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Tourist slapped with $225k bill after simple mistake

<p>An American tourist has revealed the moment he was charged with a $US143k (AU$225k) bill after a short holiday to Switzerland. </p> <p>Rene Remund and his wife Linda went on the trip last September.</p> <p>Prior to their travels, Remund made sure to inform his mobile phone provider, T-Mobile, that he was going overseas and as a customer of 30 years, he was told he was “covered”.</p> <p>So, with no worries at all, the tourist shared photos of his moments in the Swiss countryside with friends and family via photo messages. </p> <p>Imagine his surprise when he came home to a six-figure bill, after he racked up thousands and thousands of dollars in daily roaming costs. </p> <p>“I get this T-Mobile bill and it doesn’t bother me very much because I was reading $143,” he explained, adding it wasn’t until he went to pay the bill that he realised a few more zeros were involved.</p> <p>“I look at the bill and I say, ‘excuse me’,” he said.</p> <p>“$143,000 … are you guys crazy?”</p> <p>According to the bill, Remund had racked up 9.5 gigabytes of data while in Europe, which cost him thousands of dollars each day. While it wasn't a huge amount of data, not being covered by roaming fees will cause a user to run up a huge bill very quickly. </p> <p>“I called [T-Mobile] and the girl put me on hold for a while,” he explained.</p> <p>“She said let me check this out and I’ll get back to you. She gets back and says, yeah this is a good bill.</p> <p>“I said, ‘what do you mean it’s a good bill?’ And she says ‘well, this is what you owe’.</p> <p>“I said ‘you’re kidding me … you’re crazy’.”</p> <p>After confirming that his bill was in fact  AU$225,000, Remund hired a lawyer to argue the fact that he was covered for international roaming. </p> <p>His lawyer issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile, and they only received a reply a few days ago. </p> <p>The letter from T-Mobile allegedly said that the service provider was “sorry” for the charges, and that Remund would receive a “credit” to eliminate the entire bill. </p> <p>In an email shared to local media <em>Scripps News Tampa</em>, the mobile phone provider said that customers should always “check the travel features of their plan, such as international data roaming, before departing”.</p> <p>“If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: ABC Action News</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Mistake in email causes Virgin Australia passenger to miss flight

<p>A Virgin Australia passenger was left $800 out of pocket after he arrived at a closed check-in desk despite arriving well before the departure time, and he now believes that it's because of a mistake in the email he received from the airline. </p> <p>Max Cameron, 64, flies several times a week between Launceston airport in Tasmania and Melbourne for work, and received an email from the airline saying his flight was delayed back in January. </p> <p>"I got a text and an email from Virgin saying, very sorry to let you know your plane has been delayed by 45 minutes,"  he told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>. </p> <p>The email also read "Check-in will now close 30 minutes prior to this time."</p> <p>"I thought, well done Virgin. You've come through… you've let me know when I have to be there. And as a result, I got out to the airport at 9:25pm for a 9:45pm closure of check-in," Cameron said. </p> <p>However when he arrived there was "literally not one person in the Virgin terminal,"  so he eventually had to leave, with no choice but to buy another flight ticket which cost him $800 including extra accommodation and transport costs. </p> <p>"I put my tail between the legs, went back and bought another ticket. I was very annoyed about that but I had no choice... check-in closed early," he said.</p> <p>After submitting an enquiry to the customer service team, they told him he had to arrive 30 minutes before the <em>original</em> departure time - a different instruction to what he received in the email, with the revised departure time. </p> <p>At the time, the enquiry was closed and the team said he would not receive any compensation. </p> <p>Cameron, who was unsatisfied with the response, then spoke to a supervisor at the airport, who told him: "Oh my God, it looks like they sent you the wrong email".</p> <p>According to Yahoo News Australia, Cameron reportedly did receive incorrect information which led him to miss his flight. </p> <p>Cameron has since been in touch with the airline and hopes to be reimbursed, but remains "unhappy" after what he had to go through. </p> <p>"It's not the money but the lack of accountability... there is no service mentality anymore," he said.</p> <p>"What Virgin has done to me is just so wrong".</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: Yahoo News / Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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How baby boomers are benefiting from Australia's "worst financial mistake"

<p>A financial expert has explained how baby boomers have remained largely unscathed by the ongoing housing crisis in Australia. </p> <p>ABC finance guru Alan Kohler described the crisis as Australia's "worst financial mistake", as Adelaide has now become the country's second least affordable city. </p> <p>The South Australian capital, which has long been known as one of the more affordable places in the country to live, has skyrocketed in price, as the median price for houses and units in Adelaide was $721,376 in January, which is 7.9 times higher than the state's average full-time salary of $91,026.</p> <p>"There are a couple of things that might surprise you: Adelaide became the second, least affordable Australian city last year," Mr Kohler explained.</p> <p>"Adelaide has just taken over from Hobart in second place."</p> <p>"What's going on: put simply, incomes in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane are not keeping up with house prices, which are being pushed up by fast-rising population and by first-home buyers."</p> <p>Mr Kohler, a baby boomer, noted that when he and his wife bought their first home in Melbourne for $40,000 in 1980, he was earning $11,500 as a journalist, meaning his home cost just 3.5 times his income before a mortgage deposit.</p> <p>"When my wife and I bought our first house in 1980, the average house price was 3.5 times average income," he said. "Now, it's 7.5 times and rising."</p> <p>"That didn't have to happen: it's Australia's worst, economic mistake."</p> <p>Mr Kohler said parents were increasingly propping up the mortgage deposits of first-home buyers, as first-home buyer subsidies from the federal government only pushed up property prices.</p> <p>"Despite rising prices and crushing interest rates, first-home buyers were the fastest-growing type of borrower," he said.</p> <p>"The Bank of Mum and Dad coughing up early inheritances and politicians showering them with grants and concessions, desperate to appear to be doing something about affordability while actually making it worse."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock / ABC</em></p> <p class="mol-para-with-font" style="font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px; min-height: 0px; letter-spacing: -0.16px; font-family: graphik, Arial, sans-serif;"> </p>

Money & Banking

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"Suck it up": Tourist's parking mistake divides Aussies

<p>A puzzled tourist's question about a $116 parking fine he received at a beach in Noosa, Queensland has divided Aussies, with many telling him to cough up the cash. </p> <p>The motorist shared a photo of his white SUV sitting between two other parked cars under a tree, but what he missed was the faint yellow line behind the nature strip. </p> <p>Confused, he took to a local Facebook group to ask why he was slapped with a fine for “stopping in a no stopping zone”  in late October as he believed that he “parked off the road in one of the car parks they offer for free”. </p> <p>“Can I still be charged if I’m parked not impeding traffic or even on the road?” the driver asked. </p> <p>“Is there any way I can go back to them and contest this? I don’t remember seeing any signs that said no stopping near the island.”</p> <p>Residents  of the popular tourist town were quick to criticise the driver. </p> <p>“Really. There are yellow lines and parked in a garden bed. It’s not a car park,” one wrote. </p> <p>“You’re lucky you only got non stopping zone ticket. Just because you park in car park doesn’t mean you can park anywhere in there," another added. </p> <p>“You are in a garden … suck it up,” a third commented. </p> <p>While many pointed out that  where he had parked “is not a car space," one commenter explained that “yellow line means no parking all over Australia” and the council is “well within their rights”. </p> <p>The driver didn't take the criticism to heart, and quipped :“So due to the faint yellow line that means you can’t park there? Gotta love Noosa, good to know that the $116 will go towards repainting the line — not.</p> <p>"So is there anything I can do or just pay it?”</p> <p>While many criticised his poor judgement, a few others sympathised with the tourist, saying that they also copped a fine in the same spot. </p> <p>“I've gotten the same fine for parking a scooter there too. Not much you can do. There are signs and a yellow line…” one wrote. </p> <p>“It’s a s**t rule but they’ve been getting people like this for years,” another added. </p> <p>A third added that he could contest the fine “as the yellow line is not very well maintained”. </p> <p>While a few others commented that in general there aren't enough car parks to accommodate the number of visitors. </p> <p>"It’s not even full school holidays for all schools yet and yesterday was shocking to find a car park.”</p> <p>According to the local council, it is illegal for a driver to park their car on a nature strip, footpath or in a parkland anywhere in the shire.</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

Legal

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The 4 biggest gift-giving mistakes, according to a consumer psychologist

