Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!


Healthy travel

Which is the most expensive cheese in the World?

Originated from Serbia, Pule cheese is made exclusively from the milk of Balkan donkeys. A characteristic feature of Serbian cuisine, Pule is not only extremely rare but also the most expensive cheese in the world. This exotic delicacy would cost you a whopping $576 for a pound!


Image Source

It takes 25 liters of donkey milk to produce just one kilogram of this white & crumbly smoked cheese. These donkeys are given the very best grass to eat and live as free rein as they can, living in the wilds of Serbia, they are farmed, milked and that results in this Serbian food-treasure!

A woman milks a donkey at a farm in Zasavica Resort, west of Belgrade

Image Source

How to Sleep Like a Baby On a Long Flight

Here are some simple things you can do to make your long-haul journey comfortable.

  1. Say no to carbonated drinks.
    The bubbles in carbonated drinks expand at high altitude, making you feel bloated. Enjoy some fresh fruit juice and plenty of water instead.
  2. Don’t chew gum.
    It tends to make you swallow as you chew on it, which can cause gas. Source:
  3. Eat food that contains Tryptophan.
    Tryptophan is a calming amino acid and food items that carry it in high levels tend to induce sleep naturally. So start munching on dates, cottage cheese, turkey and fish once onboard. Source: Thrillist
  4. Ditch gas-producing foods.
    Gastrointestinal discomfort is one of the biggest problems typically associated with long distance flight. Flatulence can be a cause for discomfort and embarrassment for you as well as your co-passengers. The best course is to cut out on food items belonging to the cruciferous family such as brocolli, cauliflower and potatoes which encourage intestinal expansion.

  5. Choose vegetarian meals.
    Vegetarian meals are served first, so you’re done faster, thus cutting out unnecessary wait before you go to sleep. Simple! Source: American Airlines
  6. Eat something light before boarding.
    Rather than a secret, this is more of basic common sense. If you find yourself really tired and don’t want to wait till your meal is served, grab something to eat before you step onboard and let the flight attendant know that you don’t want dinner.

  7. Always carry earplugs and an eye mask.
    These wonderful sleeping aids are easily available and affordable too. An inflatable pillow is another good investment.
    Source: Alamy
  8. Choose a window seat.
    The benefits of choosing the window seat is three-pronged. You can lean against a solid surface for support while sleeping and not get disturbed by a co-passenger wanting to go to the loo. Plus, you don’t miss out on the view outside. Source: Thrillist
  9. Try and get a seat up front.
    By getting a seat in the first few rows, you can avoid the disturbance caused by engine noise which is loudest towards the rear. You can do this by checking-in online. Most airlines allow web check-in 24 hours before take off. Source: Telegraph
  10. Don’t be tempted to take a sleeping pill.
    A sleeping tablet can increase the risk of a blood clot from sitting in cramped spaces for too long. Besides, it’s good to be alert, not inert, when flying.
    Source: Huffington Post

This story was published in our Nov-Dec 2012 issue. Re-edit: TS intern Siddharth Birla
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The DUBLIN PARK(ING) DAY sounds like a cool green idea. Tell me more!

Once a year in the month of September, Dublin’s car parking spaces turn into public parks, games or art installations. Park(ing) Day is “intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.”

Team TS happened to be there last September, and we couldn’t stop marvelling at some of the creative ideas on show at the parking lots.



(Image source:

Get all the details on this fun concept here.

How can I stay clean while trekking in a forest?

“Dude! You stink.” You don’t want to hear that when you’re trekking, right? Travel Secrets writer Aarohi Roy shows you how to have a spotless trek.

Trekking cleaniness

Amateur bag-packer that I am, it’s hard to adhere to or even know the rules of cleanliness in a forest. I researched, and there are quite a few of them. So next time I plan on camping out, I’m going to be well prepared.

For starters, have you ever heard of Isopropyl alcohol? This alcohol-based compound is a life saver that lets you clean without water. Carry a small bottle of this and a few cotton balls; you’re all set for a grime-free trek. If you’ve seen—‘Eat. Pray. Love’—the movie, there is a scene when Julia Robert’s Italian housekeeper pours a kettle of hot water in her bath and says that it’ll clean all parts that NEED to be cleaned. Well, the alcohol is similar.

