1. Do it!

With all the isolated terror attacks taking place throughout the world, our tendency may be to hunker down and cancel all our dreams of visiting those amazing sites on our bucket lists. The chance that you will be caught in the middle of such an attack is so minute. You have a far greater risk of being harmed in a traffic accident at home. However, it’s certainly wise to be vigilant when you travel: do your best to stay away from crowded events or situations where you are vulnerable.

2. Take photocopies of your passport.

Leave one with a relative or friend, and keep another with you on your travels — in a separate place from the actual passport itself. Also make a list of the places where you’ll be staying, including addresses and phone numbers, and leave that with a friend or relative — and keep a copy on top of your clothes in your suitcase. If your suitcase is mislaid en route to your destination, there is at least a chance that someone might look in your bag and see where you are and how to reach you.

3. Prepare for your flight.

Airlines are squeezing in more rows of seats in their aircraft and cutting out many of the amenities we used to take for granted, resulting in reduced legroom and often, the exclusion of entertainment and/or food. Make sure you know what’s included before you fly. You can always download movies on your devices and take along a book and puzzles to amuse yourself — and children, if you happen to be travelling as a family. If your flight doesn’t include a meal, remember to bring some snacks or purchase (with credit card only) your food while in flight — if that’s an option. And if possible, refrain from reclining your seat unless you check with the person behind you first. For extra comfort, take along a neck support travel pillow, drink plenty of fluids (ideally, the non-alcoholic variety) and remember to move around as much as possible to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

4. Do not carry an abundance of cash with you.

These days, most places accept payment by credit cards and ATMs are almost everywhere. You may get charged service fees by both the institution from which you are withdrawing cash, and most likely, from your own bank, so don’t withdraw small amounts often. And forget about travellers’ cheques. They’re simply a nuisance, if not impossible, to try and cash at overseas banks.

5. Keep an open mind.

Remember that every country has its own customs and ways of doing things. Refrain from making comparisons to what “we do at home”. In fact, it’s a great idea to read up on the customs of the country or countries you plan to visit before you leave so that you’re not too surprised. Respect is key.

6. Talk to the locals.

Unless you happen to be traveling alone, it’s easy to remain insulated from the people who live where you’re visiting. Even if you don’t speak the language, do your best to communicate with shop keepers, or try chatting to the person sitting next to you on the patio or at a restaurant. Try learning a few words or phrases before you go — your efforts will be appreciated. You’ll get a totally different (and more authentic!) feel for a city or town.

7. Slow down!

It’s fine to follow a rough itinerary and most of us want to see those famous and iconic sites, but allow yourself time to just wander through neighbourhoods, sit for an hour in a park or café or visit a museum that’s off the beaten path.


  • Posted Dec. 11, 2017