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julian-givi-1395671">Julian Givi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/west-virginia-university-1375">West Virginia University</a></em></p> <p>A good gift can elicit a surge of happiness and gratitude in the recipient. It also feels great to give, <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-point-of-holiday-gifts-173306">with psychologists finding</a> that the joy of giving a gift is more pronounced than the pleasure of receiving one.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there are times when you receive a gift and you have to force a smile and fake your gratitude.</p> <p>I’m a consumer psychologist <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=wjAq_TcAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">who specializes in gift-giving research</a> – in particular, gift-giving mistakes.</p> <p>Here are four of the most common ones.</p> <h2>1. Prioritizing the big reveal</h2> <p>One way givers can err is by focusing too much on <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721416656937">the moment the recipient will open the gift</a>.</p> <p>Givers want their gift to be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/675737">desirable</a>. They hope <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.015">to surprise</a> the recipient and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2733341">put a smile</a> on their face.</p> <p>A chocolate fondue fountain might meet these criteria – it’s quirky and sure to elicit curiosity and smiles from onlookers.</p> <p>However, when people receive a gift, they care less about the moment the bow comes off, and instead think about the weeks and months ahead.</p> <p>People want gifts that are <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/1023703/volumes/v45/NA-45">useful</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/675737">reliable</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.015">meet their needs</a>.</p> <p>How often would a chocolate fondue fountain realistically be used?</p> <p>Compare that to a new coffee maker, which could see action every day. Sure, it isn’t a novelty – and probably won’t elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” on Christmas Day – but the recipient will be quite happy to have it on hand when their alarm rings each morning.</p> <h2>2. Unique and new are overrated</h2> <p>Another factor that can lead givers to go wrong involves unwritten rules for what constitutes good gift-giving practices.</p> <p>Givers often focus on these rules more than they should. For example, they may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.05.023">avoid giving the same gift</a> to someone in back-to-back years because this goes against the norm of giving a unique gift each year. Givers also often <a href="https://doi.org/10.1348/014466604x23428">refrain from giving used products</a> as gifts because this violates the unspoken rule that a gift should be brand new.</p> <p>In contrast, recipients are quite open to gifts that violate these norms.</p> <p>If someone loves a certain type of wine, they’re <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.05.023">more than happy to receive it</a> in subsequent years. And if one digital camera is lightly used but possesses several innovative features, while another is new but has fewer features, people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1348/014466604x23428">are happy to receive the used one</a>.</p> <h2>3. Being risk-averse</h2> <p>Givers can make missteps when they avoid gifts that they see as too risky.</p> <p>Consider sentimental gifts, like a scrapbook or a nostalgic memento.</p> <p>Studies have shown that recipients <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcps.2017.06.002">love these gifts</a>; they <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000036">elicit happiness for extended periods of time</a>.</p> <p>Givers, however, tend to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcps.2017.06.002">shy away from sentimental gifts</a> because they see them risky – sure, they could be a home run, but they could also whiff. Doubts can creep into shoppers’ heads as they consider sentimental gifts: What if it comes across as sappy? What if the recipient thinks I’m being cheap?</p> <p>And so people tend to opt for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S105774081730044X">safer, superficial gifts</a> that they assume will be at least somewhat well-liked. Or, to continue with the baseball analogy, givers are happy to take the sure single.</p> <p>As another example, consider material goods versus experiences.</p> <p>When giving gifts, people often opt for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucy010">tangible objects over experiences</a> because material goods are on the safer side – almost everyone could use a new appliance or a new shirt. Experiences are trickier; they require a bit more of an understanding of who the recipient truly is – not everyone loves going to see the symphony.</p> <p>Yet recipients tend to be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1281">more open to experiences than givers anticipate</a> – and these gifts <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/1017575/volumes/v42/NA-42">are actually more likely to make people happier</a> than material goods.</p> <h2>4. Does the thought really count?</h2> <p>Givers can also err by wanting their gift to appear especially thoughtful.</p> <p>Of course, recipients appreciate thoughtfulness – but not when it comes at the expense of receiving something that’s actually useful.</p> <p>This plays out when givers are shopping for multiple people. They’ll often <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/674199">choose unique gifts for each recipient</a>, rather than give the same gift to everyone, because a distinct gift for each person will make them feel as though they put more time and effort into gift selection. People do this even if they realize that some recipients will be receiving less desirable gifts.</p> <p>You’ll also see this happen with <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/1020146/volumes/v43/NA-43">gift cards</a>. Givers often choose specific gift cards – to a particular clothing store or restaurant, for example – that reflect the interests or tastes of the recipient.</p> <p>But recipients are more open to gift cards that give them more flexibility and freedom – think an Amazon or Visa gift card. That way, they can decide whether to splurge on a new sweater, dine out at their favorite restaurant – or do both.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/195169/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julian-givi-1395671">Julian Givi</a>, Assistant Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/west-virginia-university-1375">West Virginia University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-4-biggest-gift-giving-mistakes-according-to-a-consumer-psychologist-195169">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Traveller's $3,000 mistake at airport security

<p>A grandmother from New Zealand has copped a whopping $3,000 fine after failing to declare an airport sandwich to border control officers. </p> <p>June Armstrong, 77, was travelling from her native Christchurch to Brisbane to housesit for a friend, and treated herself to a muffin and a sandwich ahead of her 4am flight. </p> <p>Ms Armstrong ate her muffin before boarding the plane, and stashed the sandwich in her carry-on luggage to eat later on the flight. </p> <p>However, the grandmother fell asleep on the plane and the sandwich was left uneaten. </p> <p>When she woke up from her nap, she filled out the declaration form to enter Australia, as she had prescription medication, but completely forgot about the sandwich.</p> <p>When she arrived at the security gates at Brisbane Airport and her bags were checked, she was met with an unfortunate welcome to Australia as she was slapped with the fine. </p> <p>“I was just sobbing and said “$NZ3300 for a little sandwich?” Ms Armstrong told the <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/canterbury-grandmother-fined-3300-for-chicken-sandwich-by-australian-border-officials/3KJUEZBB2JHVLHBNSXFY3XPKLE/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>NZ Herald</em>.</a></p> <p>She said asked the official who found the sandwich if they could throw it away for her, but after they walked away and came back, they allegedly just said, “Twelve points, $3300”.</p> <p>Ms Armstrong first thought they were joking, but when she realised they were serious, she broke down in tears as staffers "strongly advised" her to appeal the fine within 28 days. </p> <p>She went through with the appeal to avoid forking out the four-figure sum, but to no avail and eventually ended up coughing up the hefty fine. </p> <p>“My husband kept saying, 'Just pay it'. I said, 'It’s our pension, we can’t afford this’,” Ms Armstrong said, adding that they had about $30,000 in savings as well as their pensions.</p> <p>Ms Armstrong sent an email asking why she was fined, considering it was her first infringement, and why the cost was so high, especially considering the sandwich was untouched and sealed. </p> <p>She also outlined the impact the fine was having on her mental health, but she allegedly never received a response.</p> <p>Six months on from sandwich-gate, she has accepted she won’t be getting her money back and has since spoken out to warn fellow passengers not to make the same mistake. </p> <p>“Everybody I show the fine to is dumbfounded, they just can’t believe it,” Ms Armstrong told the <em>NZ Herald</em>.</p> <p>Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said Ms Armstrong needed an import permit to bring the chicken sandwich into the county, adding it could have been a much higher penalty, as fines can be as much as $6260. </p> <p>“Meat has strict import conditions which can change quickly based on disease outbreaks,” a departmental spokesperson told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/warnings/grandmother-who-forgot-to-declare-chicken-sandwich-cops-3000-fine-at-brisbane-airport/news-story/2bc94ac2e7e4f59cd16e5798fc7f9f7b" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>. </p> <p>“Uncanned meats, including vacuum-sealed items, are not allowed into Australia unless accompanied by an import permit."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Unlocking Japan: Insider tips and mistakes to avoid for first-time travellers

<p>Traveling to a new country for the first time can be both exciting and a little overwhelming. With so much information online, it can be tough to keep track of what to do and what to avoid.</p> <p>While it is important to consider the rules of <a href="https://www.klook.com/en-AU/blog/do-and-donts-japan-guide/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">etiquette</a> in Japan, there are a few uncommon things that you might miss if you're a first-time traveller. </p> <p>Here are a few of our do's and don'ts: </p> <h5>DO use a luggage transfer service to travel "hands-free"</h5> <p>Japan is all about efficiency, and one of the things you can do to make sure you can travel more freely is to use a luggage transfer service.</p> <p>We recommend <a href="https://www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yamato Transport </a> a luggage transfer service that delivers all of your bags from the airport to your hotel and from hotel to hotel. </p> <p>Prices depend on the weight and size of your bags, but for same-day delivery, it was around $40-50 AUD for two 30kg bags. </p> <p>Depending on where you are staying, your hotel may or may not provide the Yamato services directly, but if they don't, you can always check with the nearest Family Mart as some convenience stores will do it for you.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can search for the nearest Yamato on Google maps. </p> <p>It is important to note that there may be delivery delays depending on road and traffic conditions, and in some cases they don't do same-day delivery to the airport, so it's good to double check. </p> <h5>DON'T listen to the influencers </h5> <p>With the rise of influencer culture, a lot more restaurants and tourists spots have become even more popular. </p> <p>Avoid queuing in line for over an hour for the hottest restaurant that's always "so good" and pull out Google or Apple maps, as you can find more hidden gems that the locals visit and are actually worth your time.</p> <h5>DO bring cash </h5> <p>Although most places accept card, places like Kyoto - the ancient capital - still mostly take cash. </p> <p>A lot of tourist spots like Kiyomizudera, some markets, and buses in Kyoto only take cash.</p> <p>On another note, if you have an <a href="https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_003.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IC card</a> like the Suica or Icoca, you can also use these as a form of payment at certain vending machines, shops and restaurants. (It's kind of like using your Opal card to pay for things).</p> <h5>DON'T lose or damage your JR Pass </h5> <p>Most travel blogs recommend that you get the <a href="https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">JR pass</a> ,which is a rail pass that offers unlimited rides on the JR trains for one, two or three weeks, and allow you to travel nation-wide. </p> <p>What they don't tell you is that they only hand out physical passes that you cannot lose or damage, as they will not re-issue another card until your current one expires.</p> <p>With the cost of the JR passes increasing in October, it might also be worth booking one-way travel tickets instead, as they might be cheaper depending on which region you're travelling to. </p> <h5><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">DO bring good socks and wear your comfiest shoes</span></h5> <p>There is a lot of walking involved, and sometimes lifts can be hard to find – especially at certain stations – so make sure you wear shoes with a lot of padding (or whatever's best for you).</p> <p>You will have to take off your shoes more often than you think, especially in changing rooms and certain traditional accommodation. So leave your hole-y socks at home or wear slippers wherever you go! </p> <h5><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">DON'T book that morning flight </span></h5> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Check-in for a lot of places is usually at 3pm and you want to avoid the morning rush, especially if you're catching public transportation.</span></p> <p>These are a few of our tips, are there any we've missed? </p> <p><em>Images: Getty/ Supplied</em></p>

