Category Archives: Travel Tips

The World’s Most Amazing Creatures and Where to Find Them

With the brand new Harry Potter film hitting the screens, we thought we’d share this awesome infographic about weird and wonderful creatures that really do exist. If you’d like to check them out yourself on an adventure, we have also compiled a list of truly magical activities to look out for at each destination, to be revealed in our next blog!


View Interactive Version (via Pokies).

Travel Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make!

beach-image-by-unsplash-cc0

Beach image by Unsplash CC0

You can ruin a beautiful holiday fast by making some seriously rookie mistakes. Find out what NOT to do next time you go away.

Overpacking – It makes your bag heavy and difficult to carry around, it may put you over your weight allowance, costing you money. Worse than that, if your bag is full to the brim, how are you going to bring back any lovely new things from your travels?

Overspending – If you think sticking to a budget sucks, then you should adjust your perspective. Make fulfilling your itinerary a creative achievement with what you have and consider which money-saving tactics you are prepared to make for each activity. Are you prepared to forego a hotel for a few nights in a hostel so you can do that big adventure?

Not having any local currency – Turning up in a new town without a bit of cash can be super-embarrassing if your driver or porter is expecting a tip. Plus, using a local ATM might carry some hefty card charges. Make sure you get your currency at a good price before you set off, either at the airport or dedicated currency exchange centre.

Having too much local currency – Not only can it be difficult taking a large amount of cash through customs, you don’t want to have “all your eggs in one basket”. Take enough money for the first couple of days – not for the duration of your stay! Pre-paid currency cards such as fairfx.com are a secure way to ensure you have all the money you need, but still make sure you have some loose cash when you travel.

Not getting travel insurance – Too many travellers seem to think that they just don’t need it, especially if they have an EHIC. The cost of medical treatment or repatriation to your home country is far higher than you might think, and you will HAVE to cover the costs yourself if you don’t have insurance. The financial implications of lost luggage and missed or cancelled flights is a minor inconvenience by comparison.

Forgetting to check visa requirements – You don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. Not many situations are much more frustrating than getting to your destination and being refused entry, so make sure you check the entry requirements for your visa. This can include having a certain number of months left on your passport, having a flight out of the country booked, an address that you will be staying at, ensuring that you have had the correct immunisations, or even that you haven’t just travelled from a certain country!

Being culturally insensitive – It isn’t just impolite, it could land you in jail! Here are some examples of how you could innocently cause offense abroad:

  • Sipping your vodka in Russia
  • Not eating enough in Greece
  • Crossing your chopsticks in Asia
  • Showing the soles of your feet in Africa
  • Giving a “thumbs up” in the Middle East
  • Wearing yellow in Malaysia

Not making copies of important documents – Either scan your documents, or take a picture. You don’t need to carry around hardcopies of your insurance, passport and travel information, but do make sure it can be accessed easily online if you need, or leave with a friend/family member back home in case of emergency.

Not checking ALL your booking details, and passport! – Turning up at the wrong airport, finding out that your passport has expired, and even getting your dates of travel wrong are all entirely possible if you are not paying enough attention. So check all your booking information thoroughly, and check again. You should also pay attention to changes in time zones if you are taking more than one flight – is it actually possible to get from A to B in the time you have?

Trying to fit too much in – Overstretching yourself with a loaded itinerary can actually be a miserable experience, so factor in some rest days in between your adventures, and for the last couple of days of your holiday. This way if you have the energy to do more, you can add a little something in rather than feeling bad (and possibly losing money) by bailing out because you are exhausted.

How To Sleep Well In An Airport

airport-image-by-ladydisdain-cc0

Airport Image by LadyDisdain CC0

A delayed flight, a layover, or an unsociably early landing are all valid reasons for needing some shut-eye at an airport – but it’s not as easy as it sounds to get a rest while waiting. Here’s what you need to know…

Understand that not all airports are sleeper-friendly. In fact, some airports may well march you out under armed guard if they find you kipping without a valid flight ticket. Check out how sleeper-friendly your destinations are before you travel!

Remember that security guards will expect travellers to have booked nearby accommodation if there is a wait between flights, or arranged transport even if it is 2am. Believe it or not, sleeping in the airport lounge isn’t part of the ticket price, so don’t waltz around like the cat that got the cream (or the traveller who got a free bed for the night).

Be prepared to answer questions about where you have come from, where you are going and be ready to show your (valid) ticket. Being polite and cooperative will get you a long way in this situation! Once you have had a chat with security, it’s unlikely they will bother you again.

Pack these few things to ensure that you get something near a decent sleep:

  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs
  • Inflatable pillow and a blanket
  • A cheap lilo

Some airports have provisions for stranded passengers, such as pop-up beds, blankets and pillows. If you have been blessed with the gift of the gab, you might be able to sweet talk someone into letting you use the facilities even if there aren’t big issues with delays.

Think about your personal security. Don’t sleep in secluded spots, don’t sleep near people that you feel unsure about, and be careful with your belongings:

  • Use your bags as a pillow/mattress/teddybear – this makes it harder for someone to try and move it without you noticing.
  • Place bag opening to the floor/wall/ towards you – again making access more difficult.
  • Wrap bag straps around your arms and legs, making them more difficult to remove.

Remember to get travel insurance – it could help you out of a sticky situation if you miss a flight or your flight is delayed!

3 Of The Best Airports To Be Stuck At

There is something special and somewhat surreal about the atmosphere at an airport, but some are definitely more of a pleasure than others. We reveal three of the best airports in the world – the kind you would wish you were in if you were stranded!

Changi Airport, Singapore

Changi Airport, Singapore by cegoh CC0

Changi Airport, Singapore by cegoh CC0

This place is more like a leisure complex than an airport, combined with an art gallery and possibly the Eden Project in the UK. In fact, it is a destination in itself! Here are a few of the things that make it the perfect place to while away some hours…

  • You can go on a nature trail in the butterfly garden
  • Try out 12m long airport slide
  • View international works of art, sculpture and installation
  • Have spa treatments
  • Go shopping for designer goods
  • Explore the interactive enchanted garden
  • Visit the airport zoo
  • Stay in a luxury hotel without checking out
  • Swim in the rooftop pool
  • Go to the movies

Incheon International Airport, Seoul

Incheon International Airport, Seoul by zionorbi CC2.0

Incheon International Airport, Seoul by zionorbi CC2.0

This airport has won awards for the last 11 years for it’s outstanding facilities, and for keeping passengers happy too. It’s super-spacious and offers travellers a lot of ways to pass the time…

  • Get your skates on at the ice rink
  • Go get rich in the casino
  • Improve your handicap at the golf course
  • Relax in the spa, bath or sauna
  • Catch some zzzzs in one of the sleeping rooms
  • Explore one of the many beautiful airport gardens
  • Brush up on your local knowledge at the museum

Munich Airport, Germany

Munich Airport by Alexas_Fotos CC0

Munich Airport by Alexas_Fotos CC0

This airport has been likened to a city centre thanks to its huge array of eateries, watering holes and shops. It is also one of the busiest airports in Europe, here’s what visitors get to experience…

  • Indulge in retail therapy in one of the 150+ shops
  • Eat and drink in any of the 50+ bars
  • Enjoy the atmosphere of a real German rooftop beer garden
  • Explore the in-house art gallery
  • Swim in a stainless steel pool
  • Visit the Audi showroom

Although these airports would seem like a great place to spend some holiday time, if your flight is delayed or cancelled it could cause havoc with more than just your holiday plans, it could affect your finances too. Travel insurance from WorldwideInsure.com provides the cover you need in the event that travel plans don’t go to plan – to find out more, get in touch with us on 01892 833338 or get a fast and free online quote.

 

How To Bag A Cheap Round The World Flight

Want to know how you can travel for as little as 94p (and avoid paying as much as £170) per 100km? We’ve discovered a super-clever aviation price index that will help you plan your travel itinerary in the most cost-effective way possible!

Image by Holgi, CC0

Image by Holgi, CC0

Did you know that hundreds of factors affect the price of flights? The price of oil, the route you choose, and even where in the world you are when you book your ticket online? There are many travellers that also think the time of day and day of week you search for flights affects the price too – but evidence for this is inconclusive. For anyone wanting to travel the world on a shoestring budget, deciphering all the variables to find the best priced flights could be a very lengthy task indeed – by which time prices would have changed anyway!

