. If you want
to be remembered by the service staff on a future visit, tip big and leave it in cash. In
most restaurants, tips are usually pooled, so leaving a separate gratuity for the maitre'd
or sommelier is no longer required. However, if either performed a special service, tip
according to how you value their contribution to your meal.
Bellman usually receive $1-$2 a bag. For routine
requests, the concierge staff rarely expects a tip. But if you need special
help--reservations at a sold-out restaurants, sporting or cultural events--tip
accordingly. If you expect to call on the concierge regularly during your visit, introduce
yourself when you check in, leave an appropriate tip on the spot (and at least $20 at top
hotels), and thank them in advance for their help. Tip the room-service waiter only if a
service charge hasn't already been added to your bill. Don't tip a doorman if his only
assistance is opening or closing the door, but a gratuity of $1 is appropriate if he
secures you a cab. Valet parking attendants generally receive $1-$2 when they retrieve
One final thought about hotels: tip the
chambermaids. They work extremely hard and often earn only the minimum wage. At smaller
hotels and in small cities, $2 a day left on the pillow of your bed will go a long way. In
big cities or swanky resorts consider leaving $5 a day.
A skycap (porter) at your departure gate can be
your best ally, checking you in for a flight, checking your bags, and possibly even
getting you a boarding pass without waiting in line. Tip at least $5, and more if you're
checked several bags or if he's helped you circumvent lines during extremely busy periods.
If he only checks your bag, $1 for each piece should suffice. If you use a skycap at
baggage claim, $1 a bag will do.
Ten to 15 percent of the fare on the meter is
standard in most of the nation. But in large, Eastern cities, where taxis are a way of
life, cabbies expect at least 15 to 20 percent.
Security in a Taxi
Although there is no foolproof method to avoid being robbed, one of our embassies has
supplied some basic tips that can prevent you being taken by surprise.
* Only use an official taxi from an airport. These
are usually available from a designated, signposted counter. Do not try to save money by
trying to negotiate with someone who is "unofficial".
* Do not use a taxi which is parked outside a bank
or any other financial establishment.
* Do not get into a taxi immediately after
withdrawing money from any financial establishment.
* Never count your money while inside a taxi.
* As soon as you get into the taxi, lock the back
doors. Make sure that the backdoor can be opened from the inside.
* If you order a car by telephone, always check
what type of vehicle is being sent to collect you.
* Make sure that the cards identifying the driver
and the owner of the vehicle are clearly visible. If they are not, leave the taxi as soon
*Whenever possible, tell the driver the exact route
you wish to take.
* Be alert if the driver goes at minimum speed for
no apparent reason or takes an unusual route.
* Memorise the car number plates or the taxi
Foreign Affairs & Trade
Mobile Phone Hints
debt that people find themselves in after using
their phone for not even five minutes or forgetting
to turn off ‘push’ notifications can reach thousands
of dollars very easily and whilst arguing with the
network provider can bring down the cost a little,
the bill will still usually be extraordinarily high.
stories include a traveller who spent a week in
Istanbul using an iPhone to navigate the city,
running up a bill of USD 3632 from T-Mobile. A paper
map, for comparison, costs USD 5.
A British traveller to South Africa downloaded the
greatest hits of Neil Diamond there and received a
bill from UK telco Orange for USD 4088. Orange later
massively reduced the amount.
A 14-year-old Briton on a five-day family holiday to
New York kept posting updates to Facebook and
uploading photos. Cost: USD 5954.
avoid roaming charges there are three options:
your phone on flight mode for the entirety of
the journey and only switch it back on when you
are 100 percent sure that you have access to
that you turn off all push notifications and
block cellular data so that you only use Wi-Fi.
This is a semi-safe option, however if you
receive a lot of calls, you will be charged each
time making flight mode a better option to avoid
- Have a
dedicated travel card that you use each time you
Here is an
example related to Australia. The basic premise is
the same from other countries as well.