International Travel

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These are the top mistakes first-time cruise travellers should avoid, according to a cruise ship veteran

<p><strong>Cruise tips for the perfect trip</strong></p> <p>For more than a decade, I have worked on some of the best cruise lines, and for the last six years, I’ve been a cruise director. It’s a dream job: I am the face and voice of a 3,600-person-capacity ship, organising entertainment around the clock for guests, creating the master schedules, coordinating excursions, hosting special events and so much more. I’ve been on hundreds of cruises and live on a ship for most of the year, so it’s safe to say that I know a few cruise tips you’ll find useful.</p> <p>I also know a thing or two about the mistakes people make when it comes to cruises, whether they’re first-time cruisers or regulars. From creating a smart cruise packing list to finding the best deals at sea, these insider cruise tips will ensure that you have the best trip possible.</p> <p><strong>Booking too late </strong></p> <p>It is true that if you’re very flexible with your travel plans and/or you live near a popular port-of-call, you can get some great bargains on cruises by booking at the last minute. But those opportunities are harder to come by these days, thanks to sophisticated computer algorithms that do a great job of adjusting prices to fill bookings earlier.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> If you’re sure you want to book a particular cruise or your travel plans aren’t flexible, book as early as possible – as in, the date bookings open. Prices will be at their lowest then, but if for some reason they do drop, you can ask customer service to match the new lower price. Just be aware that price adjustments need to be made before the “final booking window,” when all rates are locked in, usually one to three months before departure.</p> <p><strong>Not asking for an upgrade</strong></p> <p>Post-pandemic, a lot of ships are sailing at low capacity, so there are often plenty of open rooms. People are often nervous to ask for an upgrade, but those rooms will just be left empty if they’re not filled by departure time. We love making guests happy, and as long as you’re polite and phrase it as a question, not a demand, we’ll do our best!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> When you arrive, talk to any of the employees greeting guests about rooms available for upgrades. Different cruise lines have different policies, and the employees will know how to help you. And in case you were wondering, you can ask for an upgrade regardless of how you purchased your tickets. If you’re there for a special event, like a milestone anniversary or a honeymoon, definitely mention it – even if you can’t get an upgrade, they will find other ways to make your cruise special.</p> <p>Some cruises also allow you to “bid” for an upgrade, meaning that you can offer an extra amount of money for that nicer cabin. This is still a good deal, since even with the extra fee, it’s still cheaper than if you had paid the original rate for that room.</p> <p><strong>Not packing a carry-on bag</strong></p> <p>This is one of those cruise tips you’ll really be glad you know before your next trip. Many people overpack their main luggage and don’t give enough thought to what they’re toting in their carry-ons. Remember: It takes several hours minimum to get your luggage to you. Luggage times can range from a couple of hours to half a day, depending on staffing levels and your cabin location. This is why it’s essential to have a day pack with anything you’ll need right away – and don’t forget the fun stuff!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Pack a roomy carry-on with medication, contact solution, a change of clothing, a swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, sandals or other items you’ll want to have immediate access to.</p> <p><strong>Being rude or cold to the crew</strong></p> <p>We’re here to help you, but we’re not slaves. I’ve seen passengers have full meltdowns over everything from not being able to get prescription medication from the first-aid station, to the buffet not having a dish they ate on a different cruise line, to their towels being folded instead of shaped, like they saw on Instagram. Regardless of your demeanour with us, we’ll always do our best to help you, but we won’t be motivated to go above and beyond for you. Keep in mind that some events, such as dinner with the captain, are by invitation only or are not advertised, and having a crew member to help you get your name on the golden ticket could make your cruise experience something out of this world.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Be polite and kind to the crew. To be clear: You’re allowed to complain, and we definitely want to know if something isn’t right or if it could be better, but just remember that we’re people too – often operating on very little sleep.</p> <p><strong>Not taking advantage of flash deals </strong></p> <p>During booking or before boarding, many cruises offer limited amounts of “flash deals” for things like entertainment shows or drink packages. Many people wait, thinking they can just decide once they’re on board, but you won’t find those same deals on the ship. And these deals are worth it: Purchasing a flash deal ahead of time could get you half-off discounts for food and alcoholic beverages, a VIP excursion or priority seating at shows. Talk about an easy way to get perks and save some serious money!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> If they’re offering something you know you’ll use, it’s almost always cheaper to purchase it through a flash deal. Flash deals are publicised through a cruise’s site and via email, but the fastest way to be alerted is by installing the app for your cruise line and registering your trip. And be sure to purchase quickly, since many deals are available only for a short time and/or in limited quantities.</p> <p><strong>Using the internet a lot</strong></p> <p>Internet on cruise ships can be overpriced and unreliable. This is because ocean-going ships have to use satellite systems for internet, and they are slower and tend to lose service more easily. And expect to pay for the privilege of slower service – older ships still sell internet by the minute (50 to 75 cents), while state-of-the-art ships offer day passes. Day passes average about $US25 per device, per day. This can add up faster than you realise. So while it’s technologically possible to stream a Netflix movie to your cabin, it may not be the best use of your time or money.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> See it as a gift! My advice would be to switch off completely while at sea and save your money. Cruise ships are equipped for maximum entertainment, and you should take advantage of all the fun we have on board. (Plus, in a cruise tip that doubles as a life tip, it’s good for you to do a mini digital detox and take a break from social media every once in a while.) If you do need to use the internet – say, to check your work emails or contact family – it will be cheapest and fastest to wait until you’re at port and find a Wi-Fi hot spot. Otherwise, just plan to use the ship’s internet strategically; have a plan before logging on rather than just surfing.</p> <p><strong>Not signing up for the free loyalty program </strong></p> <p>All major cruise lines have loyalty programs that offer real perks, including discounts on tickets, free meals, free internet, priority embarkation and disembarkation, and even free cruises. If you don’t sign up, you’re missing out. While the perks will depend on what “tier” of the loyalty program you sign up for, top-tier loyalty programs are the best deal for serious cruisers. That’s where you’ll be treated like royalty, with upgrades, special events, free or heavily discounted tickets, priority booking and lots of other extras.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> The base programs are free to sign up, and you’ll want to register for them as soon as possible because you can start earning points immediately. Higher-tier programs are fee-based, but they can be a great deal depending on what amenities you want and how often you plan to cruise. You will be offered the chance to sign up or upgrade during the booking process, but if you miss it, you can sign up at check-in or at any point during the cruise – even when disembarking.</p> <p>Depending on the package and loyalty tier, some of your points will be available immediately for use on your current cruise. Some major cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, have partnerships with major credit cards that allow you to use your card to rack up loyalty points throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>Sticking to the buffets </strong></p> <p>Yes, buffets are fantastic because they offer a wide variety of popular foods, and it’s all-you-can-eat around the clock. But if you’re only eating at the buffets, you’re missing some of the best food on the cruise! The restaurants are designed to give you a full dining experience and offer regional or specialty cuisines that can’t be found on the buffet. Plus, you can order according to your taste and special-order dishes if you have particular dietary concerns. Many restaurants offer extras like dining with the chef, watching the food be prepared or special entertainment events.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Ask your host about special dining events, like the chef’s table, or to help you get reservations for a specialty meal – for instance, a Brazilian steakhouse meal or a five-course tasting with wine pairings. These dining experiences usually cost extra, but they’re totally worth it. Try to book two or three if you can.</p> <p><strong>Not using room service enough </strong></p> <p>When you’re staying at a hotel, you might forgo room service because it can get pricey – or because you can’t order whatever you want, whenever you want it. That’s not necessarily the case on a cruise. Post-pandemic, you can order anything off the menu through room service, 24/7… But not all the food is free. You may have to pay extra for that cheeseburger at 3am.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> While what’s included in room service varies from cruise line to cruise line, as well as what package you’ve booked, breakfast will likely be free – no matter what. Make the most of this cruise ship secret, and you never have to leave your room for breakfast again if you don’t want to! One etiquette-based cruise tip, though: While tipping isn’t necessary, if you do order room service in the middle of the night, consider tipping the staff a few dollars when they bring it.</p> <p><strong>Not reading the ship's insurance policy </strong></p> <p>If you enjoy doing adventurous activities like ziplining and surfing, make sure you know the risks and what you are covered for in case of an emergency. The ship’s insurance policy covers only the very basic things – those that are directly the cruise line’s responsibility, like cancelled cruises or lost luggage. But anything related to your health or other travel issues won’t be covered, so you’ll need to rely on personal policies.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Make sure to read through the insurance policy and ask your cruise host or travel agent if you have questions. Check with your personal insurance provider to see exactly what they cover for cruises and/or out-of-country trips. And it’s never a bad idea to purchase separate travel insurance.</p> <p><strong>Going to Medical for seasickness</strong></p> <p>Cruises are required to have a certified doctor on the ship, but it costs money to get medical care onboard. Doctors bill an hourly rate – often around $US100 per hour – plus fees for any services or extra supplies. Cruise-ship medical bills can range from $US50 to thousands of dollars if you end up needing to be helicoptered out. However, many medical items are available for free through the customer concierge, so save those medical trips for illnesses or injuries that really require a doctor’s attention.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Seasickness pills and other over-the-counter meds, such as ibuprofen and Tylenol, are free through guest services, as well as things like adhesive bandages, heating pads and wraps. Stop by the host station, ask any staff member or call directly from your cabin. Pro tip: If you’re prone to seasickness, ask for a cabin on a low deck and mid-ship, since they pitch the least in relation to the rest of the ship.</p> <p><strong>Taking sketchy DIY excursions </strong></p> <p>This really depends on the location, but in lesser-known areas, it is generally wise to stick to the ship-sponsored excursions as opposed to relying on sales pitches from locals, taking internet advice or just winging it. After all, you want to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of, you’re safe and the ship doesn’t leave without you if the excursion runs late!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Stick to reputable excursions. Your cruise director will have a list of ship-sponsored excursions and will also be able to advise you on local companies that the cruise line has worked with. It also never hurts to do research before setting sail, looking up your particular ports-of-call and seeing what excursions you might want to ask about.</p> <p><strong>Going too far from the ship</strong></p> <p>It’s fine to go ashore independently and find your own adventures, but I’ve seen too many guests end up losing track of time or distance, and then end up waving the ship goodbye from shore. If this happens, you’ll have to find your own travel to the cruise ship’s next port of call.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Instead of driving yourself, find a local taxi driver who knows the area well. Just be sure to negotiate the price and time before hopping in. If you do decide to go it alone, stay fairly close to port, watch the clock and build in extra time for things like traffic jams. Make sure to get back to the boat at least 30 minutes before boarding time.</p> <p><strong>Underestimating how windy it gets at sea</strong></p> <p>Anytime you’re outside on the ship, make sure to secure all your belongings. Hold on tightly if you’re walking around, and if you’re putting your items down, place them in a zippered bag attached to a chair or table, or tether larger items (like blankets) to furniture. It doesn’t take much wind to launch your mobile phone, hat or glasses into the ocean. This happens far more often than you might think!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> I recommend that guests always bring towel clips for securing towels, clothing, thongs and other flighty items. Your ship may come equipped with some anti-wind protections like special shelters by the pool, lockers or wind breaks.</p> <p><strong>Not honouring cruise traditions </strong></p> <p>Ships, cruise lines and even cruising culture in general have their own traditions. The most popular one on all cruise lines is the “Cruising Duck.” Never heard of it? Guests bring a rubber duck and hide it around the ship to be discovered by others. But there are many more traditions based on individual cruise lines, travel routes or themes (say, a Disney cruise), and part of the fun is getting to discover them. You can read up about them on online forums or just wait to be surprised.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Participating in these little traditions will make it more fun for you on your trip, and it’s a great way to integrate yourself into the cruising community. It’s especially fun if you’re doing a themed cruise.</p> <p><strong>Not following current health protocols</strong></p> <p>Health protocols change often, especially post-pandemic. For instance, most cruise ships now require proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Some are still doing rapid tests before boarding. Most prefer (but don’t require) you to wear a mask if you develop any symptoms of illness while aboard. If you test positive for an infectious illness, you’ll be quarantined. And remember, it’s not just COVID they’re concerned about: Outbreaks of norovirus and influenza are common in the close quarters of cruise ships.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Stay up to date on the current rules, and do your best to follow them. This information should be given to you the week before your cruise, via email or your online portal. You can also check the website, call customer service or talk to a host during the boarding process. But please don’t argue with us – we don’t make the rules. If you need clarification or an exception, speak to the ship’s doctor.</p> <p><strong>Not booking your next cruise while you're still on the ship</strong></p> <p>This may sound crazy, but it’s one of the smartest cruise tips. Booking your next cruise while on your current cruise is a terrific way to make the most of free onboard credit and loyalty points. Once you leave the ship, the deals they’re offering will be gone.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead:</em></span> Ask your host about what deals they are offering before you disembark. This is the best time to get a great deal on your favourite cruises – and ones that won’t be available at a later date. Cruise lines really want you to book your next cruise while you’re still there and excited, so they may offer you a cheaper upgrade to a higher tier of the loyalty program and/or nicer perks on your next cruise. If you can book at this time, you definitely should.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/ive-worked-on-cruise-ships-for-10-years-these-are-the-mistakes-every-traveller-should-avoid?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Cruising