When water is available, bathe as many times you can but don’t use soaps in rivers—Nature has issues with soaps. Also, if you come across multiple rivers and creeks in a day, don’t lose the chance to at least dip your feet in them. Yes, yes, just your feet. Did you know there are at least 20 common diseases caused by unkempt feet? Also, every time you soak and dry your feet, you can rotate your socks.

Did you know that cosmetics and perfumes attract wild animals? So does toothpaste. So brush your teeth far from your tents and stomp when you spit. The soil is the best cover up. And always, always be safe while drinking or eating fruits because the juice—if spilled—will attract mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will make you fall sick quicker than anything else in the forest.

If odour is a problem, switch to light-weight wool or silver-embedded clothing. Change your clothes while sleeping, and hang the day’s clothes—helps the odour. If you still stink, that’s what the isopropyl alcohol is for!

There have been times when I’ve wondered how in Jurassic Park and Lord of The Rings, people stay clean and healthy—seems it’s pretty easy, isn’t it?


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How can I avoid seasickness without any medication?

Travelling by ship can be tiresome. But getting sea-sick is worse. TS writer Aarohi Roy suggests some easy, medicine-free ways to avoid seasickness.


Where to book your cabin?

  • In the middle of the ship. The middle rocks the least and is the safest place to be  during storms too.
  • Try booking a cabin with a window so there is some sea movement in your room. The more your eyes grow familiar with the static-ness, the more chances of you getting sick.
  • If possible, a door overlooking the sea is not a bad option either. Leave it open for fresh air to keep your balance right.

Once you have booked your cabin, know that you should not spend most of your time inside. It leads to a dis-balance between your eyesight and your body movements. Stay on the deck as much as possible.

What to do all day?

  • When looking overboard, it helps to stare at the front rather than the sides. Look towards the horizon and keep moving your eyes. Don’t focus at one point whether bare-eyed or with binoculars.
  • Avoid everything which will need you to concentrate. Like reading, knitting, or even looking at a compass for a long time.
  • Play mind games and chit chat. It helps you take focus off your sickness and doesn’t require any eye-focus either.
  • Doze off on the deck.

What to eat? What not to eat?

  • It is advised to eat healthy. Follow the routine of the workers on the deck as they are accustomed to travelling through jet-lags.
  • Eat in good quantities. This will help you sleep through vigorous movements.
  • If feeling unwell, ginger and lemon helps. Take them with your tea, your cold-drink, or suck on ginger candies and you will feel better.
  • Sailors advise to eat green apples. Well, if it helps them, it might help us too!
  • Follow the BRAT meal—banana, rice, apple sauce and bread.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. It makes you nauseous.

Other tips

  • Modern ships and vessels use stabilizers to ensure a smooth trip.


Info courtesy:

Read more:

For information about medicines to prevent seasickness:

I am flying from Delhi to Kenya and need to take a yellow fever shot. What’s the experience like?

In one word: Stressful.

TS Editor Shubhra Krishan, fresh from the ordeal, has a blow by blow account:

“There is a ‘Yellow Fever Hospital’ on the road to the international airport near Mahipalpur, Delhi. A narrow, unpaved lane takes you to the semi-wooded, neglected-looking place. The ‘cut’ is easy to miss, so drive slow or you will end up taking another round of the flyover.

Be prepared to waste an entire working day just to get the shot.

yellow fever vaccination delhi

For some reason, the vaccination is done only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You are required to register at noon and come back for the shot between 2 and 4 pm. There is a queue for registration, and tempers run high as people have been sitting there since the wee hours of the morning. (You don’t need to do that, though; I suggest you arrive at about 11 am and stand patiently in the queue, which is by no means too long.

Beyond the bars of the gate, a couple of surly guards stand, making you feel like a caged species of some sort, angry and puzzled at being held up without warning. Now that I have warned you, do be prepared for the mental and physical ordeal.

The process can be made infinitely simpler if they start early and complete the process in one go. It is unfair to expect people to waste a full day.

Do remember to carry your passport along, or you will be sent back. Also carry Rs 300 in 100-rupee notes, and a pen that will be needed for you to fill up the form.

Once you are inside, the process is less painful. They will call out your token number in batches, and once you have received the injection, ask you to wait for 30 minutes. This is, of course, done to ensure they can attend to you if you develop a severe reaction—which is extremely rare.

Know Before You Go: yellow fever vaccine is not given to those who are allergic to eggs, undergoing cancer or TB treatment, asthmatic or pregnant.

The vaccine is valid for 10 years, which is why I suppose no one really kicks up a row over being made to waste the day; one is simply glad to get out of there, feeling sore in arm and heart.

How to sleep like a baby on a long flight

sleepAvoid carbonated drinks. The bubbles in them expand at high altitude, making you feel bloated. Enjoy fruit juice and plenty of water instead.

Don’t chew gum. It tends to make you swallow as you chew, and can cause gas.

Try and eat foods that contain tryptophan, a calming amino acid. Examples: dates, cottage cheese, turkey and fish.

Ditch gas-producing foods such as beans, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes.

If you can’t wait to curl up and get some shut-eye, choose vegetarian meals. They are served first, so you’re done faster.

If you’re really tired, eat something light before boarding, then tell the flight attendant you don’t want dinner. Goodnight!

Always carry earplugs and an eye mask. They are wonderful sleep aids. An inflatable pillow is another good investment.

If you want to grab a good night’s rest on board, choose a window seat so that you can lean against a solid surface and not be disturbed by a co-passenger wanting to go to the loo.

Engine noise is loudest towards the rear, so try and get a seat up front. To do this, you should check in online. Most airlines allow web check-in 24 hours prior to take off.

Don’t be tempted to take a sleeping tablet. It can increase the risk of a blood clot from sitting in cramped spaces too long. Besides, it’s good to be alert, not inert, when flying.

(With inputs from Vikalp Dubey)

Q: What would you like to order off the ‘Pillow Menu’?

pillow menu

So, you are back from a long day of ‘tourist duties’ and all you want to do is head to your hotel room and drop down dead as soon as you see the bed? Not so fast – Spend some time on the ‘Pillow menu’!  You are about to snuggle up with this fluffy piece of comfort for the next 5-6 hours and it’d better be just what you wanted!

Magnetic therapy pillow – Reduces swelling and discomfort, relieves insomnia and fatigue, soothes tense muscles and aching joints and improves skin tone by stimulating circulation.

Recommended for: Those who sleep on their back. Not for expectant mothers or those with a heart condition.

Swedish memory – Heat sensitive foam responds to temperature and keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. Self-molding provides great neck support.

Recommended for: Those who sleep on their back or side.

Snore-No-More – Elevates the chin from the chest to keeping the airway open and thus reduces snoring for a deeper restful sleep.

Recommended for: Those who sleep on their back and snore!

candy pillowCandy cane shaped pillow: Supports head and upper back.

Recommended for: Those who sleep on their side.

Water-Filled: Vinyl cushion filled with warm or cold water. Instant relief from headaches and neck pain. Firmness and support can be adjusted.

Recommended for: Customized sleeping experience – on the back, side or stomach.

5-Foot Body Cushion: Supports the spine for better sleeping posture while reducing neck, back and joint pain.

Recommended for: Pregnancy or recovering from surgery.


‘Sleep experiences’ on offer from hotels around the world

The Benjamin – New York

Heard of a ‘Sleep Guarantee’? Well, the Benjamin is offering one.

A good night’s slumber is high on the priority list of guest experiences at this hotel. Their Sleep Concierge asses your sleep habits and recommends the perfect pillow from the 12-choice Pillow Menu. A bedtime snack or a sleep-inducing massage can also be arranged. They guarantee that you will sleep just as well at the Benjamin as you do at home or you get a free night’s stay! Sound’s good!

pillow-menu (1)

Conrad Hotels & Resorts

This luxury chain of hotels and resorts managed by the Hilton has an extensive ‘Pillow Menu’ that boasts of 75 varieties to snuggle up with! Destination or mood themed pillows are high on demand. From anti-snore to cold relief and from total relaxation to romance – with each pillow offering unique properties, the list could go on and on.

Here are a few Conard favourites:

Organic Buckwheat Pillow: Green guests at the Conrad Brussels can opt for an eco-friendly bedtime experience that has been used throughout Europe for centuries. The pillow mould to the head’s shape and allows natural air circulation. Helps to relieve migraines, tension and muscle spasms.

Porcelain Pillow: Available at the Conrad Centennial Singapore, these were the most widely used pillow in ancient China when pillows were also made of natural stone, wood, jade, and bronze. They were created to support the neck and protect hairstyles from being crushed.

Cold and Flu Pillow: The Conrad Chicago recommends this from their selection to battle the winter woes. Paying homage to the city’s notoriously cold winters it is infused with four essential oils – Eucalyptus, tea tree, Bergamot and sandalwood.

