No need to kill your travel bug despite coronavirus outbreak, with the right precautions

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The Straits Times Travel Editor Lee Siew Hua delved into precautions for travelling safely and the most important travel trends this year.
In the latest edition of the askST@NLB talk, The Straits Times' Travel Editor Lee Siew Hua delved into precautions for safe travelling and tips on the most important travel trends to note this year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Even as apprehension builds over the global spread of the novel coronavirus, there might be a way around abandoning your travel plans for the new year.

In the latest edition of the askST @ NLB talk, The Straits Times' travel editor Lee Siew Hua delved into precautions for safe travelling and tips on the most important travel trends to note this year.

About 155 people attended the 90-minute session at the Central Public Library on Friday (Jan 31), where Ms Lee discussed precautions to adopt while travelling, including practising the right etiquette on board flights and e-registering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before embarking on a trip.

"For me, the first line of defence is having a healthy lifestyle and good immunity before setting foot outside the country," said Ms Lee.

Besides safety precautions for emergencies such as the current coronavirus outbreak or terrorism, Ms Lee also discussed seven trends to embrace while travelling in 2020.

Tips she shared include seizing affordable business class tickets when flying to your dream destination and maximising the use of "super apps" while travelling.

Ms Lee quoted online travelling company Skyscanner's report that said that business class fares dropped 5 per cent last year, while premium economy fares dropped 9 per cent - a result of more airlines reaching out to consumers in the lucrative premium market.

Super apps like Grab and WeChat, which offer multiple services on a single platform, are an indispensable tool for travellers, she said.

Google Maps, for instance, can help travellers to locate the best places to shop, dine or visit and allows easy link sharing.

For the carbon-conscious traveller, Ms Lee suggested making use of high-speed rail networks instead of flying, to reduce one's carbon footprint. Opting for e-documents also reduces paper use.

During the question and answer segment after the talk, audience members asked candid questions regarding modesty and respecting local cultures in lesser-known destinations such as Saudi Arabia, which opens its doors to international tourists this year.

Human resource manager Darran Lim, 34, said the talk helped him narrow down his travel plans for 2020.

Mr Lim, who has been to 70 countries so far, said he was interested to discover off-the-radar places mentioned during the talk, including the mountainous region of Suan Phueng in Thailand and Madain Saleh, a hidden desert city in Saudi Arabia.

The askST  @  NLB talks are a collaboration between The Straits Times and the National Library Board. The sessions are streamed live on the ST Facebook page.

The next talk, slated for Feb 28, will be Budget 2020 - What is it, and Why does it Matter?

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