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7 travel mistakes everyone should make at least once

<p><strong>Lose your daily itinerary plan</strong></p> <p>For once, send the planner in you on vacation, too, and ditch your carefully planned itinerary. Don’t have your map? Lost your list of the top locations you wanted to see? Perfect. Wandering around aimlessly can be a great way to explore a city and see a little of everything.</p> <p>Don’t waste your time trying to locate your lost list or panicking about it. Instead, walk around, find a local pub, meet some friendly faces and experience the city as a resident might – not a tourist. Aside from the sheer adventure of it, you might end up seeing the city in a whole different way.</p> <p><strong>Embarrass yourself </strong></p> <p>Whether you’re trying to ask for directions in broken Spanish and end up saying something totally insane, or you accidentally walk into the wrong washroom, don’t worry too much about an embarrassing moment. Not only can something like that pull you straight out of your comfort zone and teach you not to sweat the small stuff, but you’ll never have to see most of these people again.</p> <p>And while your embarrassing blunder may not seem funny at the time, it will be when you recount the story for years to come.</p> <p><strong>Get lost</strong></p> <p>Though you should probably try this one out in a safe destination, along with a few companions, getting lost may not be the nightmare you think it is. If you’re looking for an authentic place to eat at a reasonable price, travel suggestions from your hotel map may not have the answer.</p> <p>Instead, look for a place on your own. Walk around and you just may fall into a quaint little place you would never have otherwise discovered. You can even strike up a conversation with a friendly local and get their take on the best restaurants in town. You may even get to know the roads better if you have to find your way back on your own.</p> <p><strong>Visit a country where you're not fluent in the language </strong></p> <p>Why you not challenge yourself by visiting a country where service in English isn’t guaranteed? You’ll want to pack a dictionary (or at the very least a phone loaded with the relevant apps) to help you with key phrases, but don’t fret if you can’t understand the menu word for word.</p> <p>This is a great way to force anyone stuck in a comfort zone rut to try new things, pick up (or even master) a new language, explore new places, and meet new people. You may be surprised by the friendships (and even romances) that can exist between two people who speak different languages. You may also find it to be a rather humbling experience.</p> <p><strong>Lose your tour group</strong> </p> <p>Oops! You lost the group and your guide is nowhere in sight. Before you decide to head back to your hotel and give up for the day, try to venture off on your own and discover things a tour group wouldn’t ever see, like a very small, hidden away restaurant with the best pasta in town, or a quiet little park that, although isn’t a special landmark, is beautiful in its own right.</p> <p><strong>Lose your luggage </strong></p> <p>While this one is a little more dependent on the airline than it is on you, the key thing to remember is not to panic if your luggage is lost because it can actually be a good thing. You most likely overpacked anyway, and ditching your heavy suitcase can be a liberating experience.</p> <p>You now have nothing to carry around or keep track of, the opportunity to buy new clothing, and a funny story to tell. Just be sure to keep your passport and money on you so if your luggage is lost, it’s not a complete disaster.</p> <p><strong>Let people know you're a tourist</strong></p> <p>You might want to convince the cab driver you’re a local to avoid getting ripped off, but let’s face it: you’re not fooling anyone. Instead, embrace the tourist title and let people know you’re from out of town.</p> <p>You may be pleasantly surprised with how many locals will try to go out of their way to make your stay in their city an enjoyable one. Friendly locals may even offer you some insider tips on the best places to visit, shop or eat.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/7-travel-mistakes-everyone-should-make-at-least-once" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Common credit card mistakes to avoid

<p>If you regularly use your credit card, you’ll know how easy it is to plonk down the plastic for your shopping and other purchases. It’s also easy to forget those pesky card payments that follow. </p> <p>Along with the convenience of credit cards comes the danger that your bills can quickly snowball into a major debt that can linger for years if not managed properly. </p> <p>It pays to be aware of the pitfalls of credit cards and ensure you’ve got good habits in place to avoid them as much as possible. The following are a few suggestions:</p> <p><strong>Shop around for the best card deals</strong></p> <p>Don't make the mistake of signing up for the first credit card offer that arrives in your mailbox. Go online and look for the best possible card terms and features to suit you. Credit card rates can vary significantly, depending on the card and type of promotion offered.</p> <p><strong>Rewards programs</strong></p> <p>Following on from the point above, make sure the card you choose provides features you genuinely need and will actively use. Credit card rewards are promoted to make consumers think they’re getting something for free. But when you add up what it costs to earn rewards, a rewards program may not be much of a perk. For instance, credit cards that offer rewards often have much higher interest rates than cards with no rewards.</p> <p><strong>Keep track of your spending</strong></p> <p>While using a credit card sometimes feels like you’re not really spending money, not keeping track of your spending can wreak havoc on your finances. Carry a small notebook or if you’re more tech savvy, use one of the many apps available on your phone to record your purchases so you won't get a nasty shock when you receive your monthly statement. Make sure you check your statements regularly too.</p> <p><strong>Late and minimum payments</strong></p> <p>Credit card payments that aren’t paid on time result in late fees and higher interest rates. Read through your credit card statement carefully so you know when the payment is due. Consider auto-payment facilities or put a recurring note in your calendar each month a few days in advance of your payment due date to ensure you don’t miss it. Most card statements list the date that payments must be received by to avoid penalty interest fees. Ideally, it’s best to pay the full amount every month. Only paying the minimum amount will make the situation worse over time by attracting cumulative interest payment penalties.</p> <p><strong>Using cash advances</strong></p> <p>While they’re a tempting option, cash advances attract higher interest rates and should be used with care.</p> <p><strong>Handle with care!</strong></p> <p>Credit cards can be useful financial tools when used responsibly. Getting into good habits can ensure you take full advantage of the benefits while avoiding the traps.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 make-up mistakes making you look tired

