Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!


smart travel

My Travel Secret – Aditya Verma

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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What is “shoulder season” and why is it good for travel?

Shoulder Season falls between peak season and off season. So, you get many advantages. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. The crowds have thinned out but are not absent. Airfares and hotel tariffs tend to dip slightly, so you have more money for shopping! The local tourist industry is now free from the pressure of catering to throngs, and you can expect better service.


According to Rick Steves, “Shoulder season varies by destination. Because fall and spring bring cooler temperatures in Mediterranean Europe, shoulder season in much of Italy, southern France, Spain, Croatia, and Greece can actually come with near peak-season crowds and prices. For example, except for beach resorts, Italy’s peak season is May, June, September, and October, rather than July and August. Paris is surprisingly quiet in July and August.”

Venice (43)

We at Travel Secrets try and stay away from even the best destinations during peak season, because the crowds can be simply too overwhelming. Last year in Florence and Venice, we found ourselves jostling and gasping for the most part. Taking photos ended up being a Click-and-Move affair in places, with the next person breathing down your neck.

A shoulder season trip to Switzerland, on the other hand, was pure relaxation. Under the mild September sun, it was blissful to walk down the quiet streets of Basel, taking in the crisp cool air and lazing by the Rhine. We could feel our lungs turn pink again:)

Basel by the Rhine River (1)Posted by Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan

Pix: TS Photo Editor Nitin Gopal Srivastava


Tell me more about Ireland’s Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme

  • The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme was introduced in July 2011 to encourage tourism to the island of Ireland.
  • The scheme allows visitors from specific Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asian countries who have a valid UK C general visa to visit Ireland without the need for a separate Irish Visa.
  • The visa waiver scheme requires a once validation in the UK for the UK C general visa before it can be used to visit Ireland.
  • Visitors must travel to Ireland within the time remaining on their current UK 180 day leave to remain.image012
  • If it has been more than 180 days since the last visit to the UK you will not be able to travel to Ireland without an Irish visa.
  • Please refer to the official INIS information note on the Visa Waiver Programme for more detailed information. This information can be found on

Can you point me to Holland’s fashion hotspots?

dutch mariel

Of course! Our Holland correspondent Mariël van den Donk is herself a fashion designer who runs a boutique called Ditha Bonita. Here she is, fun, feisty and fashionable:Over to her for more on Dutch fashion:

dutch viktor and rolf

Some outstanding fashion designers and labels have originated in Holland: Viktor & Rolf, Alexander van Slobbe, Marlies Dekkers, Jan Jansen, Piet Paris and companies Gaastra, G-Star, Oilily en Mexx.

Dutch doutzen

We have also produced some of the most beautiful topmodels in history, like Doutzen Kroes, Lara Stone, Yfke Sturm.

Naturally, then, you would think that we Dutch are amongst the first to try on new trends and that we embrace everything exciting and new.

Yeah… right, keep on dreaming. Don’t get me wrong. The Dutch do not dress badly or sloppy, but they are very mainstream. If there is one thing the Dutch do not like, it is standing out.

dutch street

That is why I love to go to the south of Holland, especially Maastricht. The women over there are very feminine and stylish, the men know how to wear a suit or trendy outfit. This city in the province of Limburg has a French ‘joie de vivre’; they enjoy life and their fashion. No less-is-more here; jewellery has to be big and beautiful, bags classy and stylish, scarves sexy and silky and women’s shoes preferably with high heels. And the good news: in winter there is even more colour.

dutch bigSo really, it is great fun, shopping in Holland, because the fashion stores have everything imaginable and more.  It’s a shop-until-you-drop paradise for fashionistas.  Amsterdam is obvious. But stay away from the main street, Kalverstraat. The Jewish district is much more trendy.

Do go to Haarlem, an old city with a lot of vintage stores. Or Groningen: the many students add a lot of flavour to the street fashion. Maastricht, Den Bosch, Alkmaar and, last but not least, Amersfoort are famous for their  nice shops.

dutch groningen 2dutch groningen

Note: There  is one exception to the ‘mainstream fashion’ rule and that is when the Dutch National Soccer team plays an important game. Then old, young, man or woman, everyone dresses up in our national colour: orange. And suddenly the whole idea is to stand out in the crowd…

Q I would like to learn new skills when travelling. Can you suggest some one-day workshops across the world?

things to do vacation

A: With pleasure! We think it’s a great idea to make your vacation time even more entertaining and productive.  You get to experience the location in a wholly new way, make new friends and return with a new skill that might even flesh out into a business venture.
Here is a list of things we sure want to learn:

    1. Spa and Massages- From beauty massages to aromatherapy and naturopathy, take your pick and learn in just a matter of hours.  London.
    2. Art –  Like to doodle and daddle? One day landscape painting workshops in Paris, on Sundays. France. www.atelieralupi.comlandscape painting workshop
    3. Photography- For those who are enthusiastic with the lens. Jim Atwood’s photography courses all round the year. Pre booking mandatory. Tokyo.

photography workshop

  1. Shoe-making- Learn how to fashion sandals, ballerinas or pumps and design them as per you will. Bookings on your convenience. London. shoe making workshop
  2. Acting- Want to feel like a Broadway star? One and two days masterclasses with professionals. New York City.
  3. Dance- Shake a leg in a foreign land. Learn salsa, jive, tango and other dance forms in intensive one day workshops. London.
  4. Cooking, Winery and Baking- London has a host of bread baking workshops, happening almost every day. Take a chocolate making workshop, and who knows, you might start your own chocolate business!
    One day workshops for gourmet Spanish cooking, and for learning about wines and olive oils are also a worthy option. USA and Europe.

cooking workshop


How to dress right for a long flight

Artist Bipasha Sen Gupta gives us the key to a comfortable and successful travel, so that you look and feel “ready to go”.


  1. Wear loose and dark trousers with a wrinkle-free shirt- full sleeves because of the levels of air conditioning in a flight. Avoid jeans if you can.
  2. Always carry a stylish pashmina stole or shawl which can be used as a wrap or a pillow. It also works as a great accessory. (We love Janavi’s vibrant cashmere scarves and stoles—outlet at Emporio Mall Vasant Kunj, Delhi). Keep jewellery minimal.
  3. Use basic or no makeup at all while travelling, as cabin air dehydrates your skin (carry a thick moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm for regular use).
  4. Wear a comfortable pair of slip-ons or one size bigger shoes, as feet swell up during long hauls. Don’t forget to pack a comfortable pair of socks.
  5. Carry one big tote bag to hold the things you need during the flight. It’s a nuisance to reach for your cabin bag every time. Da Milano has an irresistible collection of them!
  6. Pack these in your hand luggage- (a) a comfy pair of pants, preferably sweat pants or something similar.(b) a warm pair of socks.(c) a t-shirt.(d) a warm sweater (e) spare underwear (f) toothbrush and toothpaste (Check out Woodland’s new range of summery t-shirts for men and women)
  7. Make sure all products that you take on board comply with the hand luggage restrictions. You can always put some of your favourite products in handy travel size bottles. Deodorant is a must.
  8. Replace your contact lenses with glasses so your eyes don’t dry out from arid air plane air and the contacts don’t bother you while sleeping.
  9.  Women’s Special: Take a nail file and nail varnish with you, so you get through at least 30 minutes of the flight without getting bored!
  10.  Pack some cleansing face wipes to remove all the airport grim and help you freshen up before landing.

Why you shouldn’t order the ‘soup of the day.’ 5 Dirty restaurant secrets: spilled!


  • The ‘restaurant special’ or ‘soup of the day’ is often special only because they are trying to finish it off before it goes bad.
  • That slice of lemon in your drink—looks lovely, but isn’t clean. Everybody touches it, and nobody washes it. Cheers!
  • If you ask ‘Is this dish made from vegetable stock?,” many waiters will say ‘Yes,’ which is a lie. The truth is, you cannot tell the difference, so they don’t bother clarifying.
  • If you ask your waiter ‘how’s this dish,’ and she says, ‘It’s one of our most popular,’ chances are she hates it, but isn’t supposed to tell you that. Ask her to recommend a good dish instead.
  • If you’re worried about how clean the kitchen is, visit the restaurant’s loo. If that is dirty, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.

(Secrets spilled by veteran waiters to Readers Digest magazine, USA )

A few years back, a restaurant in Tampa had a major roach problem. We don’t want anything like this happening to you.

For more nasty secrets, take a look here.

What do I need to know before I go on a Kashmir houseboat?

  • Don’t get fooled by the high prices of the Shikaras, as a resident of the houseboat you are entitled to at least two complementary rides in a day.
  • Carry mosquito repellent so that you are able to enjoy the view without buzzing disturbances.
  • Try preventing yourself from buying  jewellery or other items that the Shikara walas bring to your houseboat because they are overly priced and you’ll get the same thing for much less at the markets in the city.
  • You can go Jet skiing or do other water sports in Dal Lake, but don’t go swimming in the Dal because you can never be sure of its cleanliness.
  •  If you are out travelling in the city then try coming back before midnight, because even though the houseboats boast about 24×7 service of the shikaras. You will end up really struggling for one at night!

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