Romance Pillow: Fragranced with earthy Vetivert oil, Patchouli, Ylang ylang and sandalwoodsome of the world’s best aphrodisiac oils.

Shogun Pillow:  Conrad Bangkok offers this traditional Asian Tatami pillow to its sleepy and sluggish guests. The many small breathing holes in the Tatami mesh  moderates the  temperature, absorb humidity and heat and keep the air fresh, while the aroma stimulates blood circulation. Take a walk on it! The fibre-filling massages the feet and relives you of pains and aches – the perfect antidote to a long-haul flight!

So what would you like to order off the Pillow Menu?

Q: I have just returned from a long trip abroad. My system needs some TLC. Please help!


chick spa


A: Noted spa therapist Megha Dinesh has lots of great ideas for you to revive and rejuvenate. Over to her!

A light concoction of ginger and basil in the morning is very calming for the digestive system. Add a little honey for extra comfort.



ginger basil




Q: Sounds so good! We’re already packing for our next trip. What’s your stay-well advice?

A: Keep drinking loads of fluid. Take good rest. Eat wisely. Stretch and move during long journeys. Where possible, expose yourself to safe sun.


 Q: Some prep tips for before we take off?

A: Drink loads of lemon water/tender coconut water a day prior to flying out. Avoid excess of sugar and caffeeine. Eat light but more of carbs and reduce proteins and fat intake. Chamomile tea is very relaxing. You can rub a blend of neroli, lavender and geranium on the palms or soles of feet. Besides a pleasant, refreshing aroma, it helps in combating jet lag and fatigue. Finally, wear and carry loose, comfortable natural fibre clothing.


Q: It’s a stressful world. How do you stay calm and happy? Share your secret(s): 

A: I have learnt that happiness lies within us, and I always make a conscious effort to remember this. During those ‘interesting’ days when I’m feeling down, I share my feelings with the close ones and remind them to do something special for me to pep me up (in case they forget.) And at times when I am unable to discuss or if can’t get in touch with a dear one, I do things which makes me feel content. From self healing to travel, dining, spaiing and such.



Q: What’s the most healing, soothing destination you have ever travelled to, and why is it your favourite:

A: My recent trip to Leh, Ladakh. Beauty at its best. From barren hilly mountains, to snow-covered peaks and lush greenery, from desert to gushing streams of crystal clear water. Reminds me so much of our life: there are tough times as well as plenty of opportunities and when we learn to enjoy, they all fit so well, making the entire journey beautiful.

Q: One world spa you would recommend:

A:  One and Only in Mauritius.

mauritius spa


Q: Your most breathtaking experience…

A:  Skydiving in New Zealand.

Q: To a nervous traveller, your advice would be:

A: Break your travels, don’t over exert. It’s not about number of places you need to visit but the time you spend and enjoy them fully. Eat well, try the local specialities/stuff but appreciate your body limits too and travel with a basic medical kit. Last but not the least, remember that “Travel is the only thing you buy which makes you rich…”

Q:  What healing oils/fragrances/lotions do you always pack when travelling:

 A: I love my Frankinsence essential oil and Givenchy fragrance…



 Q: People often check into spas post travel. What specific restorative therapies would you advise they pick: 

A: Though the choice depends upon an individual’s need and preference, spa therapy can be very restorative. From skin cleansing sessions including Sea Salt Scrub and a Re-hydrating Wrap, Deep cleansing Facial or a Lymphatic  Drainage Massage as well as a Deep Sculpting for stressed muscles; there’s simply so much to choose from!

salt sea scrub


Meet Megha: Spa Consultant and Healer Megha Dinesh has worked with the Oberoi, Taj Group and Park Hotels. Trained in Hypnosis, Past Life Regression and Reiki, she also practices Emotional Freedom Techniques and Craniosacral Therapy.

Maldives DSC00112




Q: “My feet are swollen from 8 hours of flying. My husband says my black pump shoes are to blame. Is he right?”

A: Yes he is, especially if you wore those shoes throughout your flight.

Learn from Lady Gaga’s mistake:  she reportedly wore a pair of scarily high and tight armadillo shoes on a flight, and soon felt her feet beginning to swell.  The cabin crew immediately made her slip into comfortable slippers, and she was saved from Deep Vein Thrombosis, a very common and life-threatening condition that develops when blood clots form in the veins of the legs.

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