<p>When applied correctly, a good make-up job can be a Godsend – taking you from tired and washed-out to invigorated and glowing. Unfortunately, it can work the other way as well with incorrect application making you look even more exhausted than you actually are! Fortunately it’s easy to avoid these make-you-look-tired traps. Here are the five common mistakes many women make (and how to avoid them).</p> <p><strong>1. Overdoing the powder –</strong> Dull skin is synonymous with tired skin and an overly powdered complexion often emphasises that. Try skipping the matte foundation and powder combo and try either an illuminating liquid foundation or even a BB cream or tinted moisturiser which will highlight instead of camouflaging.</p> <p><strong>2. Going beige –</strong> Skipping colour on your face may seem the best way to detract attention away from a tired complexion but by embracing beige, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. A completely neutral face looks lacklustre and a little bit flat. Try adding some definition and pop with a darker toned lippie or rosy hued blush to lift your face and add some colour. </p> <p><strong>3. Using the wrong concealer –</strong> Concealer is there to conceal. Unfortunately, the wrong shade can actually highlight that which you’re trying to cover. Try a creamy formula no more than one shade lighter than your natural skin tone. And always try out your shade in natural light as artificial light can disguise the true match.</p> <p><strong>4. Layering on the liner –</strong> While a smoky eye may be a classic look, if you’re looking less than fresh, it can come across as harsh and unflattering. Try skipping the black and grey shades in favour of navy or even dark brown, as they’ll help lift your eyes and add definition without darkness.</p> <p><strong>5. Forgetting to curl –</strong> Curling your lashes is one of the best ways to open up your whole eye area and help you look awake and alert. Unfortunately, it’s often the first thing we forget to do when tired. Try curling your lashes first, before applying the rest of your makeup and if you really want to amp up the result, use a heated eyelash curler.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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I’ve worked at an all-inclusive resort for 10 years – these are 19 mistakes every traveller should avoid

<p><strong>All-inclusive resort tips for the best trip ever</strong></p> <p>Heading to an inclusive resort is the best of both worlds: you get to go on an amazing holiday while someone else takes care of all the little details. But how do all those little details work, exactly? And how can you, as the guest, have an epic experience? As an entertainment director for more than a decade, I’ve gotten an insider look into nearly every aspect of these types of hotels, which means I know a few things that you’ll definitely want to know. My job may sound like a 24/7 party, but it’s a lot of work too. I joke that my ‘nightlife’ fills my entire day. But my lack of work-life balance is your gain, since my experience translates into all-inclusive resort tips that will help you have a blast and give you the most bang for your buck. Because let’s be honest, if you’re going to an all-inclusive resort, you’re spending a lot of money – and you deserve to get what you’re paying for.</p> <p>Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of guests, and there are some common mistakes people make – from the type of package they book to what they do (and don’t do) when staying at an all-inclusive. So memorise this advice because it can help you have the best holiday of your life.</p> <p><strong>Thinking that 'all-inclusive' means everything is included</strong></p> <p>Despite the title of ‘all-inclusive,’ most all-inclusive resorts don’t include everything. While the specifics will vary depending on the resort, your membership status and the package you booked, common exclusions include transportation to and from the airport, spa treatments, premium alcohol and Wi-Fi in your room (although it’s generally provided for free in common areas). Other amenities may be partially included. For instance, water sports may be included in your rate, but you might have to pay extra to rent motorised equipment like jet skis. While you’ll be told about extra charges when booking a service or activity, if you’re not really paying attention, you could end up with quite the surprise when you see the final bill at the end of your stay. This is also true of all-inclusive cruises.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: read the fine print of your package before you arrive (and ideally before you book), and be sure to ask staff if you’re unsure whether something’s included. You could easily add an extra 10 per cent or more to your bill if you don’t. You should also always ask whether resort fees – which can range from $25 to $100 a day, depending on the company – are included.</p> <p><strong>Not researching the resort before you go</strong></p> <p>Even within the same chain, every all-inclusive resort is different – from the culture and dining to the amenities and excursions – and the time to discover those differences is not the day you get there. Knowing what to expect can help you have a better experience, since you’ll know what you want to do and can jump on reservations quickly, as well as know what to pack for the weather and available activities. It’s also an important part of managing your expectations. Sometimes we have guests show up expecting everything under the sun and then are disappointed when all their expectations aren’t met – things they would have realised if they’d researched the resort first.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: Take an hour or so to check out the resources on the resort’s website, and go to online forums for that resort so you know what the can’t-miss things are. Come prepared with a list of activities, foods, cultural experiences and shows that you’re most excited about. Upon checking in, you can also talk to the concierge, entertainment director or other employees for their personal recommendations and for help making reservations.</p> <p><strong>Overtipping or undertipping</strong></p> <p>Tipping etiquette can be confusing no matter where you are, and the rules are different at all-inclusive resorts. One of the selling points of an all-inclusive resort is that gratuities are usually included in the package. But while this means guests aren’t expected to tip for regular services like housekeeping or dining, guests may still choose to tip for exceptional service or for special requests, such as having an item ordered online and delivered to them. Plus, certain ‘extra’ services – like spa treatments, deluxe excursions or butler service – may not be included in the all-inclusive package, which means that a tip wouldn’t be included either.</p> <p>In addition, tipping culture at resorts has changed since the pandemic, and even though tips for normal services aren’t required, in some countries and some resorts (for instance, in Mexico), they are now expected – even if it isn’t explicitly stated. That isn’t true everywhere, of course. In certain countries, tipping isn’t the norm. For example, in Japan, you shouldn’t tip at all at an all-inclusive resort.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: read the details of your package to understand which services are included and which require an additional tip. Bring $100 to $200 in cash for tipping, and ask the concierge upon arriving what is generally expected and appropriate. Some resort employees, especially those in poorer countries, depend on these tips to make a living wage, so while you may not have to tip them, it’s still the kind thing to do.</p> <p><strong>Overindulging in food and drinks</strong></p> <p>Just because you can eat a kilo of crab legs and a litre of ice cream, it doesn’t mean you should. (And yes, I saw someone do that!) Since most, if not all, food and drinks are included, some guests feel that the way to get their money’s worth is to overeat or drink to the point of inebriation. Unfortunately, I’ve seen guests stuck in bed for an entire day or two after a binge, making them miss out on all the other fun things.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: feel free to indulge, but be moderate in how much you eat and drink at once. Remember, it’s about enjoying the overall experience, and that’s about having fun while doing things you couldn’t do at home.</p> <p><strong>Staying at the resort the whole time</strong></p> <p>While you certainly can stay in your room and enjoy the peace and quiet, the draw of an all-inclusive resort is that it offers far more than just a place to relax. Yet you’d be surprised at how many guests don’t take advantage of all the resort and the surrounding area have to offer. Most resorts are in locations known for their beauty, culture, weather and opportunities for adventure, and it would be a mistake to not even check it all out.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: this is the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, whether that’s eating a local delicacy or going on a guided tour through ancient ruins. You might even make some new friends along the way. It’s exactly these types of things that will make your holiday fun and memorable.</p> <p><strong>Sticking to the standard buffet</strong></p> <p>We work hard to provide delicious, one-of-a-kind dining experiences that reflect the culture and flavours of the locale. This isn’t just about offering local delicacies; it may also include a special cooking method, watching the chef prepare your food, seeing where the food comes from or allowing you to participate in the dining experience in a unique way. Filling up on hamburgers and fries is fine, but the food is a big part of what you are paying for.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: look up the resort’s dining options in advance, and pick out a few adventures to try. Most resorts offer a chef’s tasting menu that encompasses the local cuisine – for example, in Bali, you can watch your fish caught fresh and then cooked on a traditional grill.</p> <p>Ask the chef or entertainment director for their suggestions for what’s best at the moment. And book your reservations as early as possible.</p> <p><strong>Not making a connection with the staff</strong></p> <p>Many guests are repeat visitors at specific resorts, and staff develop relationships with their favourites and will go out of their way to make sure you have everything you want and need. They might even provide little extras for free, like treats, drinks or early-access passes to shows. The employees are also an incredible resource for what to try in the surrounding areas, what you need to know about local cultural norms, how to prepare for certain excursions and other site-specific tips. But they can only do that if you’ve already built a good relationship with them.</p> <p>Even if you’ll only ever be at the resort once, a little kindness goes a long way with all the staff, ensuring that your stay is pleasant and that you feel taken care of. Honestly, a kind guest will find themselves being treated like a king or queen, so this is one of the all-inclusive resort tips that you really don’t want to skip!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: start by acknowledging staff with a smile, remembering their names and asking how they are. Do not be rude to staff, even if you’re upset; you’re much more likely to get help when you’re kind and calm. Ask questions about the area or the resort – they are a wealth of insider information – but steer clear of overly personal questions that could come off as creepy. For instance, do not hit on the staff, ask where they live or for their private phone numbers. If you want to keep in touch, they can give you their company email address.</p> <p><strong>Being glued to your phone</strong></p> <p>I’ve seen too many people miss out on the joy of the moment because their eyes are constantly on their phone. You’re on holidays for a reason – to get a break from daily life – so let this be a magical experience. Take in the beauty of the surrounding nature, watch your children play, have a cocktail with your spouse, check out a performance, go dancing at the nightclub.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: use your phone to snap a few pictures or videos for memories, but otherwise try to keep your tech use to a minimum so you can be fully present. (Plus, you’ll avoid a lot of frustration, since internet service may be spotty and limited to certain areas.)</p> <p><strong>Not getting traveller's insurance</strong></p> <p>When it comes to holidays, you have to plan for the unexpected, and that includes making sure you have adequate insurance coverage and knowing how to access it. Insurance coverage depends on where you are and what you’re doing, but expect the resort’s insurance to cover only things under their direct control, such as mechanical malfunctions, equipment failures, schedule changes and cancellations. It generally won’t cover weather-related disasters, personal medical emergencies, accidents, injuries, flight cancellations and other things that could seriously mess up your trip (and your budget) if you’re not prepared.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: consider buying separate travel insurance for the trip, and read through it carefully so you know what’s covered. You will most likely be offered travel insurance as an extra when booking, either through a travel agent or directly through the resort. You can also purchase travel insurance as a rider to other insurance policies, like a homeowner’s policy, and many credit cards offer travel insurance as a perk when you pay for the trip with that card. Also make sure to check with your personal medical insurance about what they cover while you are away, especially if you are out of the country.</p> <p><strong>Dressing too casually</strong></p> <p>You’re on holidays at an all-inclusive resort in Hawaii, so it’s swimsuits and flip-flops 24/7, right? While that is true for some areas of the resort, many all-inclusive resorts have upscale dining and shows that require, at the very least, trousers or a sundress and real shoes. You will be turned away if you don’t meet that dress code.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: read up on the dress code before you start packing, and make sure to bring at least one outfit that goes beyond beachwear on your packing list. A pair of khakis or trousers and a collared shirt will likely suffice for men, while women should bring a dress (beyond the all-cotton beach cover-up) or nice pants and a blouse. Some resorts have formal nights where suits and formal dresses are required. And don’t forget to pack a pair of dress shoes!</p> <p><strong>Ignoring safety guidelines </strong></p> <p>Some guests think weather advisories, public-health mandates (like masks), staying out of roped-off areas, only swimming in designated spots, wearing life jackets and other safety rules are for everyone else but not them. But our safety guidelines aren’t there to mess up your fun – they are to keep you safe so you can have more fun. Ignoring these guidelines can put you in danger and ruin your holiday.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: follow the rules, and avoid endangering yourself or others. This is true even if you ‘already know how’ to do an activity (like snorkelling or skiing). Guests ignoring the rules have been caught in dangerous riptides, attacked by wildlife, taken jaw-dropping falls or been stranded on land that suddenly turns into an island when the tide comes in.</p> <p><strong>Getting dehydrated </strong></p> <p>Too many tropical holidays have been ruined by heat stroke! You have delicious beverages (both alcoholic and regular treats) at your fingertips, so it’s understandable that you might forget to drink enough water – something that can be compounded by being outdoors more than usual, forgetting sun protection like hats or umbrellas, and loading up on salty snacks. But getting dehydrated can make you feel tired and irritable at best, or gravely ill at worst. This is especially important if you are travelling to a climate that is significantly hotter or drier than you’re used to.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: balance out each alcoholic or sugary drink with a glass of water. Take a reusable water bottle and a sun hat with you on excursions, and be on the lookout for signs of dehydration like exhaustion, being overly sweaty or unable to sweat, becoming very red in the face or very pale, disorientation, muscle cramps and weakness.</p> <p><strong>Not consulting the schedule </strong></p> <p>Not only does the resorts daily tell you when things are happening – it’s also a great way to see what is happening. Even if you did some research ahead of time, it’s not uncommon for a resort to add even more shows, excursions or dining experiences. Some are first-come, first-serve, while others require an advance reservation. Certain activities, like a riverboat tour through the city, will always be popular and can be fully booked by the time breakfast is over. Be sure to note events that happen only once during your stay – like a special show performance – and prioritise booking those first.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: download the resort app, and check it daily, first thing in the morning. It’s a goldmine of information. It usually has schedules, tips, previews and menus, and many resorts offer special events or deals through it too. You can also check the flyer that lists the day’s schedules, posted in common areas, or the informational binder in your room. In general, travel apps can make your trip better in so many ways.</p> <p><strong>Forgetting medications or vaccinations</strong></p> <p>Resorts usually have doctors or medical staff onsite, but they’re there to handle normal vacation maladies or emergencies. You can’t expect them to have a supply of your prescription medication on hand, nor can they manage any chronic illnesses. Also be aware that some resorts have vaccine mandates, and for the vaccine to fully take effect, you need to get it some time before you arrive. For instance, a series of two typhoid vaccines are required for most countries in South Asia, and the vaccinations need to be completed at least one week before your arrival.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: check out the medical section of the resort’s website or app, and make sure to pack anything you need for your health – and pack it in your carry-on. As a precaution, in case you lose your medication, have your doctor email you an electronic copy of your prescription. If you have a chronic health condition, talk with your doctor before leaving about how to manage it on holidays.</p> <p><strong>Booking the first resort package you find </strong></p> <p>All-inclusive resorts are more expensive than regular resorts because they take the headache out of planning every detail of your vacation. However, that means you need to be extra careful in how you select the resort, the package and your membership level (if applicable). If you’re on a budget and you don’t comparison shop, you might end up paying more than you’d like because what you want isn’t included.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: book through a travel agent, they often have access to exclusive deals and know the ins and outs of different resort packages. Also try to book as early as possible. While there are good deals to be had at the last minute, you’re more likely to get what you want for a good price by booking early; many places offer discounts or promotions for early bookings.</p> <p><strong>Forgetting sunscreen</strong></p> <p>You know what will really ruin a romantic holiday or a girls’ weekend getaway? A blistering sunburn. One common issue: women (or men in Speedos) who neglect to put waterproof sunscreen on their bottoms where their suit doesn’t cover when snorkelling. Sunburns gotten over a day of swimming in the ocean – the sun not only beats down from above but is also reflected up from the surface – can be incredibly painful and may make sitting and sleeping miserable.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: bring sunscreen, and check to make sure it’s reef-safe if you’re going to be swimming in an ocean. Also bring insect repellents (and use them regularly). If you forget yours, definitely ask the staff, as the resort will likely have some on hand, or you can make a quick trip to town to pick up what you need.</p> <p><strong>Not using your points or miles</strong></p> <p>Perks at all-inclusive resorts are a common benefit of many credit card, airline, hotel, corporate or other rewards programs. You can get free upgrades, extra nights, bonus excursions, transportation and other fun freebies. But they only work if you remember to use them. If you’re not prompted to enter the info when booking, be sure to ask customer service to make sure they’ve got your membership details on file.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: know what your perks are and how to use them, especially since many must be activated before arrival. If you’re using a credit card to book the trip, the perks should be activated automatically at the time of booking (but check your account to make sure). If you’re using a corporate reward or hotel loyalty program, look up the details before booking. You will likely need to book through their site or provide a membership number during the booking process.</p> <p>If you arrive and notice that you didn’t receive the extras you signed up for, talk to the concierge to see if they are on file with your reservation. If not, you’ll need to contact customer service for the rewards company. Combining points is one of the top tips for how to travel for free.</p> <p><strong>Expecting the staff to babysit your kids</strong></p> <p>All-inclusive family resorts exist so that families with kids of all ages can holiday together … and also have some time apart. Many resorts offer childcare and/or classes for kids, but make sure you know the rules (like age restrictions) and the times they’re offered. Please know that just because something is labelled as a ‘family’ and ‘all-inclusive’ resort, it doesn’t mean that any staff member will watch your kids or that babysitting is available at all hours.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: read all the details about what services and activities are offered for babies, young children, older kids and teens. Do not leave kids unattended, even in children’s areas, unless it is specified that they are being supervised by staff there. Bring your own baby monitor, as they generally aren’t provided, but do not leave young children alone in hotel rooms.</p> <p><strong>Not taking advantage of room service</strong></p> <p>You might skip room service at a normal hotel because of the price, but room service is one of the areas where all-inclusive resorts really shine. At most resorts, you can order anything off the menu 24/7 and have it delivered to your room for no extra charge. (Some items or services may incur an extra fee, like special meals, off-hours delivery or alcohol.) This is a huge bonus for families with young kids or people who like to have breakfast in bed.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to do instead</em></span>: check with the resort before arrival, since what’s included in room service varies. One etiquette-based resort tip, though: while tipping isn’t necessary, if you do order room service in the middle of the night, consider tipping the staff a few dollars when they bring it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/ive-worked-at-an-all-inclusive-resort-for-10-years-these-are-19-mistakes-every-traveller-should-avoid?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em> </p>