Cue the clever chaps and chapettes at Kiwi.com who have created an algorithm capable of combining flights from non-cooperating airlines onto a single itinerary, which has the pleasant result of being able to offer travellers significant savings!

That isn’t all their algorithm can do – it can also identify where in the world and on which type of flight you pay more for your travel. Here are the Top Ten Countries where you can find the CHEAPEST flights…

least expensive flights

Courtesy of at Kiwi.com

And the Top Ten Countries where you WILL PAY THE MOST

most expensive flights

Courtesy of at Kiwi.com

This means you can use the power of the aviation price index to inform your travel plans and help you see the world for far less than you probably thought. Perfect for round the world trips or for letting your budget dictate your travel adventures!

 

Road Trip 101 – Everything you need to know before you go!

Hitting the highway for your holiday? Make sure you read our awesome guide to planning a road trip!

Image by fancycrave1 CC0

Image by fancycrave1 CC0

We cover everything you need to know from what essentials to pack, planning your route and budgeting for fuel, food and fun – to information about vehicle hire, what transport to choose and the pros and cons of camping, caravanning, hotels, Airbnb and more! We’ve even got some handy hints on what NOT to do on a road trip too. To get you started, here are five great reasons you should make your next holiday a road trip…

Five Reasons You Should Go On A Road Trip:

  1. You get to see so much – being on the road means you get to see places you’d miss if simply travelling from A to B, take the scenic route wherever you go, and you’ll catch a whole heap more!
  2. It’s spontaneous – if you see something you can stop, you can detour and you can change your plans altogether… for the whole holiday!
  3. You get “together” time – whether you are going with your partner, your kids or your friends, being on a road trip leaves plenty of time to kick back, relax and chat on every journey you make.
  4. The playlist! – second only to the wedding playlist! The tunes you choose for your road trip will set the vibe for the whole journey and remind you of your awesome adventure for years to come.
  5. It feels like you have all the time in the world – the freedom of living life on the move can be truly liberating! As long as you have a very loose plan in place it doesn’t matter when you arrive at the next destination, or whether your next destination was part of the plan at all.

Planning Your Route

TomTom GO 5200 Sat Nav

The TomTom GO 5200 Sat Nav should stop any map reading disputes!

To plan or not to plan? Make a loose plan! Have a start and an end, tick off some places that you’d like to see in between and then see what fits into your timescale. It’s good to add a couple of days “spare” for unexpected adventures and detours.

Budget is an obvious factor in making that plan – more on that later, but before you decide what you think you’ll do, it’s good to have a rough idea of what you’d like to do, but not so tight that there isn’t room for plans to go awry!

How Our Scottish Road Trip Didn’t Go To Plan:

Day 1. Plan: Drive from Essex to Scottish border, stopping off in Lincolnshire to get side windows fitted to the camper. What actually happened is that our exhaust disintegrated just as we reached the fitters, they bodged a repair, we got as far as Rugby before it fell apart again and spent a few hours in a supermarket car park waiting for more help. By nightfall we had only got as far as Cumbria when bad weather hit, so we spent our first night in a service station car park already behind by a day according to our schedule.

If you are leaving the UK for your road trip adventure, then you may need to make some solid plans around ferries, trains or even fly drive holidays – especially if you are on a set budget.

The Mistakes We Made On Our French Road Trip:

Our planning for this trip was “loose”, and we didn’t have an “end” to our plan, apart from knowing we had to be back in the UK. In addition, because we would be slumming it in the back of our van, we allowed ourselves the luxury of a cabin on board the outbound ferry, with sea views. This combination made it one of our most expensive excursions to date! Here’s why…

  • A ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao with a large vehicle is expensive, even more so when you book an exterior cabin.
  • We didn’t think about taking our own food to our cabin, so had to fork out for high priced food and drink on board.
  • Without a set agenda, we didn’t really know where we would be heading, so only booked a ferry out, a return of some description would have saved quite a lot of money.
  • By the time we finally knew where we’d be in France close to the end of our trip (turns out it was St Malo), last minute ferry bookings were EXPENSIVE.

