School holidays are here and you are likely planning a family holiday. Here are some tips, apps, gears, fixes and workarounds for stress-free vacations
TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL
Google Translate is a must-have app for when you just can’t get your tongue around the local lingo – be it Afrikaans, Welsh, Mandarin or a dozen others. Type, or if you’ve got WiFi, say what you want to say, and the app translates or speaks it back. Also, hold your camera up to street signs or a menu to have it translated instantly. Triposo is an essential city guide app. It provides comprehensive information on attractions, car hires and dining options in the city of your choosing. You can even pre-download the relevant information and access them offline.
* Both available for iDevices and Android
The ZUS smart car charger from Nonda plugs into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter and gives you two USB charge ports. It also tells you via smartphone app where you are parked – ideal for when you’ve left your hire car in mystifying European streets that all look alike. Visit www.nonda.co
KEEP CABLES ORGANISED
The Grid-It Organizer is a grid of wide, stretchy rubberised bands that lasso pens, charge cables, travel adaptors and phones and hold them firmly in place – perfect for when you’re flying. Available in many different sizes. Visit www.cocooninnovations.com
Moisturisers, hand sanitisers, detergents and even soap can raise a red flag if you’re swabbed by an explosive detection device at the airport. Many of these products contain glycerin and this is one of the substances that explosive detection devices scan for. False positive readings happen all the time and security personnel should be aware there are many products that can falsely trigger a red alert but pose no danger – but you can expect to be grilled.
ENJOY LOCAL DELIGHTS
In some countries your waiter will probably go home to a more interesting meal than the one he brings to your table. Home is often where the gastronomic stars rule in the kitchen, and there are now several websites such as Travelling Spoon, EatWith and Feastly that put you in touch with locals for a home-cooked family meal.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME TO BOOK
Waiting until the last minute to book airfares is a losing game most of the time. Airlines release their cheapest fares first, generally 11 months in advance, and they’re the first to go. Prices then ratchet higher as departure time approaches. However, hotels that find themselves with too many empty beds will often slash prices close to the date. Cruise lines will do the same, although luxury cruise lines will rarely drop prices just to fill cabins. For the best deals, try www.cheaptickets.sg
ASK FOR BETTER SEATS
Especially if you are travelling with children or on a long-haul flight. Not all economy class seats are equal and many airlines sell their best seats for a few extra dollars. If any of these seats are unsold, they can be yours. Just smile and ask at the check-in desk – you might get a nice surprise.
BRING ALONG YOUR CHILD’S “CHOU CHOU”
Sometimes children get scared when they have to sleep in a foreign hotel room. Letting them hug their favourite pillow or soft toy can help them feel more at ease, so they give you less grief at night.
GET A HOTEL WITH CHILD-FRIENDLY SERVICES
So you can enjoy some alone-time with your spouse, a spot of shopping or a massage. Vietnam's Fusion Resort Phu Quoc (pictured), for instance, has a kids club, Mini Maia, that offers cultural activities like Vietnamese language and native crafts classes, and sports outings. Day and nighttime childcare services also mean you can indulge in nightlife past your kid’s bedtime.
TEXT: MICHAEL GEBICKI / ADDITIONAL REPORTING: TAN GIN YEE / PHOTOS: 123RF.COM