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Travel & Holiday

Be savvy, travel easy

Don’t forget the little things that are essential for making our travels easier, more convenient and more comfortable
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 27, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Be savvy, travel easy

Most of us would reach for the basic stuff, like suitcase, clothing, windbreaker, shoes and camera, when we prepare for a holiday. But we shouldn’t forget the little things that are essential for making our travels easier, more convenient and more comfortable.

Ways to enjoy a smooth flight
The very first thing you’ll need is a suitable carry-on bag to hold all the stuff that you’ll require to survive hanging in the air for what seems like eternity (for me, that’s any flight that stretches beyond seven or eight hours).

By “suitable”, I mean a bag with sufficient room to hold all the paraphernalia you’ll need to feel less miserable and look better – believe me, all that restless tossing and turning about in that claustrophobic bit of space called an airplane seat is sure to result in a lot of ugliness (like tousled hair, crumpled clothing, panda eyes, dry lips…).

The bag’s contents may include a sweater or shawl, neck pillow, medication, toiletries, book/s, a change of clothing (in case someone accidentally spills coffee on you), and valuable items that you shouldn’t be stupid enough to pack in your check-in luggage, like your wallet, camera and precious jewellery (in the case of socialites and image-conscious types).   

If your bag is too small to fit everything in, you might decide to leave your neck pillow behind and regret that foolish decision when a stiff neck sets in after your tortuous 20-hour flight finally ends. You’ll also wish you had a bigger bag in which to discreetly stuff those uneaten rolls and crackers, which you’ll be sorely grateful for should you encounter the misfortune of being caught in some airline workers’ strike or volcanic eruption-type situation.

Then again, the bag shouldn’t be so deep and cavernous that you’ll need to search for ages just to locate that pouch holding air-sickness pills, or those ear plugs which you desperately need when that angelic-looking little creature seated nearby starts screaming like a demon possessed.

More ways to enjoy a smooth ride
Unless you’re going to be holed up in some private retreat for the whole of your holiday, you’ll probably be spending quite some time on the road travelling from one destination to another.

Like much-dreaded flights, long road trips are another excruciating part of holidays. This is particularly so for those of us who are travelling with young children, prone to motion sickness or have weak bladder control.

If you haven’t been wise enough to avoid joining a large tour group, your comfort level will be further reduced as you are likely to be packed like sardines in the tour bus or sightseeing coach. Having little legroom and elbow space means you have to bring only the bare essentials, and add a few comfort boosters to your list. 

On a recent trip, three Australians in my tour group took turns to fall ill for different reasons. And they were healthy-looking specimens in their twenties! So no matter how hale and healthy you think you are, it’s wise to carry medication for common ailments like food poisoning, motion sickness and flu.

You’ll also be more prone to falling sick if you are dehydrated, so carry a flask of water at all times. I always try to pack some fruits for long journeys as they are great thirst quenchers (without filling up the bladder too quickly) and health boosters, and wonderfully refreshing on hot days.

Wet towels will come in handy for cleaning up sticky fruit juice, wiping perspiration, and cleaning grime off your hands, dusty shoes and other belongings. 

Another item I’ve recently added to my list is hooks – which I attach to the back of the seat in front of me to hold my bag/s (you can also find bag holders that are specially designed for use in vehicles at some retail stores). This way, I don’t have to bear the discomfort of resting my bag on my lap, by my side or at my feet.

To raise your comfort level another notch, bring your neck pillow too, as long-distance travelling can be a real pain in the neck.

Other little things that count
Here’s a list of handy items that could help you get organised, stay comfortable and keep safe during your trip:

    Keep a lightweight LCD pocket light in your bag or by the bedside. It can come in useful in a number of situations, such as for lighting the way in dark places like stairways, streets and caves, navigating your way to the bathroom in an unfamiliar room/dormitory in the middle of the night, reading maps, manuals and documents in low-light conditions, or searching for something in your bags or under the seats/beds.

    Clean plastic bags and sealable bags in various sizes also offer a number of uses. They are ideal for holding wet or soiled items, foodstuff for picnics or long bus trips, and storing small items like batteries and jewellery.

    If you are staying at places that lack proper bathroom facilities, bring hooks to hang your (waterproof) toiletry bag and a plastic bag to keep your clothing dry.

    You can never be sure about the hygiene level of the places (particularly the bedding and carpeting) you will be staying at, so bring along a lightweight sheet or sleeping bag (to place atop the bedding) and a pair of lightweight, waterproof rubber or straw sandals to be worn in the room (which would also come in useful for beach outings).  

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