Travel Tips

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How to cook over a campfire

<p>For fast food, outdoor dining beats takeaway pizza hands down. All you need is dry wood and leaves to feed the flames, a bucket of water to douse them, and permission (check with the local ranger).</p> <p>Once you get the go-ahead, pick a small spot on bare earth or the beach below the tide line, well away from vegetation and tents. Build a lattice or teepee of twigs over kindling in the centre, keeping it small so the fire heats up fast. Ring it with stones, then light it at the base. When the flames have died down but the fire is too hot to hold your hand over, it’s time to get cooking.</p> <p>For the full bushcraft experience, try this simple fish-on-a-stick recipe: push a long stick lengthways through the fish, prop it over the fire using a forked branch for support, and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. Easier still, wrap the fish in layers of newspaper, soak the parcel in water and cook it in the ashes. When the paper blackens, the fish should be done.</p> <p>Enjoy – then douse the fire completely and remove the debris.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/camping-caravanning/How-To-Cook-Over-a-Campfire">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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How powerful is your passport?

<p>A passport’s power lies in how many countries it can give you access to, without the need for a visa. Consider it an indication of your global mobility.</p> <p>The Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive International Air Transport Authority (IATA) data, looks at 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.</p> <p>It values each passport on whether a visa is required at the travel destination, or if passport holders can get a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit or an electronic travel authority (ETA). The more countries that allow you visa-free entry, the higher your passport’s score.</p> <p>You can view the <a href="https://www.henleypassportindex.com/global-ranking">whole list here</a>.</p> <p>Japan tops the list this year with visa-free access to 189 countries, while Singapore and Germany share second place with 188. Australia and Greece are in sixth place with 183 countries.</p> <p>Malaysia shares ninth place with Hungary and Slovenia with 180 countries, while the Philippines is further down the list in 70th place with visa-free access to 66 countries, together with Tunisia, Azerbaijan and Dominican Republic.</p> <p>Check out the most and least powerful passports</p> <p><strong>The 10 most powerful passports</strong></p> <p>1. Japan (189)</p> <p>2. Germany, Singapore (188)</p> <p>3. Finland, France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Sweden (187)</p> <p>4. Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States (186)</p> <p>5. Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland (185)</p> <p>6. Greece, Australia (183)</p> <p>7. Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand (182)</p> <p>8. Iceland (181)</p> <p>9. Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia (180)</p> <p>10. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia (179)</p> <p><strong>The 10 least powerful passports</strong></p> <p>91.Kosovo (44)<br />92. Congo, Iran, North Korea (43)<br />93. Ethiopia, Sri Lanka (42)<br />94. Bangladesh, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan (41)<br />95. Nepal (40)<br />96. Eritrea, Palestinian Territory, Sudan (39)<br />97. Yemen (37)<br />98. Pakistan (33)<br />99. Somalia, Syria (32)<br />100. Afghanistan, Iraq (30)</p> <p><em>Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/how-powerful-your-passport"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Who’s a tourist? How a culture of travel is changing everyday life

<p>Every year, on September 27, the global tourism community celebrates <a href="http://wtd.unwto.org/">World Tourism Day</a>. This year’s theme is about community development and how tourism can contribute to empowering people and improve socio-economic conditions in local communities.</p> <p>But who are the people who might visit “communities” and what does it mean – these days – to be a tourist?</p> <p>There are many tourist stereotypes – an overweight Westerner in shorts with a camera dangling around their neck, or maybe a trekking-shoed backpacker hanging out in the Himalayas. Many people think of “tourism” and “holidays” as distinct times of the year when the family travels to the seaside or the mountains.</p> <p>World Tourism Day is an opportunity to discuss how much more encompassing the phenomenon of tourism is than most people might think.</p> <p><strong>What is a tourist?</strong></p> <p>People are more often a “tourist” than they realise. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation broadly defines a tourist as anyone travelling away from home for more than one night and less than one year. So, mobility is at the core of tourism.</p> <p>In Australia, for example, in 2013 <a href="http://www.tra.gov.au/documents/NVS_onepager_Dec2013_FINAL_07032014.pdf">75.8 million</a> people travelled domestically for an overnight trip – spending 283 million visitor nights and $51.5 billion.</p> <p>Reasons for travel are manifold and not restricted to holidays, which makes up only 47% of all domestic trips in Australia. Other reasons include participation in sport events, visiting a friend or relative, or business meetings.</p> <p>Some of the most-visited destinations in the world are not related to leisure but to other purposes. For example, pilgramage tourism to Mecca (Saudi Arabia) triples the population from its normal 2 million <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj">during the Hajj</a> period every year.</p> <p>Travel, work and leisure: what’s the difference?</p> <p>Tourists are not what they used to be. One of the most pervasive changes in the structure of modern life is the crumbling divide between the spheres of work and life. This is no more obvious than in relation to travel. Let me test the readers of The Conversation: who is checking their work emails while on holiday?</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.gfi.com/blog/survey-worklife-divide-the-gap-has-all-but-disappeared-thanks-to-email-infographic/">recent survey</a> undertaken in the US showed that 44.8% of respondents check their work email at least once a day outside work hours. Further, 29.8% of respondents use their work email for personal purposes.</p> <p>Post-modern thinkers have long pointed to processes where work becomes leisure and leisure cannot be separated from work anymore. Ever-increasing mobility means the tourist and the non-tourist become more and more alike.</p> <p>The classic work-leisure divide becomes particularly fluid for those who frequently engage in travel, for example to attend business meetings or conferences. Conferences are often held at interesting locations, inviting longer stays and recreational activities not only for participants but also for spouses and family.</p> <p>Further, city business hotels increasingly resemble tourist resorts: both have extensive recreational facilities such as swimming pools and spas, multiple restaurants and often shopping opportunities (e.g. <a href="http://www.marinabaysands.com/index.html">Marina Bay Sands, Singapore</a>). And, of course, they offer internet access – to be connected to both work and private “business”.</p> <p>Understanding how people negotiate this liquidity while travelling provides interesting insights into much broader societal changes in terms of how people organise their lives.</p> <p>For some entrepreneurial destinations these trends have provided an opportunity; namely the designation of so-called <a href="http://ro.uow.edu.au/buspapers/137/">dead zones</a> – areas where no mobile phone and no internet access are available. Here the tourist can fully immerse in the real locality of their stay.</p> <p><strong>Fear of missing out</strong></p> <p>The perceived need to connect virtually to “friends” (e.g. on Facebook) and colleagues has attracted substantial psychological research interest, with new terms being coined such as <a href="http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/how-fomo-fear-of-missing-out-is-ruining-my-life/story-fnixwvgh-1226862030711">FOMO (fear of missing out)</a> addiction, or internet addiction disorder.</p> <p>A recent <a href="http://www.tnooz.com/article/facebook-users-cite-travel-most-often-as-their-biggest-life-moments-infographic/">Facebook survey</a> found that this social media outlet owes much of its popularity to travel – 42% of stories shared related to travel. The motivations for engaging in extensive social media use and implications for tourism marketing are an active area of tourism research.</p> <p>Thus, understanding why and what people share while travelling (i.e. away from loved ones, but possibly earning important “social status” points) might provide important insights into wider questions of social networks and identity formation, especially among younger people.</p> <p>Tourism and emigration</p> <p>The increasingly global nature of networks has been discussed in detail by sociologist <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-urry-14141">John Urry</a> and others. They note the growing interconnectedness between tourism and migration, where families are spread over the globe and (cheap) air travel enables social networks to connect regularly.</p> <p>As a result, for many people local communities have given way to global communities, with important implications for people’s “sense of place” and resilience. The global nature of personal networks extends to business relationships where the degree to which one is globally connected determines one’s “network capital”.</p> <p>Urry also noted that mobility has become a differentiation factor between the “haves” and “have nots”, with a small elite of hypermobile “connectors”. Thus travel and tourism sit at the core of a potentially new structure of leaders and influential decision makers.</p> <p><strong>The global ‘share economy’</strong></p> <p>Engaging in this global community of tourists is not restricted to those who travel actively. The so-called <a href="http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eeji45emgkh/airbnb-snapgoods-and-12-more-pioneers-of-the-share-economy/">Share Economy</a>, where people rent out their private homes (e.g. AirBnB), share taxi rides or dinners, has brought tourism right into the living rooms of those who wish to engage with people who they may not meet otherwise.</p> <p>Potentially this parallel “tourism industry” provides a unique opportunity for bringing people together and achieving peace through tourism (see <a href="http://www.iipt.org/">International Institute for Peace through Tourism</a>). A whole new area for research travellers, “guests and hosts” and their economic impacts, is emerging.</p> <p>In a nutshell, tourism is much more than the service industry it is usually recognised for, both in practice and as a field of academic enquiry. Tourism and the evolving nature of travellers provide important insights into societal changes, challenges and opportunities. Engaging with tourism and travel also provides us with an excellent opportunity to better understand trends that might foster or impede sustainable development more broadly.</p> <p><em>Written by Susanne Becken. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/whos-a-tourist-how-a-culture-of-travel-is-changing-everyday-life-30896"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Japanese onsen etiquette