 

Useful Resources:

Book trains to Europe: Eurostar

Book Ferries to France and Spain: BrittanyFerries

Fly Drive worldwide: VirginFlyDrive and BritishAirwaysFlyDrive packages

To Hire or Not To Hire? The Car Rental Dilemma.

Image by Unsplash CC0

Can your vehicle cope with your chosen route? If not, you might need to hire or buy one that can! Image by Unsplash CC0.

Taking your own vehicle has its merits – you know it’s condition, can make sure that it is fully serviced before your trip, know how many miles you get to a gallon, and most importantly you don’t have to answer to a car hire company if something gets damaged – or worse still, the vehicle is stolen.

However – your own vehicle may not be up to the job of your planned road trip, either because of its size or because of its condition, in which case you have a few options:

Hire A Vehicle. Pros: It should be in great condition, quite new and of course up to the task. Cons: It can be costly especially if you are planning to hire something nostalgic like a VW T25!

Buy and Sell a Vehicle: A popular option if your road trip is abroad. Pros: You can fly to your destination, pick up a car or camper when you get there and then sell it on when you reach the end of the road to fly home. You also don’t have to answer to a car hire company. Cons: Quite a lot of hassle compared to booking a hire car, plus you don’t know whether you are purchasing a lemon!

Relocation Hire: Pros: Much cheaper than a straightforward hire, and you don’t have to do a “round trip”. Cons: You will probably be travelling against the grain, people have paid more to travel in the opposite direction on a one way hire for a reason. There may be a limited choice of vehicle, and you may have to compromise your route.

Useful Resources:

Relocation Hire US and Canada: AutoDriveaway

VW Campervan hire UK and Europe: Camperbug

Car Hire worldwide: HolidayCarsDirect

Car Rental Insurance

If you are going to hire a car, camper, or van, you really must take out car rental insurance, even if the car hire company has it’s own policy (which incidentally will not offer the cover you really need). Car rental insurance from WorldwideInsure.com not only insures for the excess on damage, but the deluxe covers the car for total loss up to £50,000, similar to a CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) policy. Please note that Third Party Liability Insurance is not included in this policy.

Travel Insurance

Car hire insurance doesn’t cover everything you need for going on a road trip – cancelled ferries or trains, lost luggage, illness, injury or repatriation all need separate cover even if you are in a hire car. Make sure you have the right insurance for your needs with our flexible and affordable travel insurance options that can be tailored to suit you.

Car Insurance and Breakdown Cover

If you are taking your own vehicle, you need to make sure that your motor insurance covers you for driving abroad, and that your breakdown cover includes overseas recovery. You may want to check exactly what happens if you do have an accident or your vehicle breaks down – some policies may not automatically include a replacement hire car, or cover the costs of shipping your vehicle back separately.

Where To Sleep On A Road Trip

Image by MemoryCatcher CC0.

Image by MemoryCatcher CC0.

Purists would say that to truly experience a road trip, you should be living, eating and sleeping in your transport of choice – but that isn’t always practical. Here are the pros and cons of travel and sleeping arrangements…

Camper van: Travelling in a camper offers the most freedom in the easiest package, everything you need is with you in one easy to drive and easy to park vehicle, and it doesn’t matter if your plans change as you probably haven’t booked to be anywhere for a specific time. You can park up in a layby or beauty spot for free, or spend the night in a campsite if you choose – a nice option if a hot shower is needed!

Caravan: A slightly cumbersome way to tackle a road trip as it’s not as easy to just park up wherever you fancy. Chances are you have more space and home comforts than in a van, plus if you decide to spend a bit of time in one place, you have the freedom of taking your car off to explore the local area. Towing a caravan takes quite a bit of fuel too, so you’ll need to budget for this.

Tent: This is the space saving option. Driving about in a car is cheaper and easier than in a van, or towing a caravan, and with a tent you still have the freedom to pitch wherever you fancy, or take your tent to a campsite. It is a bit of a hassle packing up your pitch each and every night, but the money-saving perks might be worth it.

Hotel: A luxurious way to finish off a day driving, and an almost guaranteed nights rest. Big plus point is that you don’t have to lug a second home around, but this is definitely a pricey option that fuel savings don’t make up for. Also, hotels generally need to be booked in advance, which takes away many spontaneous opportunities.

