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Fiji for the pleasure seekers

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Coming close to perfection, a cruise through Fiji’s Yasawa Islands won Bev Malzard’s vote – and heart.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After a four-hour flight from Sydney to Fiji and arriving in Nadi I immediately switched to ‘Fiji time’. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I strolled out to grab a cab to take me to Denaru Island – the island where all the fabulous hotels hang out together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After checking into the elegant Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, my companion and I scoped out the hotel to explore what we could do for the next two days – easy: eat, sleep, spa, pool. We tried fine dining, classic poolside snacks, brekkie on the Lagoon Terrace and a meal outside at Salt, where we sheltered under an umbrella while some welcome, cooling rain arrived the same time as dessert. Day two called for a day at the pool with intermittent trips for indulgent treatments at Mandara Spa – mmm, too good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next day we embarked on a four day cruise on MV Endeavour that would take us up through the northern group of Yasawa Islands on Fiji time. Early in the piece we got used to making quick, crucial decisions – what to do today? Stay onboard and gaze at the horizon or read, go ashore to swim, snorkel, and walk along pristine beaches and visit local villages – hardly worth deciding really.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Long, white, sandy beaches beckoned even the most tentative swimmer; the waters are safe and serene.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One night after dinner we all joined in for the Reef Endeavour Cup – we purchased tiny hermit crabs and put them to work for the big crab race. NO crabs were injured in this exercise. The following day the dozy crabs were released into their new home, the famous Blue Lagoon – it’s all about location.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Still on Sawa-L-Lau, a few of us were intrigued by a staircase built on the side of a cliff that started on the beach, stopping a few metres up the side. We climbed the stairs and paid a local man $10 and he opened a door behind some scrub in the side of the cliff. Curiouser and curiouser . . .</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We scrambled down a few damp, muddy steps, and beneath us appeared a glorious iridescent pool cupped in the middle of a cavernous cave. The water was exquisite aqua – no blue could ever match this. We dived in and looked up to the eye in the sky. We were deep inside a magical cave swimming in cold, clear water. This has to be one of the great swims of my life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With holiday joy providing a new colour to my aura, I realised that the ‘secret pool’ was just one of the parts that make up the rare and beautiful sum of what Fiji is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Bula that accompanies the obligatory lei on arrival at Nadi airport has nothing on the bellow of ‘buuuulaaaa’ that welcomes guests at the Outrigger on the Lagoon, an hour’s drive away on the Coral Coast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Staff welcome arrivals, and a talai (personal butler) hands each guest a refreshing towel and cocktail, and waits while we soak up the view from the reception area – clear across the top of the resort to the ocean – before whisking guests and luggage away to settle in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">My talai offers to unpack and iron my clothes and promises to return each afternoon with champagne and canapes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The next morning we’re off to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes with our guide, Kini Sarai, ex-Fiji rugby international who now works at the Outrigger and coaches the local rugby 7s team that the resort sponsors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a fair hike through the forest and over vegetated areas of the 650ha of dunes, but we are surrounded by beauty every step of the way. Back ‘home’ we jump aboard the resort’s buggy, and are whisked up to the Bebe Spa Sanctuary. At the top of the hill beside the resort, it’s a dream.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I am cocooned in a bathrobe and led to my private treatment room. An hour later, scrubbed, wrapped and soaked, I’m led to the shower on a balcony overlooking the ocean.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another hour later, massaged, soaked and moisturised, I watch the sun drop into the ocean from the resort’s Kalokalo Bar where I sip champagne wishing my Fiji time will never end.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/fiji-for-the-pleasure-seekers.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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How do you help grandchildren adjust when they’re moving?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When our children move house, we’re often asked to help store their clutter so their home is looking at its best during marketing. However, looking after grandchildren is sometimes added to the list of our desirable contributions when children are moving. And, given that moving home can be particularly stressful for young children and teenagers, there are a few tips to consider – before and after they move.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Routines are understandably disrupted in major ways during moving and sensitive planning can help all family members, but especially young children, to better cope with the impending changes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the problems is that busy parents, hectic professional lives, and the necessities of an extremely competitive real estate market can mean little thought is given to the effect moving has on young children and teenagers, both of whom respond differently. Certainly no thought is given to the advice grandparents might need when asked to look after children in the middle of the moving process or how to deal with what comes up afterwards.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Firstly, kids need time to get used to the idea of moving, so parents should give them as much advance warning as possible. It is important for other family members such as grandparents provide them with as much additional information as possible about why the family is moving and what they can expect in their new home and suburb.</span></p> <p><strong>Before the move</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are some tips that should help smooth the process of looking after kids when they are in the process of moving suburb, interstate or overseas:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Ask grandchildren to share their feelings with you:</strong> Although you’ll undoubtedly be going through your range of emotions, experts say open discussion is very important so your grandchildren can voice the feelings they’re encountering. Listen to what they have to say and assure them that you understand any concerns. Talk to them about your moving experiences and reassure them about life’s journey, and how change can often opens doors to new and exciting chapters and friends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Don’t take their reactions personally:</strong> Children can have problems adjusting to a move, or the idea of moving, and can blame a parent or parents for causing it. Don’t fall into the trap of defending a parent’s decision making if this happens. Explain that sometimes big decisions can’t be avoided and reinforce some of the positive outcomes that are possible from a move.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Make them a part of the process.</strong> Ask your children to help very young grandchildren pack some of their favourite items as their house is being packed up. It can help them understand that although the family will be moving to a new home, their belongings will be moving with them. Personalise their boxes with labels and stickers. Perhaps even ask them if they would like some of their belongings to holiday at your house, during the move.
</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Be cautiously optimistic.</strong> It’s important to be positive and optimistic because your grandchildren’s attitude will largely mirror yours and that of their parents. However, don’t insist everything is going to be wonderful. Even if the new house is fantastic, it’s normal for it to take some time to adjust.
</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Help grandchildren to explore the new neighbourhood on the Internet:</strong> If they’ll be moving to a new suburb or town, use Google Street View, Google Earth, maps, tourism information websites, local council websites and Wikipedia pages from your new local council or the Internet to explain where you’ll be living. Explain any differences in weather and geography and talk about any nearby attractions that may be interesting, such as moving closer to the beach or to a park. 
</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Try to keep a routine:</strong> A child’s world is based on routine and it’s important to try and keep some semblance of normalcy throughout the process. We suggest sticking to a set time for dinner every evening, no matter how chaotic things seem to be, and to regular weekend activities the family enjoys.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For younger children and toddlers, it can be useful to speak to your doctor about issues such as a new diet or the start of toilet training. It may be better to put any further new experiences on hold until you’ve settled in to the new home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With teenagers, the most prevalent concerns revolve around the loss of peer groups, friends and what to expect from a new school. It’s vitally important not to invalidate their feelings but to openly acknowledge their fears and discuss the importance of keeping a sense of proportion and context. Moving house can be exceptionally challenging for teenagers but also an important, strengthening, life experience when handled sensitively.</span></p> <p><strong>After the move</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After your grandchildren have moved, there’s bound to be a settling in period – perhaps for you as well. If they’ve moved some distance away, you may feel just as heartbroken as them. In fact, it can be doubly difficult for grandparents because you may be experiencing considerable anxiety about the loss of regular visits to your children as well as your grandchildren.</span></p> <p><strong>There are a few things you can do to make the separation less arduous:</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, or if you’d like to teach your grandchildren the art of snail mail, make a folder with some paper for very young grandchildren to write notes or draw pictures of their new neighbourhood and friends on. Include some addressed, stamped envelopes (taking account of any looming postal increases) and encourage them to snail mail you at any time.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Set up a Skype account or try out Facetime with the kids before they move. It’s a great way of providing a fun and reassuring way of them keeping in touch whenever they like.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Create a photo album or a framed photo collage with all the great times you’ve shared.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Give your grandchildren a special possession for safekeeping and to remember you by.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Provide the recipe for one your grandchildren’s favourite treats or meals.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, it’s important to let children know that they’ll always be in your heart and in your thoughts, that their future holds exciting new adventures that will also include you, and that you have a pact to find ways to stay in contact and strengthen your bond until you see each other again next time.</span></li> </ul> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/how-do-you-help-grandchildren-adjust-when-they%E2%80%99re-moving.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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How to survive the holidays after divorce