By leaving your Australian phone card at home, and
using a travel card instead, you will be leaving the
risk of international roaming charges whilst still
having the convenience of voice calls, SMS and data
use when you are away. Here are some of the options
that are available using the UK as an example of the
UK call to
Australia p/min (AUD)
UK call to
UK p/min (AUD)
Usual monthly cost
Usual monthly cost
$0.55 + standard
Based on the
above comparison, travel cards are significantly
cheaper and would be of great convenience
especially to those travelling through many
countries. As rates are generally based on
‘zones’ it is best to check each individual
option to see if it is the cheapest rate if you
are travelling to a specific country, especially
if it is isn’t in Europe.
sure that you ‘unlock’ your phone by calling
your service provider and then check that the
card works whilst you are still at home.
To keep costs even lower, take advantage of
Wi-Fi based apps that allow you to make calls
and text for free. To use these services, both
users must have the app and be connected to the
some of the apps that allow you to call and text
Here are a few things that can be done with your mobile phone in
times of grave emergencies.
Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for
survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:
1. The Emergency Number worldwide for **Mobile** is 112 . If you
find yourself out of coverage area of your mobile network and there is an
emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish
the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112
can be dialled even if the keypad is locked.
2 Have you locked your keys in the car? Does you car have remote
keys? This may come in handy someday. A good reason to own a cell phone: If you
lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home
on their cell phone from your cell phone.
Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your
home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end.
Your car will unlock. This saves someone from having to drive your keys to you.
Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away,
and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can
unlock the doors (or the trunk).
3 Hidden Battery power. Imagine your cell battery is very low ,
you are expecting an important call and you don't have a charger. Nokia
instruments come with a reserve battery. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your
cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase
in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.
4 How to disable a stolen mobile phone? To check your Mobile
phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #.
A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your
handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone gets stolen,
you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be
able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone
will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least
you know that whoever stole it can't use or sell it either.
all heard the stories, and they are sometimes quite scary; they
usually start something like this: “my mate bought himself a brand
new mobile, got global roaming put on and took it to New Zealand; he
thought it was fantastic and managed to keep in contact with
got back he got a bill from his phone company for $3,500.00 for all
the downloading and talking he had done”!
reports show that mobile roaming is now the third highest cost for
overseas travelers, after airfares and accommodation. The rates
charged by the major carriers to Australian customers when they roam
overseas are outrageous and forces most to seek alternatives like a
‘world roaming prepaid global sim card, or purchase local cards for
the countries people visit. Local sim cards can be the cheapest, but
are not often the most convenient, especially for short stays. This
is where the global roaming sims come into play.
Here are a
few tips for saving on your mobile phone bill when travelling
Receive calls when mobile roaming
though you will already be saving more money than usual, it is
always a good idea to get people to call you, rather than the other
way around. A great way to save is to try and receive as many calls
as possible on the global roaming sim.
Turn off your voicemail
switch off your voicemail as the call will bounce backwards and
forwards to Australia and cost you an international roaming call to
SMS is an
excellent way to communicate cheaply when international roaming.
Avoid tennis texting as these conversations can quickly become more
expensive than a quick call.
Beware of Data
iPhone or other smart phone overseas can cost you a fortune due to
the way they use data, and the cost of data roaming. Every time your
iPhone checks for emails can cost you over $10, and it will do this
every minute unless you make changes to your settings! Bills of over
$3000 are not uncommon for limited data overseas. Turn off all data
roaming, and only use wifi connections.
Buy a prepaid GLOBALSIM roaming simcard before you leave home
get one number and one sim and will save up to 80% on your global
roaming bill in over 190 countries. There are no charges for
receiving calls in 50 countries.
Take your mobile
if you don’t take your mobile, you will completely eliminate
international roaming charges but then your family, friends and
clients can’t contact you. Hotel phones can be horrendously
expensive. Emergencies, such as delayed flights, means you need a
mobile phone to remain in touch.
Some self help health
Although bedbugs pose no real
threat to human health, tourists prefer never meeting any. It does
not necessarily mean a hotel in Africa, but can be in Paris and new
York. In fact N.Y. had a recognized problem in this area through
Association, a non-profit (U.S.) trade association that promotes
best practices in the cleaning and restoration industry, says
although bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed and visible to
the naked eye, their flat, rusty-red oval bodies can travel through
walls via cracks and crevices.