Travel Tips

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6 blow-drying mistakes everyone makes

<p>If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t manage to make your blow dry look as good or last as long as the professionals, it’s probably down to your technique. While taking to your hair with your dryer and hoping for the best may be the easiest way to blow dry, you’ll rarely get the kind of results you’re hoping for. Here are the most common mistakes us amateurs make and how to correct them.</p> <p><strong>1. Using the wrong type of hair dryer</strong></p> <p>These days the shelves are heaving under the weight of all the different types of blow dryers on the market. The best ones to look for are those that dry hair the fastest while also being as gentle as possible. Ionic, ceramic and tourmaline hair</p> <p><strong>2. Forgetting to use attachments</strong></p> <p>If you’ve discarded the attachments that came with your dryer to the bottom of the bathroom cupboard now may be the time to pull them out. A diffuser is great for defining curls and waves while the concentrator nozzle can help with that super straight result.</p> <p><strong>3. Not knowing your angles</strong></p> <p>Not holding your dryer at the right angle and/or pointing it at your hair and holding on the one spot are both key mistakes that result in frizz and damage. Your dryer should be constantly moving and your dryer horizontal.</p> <p><strong>4. Using the wrong heat setting</strong></p> <p>Most dryers have a variety of heat settings. While selecting the hottest is tempting, it’s not going to do great things for hair that isn’t extremely thick and/or coarse. Medium to mid high is generally the best for normal, damp hair while lower settings are great for fragile or very damaged locks.</p> <p><strong>5. Forgetting to use heat protectant</strong></p> <p>Heat protectant serums, sprays and lotions should always be used before heat styling to minimise damage and maximize results.</p> <p><strong>6. Choosing the wrong hairbrush</strong></p> <p>Metal based brushes have been popular for a while now due to their promises of super quick results. Unfortunately they aren’t the best for your hair, leaving it very hot and prone to damage. Look for a round brush with a mix of nylon and boar bristles for best results.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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5 money mistakes that drive experts crazy and what to do instead