<p>For many of us who are going through or recovering from divorce, the holidays can feel dark, lonely and stressful. But moving on with our lives does not mean that we cannot enjoy the holidays. In fact, we can even make them better than ever before when we remember the following tips.<br /><br /><strong>Your memory may play tricks on you, so be careful!</strong><br />We’re all guilty of remembering our past "married" Christmases as perfect. It’s easy to fall into this trap when we are divorced. But what we forget are all the things that weren’t great during the holidays when we were married. When we shut those not-perfect memories of family holidays out, we are subconsciously setting ourselves up for failure. We are holding our current holiday mood up to an impossible ideal of selective memories that may not be correct. We do this when we are feeling down, trying to imagine a happier time.</p> <p>This way of thinking does not serve you because you are holding yourself to an ideal that is impossible to attain. Making yourself feel guilty or resentful or longing for the past will not serve you this holiday season. The only way to start loving the holidays again is to reclaim for yourself… now.<br /><br /><strong>Stay hopeful, but be realistic</strong><br />For years, we have been inundated with other people, the media and the internet telling us how Christmas “should” be. These unrealistic expectations of perfect holidays and families getting along have conditioned us to feel as if we are not up to those standards. We feel that we are wrong, and that we’re not celebrating the holidays “the right way”.</p> <p>You have worked too hard over the decades and deserve more than to get sucked into the idea that you’re doing Christmas wrong. This year, it is time to envision what the best holiday season means for you, regardless of where you are in your life.</p> <p>A change in family circumstance does not mean you are sentenced to feel bad. It just means that you are now given an opportunity to decide how you want the holidays to be, regardless of what anyone else thinks.<br /><br /><strong>How to love the holidays again</strong><br />The first steps to learning to love the holidays again begin here. Celebrate you and your new life, by answering the following questions. Ask yourself:</p> <ul> <li>What do you really want to do?</li> <li>What will give you joy this holiday season?</li> <li>What steps will you take to get there?</li> </ul> <p>That is all you must ask yourself. These answers do not have to be complicated. You are not required to spend a lot of money on them.</p> <p><strong>Reclaiming your holidays</strong><br />Shaking off your loneliness and reclaiming the holidays for yourself as a divorced woman or man over 50 is all about taking care of yourself for a change. This is the year that you can say “no” to the things from holidays past that you have not enjoyed and that bring you stress, such as travelling, seeing toxic family members, spending too much money.<br /><br />This is also the year where you can pick the traditions that you love and throw out the rest. This is the year that you can define what a joyous season means to you and choose to celebrate how you want to celebrate.<br /><br />And learning to love Christmas again, even if you are divorced and over 50, starts with kicking those unrealistic expectations to the kerb and ignoring the selective memory that plays tricks on you.<br /><br />These next few weeks can be the season that you finally recognise that you deserve holiday joy and happiness and you have the power to define that on your own terms. Will you accept that gift.</p> <p><em>Written by Martha Bodyfelt. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/how-to-survive-the-holidays-after-divorce.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Protecting your home while you're away

<p>Planning your summer escape, or heading off soon for a well-deserved break? Read up on these simple and cost-effective security measures to ensure your home and property remain safe while you’re away.</p> <p>Many people leave their homes and cars unattended when they head off on their summer holidays and that can be a green light for burglars. It’s important to take as many precautions as you can to ensure you don’t return from your holiday to find you’re a victim of crime.</p> <p><strong>Tips to help boost your home’s security</strong> <br /><br /><strong>1. Get a security alarm:</strong> If you have the time - and the budget - before you go away, consider installing a burglar alarm. This is still one of the best deterrents to break-ins. For most burglars, an alarm simply makes your home too difficult to try and enter. Be sure to display notices about the alarm system prominently at doors and windows.</p> <p><strong>2. Lock all doors and windows:</strong>It sounds obvious, but people in a rush to head off can easily forget to close a window or secure a door. A lot us have done it! If possible, fit deadlocks to main doors and windows, as these are a major hurdle for a would-be burglar.</p> <p><strong>3. Create a ‘lived in’ look:</strong>While away, make sure your home still looks ‘lived in’. Leave a pair of old shoes at the back door, some water in the dog’s bowl or an old towel on the washing line. Make sure a trusted neighbour or family member collects mail and regularly adjusts curtains and blinds. If possible, ask a friend or neighbour to regularly park in your driveway or outside your home, to suggest activity.</p> <p><strong>4. Set timers:</strong>Timers are available from hardware stores and allow you to switch your TV or radio on at various times during the day and some lights on at night. Tune your radio to a talkback station so there’s the sound of many different voices. If someone is snooping around, it will make it harder for them to know if someone is inside the house.</p> <p><strong>5. Sensor lights:</strong>These are anther inexpensive deterrent that remain useful throughout the year. Install them at all external doorways.</p> <p><strong>6. Secure the shed and garage:</strong>Put away and secure items such as ladders, tools and gardening implements as these can assist in forced entry and make sure the garage is locked. Store away any valuable outdoor items, such as bicycles and the barbecue.</p> <p><strong>7. Turn down the phone volume:</strong>An endlessly ringing phone can be a give-away that there’s no one home. Turn down the volume, and make sure the voice message gives no clue that you’ve gone on holidays.</p> <p><strong>8. Spare keys:</strong>These should be left only with a trusted family member, friend or neighbour. Don’t ever keep them under a flower pot or a door mat. A burglar will easily find them. </p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/protecting-your-home-while-youre-away.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Natural therapies for jet lag

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jet lag occurs when our body clock ‘lags’ behind (or in front) of local time. Symptoms of jet lag include; fatigue, sleepiness during the day, trouble concentrating, sluggishness, clumsiness and generally feeling less than fabulous. Jet lag is made worse by travel fatigue. Sitting down for hours in small seats, squished side-by-side like sardines in a can, our muscles are bound to cramp and tire. Even sardines get to lie down.</span></p> <p><strong>Reducing Jet lag</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The trick is you set your watch to the local time of your destination. This means that you try to sleep when it is night-time at your destination, and eat at your destination’s meal times. Speaking of eating, it is best to eat lightly, so you don’t feel like a stuffed trout – salads and fruit, instead of sugar and starch. The air circulating in planes is as dry as a chip and dehydration adds to jet lag, also triggering sinusitis, headaches and blotchy skin. Aim to drink one glass of water an hour while on the plane. And before you take-off make sure you are fully hydrated (this does not mean ‘tanked’) for the 24 hours prior to take off, drinking at least 2 litres of water.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The downside to drinking all this water is the need to use the bathroom frequently, which can be inconvenient when you are in the middle seat. However, the trip to the loo can double as ‘exercise’. We need to exercise to prevent swelling of the ankles and legs, and to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition that comes from being cramped in a confined space for hours. Why not make the exercise fun? If you were good at hurdles at school, use the food carts in the aisles to practice your jumping skills – the hosties won’t mind a bit. More sedate exercise involves circling your feet and ankles, hands and wrists, lifting each thigh for twenty seconds, while pulling in your tummy. Looks odd, but works a treat.</span></p> <p><strong>Other tips:</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Arnica, a homoeopathic remedy, is terrific for jet lag. Take a dose every couple of hours of the flight, and for a day after you arrive.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you are an anxious flyer, take a dose of Rescue Remedy before and during the flight. Kava is also excellent for creating calm.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take Ginseng and a B complex in the ‘morning’ to give you energy and Valerian and Passionflower at ‘night’ to help you sleep.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The herb Vitex agnus castus (Chaste tree) is thought to improve melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Take a dose with each meal.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you arrive, if it is night-time try to sleep or do relaxing things like a hot bath with lavender oil. If it is day-time spend some time outside in the sunshine to adapt to the new time zone.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have the time, try to break up your journey with overnight stops. This will greatly reduce jet lag and your bank balance.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Travel first class. French champagne is well known to prevent jet lag and travel fatigue. When sleepy, snuggle in between those crisp white sheets and remember your earplugs to help to reduce the bleating sounds from cattle class.</span></li> </ul> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Mim Beim. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/health/natural-therapies-for-jet-lag.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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The best golf holiday Australia has to offer

