Travel and Travelogues (including insurance for older people) 

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Currently the travelogues are the final pages on this site www.silverhairs.co.uk  Many more travelogues (and much more) from a good friend  HERE


Morocco     Sailing 1 : Sardinia to Corsica     Collioure, France   Sailing 2 : Turkey ; The Lycian Coast   Scotland
Marrakech. See also http://pgoh13.com/marrakesh.php  **  Acapulco     Derbyshire Dales     Egypt     South Africa  Rome (new)
S.A.Townships  Latvia   Mediterranean Cruise  Our ancient Trailer Tent  Basel/Basle American Adventure (1954!)


** Friend Goh's site (see above) now covers travel to Berlin, Milan | Lisbon | Dublin | Sicily | Budapest | Venice | Paris | Madrid | London | Barcelona | Rome | Naples | Cannes | Monaco | Nice | Geneva | Amsterdam | Beijing | Shanghai | Xi'an | Hangzhou | Marrakech | Casablanca | Penang | Kuala Lumpur | Malacca | Capri Island | Copenhagen | Malmo | Singapore | Perhentian Islands | La Rochelle | Ile de Ré | Toledo | Brighton | Oslo | Athens | Andalucia | Prague | Rouen | Kent, with lots of special tips on how to make your stay memorable and economical.

Flight Delay Compensation is in the news . This applies to all EU flights (ie, all from EU airports, or to an EU airport on an EU airline). So all BA trips count unless your flight took off and landed outside the EU. If your flight is cancelled you're always due a full refund or an alternative. But you may also be due compensation up to £520 on top.

However, we were unlucky.  An overnight stay in Johannesburg due to a British Airways computer fault.  They referred us to BA South Africa who messed us about so long that we gave up.  I am sure that was their intention. Once again, absolutely no information.  They just closed the desk and left us standing there. No instructions, no cash ! Fortunately we had a debit card and managed to find a motel.
I
was also delayed a week because of the Icelandic volcano but was using an American airline (which pay nothing, although they paid for the various flights and a snack).

Flight Delay Compensation.  Airlines will try various means to avoid paying. Not surprising in the case of EU regulated flights, as this could cost them dear: EU reg 261/2004 means you can claim up to £520 per person. Delays must be over 3 hours and must be to or from an EU airport. Amounts depend upon how long delayed was your arrival and what distance was involved. It does not depend on the cost of the flight. The reasons for delay are important and the law is still unclear what excuses the airline are allowed to give.

TRAVEL INSURANCE 

In 2015 an agreement was made with the Association of BGritish Insurers thatm if an insurer was unable to offer cover for an older enquirer, they must refer customers to other firms that can offer a service. (applies to car insurance, too). 

BIBA the British Insurance Broker's Association, can suggest brokers.

For general advice see www.travelinsuranceguide.org.uk/ or a comparison site like www.money.co.uk (click for over 65s)or http://www.moneysupermarket.com/travel-insurance/  For single trip bargains see the  "Which" site HERE  For a 2014 Telegraph article on the subject click HERE

The following site list over 80 travel insurance and also mentions discounts if you go through them http://www.money.co.uk/travel-insurance/over-80-travel-insurance.htm

This section has been revised in view of my attempt to get insurance for myself (82) and wife (75) for a 17 day break in South Africa.You will find a great deal of variation between insurance companies with regard to attitudes to age and illnesses. Many refuse point blank for over 65's whilst others have no limit. It is essential to look at each quote. Prices also vary enormously. Most insurers double the premium for over 65 or 66. Some will weight the premium heavily if any of the party has had or is suffering from and illness such as cancer.  I have seen a quote for a week in Europe where the over 70 was offered a £21 policy and the other party (65 but having had cancer) was loaded to £156 - for one week!)  Most insurers, rather than giving a blunt refusal on age or health grounds, ask you to phone. Many will ignore pre-existing conditions as long as you agree not to claim for these. The quote on the right in the chart is mine. Note the EHIC Plus site**  EHIC is the current card (http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx )you should get to cover you for treatments in public European hospitals.  As it excludes private treatment the cost is extremely low. But EHIC alone will not get you home or cover anything except NHS type treatment.  
Please note that those which use an 0845, 0844 and 0870 telephone numbers may be telephoned at your expense.  Better to get an on line quote and booking, which is possible 9 out of 10 cases. Check all prices quoted below as they often change.

