Why I’m taking a break from blogging

Upwards and onwards

I was in a bar in Shanghai some time ago, talking to an American guy about blogging. He said something like: “It’s great, as long as it’s not distracting you from what you really want to do.” The more I think about it, the more I realise that there are other creative projects that I want to try, and that the pressure of “feeding the beast” that this blog has become is stopping me from doing that. Writing about life can take away the joy of living it. There’s not a lot of reward for simply being (or trying to be) clever in a line or two. So, after two years of PlaneSailing, I’m going to stop blogging, at least for a while, and cut back on my social-media use while I focus on the next chapter. The existing content will remain here, and I may still add and refer to it on occasions. But for now at least, it’s time to wish you all happy travels.
Brett Debritz

Five good reasons to take a train

A statistic in a media release from Destination NSW has given me cause for thought about train travel.

(Destination NSW)

The peak tourism body for the Australian state of New South Wales revealed that 5.3 million international and domestic overnight and day-trip visitors used the train to travel in NSW during the year ending March 2017, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

Continue reading Five good reasons to take a train

Forget their looks or size, all cabin crew deserve our support

Just when you thought the era of the “trolley dolly” was over, one airline has cottoned on to the idea that sex sells, and another stands accused of discrimination against a cabin crew member management described as “fat, ugly and old”.

(VietJet Facebook page)

None of which, in my opinion and that of the crew member herself, are relevant to her core duties: to assist passengers throughout the flight and, especially, if there is an emergency.

Continue reading Forget their looks or size, all cabin crew deserve our support

‘How was it for you?’ A review of airline and hotel surveys

I have just taken a quick return trip between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Within two days of my return, I received emails from both the airline I flew with and the hotel I stayed at asking me to fill in a survey about my experience.

(malaysiaairlines.com)

So, in the interests of doing them a favour, and sharing my experience even further via this blog, I did.

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Five reasons why Airbnb is not really for me

I received a special offer from Qantas to receive extra frequent flyer points if I give Airbnb a go. I don’t think I’ll be taking it up.

Is the couch too comfy?

As I’ve said before, I prefer to stay in hotels — specifically brand-name hotels — and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to go into a privately owned home. Again.

Continue reading Five reasons why Airbnb is not really for me

It’s not Little London, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen

In Hollywood, when anybody is pitching a project, they have to brace for the inevitable question from the bean counters: “Yes, but what’s it like?”

And by that they mean that they want to know that the “new” thing is reassuringly similar to a film or television show that was popular and made  money. Now, it seems, that attitude is creeping into the way we view our cities — with negative consequences for residents and tourists alike.

Continue reading It’s not Little London, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen

Are these really the best countries in the world?

How often have you heard: “This is the best country in the world”?

Italy

Well it turns out that most of the people who’ve uttered that phrase, and those who concurred, were wrong. The readers of Conde Nast Traveller have decided the best countries in the world, and they may not be what you think.

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Five things first-time visitors should know about Thailand

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, and it’s one of my favourite places.

Regardless of your interest — be it exploring temples, fine dining, water sports, jungle trekking or bar-hopping — you are more than likely to have a good time. But there are a few things you should know before you set out.

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Scotland the brave … but is it also the most beautiful?

It’s no secret that I’m no fan of lists of the “best”  [insert type of thing] in the world. Why? For something to be judged the best, then the judges must have tried all available options. And it’s a big world, so they simply can’t have.

Dubrovnik. Croatia just made the top 20.

Nevertheless, I’m delighted to say that Scotland has been named the most beautiful country in the world.

Continue reading Scotland the brave … but is it also the most beautiful?

Five ‘off Broadway’ destinations that are well worth a visit

The problem with big cities is that it costs big bucks to visit them.

Sao Paulo cathedral ruins in Macau

Quite often, though, there are interesting places nearby where you’re in striking distance of the big smoke but able to save a little money and have a slightly different experience.

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The Flying Kangaroo jumps in a different direction

Qantas has slowly but surely been unveiling a new strategy for its big-ticket flights from Australia.

(Qantas)

On top of its announced aim to offer ultra-long-haul flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the Flying Kangaroo is preparingto redirect its flagship QF Flight 1 to London back via Singapore, rather than Dubai, which has been the single stopover for the past few years.

Continue reading The Flying Kangaroo jumps in a different direction

Make sure you have the right medicine when you travel

(epipen.com)

If you rely on medicine or medical equipment — be it blood-pressure tablets, asthma treatment or EpiPens for allergies — don’t simply assume that it will be available everywhere you travel.

You will certainly find that some prescription-only drugs are available over the counter in other countries, but you may find that something you really need is unavailable, overpriced, often faked or even illegal.

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Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

It seems like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Here’s a news story about a cruise line that’s under fire because it ruined a family’s holiday when it refused to allow two sick children to board.

Serenade of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

And yet the same web site — and many others — regularly runs stories (such as this and this) about large numbers of passengers whose holidays are ruined because they got norovirus (“gastro” in Australian headline-writing parlance) on cruise ships.

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Review: Cathay Pacific’s business lounges

In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of travel at the pointy end of the aircraft. And with that, of course, comes entry to business lounges at various airports.

In this post, I want to focus on Cathay Pacific’s excellent offerings in Hong Kong and Bangkok.

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How ultra long-haul flights will change the way we travel

Qantas says it wants to be able to fly from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) non-stop to London. It’s just waiting for aircraft manufacturers to build a plane that can do it.

Given that a Boeing 777 LR plane can already fly non-stop for 17 hours, a 20-plus-hour flight may not be far away. Airbus’s A350 apparently also has potential.

But it will come with consequences —  Continue reading How ultra long-haul flights will change the way we travel

How I became a budget airline’s dream passenger

Recently, I became an airline’s dream customer — the person who booked and paid for a flight but didn’t turn up at the airport.

Everyone can, but I didn’t.

In all likelihood, the airline was able to sell my seat again and make a small but tidy extra profit.

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Go your own way – even if that means taking a tour

The path most travelled?

Have you heard about those people who only travel in an “authentic” manner? They eschew organised tours and established modes of transport, insist on homestays over hotels, and avoid the big attractions in favour of the “undiscovered” backroads and byways?

And at least some of them look down on the rest of us who don’t have the time, energy or money to faff about, and just want to enjoy ourselves and see a bit of the world that’s new to us.

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Five things you really can’t leave home without

“Once again, you forgot to mention the Imodium.” That was the Twitter comment about one of my posts that made me realise it’s time to go back to basics.

So, forgive me if you’ve read this before, but here are the five indispensable things to take on your travels.

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How TripCase went all trippy on me

When I travel, I often use an app called TripCase. It usually works like a dream. I just forward my flight and hotel booking confirmation emails to TripCase, and my journey shows up on all my devices. Flight delays and other information is updated in real time.

I’m not looking for New England ..,

On my most recent trip, however, something went awry.

When I sent it my booking confirmations for Cathay Pacific flights CX713, Bangkok to Singapore, and CX712, Singapore to Bangkok, TripCase decided that I was going to New England in the United States.

I have actually been to Augusta, Maine — for Thanksgiving, no less — and I had a wonderful time. But I’m not sure how I could go there twice on successive days starting from different Southeast Asian airports.

My Cathay Pacific business-class experience

I don’t make a secret of the fact that I like to fly in great comfort. This is especially important on long-haul flights, but a premium airline experience is also a treat on a relatively short trip.

After searching online for the usual budget options, I found a great deal *on a business class return flight from Bangkok to Singapore on the wonderful A350 aircraft.

Continue reading My Cathay Pacific business-class experience