Airbnb: A cheaper way to have the luxury of staying in a hotel. Airbnb is hugely popular as you have the freedom to treat the accommodation as your own and it is more like a home from home. As with hotels, you may lose money if travels don’t go according to plan, or have to kip in your car if you plan to find somewhere on the fly.

Couchsurfing: The free way to find a decent bed for the night and you may find that hosts are more accommodating if you are early or late even if it is by a day or two! Couchsurfing is a great community and definitely more open to the impact adventures can have on schedules.

Don’t Make These Road Trip Mistakes!

  • Don’t drive an unreliable vehicle – you don’t want to spend your road trip in a layby.
  • Don’t travel with people you don’t get on with – arguments don’t make the right kind of road trip memories. Avoid people that you find boring too.
  • Don’t drive when you need to rest – just because it is a road trip, it doesn’t mean you need to drive 24/7. Stop regularly, and get a good sleep every night for your own safety, and everyone else’s.
  • Don’t rely solely on sat nav – pack an old fashioned paper map too. Not only can sat navs be wrong, you don’t want lack of signal or power to scupper your pathfinding powers!
  • Don’t pick the fastest route – unless all you want to see is tarmac. Go the scenic way, detouring and stopping off at beauty spots and places of interest.

How To Budget For A Road Trip

Image by Unsplash CC0

You wouldn’t want to run out of money for fuel with views like this ahead! Image by Unsplash CC0

Fuel is the obvious cost of a road trip, so do your research and find out the fuel prices in all the places you plan to pass through. Once you have this, work out the average price per gallon, and hopefully you already know how many gallons you can fit in a tank and know how far a tank of fuel will get you – if you are driving your own vehicle anyway! Next calculate the distance you’ll be travelling, and add an extra 50 miles or so per day just to be on the safe side.

DON’T FORGET TO BUDGET FOR TOLLS! In some countries, the cost of travelling on toll roads can really add up. Check your route carefully as you travel. And always consider taking an alternative toll-free option.

Make your fuel go further with these fuel-saving tips:

  • Have your vehicle serviced before your trip
  • Fill up with fresh oil
  • Keep your tires at the right pressure
  • Keep your speed down and your driving style relaxed
  • Keep your load as light as possible
  • Have a good navigator so you don’t waste fuel on getting lost!

Unless you plan to wild camp, you need to factor in the cost of accommodation, even if it is just a campsite for a night. Even if you think you’ll do the duration without needing to arrange accommodation – allow a little for a luxurious night somewhere – either for a good night’s rest or just the lovely shower!

Food is the other big cost to budget for, allow a little for a few meals out, and have a basic daily budget for supermarket essentials.

Don’t forget that you’ll probably want to do a few fun things too. Although a road trip is often about the scenic views and visiting cool places, no doubt there’ll be the odd occasion where you’ll need to pay an entry fee to an attraction.

Know The Rules of The Road

Motor retailer Lookers share some tips on planning a road trip abroad….

“The rules of the road can differ a lot from country to country, so you need to do a lot of research before you set off. It’s also a good idea to double-check the appropriate driving laws during your journey before you cross any borders. This way, you’ll be less likely to encounter any problems and your journey will go a lot smoother.

Certain European countries’ driving regulations are particularly different to the UK’s. In France, for example, drivers are required to carry a breathalyser. Also, if you wear glasses and are planning to drive through Spain, you must have a spare pair with you while you’re travelling.

In Germany, it’s illegal to drive without winter tyres at certain times of the year and it’s illegal to pick up hitchhikers in Russia. Additionally, driving a dirty vehicle is against the law in Belarus, so you must keep your vehicle clean if your journey takes you that way.

These are just some of the regulations you might come up against during your trip and, while they might seem extreme or bizarre, they’re in place for a reason. If you respect and abide by the rules set out by every country you visit, you’ll have a much easier time, so it’s worth doing the research.”

What To Pack for a Road Trip

Just Put It Up Top by Christoph Rupprecht

Just Put It Up Top by Christoph Rupprecht CC2.0

So this list will vary depending on whether you are camping, “camper”ing or stopping off at nice hotels. To keep it simple we have included essential on-the road equipment that everyone will need, especially in the event you break down somewhere remote, and a few items that caught our eye that will make living life on the road that little bit more luxurious! Just don’t forget your toothbrush and other holiday essentials – check out our Zen of Packing blog for some helpful hints!