<p>The thought of soaking in a hot spring sounds fantastic, especially after a long day sightseeing or skiing. But before you grab your swimmers and towel and rush off – check these rules on Japanese Onsen etiquette.</p> <p><strong>Yukata on</strong></p> <p>If you are staying at a traditional Japanese Inn, or Ryokan, you should have a yakata in your room. This light cotton kimono should be worn to the onsen, to breakfast and dinner. You can go naked underneath it, or just wear underpants.</p> <p>Make sure you fold the yakata correctly. You need to fold the right side UNDER the left side. Only dead bodies placed in coffins have the yukata folder right over left. Don’t be fooled by the pictures – no one wears the yukata inside the onsen – we’ll get to that soon. If the hotel has a jacket – that can be worn over the top of the yukata for cold days.</p> <p><strong>Grab your towel from your room (and maybe a washcloth)</strong></p> <p>You will need your towel for after your onsen soak. Bring it from your room. Trust us. Otherwise, you may be left trying to dry yourself with a towel the size of a washer. And you will also look silly. If you are going to a public onsen you will also need your own washcloth. Note that the Japanese often carry their own wash clothes to use in public toilets. That’s why you can never seem to find the paper towels – they carry their own.</p> <p><strong>Sexes divide</strong></p> <p>Japanese onsens are strictly gendered. If the hotel has two onsens they will swap the male and female onsens each day to be fair. Children must go with women into the female onsen.</p> <p><strong>When to go</strong></p> <p>We highly recommend going a few times during your stay. You don’t want to miss the best onsen. My Japanese guide tells me you should go before dinner, after dinner and before breakfast. If you drank alcohol at dinner, you should wait at least an hour before going to the onsen. The heat can make you feel faint.</p> <p><strong>Shoes off</strong></p> <p>Before you enter the onsen, you need to remove your shoes. You should take note of how and where the Japanese remove their shoes <a href="https://www.familytravel.com.au/stories/japan-culture-mistakes/?__hstc=224028740.2b4f31e7a1a1fd4ad6142555b1fed403.1559530192640.1560901826457.1560990902411.6&amp;__hssc=224028740.3.1560990902411&amp;__hsfp=4182817123">to avoid making a mistake</a>. If you reach the onsen via indoors, you may need to take off your shoes before you reach the tatami mats.</p> <p>Watch the Japanese guests when they take off their slippers. They back up to the step until their heels touch the edge. They step out of their slippers and up onto the step backwards. Then when it comes to going down, they can effortlessly slip their slippers on and walk away. The picture above shows how NOT to do it. Those shoes should be neatly lined up with the heels pressed against the step.</p> <p>Other times, you will find a bench for slippers at the entrance to the onsen. Look for numbered pegs – sometimes you should clip your slippers together with the peg and then use that number for your clothing basket inside. After you have removed your shoes you will head into the change room. Most onsens will have baskets for your clothes.</p> <p><strong>Strip off and get naked</strong></p> <p>Yes, naked. No swimmers. We know all the onsen pictures make it look like you can cover yourself. That’s just for photos. In real life – you must be naked. Everyone is naked. No one cares. Although if you are travelling with teens and tweens – you are going to have to explain this one.</p> <p><strong>Put your clothes in a basket</strong></p> <p>Find a basket to put your clothes and towel into. Fold them nicely. If you had a numbered peg for your shoes – you should match that number to your basket. If not, pick anyone you want. Leave your towel in the basket. Do not carry it into the onsen. Grab your washcloth – you’re going to need it for the next step.</p> <p><strong>Time to shower</strong></p> <p>Every onsen will have shower taps, soap, shampoo and conditioner. Before you go anywhere near the water, you must cleanse.</p> <p>Sit on the stool and place the bucket on the small step in front of you. Turn the taps on and make sure you wash down every part of your body. Once you’re done, put your washcloth in the bucket. Turn the taps to cold and get the washer nice and soaked with cold water.</p> <p><strong>Put the cold washer on your head</strong></p> <p>Some Japanese ladies like to make it fancy. Others just sit it on top. This cold washer will help you to adjust to the heat of the onsen.</p> <p><strong>Head for the onsen</strong></p> <p>Now, naked and with your washer on your head, you can head for the onsen. If you do feel self-conscious you can wait to put the washer on your head and have it dangle in front to give you a small semblance of privacy. Make sure you check outside doors – sometimes there’s another onsen pool outside, or hidden around the corner.</p> <p><strong>Don’t stay in too long</strong></p> <p>An onsen soak is delightful, but don’t overdo it. You probably want to remain in for about 30 minutes max. You want to take the soak easy. Dip in a little, immerse, then sit back on a step. Get up, out of the water occasionally and change positions or pools. In cold snowy areas, some people like to take the bucket and use it as a water scoop to keep their top half warm.</p> <p><strong>Shower again</strong></p> <p>Once you’ve had enough you need to go back to the showers. Scrub and wash every part of your body before you head back to the change room to dry.</p> <p><strong>Pamper yourself</strong></p> <p>You will often find the change room has hair dryers, body cream and brushes you can use. You can do this naked, in a towel or in your yukata.</p> <p><strong>Time to go</strong></p> <p>Put your wet washer in the collection bin provided. Get dressed into your clothes and head off. Make sure that you put your slippers on correctly as you leave.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/japanese-onsen-etiquette/"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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3 travel myths debunked

<p>The world of travel has changed quite a bit over the years, with many tips and tricks people used to rely on to nab bargain deals, now being made redundant. Which is why you should be wary when someone gives advice on how to travel the world for a much more affordable price tag.</p> <p>Here are some top myths debunked</p> <p><strong>Myth 1: Booking directly with the airline gets you the cheapest deal</strong></p> <p>Not true. If you end up doing thorough research, you may find that it’s better to fly from Sydney to Brisbane with Jetstar and return with Tiger Airways. Mixing up your airlines is a great way to ensure you get the best deal, and besides, when you book directly with the airline, you’re unable to compare prices which is why an online comparison tool is a must.</p> <p><strong>Myth 2: Buying a round trip will ensure a better price</strong></p> <p>Not all the time. While this used to be true, most airlines now sell their one-way fares for exactly half the price of a return ticket.</p> <p>There are exceptions though, such as Qantas who offer a more affordable rate on their round-trip fares.</p> <p><strong>Myth 3: If you book on a Tuesday, you’ll get a cheaper price</strong></p> <p>False. Back in the days people used to believe that airlines would announce their best deals on a Monday, which meant Tuesday was the best time to book flights.</p> <p>Now, airlines announce deals at different days and times, so if you want to grab yourself a bargain then sign up to alerts from deal hunting websites.</p>

