Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips are part of the planning process as unwary tourists can make easy targets for thieves. Tourists stand out in a crowd because they are not used to their surroundings, they dress different to the locals, they are generally carrying money, credit cards and valuables such as cameras and mobile phones.

You can reduce your risk of being mugged or robbed by taking a few simple precautions. and following some general holiday safety tips. It is a good idea to research the safety of your intended destination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You should also register your travel plans with www.smartraveller.gov.au and check for up to date information on your holiday destinations, covering factors such as political unrest or criminal activities that target tourists.  You could also consult with your travel agent, ask your hotel reception desk before departing or talk to friends who have already visited your intended destination for their advice and any safety concerns.

General Holiday Safety Tips

  • Keep your travel plans, including accommodation details, to yourself
  • Don’t hitch hike
  • Try not to travel alone at night
  • Avoid ‘seedier’ areas of the cities you visit, especially at night
  • Ask your hotel for advice on ‘safe’ versus ‘unsafe’ local areas
  • Carry with you at all times the contact details of the Australian embassy. If your city doesn’t have an Australian embassy, find out which other country’s embassy is available to help you, such as the British embassy
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and all other important documents in a safe place. Carry only a copy of your passport leaving the passport itself in your hotel safe when possible
  • Use ATMs at secure locations (inside banks) during the day, when there are more people around
  • Try to rely more on credit and travel cards rather than large sums of cash
  • Split your valuables so not all are lost if an incident occurs. Spread cash amongst bags, divide money if travelling with someone, keep spare cards separate to original ones in case stolen
  • Minimise your financial risk by setting up a separate bank account with a small sum of cash available and only take your ATM card for that account. Use internet banking to top this up as required from your main account
  • Wear valuables (such as passports and credit cards) on a belt worn under the clothes and next to the skin
  •  If feeling particularly vulnerable, wear your money belt somewhere other than around your waist (over your shoulder and across your chest under your shirt). Thieves know all about money belts too

 

  • Consider carrying a ‘dummy’ wallet holding a small amount of cash. If you are directly confronted by a mugger, you can hand over the dummy wallet and avoid further distress
  • If you are mugged, don’t fight back. It is better to lose a few dollars and a wristwatch than get injured.
  • Avoid incidents such as fights, riots or civil disturbances at all times
  • Even if you’re not sure where you’re going, walk like you’ve got a purpose.
  • Match your dress style to that of the locals. Don’t wear an obvious ‘tourist’ outfit like a loud shirt with a camera slung around your neck.
  • Be discreet when map reading.
  • Notice the people around you. Be wary if someone seems to be taking more than a passing interest
  • Don’t share taxis with strangers and never allow another passenger to enter along the way
  • Carjacking is a problem in some cities. When driving, keep all doors locked and windows up. Make sure your boot is locked too
  • Take note of emergency exits, stairwells, fire escapes and emergency plans in your hotel, just in case
  • Always lock your hotel door when retiring for the night. If there is a chain included, use it
  • When arranging to meet people you’ve never met before (such as business associates), wait for them in the lobby. Don’t ask them to come up to your room
  • Don’t wear expensive jewellery on obvious display

Thieves in different cities tend to favour different scams. Ask your hotel reception desk or a local tourist information officer for more information about recent incidents happening with other tourists.

Stay safe while travelling by following these holiday safety tips. You can reduce your risk of being robbed or scammed by taking a few simple precautions and always be aware of what’s happening around you. If things seem too good to be true, be wary as they probably are and there is a high chance they are a scam.

Contact Us if you need travel advice about your next holiday locations and we can provide holiday safety tips. Visit us on Facebook

Safe and Happy Travels

Julie

5 Tips for Beating Jet Lag

5 Tips for Beating Jet Lag

What is jet lag?

There is no end of tips for beating jet lag out there whether online, from travel experts or from family and friends, but do any of them really work? Jet lag is a combination of fatigue and other symptoms caused by travelling quickly across different time zones. Another name for jet lag is ‘time zone change syndrome’. The effects of jet lag seem to be a really individual thing that can vary hugely from flight to flight with some suffering for a number of days and others having no symptoms at all. The symptoms of jet lag include: Fatigue Sleepiness Digestive Upsets Impaired judgement and decision making Memory Lapses Irritability Apathy

From my experiences of jet lag – here are my top five tips to help you perhaps not totally beat jet lag, but at least feel a little more human when travelling.

Tip #1: Are You a Night-Flyer or Not?