Four Essential Things You Need For A Road Trip With The Kids

Road trips can be a lot of fun when your kids come along for the ride. You can spend hours singing along to all your favourite songs, playing car games and enjoying quality time as a family. Although, if you run out of ideas and your children get bored, things could take a turn for the worse and you might be faced with bad moods and tantrums.

Putting together a ‘road trip kit’ will help you to keep your entire family entertained on long journeys. Here are some essentials to take on the adventure!

1. Food and Drink

If you’re planning a particularly lengthy trip, buying food from service stations along the way will get pretty pricey. Instead, pack a range of healthy food and drink into a practical carrier, like the Sakura 12v plug-in cooler bag from DriveDen. This will save you money and ensure that all of your snacks stay fresh for longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Electronics

Of course, you won’t want your kids to travel the entire way with their heads down and eyes glued to the screen of a portable DVD player or tablet. However, if they’re used to playing with these gadgets at home, they’re likely to come in handy when you’ve settled into the journey and the boredom starts to set in. Tech Advisor has put together a list of the 48 best free and cheap apps for kids, toddlers and teens perfect for pre-loading on mobile devices.

3. Activities

When you’re bored of playing ‘I Spy’ and your kids’ electronics have run out of charge, you’ll be glad to have brought some old-fashioned activity supplies with you. Pen, paper, activity books and even a whiteboard with dry-wipe markers will help to keep your kids entertained along the way.

4. Travel pillows

Long road trips can be tiring, and pillows are important for when the need to nap strikes. Young children in particular are more likely to snuggle down for longer with a fun and colourful travel pillow. Not only does it provide the right support for a good rest, but it doubles up as a cuddly toy too!

Extra cute and cuddly Kids Travel Pillow from Go Travel

Bon Voyage!

We’ve written oodles of travel advice over the years, so thought we’d share a few choice blogs that might help you plan your perfect road trip! In the meantime – happy planning, happy driving, and here’s wishing you an adventure of a lifetime wherever the road takes you!

50 Tips For First-Time Travellers

30 Ways To Use A Sarong – Essential Advice For Travellers

Best Packing App for 2016

The Zen of Packing

Travel Health and Safety – Have You Packed These?

Image by Unsplash CC0

Image by Unsplash CC0

The Essential Pre-Travel Checklist

By Unspalsh CC0

By Unspalsh CC0

OK, so your bags are packed and you’ve checked your passport a hundred times – but what about all the other things you need to do before you jet off on holiday? Here is the essential checklist to make sure your home is secure, your belongings safe, and that risk from accidental damage is minimised!

Assign a keyholder

Friends, neighbours or relatives make excellent keyholders – except in an emergency, in which case you should also consider giving a security company the key to your house. Why? Well, if your house alarm goes off at 2am and there might be an intruder, it is a lot to ask a friend or family to risk their safety to go sort it out.

Employ a security company

You don’t have to have an alarm response service all year round, you can have one just for when you are away. Home security companies also have different tiers of service, so if your pad is especially plush, you could have a mobile patrol pass by to keep an eye on things too.

Redirect mail

Or ask your neighbour to pop any letters poking out the letter box through the door. If your front door is fully glazed, you may want your keyholder to come in and clear the pile every couple of days while you are gone.

Cancel the milk (or organic veggie box)

Not that the milkman is such a common sight these days! Whatever regular deliveries you may have, such as a weekly veggie box – make sure you stop it in your absence.

Un-hide the spare key

If an opportunistic sneaky-type clocks on to the fact you’re on holiday, they might just find your spare tucked somewhere probably quite obvious.

Lock up all outhouses, sheds and garages

The tools and equipment stored within could be tools of the trade to those looking to break in.

Get someone to mow the lawn

Only really applicable if you are away for more than a couple of weeks in the summer.

Unplug all your electrical items

This cuts the risk of an electrical fire, or damage to equipment from a power surge. Plus you don’t need to be wasting energy on standby lights. Do remember to leave lamps plugged in if you are going to be using a timer.

Defrost your freezer and empty your fridge

Or you’ll come home to a horrible and stinky mess if you’ve unplugged everything!