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8 ways to de-stress while travelling

<p><strong>1. Plan your time</strong></p> <p>If you’re always missing transport connections, look at how you are allotting your time. Your travel guide may say it takes 40 minutes to get to the airport. Allow at least an extra 20 minutes so you arrive feeling fresh and calm.</p> <p><strong>2. Escape briefly</strong></p> <p>Slip away from the hustle and bustle once in a while. Most cities have botanic gardens, and there are always nature trails where you can enjoy the local scenery.</p> <p><strong>3. Avoid unnecessary tech accessories</strong></p> <p>Smartphones, tablets or computers remind us of home. Leave as much technology behind as you can and allow yourself to feel a sense of freedom from everyday life.</p> <p><strong>4. Do just one thing a day</strong></p> <p>For example, if you’re sightseeing, choose one place to visit (instead of four) and make a day of it with lunch or coffee in a nearby cafe.</p> <p><strong>5. Bring snacks</strong></p> <p>Have a bag of non-perishable snacks on hand (try protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, juice boxes, or pretzels). Unexpected delays on a long journey will be more stressful if you’re hungry.</p> <p><strong>6. One in a while, do nothing</strong></p> <p>Lie down and just unwind.</p> <p><strong>7. Stretch</strong></p> <p>Long bouts of sitting on planes and trains take a toll on your circulation. Lift your knees and stretch your calves for 30 seconds. This reduces the risk of blood clots that can result from sitting too long in one position.</p> <p><strong>8. Keep perspective</strong></p> <p>Your troubles are often smaller than they seem. To remind yourself of that, keep a picture of the Earth taken from space, a starry night, or the ocean, and look at it whenever you feel overwhelmed. Amid countless stars and the crashing of waves against the shore, how important is getting to that third museum, really?</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/destress-while-travelling"><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><em>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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The 2 travel trends to watch out for

<p><strong>1. Bagging a cheap-as-chips airline ticket</strong></p> <p>Think of this promotion as more playful than practical. In April 2015, Dutch low-cost airline Transavia released “SnackHolidays” packets of chips, gummy bears and cereal bars that doubled as a passenger ticket and boarding pass. The range was stocked at French supermarkets and cinemas and in vending machines on train platforms. All potential passengers had to do was decide between gummy sweets (Lisbon), potato chips (Barcelona) or a cereal bar (Dublin). Ranging in price from €30-40, the packets featured printed QR codes that booked the flight.</p> <p>Definitely a novelty, but one we think deserves a round of applause for originality. And yes, there was a use-by date.</p> <p><strong>2. Mini fashion bars</strong></p> <p>For anyone who hates packing or has a habit of forgetting things – this could be for you. Visitors to the Banks Hotel in Antwerp now have something extra in their room. Each room is fitted with a Mini Fashion Bar, featuring casual easy-to-wear clothing from the French brand Pimkie. The mini bars are stocked with seasonal accessories, shoes and outfits to suit the guest’s age and size, as well as any preferred holiday activities. To ensure the right choices are waiting when they check in, guests are asked to contact the hotel’s dedicated fashion concierge before arriving in town.</p> <p>So what’s the catch? Well, we couldn’t find any – apart from having to buy the clothes if you wear them. Plans are set to introduce the concept to the company’s hotels in Paris, London, Berlin and Milan.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/Two-Travel-Trends-to-Watch-Out-For"><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="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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5 travel tips that are no longer true

<p>We all love an insider tip, but some of the classic tips for travellers no longer hold true. Check the updates on these tall tales to save cash and add experience to your trip.</p> <p><strong>1. Book a plane ticket far in advance to save money</strong></p> <p>This myth may have been true back in the ’60s, when flights were less common than they are today. Back then, the demand for a flight would naturally increase as the date approached, there being few other options. These days, a plethora of alternatives for the most popular routes means that demand is levelled out. According to recent studies, the best time to buy a domestic ticket is between six and seven weeks out.</p> <p><strong>2. The best hotel prices are on travel websites </strong></p> <p>Don’t overlook the benefits of going straight to the hotel to negotiate a good deal on a room. Many hotel chains offer rate guarantees and encourage customers to book directly. Hotels also frequently have discount or perk offers that third-party websites aren’t privy to. On top of this, hotels give the upgrades, not the booking agents.</p> <p><strong>3. Avoid street food When in Rome, do what the Romans do</strong></p> <p>If this means standing up at a cheap street stall, then follow the crowd. Don’t sit down at a restaurant and spend four times more, on the simple assumption that it’s the only safe option. Can you see what’s going on the kitchen?</p> <p><strong>4. Put your money in a money pouch or belt </strong></p> <p>This is the fastest way to stand out from locals – who will have their money in a wallet or purse. Only take what you need when you leave your hotel room and make sure to put your wallet in a front pocket.</p> <p><strong>5. Duty free is cheaper </strong></p> <p>This is only true if you’re buying products that are heavily taxed, such as cigarettes and alcohol. Avoid sunglasses and perfumes, as these usually have a much higher base price than what you’ll find outside the airport.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/travel-myths"><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><em>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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The best high teas in Asia

