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Travel & Holiday

Travel Easy

Make your journey safe, comfortable and enjoyable!
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - June 30, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Travel Easy

I’ve literally dragged a suitcase over the undulating pavements, kerbs and streets of Sydney because its flimsy wheels couldn’t bear its weight well enough; treaded down slippery rocks on a descent from a waterfall in Chiangmai in terror because I would definitely have broken my head and bones if I had fallen; and borne the heavy burden of a backpack while finding my way from airports/train stations to places of accommodation in France.

If you think that going on a holiday means taking things easy, think again!. If you are not properly prepared for it, your holiday could turn out to be so stressful and/or exhausting that you’ll probably need another holiday just to recover from it!

But as with everything else in life, a little smart planning can go a long way in sparing you some of the discomfort and unpleasantness you’ll have to go through.

Gear up for your trip:  

    The most important items every traveller should own are: well-designed luggage and bags, proper walking/trekking shoes, a good pair of sunglasses and suitable travel apparel, including a jacket and accessories for cold climates. 

    Another must-have item is a good packing list. Creating one will also take the stress out of packing each time you travel; this is especially so for procrastinators, who are likely to carry out this chore at the last minute!   

    Make it a point to learn more about your holiday destination/s and what to expect when you arrive, such as weather conditions, the kinds of activities you will be participating in and the food available to you, so you know what to pack.

Put a string in your step  
On my maiden trekking trip, I had to walk in pouring rain to get to a tribal village in Hanoi. I didn’t own a pair of trekking shoes then so I wore a pair of sports shoes. It took a lot of effort for me to plough through the muddy path – it felt as if I was walking on super glue; and it wasn’t long before the front part of my shoes split open!

That was when I learnt that sports shoes and trekking shoes aren’t made the same. If you’re exploring the great outdoors, or crossing mountains, jungles or rivers, make sure you wear a good pair of trekking shoes that is tough enough to cushion your soles, support your ankles and protect your feet from prickly pebbles, hard rocks and nasty little critters; and preferably slip-proof (so you can keep your balance on slippery algae/moss-covered rocks) and waterproof (to keep your feet nice and dry when crossing streams and rivers), and do not fall apart easily! 

Even if you are holidaying in a city like Hong Kong or London, you’ll chalk up many miles pounding the pavements when you hit the shops. If you don’t want to end up with blisters, sore feet and aching leg muscles at the end of the day, make sure you wear comfortable, thick-soled shoes. Leave those flimsy sandals or sexy high heels at home (or wear them for social outings only).

Lighten your burden
Well-designed luggage and travel bags can also help make life more comfortable on the road. If you wish to breeze effortlessly through airports, and from the coach/bus/train to your hotel room, a 360-degree swivel suitcase with smooth and durable wheels (preferably four) would do the job perfectly.

Shopping-mad travellers often run out of luggage space, so instead of struggling with several loose pieces of baggage, get a suitcase that’s expandable or roomy enough to hold thick warm clothing and “loot”, as well as tough enough to take hard knocks and protect your belongings from getting crushed.    

If you are going backpacking, get a bag that’s made of strong, durable materials, with features like padded shoulder straps and waist straps to bear the weo light of their contents better, so you don’t have to suffer backache and strained shoulders.

Don’t let foul weather get you down
A chap I met in Melbourne joked that people living in that region often experience four seasons in one day. What he meant was that the weather there is very fickle – it can be sunny and warm one moment, then rainy and chilly the next. The “chill factor” increases when it gets windy, especially if you are out on the coast or at sea.   

If you are travelling to places with unpredictable weather or a temperate climate, always pack warm, thin clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks and thermal undergarments that can be layered. The trick is to be able to keep yourself warm and yet avoid filling up your suitcase with bulky sweaters and jackets.

If you travel frequently, invest in a good-quality jacket or lined windbreaker – look for those made of new-age materials that are designed to be lightweight yet able to keep the cold and rain out.

Since you’re likely to be doing a fair bit of sightseeing, pack the necessary accessories for your day trips to prevent yourselves from being seared by the merciless sun or turning blue with cold in chilly weather while you listen to the guides drone on and on.

One of the most useful accessories for any trip is a shawl. It can protect your head and neck from the sun’s rays, keep your hair from flying wildly in the wind and keep you warm as well.

And besides essential items like sunglasses, sunscreen and a bottle of water, other must-haves are caps, hats and umbrellas (if you’re holidaying in the tropics and desert areas, or during summertime), and lip balm, gloves, warming pads and woollen socks (if you’re holidaying in high-altitude spots or during autumn or winter.

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