Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!



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
To subscribe, visit

What’s it like to be a globe-trotting airhostess?

Morning tea in Paris and evening coffee in Rome!  Truly, madly exciting, isn’t it? Well, that is the life 29-year-old Prachi Bhalla leads. Beautiful, bubbly, blessed. But hey, as they say there are no free lunches in the world, and Prachi pays her price too. Geetanjali Prasad grills her, and feels the adrenaline rush.



Cabin crew for the last five years with a renowned international Middle East airline, Prachi says life on the go is thrilling. She loves the luxury of sometimes flying to two countries in a single day. The idea of a 9-to-5 desk job is alien to her.

Having said that, her own profession comes with its share of exasperating ‘now that’s enough’ moments. Flying can be physically exhausting: cabin pressure and erratic work hours take their toll. Studies show that frequent changes in time zone can make you lose touch with reality, causing mood swings and even depression. Airhostesses often suffer from menstrual problems because of their erratic work cycle.

Prachi is a cosmopolitan girl from a liberal Delhi family, but lives and works in conservative Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia is a chess board,” she says. “Men wear white thobe and women, black abaya, even if the outside temperature is 50 degrees.  It’s a huge culture shock as women here do not have the right to work, travel or even to drive a car. Thankfully my job allows me to fly away often.”

Despite these over the top rules and restrictions, Prachi says she has forged an unsaid bond with the Arab world. She loves their mouthwatering delicacies like kabsa (rice and chicken), fool (mashed beans) and a myriad other mystic recipes.



So does she not miss the comfort of home and family? Prachi’s reply to that is refreshingly cool. “I do miss my folks on festivals and special occasions, but I get enough free tickets to fly home and see them as frequently as once a month for about 5 days. But yes, I really miss home cooked food. It’s difficult to get that authentic taste at any Indian restaurant located abroad.”

She has come to terms with the fact that soon she will have to choose between starting her own family and her lucrative job. “Every take off and landing takes you further away from a stable life. Lack of time and the lust for travel are not conducive to the institution of marriage. It is difficult to find a partner who can put up with the uncertainty with which you live. That’s why most of the cockpit and cabin crew are either separated or single.”

Be that as it may, those on an aircraft have enough company to keep them entertained. “Sometimes language barriers can toss up hilarious encounters,” says Prachi. “One Japanese passenger made sounds of all possible animals to know what is being served, so he went ‘may-may’ for goat and ‘prick prick’ for chicken. Another one on a China-bound flight insisted on meeting the captain. As a policy, no visitors are allowed in the cockpit. So he started banging the cockpit door, forcing the captain to switch to hijack-alert mode. Later, we found that the eager passenger just wanted to get a picture clicked with him!”


Then there are those who come with their own unique character traits. Arab men have a peculiar way to greet each other, for instance. “Men kiss men by touching nose to nose and lips to lips in public. Whereas men in Italy are lovers by nature and their appreciation for female beauty borders on eve teasing. Words like ‘Bella’ and ‘Kareena’ which means beautiful and lovable fall easily off their lips,” says Prachi.

One of Prachi’s most thrilling mid-flight moments happened on a Jeddah-Manila flight. A pregnant lady went into labour when we were cruising above the sea, so an emergency landing was out of the question. We asked her to lie down on the floor and arranged blankets all around her. Being trained in conducting deliveries, we set to work and soon, her daughter was born! We named her Sabah, after the crew member who had cut her umbilical cord.” The lucky baby now enjoys a lifetime of free travel with the airline she was born in. Some people are just born to fly!

For more air hostess stories, check out:

Mandy’s blog – Confessions of an Air hostess.



6 Types of Airline Fares Every Traveller Should Know About

When you book your air ticket, just before pressing the ‘purchase’ button, you are greeted with a fare summary, telling you how much you’re going to pay and why. Fair enough. But airline lingo isn’t known for its simplicity.

Airline fare

Never be confused again! Here are 6 airfare terms you should know about:

Advance Purchase Fare
An airfare which requires the ticket to be purchased a certain number of days before the departure date. If you know your travel plans, you can get yourself a good advance-purchase deal. But take note: cancelling such tickets often invites higher penalty than normal.

Base Fare
This is the amount that you pay before tax has been added, and it goes to the airline you are travelling. On top of it there are taxes and other add-ons. Commissions are calculated on the base fare.

Capacity-Controlled Fares
A limited number of airplane seats to which a special fare has been assigned. This percentage may change depending upon how quickly seats are selling on the flight.

Conditional Fare
A fare which guarantees passage on the next available flight if the flight for which the ticket was purchased is full.

