Wednesday, May 28, 2008

7 (unpublished) tips when planning for a trip

If you're a fan of Lonely Planet like me, you'll probably fine its section on 'Travel tips' quite useful. But I bet you have never read about the following tips.

1) Google your way

This is one thing that I always do, which is rather useful for the d.i.y. traveller. It's not enough to get the address of where you're going; Queens Crescent, Queens Street and Queens Road may not even be near to each other. And how often do you find yourself lost during free and easy when a particular road is closed or even ceased to exist?

Now this is where Google Map comes in handy. Just input any world wide address and you'll be able to see an updated map/satellite/terrain of your destination.

As it's browser based, it's not as unwieldy as Google Earth. Use the Google Map 'map' function to find your way, the 'satellite' function if you need any obstuctions that you have to avoid and 'terrain' function if you're into hiking your way through.

It's intuitive and comparatively fuss-free. The best thing of all, it's free.

2) Get a hotel near the train station

Most European cities are connected to an international airport by rail. More often than not, there'll also be a number of hotels that sprung up in the proximity of the train station.

They're there for a reason and that's to cater for those who do not wish to miss their plane.

Now, you wouldn't want to get carried away with that last minute sightseeing and shopping on your last day when travelling to find that you've underestimated the time required to pack your bags, lug it across half the city only to miss the last train that will bring you to the airport.

With accomodations within walking distance to the train station, you can pack your bags and even wash up before heading towards the airport. You wouldn't want to have memories of chasing for the train down the platform with your luggage during your holiday. That bit of premium that you pay for a hotel near the train station is worth every penny.

My advice? Once you have the full address of the accomodation, input it into the Google Map to see exactly where it is relative to the train station.

A word of caution. Avoid accomodations right next to train stations: you wouldn't want to be kept awake at night by the clanking of trains.

3) Get a universal travel adaptor

The last thing you want when travelling is having your camera, mobile phone, laptops or iPod running out of battery. Most devices, in an attempt to reduce its weight, comes with an internal rechargeable battery.

It doesn't really help that different countries have adopted different power plug configuration as their standard.

In come the universal power adaptor. This thing doesn't come cheap. You can get a decent one for around S$30-40. But believe me, it's much more useful than those country specific adaptor.

You might just want to throw in a multiplug adaptor so that you can charge your mobile, camera and iPod all at one go.

4) Lay things out before you pack

Seasoned travellers always adhere to a standard pack list; they know exactly what to pack. For the rest of us, packing right is an art.

Before throwing everything into that luggage of yours, I recommend that you lay out all the items beside it in a logical manner (clothes, toiletries, guides and maps etc.) for two good reasons. Firstly, it'll be quite apparent if you've missed something and secondly, you can roughly gauge whether all that can be fitted into your luggage.

5) Weigh your luggage

Generally, an economy class passenger will be allowed to check in luggage weighing 20-23kg depending on the airline.

Unless you have a weighing machine somewhere in your line of ancestry, you probably find it difficult to estimate the weight of your luggage. As a result of which, you'll find yourself facing the choice of either discarding part of the luggage or facing the ridiculous penalty for the extra weight.

One advice is to weigh yourself carrying the luggage on a bathroom scale and then subtract your own weight from the reading to get an estimate of the luggage's weight. You might wish to add 2kg the outcome for conservative measure.

6) Check in online, choose an aisle seat

After a spate of terrorist attacks, airline passengers are requried to check in at least 2-3hrs before take-off.

Consider checking in online. Most airlines offers luggage check-in up to an hour before departure if you have already check in online (either 24hrs or 48hrs in advance). To check in online, just visit the airlines' website.

Another advantage of online checking in is that you are able to choose your seats as well. Most would advise choosing the window seat to enjoy the view. Let us get this straight: during a long haul flight that crosses several timezones, the window shutters would be closed most of the time anyway, so what's the point of settling for a window seat and get hemmed in by the fella seating by the aisle.

Choose an aisle seat the next time your travel. It's easier to get the attention of flight attendants for that cup of water as well.

7) Bring along a good headset

Despite what they say about how airtight a plane is, I find the sound insulation is not exactly the top priority. After a while, the whirring sound of the engine will just drive you crazy especially if you're on a long haul flight.

