Travel Smart

Backpack Essentials for Rookie Backpackers

Hiking, sometimes called backpacking, is becoming a popular hobby for adventurers and fitness enthusiasts, but it is an experience that you need to prepare for thoroughly to make sure nothing goes wrong during your first backpacking trip.

Here is a list of essentials every backpacking rookie should have for the first hike and for every hike thereafter.

• Backpack. Since this will be your first hike, you should get something light and small. Carrying a huge backpack can be difficult if you’re not yet used to hiking. You will only need your essentials, so you don’t need to stuff your entire home in your bag.

• Sleeping Bag. If you want a lighter load, you might want to purchase a down sleeping bag, but synthetic sleeping bags are usually cheaper and will help you stay dry and warm. Depending on where you’re going, check the temperature rating and compare it to the usual temperatures in your destination. The bag should be more than ten degrees colder than the location.

• Tent. If you’re going to take shelter with another person, you might not need a sleeping bag, but a tent made for two or more people. Look for lightweight tents made specifically for backpackers and are easy to set up.

• Water Bottle or Filter. Find the cheapest water microfilter you can find if you expect you won’t be having any sources of water where you’re going. Make sure you practice how to operate it before you leave. You should also pack a one-liter water bottle that will easily fit in your backpack.

• Sun Protection. Don’t forget to bring a sunscreen, lip balm, and quality sunglasses, hat and bandana or buff to protect yourself from the rays of the sun. Pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and reapply after the effectivity has expired (SPF 30 is equal to 30 minutes of protection).

• Insulation. If the weather in the area is expected to be warm, you should bring the following: wicking shirt and underwear, quick drying trousers or shorts, and extra long-sleeved shirts. If the weather is cool, you should take the following: wicking shirt and underwear, gloves, waterproof jacket and pants, and extra long-sleeved shirts.

• Light. Bring your own flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries in the pack. You should also carry a lighter and a box of matches in a waterproof container.

• Emergency Kit. You can assign one or two people to bring the following basic first aid supplies: adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, butterfly bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, blister treatment, pain relievers, insect sting relief, antihistamines and injectable epinephrine, assorted splints, hemostatic gauze, antacids, loperamide tablets, cotton swabs, and oral rehydration salts. Every person should also bring an insect repellent, biodegradable soap, menstrual cup, and solid waste bags.

• Cooking Set. Backpackers use an integrated stove system in which the pot is built in to the system. You might also want to buy a backpacking pot that will fit in your back, but if you’re with a group of hikers, you can assign who will bring the cooking set. However, each one must bring his/her own bowl, mug, and spoon.

Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way! Tips on Travelling Unfamiliar Destinations


Travelling to a place you know absolutely nothing about can be terrifying, but don’t give in to fear. This will surely be one of the most unforgettable and fun experience you’ll ever have in your life. All you need is to keep yourself acquainted and prepared, and you’ll eventually realize that it’s just the same as travelling to any other popular destination.

  1. Prepare All Travel Documents

Be familiar with immigration laws to avoid problems upon arrival. Book your ticket and your accommodation in advance, especially when you expect to arrive at night time. You don’t want to be roaming around an unfamiliar place at night, looking for a place to stay, with all your valuables in hand.

  1. Read About the Place

Take a pause and do a bit of research about your destination. A little knowledge about the place will help you make tactful decisions and will keep you in the right mindset while on the trip. Also, know the local emergency number and keep it with you at all times.

  1. Blend In

Try to blend in or at least stand out less when exploring new places. Notice how locals dress and dress accordingly. Obvious signs that a person is a tourist include wearing sandals with socks, carrying a camera around the neck and a map sticking out of the pocket.

  1. Interact With Locals

Ask around for fare and transportation, tourist sites and shops and boutiques nearby. Have some small chit-chats to know more about their culture. If you can’t understand their dialect, be polite and just smile and nod.

  1. Trust Everyone and No One

Exploring new places allows you to meet new people, but it also makes you vulnerable. You can hang out with them, travel around and share things with them, but not lend them money or buy any expensive things from them. Remember, scam artists are often the most charming people; you want to be open-minded, but don’t let your guards down for your safety.

  1. Avoid Broadcasting Your Lack of Knowledge

During these trips, you only have limited knowledge about the place, so you might have to ask around for directions. Unless you are in a touristy area, be careful about pulling out your map or asking around to figure out where you are. This is a dead giveaway that you are not familiar of the place.

Setting foot into an unknown place requires thorough homework and a lot of guts. With the help of these travel tips, you can bid goodbye to the fear that’s holding you back to explore the place you know nothing about.

What to Pack on Your First Overseas Work Travel

A foreign work trip is one of the most exciting ways to visit a new place, since you’re guaranteed to see and experience things the way a local would. Packing for this trip, however, is a little different from packing for leisurely trip, which is why we’ve listed down six of the most important things you should bring on your first overseas work trip.


