Don’t Pee In Pools And Other Guidelines For Chinese Tourists

chinese tourists
Bob Gaffney, Flickr

Picking your nose in public and stealing life jackets might be acceptable behavior in China, but it’ll be frowned upon elsewhere in the world. That’s the advice being doled out to Chinese tourists heading abroad.

The country’s National Tourism Administration put together a 64-page booklet called The Guidebook For Civilized Tourism to teach its citizens the dos and don’ts of respectable travel.

Earlier this year, China’s Vice Premier lamented the fact that rowdy behavior by Chinese tourists was tarnishing the country’s image abroad. The new etiquette guide hopes to curb some of the unruly behavior, such as travelers who pee in public swimming pools or leave footprints on toilet seats when using public restrooms.Some of the other insight offered in the guidebook includes instructions for travelers to avoid picking their teeth with their fingers, to keep the length of their nose hair in check, and to refrain from stealing life jackets from airplanes so that they’ll be available to other travelers in the event of an emergency.

However, while some of the tips reflect common sense and general courteousness, others are harder to pin down the origins of. An example? Chinese tourists are told that when traveling in Spain, they should always wear earrings while out in public. If they don’t, well apparently, it’s as good as being naked.

Get Personalized Guides For Food And Drink With Eight Spots

personalized guides for food and drink - EightSpots.comIf you are traveling in a big city and want restaurant recommendations, it can be overwhelming to turn to online review sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp that list hundreds of places, many of which are irrelevant to your tastes and preferences. A new website launches today, giving you personalized guides of where to eat and drink, focused on spots you’ll like. Eight Spots gives you just that: a list with recommended spots for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks. Take the fun 10-question “taste survey” (think: night owl or early bird), and tell them a few of your favorite spots, and it will generate a personalized guide for any of the featured cities. The more spots you review or add to your go-to lists, the more tailored your recommendations become. You can also integrate Facebook to further filter your guides based on friends’ recommendations. The current range of cities include Berlin, London, New York, Paris, Perth and Sydney, with plans to expand to 90 cities worldwide.

Get your picks at EightSpots.com

[Photo credit: Eight Spots]

Book Review: ‘The Food Traveler’s Handbook’

food traveler's handbookFull disclosure: I know Jodi Ettenberg, author of “The Food Traveler’s Handbook.” I’ve eaten with Jodi and explored cities with her; she’s even inspected the spices in my Istanbul sublet apartment. Rather than let my friendship with her just guarantee a great review of her book, I will use it to vouch for the fact that she’s the perfect person to write a food guide for travelers: intrepid, resourceful, curious and (of course) always hungry.

On the road full time since 2008, Jodi has explored the world through food on her blog Legal Nomads. To keep costs down and her palate happy, Jodi strives to eat as locally as possible, chasing down the best street eats, cab driver hangouts and mom-and-pop restaurants. With this handbook, she shares her tips and resources for eating well, cheaply, and safely anywhere in the world. The guide is peppered (pardon the pun) with anecdotes from Jodi and other travelers (blogger Nicola Twilley recommends revisiting a market at different times of the day for different experiences), quirky facts (how about a 1742 recipe for ketchup that will keep for 20 years?!) and guidelines for local dining culture (you’ll keep getting your coffee refilled in Jordan until you learn the proper way to shake the cup and signal you’ve had enough). The book is infused with an enthusiasm and passion for food that’s contagious, and you may quickly find that planning a tour of the world through dumplings seems like a must.Jodi’s travel style may not be for everyone – some people crave familiarity and easy comfort, especially when traveling, and the prospect of eating a mysterious dish at a tiny food stall might be daunting. But for those looking to expand their horizons through food, connect with locals while traveling or just get a good meal without risking food poisoning, “The Food Traveler’s Handbook” is worth tucking into. Just be wary of reading it on an empty stomach, or you might find yourself, as I did, propelled out of bed at 8 a.m. with a strong craving for soup.

The Food Traveler’s Handbook” is available in paperback and as an e-book for Kindle. Additional books in the Traveler’s Handbooks series include guides for Career Breaks, Solo Travel, Luxury Travel and Volunteer Travel. Additional resources for food travelers can also be found on Jodi’s blog here.

[Photo credit: Jodi Ettenberg]

How To Get The Most Out Of A Short Vacation

Americans have never been ones to take long vacations. That’s not exactly surprising – after all, the average employee only gets 14 days of paid time off each year. Still, the amount of time we spend on vacation has been dwindling over the years, and now our average vacation is just 3.8 days long.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to take more than four painfully short days off in a row, but if not, never fear. You can still have an amazing getaway as long as you know how to maximize your time. All it takes is a bit of planning and preparation to ensure your short vacation feels like a long one. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Don’t fly too far. It goes without saying that if you try to fly half way around the world, you’re going to have next to no time to actually enjoy your destination. If you only have a few days of vacation, you might want to stick to domestic cities (or nearby international ones, like Montreal). The longer your break, the further afield you can venture.