The following have NO limit on age : Post Office, EHIC Plus, IC (Insurance Choice) Justtravel.com, Explorer Travel, Goodtogo, LVE, Avanti, Saga, John Lewis, Sainsbury's Bank. See below to click on links for more detail.

The following have an 85 age limit : Insureforall, Gnu Insurance, Columbus, Staysure, Go Walkabout, Spectrum Top Dog,  (But check for worldwide in each case)

BANK SCHEMES Some banks have accounts which offer extra benefits, including travel insurance.

In fact Nationwide basic Flexaccount offers FREE European cover from 16 to 73 if you hold a Visa Debit card and switch your Direct Debits to them OR pay in at least £750 per month for 3 consecutive months (and continue to do so). I was unable to see if it covers for couples with Joint Accounts. This is entirely different from their other accounts, e.g..Nationwide's Flexplus Account costs £10 a month for worldwide family travel insurance. If you are over 75 there is a £50 extra charge . It also pays 3% on balances up to £2,500. What makes it an outstanding bargain is that the additional benefits include mobile phone insurance, an extended warranty on electrical purchases and European breakdown and recovery cover and includes vehicle Homestart (most schemes do not)
Lloyds TSB Gold Current Account is £12 .95 a month which, in addition to other benefits covers a couple's European  travel up to 80. The Silver account only covers to 65 and there is no mention of family.. .
For people with a medical history it pays to shop around. The British Insurance Broker's number for finding a broker is 0870 950 1790. One person got family worldwide annual multitrip cover for £250, despite having had a heart attack a few years back.
As a concession to the insurance industry they were exempted from the age discrimination policy providing they automatically refer (signpost) older customers to an alternative insurer who would offer cover.  By 2013 nearly half of those insurers contacted in a "Which" survey still did not offer this service. Of those contacted only AgeUK, Saga and InsureandGo had no age limits.  But see below for single trip cover. Rates for annual world wide insurance for a healthy 85 year old varied from £349 to £1738 (Goodtogoinsurance) for similar cover. Those which DID suggest an alternative, often suggested Goodtogoinsurance !
The 'Which' survey in summary: For annual cover, the cheapest up for age 65-74 was Annualtravelinsurance.com. From 75-79 it was Golfguard. For 80-85 it was Insureandgo (Silver @ £252 a year) or TravelInsurancemedical. For 85+ try the no limit companies. Several companies offered a lower price on line than by phone. "Which" also gave ratings for those in their survey, taking into account other factors, including customer feedback Those at the top were Saga, AgeUK and FirstDirect. But LV (Liverpool Victoria) topped the list overall.

Worldwide Leisure Guard is cheap for the 66-74 age group
HolidaySafe Lite also does a great deal for the same age group, especially for Europe annual. Also exceptionally cheap family European and worldwide insurance for under 65s (from £9!)
For 50-60s try Coverwise (Bronze)
Liverpool Victoria's Travel section  is a more traditional insurer which offers individual insurance from £67 in Europe and £111 worldwide, or for a family it's £113 in Europe and £187 worldwide.

Do check what Europe cover means. It often covers unexpected places like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey but excludes Spain !

Some companies are cheaper with existing conditions but check and ALWAYS tell them. Staysure is good but also try Avanti, MIA Online, Orbis and Goodtogo
Be careful, when choosing family insurance.  Companies may base their quote on the oldest member.  Might be better to insure them separately

As insurance rates and policies can change, please check out any link.  No guarantees.

Company upper age limits for Europe, single trip:  Aviva 79. Alpha Travel

I often see tempting offers on SilvertravelAdvisor. Worth a look

I have often taken advantage of special offers by Travelzoo.  e.g. ROME

Youtube on Rome.  Has good subtitles - Turn on

Do you suffer from jetlag ? An interesting article on this at http://www.ellejet.com/jet-lag.php

Mobile phone abroad ?  This will become less expensive in the EU from 2017 as a new rule will mean that companies will have to charge the same. Currently the charges in the EU are capped at 15p a minute (calling) and 4p (receiving), calls. Texts are 5p and data usage around 16p a megabyte e.g. looking at five are six web pages. Don't watch a full feature film !  These charges will be reduced in April 2016. Outside the EU you may pay as much as £8 a megabyte. THREE offer a "Feel at Home" deal in 18 countries in Europe and the US, NZ and Australia (this even applies to their PAYG deal). If you have an 'unlocked' phone it might accept a local SIM and so use the local rates. You can get an international SIM from 0044.co.uk or Go-Sim sites or call in at a phone shop when you arrive.  Sometimes it is easier just to pick up a cheap one with a local SIM

Going further ? Phone calls can get VERY expensive.  You can avoid this by getting a cheap SIM from THREE See http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Phones/Feel_At_Home?id=1295&aidset=1#dest  This includes places like Hong Kong, Macau, SriLanka, Indonesia, Israel, Oz, New Zealand and the USA (with a further charge) Vodaphone also have a scheme but add a daily charge.

