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

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

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.

Continue reading Five things first-time visitors should know about Thailand

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.

Continue reading Make sure you have the right medicine when you travel

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.

Continue reading Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

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.

Continue reading Review: Cathay Pacific’s business lounges

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

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.

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

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

Five things that can get you arrested when you travel

Even though I love to travel, I’m the first to admit that it’s not without its pitfalls.

Recently, I’ve been reminded about some cases where travellers or expatriatess — usually Westerners — have got themselves into big trouble because they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal.

Continue reading Five things that can get you arrested when you travel

When you travel, do what the locals do

Not the tablets I bought.

Every traveller knows the adage si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī (“If you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”).  Or, more simply, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

It’s often easier said than done.

Continue reading When you travel, do what the locals do

The taxi driver who’s laying down the law to passengers

Social media in Thailand has gone a little crazy over a sign in a taxi setting down rules for passengers.

The Bangkok cabbie and his rules. (From Radio JS100 on Facebook).

According to this report, the Thai-language sign comprises a list of “don’ts”, including don’t chew toffee, don’t have the volume up when playing games on smartphones, and don’t spray perfume or powder in the cab.

Continue reading The taxi driver who’s laying down the law to passengers

Travel’s golden rule: respect the place and the people

In places across the world, there’s a growing movement to ban or limit tourism.

Barcelona

It took on an extreme manifestation in Barcelona, when local residents spray-painted an anti-tourism slogan on a hop-on-hop-off bus outside FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium, and slashed its tyres.

Continue reading Travel’s golden rule: respect the place and the people

Five reasons not to believe all that travel advice

This might seem like a strange thing to read on a travel blog, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read, or hear, about travel.

Some things last forever, others change.

It’s a big, bad world out there, and not everybody is being entirely honest in their posts, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, vodcasts, tweets, instas, Facebook Live broadcasts and so on.

Continue reading Five reasons not to believe all that travel advice

Marmite, furry handcuffs and other carry-on essentials

(newegg.com)

I once was foolish enough to put a bottle of vodka — a gift from a Slavic friend — in my hand luggage, and it was confiscated by security at Gatwick Airport.

But is seems that booze isn’t the most popular item that people try to take onboard aircraft departing the United Kingdom.

Continue reading Marmite, furry handcuffs and other carry-on essentials

Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

Updated (see footnote)

I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve become a regular contributor to Quora.com, and that my answers to questions on travel are gaining a small amount of attention.

Well, in the past few days, one of them has gone through the roof. There have been tens of thousands of engagements with my answer to this question: Is it okay to stay in a hotel with a fiancée for a vacation in Abu Dhabi?

Continue reading Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

What’s really important when it comes to airline crew?

The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, has caused outrage in some circles by calling American airline flight crew “grandmothers”, and pointing out that his staff have an average age of 26.

(Qatar Airways)

I don’t really wants to give too much oxygen to his ageist and, by implication, sexist comments. Continue reading What’s really important when it comes to airline crew?

It’s time for a inquiry into internet data roaming prices

Telstra, the Australian telecommunications giant, has just announced a A$10-a-day roaming package for travellers to 57 countries.

Before we break out the champagne to celebrate such a groundbreaking deal, can I be allowed to point out — in fact, shout out — that this is still outrageous and unacceptably high given what’s on offer?

Continue reading It’s time for a inquiry into internet data roaming prices