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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 May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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