Fare Basis (Code)
This can be confusing, because the same flight can contain many different fare basis codes. The excellent website solved the puzzle for us very nicely, through this simple example: Take the fare basis code HL7LNR.  The first letter H refer to the class of service for booking (H class).  The L refers to low season, the 7refers to the requirement for 7-day advance booking, the next L refers to long-haul, and the NR means non-refundable.

Unrestricted Fare
An airfare that is usually higher than regular, but comes with some advantages: you don’t need to make an advance purchase, do a Saturday stay or travel only on certain days. Plus, it’s usually fully refundable.

Got more questions about airfares? Ask us in the comments and we will decode the secrets.

Q: How to be an Annoying Airline Passenger

Annoying airline passenger

Want to make fellow flyers long to pick you up and toss you off the plane? Here’s help. Have a nice fight, oops, flight.

holding up the line at check inHold up that line! Never bother to check on airline baggage fees and weight restrictions. You can always argue with the pleasant folk at the check-in counter. If that doesn’t cut any ice with them, no worries—pop your suitcase open on the floor, pull out your hideous clothing and stuff the smelly hiking boots into your carry-on. Hearing annoyed grunts from those waiting in line behind you? Yank some cotton buds off your vanity case and stuff them into your ears.


Cut through the queues. so what if the gate agent is repeatedly announcing that boarding is open only for Zone 4 and beyond? You don’t believe in wasting time, do you? And then, you’re worried about shoving that hefty carry-on before others do, so walk firmly up and wave your front-of-the-craft seat number under the agent’s nose. Feel free to curse when you’re sent marching back for the time being, and stamp someone’s toe for good measure.

Irritate the airhostess

Irritate the airhostess: That useless safety demo is so tiresome. Why can’t they rattle off a list of drinks on board instead? Well, if you’ve got to endure the drone, might as well have fun. How about carefully imitating each action of hers—the yanking of the seat belt, the dropping of the oxygen mask. Turn up your nose when she glares at you. And clap, or better still, whistle when she’s done with her little speech.



Chatter away! Remember the last time you were yakking in a loud voice and someone leaned over to remind you that you were not in a sports bar? Idiots! What better time to hold forth than with a spot of booze and a captive audience—so what if the hapless woman next to you looks bored to tears? This fulfilling activity is best enjoyed at night on long-haul flights, just when the cabin lights have been switched off.

crowded-planeSit back and relax—at random: Who cares if the person seated behind you is watching the TV screen, trying to use a laptop, or munching on a snack. It’s your seat, you paid for it, and you’re jolly well going to make sure you squeeze every penny’s worth of comfort from it. Slide suddenly back, and let them yell or curse. Who cares, certainly not you!



airline_rude_passengersMake yourself at home: don’t let the armrest—or anything else—restrict your movements. Flail your arms cheerfully about as you chatter or open the newspaper full wide. If you have the window seat, make sure you visit the loo at least 15 times, especially at night. Losing all that water means you need to rehydrate, so don’t hesitate to call for the steward and ask for water, juice and coffee. When eating, enjoy every bite by holding your fork with elbows stretched 90 comfortable degrees.


Be the first to deplane: C’mon, you are always first. In everything. Plant a leg across your still-seated aisle companion, and squeeze into the queue. Without waiting a second, yank the overhead hatch open, and don’t bother to apologise if someone else’s bag thuds down. Let those before and behind you glare for all they are worth. Once you’ve got your sack, start pushing and jostling to get to the exit door before anyone else does.

TS_using_phone_on_airplaneNever switch off your cell phone: just because some disembodied voice is telling you to. When was the last time a plane fell off the sky because of a cell phone, eh? So, while the others obediently turn off their instruments, use your hearty voice to let your mom/madame know you are taking off and how much you love her and her pooch, and microseconds after touchdown, start yelling with excitement to let her know you’ve arrived. If a crew member tells you to switch it off, raise an annoyed eyebrow and snap the off button in their face.


Grab your luggage, quick! Of course everyone wants to get their bags doublequick and get out of the airport, but only fools wait for their bags to tumble down the carousel. Position yourself at the mouth of the belt, and pounce on every red bag that pops into sight. As soon as you see one real close to your own, grab and run,
without wasting time on checking if it’s really yours.

What’s the best way to explore Northern Ireland: train, bus or car?

B (10)

Rent a car! Northern Ireland is a nature lover’s fondest dream come true. You don’t want to be restricted by train timings and connections. Or look longingly out of your bus window,  wishing you could stop and take photos, or just linger. Renting a car is easy and will allow you to enjoy this slice of paradise in the fullest way. For more information and inspiration, check out this article.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: