Archive for the 'Travel Tips' Category

Consider these travel safety tips

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

For many people, traveling, be it for business or for pleasure, is on balance an exciting experience. The excitement can be maintained, provided some travel safety tips are considered.

Unfamiliar, or new surroundings sometimes effect some people in such a way that they tend to throw some caution into the wind by taking unnecessary risks. Taking unnecessary risks will sooner or later land one in trouble.

1. Do thorough research.

It’s advisable to do some kind of research to the place you’ll be visiting, particularly if it’s for the first time. Research can be into areas such as the location of the hotel and its proximity to the sights you’ll want to visit.

The research will reveal how much walking you’ll do, as opposed to having to rely on public transport. If you’ll be walking, you’ll want an idea of the kind of areas that you’ll pass through. Remember that in many major cities there are the so- called no- go- areas. So you’ll naturally want to avoid those.

It’s always worthwhile to check whether other hotels are also located in the area you’ll be staying. The presence of other hotels signify the popularity of the area, meaning that there will probably be many other like minded visitors such as yourself.

Of course, concentration of tourists can bring its own problems: some undesirables such as pickpockets will also be attracted to those areas. In those circumstances, extra care must be taken with personal belongings. Items such as personal jewelery should be kept out of sight. Wearing a money belt is an excellent way of protecting valuables such as money and credit cards.

If you’re not sure about an area, ask a member of your hotel for advise. If you have doubts about an area, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

2. Traveling alone

It’s never advisable to go walking alone at times such as late at night. If you need to be somewhere, perhaps there may be others that you can travel with. Consider taking a cab, or share one with fellow traveler (s).

Never accept the offer to be shown around by total strangers, unless you know that they are some kind of official such as a tour guide.

Before leaving your hotel, read the map and try to memorize the routes you’ll be taking. Nothing advertises the fact that you’re are a stranger than walking around with your nose buried in a map!

If you need to consult a map at any time while you’re out, don’t do it in the street. Visit a coffee shop, a rest room, etc. Thus, you can jog your memory without giving too much away.

Be aware of your surroundings. When out walking, look out for changes in the neighborhood. If you notice gradual changes that makes you feel uneasy, don’t worry. Calmly reverse your direction of travel and keep walking at a steady pace until you are back at a more familiar surroundings.

Don’t use cash machines in remote areas. If you’re not sure, visit a main bank branch. If you are not near a bank, then consider the more expensive option of changing money at your hotel.

When you leave your hotel for the first time, try and remember certain landmarks such as unusual buildings, etc. This will help you when returning to your hotel.

If you suddenly end up in a rough neighborhood, don’t ask for directions from strangers in the street. If you cannot find an official such as a police officer, then ask at a shop or establishment.

If you find yourself lost in an area that you feel uncomfortable in, don’t persevere in attempting to find your way back. Consider taking a cab as soon as possible, however short the journey may be.

Adopting the above safety tips will give you further peace of mind, so you’ll be able to concentrate more- to enjoy yourself.

Five important tips when visiting Europe

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

europe-political

Europe is a vast and an exciting destination well worth visiting. Use the guidelines below to have a safe and an enjoyable visit.

1). Documents

Never attempt to visit Europe unless your documents are in order, and the appropriate visas are included.

Wherever you go within Europe, carry some identification. Keep photocopies of important documents such as passports separately.

Make sure that you are familiar to the correct amount of duty free items such as alcohol and tobacco that you are allowed. If your duty free exceeds the allowed quota, declare it at the customs. Remember- countries that are not part of the European Union, may well have different regulations.

Never agree to carry parcels/ packages from strangers. If caught carrying illegal substances such as drugs, it carries hefty penalties in ALL countries.

2). Languages

In Europe there are some 320 different mixture of languages. But in all major European towns and cities, English is widely spoken.

If your stay is for a relatively long period, consider taking a phrase- book along. All nationalities will appreciate your attempts at the local language(s)- however badly that may be!

Most European countries tend to favor the 24- hour clock for timetable of buses, trains, and so on. It is a good idea to become familiar with the 24- hour clock before the date of travel.

Be alert to time differences between some European countries. For example, apart from a short window, there is usually an hour time difference between Britain and the rest of the continent.

3). Electricity

Most European countries operate a different voltage than the American system. For example, in many European countries the standard voltage is 230. For some electrical items such as electric razor, you’ll almost certainly need to include an adapter.

4). Cars and driving

To drive in European countries, the minimum legal age is eighteen. Furthermore, some European countries require an ‘international’ driving license.

Do not attempt to drive, unless you are fully entitled to do so. For example, all countries require some kind of insurance.

Ensure that the car you’ll be driving complies with all the requirements of the country involved.

Ensure that you have a practical road map.

The legal alcohol limit for driving varies between many European countries. Driving over the permitted alcohol limit usually carries a fine. If involved in an accident while driving over the alcohol limit, a custodial sentence is usually followed. If unsure to the exact alcohol limit, do not risk it, consume no alcohol at all.

5). Research

Prior to travel, do a little research regarding costs in the country that you’ll visit. Some items such as food and gas do cost more in Europe than in the US. So when you have an idea of the general prices, budgeting will become that much easier.

Try and make reservations for important parts of your trip such as hotel, car hire, and sear reservation for trains. Do not take chances in turning up on the day of arrival without some prior reservations. Remember- just like home, popular establishments will fill up quickly. No reservation can mean having to put up with another less desirable place, which can effect the ‘quality’ of your visit.

As much as possible, plan ahead. The more chores such as hotel, and car hire that you cover in advance, the more hassle- free time you’re likely to have.

Buying annual travel insurance

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

If you are an occasional traveler, you’ll probably buy your insurance from your travel agent each time you travel. However, if you travel at least twice per year, it is more cost effective to buy an annual travel insurance.