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Playing any championship course is a thrill in itself, but when you have a cluster of world class courses all within one region and only a short drive from each other it makes for a golfing escape without equal. That’s exactly what’s on offer in the Sandbelt region and Mornington Peninsula.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Easily accessible from Melbourne, the Sandbelt region stretches south east of the city and is the gateway to the picturesque Mornington Peninsula. The stunning selection of courses is enough to make any golfer’s head spin. Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Victoria, Commonwealth, Huntingdale and Yarra Yarra are all iconic names that showcase the work of the world’s finest course designers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Mornington Peninsula offers a paradise of sights, tastes and touring experiences, which are sure to please a non-golfing partner, or to add some variety to your golfing getaway. It’s an area that is rich in viticulture and culinary delights, set on a backdrop of delightful countryside.  </span></p> <p><strong>Hit the food, wine and farmgate trail</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why not tempt the tastebuds on a food, wine and farmgate trail to sample the rich bounty of this region of plenty. The wineries are just as world-class as the golf courses, with a superb selection of cellar doors to visit.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you are into gourmet produce you are in for a real treat. Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm offers a ripe and juicy reward for picking your own basket of berries and a host of farmgates beckon with delicious cheeses, dairy produce, olive oils, honey, fruit and vegetables. Once you have worked up an appetite, there are a range of premium restaurants and cafes to choose from, right across the region.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For a change of pace, you can enjoy the seaside towns such as Dromana, Rosebud and Sorrento for beautiful beaches and stunning views over Port Phillip Bay.</span></p> <p><strong>Make sure you plan ahead</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being private courses means that course visits must be arranged in advance and certain criteria must be observed in order to qualify to play. One alternative is to use the services of an organised golf tour operator, which can help make access a lot smoother and allows you to incorporate a range of other tourism experiences within the one package.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/the-best-golf-holiday-australia-has-to-offer.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au. </span></a></em></p>

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Are you planning a road trip?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every now and then we all get itchy feet and feel the need to escape the daily grind, but perhaps don’t want the expense and or hassle of organising a major holiday to a far off destination. Why not just keep it simple and do a good old fashioned road trip? It can be a satisfying and stimulating adventure with lots of variety and experiences along the way and with a little bit of smart planning it can be a simple and economical way to take some time out.</span></p> <p><strong>Good planning is essential</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The difference between a fun-filled, stress-free trip and a frustrating, tiring one is all in the planning. Driving a long distance without a good plan is a recipe for a disastrous holiday. Get together with your partner or whoever you are travelling with and get some concrete ideas of:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The general area and destinations you want to include</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How far you want to travel each day</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">What attractions and experiences you want to sample along the way </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Key places where you may want to stop over a bit longer </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Where you will stay</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Internet is a great place to research potential routes and to work out itineraries and there are some fabulous sites that can give you inspiration and let you plan for the factors listed above. The Drive Australia site is a great example. It provides a host of suggested route maps Australia-wide and it even breaks each route down to daily chunks, accommodation options and things to see and do along the way, so you can plan your adventure as much as possible in advance. It even has a handy ‘inspirations’ tool that lets you filter possible journeys that suit the profile of the people travelling, the length of time you have available and the types of attractions you are interested in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The key to good trip planning is to focus on quality, not quantity. It’s not how far you drive or how quickly you can get to your destination that matters; it’s the variety and quality of experiences along the way. The major highways will often bypass some interesting country towns or some scenic wonders, so don’t let the road determine your itinerary; read and research the things that will fill your journey with richer encounters.</span></p> <p><strong>Organise your accommodation</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The last thing you want to be doing at the end of each day of the trip is to be hunting around for somewhere to stay the night. Take the stress out by booking your accommodation ahead. If you have a planned itinerary then you know what towns you will be in each night and it’s easy to research the options online.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The type of accommodation depends on your preferences. You may want to keep as close to nature as possible and opt for camping grounds or caravan parks. If you are more concerned about getting a good night’s rest, then maybe it is better to book hotels, motels or bed &amp; breakfast style accommodation.</span></p> <p><strong>Worry-free driving</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Make sure you don’t neglect the central hub of your roadtrip – your vehicle. It’s your transport and your ‘daytime accommodation’ so it needs to be in tip top shape for the journey. Safety and reliability are critical to a worry-free trip, so have your vehicle serviced before you leave to make sure things like battery, oil, tyres and belts are all in good order.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then there are the little things that can make your time on the road more comfortable, such as windshield cleaner fluid, wipers and even just a good clean inside and out. Pack some emergency gear too, (just in case), including jumper leads, torch, a basic first aid kit.....and a spare set of car keys.</span></p> <p><strong>Feeding the mind and body in transit</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When it comes to food, variety is the key word. It’s nice to stop at the occasional café, restaurant or pub along the way, but you may end up eating too heavily if that makes up your whole diet, not to mention the extra cost involved. Mix up your meal options by taking a cooler bag with you and stock it up with some fruit, healthy snacks (such as trail mix), juice, bread and sandwich fillings. This gives you the flexibility to stop by a river, beach or scenic spot for lunch, rather than driving around searching for take-aways. A thermos can be refilled each morning at your accommodation and instant coffee and teabags will complete the picture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To keep the mind stimulated on the longer stretches of road make sure you pack your favourite music and even some audio books for a change of pace. Keep comfortable too by packing some moist towlettes, some bags for rubbish and maybe a pillow and blanket will be handy if you ever need to pull over at a quiet grassy spot to catch a quick refreshing nap.</span></p> <p><strong>A final tip</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some of the best experiences on the road will be the people you meet and not just the places you visit. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for tips on the best places to dine and the more offbeat attractions to visit. You may be pleasantly surprised by the friendships you may strike up and the characters that will make your journey a more memorable one.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/are-you-planning-a-road-trip.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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A travel writer's guide to Athens

<p>Most baby boomers 'did' Greece in the far off past and we have held that time fondly in our hearts - so, time for a revisit - there are bargains to be had.</p> <p>If you haven’t seen Athens since before the XXVIII Olympiad in 2004 you’ll see a very different city from 20 or so years ago. The underground Metro is fantastic, the stations immaculate and beautifully decorated and the service fast and regular; Syntagma Square has fewer cafes now and Omonia Square is buzzing during the day but pretty seedy at night.<br /><br />It's best to go back to basics in Athens and spend a day on the hop-on hopoff bus to reaquaint yourself with the city, see what’s new and stop off at unfamiliar spots. Then, walk...<br /><br />The Parthenon is the most important surviving building of classical Greece. Walking around the Parthenon, and trying to imagine the original scope of this magnificent site still sends shivers down the arms – now if they’d just tidy up those old broken columns!<br /><br />Next stop is the New Acropolis Museum, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, which houses all the remaining treasures of the Acropolis including the day-to-day objects found that belonged to the folk who lived around the base of the mighty mount.<br />From inside the museum there’s a wondrous view of the sacred rock. This museum is user friendly and is full of interesting objects that will keep you enthralled for hours.<br /><br />Take a walk along the beautiful pedestrian road to Thission (with its ancient ruins alongside chirpy cafes and restaurants) and Monastiraki.<br />Monastiraki and Avissinias Square are full of narrow alleys providing a haven for stalls and little shops.</p> <p>Visit the Agora, the focal meeting point of ancient Athens. The Agora, with its elegant, creamy columns provides a welcome relief on a hot and heavy summer day. The Agora museum has a fine collection of ancient jewellery and old costumes.<br /><br />Then take Amalias Avenue to visit the temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. End this tour in Syntagma Square in front of Vouli (the Greek Parliament) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The much photographed guards dressed in the traditional Greek uniform change the hour in an impressive, stamping march.</p> <p><strong>Bev's favourite places in Athens:</strong></p> <p>1.  Acropolis<br />2.   New Acropolis Museum<br />3.   National Archaeological Museum<br />4.   Museum of Cycladic Art<br />5.   Benaki Museum (recently refurbished and extended)<br />6.   DESTE Foundation<br />7.   Eleni Koroneou Gallery<br />8.   Byzantinon Restaurant in the Plaka<br />9.   Kafeneion Restaurant in Kolonaki<br />10. Eleftheroudakis Bookstore<br />11. Metro of Athens<br />12. Athinas Street, meat market and fish market<br />13. Herodes Attikikon Theatre.</p> <p><strong>Fact File</strong></p> <ul> <li>Bev Malzard stayed at <a href="http://www.novotel.com/">Hotel Novotel Athenes</a>, a 10-minute walk from <br />Larissa Station.</li> <li>Feel the rhythm of the city in the Novotel at night next to the swimming pool with a breathtaking view of the Acropolis and Lycabettous Hill.</li> <li>Visit <a href="http://www.novotel.com/">novotel.com</a>.</li> </ul> <p><em>This story first appeared in <a href="http://www.getupandgo.com.au/">Get Up &amp; Go</a> and has been edited.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/top-things-to-see-and-do-in-athens.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Sydney's top 5 picnic spots

