Travel News

40 top travel tips

Ever wish you had a hotline to top hoteliers, airline reps and frequent flyers to receive that elusive upgrade or get a table in the best restaurant in town at short notice? Michelle Rowe canvassed frequent flyers for their best-ever travel tips. We guarantee they’ll make you a better traveller. Bon voyage.

1 To get the most comfortable economy seat available on any given route, I always check before booking.
Cynthia Rosenfeld, travel writer

2 When I'm travelling I stay in serviced apartments instead of hotels. That way you can really get to know a city or region by its markets and food culture. A serviced apartment gives you the opportunity to cook and enjoy the local produce and culture.
Justin North, owner-chef, Bécasse

3 If you're travelling for business within the Asia Pacific region, a must-have is an APEC Business Travel Card. This card allows entrance to most countries via the diplomatic channel or special APEC-marked lanes and entitles holders to 'fast-track' immigration. Over the years this has saved many hours of delay. Check out
Mark Greedy, area vice-president, Asia Pacific, The Leading Hotels of the World

4 Using a well-optimised online hotel website is your best bet to ensure upgrades as most will have strong relationships with general managers and sales directors. Use Alexa  to see how popular the site is before using it. The lower the ranking, the more traffic the site receives (like a golf score), and therefore the more exposure and business the site sends to their featured properties - thus giving them more clout and power to upgrade you. For example, every booking request or online reservation made via goes directly to the hotel with a note to provide a VIP upgrade (subject to availability, of course) and extra amenities. Also, don't feel afraid to pick up the phone and contact the property directly after you've done your online research for your hotel. Your best bet is to speak with the sales and marketing director and explain how special your trip to their property will be - sometimes they can break the rules to ensure you are privy to extra-special treatment.
Bradley Cocks, vice-president Asia Pacific, Kiwi Collection

5 My mother once told me that if you roll (not fold) your jeans and trousers when packing, they crease less - and it seems to work.
Cramer Ball, regional general manager Asia Pacific South and Australasia, Etihad Airways

6 In Paris, if you decide to splash out on a meal at a two- or three-star restaurant, do so at midday. Most of the well-known establishments have a prix fixe luncheon menu that is taken from the à la carte one and is a fraction of the price. Le Grand Véfour, for example, has a lunchtime menu for $170, while its à la carte dinner prices start at $390.
Leo Schofield, GT editor-at-large

7 Always use the services of deluxe hotels. An experienced concierge is invaluable and can really make a stay memorable by organising dining experiences at the latest restaurants or leisure activities you may not have thought were available. Similarly, housekeeping departments at luxury hotels generally have qualified seamstresses on staff, which means any alterations of new purchases can be done in the comfort of your room without having to find a tailor or having to do this on your return to Australia.
Peter Hession, regional sales manager Australia New Zealand, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

8 If you intend to pay for an upgrade from your ticketed class, it's usually much cheaper to pay for the upgrade at the airport, although you do run the risk that the flight is full. Nonetheless, it's a risk worth taking to save the big bucks.
Nick Larkworthy, PR and marketing executive, Virgin Atlantic

9 When travelling with your spouse or partner, split the contents of each suitcase so that you have some of their items and they have some of yours. Then, if one of your suitcases goes missing, you will have enough clothing to get by.
Lorraine Sharp, managing director, Insight Vacations Australia

10 To access email when travelling, I always use a Vodaphone USB modem that is installed into the side of my laptop. I then buy a data card in Europe to use in this device, which enables me to use the internet through the mobile line, wherever there is mobile usage - in hotels, at airports, in the Italian office - and I have no need for other systems or cables. The data card can be credited as soon as the funds run low, just as with a mobile.
Mary Chiew, managing director, Giorgio Armani Australia

11 You'll have more chance of getting into a restaurant you normally have to book well in advance for if you call at six or seven on the night you want to go. Many restaurants keep a few tables for celebrities, for satisfying valued hotel concierges and for commitments they make to platinum-card programs, and these tables aren't used every night. Try something along the lines of: "I know you have to book well in advance, but I'm in city XYZ at short notice and I've always wanted to try your restaurant, so I've just rung now in case you've had a very last-minute cancellation." This won't work for the American restaurants that have special reservation numbers that only operate during the day, but it can be quite a successful ploy in Australia and Europe where a phone call often goes directly to the restaurant.
Roger McShane, GT Tasmania correspondent

12 I try to use traveller's cheques or cash (drawn in small amounts from an ATM) when I travel, rather than a credit card. It makes me less worried about whether I will get home to find I neglected to notice an extra zero in the amount of yen or dong on my bill.
Sujata Raman, managing director, Australia New Zealand, Abercrombie & Kent

13 Daytime flights are essential on long-haul sectors, particularly west-bound.
Mandy Lovell, office manager Australia New Zealand, The Leading Hotels of the World

14 When booking airfares online, always read the terms and conditions of the fare thoroughly, however boring that might seem at the time. Many airlines now impose hefty penalties for any ticketing changes - especially on cheap fares - so it pays to know what the costs will be if you have to change your flight date or destination, for whatever reason. If there is any chance your travel plans may change, consider paying a little extra for a more flexible fare. It could well save you money in the long-term.
Kendall Hill, travel writer

15 I travel very light - even for a three-week trip in Europe, I take only one piece of hand luggage. But I always carry a spare fold-up travel bag for additional purchases. On the trip home, I check-in the spare bag with my clothes and carry the items I treasure onboard the plane with me. I have been a victim of lost luggage too many times.
Glenyce Johnson, CEO, Peregrine Adventures

16 When leaving hotels for the day in non-English-speaking countries, ask the concierge to give you a card with directions back to the hotel in the local language.
Brett Spackman, Qantas cabin crew customer service supervisor

17 Public email services with large storage capacities, such as Gmail, are a useful resource. Mail yourself copies of all your travel documents and plans - that way you can access them from anywhere in the world from any internet-linked computer.
Pat Nourse, GT features editor

18 Food is really important to me. No matter where I go, I always plan at least half my restaurants before leaving. I ask everybody I know for tips and I research online (reviews, blogs and restaurant sites). I then prioritise and refine my list, email the concierge where we are staying and have them make the bookings before we get there. That said, two of my favourite places, La Merenda (in Nice) and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (in Paris), don't take bookings.
Barry McDonald, co-owner, Fratelli Fresh Waterloo and Potts Point

19 I never leave home without my battery-operated mobile charger for those times when your battery runs out and you can't access a powerpoint for a regular charger. You can buy them at most airports now.
Jeannie Foster, general manager Australia, Air Canada

20 Never book an aisle seat in the first row in business or economy class. You will be disturbed constantly by the swishing of the class-dividing curtains as the staff move back and forth throughout the flight and your sleep.
Virginia Haddon, general manager, Ink Publicity

21 When travelling to New York or LA, or any busy major city for that matter, always arrange a limo collection, especially during the peak traffic times of day and especially during hot weather. The last thing you want is to be shoe-horned into the back of a less-than-immaculate cab, stuck in gridlock traffic and without airconditioning. It's well worth the extra expense. You can shop online for the best deal. Try
Craig Markham, marketing and PR director, Firmdale Hotels

22 Years ago, an elegant fashion designer who had lived the high life in many countries told me never to travel anywhere without something really dressy for evening - you never know what you might be invited to at short notice. And it has proved very wise advice. I've been asked to balls at an hour's notice and I could always come up with something decent.
Lee Tulloch, author

23 Don't bother renting a car to visit the French Riviera. There are easy bus or train connections between all the major towns, and the bus fare is a bargain at one euro.
Rosa Jackson, GT Paris correspondent