<p>Classic high tea doesn’t have to be taken in an English country garden. These two teas enjoyed in Asia take the cake!</p> <p>I would say that I’ve had more than a 1000 afternoon teas. Call them Cream Teas, Afternoon Tea, Devonshire Tea, High Tea, Afternoonsies, or a mid-arvo cuppa and cake – I’ve had them.</p> <p>I think it is the most civilised and friendly ritual anyone could indulge themselves it.</p> <p>Now, I don’t roll out the cake stand and the best teapot on a regular basis but when I’m travelling I always plan an afternoon tea experience into the itinerary mix.</p> <p>My two standouts for 2018 are both set in Asia. The first was in Hanoi, Vietnam (yes, there’s so much more than pho) and the second was in Singapore (hold the chilli and pass the cakes!).</p> <p><strong>Hanoi</strong></p> <p>To stay in the Sofitel Legend Hanoi Metropole Hotel is to be treated like royalty and to be immersed in Hanoi’s long and complex history. The French carved out a colony in Vietnam from 1887 until its defeat in the First Indochina War in 1954 when independence was claimed for the country.</p> <p>After that Vietnam couldn’t catch a break and until the mid-70s war between North and South with many other nations putting their oar in raged until peace at last.</p> <p>The French left many beautiful buildings especially in the north – Hanoi has the lion’s share of splendid, restored colonial villas and public buildings. The Queen is the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, gleaming white, brass polished as a shining ritual and all things here, tres bon. The staff still greet each guest throughout the hotel with a warm “bonjour”.</p> <p>The hotel includes 364 rooms and the historic Metropole wing has 106 guestrooms and three Legendary Suites. The suites are named after famous residents and visitors to the hotel (Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham).</p> <p>Afternoon tea here is best entered into with a stout heart and a competitive spirit.</p> <p>Every day, between three and 5.30pm, an irresistible chocolate library opens in the Club Bar. Praline, ganache, éclairs, mille-feuille pastries, chocolate fountain, a selection of every imaginable kind of French pâtisseries and delectable chocolate in all shapes and form appears and appeals seductively to the afternoon tea fanatic.…Its reputation has spread well beyond the borders of Vietnam.</p> <p>Made from the finest Vietnamese grown cocoa, the Metropole Ganaches are carefully prepared to make the finest grade couverture chocolate. The chef here was dipping tiny matcha nougat squares in chocolate while we watched. There were two of us and we decided to share the love. One of us would take the High Tea and the other would take up the Chocolate Library challenge. This is a buffet extraordinaire – try one of everything – chocolate truffle, mousse and ice cream, macarons, a chocolate fountain and a hot chocolate for good measure.</p> <p>The High Tea comes on a layered stand – where to start? From the bottom with savoury snacks including baby quiche Lorraine’s and tiny sandwiches. Up a level and the scones call to you. Jam and cream of course and decorated fruit tarts – on top now – a display of wee cakes to slip delicately into one’s mouth.</p> <p>There are other wonderful restaurants here – but don’t book on the same day as you have the High Tea.</p> <p>From the Paris-inspired cafe La Terrasse to the popular poolside Bamboo Bar or Vietnamese restaurant Spices Garden, the multi-award French restaurant Le Beaulieu or the stylish Italian-influenced restaurant and new lounge Angelina – the hotel promises a gastronomic journey.</p> <p>And did I mention cakes?</p> <p><strong>Singapore</strong></p> <p>I once read a food travelogue that described Singapore as the ‘world’s best restaurant’. Every Asian cuisine melds with all world food here and whether you eat at markets, food courts, hole-in-the-wall treasures or five-star gourmet extravaganzas – there is not a dish that you could miss out on here.</p> <p>I’m a sucker for simple old-school chicken and rice and anything that is presented from Little India and have always been on the hunt for the perfect afternoon tea.</p> <p>On my most recent visit, I finally got to enjoy afternoon High tea at the famous Fullerton Hotel.</p> <p>The magnificent Fullerton Building is a grand neoclassical landmark built in 1928. Gazetted in December 2015 as a National Monument, it was once home to Singapore’s General Post Office, the Exchange Room and Exchange Reference Library, and the prestigious Singapore Club. Today, The Fullerton Hotel is a stunning 400-room heritage hotel in Singapore. </p> <p>Located in the Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s vast sunlit atrium lobby, The Courtyard (North and South sections) is the lively restaurant setting for all-day dining, whether for a light meal, a signature Japanese or Indian curry buffet, leisurely afternoon tea with unlimited replenishment of your tiered contents and free-flowing coffee and tea; or an elegant cocktail.</p> <p>We stuck with the afternoon tea and despite the generous offer to replenish…we only ordered extra scones, they were that good!</p> <p>Tastefully furnished with plush sofas and a friendly ambience – the tea event was being enjoyed by many other High Tea aficionados.</p> <p>Our tea arrived as the lovely silver art deco three-tiered stand arrived laden with all that is good under heaven. The scones are a little exclusive and like to be served away from the rest of the sweet treats – they arrive on their own plate, jam and cream to the side.</p> <p>Small sandwiches, finger-style were filled with egg, smoked salmon and smoked duck. Brie cheese with plum jelly on a hazelnut cracker was devoured without a second thought. Little samosas, miniature pies covered the savoury offerings and the various layers of all types of cakes and patisserie beckoned. Chocolate éclair, lemon tart and English fruit cake were savoured slowly.</p> <p>A special, traditional Singapore cake is the Kueh Lapis. The cake has, it is reported, to have its origins in the Nonya cuisine or the Indonesia cookbook, who knows? The delicate cake is a layered cake, sometimes called the thousand-layer cake – or ladder cake. No matter where it comes from, it was delicious, light and geometrically perfectly layered.</p> <p><em>Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/best-hotel-high-tea-in-asia/"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The best places to hike in Switzerland

<p>Switzerland is known for snow-capped mountains, glassy lakes, waterfalls, verdant valleys and moors. In between, it all is a dense network of hiking trails – ripe for exploration.</p> <p>More than 1500 Swiss volunteers have ensured that each of the trails is clearly marked with signposts and way-markers and the tracks are pedantically maintained.</p> <p>According to the Swiss Tourism board, about 50 per cent of Australian visitors to Switzerland will embark on at least one hike during their stay. Most people choose to DIY – because it’s so easy.</p> <p><strong>So where should you start?</strong></p> <p>The Via Alpina is the classic among the long-distance hikes in Switzerland. This trail crosses 14 of the most beautiful alpine passes. It meanders through the northern Alps of Switzerland (Vaduz – Montreux, via six cantons). On this trail, you will experience the picture-postcard scenery and fine Swiss hospitality.</p> <p>The Alpine Passes Trail is challenging and wild. It connects Chur with Lake Geneva via some of the most stunning passes in the Graubünden and Valais Alps. This trail is ideal for long-distance hikers. Expect views of 4000m peaks and classic mountain huts.</p> <p>The Jura Crest Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in Switzerland. Relatively unknown to non-Swiss hikers, this gentle, easy graded-trail is a local favourite. The Jura Crest hike connects Zurich and Geneva via the Jura mountains. You’ll walk through an untouched remote landscape with glorious views.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/switzerland-hikes/">MyDiscoveries</a>.</em></p>

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5 genius packing tips from flight attendants

<p>Taking the time to plan what to pack before you fly can save you time, money and hassle. “How many times do you pack a lot of stuff, but never wear half of it?” asks flight attendant Michele Radon. “Lay it out before you pack it. You may find that you’ll be able to wear a pair of pants with two different tops.”<br /> <br />It’s also OK to wear the same thing twice, adds flight attendant Abagail Valencia. When it comes to handbags and dress shoes, choose just one and wear your bulkiest items such as coats, suit jackets and boots, when you travel. Mix and match your go-to travel outfits. A favourite top, blazer and tailored pants can be mixed and matched for both casual and unexpected dressier occasions. The following useful tips will help make your next trip a breeze.</p> <p><strong>1. Pack “double duty” clothes</strong></p> <p>If you want to travel light, simplify your travel wardrobe to include items that can serve more than one purpose. A comfortable jumper or pashmina wrap, for example, is essential, says Radon. Airlines don’t always give out blankets, so you can use it as a blanket or a ‘pillow’ when on the plane and then wear it.<br /> <br />Pack one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants that can be dressed up or down, suggests Valencia. A couple of T-shirts is all you need for casual wear, and one dressy shirt will suffice when going out at night, she says. If you need dressier attire, add a black dress, scarf and heels, while a smart blazer should work for men.</p> <p><strong>2. Streamline your toiletries bag</strong></p> <p>When travelling light, streamline your getting-ready routine, explains flight attendant Jane Frilicci. If you’re not dedicated to a certain brand, just use the shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion the hotel supplies and use the hotel’s hairdryer. Be careful of taking bulky glass aftershave and perfume which can break or is not allowed in hand luggage on international trips. Consider using up sample size atomisers or refillable sprays, roll or cream perfume instead.<br /> <br />Take the opportunity to use up those sample size products you’ve been storing or fill your favourite product in travel size storage. If you’re going to a remote place or a resort area, prices may be high and you may not be able to buy whatever you need, so taking enough to last the trip makes sense. Frilicci recommends getting a clear travel bag so you can see all of your toiletries when going through security and on your trip.</p> <p><strong>3. Compress and protect</strong></p> <p>Bulky items such as puffy coats for colder destinations that take up a lot of room in your suitcase can be managed by using compression cubes. If you have to travel with bulky items, compression space bags can easily compress your clothes, says Valencia. They save room in your suitcase and protect your items from dirt, moisture, odours and allergens.</p> <p><strong>4. Keep kids occupied and other passengers happy</strong></p> <p>Parents need to be prepared when travelling with kids, says Frilicci. “People get bent out of shape when there is a screaming kid, especially when they’re trying to sleep.”<br /> <br />To keep kids and passengers happy, Frilicci suggests packing a new toy, not an old one. Some parents make gift bags for the passengers seated next to them – including packaged sweets, earplugs and a note that says something like “Hi, I’m Jake, I’m three months old, and I’m not the best traveller so you might hear my loud voice.”</p> <p><strong>5. Keep useful items in your carry-on bag</strong></p> <p>“Keep a separate carry-on bag with all of your essentials that you need to access during the flight – things such as a toothbrush, make-up, passport and a pen,” Frilicci says.</p> <p><em>Written by Kim Fredericks. This article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/flights/8-genius-packing-tips-flight-attendants"><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><em>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Visit the Game of Thrones shoot locations and relive your favourite episodes