<p><strong>If you're in Australia, try out these gorgeous places for a sweet picnic with loved ones. </strong></p> <p>Who loves going on a delicious picnic once the weather turns warmer? We do too! After all, it is a fantastic opportunity to gather friends and family for a fun afternoon. Ready to go?</p> <p><strong>1. North Bondi Beach</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moving away from the tourist filled Bondi Beach main stretch, head north and you’ll find where the locals spend their time. There are a few picnic shelters and coin-operated BBQs, but get there early to save yourself a good spot!</span></p> <p><strong>Highlights:</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Relax at the beachside park whilst enjoying the beautiful ocean view. Plus, if you feel like going for a dip, it is only a short walk to the beach.</span></p> <p><strong>Facilities:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Playgrounds, outdoor workout gym, running water, outdoor shower, lockers, change rooms, gelato stores, cafes, buses, coin-operated barbeques.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Como Pleasure Grounds</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Living up to their name, the Como Pleasure Grounds offer serenity and relaxation among its well-tended plant life and riverside views.</span></p> <p><strong>Highlights:</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Georges River.</span></p> <p><strong>Facilities</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>:</strong> Playground, picnic tables, bike track, BBQ areas, parking, seasonal aquatic recreation facility, tidal baths, cafes and restaurants. </span></p> <p><strong>3. Auburn Botanical Gardens</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Auburn Botanical Gardens are famous for their idyllic Japanese Gardens, complete with a waterfall, decorative bridges and bonsai. Numerous animals also wander freely around the Botanical Gardens including Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes, Peacocks, and Magpie larks - just to name a few exotic birds!</span></p> <p><strong>Highlights:</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"> An annual Cherry Blossom festival is held between mid-August and early September in these traditionally landscaped Japanese Gardens. </span></p> <p><strong>Facilities:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Playgrounds, buses and free parking.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Wendy’s Secret Garden</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the death of her husband, artist Wendy Whiteley took it upon herself to clean up a patch of derelict land owned by NSW Rail. Over the past 15 years Wendy transformed the area into a beautiful garden, entirely open to anyone who knows where to find it. In 2009 Wendy was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her efforts in creating the garden.</span></p> <p><strong>Highlights</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>:</strong> A peaceful haven to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with beautifully maintained gardens, outdoor sculptures and antiques plinths, it is deemed an oasis in North Sydney.</span></p> <p><strong>Nearby</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>:</strong> Luna Park.</span></p> <p><strong>5. Cockatoo Island </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A quick ferry ride from Circular Quay will get you to Cockatoo Island, a former naval site with stunning views of the harbour and plenty of industrial buildings to explore.</span></p> <p><strong>Highlights:</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;"> The island is centred in the stunning Sydney Harbour with numerous shady picnic spots, BBQ areas and even an Island Bar.</span></p> <p><strong>Facilities:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Cafes, BBQ areas, bars, ferries, vending machines and camping areas.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/top-ten-picnic-spots-in-sydney.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au. </span></a></em></p>

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5 things smart travellers always do before a flight

<p><strong>Passport protocol</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’re travelling internationally, you won’t get anywhere without your passport on-hand. So make sure to double check you have it in your carry-on bag before heading to the airport. “Make a copy of your passport to carry around at all times, and keep your real version in the hotel safe,” says Patricia Hajifotiou, who owns the small-group tour company The Olive Odysseys and has been leading tours in Europe for 21 years.</span></p> <p><strong>Protect against mishaps</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So many things can go awry while travelling – trip delays and cancellations, delayed or lost luggage, travel accidents, emergency evacuations, and more. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No, this doesn’t mean you should stay home and give up your dreams of seeing the world. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When I am booking an international trip with my family, I make sure to pay for our flights, lodging, and rental car with a credit card that offers reimbursement for these inconveniences,” says Leah Althiser, owner of travel blog The Frugal South. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Most premium travel rewards credit cards offer these benefits, some with an annual fee less than $100. These benefits can potentially save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong on your trip.” If you don’t have a credit card that offers this peace of mind, consider purchasing separate traveller’s insurance.</span></p> <p><strong>Notify banks</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Want to escape off the grid entirely? Even if you don’t tell your mother where you’re headed, you should tell your credit card company. “Banks take extra precautions to prevent credit card fraud and will block transactions that don’t fit your normal pattern,” says Tom Carr, founder and CEO of Preferred Vacations. “If you don’t travel often, it’s best to let them know where you’ll be so you’re not in the checkout line or at a restaurant without a way to pay until you can speak with your bank.”</span></p> <p><strong>Prevent jetlag </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If your circadian rhythm is easily disturbed, a little foresight can help decrease your adjustment time. “Set your watch to the arrival time zone as soon as you sit in the plane,” says Mitch Krayton, CTA, owner of Krayton Travel. “Then eat, sleep, and act like you are already in the time zone. This will help you manage jet lag and keep you ready to go on arrival.” </span></p> <p><strong>Put on compression socks</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They may not be sexy, but compression socks are a simple life-saving measure everyone should add to their wardrobe. “Especially during a long flight, remaining sedentary for extended periods of time can introduce problems,” says Dr. William Spangler, Global Medical Director with AIG Travel, who has more than 30 years of emergency medical experience. “One of the most common of these is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is the formation of blood clots, particularly in the lower leg or thigh. It doesn’t cause much pain, but when the clots break off and go elsewhere, they can create serious problems.” Aside from compression socks, which help to increase circulation, Dr. Spangler advises getting up at least every two hours, even if it’s only in your seat just to move your legs. If you can walk up and down the aisle a bit, that’s even better. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Jill Schildhouse. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/13-things-smart-travellers-always-do-before-a-flight/page/1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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5 secrets hotels won’t tell you

<p>Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets – from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill!</p> <p><strong>Insider tips to get the best from your next hotel visit</strong></p> <p>Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets – from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill!</p> <p><strong>Don’t try to bargain with the reservations number we give you</strong></p> <p>The 1-800 reservations number will probably send you to a central office with set rates. If you call the hotel directly instead, you can negotiate.</p> <p><strong>We don’t get everything from online booking sites</strong></p> <p>Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online hotel booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead.</p> <p><strong>Don’t expect a discount if we are not independently owned</strong></p> <p>Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains baulk at dropping the rate.</p> <p><strong>Give the housekeepers time</strong></p> <p>If you show up at 11 a.m. and check-in time is 2 p.m., please don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. I can’t make the housekeepers go any faster. And you don’t want them to rush.</p> <p><em>Written by Michelle Crouch. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/21-secrets-hotels-wont-tell-you?slide=all"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine,</em><span><em> </em></span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><span class="CmCaReT" style="display: none;">�</span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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10 things aeroplanes aren’t cleaning as they should