Although annual travel insurance is not compulsory, it does give you the peace of mind in case of any eventualities such as loss of personal effects, illness, or accidents. Some people take the risk of traveling without an insurance. Although initially they may save paying out for the premium, in case something goes wrong, the total costs can add up to several thousands of dollars. In which case the saving on the premium is false economy.

One of the first ports of call is your bank. In recent years banks have diversified into many fields, and their rates can be competitive. Furthermore, if you are a ‘valued’ customer, your bank may offer a very low premium.

The next logical place is your credit card provider. Credit card companies do not always offer the lowest rates. But in case of loss of your credit card, there is the added advantage of receiving a replacement card- sometimes within a few hours.

Another popular source for purchase is your insurance company responsible for your other aspects such as your home or car. Because you already use their services, they may be able to offer a low premium, or a discount for your travel insurance.

It is important to check carefully your home contents insurance policy. This is because some home policies cover personal items, even if you are away from home.

For last- minute purchase of travel insurance there is always the airline or companies at the airport. But in most cases their rates are higher.

Do not be complacent. Travel insurance from different companies are not identical. As well as price differences, there may well be limits in the types of personal items covered. Some policies may only cover a certain number of journeys. In many cases there is also an upper age limit.

Generally you’d expect your policy to include such eventualities as loss or damage to property, flight delays and cancellations, accidents, and illness.

Finding the best travel bargains

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

One of the main reasons for discounting is unsold places. Another reason for discounting is competition. A litle research on your part in plenty of time before travel can save you many dollars that can be used once you get there.

Once you have decided where you wish to go, there are two main avenues open to you: the first and easiest is to make one booking to include your flight, hotel, car hire, etc. This method is generally preferable if you are short of time. Travel agents can often offer good value, which is obtained from individual firms due to bulk buying.

Another main avenue open to you is to book your travel components individually. There are many speciality online search engines that allow you to find the best values for your needs.

Nevertheless, there are some other possible steps that you can take in order to get a better discount:

1. Book early. Generally, the nearer to the date of travel, the more expensive are the seats on flights.

2. If you are buying more than one ticket, further discount is possible.

3. Be flexible. Sometimes weekend outward and inwards journeys can be cheaper (less business travellers). Similarly, some flights which leave later at night can be cheaper.

4. If your timetable allows, consider taking indirect an indirect flight. Indirect flights take longer, but can be cheaper than direct flights.

5. If possible, consider travelling other than peak periods. For example, flights during certain periods such as school holidays, christmas, and easter are more expensive than other times.

6. All airlines overbook in order to compensate for no shows. Sometimes everyone shows up, in which case there are more passengers than seats! If you are offered, consider taking a later flight because it means further savings in the form of vouchers.

7. Another option may be to travel as ‘stand by’. But this method usually means little or no notice before travel. Furthermore, you may have a long wait ahead until an empty seat becomes available.

8. For some lucky independent travellers, it is possible to fly as a ‘courier’. Some companies will pay for your flight in exchange for delivering important letter and packages. However, do bear in mind that due to speciality firms, ‘courier’ flights are very rare.

9. Buy a suitable travel insurance. In case of illness, accident, loss of property, etc, the insurance premium is money well spent to counter any eventualities.

The more time and effort you apply, the greater your savings are likely to be. In many instances, your savings can be substantial. So much so that you’ll be able to add extra days to your holiday at no extra charge!

Choosing the best travel accommodation

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The time has come to book your travel accommodation for your all- important holiday. But before making a firm booking, there are a few points that have to be taken into consideration. Get it wrong, you’ll end up spending a miserable or an unpleasant time at your destination. Get it right, you’ll enjoy yourself immensely, not to mention the possibility of saving some money in the process.

1. The first rule is to book as early as possible. Generally, the more popular the accommodation, the earlier you’ll need to book. Don’t risk it by leaving the accommodation booking until the last moment. After travel, accommodation should be the next priority.

2. What type of accommodation? If you’re intending to spend most of your time sight seeing, chances are that all you require is a place to put your head down at night. On the other hand, if you intend to spend more time at your accommodation, then you’ll need to pay more attention to the amenities that are provided.

3. The most convenient type of accommodation is the hotel, where depending on the type of hotel, the majority of your needs will be taken care of. If you don’t feel very adventurous, then stick to the brand name hotels. The large chains deliberately set out to decorate all their hotels to look he same. So by sticking to that kind hotels, you’ll know what to expect, regardless of where in the world you’ll be going.

4. Hotels basically come in two types: business hotels tourist hotels. Make no mistake- both types of hotels are suitable for everyone. It’s just that if you’re on a tight budget, staying at a business hotel will not be your best option. Business hotels also provide services such as fax machines, which are not a lot of use to a typical tourist.

5. Peaks and troughs. If at all possible, try and avoid traveling during national and school holidays. For, during those times, due to the natural increase in demand, prices of tickets and accommodation rises considerably.

6. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to know whether your resort provides a kids’ club for the all important few hours peace for the adults. Other amenities such as suitable swing pool is also agreeable to most kids.

7. For very young children, some hotels provide cots (often free of charge) in order that children may sleep in the same room as their parents. But that is not provided as a matter of course. You’ll need to ask.

8. Self catering. Self catering is ideal for visitors that enjoy cooking, have more spare time, or have special dietary requirements. The obvious advantage to this type of accommodation is because you’re not tied to a menu, you’ve got more choice in what and when to eat. However, you’ll need to wash up afterwards!

9. Camping. If you intend to stay in open spaces, or are going hiking, then camping may be the right choice for you. Provided the weather is reasonable, camping is favored by many.

10. Hostels. If you’re on a very tight budget such as students.