They often hide behind headboards, in the seams and tufts of
mattresses, inside box springs, along baseboards, in and around
nightstands and inside pictures, moldings and loose wallpaper, as
well as furniture, Restoration officials say.
They can attach themselves to anything and can easily make their way
back into a tourists home. To prevent taking bedbugs home,
Restoration officials advise that if you feel suspicious, or just
want to be sure:
-- Before traveling, pack clothes in large Ziploc bags.
-- At a hotel, check the piping along the mattress and frame around
the bed, look for empty body shells under the bed and between the
mattress and box spring.
-- Check the closet for evidence of bedbugs before using.
-- Leave clothes in a suitcase on a luggage rack.
-- Place shoes out in the open instead of under the bed.
-- At home, immediately unpack in a laundry room or garage, wash
clothes and inspect the suitcases.
-- If bedbugs are discovered once home: washable items should be
laundered using the hottest temperature for washing and drying.
Suitcases, purses and unwashable items can be placed in a plastic
bag and left in the sun for a day.
number one: Know Yourself
your profile and how that profile may be perceived
when you travel is vital. Key areas to consider
include your physical appearance, travel experience,
personality type and budget.
number two: Do your research
do your research before you travel and know the
geography of the city you are visiting, plus be
aware of any cultural differences.
number three: Don’t be an easy target
flights so you arrive in the daytime especially if
you are planning to catch a taxi and always use
number four: Be assertive
as appearing unfamiliar can make you a potential
target. Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t
feel right it probably isn’t.
number five: Stay calm in a crisis
have proven that woman are more prone to harassment,
assault and hand bag theft therefore it important to
know how to respond in a crisis. Being prepared is
key to reducing risk while on business travel
Following the tragic murder in June 2012 of
Perth travel agent Michelle Smith during a
bungled bag snatch in Phuket, a leading
travel insurance provider for travel agents
has issued a range of tips that agents can
pass on to their clients. SureSave, one of
the best-known names in travel insurance,
says the murder of Smith is indicative of a
troubling travel trend. From Bangkok to
Rome, bag snatching is on the rise.
insurer has revealed that 47% of its bag
snatching claims originate from South East
Asia, with most incidents occurring in
Vietnam. A further 25% of cases occur in
Europe, with Spain emerging as a hotspot,
and about 16% of claims come from travellers
in South America.
Michael McAuliffe, Executive Director at
SureSave, says travellers can limit
opportunities for criminals to strike by
making a few small changes to their
behaviour while travelling. “It might
surprise some people that bag snatchers are
opportunistic thieves who don’t necessarily
discriminate based on age or gender. Because
of this, there are a few simple things we
can all do to prevent ourselves from falling
victim. Firstly, don’t walk on the kerbside
of the footpath. If at all possible move one
or two steps away from the road and out of
the reach of a drive-by bagsnatcher,” says
McAuliffe. “Criminals will go looking for an
easy target, so put your bag on the shoulder
furthest from the road. Or better yet, loop
your bag over your head and one shoulder,
which makes it obvious that snatching the
bag will not be easy.” McAuIiffe adds that
if someone does try to snatch your bag, it’s
better to let them take it rather than fight
or resist. “This is a good option especially
if there’s nothing of any great value in the
bag, so empty it of your passport, cash and
credit cards – keep them in a money belt or
pouch underneath your clothing,” McAuliffe
Note: As an ex tour leader I used to advise
the above concepts to passengers and I feel
they do help, especially the idea that you
sling your bag so that is facing the
buildings rather than the road side. If you
think, buildings and road it helps get
around confusing 'left and right' especially
if you are in a country where the traffic is
driving the opposite to where you are from.
People get 'left and right' muddled more
than 'road and buildings'.
Deciding to leave it all back at your hotel
in the room safe is another option,
although, disturbingly, safes are not always
as secure as travellers think. Many common
brands can be opened simply by hitting the
top of the safe and twisting the door dial
at the same time, SureSave discloses. Some
have a standard key lock hidden beneath the
front panel, used to override the electronic
code. Basic lock-picking skills will open
the safe. See more on this subject
Beating petty thieves
Rule number 1 for beating the pickpockets and bag-snatchers: leave
the valuables behind and only take enough cash for the day. What do
you do with the cash, cards and cameras you leave behind? Stick them
in the room safe, right? But how safe are room safes? They’re
certainly better than leaving your valuables lying around for any
opportunistic thief, or unscrupulous staff member to pocket, but
sadly they’re not that secure.