<p>Just how well are aircrafts being cleaned between flights?</p> <p><strong>Illness breeding ground</strong></p> <p>Sitting amongst strangers in a confined space for any amount of time just feels like a breeding ground for illness. But how well are these aircrafts being cleaned? The answer may make you pack your own sanitising wipes ahead of your next flight.</p> <p><strong>Seatbelt buckles</strong></p> <p>Unless you ask the person sitting next to you to buckle your seatbelt (which we don’t recommend), you’re going to touch that piece of metal at least twice during a flight, once before takeoff, and once when you land. Unfortunately, these oft-used items aren’t getting the spick and span treatment you’d like. According to Travelmath, the average aeroplane seatbelt buckle tested for 230 colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch. </p> <p><strong>Seatback pockets</strong></p> <p>That slim seatback pocket looks innocent enough at first glance. After all, it holds your passenger safety information and inflight magazine. But the cloth that covers it isn’t getting much attention from cabin cleaners. According to a study conducted at Auburn University, the pocket is pretty darn disgusting. Seeing as passengers often stuff trash in that pocket (think used tissues and dirty diapers), it sees its fair share of bacteria. In fact, their study showed that the germs found in this location survived the longest out of any surface on an aeroplane at around seven days. </p> <p><strong>Tray tables</strong></p> <p>Cabin cleaners only do a speedy wipe down of aeroplanes in between flights because they simply aren’t given enough time to do more during these quick turnovers. Believe it or not, tray tables aren’t typically among the surfaces that get cleaned between domestic flights, according to the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. They typically are only addressed during overnight cleanings. Don’t want to get sick on your next flight? </p> <p><strong>Headrest</strong></p> <p>A different study of airline hygiene conducted by Marketplace and analysed in a laboratory at the University of Guelph cited a different surface as being the most bacteria-laden – the headrest. According to their study, the “highest total aerobic count, hemolytic bacteria, and E.coli” were found here. The headrest is nearly impossible to avoid unless you bring something to slip over it, which makes sense that it would come into contact with the most germs.</p> <p><strong>Blankets</strong></p> <p>Complimentary blankets are pretty much a thing of the past among airlines these days, particularly in economy class, and that might just be a good thing. Back in 2008, the Wall Street Journal revealed that these once common aeroplane items were only washed every five to 30 days. When flying, BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket). </p> <p><strong>The floor</strong></p> <p>A quick vacuum job in between flights does not a clean carpet make, especially when you have hundreds of pairs of shoes traipsing up and down the aisles of an aeroplane day-in and day-out. According to an article in <em>USA Today</em>, cleanliness isn’t regulated by the FAA. It’s standard that a plane goes through a deep clean about once a month and perhaps then that carpeting will get extra attention. Even so, it’s best to steer clear of placing your belongings on the floor if you can help it. Once you’ve reached your destination, here’s how to have a healthy and clean hotel stay. </p> <p><strong>Bathroom surfaces</strong></p> <p>Yes, cabin cleaners do a wipe down of lavatories after an aircraft’s passengers have deplaned, but think about how many people use the facilities during the flight and how many hours go by before that cleaning happens. In an interview with <em>TIME</em>, University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba said, “It’s hard to beat the restroom because the water shuts off so people can’t complete hand washing. The sinks are so small that people with large hands can’t even fit them fully underneath the faucets.” </p> <p><strong>Menus/safety information pamphlets</strong></p> <p>We’ve already addressed the icky stuff that often contaminates seatback pockets, but consider the material that’s actually supposed to be in this area. With barely ten to 15 minutes to tidy a cabin, according to the New York Times, cleaners don’t have time to wipe down every menu and safety pamphlet in those pockets. When you consider how often they are touched by human hands (and the garbage that gets tossed into the pockets), this literature is a breeding ground for gross. </p> <p><strong>Overhead air vent</strong></p> <p>Adjusting that overhead air vent is something most passengers do to personalise their limited space for comfort, but who is cleaning that surface? Likely no one. It’s one of the dirtiest spots on an aeroplane according to Travelmath. </p> <p><strong>Aisle seats</strong></p> <p>All airline seats need regular cleanings, but aisle seats could really use some extra attention that they simply aren’t getting. Why? As passengers walk to and from the bathroom they typically put their hands on the tops of the aisle seats to steady themselves. The bacteria and germs from those hands, particularly after using the lavatory, is left behind. In a study published in the journal <em>Clinical Infectious Diseases</em>, a team of researchers found that passengers sitting in aisle seats were more likely to catch the stomach flu (or norovirus) than those sitting in middle or window seats.</p> <p><em>Written by Kelly Bryant. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/flights/10-things-aeroplanes-arent-cleaning-they-should?slide=all"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Unique restaurants from around the world

<p>Seeking out a travel experience with a real difference you can talk about endlessly? At these quirky restaurants, people come for the atmosphere and stay for the food.</p> <p><strong>Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Rangali Island, Maldives</strong></p> <p>No need to waterproof your phone to take photos in one of the most unique restaurants in the world. Located at the Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island Resort is a gorgeous and intimate underwater restaurant (seating capacity is 14 people) that is more than five metres below sea level. Opened in 2005, the <a href="http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/maldives/conrad-maldives-rangali-island-MLEHICI/amenities/restaurants-ithaa.html">all-glass restaurant</a> has a menu consisting of fresh seafood, beef rib eye, veal and other gourmet dishes. Encased in a transparent acrylic roof, the restaurant offers its diners a 270-degree panoramic view of sea creatures swimming in the Maldives’ crystal clear waters. While a zinc paint coating protects Ithaa’s steel structure from corrosion, the saltwater and marine growth adhering to the paint will eventually break it down. Make a reservation while you still can.</p> <p><strong>Ninja Akasaka, Toyko</strong></p> <p>To get to this hidden ninja village, guests must embark on a long and dark underground adventure. The ninja road involves a number of surprises, but only those with the heart to enter can find out what they are. <a href="https://ninjaakasaka.com/en/">Ninja Akasaka</a>, a ninja-themed entertainment restaurant in Tokyo, offers private and communal room arranged in a labyrinth-like dining area, which replicates a ninja village from the Edo era. Waterfalls, ponds and the cries of bell crickets create a thrilling ambiance. And dining ranges from Japanese sushi, to French, Italian and Chinese cuisine.</p> <p><strong>Dinner in the Sky</strong></p> <p>Got an appetite for high altitude? Originating in Belgium, the concept for this novelty-based mobile restaurant involves a crane hoisting guests, who are securely strapped into ‘dining chairs’ 50 metres in the air, along with a table, wait staff and everything that’s required to enjoy a meal floating above the ground. <a href="http://dinnerinthesky.com/">Dinner in the Sky</a> has gained popularity worldwide and is offered for limited run periods in cities around the globe, including Holland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, United Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, South-Africa, India, Japan, China, Brazil, Colombia, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the USA. These unique restaurants offer fine dining, incredible views, and a story like no other.</p> <p><strong>Redwoods Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.redwoodstreehouse.co.nz/">Redwoods Treehouse</a>, built in 2008, is a pod-shaped structure situated 10 metres above the ground in a Redwood tree in the town of Warkworth, north of Auckland. Diners access the venue via an elevated treetop walkway built of redwood milled on site. The striking venue is used exclusively for private functions and events, with a capacity of 30 guests.</p> <p>Cat Café Nekorobi, Tokyo, Japan</p> <p>If watching cat videos gets you in a good mood, this unusual coffee shop will make you swoon with joy and cuteness. <a href="http://www.nekorobi.jp/english/">Nekorobi</a> is a hip cat café located in the entertainment district of Ikebukuro, where you can spend time with friends of the feline kind. Patrons enter through modern glass doors into a dimly lit joint where cats prowl and sprawl out, and where a drinks dispenser vending machine offers a variety of hot and cold beverages including coffee, royal milk tea, green tea and instant miso soup. Visit in the evening and you’ll have a chance to witness the dinnertime ritual where the kitties feast on cat food in glass bowls arranged in a circle around a floor lamp. For feline lovers, this place is no doubt the ‘cat’s meow’.</p> <p><strong>Modern Toilet, Taipei City, Taiwan</strong></p> <p>This is the only place where dining etiquette and bathroom etiquette are one and the same. The idea for this odd restaurant was conceived by one of the owners as he was reading while sitting – where else? – on a toilet. Initially, it only sold chocolate ice cream in containers shaped like a squat toilet, but once the humorous spin became a great success, a fully fledged, bathroom-themed eatery emerged. Today, <a href="http://www.moderntoilet.com.tw/en/about.asp">Modern Toilet</a> is a chain with locations across Asia and it has plans for further expansion. If the idea piques your curiosity, drop into one of these unique restaurants and have a seat at one of the (non-working) toilets where meals are served in toilet bowl-shaped dinnerware.</p> <p><strong>Dans le Noir, Melbourne</strong></p> <p>Dining at <a href="https://www.melbourne.danslenoir.com/">Dans le Noir</a> is more than just a place to eat. The concept behind this restaurant is dining in the dark so you capture a true sensory, social and human experience. The original concept was developed in France in cooperation with a major vision impairment foundation, and when the doors opened in Paris, the idea took off in Europe and around the world, including in Melbourne and Auckland. Dining in absolute darkness awakens your senses and allows you to completely re-evaluate your perception of taste and smell. Guests are taken to their tables in completed darkness by vision-impaired waiters who become the diners’ personal guides during the experience. The restaurant is vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian friendly, with the Feed Me Chef menu the most popular to challenge your senses.</p> <p><strong>Kayabukiya Tavern, Utsunomiya, Japan</strong></p> <p>We’re headed back to Japan for this unique restaurant! This <a href="https://fave.co/2Zblb9X">traditional sake house</a> has one interesting addition that makes it anything but “traditional”: monkeys! Two monkeys are currently employed by the Japanese restaurant. The younger macaque monkey, Fuku-chan, will bring you a hot towel before your meal to clean your hands, while the older macaque, Yat-chan, will actually take your drink order and bring you your beverage. More monkeys are currently being trained as servers at this restaurant. You can leave your furry waiter a tip in the form of boiled edamame. You’ll have to be careful about when you go, thought – the monkeys work very short shifts – but while they’re in the restaurant, they enjoy playing with all the customers as shown in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcPDEtSRYXA">videos like this one</a>.</p> <p><strong>Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya</strong></p> <p>Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel set in 5 hectares of private land within 56 hectares of indigenous forest. The building, with its stately façade, elegant interior, sunny terraces and delightful courtyards, harks back to the 1930s. However, the most extraordinary thing about <a href="https://www.thesafaricollection.com/properties/giraffe-manor/">Giraffe Manor</a> is its herd of giraffes, which visit morning and evening, sometimes poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat.</p> <p><em>Written by Martha Li. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/unique-restaurants-from-around-the-world?slide=all">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine,</em><span><em> </em></span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" />  </p>

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The world’s best train journeys

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There’s something nostalgic yet refreshing about train travel. Leave the devices and their respective chargers at home and wind down with some old-fashioned hospitality and cross-country journeying as you see the world from a unique perspective. Here, we look at the iconic, the luxurious and the simply spectacular.</span></p> <p><strong>The Ghan, Australia</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Ghan is Australia’s premier rail journey, with scores of travellers making the iconic 2980km trip from Adelaide to Darwin via Central Australia every year. Its history can be traced as far back as 1878, when initial building begun in Port Augusta.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Named after the Afghan cameleers whose help was vital in completing the section of railway to Alice Springs, the Ghan takes 48 hours to reach its final destination and leaves twice a week from Adelaide and once a week from Darwin.</span></p> <p><strong>Rocky Mountaineer, Canada</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruise through Canada in comfort and class when you hop aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Bespoke glass-domed coaches, fine dining options and GoldLeaf Service come standard, plus an outdoor deck succeeds at really assaulting the senses (in the best possible way).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Grab a glass of local wine and soak up the stunning surroundings while on one of four routes: Vancouver to Banff and Calgary, Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops, Vancouver to Jasper via Quesnel and Seattle to Vancouver.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once exclusive to Canadian shores, the Rocky Mountaineer now crosses into the USA, taking passengers through Seattle and Washington. If you are interested in this part of the journey, be sure to embark from Seattle.</span></p> <p><strong>Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Europe</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First departing from Moscow in 2007, the Golden Eagle has luxury in spades and an ensuite in every room. Discover the Trans-Siberian experience as you travel from Moscow to Vladivostok with the option to sojourn on the Silk Road, take a tour of Russia’s Arctic and bask in unforgettable panoramic views of the Caspian Sea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With two dining cars and a plush lounge furnished with sofas you’d swear were tailored specifically to your body, two Imperial Suites (120-square-feet) are available for the up-market traveller, or anyone who fancies a king-size bed, dressing table and living-room section. Click here to book your holiday today.</span></p> <p><strong>Indian Pacific, Australia</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the Ghan traversing the vertical length of our vast country, its Great Southern Rail sibling, the Indian Pacific, takes the country’s larger horizontal stretch in its stride.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spend three nights and four days in exquisite carriages as you journey 4352km through Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie. Holding the title of longest (straight) railway track on the globe, it’s mind-blowing to realise one can travel from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Large and mighty, the Indian Pacific offers unique glimpses of the imposing Nullarbor Plain landscape, the Blue Mountains and a number of other picturesque locations. It leaves twice a week from Perth and Sydney. Step aboard the iconic Indian Pacific and book your adventure today.</span></p> <p><strong>Belmond Royal Scotsman</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dig out your kilt and dust off the bagpipes (or just pack a tweed jacket) and join the captain and crew of the Belmond Royal Scotsman.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Leaving from Edinburgh and transporting just 36 passengers, this exclusive and intimate train will do more than take you through the Scottish Highlands; it will also take you back in time. From the 1928-era dining car to Edwardian polished brass and intricate fabric upholstery and trim, the whole affair is ornate without being ostentatious.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our favourite section, however, is the Observation Car with open-air veranda, where you can keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster and admire the historic castles and gorgeous glens that float by. With a variety of itineraries available from two to seven nights, a journey on Belmond Royal Scotsman is an experience to be treasured. Book your Highland journey here.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Louise Smithers. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/10-best-rail-journeys-in-the-world.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Discover Norfolk, a special island in the sun

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just a couple of hours’ flight northeast of Sydney, Norfolk is a pristine, small island of 3455 hectares, perched in the Pacific Ocean. Although Norfolk Island is compact, it sprawls, whichever way you look at it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It has a magnificent coastline, with sandy beaches, steep rugged cliffs and glorious bays. There’s a certain eccentricity on this island that is appealing and the locals (humans and others) are the friendliest bunch you can imagine.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The island’s farmers have grazing rights to the roadside pastures so cows do in fact have right of way on Norfolk – and they know it! It’s not surprising to also see cars give way to chickens, ducks and geese crossing the road.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Norfolk Island was where the ‘worst of the worst’ convicts were sent, for this was an infamous prison for the British Empire in the 1800s. Convicts were outdoors tending gardens for what was deemed the bread basket of New South Wales.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Queen Victoria granted the island to the Pitcairners - descendants of the original mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ill-fated voyage on the Bounty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As I meander through the ruins of a special island in the sun, Norfolk is full of surprises.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the convict buildings, the history is all too apparent and you can sense the ghosts of the past still have a presence. While some buildings have been restored and are in use as museums, homes and government facilities, the ‘roofless’ are exposed to the elements.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today the island has largely calmed the ghosts and there’s much fun to be had – and Norfolk has a host of annual festivals, from gardening to line-dancing, country music to jazz – and yoga.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are some must-dos on the island beginning with taking in the very scenic views from the top of Mt Pitt and Captain Cook’s Lookout to visiting the ‘grand Gothic-style’ St Barnabas Chapel with its Frances Greenway stained-glass windows. Take a walk and marvel at Cyclorama, the gigantic 360-degree panoramic painting that follows the story of the Bounty and its crew.</span></p> <p>Don’t miss:</p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two Chimneys Wines Tin Sheds accommodation</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The historic night show</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fishing</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Golf</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The markets</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘Wellbeing’ treatments</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bushwalking</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Coffee snobs – you won’t be disappointed at the quality of coffee served here, and for foodies, there’s a selection of excellent restaurants and cafes serving top nosh</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Research local names: Christian, Buffet, Evans and Quintal.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For more info go to </span><a href="http://www.norfolkisland.com.au"><span style="font-weight: 400;">www.norfolkisland.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story first appeared in</span><a href="http://www.getupandgo.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Get Up &amp; Go</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and has been edited. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/discover-norfolk,-a-special-island-in-the-sun.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></p>

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How Fergie is set to make royal history at Princess Beatrice’s wedding

<p>Sarah Ferguson has made quite the comeback into the Royal Family as of late.</p> <p>And now, the Duchess of York is set to make history when Princess Beatrice gets married next year.</p> <p>Fergie could become the first mother-of-the-bride at a Royal Wedding to be recorded on the marriage-certificate.</p> <p>It is predicted that Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi will tie the knot at St George’s chapel – the same place where younger sister Princess Eugenie and cousin Prince Harry also wed.</p> <p>Therefore the ceremony would be a Church of England one.</p> <p>Currently, the Church of England's marriage certificates only list the father-of-the-bride’s name and occupation, but now, a major overhaul is set to take place for church marriage records.</p> <p>A private members’ bill brought about by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, received Royal Assent in parliament in March this year, however the changes are yet to filter through.</p> <p>The Bishop said the current rules are “archaic and unchanged since Victorian times, where children were seen as fathers’ property, and little consideration was given to mothers’ roles in raising children”.</p> <p>The changes will make sure mothers’ names are also included on the marriage registration, not just for those weddings in the Church of England faith.</p> <p>It is assumed the update will occur by early 2020 – around the same time as Beatrice’s wedding.</p>

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Explore the great outdoors this Aussie summer