<p>After almost a decade of captivating audiences, Game of Thrones has finally come to an end for TV viewers. But if you still want your GoT fix, visiting one of the show’s filming locations may be the next best thing.</p> <p>Bursting onto the small screen in 2011, Game of Thrones was quick to garner critical acclaim and be catapulted into cult-like TV status. As well as launching its actors into the public eye, Game of Thrones also helped propel its filming locations into the travel hotspot stratosphere. With shot locations as diverse as Croatia, Iceland, Spain, Malta, Morocco, Northern Ireland and Scotland, travellers have the opportunity to enter the world of fire and ice as envisioned by George R.R. Martin. With the show’s final season now ended, you can begin your own pilgrimage to one (or all) of these majestic destinations and set out on your own quest for the Iron Throne.</p> <p><strong>Croatia</strong></p> <p>King’s Landing’s real-world location can be found within the mediaeval walls of <a href="https://www.webjet.com.au/cheap-flights/dubrovnik/">Dubrovnik</a>, a coastal city in the south of <a href="https://www.webjet.com.au/flights/croatia/">Croatia</a>. The city’s 16th-century Old Town is used for all King’s Landing exterior shots and is encircled by a three-kilometre ring of defensive limestone walls. Croatia has been used as the King’s Landing filming location since the second season and provides the setting for some of the show’s biggest plot points.<br /> <br />Lovrijenac Fortress is the backdrop for The Red Keep, the palace of King’s Landing occupied by the Lannisters. This limestone fortress is located just outside the western wall of Dubrovnik and stands 37 metres above sea level. The fort overshadows the two entrances to the city, by sea and by land, and sets the scene for the spectacular Battle of Blackwater Bay. The inner streets of Old Town have also played a part in bringing some major scenes from the books to life.<br /> Jesuit Staircase</p> <p>Head to the famous Jesuit Staircase to see where Cersei took her ‘walk of shame’ along St Dominic Street. This same street is also used in many of the series’ market scenes and was the spot where the gold cloaks killed one of Robert Baratheon’s biological children.<br /> Pile Bay, Bokar Fortress and Trsteno Arboretum</p> <p>Be sure to visit Pile Bay on your trip to Dubrovnik. Pile Bay most notably hosts the disturbing scene of the slaying of Robert Baratheon’s bastards from season two. Moving outwards from Pile sits the Bokar Fortress. The Bokar Fortress is one of the most recognisable structures in both Dubrovnik and Game of Thrones, in which this beautiful mediaeval construction features heavily in seasons two and three. The fortress hosts the scene where Varys discusses Tyrion’s work as the Hand of the King, as well as the deliberation of key battle strategies in the defeat of Stanis Baratheon’s army.<br /> <br />Moving out of the city of Dubrovnik, be sure to visit Trsteno Arboretum. This luscious garden which is positioned only 20 minutes’ drive outside of the city was built in the late 15th century, offering visitors panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea. The majority of the palace garden scenes that take place in the show are filmed in Trsteno Arboretum.</p> <p><strong>Diocletian’s Palace and Fortress of Klis</strong></p> <p>Another filming location worth noting is Diocletian’s Palace in the Croatian seaside city of <a href="https://www.webjet.com.au/flights/split/">Split</a>. The palace was constructed in the 4th century by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This UNESCO World Heritage Site received modern fame for being the setting for where Daenerys trained her dragons and where the ‘kill the masters’ scene in season four took place. While in the region be sure to visit the grand mediaeval Fortress of Klis which is only a 30-minute drive north of Split. This dominant structure features heavily in season four and is the location in which Daenerys overthrows the Meereen, the greatest of the three great city-states of Slaver's Bay. The Fortress of Klis was built in the 3rd century into and on top of an isolated body of rock. The fortress is completely inaccessible from three sides and offers visitors panoramic views of Split and the Adriatic Sea.</p> <p><strong>Iceland</strong></p> <p>A trip to Iceland on a Game of Thrones filming expedition wouldn’t be complete without visiting Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Skogafoss. This breathtaking cascade of water is a national icon, a representation of just how picturesque and powerful the Icelandic landscape can be. As dramatic as the series, Skogafoss spews an enormous amount of water into the depths below. The waterfall features in the first episode of season eight where Daenerys and Jon Snow ride the dragons and perch next to a series of ice-covered waterfalls.<br /> <br />What other location in the world could play the part of The Wall as perfectly as <a href="https://www.webjet.com.au/flights/iceland/">Iceland</a>? Large glaciers in Snæfellsjökull, Svinafellsjökull and the hills of Höfðabrekkuheiði have been used to depict the Fist of the First Men and the Frostfang Mountains. Visit Dimmuborgir, a lava field with interestingly shaped rocks and great significance in Icelandic folklore and find yourself in the spot where Jon Snow and the Wildlings set up camp. Thingvellir National Park was also used for many of the exterior scenes beyond The Wall, and, during the warmer months, for Arya and The Hound’s travels in season four.<br /> <br />On your trip north of The Wall be sure to visit Hengilssvæðið to truly experience the rugged and confronting terrain that Iceland provided in the making of the series. Located a 30-minute drive from the capital (Reykjavik), the Hengill area was the filming location for the face-off between Brienne of Tarr and the Hound in season four, episode 10.<br /> <br />Moving further east of Reykjavik, the Þjórsárdalur Valley is a must see on every Game of Thrones diehard wishlist. It is here where the ransacking and destruction of Olly’s village in season four-episode three takes place. Olly is left as the lone survivor, leaving everyone and everything in his village dead and destroyed behind.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/visit-game-thrones-shoot-locations-and-relive-your-favourite-episodes"><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><em>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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New Zealand aviation experiences you need to try