Not so safe safes
Many common brands can be opened simply by hitting the top of the
device, and twisting the door dial at the same time! Some have a
standard key lock hidden beneath the front panel, this is used to
over-ride the electronic code. Basic lock-picking skills will open
the safe. All room safes ship from the manufacturer with a standard
‘reset’ code – usually all zeroes. Amazingly, many hotels don’t
bother re-setting that master code. Give it a try - lock the room
safe with your code, then try entering all zeroes, or 1,2,3,4.
Obviously the safe is effective only if it’s bolted to the structure
of your room, otherwise the thief could pick it up and walk away
with it and your valuables.
Who to trust Large, brand name, up-market hotels tend to take
security more seriously. These are hotels with key pass entry to
each room, so they know (or should) who entered your room and at
Budget hotels usually mean budget security. Check that the safe is
actually bolted down to something substantial, check that it doesn’t
have an obvious default master code, and look for signs of tampering
before using it. It is usually more secure to use the front-of-house
safe or security deposit box for valuable items. Access to these
safes is more strictly controlled, but don’t forget to get a receipt
from the desk staff stating exactly what it is that they’ve put in
the safe, and ask them to sign it.
Make Your Will before Travel
This is provided as a prompt to
seek further advice. The link to a third part website is for you to
gather more information from which you can make a decision.
people are updating or preparing their will before
they travel, according to new research. The State of
Trustees research has revealed that last year, there
were more than 8.2 million short term overseas
holidays undertaken by Australians alone.
Australians died overseas last year, less than 20
percent of travellers updated or prepared their will
before departing on trips, yet 60 percent of
travellers took out travel insurance. I am sure
other countries will have similar trends. State of
Trustees has developed a
new online will kit encouraging people to be
people think they don’t have enough money or assets
to justify a will you would be surprised how much
trouble it can cause your loved ones if you die
without a will,” State Trustees manager client
insights Carmen Gould said. “If you die without a
will the law will determine who gets your estate and
your assets may go to someone who is not your
preferred candidate, not to mention the added
complications of trying to finalise someone’s
affairs when they have passed away overseas,” Ms
against Identity Theft whilst travelling
Travellers these days need to
be alert for any opportunities of identity theft while away on
holidays or business trips.
The Identity Theft Resource Center
warns that you cannot trust anyone you meet with your personal
information, including housekeeping staff, bellmen, security guards
and front desk clerks.
Even when using ATM/Debit cards/Credit Cards, travellers need to be
wary of fake ATM machines that are known to have been placed in high
traffic tourist areas. Consider restricting the use of your ATM card
to securely located Automated Teller Machines.
Business travellers utilising quiet evenings in the hotels to catch
up on booking keeping and paying the bills are warned about the
number of people who have access to your room. Don’t leave things
‘out’ and on display if you are away from your room.
Suitcases are not a secure way to lock up valuables and ITRC highly
recommends the use of in room or hotels safes while you are out of
Travellers should use bum bags or travel pouches as apposed to
carrying a wallet or purse in your pocket. Better still are modern
travel clothing with inbuilt security pockets. Pickpockets can be
found in most major cities, especially in high traffic areas that
attract business or holiday travellers. Studies revealed they are
not just interested in your cash, but your identity from your SSN,
credit cards and driver’s license and other such important
ITRC also recommends travellers don’t take anything in your wallet
that is not absolutely necessary, make sure that you have an
emergency phone number (contact person) for emergency medical
personnel to use and carry photocopies of all travel documents
including plane tickets, hotel reservations and passports but keep
these in a separate location from the originals.
Nothing says “we’re out of town” more than a pile of newspapers or
overflowing mailbox. While away put your mail on “postal hold” and
don’t forget to stop delivery of newspapers until you return, if you
still get the traditional paper version! Also ensure a friendly
neighbour puts out and takes in your rubbish bins, even if there is
noting to dispose of.