<p>As the weather warms up, now's the perfect time to get outdoors and explore some of Australia's best beaches, tracks, national parks and summer holiday destinations. </p> <p><strong>Explore the white sandy beaches of Whitsunday Islands</strong></p> <p>The Whitsunday Islands are an archipelago chain of 74 islands off the coast of Queensland just inland from the Great Barrier Reef. The stunning pure white, silica sands on Whitehaven Beach are regarded as one of the whitest sand beaches in the world. One of the must see attractions of the Whitsundays is on Daydream Island.</p> <p>The island resort has a spectacular Living Reef. It is one of the largest man-made living coral reef lagoons in the world. It captures a microcosm of the Great Barrier Reef and includes over 140 species of marine fish and 83 species of coral.</p> <p>Resort guests can explore the lagoon and wade in the waters touching and learning about the stingrays and other creatures.</p> <p>You can decide to be adventurous and snorkel, SCUBA, paddle board, go fishing, and explore the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea. Or just sit back and relax, enjoy a cruise, boat charter, or one of the many luxury island resorts of the Whitsundays. Each island in the Whitsundays is a unique experience.</p> <p>If you want to tour around Queensland before or after your island getaway, then you can hire a car in nearby Proserpine or rent a vehicle at the Mackay Airport. There's plenty to do and see along the Whitsunday Coast including Arlie Beach, Conway National Park, and beautiful Mackay.</p> <p><strong>Camping in Kwiambal National Park</strong></p> <p>For some peace and quiet, head to Kwiambal National Park, which is located inland in New South Wales close to the Queensland border.</p> <p>The secluded park is perfect for hiking, swimming and fishing, all while enjoying the picturesque views and postcard perfect landscapes including MacIntyre Falls.</p> <p>There are plenty of rivers, plunge pools, and beaches that are great summer attractions. If you plan on hiring a car to travel to Kwiambal National Park, there are plenty of options depending on where you are coming from.</p> <p>If you are in NSW you can hire a car at Coffs Harbour on the coast, or at the Moree Airport near Kwiambal. If you are coming from Queensland, you can hire a car in Brisbane or choose from one of the many car rental locations on the Gold Coast.</p> <p><strong>Cruise down the Murray river</strong></p> <p>The Murray River is the longest river in Australia and is considered one of the most important water systems in the country since it provides fresh water to more than 1.5 million homes. It is over 2,500 km and runs along the border between New South Wales and Victoria; then through South Australia.</p> <p>It starts at the Snowy Mountains continues through the plains and empties into the Southern Ocean at Lake Alexandria and The Coorong, which is near Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.</p> <p>If you want to extend your holiday and see more waterways, check out the Darling River Run, which feeds into the Murray River. Boating on the Murray River has been popular for years. You can rent a houseboat and have a relaxing vacation right there on the river.</p> <p>Other things to do on the Murray River and in this region include fishing, hiking, exploring scenic lookout on bush trails, and fishing, picnicking and golfing.</p> <p>For an extended holiday, visit some of the national parks located along the Murray River including:</p> <ul> <li>Mungo National Park</li> <li>Mount Lawson State Park</li> <li>Murray-Sunset National Park</li> <li>Barmah National Park</li> <li>Leaghur State Park</li> <li>Murray-Kulkyne Regional Park</li> <li>Perry Sandhills</li> <li>Mount Granya State Park</li> <li>Hattah-Kulkyne National Park</li> </ul> <p><strong>Escape to Kangaroo Island</strong></p> <p>Kangaroo Island is just off the coast of South Australia. Despite being an island, you will be surprised at the variety of holiday adventures and things there are to do on the island. Farm fresh, local eats are at their best on Kangaroo Island.</p> <p>There are plenty of different animals on the island in addition to kangaroos; you can encounter koalas, wallabies, possums, pelicans, penguins, many birds, seals, sea lions, platypus, and a host of other marine life along the coast.</p> <p>Relax on the beaches or swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the waters surrounding the island. You will probably be surprised at the different landscapes and terrains on the island including the Kelly Hill Caves, Flinders Chase National Park, The Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Seal Bay Conservation Park.</p> <p>Just a quick ferry ride away from the South Australia mainland is Kangaroo Island. Adelaide is the closest main city to Kangaroo Island. There is a Kangaroo Island Ferry that operates daily and takes passengers from Cape Jervis on the mainland across the 13.5 km trip to the east end of the island where it docks in a town called Penneshaw. You can also get to KI, as it is known by the locals, via plane.</p> <p>Once you arrive on Kangaroo Island, you can hire a car to get around, there are car rental locations in Penneshaw, Kingscote, and at the Kangaroo Island Airport. Although tours are available, if you hire your own car, you are free to explore the island at your leisure. A self-drive touring CD is available to help guide you on your way.</p>

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Explore six of the India’s most delightful hidden treasures

<p>With India’s monsoon season recently ending, it is the ideal time to travel to one of the most colourful, cultural, and spiritual countries of the world. Ready to go?</p> <p><a href="http://www.insiderjourneys.com.au/">Eric Finley</a>, Insider Journey’s Indian expert, shares six of his favourite hidden gems to explore in India. After clocking up countless trips to India, since his first visit 25 years ago, Finley says although he has visited most parts of India, there is still so much to explore.</p> <p>“People have no idea how much is hidden away in every part of the subcontinent. India’s history is remarkable, as is the diversity, with most regions featuring their own languages and dialects, histories, and cuisines. Despite the incredible changes in modern cities like Mumbai and Delhi, you are never far from traditions that are hundreds of years old. Then there is the fantastic food, the vibrant street life, and the remarkable wildlife,” he adds.</p> <p>Always wanted to go to India? Here are his favourite hidden treasures:</p> <p><strong>1. Kaziranga National Park</strong></p> <p>Due to its relative isolation in the far north-eastern state of Assam, Kaziranga is not on many India travel itineraries. However, this region provides some of the best wildlife experiences in Asia.</p> <p>It is home to a large population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses, herds of Asian elephant and swamp deer, gaur (Indian bison), and some of the last remaining wild water buffalo in Asia. Both common and clouded leopards live in the park forests, as does a healthy tiger population. Over a hundred species of birds can easily be seen in a day, including the great hornbill and bar-headed geese visiting from their Himalayan breeding grounds.]</p> <p><strong>2. Calcutta (Kolkata)</strong></p> <p>Few first-time visitors to India include Calcutta on their itineraries. Those that do are rewarded with a city which retains a style and culture unlike any other in India. Calcutta’s streets heave with vehicular and pedestrian traffic but are alive with colour and history.</p> <p>A heritage walking tour reveals some of India’s most impressive British colonial architecture, hidden temples, synagogues, churches, and other places of worship, as well as the incredible Marble Palace. Don’t miss the Victoria Memorial and its  excellent museum documenting aspects of British colonial rule in India and the city’s rich Bengali culture.</p> <p><strong>3. Rural Rajasthan</strong><br />Rajasthan is so rich in iconic Indian sights and experiences, that many are missed by visitors who stick to the main cities. Experience the brilliant colours of sarees and turbans in the fields and villages, sunset lighting on an ancient hilltop fort, a goat-herder tending his flock or a holy flame lighting the faces of worshippers as bells ring out over a village temple.</p> <p>Stay in one of the heritage-inspired hotels or camps – many are refurbished country homes of local royalty, finely-restored and decorated to feature rich local  fabrics and furnishings. Enjoy delicious country cooking, meet and learn about local people’s lives, and gain access to regional culture through the close relationships between most country lodges and nearby villages.</p> <p><strong>4. Cochin (Kochi)</strong><br />Kerala’s historic trading port is now a bustling modern city but the little peninsula of Fort Cochin retains its special, historic atmosphere like no other in India. There is so much that’s unique here; the pretty tropical streets, shaded by giant rain trees and lined with mansions, and villas bearing features of local and European architecture.</p> <p>The harbour is lined with high hung fishing nets where dolphins frolic, the remnants of British, Jewish, Arab, and other trading communities, and little galleries and cafes sit alongside old street stalls.</p> <p>Walk the messy atmospheric trading streets of Mattancherry where aromas of pepper, cardamom, ginger, and chilli almost bowl you over, and into Jewtown with its beautiful 17th century synagogue and many curio shops.</p> <p><strong>5. Varanasi at dawn</strong></p> <p>There is nothing quite like the timeless experience of a Varanasi dawn. Along the riverside steps known as ghats, Hindus gather quietly to reflect, pray, bathe or just take in the  other-worldly atmosphere which evokes so much spiritual history. As the sun rises, gulls scatter over the still waters, bells sound from surrounding temples, imposing rest houses, and temples above.</p> <p>When the day’s activities gradually break the solitude, explore the narrow lanes winding into the chaotic old town; too narrow for cars but frequently  blocked by cows, carts or a passing scooter. Stop for chai or lassi, explore a local market and see the city come to life, as it must have for centuries.</p> <p><strong>6. Ladakh</strong><br />Physically and culturally, Ladakh is spectacular. Isolated in the high Himalayas, Ladakh is a high altitude desert, with snow-covered peaks dropping into cold desert valleys, where a patchwork of colour erupts along the riverbanks for the short summer when locals cultivate stone fruits, nuts, and barley, and the region opens briefly to the outside world.</p> <p>Apart from its pristine mountain environment, it is the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture which makes this place so different. This ancient form of Himalayan Buddhism  survives at possibly its purest here, since Tibet came under the control of China.</p> <p>The dramatic ancient monasteries like Hemis and Thikse sit high on rocky peaks, commanding incredible vistas, and to hear the monastery horns being blown across silent valleys, is to truly travel into another time and world. Minimum altitudes are around 3000 meters, so take a day to acclimatise.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/explore-six-of-the-india%E2%80%99s-most-delightful-hidden-treasures-(1).aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></em></p>