Motorists going abroad after 8 June are being warned they will need to take a special code with them if they want to hire a car. From that date the paper counterpart of UK driving licences - which records endorsements and fines - is being computerised..Anyone wanting to hire a car abroad will officially need a code to show convictions for offences like speeding. To obtain it, motorists will have to log on to the DVLA website beforehand. But the code is only valid for 72 hours, so anyone wanting to hire a car more than three days into their trip will need to generate a new code while they are abroad. For those who do not have internet access, a phone number will also be made available.

n.b. New French legislation is imposing fines on motorists for almost any sign of inattention at the wheel and for smoking when a child is in the car. The police can even impose a fine on a driver making up in a stationary car !

Hiring cars  If you are an older driver you may have to shop around for a reasonable deal.  Some companies will not hire to people over 70. Others may do but substantially increase the charges. Economy Car Hire say this is unfair as there is no evidnce that older drivers are more prone to accidents (says the Department of Transport). Don't get sold high Excess coverage. £3 a day should cover it. Some charge £10 to £15 a day.  Fill the tank before you return it to avoid excessive charges. Carefully inspect the car for damage.  Photograph any you find. Clean the car inside and out if it needs it to avoid valeting charges. Photo the odometer at start and finish to avoid excess mileage charges.  Booking early may reduce the cost and you can always cancel.

Martin's Money Tips is always good value. This one covers Travel Money, Cheap travel insurance and so much more http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/?utm_source=MSE_Newsletter&utm_medium=msetip&utm_term=02-Jun-15-v1&utm_campaign=site&utm_content=4

http://www.dreamlines.com.au/ is useful if you are travelling from Australia. Unfortunately they were unwilling to donate to my http://www.justgiving.com/keith-paterson charity, so you will need to copy the site address into your browser.

Recently I walked up to Orrest Head from Windermere Station.  If the weather is fine I recommend it to people who find themselves in the town. Not too strenuous !

Compare ferry prices to France, Ireland, Spain and Scandinavia at www.ferryonline.co.uk (donated to our charity!) 

115 (!) Columbus Travel 85.  Just Travel No age limit. Flexicover 75. Telegraph 75 Spectrum 85. Goodtogo No age limit. The AA 79. Post Office 64? Insure for All 85. Coverwise 75.

If you are older but still want to drive abroad you may be concerned that the hire car insurance will not cover you.  That certainly happened to me and you should look carefully at the small print.  To be on the safe side you can take out an additional policy at http://www.carhireexcess.com/  or http://www.insurance4carhire.com

* indicates checked at that time. However, many other links and prices remain to be updated

** The EHIC card (http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx ) covers the following countries : Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Cyprus (but not Northern Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK

Cheapest ANNUAL WORLDWIDE policy was Bradford and Bingley, which also did a good price on single trip policies for Europe and America. Even cheaper for America, at £100 for three weeks, was Virgin Money. (Mail on Sunday 4th March 2007) A quote for a 75 year old Europe, Annual from B & B was £122.86; Single 2 week trip was £35.89. For a 68 year old it was down to £73 (two weeks £25.49). Luggage cover added £8 for multi trip and £3 for the single trip. Pretty good.

www.atlasdirect.net do a useful list comparing their prices (and level of cover) with many others.  

Halifax (Ultimate Reward A/c) have now caught onto this idea offering worldwide travel insurance, home emergency, car breakdown and credit card cover as well as 2.5% on the first £2500 in the account, for £12.50 a month.  They reckon the whole package is worth around £800 a year

It is well known that buying insurance from your travel agent can be expensive. And yet you may be able to haggle there, whereas it is more difficult on the net or over the phone. You may be able to take advantage of a holiday package which includes insurance, with no questions asked about age.

One last suggestion is a bank account which offers travel insurance as part of their deal.  e.g. HSBC have a Bank Account Plus for people who pay in their salary. Although it costs £12.95 a month it includes Worldwide Family Travel insurance, which can cost quite a lot. It also offers one of these savings deals, paying 10% gross. www.hsbc.co.uk 08005871481.

