YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR PANEL OF TRAVEL EXPERTS

How to keep Toby safe from rabies

We want to spend a few months caravanning around southern Europe this winter with our dog, Toby. But how serious is the risk of his catching rabies? How can we ensure that he doesn't pick anything up?

James Dillon

Maidstone

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: Rabies can be contracted from a bite or scratch from mammals in many countries of the world. It is obviously important to keep Toby away from any wild animals, particularly foxes, which are a major source of the disease.

Apart from the UK, there are several countries in Europe where there is said to be "no risk" of contracting rabies. These include much, but not all, of mainland Spain and Italy. France is considered to be low risk; much progress has been made towards eradicating rabies in foxes by a programme of vaccination with treated bait.

Anyone who receives a bite or scratch from an animal in a rabies endemic area should seek medical advice, whether or not pre-exposure vaccination has been given. It is also important to wash thoroughly any bite and then ideally irrigate the wound with an iodine containing disinfectant.

If you are considering taking your pet to mainland Europe, have you thought carefully about the quarantine restrictions imposed when re-entering the UK?

Dr Larry Goodyer is the superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8; tel: 0181-889 7014). Contact the travel medicine helpline on 0891 633414 (calls cost 50p per minute).

Have a good time being one of the crowd

I shall be spending four nights in Chiang Mai in November. What can you suggest for a woman on her own to do? I would welcome some company, especially in the evening. Sadly, I am beyond spending the evening with young backpackers, fun as they are.

C Matthews

Sunderland

The travel editor replies: Chiang Mai is not a small city but it is largely devoid of the urban hassle which afflicts Bangkok. It is a quiet, friendly, laid-back place where making contact with local people is very easy indeed.

In the evening, one sociable experience is simply to join the crowds exploring the huge Night Bazaar on Chang Khlan Road, which contains endless stalls selling crafts, clothing and ethnic cuisine. If you want somebody to have meals with, an excellent idea is to approach any of the numerous local tour operators (your hotel will have one) who can supply you with an English-speaking local guide. These are often students earning cash in their spare time and are delightful company.

You are unlikely to be short of entertainment in the evening in Chiang Mai. There are numerous traditional cultural performances taking place at various venues around the city, including dance shows at the Chiang Mai Cultural Centre in which members of the audience are invited to participate.

Most of this is fairly touristy. Chiang Mai has a large American expat population, as well as big, flashy American hotels hosting "cultural" events for tourists. But if you want to delve a little deeper, why not try an activity such as traditional Thai massage or cookery? The Institute of Thai Massage (tel: 00 66 53 218632) and the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School (tel: 00 66 53 206388) both provide short courses for tourists.

Incidentally, if you will be in town between 2-4 November you will be able to enjoy the spectacle of the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, in which floats carrying hundreds of candles are set adrift on the river under the full moon. There will also be float contests, Lanna-style hot air balloons ("Lanna" refers to a period of Thai history which spawned much notable architecture), as well as a Thai-style beauty contest, which is a spectacle not to be missed ( the girls appear being carried in high, golden litters rather than in skimpy bikinis). For further information, including leaflets and brochures, call the Thai tourist board (tel: 0171-499 7679).

When is a rucksack not a rucksack? When it's a travelbag

I am used to going backpacking, but I am planning a six-month journey around Europe, and I'd rather like to carry my luggage in something a bit more suitable for general travelling, but still on my back. Any suggestions?

Sarah Fisher

Surrey

Clive Tully replies: Providing you are of average fitness, I reckon your back is the most logical place to carry your luggage. It keeps your hands free for proffering tickets and passports when required, and it enables you to fend off over-friendly souvenir sellers, children - and cattle. None of that arm-stretching business with suitcases, or badly designed wheeled luggage teetering along uneven pavements or airport concourses.

But the rucksack does have its disadvantages. Unless you are careful about how you secure the harness, it can end up getting caught up and damaged while travelling through airport baggage systems, and the fact that the average backpacking rucksack is top-loading means it is more likely that you will have to unpack it completely to get at something near the bottom.

The answer is a convertible travel bag - essentially a smart piece of soft luggage, but with a full rucksack harness concealed beneath a zipped panel on the back. Most convertibles are panel-loading, so with the bag lying on its back, the front panel will unzip to give you full suitcase- type access to your belongings. There will be a padded soft handle on the side, and possibly the top, to enable you to carry it suitcase style - handy when you are checking in to posh hotels - while the full harness of shoulder straps and hip belt are there for when you need to get a move on, or you are spending more time on your feet.

Convertible travel bags vary in design, depending on whether they are intended mainly as a trekking bag - more like a rucksack with a main compartment and separate one at the bottom for your sleeping bag, but capable of hiding its harness; or more like a soft suitcase which is capable of turning into a rucksack.

Whichever design you go for, one important feature, which should be common to both, is side compression straps, which enable you to take up any excess volume inside the bag and stop the contents slopping about - important for stability when it's on your back.

The following companies all make good convertible travel bags: Berghaus (tel: 0191-415 0200); Karrimor (tel: 01254 893000); Jack Wolfskin (tel: 01275 472815); Lowe Alpine (tel: 01539 740840); Wynnster (tel: 01372 377713).

Clive Tully is one of Britain's leading commentators on clothing and equipment for walking, trekking and backpacking. He is editor of 'TrailWalk', an online magazine devoted to the subject. The 'TrailWalk' website is at http://www.trailwalk.com.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Recruitment Genius: HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver / CPC and HIAB Training Provider

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver is required t...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum