10 Travel Tips From A Frequent Flyer

10 Travel Tips From A Frequent Flyer

From my Frequent Flyer miles to you
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1. Pack your hand luggage light, and your check-in back heavy

The worst thing is searching through your large-sized Kate Spade to try and find your passport, because you chose to bring a big carry-on so you could fit your crafts kit in there for the boring mid-flight hours. Take a small carry-on with JUST the essentials i.e. dump the books and the passport, and go with the crafting kit.

2. Take earplugs

There is nothing worse than falling asleep finally and being woken up by screaming child. Furthermore, earplugs indicate that you do not want to be woken so will stop flight attendants from disturbing you.

3. Stay warm

Planes get really chilly, especially when you're on the back of the back section, in the nosebleeders, because you spent all your money on the clothes you're going to wear on your trip. You're right by the vents in this area of the plane, so take a scarf and an extra pair of fluffy socks so you don't get cold.

4. Snacks are free

Ask for free stuff. You don't realize JUST how many bags of peanuts and pretzels lie beyond that mysterious curtain at the front of the plain, but it would be enough to feed a starving country.

5. Use the First Class bathroom

Sneak up and use the First Class bathroom. It is slightly bigger, and their soap smells nicer. Flight attendants also check on this bathroom and keep it nice and clean.

6. Don't carry your laptop

For long-haul flights in the modern age, most planes will have a TV. If you are trying to do some work on the plane a) don't do it, relax b) there are amazing movies which aren't on Netflix yet! If you really feel the need to work, take a mini iPad on there as laptops are heavy, take up a lot of space, and are often checked at airport security if they are in your carry-on.

7. Use a colorful check-in bag

Speed up the process by knowing which back is yours on the belt and avoiding a luggage switch-up.

8. If using the overhead storage, put your bag at the front of the plane

This way, in the rush to get to customs, you won't be waiting in your seat to retrieve your bag from the back of the plane.

9. Advil, melatonin, and a glass of wine is the recipe for a peaceful flight

This doesn't need an explanation but has been my remedy for the last couple of years, as I do about six 11 hr flights a year

10. Don't have children

Or at the very least, don't fly with them.

Cover Image Credit: Alan Light

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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6 Reasons Japan Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Live, Love, Japan and all it encompasses

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Do you want to travel? Do you want to explore the world or simply take advantage of your holidays to discover new places? We must recognize that with all the countries on earth, the choice can be difficult. And it must also be recognized that, for some, Japan is not in the top of the list, or they hesitate to take the plunge.

You are still hesitating and you are asking yourself the question "why go to Japan? Here are some ideas that will certainly encourage you to take the plunge and take a look around. So here's why you should go to Japan

The kindness of the Japanese

This is something we do not like to hear, but it is unfortunately undeniable that, in the minds of many foreigners, Australians can be very dry or even rude. Well, the Japanese, unlike us, leave the best impression that can exist. Tourists are always amazed by the friendliness of the Japanese and for good reason: you will never stay in the middle of the street more than 2 minutes with your card wide open without a good soul coming to help you.

A wide variety of landscapes: from skyscrapers to Zen gardens

Japan has an immense variety of breathtaking landscapes. Some will love Tokyo: the city that never sleeps. Others will prefer the more traditional Japan: Kyoto. For example, Kyoto is known for its tranquility, temples and narrow streets that take you back in time. Thanks to the various "matsuri" festivals organized all year round and throughout the country, you will be able to discover the best of Japanese culture. Not to mention the Onsen: natural hot springs that sometimes offer unique panoramas for an extraordinary experience.

Not speaking Japanese is not a real problem

It is not on the pretext that you are going to travel to a foreign country that you should learn the local language. In Japan, speaking Japanese is an undeniable advantage, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Indeed, although many Japanese people are shy or do not feel very confident when they speak English, you will always find someone ready to help you. And as in all major cities, Tokyo has tourist information centres where you can find all kinds of information in several languages.

Some terms and expressions that are good to know to show your good will 🙂 are: "Hello" (konnichowa), "thank you" (arigato), "Please" (onegaishimasu) or "goodbye" (sayonara).

 Cleanliness and punctuality

It may sound trivial, but if you take a flight to Japan with a majority of Japanese passengers, you will notice that, even after 12 hours of flight, the bathrooms are still very clean on arrival. Have you ever ventured into the subway toilet in Australia...? In Tokyo, don't hesitate: it's cleaner than at home. In 6 years of life in Japan: not a single food poisoning, the hygiene of restaurants is impeccable. Friends users of Australian buses, did you think it was possible to have buses that run without ever being late? In Japan it is easy to travel with a JAPAN RAIL PASS. You can rely on all the public transport schedules: the driver apologizes even if he is 30 seconds behind the initial schedule... These are only a few examples, but they reflect these 2 Japanese qualities.

The diversity of Japanese cuisine

We often have in mind that in Japan, we only eat strange dishes. However, Japanese cuisine is absolutely extraordinary and delicious. The cuisine is so diverse that it is easy to find a dish that we like. You can also find very good vegetarian dishes.

The beauty of Japanese traditions

Japan is a very modern country at the forefront of technology but the traditions are nevertheless well kept. Japanese traditions are very interesting to discover and they allow you to see things from a different point of view.

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