SINGAPORE - With the June holidays now upon us, it's the time of the year for families to start packing their bags and head overseas for a well-deserved break.
But whether on not your vacation pans out to be your dream trip can be decided by the smallest things.
From finding the right travel agent and scoring the best travel deals to keeping your valuables safe and surviving long-haul budget flights, we've compiled some tips to help make your holiday hassle-free.
1. Scoring the best travel deals
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Many tips abound when it comes to getting the best travel deals, but just remember three over-arching strategies distilled from travel experts and the experiences of ST's travel correspondent Lee Siew Hua:
a. Just ask - ask for deals from airlines and hotels.
b. Go the other direction - A savvy traveller knows that when a destination is recovering from some unfortunate incidents, there are bargains. Locals are friendlier and attractions are less crowded as well
c. Do legwork - For a start, browse through travel sites such as Kayak, Skyscanner and TripAdvisor.
2. Picking the right travel agent
Mr David Kolner, who oversees the travel agent membership programme for Virtuoso (a network of more than 15,000 agents globally), likens finding the right agent to finding the right doctor.
Seek recommendations from other travellers or look at reviews to find a good agent. Agencies with experienced staff include Flight Centre Singapore, Travel Media and CityState Travel.
3. Taking the pain out of travelling
Not everyone is an expert at packing a suitcase or beating jet lag. ST's Lydia Vasko dispenses some sound advice to help make life on the road easier.
One way to beat jet lag, is to set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you board the plane. This helps you mentally adjust to a new time zone and sleep or stay awake as needed.
Some packing tips include placing clothes that tend to wrinkle in a thin plastic dry-cleaning bag, and transferring gels and liquids into bottles with screw caps instead of using bottles with flip-top openings.
4. Packing your hand luggage
Do you know what items you can put in your carry-on bag and what you should pack into your checked-in luggage?
Get up to speed on Singapore regulations so you do not make the mistake of carrying things not allowed on board planes.
Any large containers of liquids - even if near-empty - should go into your luggage and not your hand luggage.
5. Buying travel insurance
Price should not be the only determining factor in purchasing travel plans, advised Ms Annie Chua, NTUC Income's vice-president and head of personal lines.
"(Travellers) should look at the types of benefits and the coverage which are most important and relevant to them, as well as consider any exclusions and claim limits for each benefit," she said.
6. Keeping your valuables safe
So many things are new on a vacation, which leaves travellers vulnerable to theft when their guard drops a bit as they attempt to take them all in.
Don't let a stolen camera ruin your getaway. Check out this guide on how to protect yourself and your belongings.
7. Making long-haul budget flights more bearable
It is all very exciting for price-sensitive travellers, but while sitting in a no-frills plane for two or three hours may not be a big deal for many, a 10-hour flight can be a totally different experience.
Here are four survival tips for long-haul budget flying.
8. Staying fit while travelling
Vacations are a double jeopardy - we feast and the fitness regime takes a breather.
But with a bit of planning, exercise can easily be embedded into most trips so you stay fit on the go. Find out how here.
9. Getting the most out of hotel concierges
While a hotel's concierge staff can help make a traveller's trip that much better, their services are often underused and sometimes even misused.
Here are several ways for guests to get the most out of what this valuable resource can offer.
10. There's always 2018 to look forward to...
To prevent yourself from suffering a serious case of holiday blues after returning to Singapore, you can always plan ahead for next year - there are four long weekends in 2018, and with the help of our handy cheat sheet, you can make it nine.
Also, if you need ideas on where to go for a quick getaway, we've got you covered here.