Water your plants

Give them a good watering that will see them through the duration. You could even use a dripper feeder to make their rations last longer.

Turn off the water

A toilet that suddenly decides to leak, or a burst pipe will cause the sort of damage you don’t want to come home to EVER, let alone after a lovely holiday.

Set light timers – or get an app to do that!

Timers are great, except the regular as clockwork activity could be a bit of a giveaway for the observant burglar. Thanks to today’s awesome advances in technology, you can actually get WiFi lightbulbs, which can be controlled by your smartphone from ANYWHERE! You just have to remember to do it while you are sipping a cocktail or enjoying some other equally relaxing activity on your hols.

Lock the windows

It’s a security feature that you should make the most of! You won’t go on holiday without locking the door!

Take your household rubbish to the local dump

Leaving it out for a few days before collection is a sure sign that the property is empty. The other option is coming home to festering bins. Not nice.

Call your bank/credit card company

It’s a bit embarrassing, and slightly inconvenient if your card is stopped because your provider doesn’t know that it is you using it in another country!

Call your mobile phone provider

You may need to set up roaming on your account.

Ask your keyholder to…

The benefits of having a keyholder are many, although as we said earlier, it’s not ideal to ask neighbours or friends to attend to a possible break in. So, as well as having your alarm response set up with a security company, give someone you trust the key to your home and ask them to:

  • Water plants
  • Open and close curtains
  • Move the car
  • Collect the post
  • Mow the lawn
  • Put out the rubbish

Do make sure that you have told them where all spare keys or keys to garage, shed, windows etc are.

It goes without saying that you have seen to all the other travel-related checklist items, such as packing your toothbrush, but it would be foolish of us to not mention TRAVEL INSURANCE! This is more important than watering your plants, and just as important as protecting your home and possessions from loss or damage.

How To Book A Holiday And Not Lose Money

In the unfortunate event that one of the companies involved in your holiday goes bust, you’ll want to be sure that you can get your money back. To help you understand what to do to make sure your holiday is financially protected, we’ve busted some jargon on your behalf.

If You Are Getting A Flight, Make Sure Your Travel Is ATOL Protected

We’ve all heard of this, but do many holidaymakers really know what it means? ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers Licencing and it offers financial protection for those who are travelling by air. All UK companies selling air travel must have an ATOL certificate.

If the company goes into administration before you travel, you’ll get your money back. If you are already travelling, you can finish your holiday and get home at no extra cost. If the company is not ATOL protected, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your hard earned cash back.

Use An ABTA Travel Agent

Members of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) are bound by a code of conduct and therefore much more likely to act responsibly if a link in the chain fails. However, don’t take the ABTA stamp as a definite when it comes to financial protection, always ask your agent the big question… “Will I be refunded if the airline, hotel, cruise company… goes into administration?”

Book A Package Holiday With An ABTA Agent

Package holidays booked via an ABTA agent are automatically financially protected.

Get Travel Insurance That Covers Companies Going Bust

Not all travel insurance providers policies this type of cover, so make sure you call yours and get the cover you are looking for. Remember to tell them about all operators – airlines, hotels, hire cars etc. WorldwideInsure.com are regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), a member of BIBA (British Insurance Brokers Association), and highly rated on Trustpilot.

Pay By Credit Card

If you pay for your holiday on your credit card and the company or one of the companies goes under, you are covered by section 75 of consumer credit act, and can claim via your credit card company. This is because under Section 75, the credit card company is liable, along with the operator, for any breach of contract by the company that has gone into administration. It is worth noting that you can make a claim via your credit card provider as well as directly with the company at the same time. You will obviously only get one refund though!

 

Ten Ways To Improve Your Travel Photography

By Unsplash CC0

By Unsplash CC0

You don’t need to be wielding the latest DSLR to be able to take amazing photos, you just need to know how to spot a shot and capture what you see on whatever photography device you have. Here are our top tips…

1. Have your camera ready.

Not such an issue if you are using your smartphone, but if you like the old-school touch of a film camera, or indeed carry a more modern digital camera about, make sure it isn’t at the bottom of your bag, without a film, missing a battery or attached to the wrong lens.