It's advisable to spend some of those hardearned cash to get a good piece of headset for some good reasons. Firstly, even though some airlines offer headsets for inflight entertainment, those flimsy pieces hardly do its job well. Also, these headsets are usually issued when the flight is well on its way and collected back way before landing. You wouldn't want to miss out on your the latest movie flick, would you? Finally, have you wondered what they do to the headsets? Recycle them of course... you wouldn't want to share headsets with someone else would you?

A final note - travelling light doesn't mean that you can't drive your car right to the airport. With the number of airport car park options, you're spoilt for choice. Check out Gatwick car parking, Stansted car parking or parking at Luton airport.

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You might like to read this as well
6 (unpublished) tips when flying

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Jasmine Shanea said...

great tips for travelling! sadly I won't be doing much travelling on the new job. Sigh.

PS: it's getting colder in Singapore! Yay!

LadyBanana said...

I prefer the window seat, I'm still like a little kid watching as we take off/land and imagining the clouds to be cotton wool balls!

lina said...

great tips. look forward for more.

Anonymous said...

Good tips you've got there esp for DIY travellers.I like the tip on the universal adaptor, which is so important.

C K said...

@jasmine shanea,
New job? Are you going to do a post about that? :)

Well, do take a break after the probation period!

So what's the temp now?

C K said...

Actually I'm just trying to comfort myself as I don't usually get the window seat (hah!).

But you should try the aisle seat some time and shove the chap at the window seat aside to get a view.

C K said...

Coming right up! But I'm trying to shorten it abit... can get kind of trying at times.

C K said...

@my bug life,
I used to spent quite abit on those country specific adaptor and then lose them again because they're not as expensive.

That's doesn't sound right, does it? :0

SheR. said...

Did you steal my tips? Hhhaa I did a post on my travelheart blog about travelling with adaptor months ago.

Oh.. and do not book a hotel near a fire station. The firemen are to die for gorgeous but the sirens in the middle of the night.. zzzzzz

My Luggage? Always overweight! Ryanair charges exhorbitant rates for excess luggage. So do watch out. Yeah not many travel on budget airlines like me.. duh..

Sorry CK. I'll write the article soon. Probably more than one. :P

C K said...

Darn, I got found out!

But great tip about the fire station though. Never occurred to me as it just so happened that none of my accomodations were near fire stations.

I think most if not all budget airlines charges lots of excess baggage. That's where they earn, I supposed. :)

Don't worry about the article. Take your time. Cheers!

Deb said...

No 2 is a good tip. I flew into Manila once for a two-day stay: the flight was 3.5 hours but encountered rains and knee-high floods in the city, we took another 3.5 hours to reach the place we stayed at. I was shocked! but the stressful part was the return trip to the airport. Our Filipino hosts, so relaxed and kept saying never mind, you'll be in time for your flight but no, we're a bunch of KS Sporeans so we gave ourselves a six hour headstart!!

C K said...

Thought that it'll be great to share that with you guys. More than once, we found ourselves running towards the departure gate as our hotel was too far from the connecting train station.

kyh said...

great tips!!! and yeap, google maps/earth watever is really a useful tool. b4 i went heritage tracking in georgetown, penang, i did use this method too alongside a map. :P

kyh said...

and hey, i'm a window-seat guy! in a bus/car etc. but it's been over a decade since i last board a flight!

C K said...

Google Map is a fantastic tool indeed. I heard from a friend that it now offers street views as well. Have not tried that out though.

Well, I found out about the advantages of an aisle seat only when my then girlfriend (now wife) prefers the window seat. :)

G@ttoGiallo, the Instigator said...

wisdom leads your steps, my fellow,
as well as mines.

Annie said...

When I was a travel agent, I used Google Earth to find lodging and dining choices for my clients that were near the activities they had reserved. Now, I use it to avoid overpasses and bridges on driving trips because I have a fear of heights. Great tips!!

C K said...

@G@ttoGiallo, the Instigator
Thanks man! I'll take that as a complement. Cheers!

C K said...

Really glad to know that more people are using this fantastic yet under utilized tool!