It is well known that buying insurance from your travel agent can be expensive. And yet you may be able to haggle there, whereas it is more difficult on the net or over the phone. You may be able to take advantage of a holiday package which includes insurance, with no questions asked about age.

I often see tempting offers on SilvertravelAdvisor. Worth a look

I have often taken advantage of special offers by Travelzoo.  e.g. ROME

Youtube on Rome.  Has good subtitles - Turn on

Do you suffer from jetlag ? An interesting article on this at http://www.ellejet.com/jet-lag.php

Mobile phone abroad ?  This will become less expensive in the EU from 2017 as a new rule will mean that companies will have to charge the same. Currently the charges in the EU are capped at 15p a minute (calling) and 4p (receiving), calls. Texts are 5p and data usage around 16p a megabyte e.g. looking at five are six web pages. Don't watch a full feature film !  These charges will be reduced in April 2016. Outside the EU you may pay as much as £8 a megabyte. THREE offer a "Feel at Home" deal in 18 countries in Europe and the US, NZ and Australia (this even applies to their PAYG deal). If you have an 'unlocked' phone it might accept a local SIM and so use the local rates. You can get an international SIM from 0044.co.uk or Go-Sim sites or call in at a phone shop when you arrive.  Sometimes it is easier just to pick up a cheap one with a local SIM

Going further ? Phone calls can get VERY expensive.  You can avoid this by getting a cheap SIM from THREE See http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Phones/Feel_At_Home?id=1295&aidset=1#dest  This includes places like Hong Kong, Macau, SriLanka, Indonesia, Israel, Oz, New Zealand and the USA (with a further charge) Vodaphone also have a scheme but add a daily charge.

Motorists going abroad after 8 June are being warned they will need to take a special code with them if they want to hire a car. From that date the paper counterpart of UK driving licences - which records endorsements and fines - is being computerised..Anyone wanting to hire a car abroad will officially need a code to show convictions for offences like speeding. To obtain it, motorists will have to log on to the DVLA website beforehand. But the code is only valid for 72 hours, so anyone wanting to hire a car more than three days into their trip will need to generate a new code while they are abroad. For those who do not have internet access, a phone number will also be made available.

n.b. New French legislation is imposing fines on motorists for almost any sign of inattention at the wheel and for smoking when a child is in the car. The police can even impose a fine on a driver making up in a stationary car !

Hiring cars  If you are an older driver you may have to shop around for a reasonable deal.  Some companies will not hire to people over 70. Others may do but substantially increase the charges. Economy Car Hire say this is unfair as there is no evidnce that older drivers are more prone to accidents (says the Department of Transport). Don't get sold high Excess coverage. £3 a day should cover it. Some charge £10 to £15 a day.  Fill the tank before you return it to avoid excessive charges. Carefully inspect the car for damage.  Photograph any you find. Clean the car inside and out if it needs it to avoid valeting charges. Photo the odometer at start and finish to avoid excess mileage charges.  Booking early may reduce the cost and you can always cancel.

Martin's Money Tips is always good value. This one covers Travel Money, Cheap travel insurance and so much more http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/?utm_source=MSE_Newsletter&utm_medium=msetip&utm_term=02-Jun-15-v1&utm_campaign=site&utm_content=4

Flight Delay Compensation Airlines will try various means to avoid paying. Not surprising in the case of EU regulated flights, as this could cost them dear. Delays must be over 3 hours and must be to or from an EU airport. Amounts depend upon how long delayed was your arrival and what distance was involved. It does not depend on the cost of the flight. Compensation can be from 250 to 600 Euros per person. The reasons for delay are important and the law is still unclear what excuses the airline. I was delayed a week because of the Icelandic volcano but was using an American Airline (which pays nothing).

http://www.dreamlines.com.au/ is useful if you are travelling from Australia. Unfortunately they were unable to donate to my http://www.justgiving.com/keith-paterson charity, so you will need to copy the site address into your browser.

Recently I walked up to Orrest Head from Windermere Station.  If the weather is fine I recommend it to people who find themselves in the town. Not too strenuous !

Compare ferry prices to France, Ireland, Spain and Scandinavia at www.ferryonline.co.uk (donated to our charity!) 


Going for a sunny holiday ? Research showed that, regardless of how much sun cream you lather on (and you should especially if you have fair skin) you are not depriving yourself of the beneficial affects of Vitamin D, which the skin produces when exposed to sunlight.

Renewing your passport is expensive enough (£72.50) but if you go to the government site http://www.uk-passport.net/forms.html and complete the form there there is an additional charge of £24.  Better to get the form from the Post Office and send it off ! It is one case where being connected doesn't pay.  There are various charges.  A passport with more pages costs £81.25 and for a fast track 4 hour Premium service expect to go to the Passport Office and pay at least £128 or £103 if you can wait for it to be posted to you within a week. If you were born before 2nd Sept 1929 you are in luck : It's free !

For even more travel information visit the site of my Parisian friend at http://pgoh13.com/  He covers Europe, China, Morocco and Malaysia.  Europe alone covers Venice, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Copenhagen, Athens, Oslo and Cordoba.  In Malaysia he visited Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malacca and Kota Bharu

Want reasonably priced accommodation anywhere in the world, staying in people's homes? Whether you want accommodation or to offer your own you may find the site at www.airbnb.co.uk useful.  It stands for Bed and Breakfast.  You can see photos and comments by people who have stayed. If you offer accommodation they will expect 3% and only if you get a booking.

March 2012 When National Express (Coaches) lost the facility to charge 50% for people with travel cards we signed for the Senior (60+) and Disabled Coachcard (£10 p.a.) as it gives 1/3 off coach travel. When it was introduced in Nov 2011 travel to airports was excluded.  I have now heard that travel to airports is included in the scheme.  Useful for people planning holidays abroad. Incidentally, visitors from abroad can apply for these cards, too. But I do recommend that you avoid clicking the tempting offer of £10 off your next trip, unless you are dying to be saddled with a £10 a month Direct Debit from an organisation called Shopper. I have complained about this misleading offer to NatExp but they wont budge on it.  Shame on them !

More on National Express: Be careful when booking on line. I was quoted a price of £9.50 each way to London.  That was the cheapest and other times would have been as much as £17 one way! I then discovered that although I had booked as a senior and ticked "I have a coach card" I had not, in addition, added a 1 in Senior Coachcard section! When I did the cost reduced to £5.50 each way.

Despite the higher costs I still use National Express coaches when traveling to  London.  Trains may be faster but  I can get to and from  where I want to go more easily by coach and my locally issued travel card works on London buses, so I can get all over the city for nothing and don't have to negotiate the crowded Tube.  I book on line and after negotiating my way through the N. E. site (which takes a bit of skill) I can choose a cheap ticket.  There is no logic about  the cheapest time to travel.  I have had tickets for £2.95 (one way) and have been offered tickets at four times that amount that involve a change and take an hour longer !  Make sure you untick the insurance (£1),  that you zero the Adult selection, and add the Seniors box, tick the Seniors Coachcard box and check every step before paying. WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT 'CLICK HERE TO GET A DISCOUNT ON YOUR NEXT BOOKING. If you do you will find yourself signing up to an American shopping site that will cost you a great deal more than your discount in monthly direct debits !  I have had 'words' with National Express about this but they decline all responsibility.  They shouldn't make it so easy. 
If you  opt to receive the ticket via email you can print it out there and then. The form says not to print it unless you have to (you do) - to save the environment - and then proceeds to send you three pages, the second of which is 'conditions' and the third is advertising!  I choose to print pages one at a time and back the main ticket with the conditions.  The drivers seem to need this. I don't print the last page.

May 2012  Born on or before 2nd September 1929? You can get a free passport. In fact, if you are eligible and applied for a passport since19 May 2004 you can get a refund.

One of the great things about retirement is that people can consider traveling more.  Despite cheap fares it can still be expensive but, with a little ingenuity, things can be made more affordable.  I hope this page will point you in the right direction.  For details on Malaysia, China and  major European cities  see http://pgoh13.com/

Our latest excursion was an overnight stay in Tilbury Harbour (!) which we found via Silver Travel Advisor.  It was on the Marco Polo, which despite having been built almost 50 years ago was in very good order.

Finding the right accommodation can sometimes be the most expensive part of planning a holiday, and for older travellers with specific needs or disabilities it can also be the most difficult. Thankfully, as a retiree, your travel dates are probably flexible, which means you can find some terrific last minute deals on everything from brand name hotels and timeshare rentals  to smaller, independently owned, inns and bed and breakfasts.  
I have found the following site easy to use : http://www.pureholidayhomes.com/

N.B. On a recent trip with Easyjet I was surprised that we were only allowed ONE piece of hold luggage between two people. We were allowed to each take one piece of hand luggage but the dimensions were restricted. to 56cm x 25cm x 45cm, including handle and wheels. We were not allowed a second piece of hand luggage (each) so, even a handbag or netbook had to be squeezed into the allocated bags. Faced with this it is quite important that one obtains a take-on bag of the maximum allowed size.
ANOTHER THING to watch on Ryanair (the Which magazine reports) is that it is almost impossible to opt out of travel insurance at £11.27 per person. The 'don't cover me' option is (incredibly) found between Latvia and Lithuania in the 'Country of Origin' section that you are obliged to tick.  That even beats National Express discount option for craftiness (see above)!  Well, I suppose they had to do something to replace the income lost by not charging you to go to the toilet, which became a subject of public amusement.

HOLIDAYS & TRAVEL (see below for insurance and cash)

If you're considering going on a cruise, then you may want to check out Virgin's cruises, they often have some good deals.

Silver travel logo http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com Where to go, what to see what to avoid? If you like holidays and traveling, you will love www.silvertraveladvisor.com with first hand advice, tips and information written by and for mature travellers. In November 2011 they asked if I would write an article for the and this appeared  HERE

Going Abroad ? If you don't want to be left stranded when your credit card is refused it is advisable to tell your bank you are going.  Most also have an emergency number you can call and some even can let you have a code to get cash from a machine. So get their emergency number and add it to your mobile phone list or keep a note somewhere.

http://www.trainsto.co.uk/  An excellent site for finding and booking trains to and from cities all over the UK and Europe (with hotel bookings too)

In September (2011) we booked with Easyjet to Basle.  I was surprised that two of us were only allowed one case in cargo and one each of a limited size on board.  And that includes a laptop or handbag, which must be accommodated in your single hand luggage.  True, you could pay for more in the hold but it all gets expensive (like the coffee on board!). We also received a VERY poor exchange rate for Euros at the Post Office counter.  I complained and got the expected reply.  But apparently their rate is marginally better on line.  We got much better rates  abroad using our cards to pay for everything.  In view of the fact that the pound is riding high against the Euro (May 2012) I gather people are buying now or stuffing their currency cards before going to Europe. See HERE

July 2010 Make sure you don't get caught for huge baggage charges (especially on Ryanair) Click HERE and see below.

Compensation due to volcanic ash cloud(s) American airlines provide no cover for flight delays. You will normally get an alternative flight and might get a chitty for a meal and the cost of a phone call but beyond that you will be out of luck. In my case I was stranded  by the eruption and had flown United Airways.  My insurer (Fortis) paid £25 a day up to £100 - better than nothing.  The EEC regulations for European airlines are far more generous. If you want to quote the specific rules to your airline, Regulation (EC) 261/2004 requires it to offer meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation as appropriate while ticketholders wait for a rearranged flight. EU rules state that airlines must compensate passengers for delays or cancellations - unless the delays were completely beyond their control. In that case, the airlines still have to provide accommodation and meals for stranded passengers. So your costs should be met but you shouldn't expect compensation for the inconvenience - there's no blame, so no claim. How long must the airline put you up? There's no time limit on the airlines' duty to their stuck passengers. They have to provide care until they can get you home.  This is why Ryanair had to back down on its refusal. If you have a complaint you should put it in writing to the airline and if you get an unsatisfactory result you should consult the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) at www.auc.org.uk

From 1st May 2009, most Ryanair check-ins have been done on line. Indeed from 1st October 2009 they abolished the Ryanair check-in desks (!) to 'persuade' you to check in on line. From 1st May the additional cost of the airport check-in rose from £10 to £20 per person per trip even if you opted for airport check-in when you booked on line. If you just turn up this is increased to £40 pppt  (per person per trip)! So, a family of four, just turning up would finish up with a £320 addition to their one penny special offer ! During the summer Ryanair hold luggage (even pre-checked) goes up to £20 each way and on board (cabin) luggage is the lowest at 15kg (33lbs) plus size restrictions.  They will even try to sell you their special Samsonite case if you don't opt out.  

If you are a good boy and print your ticket on line you will still have to get rid of your 'hold' luggage somehow. You do this by a self service 'drop desk' where you can still expect to queue. Unfortunately, that is not the end of it and there is even an on-line Debit or Credit card booking fee of £10 per person (return) plus additional charges for checked in baggage (and extra for golf clubs and skis). Only one on-board bag (up to 15kg) per person is allowed. Try to take two through and you may get caught for a £30 'fine' !

You MUST book at least 4 hours before the flight but cannot book more than 15 days early. So, when you want to check in for your return journey you will have to get on line  to do that, too (from the hotel or wherever) You might just manage to book in from home before you leave if you are going for two weeks.

Mind you, Ryanair's figures (November 2010) of passengers and profits show that they know what they are doing in the economy airline business.

***********

Malaria is a commonplace hazard in many warmer countries. It is advisable to do a check. See http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk/ and, if there is a risk, get some protection.

Applicants born on or before 2 September 1929 are eligible for free standard 32-page ten year passports

N.B. In 2007 we booked a holiday for three in Agadir (Morocco). Yes, we booked through the High Street but by telling them what their own company was charging on line they gave us the same price. We also saved on insurance.  Altogether we paid £1500 instead of over £2000 for three people for two weeks 'all-in' in a hotel we had checked out the year before.  
In 2010 we booked a cruise, again through a travel agent. With a little Moroccan-style haggling we managed to get the price down by hundreds.

Want a map of the UK specifically designed for Disabled Badge holders ? £12 from www.the pieguide.com Not just parking but shopping, toilets, beaches, petrol stations, accommodation.

Everyone aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people will be entitled to free off-peak bus travel anywhere in England. However, this does not apply to National Express, so that somewhat defeats the object. National Express Routesixty fares, though, are 1/3 off if you get an annual Seniors Coachcard (£10) see http://www.nationalexpress.com/
Make sure you don't fall for the 'generous' offer of £10 off your next trip. The Shopper Voucher scheme will cost you £120 a year by direct debit !
The other thing to watch is those expensive rail fares.  Take a look at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-train-tickets
and http://www.cheaptraintickets.info/cheap-train-tickets-guide/ to see how you can save substantially by choosing the right time to go or even just asking.

USEFUL TRAVEL LINKS  All links checked 9th Oct 2011

Specific airlines :www.ryanair.com, www.easyjet.co.uk, www.thomsonfly.com, www.flybmi.com  (British Midland), www.flybe.com  (British European)

General : Birmingham Airport, www.flightmapping.com www.flycheapo.com, www.skyscanner.net, www.momondo.com  www.buzzaway.com  www.cheapflights.com  www.telme.com  www.deckchair.com  www.cheaponlineflights.com  Easy to navigate site.  Flights, Holidays, Hotels.  Shows discounts available.

Long-haul : www.cheapflights.co.uk, www.travelocity.com, www.trailfinders.com, www.expedia.co.uk  

TRAVEL CASH  Great site on this:  http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money

Are all the money rates the same ? BY NO MEANS.! On one occasion buying 1000 Euros from Marks and Spencers cost me much less than Lloyds TSB, The Post Office orTravelex. But rates vary, so you may not always get the best rate from one supplier.  But M & S seem to do well most of the time.  Bear in mind that Thomas Cook has an on line service which promises to match any rate that you find elsewhere. Nationwide used to be the cheapest way to get money abroad from a cashpoint but they have now started to charge (like the rest) These days we just take a little local currency and pay for everything else with a card.

The amount of cash you get from Bureaux de Change can vary by quite a lot. Most places make a charge (£3.95 to £5) up to £300 worth. So it is best to pay £301 rather than £300. You are also likely to get a better rate on line - even the Post Office said this.

Exchange rates offered can also vary between Bureaux. BUT SEE THE PREPAID CARDS BELOW.

Does YOUR card charge for buying foreign cash?  Sadly, buying currency from a bureau de change in the UK on a credit or debit card isn't always treated as a UK transaction. All credit cards and some debit cards charge an additional fee on top of what you pay the bureau de change.  Some prefer you to buy with cash.

All Credit Cards charge a fee of around 2.5% (minimum £3) when you buy foreign currency; it's treated like withdrawing cash from an ATM. In addition, you could be charged interest from the day you make a purchase, even if it's repaid in full at the end of the month. But for purchases over £100 at least you do get protection from the company if things go wrong. The best of the bunch is the Halifax Clarity, Saga Platinum and Post Office Credit cards, which don't charge fees on purchases anywhere in the world - but do pay it off when you get back.

