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10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

Most people love the idea of a holiday but dread the thought of planning it. Whether it’s booking flights, coordinating logistics, or last minute packing, the pre-travel part can get a little stressful at times. Key to avoiding all this anxiety is to take a step-by-step approach and get organised in advanced.

If you’re keen to make your next getaway as smooth and stress-free as possible, consider the following 10 tips before you jet off.

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Keep your options open

Whether it’s flights or accommodation, never book the first thing you see. Browse in incognito mode to avoid cookie tracking and the consequent price spike from suppliers, and make friends with comparison websites. When booking for hotels, use a site like Booking.com to lock down several free-cancellation options. This gives you some flexibility to change or cancel a hotel when an impromptu sale or discount pops up for another hotel a few weeks later. Whilst Airbnb is also a fantastic go-to, the platform generally requires immediate payment, which makes it less flexible – so only opt for this option if you’re 100% certain on a place to stay.

Get savvy with your researching

Guilty of doing the bare minimum when it comes to researching your travel destination before flying out? Rookie error! To maximise your holiday experience, it’s worthwhile checking out travel and food blogs for recommendations on local gems off the beaten path, the best places to eat and tourist traps to avoid. Similarly, do the due diligence in checking for travel discounts and special offers – if you can save some money, why not? Travel deals websites like Scoopon offer holiday packages that include flights and accommodations with occasional additions like tours and activities, ideal for those who want to avoid the hassle of planning everything. Always double check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of what’s included and most importantly, what’s not.

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Tick off your pre-departure to-dos

Draft up an essential to-do list and ensure you tick every item off before departure. This includes checking visa and passport requirements for the destination you’re heading to, buying travel insurance, notifying your bank of your travel arrangements (to avoid credit card disappointment), and saving emergency numbers in your phone. If you’re taking leave from work, ensure your out-of-office message has been set up in your emails and that close friends and family are aware of where you’re heading off. These tasks may seem pesky but once ticked off, can help prevent unpleasant and unwanted situations.

Create an itinerary (and include the details)

Avoid the ‘wing it’ mentality and dedicate time to creating a proper travel itinerary. You don’t necessarily need to stick to it word for word once you’re at the destination, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan to fall on if your spontaneous adventures don’t work out. At the bare minimum, include details of where you’re staying for each day, a list of key activities you have planned and transport logistics on how to get from A to B. The time you spend organising yourself before you leave will result in time saved upon arrival at your holiday destination. The last thing you want is to have wasted 2 hours getting lost because you forgot to research how the local transport system works.

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Organise your finances & get the right credit card

Different people have varying preferences when it comes to money and travel – some prefer cash whilst others love card. It’s worth researching the destination to see what the local preferences are – some countries are more cash-driven than others. There’s long been a debate over cash vs. card, but your best bet is to have both. If you’re thinking of bringing a credit card, the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard is a fantastic travel option to consider as there are no annual fees, no currency conversion fees, and no international transaction fees on purchases. If you have connecting flights or long layovers, consider converting some cash for those destinations too.

Download the right apps

Leverage technology to your advantage and download apps that are designed to make your travel experience easier. Apart from the essentials like Uber and WhatsApp, there are some hidden heroes to be discovered. Google Translate works wonders when you come across foreign text – simply take a photo and the app will instantly translate the text into your language of choice. Tripit is another handy one – the app utilises all of your booking confirmation emails (hotels, flights, attractions, restaurant reservations) to generate an itinerary for you.

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Sort out your Wi-Fi needs

In the increasingly connected world we live in today, Wi-Fi access has become a non-negotiable, especially when traveling. Depending on where you’re going, internet access and availability may vary. For most destinations, there are generally two options – you can get a local sim card with data usage included or a pocket Wi-Fi. Ensure your phone is unlocked before you jet off and turn on global roaming just in case your Wi-Fi plans don’t work out. Whilst using data via global roaming can amount to a pricey bill, having the option to turn it on is still recommended in case you need the access during an emergency.

Pack for the expected and unexpected

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios but it’s handy to pack with a backup plan in mind. If possible, pack all of your valuables in your carry-on and always include a contingency pack. This pack should include a toothbrush, essential toiletries, phone/laptop chargers, spare underwear, and a change of clothes – all will prove to be a godsend if an unforeseeable delay pops up or your checked luggage goes missing. Also, bring a few spare shopping bags so you can separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones. Avoid over packing, especially if you’re heading to a shopping destination.

Update your digital storage

If you haven’t already, download Dropbox or Google Drive – the best apps for online storage. Scan your passport and save a digital copy, along with your travel insurance confirmation, flight and hotel bookings, and any other important travel documents. No one wants to lug around folders of paperwork, so get digitally savvy and ensure you’re covered by getting organised ahead of time. For safe measure, you can also email yourself copies of the above.

Plan ahead to prepare for your arrival back home

Nothing is more stressful than returning from a relaxing holiday to a messy or dirty house. Avoid this by making the extra effort prior to departure. Do a thorough clean of the house the day before you leave, so that you’ll come home to order as opposed to chaos. If you’re living alone and about to go overseas for a long time, it’s also worth hiring someone to come by to collect the mail every week and maintain your garden. Look to online marketplaces and apps like Airtasker to easily outsource the job.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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