<p>New Zealand’s diverse landscapes offer an ever-unfolding natural backdrop for flight-seeing and aerial adventures so it’s no wonder that aviation tourism is a popular activity all over the country.</p> <p>New Zealand by air makes for spectacular sightseeing. Vast coastal expanses, high mountain peaks, deep fresh-water lakes, braided rivers, dramatic fiords and colourful volcanic landforms are some of the scenic highlights of the land – celebrated as the home of Middle-earth – that are best revealed from above.</p> <p>Most regions have multiple aviation adventures and activities – from flight-seeing and helicopter landings on an active volcano or a grand tour of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps, to champagne picnics in wilderness locations, West Coast glaciers heli-hikes or heli-ski excursions into remote snowy expanses.</p> <p>Many luxury lodges, wilderness retreats and city hotels have helipads offering easy access, transfers to and from, and the-skies-the-limit activity options – including weddings in majestic natural locations.</p> <p><strong>North Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p>White Island – an active marine volcano off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty coast – is a spectacular and unique landmark. Scenic flights over the island operate from Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane, along with helicopter tours that land on the island for a hiking option.</p> <p>New Zealand’s famed central North Island volcanic plateau also sets the scene for flights over Lake Taupo, a cluster of volcanic peaks – Tarawera, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – and the treasured dual world heritage Tongariro National Park.</p> <p><strong>South Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p>The South Island, with its sweeping Southern Alps mountain chain, and the continuous parade of lakes and glaciers is an aerial feast.</p> <p>Early morning balloon flights take in the vast expanse of the Canterbury Plains, Pacific seaboard and the snowy mountain peaks while The Grand Traverse is a dramatic scenic flight exploring the highest peaks on both sides of the island and over Mt Cook and Westland national parks.</p> <p>Aviation pioneer Mount Cook Ski Planes has been landing fixed-wing planes on a glacier for more than 50 years – and it’s still the only opportunity in the world for tourists to make this kind of glacier landing.</p> <p>In Westland National Park, helicopters take tourists on a spectacular ascent onto the twin West Coast glaciers – Franz Josef and Fox – with an ice landing and hike across the frozen landscape.</p> <p>The ski fields of the Southern Alps are the launching pad for heli-ski excursions away from the crowds on resort slopes. Methven Heliski operates from a Canterbury high country sheep station, taking powder hounds into the mighty glaciated Arrowsmiths mountain range to make first tracks across the fresh powder.</p> <p>Queenstown’s Over the Top luxury helicopter excursions reveal stunning hidden gems that set the scene for gourmet picnics, extreme golfing, exclusive wine and fly fishing experiences.</p> <p><strong>Home of Middle-earth</strong></p> <p>Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film fans from around the world know New Zealand as the home of Middle-earth, and flying is the best way to see some of the top Lord of the Rings tourism destinations – guided by locals who helped find the locations and transport the stars during filming.</p> <p>In the Nelson Tasman region, Reid Helicopters operates flights to stunning Lord of the Rings locations in the beautiful Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes national parks.</p> <p>From Queenstown, Glacier Southern Lakes, Trilogy Trail and Heli Works share insider stories on a string of Middle-earth locations throughout the Southern Lakes region.</p> <p><strong>In the pilot seat</strong></p> <p>New Zealand is an attractive destination for experienced pilots who want to take the controls while experiencing scenic highlights.</p> <p>Flight charter companies and aero clubs throughout New Zealand rent planes for self-fly excursions or offer flying lessons.</p> <p>Omarama, surrounded by the Southern Alps, is a renowned destination for gliding enthusiasts from around the world.</p> <p>At Wanaka, U-Fly Wanaka offers budding aviators the opportunity to pilot a dual-control Light Sports aircraft while enjoying the stunning alpine and vineyard landscape below.</p> <p><strong>Aviation heritage</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s national symbol might be the flightless kiwi bird but that has never held back the human Kiwi population whose love-affair with the skies and all things aerial – from planes, helicopters, gliders and hot air balloons, to airborne adventure sports like skydive and paragliding – goes back to the earliest days of flight.</p> <p>New Zealanders embraced the aviation revolution as inventors, pilots and passengers. Some rose to fame – including solo pilot Jean Batten for her record-breaking journeys, early inventor-aviator Richard Pearse, and tourism pioneer Sir Henry (Harry) Wigley whose Kiwi ingenuity developed the world’s first retractable skis for planes.</p> <p>At New Zealand’s oldest aerodrome – Mandeville airfield near Croydon, in Southland – the Croydon Aircraft Museum has a collection of planes from the 1930s era including de Havilland aircraft. Visitors can take a nostalgic flight in a Tiger Moth or, for the daring, experience the adrenalin rush of an acrobatic joy ride. They can also watch activities in the workshop which is recognised as a world leader in aviation restoration and, once a year in February, the Mandeville Fly-In Weekend attracts incredible vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s.</p> <p><strong>Aviation museums &amp; collections</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s aviation heritage and heroes are celebrated in a series of museums and collections throughout New Zealand. Notable world-class aviation collections are open to visitors in Auckland, Tauranga and Masterton (in the North Island), Marlborough and Wanaka (in the South Island). Many smaller collections are also open to the public:</p> <p><strong>Auckland:</strong> MOTAT Aviation Display Hall – one of the southern hemisphere’s most impressive aircraft collections.</p> <p><strong>Tauranga:</strong> Classic Flyers Aviation Museum – includes classic aircraft that regularly take to the skies and aviation memorabilia.</p> <p><strong>Masterton:</strong> The Vintage Aviator Fighter Collection – rare rotating collection of airworthy WWI and WWII fighter aircraft on display at Hood Aerodrome.</p> <p><strong>Marlborough:</strong> Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre – not just another museum, this is an inspiring multi-sensory experience featuring film-maker Sir Peter Jackson’s incredible collection of WWI and WWII aircraft displayed in out-of-this world movie sets.</p> <p><strong>Christchurch:</strong> Air Force Museum – features several generations of classic aircraft, and entry is free.</p> <p>Wanaka: Wanaka Airport – home of the biennial Warbirds over Wanaka airshow – draws together several aviation experiences. Warbirds &amp; Wheels Museum is a collection of rare fighter aircraft and vintage vehicles that tells the stories of the New Zealand flying aces of WWI and WW2 and documents the life of local flying legend Sir Tim Wallis. The National Transport and Toy Museum is one of the world’s largest private collections and includes rare and unusual aircraft and vehicles. Classic Flights will take nostalgic punters up and away in a vintage Tiger Moth.</p> <p><strong>Aviation events</strong></p> <p>New Zealand hosts several high profile aviation airshows and events:</p> <p>Wings over Wairarapa – three-day biennial event (February)</p> <p>Mandeville Vintage Aircraft Fly-in – two-day event (March)</p> <p>Classic Fighters at Omaka – three-day biennial event (April)</p> <p>Balloons over Waikato – five-day event (March)</p> <p>Wairarapa Balloon Festival – held annually (April)</p> <p>Warbirds over Wanaka – three-day biennial event (April)</p> <p><strong>More information</strong></p> <p>Aero Clubs: <a href="http://www.flyingnz.co.nz">www.flyingnz.co.nz</a></p> <p>Air licensing requirements: <a href="http://www.caa.govt.nz">www.caa.govt.nz</a></p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-aviation-tours-experiences/"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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4 reasons to book a holiday to Italy

<p>Just four? That means leaving out several thousand more reasons to love Italy. This European nation is heaven for lovers of food, wine, fashion, history, art, culture, beaches and mountains … and the good life, la dolce vita, of course.</p> <p><strong>1. Food</strong></p> <p>According to popular tradition, the original pizza Margherita was dreamed up in Naples in 1889 in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy and the colours of the Italian flag – red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). Whether that’s strictly accurate, there’s no doubt that Italian cuisine is a splendorous thing. From antipasti – charcuterie and cheeses – to 300 different types of fresh pasta and delicious desserts such as tiramisu and zabaglione, every region has its own speciality dish. </p> <p><strong>2. Cities </strong></p> <p>Italy’s most famous cultural and historic hot spots – Rome, Florence and Venice – are best visited in early spring, late autumn or winter as they are heaving with tourists at the height of summer. A guided cycling tour offers an enthralling overview of ancient Rome. You will need to choose which of Florence’s treasures you most want to see. That will be a difficult choice. In Venice, a vaporetto (public water ferry) trip along the Grand Canal is a wonderful introduction to La Serenissima. You might want to add Milan, Verona, Naples and Genoa to your big-city hit list – and then there are many exquisite smaller cities such as Lucca, Ravenna and Parma. The Cinque Terra offers colourful villages built into the hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. So much to see, so little time! </p> <p><strong>3. Mountains &amp; lakes</strong></p> <p>Seasoned hikers, climbers and skiers should head for the Dolomites — a majestic mountain range in north-eastern Italy. Less sporty types will love the picturesque villages and glamorous towns. Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only was filmed, is best known as a sophisticated ski resort but is stunningly beautiful year-round. The region’s scenic lakes have attracted travellers for centuries. Maggiore and Como are a magnet for jet-setters. Lake Orta is a less-visited jewel.</p> <p><strong>4. Island life</strong></p> <p>Sicily and Sardinia, the two biggest islands in the Mediterranean, belong to Italy (along with about 350 smaller ones). Sicily has beaches, small elegant cities such as Palermo and Syracuse, picturesque villages and the towering active volcano, Mount Etna. Sardinia is dotted with ancient ruins, medieval towns and is renowned for its glorious Costa Smeralda, a haven for the rich and famous. Both islands have their own distinctive cuisine and traditional Sardinian vineyards are a drawcard for wine aficionados. World Heritage Sites Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world. There are 47 cultural sites and four natural sites and the whole of Rome’s historic centre and the Holy See comprise just one.</p> <p><em>Written by Sally MacMillan. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/italy-holiday/"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Top 3 car rental scams you need to be aware of