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Baby alert: Game-changing pre-flight feature set to make long-haul flights more bearable

<p>Being around kids can be an enjoyable experience. </p> <p>However, long-haul flights near a screaming toddler never makes for an easy flight. </p> <p>But one airline has taken matters into their hands and come up with a handy idea to potentially lessen the situation from ever happening to anti-baby flyers ever again. </p> <p>Japan Airlines (JAL) has implemented a new feature on its booking system which shows what seats on the aircraft will be occupied by infants up to the age of two. </p> <p>During the seat selection process of booking with the airline, any seats taken by a toddler are highlighted with a baby icon. </p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.9148936170213px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7831285/japan-airlines-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3a7accfe9d524f13ac994cf870a74864" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Japan Airlines (JAL) has introduced a new feature on its booking system that indicates which seats on the plane will be occupied by infants.</em></p> <p>The site states: “Passengers travelling with children between 8 days and 2 years old who select their seats on the JAL website will have a child icon displayed on their seats on the seat selection screen.</p> <p>This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there.”</p> <p>People have responded to the new feature, with one saying : “Flying exclusively Japan Airlines from now on so I can sit next to babies.”</p> <p>Another Twitter user sung the carrier’s praises, writing: “Thank you, @JAL_Official_jp for warning me about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13-hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board.”</p> <p>However, one social media user said the new feature is unfair. </p> <p>“This is a form of prejudice against children and their families even though i totally agree sitting close to little children is not comfortable,” they wrote. </p> <p>The airline says the seat plan showing where babies are sitting will only work if passengers make their booking through its website. </p> <p>The baby icons will also not display if there is a change in aircraft.</p>

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Your 12-step holiday checklist

<p>Here are the top 12 things you need to do before you go on holidays. We have you covered!</p> <p>The holiday season has arrived and there’s every chance you will be catching up with family or taking some time out on vacation over the next month or so. We all have a lot of fun but you should be aware it’s also the high season for home burglaries and other criminal activity – so you need to make sure your house or apartment is not a target for these crimes. <br /><br />How do you do that? Well there are a few basic preventative measures you can take which will ensure your home remains safe – in fact, if you take these actions, it will look like you never went away at all!<br /><br />So here’s our list of the Top 12 things to do to keep your home safe and sound while you’re our enjoying yourself. It’s going to be well worth it because let’s face it – no-one wants to come home from a relaxing cruise or an island getaway to find something has gone seriously wrong – it would bring all your great holiday vibes undone.<br /><br /><strong>1. Ask a friend or neighbour for help</strong><br />A simple way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your house or apartment while you're away. It’s best if they live quite close by so it’s easy for them to keep an eye on your home and look out for anything untoward.</p> <p>You can give this person a key and the code to your security alarm if you have one. They can bring your mail and community newspapers in, feed your cat, water your plants etc. Make sure you give this person your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of an emergency.</p> <p>It’s ideal if you can also talk to at least one of your neighbours so they can literally be looking across at your house or unit, checking everything is OK while you’re away.<br /><br /><strong>2. Put your mail on hold</strong><br />If you have a friend or neighbour you can trust who is going to collect your mail each day, that’s great. But if you don’t know anyone who can help you out then it’s easy to put your mail on hold with Australia Post. <br /><br />Just go to their website here and click the ‘Hold mail’ tab and all you have to do is create an account with Australia Post and set up a ‘Hold mail’ for a certain period of time. They will hold your mail for as long as you like.</p> <p>Australia Post does charge a fee of $42.95 a month but if you have a valid concession card, such as a pensioner’s card, you’ll get a healthy discount.<br /><br /><strong>3. Stop papers being delivered</strong><br />If you have your papers delivered, it’s best to put a stop to this while you’re away. A pile up of papers on your front lawn is a dead giveaway – you may as well put up a sign saying ‘No-one at Home.’ So make sure you take care of this.<br /><br /><strong>4. Don't tell everyone on Facebook</strong><br />These days, we all like to chat on social media and tell everyone what we are doing. But if you tell everyone you’re about to go on holiday on Facebook and Twitter, you should think again. By posting your holiday plans you make yourself extremely vulnerable because you can never be completely sure who is reading this information.</p> <p>It’s best to leave it until you come back from your holiday – then you can post as many photos and information as you like.</p> <p>As well, be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail. Callers don't need to know you're not home - they only need to know you can't come to the phone right now.<br /><br /><strong>5. Do tell your local neighbourhood watch</strong><br />If there’s an active Neighbourhood Watch program in your area, its worthwhile joining up. It’s a free service and you can let them know you’re going away on holiday and they will note this among their members and this could help make sure your home is safer. <br /><br />To join up, go to the Neighbourhood Watch Australasia site and find out if there is an active program in your area.<br /><br /><strong>6. The lights are on but no one is home<br /></strong>You don't want to leave your lights on the whole time you are away so the best thing to do is to buy a light switch timer which will turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule.</p> <p>These don’t cost too much and you can buy them from your local hardware or electronics store. It’s good to include a few outside lights in the schedule as when these come on, they will deter anyone who is watching the house.</p> <p>As the lights flick on and off in your house, everyone around observing it will assume someone is home. <br /><br /><strong>7. Pull the plug</strong><br />Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. If there is a powerful electrical storm and lightning strikes or the power surges, there’s a chance this can do damage to appliances like TVs. This will also save on power usage while you are away.<br /><br /><strong>8. Remove your spare key</strong><br />That plastic rock isn't really fooling anyone. If someone wants to get into your home, it’s likely they will check all the usual places for your spare key. <br />So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your holiday.<br /><br /><strong>9. Check your window locks</strong><br />Check your window security measures because about 30 per cent of all burglaries start with a window which is not secure window as the entry point. If need be, fit window locks on all your windows before you go away.</p> <p>If you end up having to report a burglary and it’s found the burglar accessed your home via a window without a lock, you could have trouble with your claim. <br /><br /><strong>10. Lock away valuables</strong><br />If you have some valuable documents or items which you are leaving in your house while you’re away, it’s best to put them in a home safe or take them to your bank who will usually deposit them in their own safe for you.<br /><br />As well, check your home contents insurance policy and make sure any important valuables you are leaving are listed on it as you may have set up the policy some time ago.</p> <p>Conceal valuables such as laptops and jewellery so they are not visible from the outside. Consider closing some of the curtains and blinds so people can’t see too much from the outside.<br /><br /><strong>11. Make your home fireproof</strong><br />Safeguarding your home against fire is crucial all year round so check your home insurance policy is current. Fires can, and do, occur in unoccupied houses and units while people are away taking a break.</p> <p>If you live in a bushfire-prone area, prepare your home properly before you leave – a full preparation checklist can be found at the NSW Rural Fire Service’s website here.</p> <p>Before you leave, close all the internal doors to help contain any fire if it did occur. Test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they will function properly.<br /><br /><strong>12. Lock your garden shed</strong><br />Lock away your gardening and handyman tools as many of these can easily be used to force open doors or windows. You’re not leaving your keys out so don’t leave your axe or shovel lying around for anyone to use.<br /><br /><strong>Last minute check</strong><br />Just before you leave for your holiday, do a last minute check to ensure all the windows and doors are locked - including garage doors, side gates and sheds. Turn on the security alarm if you have one. <br /><br />Now that you have taken the time to render your home far less vulnerable to criminals, you can have a great holiday, relaxing in the knowledge your home is now safe and secure!</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/your-essential-holiday-check-list.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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