2. Don’t cross too many time zones. Unless you want to spend your entire vacation feeling groggy and jet lagged, avoid crossing multiple time zones. This means only going short distances in an east-west direction. However, if you travel in a north-south direction, you won’t have any problems. This makes destinations like Central and South America ideal.

3. Travel carry-on only. Who wants to waste precious vacation time standing at baggage claim? Or worse, filling out forms and hunting down essentials because your checked luggage went missing? There’s absolutely no reason you can’t live out of a carry-on bag, especially on a short trip.4. Take internal flights. If you’ll be visiting multiple cities during your vacation, consider taking domestic flights to get from one city to the next, rather than buses or trains, which tend to be cheaper but slower. You’ll have to do the math to see which option is better (since flying involves arriving at the airport early enough to go through security), but don’t rule out flying altogether.

5. Take taxis. Once you’re at your destination, don’t waste time being lost or trying to navigate complicated bus routes. You’ve only got a short time to enjoy your vacation, so spend a few extra bucks on a cab and get to your sights and activities faster.

6. Eat quickly. Eating is one of the great pleasures of travel so I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy your meals. However, if you’ve only got limited time, don’t waste it on a three-hour lunch when you could be out sightseeing instead. Make breakfast and lunch quick meals and save the long, leisurely feast for dinnertime when all the attractions are closed for the day.

7. Group your sightseeing. A little bit of research can go a long way towards saving you time when it comes to sightseeing. Figure out what you want to see in advance, locate those attractions on a map and then group sights and activities that are located close to each other. By visiting one group of attractions at a time, you’ll prevent yourself from running back and forth all over the city.

8. Book tickets to popular sights in advance. If there’s one thing popular attractions have in common, it’s a long line at the ticket counter. Don’t be a fool and waste your short vacation standing in line. Many museums and galleries will let you book tickets ahead of time so you can bypass the long lines and head straight inside. Check the attraction’s website to see if this is an option available to you.

9. Get outside and meet people. Don’t spend your entire vacation in museums. Talk to locals, wander down side streets, and really see a place without the tourist goggles on. It’s the little adventures you have that you’ll really remember once your trip is over, so try to have as many as possible.

10. Allow time for relaxation. It’s tempting to see and do as much as possible but remember that the point of a vacation is also to get some R&R. Make time to do something relaxing each day, whether it’s a massage, a soak in the jacuzzi, or a cocktail by the hotel pool (there’s nothing like a drink with an umbrella in it to make you feel like you’re on vacation). By working some downtime into your schedule, you’ll give yourself the chance to recharge before the next round of sightseeing.

[Photo credit – Flickr user Ed Yourdon]

Get flight info and airport reviews with RouteHappy

flight infoWhen it comes to booking hotels, travelers have plenty of options for finding information, recommendations, and tips with TripAdvisor, booking engine reviews, and other user-generated sites, in addition to guidebooks and other traditional media. But as air travel gets more restrictive and less comfortable, how can you choose the easiest flights, or at least be prepared for the inconveniences? RouteHappy is a new user-generated social network for flight info, reviews and tips for airlines, airports, and routes. The site is populated with comprehensive global flight schedules, Wi-Fi availability by route, and on-time history. Users can enter their tips and experiences from getting to the airport, check-in, airport amenities, and boarding to in-flight comfort, arrival immigration and transportation options.

From searching on RouteHappy, I decided it was worth the extra money for JetBlue’s Even More amenity program for a shorter security line (plus more legroom and other perks), and discovered a much easier connection from Frankfurt to Austin through Denver instead of the much busier (and often delayed) Chicago. I’ve also left tips on the site for navigating airports in Istanbul, London, and Budapest with a baby. You can follow “Route Experts” for hidden gems and “flyer bewares” on frequently-flown routes, and learn about which airport shops are worth a stop, which airlines make your coach experience feel like an upgrade, or where you should be prepared for long immigration lines.
flight infoRouteHappy gets better with every review added, so be sure to add your advice while searching for info. You can also link to your TripIt/LinkedIn account to automatically remind you to review flights and pre-populate flight info. Currently in invite-only “alpha” mode, the site has over 1,000 members in 45 countries and counting with more than 7,500 comments and tips.

Gadling readers can try out the site before it goes into public beta mode soon by using the code GadlingFliesBetter. The RouteHappy team is incredibly responsive to users and active on social media, so be sure to follow along as they share their best tips on Facebook, tweet travel news on Twitter, or just send them a message at tellus@routehappy.com.