<p>Cost of living has hit us hard across the board, from interest rate rises through to inflation increasing the price of a weekly shop along with a range of goods and services. As a financial planner, I spend a lot of my time talking to clients about how to get the most value from their earnings. No matter the income level, there’s often key money mistakes people make that can have a real impact on their financial life in addition to the cost of living pressures. In good news, these can easily be fixed once you start paying attention to them. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common and how to solve them.</p> <p><strong>Thinking too short term</strong></p> <p>People generally spend more time on planning their holidays than to planning their financial lives. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking to short-term. If we get paid weekly or fortnightly or monthly we tend to think about planning and spending in the same timeframe. There is real benefit though too having some medium and long term planning. Medium term planning is especially important for paying off debts and savings goals. Long term planning is especially important for your retirement planning including your superannuation and even paying off a home loan. </p> <p>So spend some time thinking about your medium and long term goals too. The average weekly wage in Australia is $1,769.80 per week.  Over 12 months that is $92,029.60. Over a 45 year working life that amount is over $4.1 million. That’s a lot of income! Respect your earnings and make a plan to make the most of it, not only in the short term, but the medium and long term too. </p> <p><strong>Not paying attention to your spending</strong></p> <p>As a financial planner I’ve genuinely lost count of the number of clients I’ve had sitting across the desk from me who earn great money but don't know where a great deal if it goes. They earn a good wage and they have a sense that things are going OK, because they think too short term. They also don’t pay attention to their spending. As a result they miss out on medium and long-term opportunities to make the most of their earnings. Paying attention to your spending doesn't mean that you have to give up the things you love for example a morning coffee on your way to work either. </p> <p>Paying attention to your spending is not like being on a diet. It’s not about going without. It’s about making sure when you do spend your hard earned money you shop around to try and get the best value you can. Credit cards, loans, car insurance, mobile phones, electricity bills and health insurance are all regular expenses most people have. They should however never be set and forget. Find better value and pay attention to your spending. It will give you the opportunity to save and invest more and achieve your goals sooner.</p> <p><strong>Being uninterested in interest rates</strong></p> <p>Ask anyone with a home loan right now and they will tell you about the impact of rising interest rates on their life. Interest is the cost of money. If you’re a lender, it’s what you pay for borrowing money. It might be a short-term loan like a credit card, a medium-term loan like a personal loan for a car, or a long-term loan to help you buy a mortgage. If you’re an investor interest also matters. Let’s say you’ve saved $50,000 and were getting a 4% return, that’s an extra $2,000 a year on top of your current wage or salary. I’m sure there’s lots you could do with that money.</p> <p>Regardless if you’re a borrower or an investor, the interest rate you’re paying or earning matters. Over time, interest adds up. Over 5 years, for example, that $2,000 becomes $10,000, plus there’s interest earned on the interest too. If you’ve got debt pay it back as quickly as you can comfortably afford to. And if you’re about to get a debt, factor in a few additional interest rate rises. It is really important to make sure you stress-test your ability to pay back the loan under higher interest rates. </p> <p><strong>Not keeping it real</strong></p> <p>Most things we do in life have a financial consequence and it’s important to keep it real. I spend a great of my time as a financial planner asking people what really matters to them. Is life really about showing off to family and friends new purchases on Instagram? Probably not. Having a focus on your own goals makes a world of difference. It provides you with something that can drive you forward. One of the real dangers of the social media world we live in today, especially for younger Australians is the desire to keep up with their friends. What they often don’t see is the financial stress their friends are putting themselves under to have everything right now or the difficult conversations behind closed doors about how to keep it going or reduce the financial stress they’re not telling you about.</p> <p>Your only obligation in your adult financial life is to yourself, your spouse and your kids if you have them. Being overconfident is just as dangerous for your financial health as being too under confident in your financial life. Being overconfident may make you take too much risk. Being too conservative might mean you miss out on opportunities. At the end of the day you need to find the right balance for you and make sure the goals you set and the financial decisions you make are within your own comfort zone. </p> <p><strong>Forgetting to reward and celebrate success along the way</strong></p> <p>If you’re going to set yourself some medium and long-term goals, pay attention to your spending and interest rates as well as keeping it real, then you also need to reward yourself along the way. Rewarding yourself for achieving goals makes setting goals much easier. And if you’ve got medium and long term goals like paying off a car loan, paying down the mortgage or saving into super for your retirement, celebrate key milestones. For example it might be going out for a nice dinner or getting concert tickets for every $25,000 that’s saved into super or paid off a home loan.</p> <p>Your financial life done well shouldn’t be a chore or a bore. If it is you’re doing it wrong. Spend some time and energy to rethink your financial life, learn more about how money works and go forward more confidently to achieve your goals. </p> <p><strong><em>Luke Smith is a licensed Australian financial planner and author of the new book, Smart Money Strategy – Your Ultimate Guide to Financial Planning (Wiley, $34.95), published by Wiley. Luke is also the host of the popular podcast ‘The Strategy Stacker – Luke Talks Money’ and appears every Friday afternoon on Canberra’s 2CC. Find out more at <a href="http://www.thestrategystacker.com.au">www.thestrategystacker.com.au</a></em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Stop making these 5 living room mistakes

<p dir="ltr">A living room should be a welcoming place to entertain guests and a space where you can go to unwind.</p> <p dir="ltr">Creating a comfortable and stylish living room doesn’t have to involve any manual labour or cost a fortune, a few simple tweaks can make a world of difference.</p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>1. Furniture placement</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">If you tend to push furniture up against all the walls of your living room, you’re making it look smaller rather than larger.</p> <p dir="ltr">Give the room the illusion of more space by pulling furniture away from the walls. </p> <p dir="ltr">Plan your living room around the scale of the room, it will open it up and become a place you’ll never want to leave!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Too much clutter</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Clutter makes a house a home but storage is key when it comes to keeping a tidy living room.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pack away what you can to keep your tables relatively tidy. </p> <p dir="ltr">Arrange flowers, books, candles or house plants however you like to create an inviting atmosphere.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. TV placement</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The optimal place for your TV to sit is on a blank wall that doesn’t block window light.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you can, mount your TV on the wall for a cleaner look, otherwise have an appropriately sized TV unit to put it on.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Using the wrong rugs</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Rugs are a must for a stylish living room but they need to look like they belong!</p> <p dir="ltr">Small rugs can imbalance the room, so go for a big rug your furniture can sit on top of.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Lack of colour</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Many living rooms lack colour, not just the walls, but the lack of artwork, rugs and cushions. </p> <p dir="ltr">Bright pieces add life to a room. Hang artwork, get colourful pillows, plants, or other clutter to spruce up the room - just not too much! </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Home & Garden

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How the brain stops us learning from our mistakes – and what to do about it

<p>You learn from your mistakes. At least, most of us have been told so. But science shows that we often fail to learn from past errors. Instead, we are likely to keep repeating the same mistakes.</p> <p>What do I mean by mistakes here? I think we would all agree that we quickly learn that if we put our hand on a hot stove, for instance, we get burned, and so are unlikely to repeat this mistake again. That’s because our brains create a threat-response to the physically painful stimuli based on past experiences. But when it comes to thinking, behavioural patterns and decision making, we often repeat mistakes – such as being late for appointments, leaving tasks until the last moment or judging people based on first impressions.</p> <p>The reason can be found in the way our brain processes information and creates templates that we refer to again and again. These templates are essentially shortcuts, which help us make decisions in the real world. But these shortcuts, known as heuristics, can also make us repeat our errors.</p> <p>As I discuss in my book <a href="https://www.drpragyaagarwal.co.uk/sway-press">Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias</a>, humans are not naturally rational, even though we would like to believe that we are. Information overload is exhausting and confusing, so we filter out the noise.</p> <p>We only see parts of the world. We tend to notice things that are repeating, whether there are any patterns or not, and we tend to preserve memory by generalising and resorting to type. We also draw conclusions from sparse data and use cognitive shortcuts to create a version of reality that we implicitly want to believe in. This creates a reduced stream of incoming information, which helps us connect dots and fill in gaps with stuff we already know.</p> <p>Ultimately, our brains are lazy and it takes a lot of cognitive effort to change the script and these shortcuts that we have already built up. And so we are more likely to fall back on the same patterns of behaviours and actions, even when we are conscious of repeating our mistakes. This is called confirmation bias – our tendency to confirm what we already believe in, rather than shift our mindset to incorporate new information and ideas.</p> <p>We also often deploy “<a href="https://theconversation.com/is-it-rational-to-trust-your-gut-feelings-a-neuroscientist-explains-95086">gut instinct</a>” - an automatic, subconscious type of thinking that draws on our accumulation of past experiences while making judgements and decisions in new situations.</p> <p>Sometimes we stick with certain behaviour patterns, and repeat our mistakes because of an “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292121002786">ego effect</a>” that compels us to stick with our existing beliefs. We are likely to selectively choose the information structures and feedback that help us protect our egos.</p> <p>One experiment found that when people were reminded of their successes of the past, they were more likely to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1057740815000728">repeat those successful behaviours</a>. But when they were conscious of or actively made aware of their failures from the past, they were less likely to overturn the pattern of behaviour that led to failure. So people were in fact still likely to repeat that behaviour.</p> <p>That’s because, when we think of our past failures, we are likely to feel down. And in those moments, we are more likely to indulge in behaviour that makes us feel comfortable and familiar. Even when we think carefully and slowly, our brains have a bias towards the information and templates we had used in the past, regardless of whether these resulted in errors. This is called the <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/mind-my-money/200807/familiarity-bias-part-i-what-is-it">familiarity bias</a>.</p> <p>We can learn from mistakes though. In one experiment, monkeys and humans had to watch noisy, moving dots on a screen and judge their net direction of movement. The researchers found that both slowed down after an error. The larger the error, the longer the post-error slowing, showing more information was being accumulated. However, the quality of this information <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/809286">was low</a>. Our cognitive shortcuts can force us to override any new information that could help prevent repeating mistakes.</p> <p>In fact, if we make mistakes while performing a certain task, “frequency bias” makes us likely to repeat them whenever we do the task again. Simplistically speaking, our brains start assuming that the errors we’ve previously made are the correct way to perform a task – creating a habitual <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/pbr.15.1.156">“mistake pathway”</a>. So the more we repeat the same tasks, the more likely we are to traverse the mistake pathway, until it becomes so deeply embedded that it becomes a set of permanent cognitive shortcuts in our brains.</p> <p><strong>Cognitive control</strong></p> <p>It sounds bleak, so what can be done?</p> <p>We do have a mental ability that can override heuristic shortcuts, known as “cognitive control”. And there are some <a href="https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(21)00075-1">recent studies in neuroscience with mice</a> that are giving us a better idea of what parts of our brains are involved in that.</p> <p>Researchers have also <a href="https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(18)31007-9">identified two brain regions</a> with “self-error monitoring neurons” – brain cells which monitor errors. These areas are in the frontal cortex and appear to be part of a sequence of processing steps – from refocusing to learning from our mistakes.</p> <p>Researchers are exploring whether a better understanding of this could help with development of better treatments and support for Alzheimer’s, for example, as preserved cognitive control is crucial for <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2020.00198/full">wellbeing in later life</a>.</p> <p>But even if we don’t have a perfect understanding of the brain processes involved in cognitive control and self-correction, there are simpler things we can do.</p> <p>One is to become more comfortable with making mistakes. We might think that this is the wrong attitude towards failures, but it is in fact a more positive way forward. Our society denigrates failures and mistakes, and consequently we are likely to feel shame for our mistakes, and try and hide them.</p> <p>The more guilty and ashamed we feel, and the more we try and hide our mistakes from others, the more likely we are to repeat them. When we not feeling so down about ourselves, we are more likely to be better at taking on new information that can help us correct our mistakes.</p> <p>It can also be a good idea to take a break from performing a task that we want to learn how to do better. Acknowledging our failures and pausing to consider them can help us reduce frequency bias, which will make us less likely to repeat our mistakes and reinforce the mistake pathways.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-brain-stops-us-learning-from-our-mistakes-and-what-to-do-about-it-203436" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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8 common mistakes that spoil holidays

<p>Some people are so quick to forget they’re actually on holidays. From a bad attitude to trying to make everyone happy it's easy how quickly a holiday can turn into a horror story. Nip these mistakes in the bud and you can be sure you'll enjoy your break.</p> <p><strong>1. Packing a bad attitude</strong></p> <p>From jetlag to language barriers, lost luggage, food sickness and price gouging, elements of travelling that can be tough. But don't let this affect their mood. Remember, travel is supposed to be an experience that challenges you.</p> <p><strong>2. Being cheap</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it makes sense to scrimp, but ultimately you have to remember that you’re on holiday. If you’re going to save a few hours by taking a cab you should book it. Miserliness can waste time, inject bad attitudes and breed resentment.</p> <p><strong>3. Trying to cram everything in</strong></p> <p>It’s impossible to see everything in the world and sometimes over planning means you’re restricted to a tight schedule. Scrutinise your itinerary and make sure you only dedicate time to the things you really want to see.</p> <p><strong>4. Obsessing over your smartphone</strong>  </p> <p>These handy little devices have made many of the process of travel much more convenient, but they also take away some of the wonder of going abroad. So don’t be afraid to pocket the iPhone every now and then and take a little bit of time to smell the roses.</p> <p><strong>5. Not eating local</strong></p> <p>Sure, there’s something to be said for the convenience of a Starbucks on the other side of the world that sells the same thing as the one on your road, but when you’re abroad take the time to sample local foods and drinks.</p> <p><strong>6. Only talking about yourself</strong></p> <p>The great thing about travel is the opportunity to meet people on the other side of the world, but if you’re only talking about yourself you’re not going to learn anything. Make sure you take time to ask questions, lean in and learn.</p> <p><strong>7. Going too wild</strong></p> <p>You only live once, but sometimes people who are travelling take this mantra way too far and push the boundaries beyond what makes sense. Do as much as you can when you’re overseas, but by the same token don't go too wild and exercise your best decision making.</p> <p><strong>8. Making everyone else happy</strong></p> <p>This is the easiest way to ruin a holiday. While it's nice to make everyone on your holiday as happy as possible, in the end of the day you're the one who purchased your plane ticket, so make sure the experience is what you want it to be.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Cooking mistakes that are making your food unhealthy

<p><strong>Boiling your veggies</strong></p> <p>A review published in the <em>International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science</em> in 2016 showed that boiling vegetables resulted in a high loss of vitamin C and folate. One study found that broccoli, for example, lost about 33 per cent of its vitamin C. “Water-soluble vitamins leach out,” says Nishta Saxena, a registered dietitian. “If you’re not using the fluids in something like a soup, you’re missing out on nutrients.”</p> <p><strong>Rinsing raw chicken</strong></p> <p>While your favourite old cookbooks likely tell you to rinse a chicken before roasting, this outdated advice is a safety hazard. Running poultry under the tap may remove some of the bacteria (including salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and fever), but it’s also likely to transfer it around your kitchen –as far as nearly one metre from the sink, according to research from Drexel University in Philadelphia. “Droplets can spread from your hands to counter­tops and even onto the floor, which can be a concern, especially if you have small children,” says Saxena. To stay safe, skip the rinse and wash your hands thoroughly after you’re finished prepping your bird.</p> <p><strong>Removing skins from produce</strong></p> <p>Peeling your produce rids your food of an important layer of nutrients. “Significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre are found in the skins,” says Liz Powell, a registered dietitian. Researchers at the University of Maine estimate that the skins of potatoes, for example, contain 10 to 12 times more antioxidants than the flesh. Peeling fruits and vegetables also strips away a dose of insoluble fibre, which is crucial for digestion and bowel function. Concern about herbicide or pesticide residue isn’t a good enough reason to forego the peelings, says Powell. Washing your fresh produce will remove some pesticide residues from the surface, she says. You can also opt for organic varieties of heavily sprayed produce, such as peaches.</p> <p><strong>Blending everything</strong></p> <p>A smoothie is a smart way to sneak in some greens (and down your breakfast in a hurry), but liquid meals tend to be unbalanced. They’re often lacking in protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates. These components work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied, Powell says. “Without them, it’s not really a balanced meal.” Powell recommends adding a scoop of yoghurt or protein powder and part of an avocado or a spoonful of hemp hearts for protein and fat. To sneak in a complex carb, you can add some oats to the blender or have a piece of wholegrain toast on the side, she says.</p> <p><strong>Overdressing salads</strong></p> <p>“Salads have this health halo – we think we can add anything to them and they’ll still be a nutritious choice, but it’s just not true,” says Saxena. “If you’re topping your bowl with dried cranberries, candied pecans and a sweet goat cheese, you’ve easily added 30 grams of sugar to your so-called healthy lunch.” Chopped, raw nuts and seeds are better options to beef up the flavour profile of your greens. Oil-based dressings also tend to be more nutritious than their creamy counterparts.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/cooking-mistakes-that-are-making-your-food-unhealthy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a></em>. </p>

Home Hints & Tips

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8 hair-dyeing mistakes that are more common than you’d think

<p>To get your dream hair colour, there are a few hair-dyeing mistakes you should avoid at all costs.</p> <p><strong>1. Trying to fix a mistake on your own –</strong> If you’ve recently dyed your hair at home to disastrous results, trying to fix it on your own will only make matters worse. If using a hair stripping solution doesn’t work, quit while you’re behind and go see a professional colourist. It’s what they do.</p> <p><strong>2. Going too dark or too light -</strong> As a general rule, you should never dye your hair any darker or lighter than two shades away from your natural eyebrow colour. Going too dark or too light can look obviously unnatural and will wash out your complexion.</p> <p><strong>3. Bleaching at home –</strong> If you’re trying to lighten your hair, especially from a darker colour, going to your colourist is your best bet. Bleaching your hair is tricky, and you could end up with a brassy colour – or worse – if you don’t know what you’re doing. Bleach is also incredibly damaging to your strands, and your colourist can help ensure minimal damage.</p> <p><strong>4. Not being honest –</strong> If you’re getting your hair done in the salon, make sure you’re honest about your hair colouring history to your colourist. When you apply any colour or treatment to your hair, even if it seems long gone to you, it could remain in your strands and affect the colouring process, altering your results.</p> <p><strong>5. Not speaking up –</strong> A little utilised fact: if you’re not happy with your in-salon hair-do, most hairdressers will fix the mishap free of charge to your satisfaction. They would much rather you leave the salon feeling happy and confident, and, we expect, so would you.</p> <p><strong>6. Trying extreme colours –</strong> For some, extreme hair colours are part of their everyday style, and it works. For the rest of us, super unnatural colours or chunky highlights will only make the wearer look like they’re trying too hard to remain current, instead of embracing ageing hair with grace.</p> <p><strong>7. Dyeing damaged hair –</strong> As your hair ages, it becomes more fragile and dry. If your strands are more straw than silk, take a break from the dye and consult a professional before moving forward with anymore colour changes.</p> <p><strong>8. Not maintaining your colour –</strong> So you spent a lot of time and money getting your hair to the shade you want, so now you can finally relax and enjoy it, right? Well, no. If you put effort into getting your hair to a certain shade, you should put the same effort into maintaining it by using colour-saving and/or toning shampoos specific to your shade and keeping your hair well hydrated.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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