“Every question is a cry to understand the world,” wrote the American astronomer Carl Sagan. Armed with that empathetic attitude, we picked three questions from people travelling with our friends at TripADeal and did our darndest to help.

Q. Doing some research before our trip to Japan and I read that they consider tipping to be rude. Is this true?

A. Yep, unlike a lot of other countries, where good service is driven by the potential of a little extra cash, the Japanese consider good service to be standard. Not only do Japanese believe tipping is unnecessary, but most of them would be offended by the gesture. Having said that, locals working in the tourism trade are used to accepting tokens of appreciation from visitors. In fact, it’s a prerequisite to tip tour guides $10 per day. If you feel compelled to gift anyone else some Yen, the proper etiquette is to place the money in a small envelope called a pochi bukuro before handing it over. This keeps the exchange discrete and saves the local from any embarrassment.

Q. Travelling to China in September and wondering what immunisation shots are required?

A. Officially none. While a small number of local bird flu cases continue to be diagnosed throughout China, they’re extremely rare and there’s no vaccine. The easiest way to prevent being exposed is to simply avoid coming into contact with any live poultry and do just like your mum said and practice good hand hygiene.

Q. Why is it necessary to pay a single supplement fee when a person travels on a tour by themselves?

A. When it comes to putting together any tour, one of the best ways to keep the cost down for everyone is to price all the accommodation on a twin-share basis. For people travelling solo, this means having to pay extra, because you’re getting a whole room or cabin to yourself. Companies can’t sell half the space after all. One way around this is by finding a travel buddy using a Facebook page like this. Or you can just cough up the cash and enjoy the solitude (aka the luxury of being able to lie around in your underwear).

Image: Put your hands up if you’re happy to pay extra and get a double bed to yourself? 


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