24 Cabin air is extremely dry, sometimes reaching 5 per cent humidity instead of the optimum comfort level of 50 per cent. To avoid dehydration and illness, start preparing before you fly. Use an intensive hydrating face cream on the day of departure, and moisturise your body thoroughly. Women should avoid make-up and men should avoid shaving, both of which dry the skin. During the flight, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, and use a face-moisturising spray. Post-flight, take a longer shower than normal or, ideally, a long bath with bath oils and, if possible, use a face-hydrating mask. Spoiling yourself with an aromatherapy oil massage will also help lessen the jet lag.
Djaafar El Ghazi, Lufthansa cabin crew

25 Hong Kong is one of the best places to buy quality pearls. And it's a lot cheaper than Tahiti for black pearls. Though not quite as cheap as the pearl markets in Beijing, the Hong Kong ones are much better quality.
Sue Marsh, managing director, Ink Publicity

26 Carry a portable shortwave radio, especially when in out-of-the-way or volatile places. Internet can still be cut-off or unavailable, but radio is almost always available, still the best source of instant news, and an excellent entertainment device.
Andrew Mueller, foreign correspondent and travel writer

27 Check out local walking tours of a city. The best way to get a feel for a city is on foot - and you can discover beautiful hidden-away places that are off the tourist track. Even better, you can get tips from the local guide on other things to see and do, and places to eat.
Joanne Merrell, Qantas business and first flight attendant

28 Get Google maps (or some navigation system) on your BlackBerry or mobile - very, very handy in foreign places.
John Sintras, chief executive officer, Starcom MediaVest Group

29 Re-energise your metabolism and clear your head when you arrive at your destination by doing some light exercise. This also helps adjust to a new time zone. Try a herbal tea to enhance your wellbeing.
Lesley Grant, Qantas Group general manager for customer products and services

30 If you're addicted to gadgets and are travelling somewhere with incompatible power points, pack a four-plug power board to save juggling the recharging of phones, organisers, laptops, camera batteries, iPods, and so on. With one adaptor you can easily charge everything at once and the extra length from the power board can make difficult-to-get-to power points easily accessible.
Sue Dyson, GT Tasmania correspondent
31 When travelling with children, it is much easier to stay in apartments rather than hotels. For travel in France, has a fantastic selection of apartments, and for Italy, try
Dietmar Sawyere, owner-chef Berowra Waters Inn and Forty One restaurants

32 Always try to source a hotel with free internet access. There are plenty around. If you don't, you can end up paying high daily charges for internet use. will often offer great deals including breakfast and free internet use.
Jeannie Foster, general manager Australia, Air Canada

33 Walk in the sunshine with no sunnies on as soon as you land to get your circadian rhythms in tune with the new time zone.
Catriona Rowntree, Getaway presenter

34 Always pack versatile walking shoes that present well and can be worn with a suit or jeans. A pair of R.M.Williams come with me everywhere, from cobblestones in Rome to Manhattan sidewalks.
Stefano Canturi, jewellery designer, Canturi Jewels

35 I always use zippered mesh inserts when packing my suitcase. They come in various sizes and are suitable for a range of clothes such as underwear, T-shirts and so on. Keeping groups of clothes separate is great if you're travelling through a range of seasons or temperatures. They make packing and unpacking very easy and keep you organised on the road, minimising travel stress.
Bill Granger, restaurateur, author and TV personality

36 I always try to push myself into the time zone of the place that I am travelling to. For example, if I'm travelling to London, I keep awake for the first leg out of Sydney, and sleep during the second sector, thus when I arrive in London early in the morning I feel closer to UK time.
Roger Burr, regional sales manager, British Airways

37 Always ask to see both the 'deluxe' and the 'standard' rooms at a hotel. The deluxe rooms often cost only slightly more but are much better than the standard ones.
Chris Rowthorn, Lonely Planet author

38 It's sensible to book a hire car in advance, but you might find the same company offering a better deal on the day. If you're travelling with someone else, reserve a vehicle in one name and you can ditch the booking if there are better deals available when you show up.
Michael Gebicki, travel writer and photographer

39 Pack a USB thumb drive. It's good for backing up digital information and you can take it to an internet café and post home some photos.
Rowan McKinnon, Lonely Planet author

40 Don't eat the salad in Marrakech.
Nikki Gemmell, author