When travelling there are always those looking to take advantage of tourists, con men/women or charlatans looking to capitalize on your good nature and ignorance. Here’s our brief guide to avoiding just a few of them…have a nice holiday.
Do NOT buy currency at the Airport!
Sure, we’re biased, but it’s widely known that buying your foreign currency at the airport is a big NO-NO. The rates are low and the fees are high. Why buy? Visit a foreign exchange specialist (such as eurochange) prior to heading to the airport. Keep an eye on the rates in the weeks leading up to your flight and make an informed judgement on when to buy.
Inform your bank before you go away
Seems silly in this day and age that you should still have to do this, but it’s better the banks know you’re going and likely to use your cards, than get there, try to spend and realise they’ve frozen your account for “Your own protection”. We’d also advise taking an amount in currency as a back-up if you are planning on using a card for most of your spending.
Hiring a car
If you’re travelling Europe’s roads or may be heading along Route 66, then thoroughly inspect your car before you sign your rental agreement. Check for bumps, dents, scratches and marks before you sign-off on the rental. Use your own judgement before you invest in the rental agency’s insurance extra. Be sure the tyres are pumped, there’s a spare and that you know exactly how much petrol or Gas (in the US of A) is in the tank.
Oops, sorry officer
Some countries are a little different, but hey, that’s why we travel. If you’re driving abroad, it’s best to be aware of the host country’s rules and regulations. Here’s a funny one: in France if you are stopped and do not have a Hi Viz vest, a GB sticker or a length of rope in your car, you can find yourself the recipient of a rather hefty fine. Not the welcome you were expecting, but a little fore-thought and planning can avoid these kinds of automotive mishaps.
Sat Nav or Mobile Phone
Carrying-on from number 3, the choice between a Satellite Navigation rental or using you phone’s app can be a difficult one. On a recent trip to the US, we were given the choice: rent a Sat-Nav for approximately $10 per day (a week-long trip) or buy a mobile (sorry, Cell Phone) with credit and use that as a navigation tool. We chose the Cell Phone option - $50 and it even included the credit!
Note: You can also use Google Maps offline, meaning no data usage is required.
Using your mobile abroad
Regulations have been relaxed regarding ‘Roaming Charges’ of late, but using a device away from your provider’s service towers is always a worry. Use in moderation and in emergencies, anything else and you risk a hefty bill. Besides, you’re on holiday – RELAX and get off the grid!
The EHIC or European Health Insurance Card
is recommended to all UK citizens travelling to and around the EU. It essentially allows the user access to the local hospital and health centres in the same way you would the NHS in Britain.
Note: there are limitations and it is not a replacement for health insurance. There are countless horror stories for those holiday-makers caught short – plan and prepare and be aware of sites that charge for the EHIC – it’s a CON!
The EHIC is FREE!
When booking your holiday, be sure that the company that you are buying from is either ATOL or ABTA protected.
What does that mean?
ATOL is the acronym for Air Travel Organisers' Licensing and simply put, if your company is a member, a variety of mishaps, delays and awkward happenings are eligible for reimbursement.
ABTA is…well, let’s let them tell you: “When you book with one of our Members, you can relax and travel with confidence. You can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve booked with a reputable company and, you can access our comprehensive range of support, protection and expertise should you need it”.
They’re everywhere these days, but not in Milan!
The Italian citizens seem to have gotten rather frustrated with walking into extended photographic accoutrement (sorry, we don’t know the Italian for Accoutrement…or the English it seems!!) and banned they’re usage in Milan.
You have been warned.
Number 10: Pick Pockets
Be aware, be very aware! That’s our tip. We also have a post that might help.
Strap cash to your body (money pouch style
), zip your pockets and hold bags close to your chest. You can’t always escape the shady types, but you can go some way to deterring them.