If you are really keen to avoid jet lag on your long-haul flights, you might consider night flight options in your planning stages. You need to determine if you are good at sleeping on planes or not. Then you’ve got two choices: – If you can sleep like a baby in your plane seat, then timing your flight to include an “overnight” leg, which will have you arriving at your destination in the morning (you will then need to stay awake all day – see Tip #3), or – If you struggle and never get more than a few winks of sleep on a flight, then you should book a “daytime” flight that arrives in the late afternoon or evening.  Landing at this time, you will be so exhausted from the prolonged lack of sleep that you’ll be asleep the minute your head hits the pillow at the correct time in your new destination. This helps get you into the new time zone straight away and may gelp you beat jet lag.

Tip #2: Get It Right While You’re Still on the Plane

The experts (whoever they may be) are always saying that you should drink lots of water, not too much alcohol and get up and move around the plane regularly. They are definitely on the right track with this advice. As tempting as it can be to indulge in the free alcohol on a long-haul flight, try to limit it to one small glass with a meal if you just can’t get through the flight without a drink! This one glass may relax you and help you sleep if feeling anxious is a problem for you.  Jet lag recovery time should definitely decrease if you follow these simple suggestions to stay hydrated.

Tip #3: No Sleep Until Bedtime

If you do nothing else, try to do this one! No matter what time you arrive at your destination, don’t go to bed until it’s night time at your destination. Staying awake can be challenging, especially if you have arrived really early morning after a lot of hours travelling and you need to get through the whole day. You might want to sleep desperately, but be disciplined, stay busy, start your sightseeing or take a long walk – do whatever it takes to not sleep before sunset. Going to sleep at night time allows your body to quickly adjust to the new time zone and alleviates jet lag symptoms. If you absolutely must take a nap, make it a quick power nap no longer than 40 minutes (20 minutes is ideal). Likewise, if your body clock doesn’t want to go to bed, you have to make that happen. Don’t stay up past midnight even if you’re not feeling tired. It’s all about getting into the new time zone as quickly as possible.

Tip #4: Don’t Lie Awake For Hours

Your body clock might think that the middle of the night is actually morning and you should wake up. Personally, I think the worst thing you can do when that happens is to lie there for hours trying to get back to sleep, you will just feel frustrated and more exhausted in the morning. If this happens, perhaps get up, make a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate and then try to sleep again till morning. If you do get up, don’t make the room too light, or your body will think it was right about it being morning already.

Aromatherapy to the rescue, they can help you beat jet lag symptons. Lavender and geranium (in oils and body creams) help some people sleep. If, on the other hand you need something to keep you energised try rosemary and eucalyptus oils. Shops specialising in aromatherapy products also offer a variety of blends to suit your requirements.

Tip #5: Think Positive …

Jet lag seems to be more apparent if you travel from east to west and unless you have the luxury of planning an around the world trip and choosing the direction you start then this is not always an option. Many people have said that jet lag is more noticeable when you return home than when you head off on your journey.  So, does that mean that a portion of jet lag is purely psychological? So, when you are starting your holiday and are all excited to get out and explore in a new destination and you are feeling a little tired and out of sorts that this doesn’t bother you half as much as when you return home and have to go back to work and the daily routines! There are also dozens of natural or herbal remedies or over the counter medications that advertise they can help with the side effects of jet lag, it is just a matter of finding one of these that works for you, but there’s definitely no cure-all. On your return home, stay active, remain positive, get back into your time zone and normal routine as quickly as you can and don’t dwell on your jet lag – it may just disappear that bit faster! Then start planning your next adventure to occupy your mind – dreaming of the next holiday has to be the best way to beat jet lag!

Happy Travels Julie Warner

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Japan Travel Hints & Tips

Japan Travel Hints & Tips

Japan is everything you can imagine, and more – rich in culture, full of history, natural beauty, epic shopping, unforgettable cuisine, gracious hospitality. But, to experience its true grandeur, there are a few tips and customs to familiarise yourself with before you go:

Bowing: The polite greeting in Japan is the bow.  While you won’t be expected to know all the ins and outs of the bow (it can take decades to learn rules regarding the appropriate depth) there are a few things to remember.  Bow from the waist and keep your arms straight by your side.  Imitate the bows you receive – don’t over bow or ignore the greeting.  Smile and nod if nothing else, you don’t want to be perceived as rude.

Hygiene: While there are plenty of western-style restrooms in the larger department stores and restaurants, you might still encounter a Japanese-style toilet (of the squat variety).  It’s helpful to carry toilet tissues with you because not every restroom will have these!  If you forget to take some with you, hope you get lucky and run into a promo person handing out packs of tissues with ads on them (a current marketing trend). Also bear in mind that you should blow your nose in a restroom rather than in public, and into a tissue rather than a handkerchief.

