50 essential tips for happy travel

Do you address someone by their first name in a foreign country? Should you take an antibiotic with you when you travel in case you get ill? Is it ever advisable to eat on the street alongside the locals in a capital city? What’s the best way to wash your knickers on the move?

Sue Williams (and Jimmy Thomson … but mainly Sue) asked 10 well-travelled Australian experts each for five tips in their specialist fields. Some of their advice will surprise you …

Make sure you can see the flashing light on the card slot
Make sure you can see the flashing light on the card slot

SCAMS

THE EXPERT

Jodi Thomas from Budget Direct Travel insurance, a group that provides more than 6.8 million policies to customers internationally

THE QUOTE

“To avoid being stung on your holiday, find out as much as you can about your destination before you travel,” she says. “Also, inform your bank where you’re going, and always take out travel insurance!”

THE ADVICE

1. It’s convenient to withdraw cash in local currency, but ATM skimmers and PIN readers are a worldwide problem. Most ATMs have a flashing light where you insert the card. Skimmers obscure this light so if you don’t see the light, don’t put your card in. Always use your hand to shield your PIN and be on the lookout for brochure-holders positioned alongside the ATM which can hide a camera.

2. Never tell a taxi-driver this is your first visit and, if you can, agree on the fare beforehand and never take a taxi which doesn’t have a visible working meter. Ideally call ahead for the taxi rather than catch one off the street. Uber can be a good option.

3. You could spend hundreds on a room you book on the Net with a sea view only to arrive to find they have no record of your reservation. When booking online ask questions about the facilities, location, and services nearby before handing over credit card details. Check the provider’s responses against Google Earth street view, and reviews and feedback from other travellers.

4. Distraction artists run all sorts of ruses to part unsuspecting travellers from their valuables and many operate in pairs. One will spill a drink on you while the other pinches your wallet; others will offer to take your photo and make off with your camera or phone instead. Keep your valuables well-hidden, and be on the lookout for overfriendly strangers and quick getaway thieves on scooters.

5. One common scam in major tourist spots involves telling you the temple/cultural centre/shopping centre you’ve arranged to visit is closed for the day, but there’s an equally good attraction nearby – where you’re pressured to pay a high entry fee or buy something. To avoid, research opening hours ahead of time.

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