HINTS & TIPS
hopefully these hints and tips will help you plan your holidays.
IS INSURANCE REALLY WORTH IT?
Thankfully I've never had to claim on travel insurance in all the years I've been travelling.
I'd never go on holiday without making sure I have adequate insurance to cover my belongings and my health.
Depending on the airline you're travelling with (and where you're flying to/from), you may be covered by EU 261 legislation. It's scary, but some airlines won't provide a hotel if you're delayed overnight and aren't obliged to either!
It's worth checking out if you get insurance included with your bank account. Annual policies are easily available and compared to years ago, represent great value.
WHAT ARE THE ITEMS YOU ALWAYS TAKE WITH YOU?
I've already mentioned how important travel insurance is.
I have a backpack that is always packed with some essential items: Worldwide adaptor - it's worth buying a worldwide plug so you only need to take one with you. It also saves space.
Mobile phone cable - having one just to travel with, so you don't forget it lying by your bed.
Battery pack - I have a small battery pack, it cost about £25.00 and can charge your iPhone up to 7 times. Its great.
First Aid kit - you don't want to get caught short on holiday, ibruprofen, paracetamol, Imodium and allergy medication.
Finally, if you're checking baggage into the hold, make sure you have your contact details on a piece of paper inside your case. If it's delayed and the label has fallen off, it'll be easier for the airline to identify which bag is yours. Thinking about buying a new suitcase? Don't buy a black one. Have you noticed the number of black bags on the conveyor belt? exactly. An unusual pattern/coloured suitcase makes it easier to identify by you and the baggage handlers.
SHOULD I BOOK DIRECT OR THROUGH A TRAVEL AGENT?
I always book directly with the airline and hotel whenever possible.
A lot of the time, the hotel will offer their members a better rate by booking directly. You can then collect loyalty points for each stay. You can usually go to a designated check-in desk and save time queueing. One time, I jumped in front of 50 people by being a member of the hotel loyalty scheme.
If you need to make changes to a booking, if booked directly the airline can help you out. If it's through a third party, you'll haver to speak to them. It's not always possible if you're in a foreign country.
Don't forget you can sometimes collect cashback by booking online using Topcashback or Quidco.
WHAT IS THE BEST CARD TO USE WHEN ABROAD?
Unlike so many other blogs, I don't get paid for recommending a particular credit or debit card.
When travelling, I like to take a mixture of cash and cards away with me.
There's a new bank called Monzo. They allow you to withdraw a few hundred pound per month without any fees. Using your card abroad has no foreign transaction fee.
If you're after a credit card to use abroad, try using a comparison site to get the card that matches your criteria. It's important to research the various cards in the marketplace.
On my most recent trip, I used a card called Curve. This allows you to link any Visa or MasterCard to it. Essentially you can use one card instead of a wallet full of them. They use the MasterCard base rate and add 1% on for their transaction fee.
I found it a great way to have all my cards without having them with me. I'd always suggest having another spare just in case.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BOOK FLIGHT?
If I knew the answer to this, I'd be a very rich man.
Most airlines tend to have sales around the same time each year. Typically flights go on sale up to a year in advance. I made the mistake once of booking flights to San Francisco as soon as they went on sale. A few months later they were almost half the price.
It can sometimes work out cheaper booking a package that includes car hire or a hotel than flight only deals.
The best website I've found for searching flights is
Whatever you do, don't keep checking prices after you've booked and paid for your flights. Ignorance can be bliss!
SHOULD I RESERVE TRANSFERS IN ADVANCE?
This is very dependent on where you're flying to. Most of the time, I'll go to the airports website to see what options there are.
In the USA I tend to use Uber or Lyft. Over the last few years they've increased their presence and usually offer great value. Be cautious if surge pricing is activated when booking.
If theres public transport available. give it a go. San Francisco has easy access via the train.
Research is key.