Money: It’s considered rude to count your change after you’ve received it – the Japanese culture is one that prides itself on its honesty.  Plus you probably won’t be able to translate the currency quickly enough to avoid looking impolite…

Politeness: The Japanese are absolutely always polite.  One of the noticeable features of the Japanese languages is that there are many different words which are used to communicate the same meaning.  Some words are considered to be far more polite than others. Even if you don’t intend to speak much Japanese, this is an important concept to understand during your stay in Japan. At all times try your best to be VERY polite.

Shoes: When, where, why, and how shoes are worn in Japan can be confusing. Generally, shoes are not worn in Japanese homes, temples, ryokan, and various other public places (including some restaurants).  Follow the lead of locals and don’t panic!  Your shoes won’t be stolen while you’re off touring a temple.

Social Conventions

Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. A strict code of behaviour and politeness is recognised and followed by almost everyone. However, Japanese people do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but do expect them to behave formally and politely. A straightforward refusal traditionally does not form part of Japanese etiquette, and a vague ‘yes’ does not always mean ‘yes’. (The visitor may be comforted to know that confusion caused by non-committal replies occurs between the Japanese themselves.) When entering a Japanese home or restaurant, shoes must be removed. Bowing is the customary greeting but handshaking is becoming more common for business meetings with Westerners. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing all men and women; for instance Mr Yamada would be addressed as Yamada-san. Table manners are very important, although the Japanese host will be very tolerant towards a visitor. However, it is best if visitors familiarise themselves with basic table etiquette and use chopsticks. Exchange of gifts is also a common business practice and may take the form of souvenir items such as company pens, ties or high-quality spirits.

Need help planning your Japan travel? Contact Us for travel advice.

Using Shoulder Seasons to Book the Best-Priced Holiday

Using Shoulder Seasons to Book the Best-Priced Holiday

 

Perfect in shoulder season - less crowds!

Perfect in shoulder season – less crowds!

Like a delectable chocolate treat, shoulder season is so sweet. Sandwiched between the painfully high prices and overwhelming crowds of the high season, and the often miserable weather of low season. Shoulder season is the perfect time to travel. Typically, hotel rooms are cheap, crowds are thin, and the weather is mild. You’ll notice a warmer welcome, too, when you travel off-peak. Locals, who may grow weary of crowds in peak season, have time to relax in shoulder season. For instance, an afternoon in early May is an ideal time to linger at an outdoor café in Rome and people-watch, before the summer tourists descend.

No significant shoulder seasons fall within January, February, July, and August, but prices drop immediately after the holidays in January.

But shoulder season for Paris doesn’t fall on the same dates as shoulder season for Tokyo. So here’s a shoulder season calendar for some of our favourite destinations for easy reference:

January

Mid: North Africa. The Christmas travel crowds are gone and the weather is warm.

March

Early: Hawaii

The big waves have subsided, along with the winter beachgoers; resorts are also bringing down rates. Through May

Early: Rio de Janeiro

Carnival has come and gone, which means hotel rooms are easier to find and less expensive (by as much as 60 percent).

Mid: Ireland

It’s warming up and wildflowers are beginning to bloom; a perfect time for exploring the countryside. Through April

India: Hotel rooms and airfares are lower if you can locate these between celebrated holidays.

April

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

Late-season skiing is still excellent in high-altitude destinations like Whistler, British Columbia; Vail, Steamboat, and the Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado; and Tignes, France.

Early: Australian Outback

With average temperatures now cooling to between 80 and 86 degrees, you can visit Ayers Rock without risking heatstroke. Through May

Mid: European Cities

Western Europe. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, and London will still be cool and you’ll have your chance of rain, for sure, but the crowds are thin and prices go way down. Outdoor café culture is picking up, but the summer crowds won’t arrive until early June. Get here before they do.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Room prices fall as much as 30 percent after Easter, and hurricane season is still weeks away. Through early June

May

Early: Japan

Peak hotel rates have come down after last month’s cherry blossom celebrations, and the humidity has yet to kick in.

Mid: Mediterranean Cruising

The weather’s warming, but prices remain as much as 20 percent lower than in the summer high season.

Mid: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Airfares from the States are at their lowest, and in Australia’s north, days are full of sunshine. Through August

June

Early: Thailand

April and May are sweltering, but the rains cool things off in June. The tourist crowds won’t arrive until next month. Through June

Early

Baja California Temperatures have yet to soar, but resorts are offering bargains in anticipation of the hot months to come.

July

Early: Northern Caribbean. (But avoid hurricane areas.)

