International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
As I write this introduction to Travel Tips Week, I am on a long haul flight between Singapore and New York. In the seatback pocket is a large colourful brochure titled Healthy Air Travel described as "tips" for a "healthy and relaxed flight". With the mere promise of "tips" I felt compelled to read it. Even if there was just one small tidbit I did not already know, it would be worth my time.
Among the things I discovered were that cabin pressure causes intestines to expand and so it is best to eat small portions to avoid bloating. I also followed directions to in-chair exercises, and I learned that the technique to relieve ear pressure where you hold your nose and blow out your ears is formally known as the Valsalva Manoeuvre. I even did a controlled breathing technique designed to reduce the "stress of flying" and actually do feel more relaxed.
Here is one more tip that I am, at this moment, employing. An anti-jet lag tip my father-in-law (a retired diplomat who may be the most widely travelled person I know) passed on this gem: when you get on a plane, set your watch for the local time of your final destination. It starts to acclimate your brain and encourages strategic napping (also a tip in the airline's brochure).
Broadly speaking, most of what effective travel writing consists of is "tips and advice" - information you did not know that can make your trip more enjoyable and efficient. Good travel advice saves you time, money and headaches. Even one critical bit of advice can save a trip from potential disaster, and avid travellers know this so well that we greedily collect (but also benignly share) these hidden pearls of wisdom to make travel better.
Often travel advice is local. When my wife and I lived in Bangkok, for example, we explained to visiting friends that in the likelihood a tuk-tuk driver tells you the Grand Palace is closed and offers to take you to some other important sights (with a stop at a jewellery or rug store on the way, of course), it is a lie. By falling for that minor scam ourselves, we saved others a lot of wasted time, and it was just one of many bits of key wisdom that we were able to share. This is this kind of local expertise that makes the writers who contribute to BBC Travel, most of whom are living in the destinations they write about, so useful to you.
This week, with the launch of Travel Tips on BBC Travel, the wisdom we are imparting is not about destinations as much as it is broad and useful no matter where you are headed. We have excellent aeroport, flight and frequent flyer advice in Insider flight tips from a seasoned business traveller by Christine Mikolajuk. We can tell you what to avoid in Buyer beware: 10 common travel scams, and the packing manifesto A guide to travelling with only carry-on luggage by Sarah Baxter will keep you travelling light. Jane Ormond has written up a guide to finding the perfect travel gift, and Sunshine Flint offers advice on the top travel apps on the market today. Plus, Suemedha Sood shares another Travelwise column on Cheap options for cell phone travel.
Come back all week for these Tips and Advice articles from our world-travelled, expert contributors.