  1. A Sturdy Tote Bag

Since they’ll be no room for small purses in this trip, you’d definitely want to bring a bag that can serve as your carry-on, day bag, and briefcase during your travel. Long straps and pockets are necessary, as is a neutral colour that’ll go with everything. If possible, consider packing a small cross body clutch with you for your night outs.

  1. A Travel Wallet

If you’re travelling for leisure, then your daily wallet and passport cover would be enough. But if you’re on a work trip, you’ll be juggling on handfuls of receipts and itineraries. We say, consider splurging on a quality travel wallet. Look for one with two billfold compartments to separate currencies. You’ll get thrilled that your dollars aren’t swimming with your Euros as you purchase your first coffee on your trip.

  1. Foldable Flats

Going on a work travel means you don’t have the luxury to pack in your favourite New Balance sneakers – but so is your sky-high heels. An even better choice than this two is stashing foldable flats that you can easily take out and wear as you hail a cab or tour the metro.


  1. Gifts From Your Place

Although gift giving depends on context and culture, bringing a colleague something from your hometown can be a nice gesture. Is your colleague picking you up at the airport? Did the person recommend a good dinner spot or a great hotel? Bringing and giving small things like candy, a nice pen, or stationary will surely help you build some rapport with the other person.

  1. A Padfolio

Using the hotel notepad and pen doesn’t quite give the ‘international businesswoman’ vibe you want to achieve. Instead, invest on a sleek padfolio for your meetings to make you look like you’re ready to work. Added points for one that can hold all the business cards you’ll be handed with.

Packing essentials for a work trip can be tricky, but knowing what things you should really bring will surely make your work travel an enjoyable and a smooth-sailing one.


Travelling the Untraveled

4 Unexplored Countries You Should Consider Visiting

There’s just something magical about places like Rome and Paris that makes us dream to visit once or twice in our lifetime. The culture, charm, and history of these places just draw all of us in. However, you also deal with crowds, overdevelopment, and droves of tourists in these locations. On your next trip out of Singapore, why not consider taking a break from the usual destinations, and head to any of these countries? They may be off the beaten path, but they also have a lot to offer.


  1. Bhutan

Bhutan is an astoundingly beautiful country that is home to incredible culture and art. It’s one of the most unique places in the world with archaic Buddhist monasteries, lush green landscapes, and a lack of commercialization or overcrowding.

The Himalayan country offers an incredible number of sceneries to see, especially if you’re interested in mountain treks. Its mountain treks are considered are one of the best in the world, and the sights it provide says it all. Paro Taktsang, the sacred Buddhist site that’s located on the cliffside, is one of the most visited spots in the country.

  1. Uruguay

With the many beautiful destinations to choose from in South America, Uruguay often gets lost in the mix. So start off your tour in this country in its capital, Montevideo, which is home to the nightlife scene, and a great boardwalk known as the Rambla de Montevideo.


The country is also home to beautiful beach areas like Punta del Este and Punta del Diablo. The former is known for its incredibly fresh seafood and great views that draws the wealthy vacationers in. The latter, on the other hand, is an astonishing coastal spot popular with backpackers, as well as those who are looking for a more luxurious beach vacation. Both beaches offer a relaxing vibe perfect for locals and tourists who want to unwind.

  1. Latvia

Although it’s smaller than most of its other European counterparts, Latvia also has a lot to offer with its breath-taking sceneries, and its capital city, Riga. Here you’ll find gothic architecture, old cobblestone roads, and a great restaurant and hip bar scene. So make sure that you spend some time walking around town to witness some of its beautifully preserved streets and buildings.

Your visit to Latvia doesn’t just end in Riga though. If you’re thinking of visiting during summertime, head to Jurmala to relax in the beautiful beaches, or to Kuldiga to stroll around the picturesque medieval town that everyone can enjoy.

  1. Malta

When travelling to the Mediterranean, Greece and Italy are the popular choices among travellers. However, the tiny country of Malta offers just as many breath-taking sights – minus the crowds. Malta is just south of Italy, and is considered as one of the smallest countries in the world. Valletta, the country’s capital, was once hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its age-old statues and buildings, and its atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re travelling back in time.

Visiting lesser-known destinations offer the same unforgettable experience as with the more popular travel spots. So consider travelling any of these places on your trip to have a refreshing travelling experience – and to stay away from the crowd.


Best Beaches in Southeast Asia

Singaporeans love to travel and you can expect even more travels during summer vacations. When it comes to summer getaways, beach remains to be the top choice for summer destinations. Who doesn’t want to dip in cool water under the scorching heat especially if the water is as clear as it gets. Another reason why going to the beach is such a hit is because of their breathtaking natural beauty that no pool resorts or any man-made structure can ever beat. There are also a lot of water sports activities you can try such as parasailing, paragliding, jet skiing, helmet diving, and many more.


These are the best beaches in Southeast Asia every Singaporean would want to go to:

Boracay, Philippines

You won’t be disappointed by the pristine white sand of Boracay. There’s a reason why this is a popular destination among locals and foreigners alike and that’s because it’s everything you’d imagine a white sand beach would be. It’s possible to enjoy your beach outing on a budget especially when you’re travelling with a group of friends or an exclusive beach experience if that’s what you prefer. The place is also packed with all sorts of activities so you can expect a lot from Boracay.

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is made even more famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach. It is easy to arrange an island hopping tour where you should skirt through the many islands around Phuket and pick your spot for swimming. The beaches are also lined with white sand and beautiful rock formations.

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Lombok, Indonesia

You can enjoy a lot of activities in Lombok such as surfing, diving, sunset watching, or simply just relaxing on the pristine beaches. These all make up a perfect ingredient for a dream beach destination. This is also an unspoilt and quieter Bali beach which only makes it even more ideal. You can just while away your hours with your partner as you enjoy an undisturbed quiet time on the soft white sand waiting for the island’s spectacular sunset.

Langkawi, Malaysia

This is Malaysia’s top beach destination and may well be one of the top beach destinations in the region. You can explore ancient limestone caves that surround the cluster island of Langkawi and go on spelunking trip. You can also go on white water rafting trip along the rippling waterways or join a boat tour on the mangrove forests.


Insider Tips to Get Free Flight Upgrade


You’re all packed up, ready to relax, unwind, and savour your well-deserved break. But of course, your airplane seat is right between a stubborn toddler and a heavy snoring guy. If happens to many of us, and no amount of wine or soundproof headphones can calm the situation down. Fortunately, we have a solution for that: Get upgraded to first class!


We’re not suggesting paying for this ridiculously expensive upgrade. Instead, we have some tips to get yourself upgraded from economy class to first-class for free!

  1. Be Loyal

Loyalty has its rewards. Pick one Singapore airline and fly with them every time you travel. A few points at multiple airlines won’t give you anything in return, while accumulating more points from one airline will bump up your status, resulting in increased chances of free upgrades.

  1. Work for Those Three Letters—SFU

As a regular flyer of a certain airline, you’re more likely to get those most coveted letters—SFU, which stands for ‘Suitable for Upgrade’. That three letters next to your name on the passengers list makes the difference between free soda in economy and free glass of champagne in business class.

  1. Pick the Right Plane

Choose a flight that will be using an aircraft with larger first class cabin. Knowing the configuration of the plane before booking a flight can help increase your odds of getting an upgrade, as well as help you find a good spot in economy if your upgrade plan fails.

  1. Wear Business Attire

While it’s not the main reason why you may get an upgrade, it increases the chances if you do so. Keep it classy to help your cause. Airlines want their first-class to feel, well, first-class—and they might approve your request if your look like you’re really a part of it.

  1. Have Good Timing

Requesting for an upgrade when the agent is trying to check-in passengers isn’t going to work. Do airline agents a bit of courtesy by sparing plenty of time when making your request. Also, make sure to come in early before passengers start lining up, so no one else is competing for the agent’s attention.1412155733952_wps_5_AA67JW_Businesswoman_at_a

  1. Be Reasonable

Being overly demanding only encourages agents to pick someone else over you if the opportunity for a flight upgrade arises. Do not waste everyone’s time if you know that you’re not a good candidate for the upgrade. If you’re travelling with your family, have a pet dog in a cage as your carry-on, you probably don’t want to spend your time and energy demanding for an upgrade.

  1. See If You Know Someone From the Airline Company

If you have friends at the check-in desk—or higher up in the airline company—they may be able to help you score occasional privileges. Some airlines give their staff upgrade vouchers, which can buy you an upgrade if there’s a higher class seat available.

  1. Let Them Know About Special Occasions

If you’re on a honeymoon, on a birthday getaway, or other special occasion, let the airline agent know. This is a popular trick and is often honoured by airline companies, but make sure to bring a copy of your wedding document or any supporting details of your claim. And while it won’t always result in a flight upgrade, you can possible get a free glass of sparkler and some special in-flight treats.

  1. Check for Breakages

If there’s any problem with your seat, such as broken seatbelt or seat can’t be reclined—or even a bawling child—then get up and discreetly ask the flight attendant if they can transfer you to another seat. If there’s no space available in your current area, they may move you up a class.

  1. Use Your Charm

This isn’t just a myth. It may be rare, but being nice and articulate has work wonders for many. When you happen to encounter an airline issue and asked to speak to management, if you articulate yourself calmly and professionally, you might be rewarded with a free upgrade (for this flight or for another time) or other perks like free drinks or even lounge access.

Surely, there are many more ways to get a free flight upgrade. What’s your flight upgrade tip to share?