Visa Debit cards. If you have one of the following debit cards, you'll be charged a 2%-ish fee. The banks that charge issue 'Visa Debit' (previously Delta) cards, though that doesn't mean every Visa Debit card charges. Debit cards that DO charge every time you spend abroad include Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Cahoot, Natwest, Smile, Santander/Alliance & RBS, which will slap ANOTHER charge on top every time you spend in a shop, as well as the normal foreign currency fees - these are the DOUBLE cards from hell.

Debit cards that DON'T charge a fee include Coventry BS; Halifax; First Direct; HSBC; Intelligent Finance.  Although Nationwide started charging from the 1st November 08 their charges are still lower than many other Debit Cards.

Got a card that charges? There are a number of options...

  1. If possible use a different card .

  2. With a debit cards withdraw cash and pay for your currency before you go and you'll avoid the fee, though check the gain isn't defeated by a worse rate.

  3. Spend on the card itself. With most of the cards you're likely to be better off by just spending on it while overseas, than buying foreign cash with it (with the exceptions above).

The worst place to exchange money is the airport. Don't assume you'll get the same rate there as at a bureau de change's high street branch or online quote, it's usually much worse.

4. The best thing to do if you want the convenience of airport pick-up, is order it online first and then ask to collect it at the airport, you get a much better rate.

5. Prepaid cards for added security

Prepaid cards do exactly what they say on the tin; you load cash onto one, and then it can be used in shops and restaurants just like a debit or credit card.

While not quite as cheap as the specialist credit or debit cards, the vast majority are accepted by most shops which take the Maestro network (the substantial bulk) both in the UK and abroad. Their big advantage over cash is if you lose your card, for a fee of around £10 most providers will replace it, with all the funds in tact. Lose a wallet of dollar bills in Times Square and it's gone for good.

Prepaid cards have a variety of different charges, but the two top cards keep these to a minimum. One example is the CaxtonFX card. Another good one is FairFx. This is a prepaid card, which must be applied for online, charges no spending or foreign 'loading' fees, and can be topped up for free by debit card or bank transfer.  Apply via its own website and there's an initial £9.95 application fee, but the link above (FairFx) takes you through comparison site Moneysupermarket, meaning the fee is waived provided you load more than €10/$20.

n.b. I did just this and I was able to apply for a FairFx card, free.  Moreover, you can check the rate of exchange (even before you join).  Suffice to say that for every £100 worth of Euros I got 10 more Euros than I got from Thomson Travel agents a couple of days earlier (Damn!).  RECOMMENDED

Exchange rates

Currently if you top-up at least £500 when opening, it'll boost the amount you load by £5. This bonus means the overall exchange rate challenges the top credit cards for overseas spending. The amount you get abroad for cash or credit card changes daily as the exchange rate fluctuates.  Once topped up with a top up card, that is your rate fixed.  Like to do a little George Soros gambling ? The only cost is €1.50/$2 to withdraw cash from an ATM, less than most credit or debit cards. You get FairFx's own exchange rate, which generally beats the other prepaid cards and cash rates (compare it with TravelMoneyMax.com's best).

FairFX Card Summary. European Load: 0%. Worldwide Load: 0%. Exchange Rate: FairFX's own rate, determined daily (VERY GOOD), ATM Cash withdrawal fee abroad : €1.50/$2. Currencies: Euros/Dollars. Topping up: Free via Debit card online. Obviously if you top up with Euros and want to buy something in dollars there will be an exchange fee.

The CaxtonFX Card has NO purchase fee, is free to top up and makes no charges for Withdrawals or Purchases abroad as long as you make purchases with the currency on the card.

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Got a spare couple of million ?  You can get a nice pad in London :  Http://Vimeo.com/45061066

Travelogues.  I would welcome details of your best (or worst) holidays

   Morocco     Sailing 1 : Sardinia to Corsica     Collioure, France   Sailing 2 : Turkey ; The Lycian Coast  
Marrakech
. See also http://pgoh13.com/marrakesh.php   Acapulco     Derbyshire Dales     Egypt     South Africa    
S.A.Townships  Latvia    Sri Lanka   Mediterranean Cruise  Our ancient Trailer Tent  Venice   Basel/Basle (new)

I would welcome any contributions to this page.  Holidays you have enjoyed, hotels you would recommend.  Good flights, good insurance etc. And, if you wish to add any 'Holidays from Hell' we can steer people away from those !

King Lear production 


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