2. Look for colour.

Neon lights, colourful market stalls, flowers in full bloom, the bright hues of fabrics, or simply a big blue sky. A strong splash of colour can add a dramatic feel to an otherwise ordinary snap.

3. Look for contrast.

You don’t need to be working in Black and White to make the most of light and dark. Seek shadows and silhouettes for a dramatic effect even with the most saturated film or filter. Especially good at sunset!

4. Find the story.

Whether you are at an event or festival or you are wandering the streets, seek a narrative every time you look through the viewfinder. Traditional festivals are a great place to find a story, but so are portrait opportunities with every person you meet!

5. Turn off auto.

Take time to experiment with your equipment, playing around with long exposures of city lights or the night sky, super-fast shutter speeds for action shots, and changing depth of field to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject.

6. Don’t forget to document.

Chances are you’ll forget how great that al fresco fish dinner tasted on the Aegean coast unless you capture on camera. Your travel photos aren’t just for sharing with friends and family, they are for keeping memories too.

7. Go for Golden Hour.

The light just after sunrise and just before sunset is softer and slightly redder than the rest of the day, the perfect light for beautiful photography! Make sure you don’t miss this “golden” photo opportunity, use the Golden Hour Calculator to check out times at your destination.

8. Find your frame.

Get down low, get up high, look up, look down, zoom in, crop, add space, centre your subject… there are a kerzillion ways to frame a shot, and the best way to find out what works is to experiment! Don’t be afraid to break the rules – use your viewfinder until you hit the aesthetic sweet-spot.

9. Don’t forget the details.

Macro photography is an art in itself, with super-close-ups requiring specialist equipment to get National Geographic quality shots. Most phone cameras and mid-range digital cameras have quite a good digital zoom function that can capture excellent textures and fine details – as long as you have an eye to find them!

10. Share!

Use social media to share your best shots with other travellers and to inspire other adventurers. If you are on a longstay adventure, you could create an online journal using the 365Project, a place where you can share your photos with the community and document your adventures, all for free!

 

Travel Tips For Women Travelling Solo

Image by milivanily CC0

Image by milivanily CC0

Couchsurf or Airbnb with great care – make sure you only ever choose somewhere with lots of good, legitimate reviews, or go by a trusted recommendation.

Don’t pay more than you should for travel insurance – choose a policy that can be tailored to meet your needs as a solo traveller without incurring a premium.

Get some advice – ask other female travellers where they have been and what tips they would give for women travelling alone there. The Travelettes offer a great place to find inspiration and information online, and Wanderful connects female travellers and facilitates knowledge-sharing to promote safe and confident travel around the world.

Tell people where you are going and what you plan to do – a travel itinerary isn’t just to give you ideas about what to do on holiday, it can offer vital info for folks back home if they want to track you down.

Dress appropriately – this can either mean cover up where being scantily clad may cause offence, or dress like someone who lives there to avoid looking like a vulnerable tourist.

Consider wearing a ring on your wedding finger – if you aren’t already wearing one. In some places this can prevent unwanted attention from local men, or indeed other tourists.

Keep flashy jewellery to a minimum – general advice for all solo travellers, not just the ladies. When you are on your own, having visible wealth can make you a target for opportunistic thieves.

Find out what locations are off-limits for ladies travelling alone – befriend the hotel staff and get some insider knowledge on where you should and should not go during your stay.

Map read discretely – if you get lost, avoid pulling a map out or studying your phone out in the open on your own – pop into a nearby shop or café instead.

Make fake phone calls – if you are taking a ride on your own, feel vulnerable on public transport, or you are just walking a street, make a fake phone call stating that you’ll “be back soon”.

Avoid intoxication – and keep any drinks you buy with you at all times! Spiked drinks are a serious problem, so always keep yours in sight from the moment it is poured.

Save a bit of cash for a cab – really handy if you suddenly find yourself somewhere where you don’t feel safe wandering about or if an incident happens and you want to get away fast.

Join other solo travellers – the freedom of solo travel is amazing, and one you can actually share with others. Some operators such as Friendship Travel have a package where solo holidaymakers can join together over dinner for a bit of company and to share travel ideas, stories and tips.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We offer cost-effective comprehensive cover to suit your needs, by being flexible – this includes providing reduced cover options, not just adding extras on. Give us a call on 01892 833338 or get a quote online.