Travel Writer Helen Oon Explains Why Packing Travel Bags is an Art

Traveler Helen Oon

I am Helen Oon, travel writer, columnist, blogger, foodie, animal lover and bon vivant. I have a travel and lifestyle blog, My Faces and Places, which I co-blog with my husband, Michael Oon. Our target audience is baby boomers who are time and cash rich to indulge in travelling in comfort and luxury enjoying soft adventures with culture, heritage, history, cuisine and educational and enlightening experiences.

My home country is Malaysia but I have been living in England for over 40 years, so this is my home. Michael is from Singapore originally and has been in UK for over 50 years. We love historical and heritage sites and nature, so we tend to travel to places that offer such attractions. We are foodies and enjoying cuisine from different culture is our passion. And we love train journeys!

I love animals and nature and my greatest joy is to observe wildlife in a natural environment and visiting places of outstanding sceneries. I find the beauty of Mother Nature soul-soothing and therapeutic.

Some people may not agree but I think animals should be treated with kindness and accord the same respect as humans for they are sentient beings like us who have feelings and souls.

Traveler Helen Oon

How and why did you get into traveling?

Travel has always been in my blood since I was a child. My favourite past time in my childhood was to read up on fascinating places in the world and looked them up in the Atlas and visualized that I would visit them one day. When I left school, I joined a travel agency and totally caught the travel bug and had been smitten since then. My career as a travel consultant was my pleasure. I have travelled the world; flown on the Concorde; travelled on epic luxury train journeys such as the Eastern & Oriental Express in Malaysia and Thailand; Deccan Odyssey in India and the Ghan in Australia and stayed in some amazing hotels and resorts.

Now as a travel writer and blogger, my work is still my pleasure. We have been to wonderful places in the world notably the less touristy part of the Great Wall of China; the hauntingly beautiful Taj Mahal; the Great Pyramid of Giza, Tutankhamun Tomb and other wondrous archaeological sites of Egypt (I love Egyptology); hike to the sacred Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, did the BridgeClimb in Sydney Harbour Bridge and many other memorable experiences.

As for prepration, we always do some research on countries we are visiting. Aside from researching the main attractions of a country, always check out the ‘Dos and Don’ts” and learn about the local custom and culture to avoid misunderstanding or offending the locals. We don’t indulge in high adventure or extreme sports in our senior years so we don’t need to prepare for extra fitness. Always travel with an open mind and a quest for knowledge and respect for other cultures.

Traveler Helen Oon

How do you finance your travels?

We finance our own travel and sometimes through collaboration with tourism boards, airlines, tour operators and hotels depending on our assignments and commissions from them. Travelling costs depend on destinations and length of travel. We don’t believe in splashing out on expensive or flashy gears that will only attract thefts and envy. We prefer to prioritize our budget on the travel itself.

Why is traveling important for you?

Travelling is one of the most important things in life. It educates you and opens your mind. The world would be a better place if we learn and understand the cultures and heritage of other countries to broaden our horizon and make us more tolerant and compassionate human beings. Be a traveller not a tourist.

Traveler Helen Oon

How do you bring your things with you?

Packing is an art. It requires discipline and careful management to decide what to bring, taking into consideration the destination, type of adventure, climate, length of travel and luggage allowance of the airline. Most all, never carry more bags than you could physically carry. Our rule of thumb is one check-in bag and one cabin bag each so it is manageable on the journey. We have one trusted large and one medium size Samsonite bags with hard back to protect our belongings and two small cabin bags. For clothes, be your own stylist and work out your wardrobe depending on your destinations. In hot countries always pack clothes with natural fibre such as cotton, linen or silk as they are cooler and most of all wear comfortable shoes.

Samsonite is a trusted brand, it is tough and practical and we like the design. And it is not flashy.

Traveler Helen Oon

How do you organize things in your bags?

One of the best space saving methods in packing is to fold your clothes into tight rolls and tuck them in the bag neatly. They are also less creased when rolled up. Shoes and toiletries should be packed at the corner of the bags to utilize the space more efficiently. It works for us.

Also, having waterproof/water resistant bags is very important. It is common sense.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

We are happy with our Samsonite bags. They are spacious, hardy and light. We are happy with our present gears but never say never if a better model or brand catches our eyes.

Traveler Helen Oon

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

We try not to over pack. We find it is always useful if you unpack all the things you need in the hotel and not live out of a suitcase. The most important thing that everybody should bring when you travel is a sense of adventure and humour!

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

I love my Wenger Swiss Gear rucksack. It is spacious, light and have lots of compartments to take in quite a lot of stuff for cabin bag. It is also quite handy as a footrest in the aircraft.

Traveler Helen Oon

What is your best advice for other travelers?

Never flaunt your valuables in public; keep your passport and other valuables in the hotel safe if there is one; be vigilant and stay in safe areas of the city; be wary of scams and be alert of your surroundings. Don’t just dream about travelling, just book it and get on with it.

Traveler Helen Oon

What will the future bring?

We are constantly travelling as our work is our pleasure.

Visit Helen Oon on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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