September

Early: Hawaii

Room rates and airfares drop after Labor Day. Through September

Early: Montana

Days continue to be sunny and dry, and dude ranches are offering discounted fall rates. Through September

Early: South Africa

It’s early spring in South Africa, and prices are low on game drives. You’ll also find foliage is less dense making it easier to spot the “Big Five”.

Prices at safari lodges are lower and the foliage less dense, making it easy to spot the Big Five. Through early October

October

Early: Mediterranean Resorts

Southern Europe. The weather has turned chilly up north, but around the Mediterranean, you’ll usually still find warm temperatures… and good travel deals.

Rates have started to drop, but you’ll still find ample sun on islands such as Crete, Ibiza, and Sicily.

Early: Dubai

Days are cooler, and camel-racing season has begun. Hotels, meanwhile, are enticing travelers with bargains. Early September through October

Mid: Vancouver Island, Canada

Room prices have dropped by nearly half, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy wine-tasting at the island’s many vineyards. Through November

November

Early: Tahiti, Fiji, and the South Pacific

The water is crystal clear before cyclone season, making it a great time for diving and snorkelling. Christmas is high season in these warm destinations. Try to get your beach time in before the rush.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Before the holiday rush, beaches are empty and it’s easy to find hotel deals. Through mid-December

December

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

The snow has returned, but the winter season is just beginning. Late November through mid-December

Early: Costa Rica

After months of rain, the clouds are thinning. Through mid-December

Let us know your shoulder season travel tips?

Happy Travels

Julie


 


 

 

 

Travelling with Medication

Travelling with Medication

Issues surrounding taking prescription medicines overseas can cause a great deal of stress for travellers, especially elderly travellers, who often have pre-existing health conditions and increased health concerns. This should not be a barrier to travel if you follow a few simple rules:

1. Talk to your doctor or a travel medicine specialist and discuss both the prescription and over the counter medicines that you will need to take with you; take only those for personal use.

2. Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there.

3. Carry a letter from your prescriber with your prescription medicines. The letter should include the name of the medicine, how much you are taking or sending, and state that the medicine is for your personal use.

4. All medicines should be kept in their original container displaying your name and dosage requirements and carried in hand luggage to prevent their loss.

Because a prescription from your doctor here cannot be filled overseas, and familiar over the counter medicines may not be available in foreign countries, it is also important to carry an adequate supply for the entire trip plus some extra in case of travel disruption or delay.

However, carrying or sending PBS medicines that are not for your own personal use or for the use of someone travelling from Australia with you is illegal and can attract a penalty of up to $5000 and/or 2 years imprisonment. Customs authorities have the power to detain any medication which they suspect is being illegally exported. For more information, you may phone Medicare Australia’s Travelling with PBS Medicine enquiry line 1800 500 147 or visit the website www.medicareaustralia.gov.au

Some medications, particularly those classified as S8 medications or medications of addiction (such as medications containing Codeine 30mg or strong painkillers prescribed from a Pain Unit) even when obtained on a legal prescription in Australia, should not be transported across international boundaries unless they are accompanied by a customs clearance from the country concerned. You must apply to the appropriate Consulate or Embassy for this.

Seek specialist travel health information to make sure you are properly advised, understand the rules and follow the simple steps listed above and travelling with prescription medications should be hassle-free and enjoyable.

It is always better to err on the side of caution with medication and best to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure you have all the correct information to make your trip hassle-free and keep you healthy whilst away.

For general travel advice when planning your trips, Contact Us.

 

 

 

 

 

Julie

 

 

10 things to do before taking off on holiday

10 things to do before taking off on holiday

Don’t leave home without finishing this to-do list

You’ve completed your travel trifecta – the flights are booked, hotels reserved and car hire reservation complete. Now it’s time to get organized. The trip planning process includes everything from buying your plane tickets, making reservations at your destination to packing. But before you head to the airport to catch your flight, make sure you’ve tied up all the loose ends.

 1. Call your credit card company

Many credit card companies have identity protection plans in place that help protect travelers from theft and fraud. In some cases, this means travelers must contact their credit card companies before traveling to ensure the card will work in another destination

2. Place a “stop” or “hold” on mail and deliveries                                                                                                           

Daily newspapers, magazines and mail will pile up while you’re away. Either ask a neighbour to collect your mail or arrange for the Post Office to hold your mail while you are away.  Also reduce the risk of break-ins by placing a stop on all automatic deliveries such as newspapers and magazine subscriptions.

3. Emergency phone numbers

This rule applies for those who might need to reach you while you’re away, and those you might need to get in touch with while you’re traveling. Before you leave, take some time to write out three lists: one for home, one for your hand luggage and a spare to stash in your suitcase.