<p>Planning on renting a car on your next trip away? If you plan on doing your research before hiring a vehicle, then it can be a great investment as it allows you to see sights and scenery on your own accord. But while having your own car for a few days is generally a good idea, there are also scams one should be aware of before booking.</p> <p>Most companies aren’t out there to con you out of your money, but there are a few bad eggs, and this is what you should look out for.</p> <p><strong>1. Overdue rental scam</strong></p> <p>While it’s known that a heavy penalty fee occurs if you drop off the car after the so-called agreed drop-off time, many times companies conveniently leave out important information – such as returning the car by noon. This is why it’s important to read the fine print and checking with the clerk before driving off.</p> <p><strong>2. Compulsory insurance fee scam</strong></p> <p>If you own a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card then chances are your provider automatically covers you for insurance. But in saying that, many customers are being coerced into paying hefty insurance fees, which is why you should check with your credit card company before tapping the EFTPOS machine.</p> <p><strong>3. The GPS scam</strong></p> <p>Let’s be honest, in this day and age with a smartphone at everyone’s fingertips, there is no need to pay extra for a GPS. While it’s an easy upsell, you don’t have to be out of pocket for a feature that’s available on your mobile phone. And if you’re worried about running out of data, you can pre-map routes before heading off on your trip.</p> <p><strong>And don’t forget…</strong></p> <p>It seems like a no-brainer to go for the cheapest car rental company you can find, but just remember, that isn’t always a good thing. Many times, you can be sucked into paying hidden fees which result in a huge price bump. Also, don’t forget to keep petrol receipts and photograph any damage to the car before leaving the rental lot.</p>

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9 foods you need to try in India

<p>If you ask someone who has travelled to India about the cuisine, the first thing they’ll tell you is that it’s different to the watered-down version on offer in the west. They might also mention how vegetarian-friendly it is. In India, every dish is packed with flavour from a variety of spices, but most feature the essentials: cumin, garam masala, turmeric, and, of course, chilli powder. </p> <p>My advice? Try as many different dishes as you can. Quell your fears of Delhi belly by taking a few probiotics before you leave and pack some Imodium, you know, just in case. As long as that hasn’t turned you off, here are nine essential foods to try in India. </p> <p><strong>1. Pakora</strong></p> <p>Pakoras are a favourite comfort food for locals. You’ll find dozens of street vendors selling different varieties of this fried snack, but they’re almost always served in the home when guests are coming over because they’re so easy to make in big batches. Pakoras are essentially fried clumps of battered vegetables, served with chutney. Most recipes recommend choosing or one two vegetables. Potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, onion and spinach are popular inclusions. The batter consists of chickpea flour, with a generous sprinkling of garam masala, chilli powder and coriander. One spoonful at a time, these glorious treats turn golden brown in a deep pan of oil or ghee (butter). It sounds sacrilegious but the locals dip them in mint chutney and tomato sauce!</p> <p><strong>2. Dosa</strong></p> <p>India’s answer to the savoury crepe. The first things you’ll notice about these crispy treats are their size. They’re enormous. Indians consider these a “snack”, but you may want to share one. A classic dosa masala requires a good batter made from rice flour, dal (lentils), fenugreek seeds and salt. Once fried, the dosa is stuffed with spiced potatoes. Here’s where you can get creative with the flavours, but one essential ingredient is the first thing that goes in your pan (besides oil); cumin seeds. The dosa comes with chutneys and sambar; a lentil and vegetable stew that usually has a bit of kick to it.</p> <p><strong>3. Samosa</strong></p> <p>Following the trend of fried food, samosas are perhaps the most well-known Indian snack around the world. Shapes vary by region, but they’re usually folded into a triangular shape. Common fillings include mashed potatoes, onions, peas, lentils and sultanas. The pastry is the easiest part; a mix of Maida or all-purpose flour, a splash of oil and water. The dough is rolled flat, folded into a cone shape, then stuffed, pinched at the top and fried. </p> <p><strong>4. Chai Masala</strong></p> <p>In India, chai is a way of life, or so I read on many a gift shop t-shirt. The term translates to tea with spices. The core ingredients are black (Assam) tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and peppercorns. Recipes vary by household and are often seasonal. In summer, they use cooler spices such as tamarind and fennel seeds. During winter, nutmeg and cinnamon feature prominently. The locals prefer their chai with lots of sugar, but you can ask for it without. Enjoy it black or with milk.</p> <p><strong>5. Bread Pakora</strong></p> <p>This is a common street food among locals, but many foreigners don’t seem to understand the hype. Imagine the sandwich triangles you put in your kids’ lunchboxes – battered and deep fried. The main question is, why? Because Indians love fried food. Also known as bread bhajis, these pakora-style sandwiches usually come with a spiced mashed potato filling. After a good dunk in a bowl of chickpea batter, they’re submerged in a pool of molten-hot oil or ghee. </p> <p><strong>6. Thalis</strong></p> <p>More of an eating style than a food on its own, a Thali-style dinner is an essential Indian experience. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet, but with your own personal servings. Waiters will come around and top up your dishes constantly. A thali is a type of round serving plate with multiple bowls and sections. Usually, you would choose your selection of dishes by region. Southern Indian cuisine is usually coconut-based, whereas northern or Rajasthan food tends to contain more dairy and meat-based curries.</p> <p><strong>7. Jeera Aloo</strong></p> <p>Potatoes are a huge part of Indian cooking. Most home cooked meals contain an element of protein (lentils or meat), rice, bread and vegetables. Jeera aloo, or cumin potatoes, are a popular (and delicious) vegetable side dish. They’re not too spicy either, so they’re great for kids easing into Indian cuisine. Diced potatoes are shallow fried and tossed with cumin seeds, turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper, then finished off with a squeeze of lemon.</p> <p><strong>8. Roti</strong></p> <p>Flatbreads are an essential element of most Indian meals. Something that will surprise westerners is that Indians rarely eat, let alone cook naan bread. Traditional naan bread requires a clay oven, something most households don’t have. It requires a lot of time and effort to knead the dough, and the flour required is difficult to digest. For these reasons, naan is more of a special occasion food. But that’s not to say Indians don’t eat their fair share of breads. Paratha, chapati, poori, kachori, bhakri, parithi, appam; I could go on. Each bread differs by choice of flour and cooking method. Most are relatively easy to make at home and form an integral part of every main meal.</p> <p><strong>9. Aloo Gobi</strong></p> <p>This vegetarian dish is simple but flavoursome and wildly popular all over India, Pakistan and Nepal. The English translation, “potato &amp; cauliflower,” reveals the two main ingredients. The other elements are spices including cumin, chilli powder, ginger, garlic and, most importantly, turmeric which gives the dish its signature yellow colour.</p> <p><em>Written by Bethany Plint. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/9-food-try-india/"><em>My Discoveries</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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3 reasons why taking a holiday is good for your health

