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9 tips for the smart traveller

September 01, 2009 10:47 IST
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Crowded airports, flight delays, luggage dramas and troubles at Customs can easily transform a trip from highly exhilarating to tediously ho-hum. While a good dose of common sense goes a long way, some clever 'insider' tips can arm you with the know-how to make your trip more enjoyable and stress free.

Arthur Hoffman, managing director, Expedia Asia Pacific, says: "While Indians tend to be savvy travellers, it helps to get an insider's perspective on how to avoid common travel pitfalls. Travellers should also take the time to carefully research their travel destinations and consult independent traveller reviews for more specific insights to avoid unwanted mayhem."

Here are nine tips for a hassle-free travel experience:

Look to the left
To minimise waiting in long queues at airports, look to the left when lining up for customs and check-in. Most people are right-handed, and therefore wired with a preference for amenities offered to the right.

Opt for an early-morning flight
Airports are fresh and relatively crowd-and child-free early in the day. Statistics show early flights are also less likely to be delayed.

Do some simple detective work to protect your belongings in the hotel
Wipe down the keypad of the in-room-safe with a damp cloth (and then dry it) before entering your code. There have been cases where a light oil residue or powder has been applied to the touch keys, to see what numbers were pressed, making the safe accessible for others.

Rolling vs folding
If luggage space is an issue, roll your clothes rather than fold them. You might feel like you're preparing for school camp again, but rolled clothes take up less space, allowing you to squeeze in more travel buys!

Align with business
If you're travelling for business, stick with your own kind but if you're not, line up anyway with people who look to be travelling for business; they tend to be no-nonsense travellers and usually know the ropes and move through airports quickly.

Use colourful luggage
Try travelling with colourful blue, green or red travel suitcases. That way your luggage stands out from the same black or grey bags as everyone else and is easily spotted on the baggage carousel. Before checking your luggage in, take a picture of it and print it out. If it goes missing you can identify it easily.

Be drug alert
Ensure your medicines are not considered illegal drugs overseas. Contact the nearest embassy of the country you are visiting before departing as ignorance of local laws is not a valid defence.

Blend in
To stay out of trouble, try not to bring attention to yourself. While T-shirts are considered modest clothing in India, they can be offensive to people in countries with more conservative dress codes, such as Burma, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Instead opt for long sleeves or loose shirts.

Forewarned is fore-armed
Be mindful that what may be polite and acceptable behaviour in one culture may be offensive or even illegal in another. Read up on the local laws and cultural norms of your travel destination. At the very least, it will prevent you causing offence to the locals and embarrassment to yourself; at the most, it could save you from a nasty brush with the law. You can visit and sites like Trip Advisor for more specific information and tips on dos and don'ts when travelling.

In your travels, have you had to learn certain lessons the hard way?

Are there dos and don'ts Indian travellers should be aware of when they travel to certain countries or states?

Are there time-saving, space-saving rules that you follow when you travel?

Share your travel tips and anecdotes in the messageboard below!

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