Home: Leave contact phone numbers with family members and friends in case they need to reach you while you’re traveling. Examples include:

  • Phone number of the hotel(s) where you’re staying
  • Airline flight and car hire information and phone numbers
  • Phone numbers of the people you’re traveling with
  • If you’re traveling with a group or tour company, leave the company’s contact information
  • Phone numbers for doctors/veterinarians, in case of emergencies

 Away: While you’re away, it’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency travel numbers with you. Those contacts include:

  • Bank and Credit card companies
  • Travel Insurance Company contact and claim details
  • Doctor’s office
  • Australian Embassy/Consulates in the countries you’re visiting
  • Airline phone numbers

Print a hard copy of these, don’t just rely on an electronic version in case your phone/laptop is stolen.  Also a great idea to email all these details to yourself so they are always accessible via a WIFI connection or internet cafe.

 4. Set up pet care

If you have furry friends at home, make sure they are well provided for before you leave town. This includes leaving emergency phone numbers, and also some extra tasty treats to keep animals happy in your absence. Here are a few other must-do’s before you drop off your pet:

  •  Confirm your reservation at the local Doggie Day Care or pet kennel where you keep your pet.
  • Make sure all medications for your pet and the veterinarian’s phone number are packed with your pet before you leave.
  • If your pet has particular rituals, make sure to leave specific instructions with the pet care provider.

 5. Cash out

Never leave town without some cash, whether it’s domestic or foreign currency. If you’re traveling within the country, make sure to hit the bank before you leave. Taking cash with you will ensure you don’t pay ATM surcharge fees in another destination.

If you’re traveling overseas, it’s a good idea to carry some of the local country’s currency with you in a combination of cash, travel cards and as a back up some travellers cheques. Take enough cash for cab fare or transfer fees so you don’t have to go in search of an ATM as soon as you arrive. Use a currency converter to determine the best rate of exchange for your money so you know you are getting a good deal when exchanging money.

6. Pack maps, guide books, public transportation schedules

Before you head out into the unknown, do a little research and bring along some guides.  Forearmed is forewarned when it comes to getting around in a new place.

Most public transportation maps are also available online; it’s a good idea to print out a map of the area before you leave. Your guide book will serve as the bible for the trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new or to a foreign country. Consider printing out specific sections from travel guides online to assist you plotting your routes every day. There are also a number of downloadable apps for your smartphone and guidebooks can be purchased for e-book readers which can come in handy if you don’t want to lug around a bunch of heavy books. Pre-planning with some research about your destination before you go helps you  not be overwhelmed when you arrive.

7. Check the weather

Before you zip up the suitcase and head to the airport, do one last check of the local weather in your destination. Just because you’re traveling to a beach destination doesn’t mean it’s going to be sunny all week; you don’t want to be caught in rainstorm without waterproof shoes and an umbrella. The day before you leave, check the weather conditions and make any necessary adjustments to clothes and amenities.  For international trips if visiting multiple destinations check for all areas being visited as larger countries climates vary considerably depending on the terrain.

8. Make reservations

Whether you’re planning a spa vacation, golf getaway, a romantic dinner for two at your destination’s top restaurant or have a major site you want to visit it’s a good idea to make reservations before the trip to avoid disappointment. Check on-line the local entertainment guides, city newspapers and online entertainment sites to find the best restaurants and hottest shows. Hotel concierge desks are a good source for recommendations if you’re unsure of where to book. Call the hotel before your trip and ask the concierge to send you a list of restaurants, golf courses, spas or other entertainment activities in the area.  If you are doing a D.I.Y. trip most places have on-line information on how to make a reservation or ask your hotel if they can assist with advice on how to make reservations or to purchase required tickets.

9. Pack your essentials

Double check before leaving the house that you have all necessary essentials to travel with. Do you know where your passport or driver’s license is located? Did you pack all your necessary medications? The best way to ensure you’ve packed everything necessary for your trip is to make a list of your daily needs for one week. List everything from your medications to the credit cards you use. When it comes time for packing, refer to your list so you don’t forget anything important.

10. Plan your first days at your destination

This is especially helpful if you’re traveling somewhere new and unfamiliar. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a list of things to do at your destination to help fight off jet lag. Take a look at local guides and find out what shopping, attractions and restaurants are near your resting place. Take a walk around your hotel and get familiar with its amenities. Planning ahead will help make a hectic first day seem a little more organized.

Making a to-do list and checking it is the only way to ensure everything is done and the only way to holiday stress free.

Happy travels.

Julie Warner

www.juliewarnertravelplans.com