<p>Travelling can sometimes seem like an unattainable indulgence only reserved for the wealthy or those who have copious amounts of time.</p> <p>But the truth is, with careful planning and consideration, you also can head off on your dream getaway – and it comes with a number of health benefits.</p> <p><strong>1. Letting go of internal stress</strong></p> <p>Life’s daily routine can cause a toll on our mental health and taking some time off can allow us to gain a bit of perspective on where we want to be heading and what we hope to do.</p> <p>According to positive psychology expert Professor Lea Waters, our brains function in two modes, either in “task mode” or “default network mode.”</p> <p>When we’re not focusing on important tasks, we enter default network mode. “Areas of the brain that are responsible for creativity and solidifying memory are activated,” she told <a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/2019/03/18/14/24/5-reasons-taking-a-holiday-is-good-for-your-health"><em>Nine Honey Travel</em></a>.</p> <p>Which is why, when we’re taking a break, we often find ourselves coming up with creative ideas and solutions.</p> <p><strong>2. The perfect way to unwind</strong></p> <p>Leading a hectic lifestyle can sometimes put yourself on the backbench. It’s important to prioritise time for yourself and getting a good night’s sleep and lazing around is actually good for you.</p> <p>“When we get time to slow down, appreciate the simple things in life, we give our brain a chance to use serotonin for positive mood and oxytocin, the bonding chemical,” says Waters.</p> <p>Which means when you have a clear head, the result is a positive mood.</p> <p><strong>3. Physical benefits</strong></p> <p>Travelling is a great form of exercise, and the best part? You usually don’t even know you’re working out. Whether you choose to walk along the sea shore, or take a dip in the ocean, being in the fresh air and sunshine is a good way to boost your nervous system.</p> <p>“On holidays, you do more walking, you’re moving around, you’re getting vitamin D,” explains Waters.</p> <p>So what are you waiting for? Book that trip and get on a plane right now!</p>

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13 things smart travellers always do before a flight

<p><strong>1. Passport protocol</strong></p> <p>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.</p> <p><strong>2. Protect against mishaps</strong></p> <p>So many things can go awry while travelling – trip delays and cancellations, delayed or lost luggage, travel accidents, emergency evacuations, and more. No, this doesn’t mean you should stay home and give up your dreams of seeing the world. “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. “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.</p> <p><strong>3. Notify banks</strong></p> <p>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.” </p> <p><strong>4. Prevent jetlag</strong></p> <p>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.”</p> <p><strong>5. Put on compression socks</strong></p> <p>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.</p> <p><strong>6. Avoid germs</strong></p> <p>In the natural course of your travel day, you’re going to be touching numerous surfaces – buttons, touch screens, escalator railings, security bins, armrests, seat belts and tray tables – that countless people have touched before you between cleanings. “Clean germs off your hands as frequently as possible, and carry a small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitiser for whenever you can’t wash with soap and water,” says Dr. Spangler. “Also, consider bringing a small packet of antibacterial wipes when you’re flying to wipe down the surfaces that will be in your immediate vicinity for the duration of your flight, particularly the seat-back tray table, which has been shown to harbour more germs than the aeroplane bathroom.” For the truly germaphobic, consider disposable aeroplane seat covers.</p> <p><strong>7. Charge electronic devices</strong></p> <p>Somehow, people used to fly without any electronics. Today that would be unheard of – unless you’ve run out of juice and downgraded yourself back to the stone ages. “Making sure your phone, laptop and other electronics are charged accomplishes two things,” says Christian Eilers, founder of the travel site Dauntless Jaunter. “First, it ensures you have enough power to keep you entertained or working during your flight. Secondly, it also forces you to know in advance where you have your batteries and cables, saving you from that last-minute scramble with the Uber waiting outside.” It’s also wise to travel with a portable charger just in case your battery wears out faster than you anticipated.</p> <p><strong>8. Real-time info</strong></p> <p>Great, did you just sprint all the way to your gate only to find out it was switched to one much closer to where you started? “Sign up for flight updates on your phone,” says Alissa Musto, a professional travelling musician and singer-songwriter. “If your flight is delayed or security lines are long, you’ll get updates in real time so you know what to expect when you arrive at the airport and can plan accordingly.” Along with signing up for text alerts, don’t forget to download your airline’s app, too. </p> <p><strong>9. Carry on must-haves</strong></p> <p>If you haven’t yet mastered the art of travelling with only a carry on, that’s OK – but there are certain things you must never check. “Pack your medication in your carry on,” says Jeff Miller, who co-owns the travel blog Our Passion For Travel with his wife and has visited 73 countries. “Depending on your destination, in the event of lost luggage, your medication may not be easily accessible or may cost a small fortune.” He also suggests bringing a change of clothes on board, so that you have a clean set if your luggage takes an accidental side trip and doesn’t arrive until the following day. The same goes for your passport, money, electronics, jewellery, lighters, and lithium batteries.</p> <p><strong>10. BYOF (bring your own food)</strong></p> <p>Unless the idea of a wilted aeroplane sandwich or waiting in a long line for a greasy burger excites you, it’s best to travel with your own food. “Airport food is notoriously overpriced and nutritious options are hard to find,” says Betsey Banker, owner of the travel blog Midlife Millennials and former wellness educator. “I plan ahead and bring my own snacks or meals. Nuts, fruits, and veggies are all good options. On a regular basis, I take my own salad in a sealed bag. Bringing your own food allows you to eat on your own schedule and according to your own dietary preferences, which is especially important on long days of travel, when you’re moving between time zones and when you have short connections.”</p> <p><strong>11. Choose seats wisely</strong></p> <p>You may think you’ve read the seat map correctly, only to find out you’re seated right next to the bathroom, have less legroom thanks to an equipment box, or inadvertently booked a seat without a moveable armrest (therefore reducing seat width). “Refer to website Seat Guru when booking your seats on your flight,” says Victoria Langmead, Safari Expert for travel company Scott Dunn. You’ll be able to consult a seat map for each specific aircraft and determine the ideal seat selection for your preferences.”</p> <p><strong>12. Visit an airport lounge</strong></p> <p>Whether you have a long layover or need to hop on a conference call in peace, an airport lounge can be your safe haven from all the chaos. “Take advantage of the airport lounges, because they’ll make your travel experience much less stressful,” says Yuichi Nishiyama, a pilot for All Nippon Airways. “Not only are lounges a nice place to retreat from the hustle and bustle happening at the gates, but they have a variety of services from dining to shower facilities to designated workspaces.” If you haven’t racked up enough airline status or your credit card doesn’t give you access, then many airlines will allow you to purchase a day pass.</p> <p><strong>13. Hydrate ahead of time</strong></p> <p>There’s a reason your lips feel chapped, your nose and throat feel dry, and your hands turn scaly on a flight – according to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly half of the air circulating in the cabin is pulled from outside air, and at 35,000 feet that air has very little moisture. “I always make sure to hydrate well before a flight,” says Anisa Alhilali, who co-owns the blog Two Travelling Texans and has stamps from 41 countries in her passport. “I try to drink as much water as possible for 24 hours before I travel. I also make sure to have water with me on the plane. It’s best to bring your own refillable water bottle, and fill it up after going through security, since buying water at the airport can be expensive.” Avoiding caffeine and alcohol on your flight will also help keep you hydrated. </p> <p><em>Written by Jill Schildhouse. This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/flights/13-things-smart-travellers-always-do-flight">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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