Driving abroad advice and car hire tips

Driving abroad isn’t difficult but you do need to learn to cope with being on the other side of the road, different traffic signs and hazards from hairpin bends, and potholes, oxcarts and elephants that you rarely encounter on British roads.

Driving abroad advice and car hire tips

Do your homework before setting out and drive defensively and you should be fine.

Legal requirements

Most but not all countries will allow you to drive on your national licence for up to three months. If you do need an International Driving Permit, they are are available from the AA (www.theaa.com) or over the counter from selected Post Offices.

You should take your car’s registration papers with you as proof of ownership and carry photo ID with you at all times.

Driving abroad

Insurance

Within the EU, your existing insurance policy should be sufficient to cover the minimum legal requirement. Beyond EU borders, 40 countries worldwide sign up to the Green Card scheme which again guarantees that you have legal minimum insurance and saves you having to buy any further insurance locally. Your insurance company should provide the card for you free of charge.

However it is worth topping up your policy to get comprehensive accident and breakdown assistance as the costs can skyrocket abroad.

What to take

If taking your own car abroad, you may need to buy some new kit to stay legal. To start with, you’ll need a GB identifier sign. You should probably buy headlight adjusters to reset the angle of beam, needed to compensate for driving on the opposite side of the road. In Spain, and Portugal (amongst others), it is a legal requirement to carry spare light bulbs, a reflective jacket, and warning triangle.

Take a spare set of car keys, spare glasses if you need them for driving, a basic tool kit, invest in a phrase book with a good section of motoring terms and sat-nav loaded with the right area (or a good map), preferably both.

Car Hire

Check how old you need to be to hire – it can vary from 21 to 25 while in some places you need to have had your licence for at least a couple of years. Take your licence, your passport and a credit card with enough credit to cover the deposit (which can go up to £3,000).

Look at taking out a policy to insure your Collision Damage Waiver and Excess which can vary from £200 to £1600; to do it locally can cost up to £20 a day.

Shop around as rental prices vary hugely, even between the major international car hire companies (and one won’t necessarily be the cheapest in every destination). There are obviously many price comparison websites, and most tour operators and airlines offer deals through their preferred suppliers but these aren’t necessarily the best offer either.

The many smaller local agencies may give you a better deal although surprisingly you can often get better deals by buying in advance from a big agency at home. You also need to be careful as unless you have a good recommendation, you’ll need to do a lot of homework and could still end up with a rent-a-wreck and no backup.

Driving Abroad

Except for a handful of former British colonies (such as Malta, Cyprus, Australia and South Africa), driving is on the right, which also means going round roundabouts the wrong way and giving way to the right. It can also make it more difficult to judge things spatially and see out of your mirrors if driving a British car, so check very carefully when turning, parking and backing.

Seat belts are usually compulsory and many other countries have more stringent rules on speeding and drink driving than the UK. If in doubt, simply don’t drink at all if driving. Possession of a radar detector is illegal in many countries, even if it’s switched off, so if you have one, leave it at home and switch off the speed camera function on your sat-nav.

While a few well-publicised countries such as Germany allow you to drive incredibly fast on motorways, the average is 120/130 kph on motorways, 60/70 kph on rural roads and 40/50 kph in towns with strictly enforced limits and on-the-spot fines. Remember that your toll tickets are timed and can be used as evidence of speeding.

If you do have an accident, take photos of any damage, call the police (it’s a legal requirement in some countries) and if in doubt, contact the British consulate who can help you get legal representation.

Cambodia Holidays

Cambodia is a country that has come out of the shadows in recent years and is now one of the must visit places in South East Asia. Boasting everything from busy cities to coastal resorts, Cambodia is home to some truly stunning landscapes, an incredibly diverse culture and breathtaking archaeological sites. A holiday to Cambodia is one like no other and will certainly be one of the best experiences of your life!

Located in central South East Asia, Cambodia borders Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Much of the landscape is dominated by the massive Tonle Sap freshwater lake and the mighty Mekong River, with floodplains and rice paddy fields as far as the eye can see once you leave the urban centres. There are also mountainous areas and jungles a plenty, so if you’re looking to get out into the countryside, there’s a huge range of places to go and things to see.

Cambodia Holidays

Cambodia is a tropical country just like most others in the region and experiences frequent monsoons. With a temperature range of about 20 degrees to 40 degrees, you won’t go cold in a hurry. The rainy season in Cambodia runs from May to October and is marked by lower temperatures but much higher humidity. On the flip side, the dry season is from November to April and blisteringly high temperatures are common.

Once kept in the dark by Thailand, Cambodia has become a tourist honey pot in its own right. Much favoured by backpackers and people on gap years or career breaks as part of the South East Asia ‘circuit’, it has something for everyone. The capital Phnom Penh is certainly where most of the action happens, but Siem Reap is the best place for tourists.

Comparatively smaller and more laid back than Phnom Penh, it has the perfect blend of tourist functions and everyday Khmer activities which means even the most unadventurous people can still have a good time. If you’re looking for exotic beaches, Sihanoukville is the place to go, while cities like Kampot or Battambang offer something different to the tourist centres. It’s really up to you how much you want to experience during your holiday as Cambodia has it all.

In terms of culture, Cambodia is as varied as it comes. With influences from India, Laos, Thailand and even France, everything from the cuisine to art, dance and even architecture is diverse and unique at the same time. Famous aspects of note include Apsara dancing, Cambodian boxing, Buddhist pagodas, Tuk Tuks and dragon boat racing on the Tonle Sap Lake. Khmer cuisine is beautiful and relies heavily on fish, rice and spices; the national dish is the Amok curry, while Lok Lak is also a delicious alternative. You’ll certainly see and experience things you never even knew existed, as the country never ceases to surprise.

temples at Angkor

You can’t go to Cambodia without taking in some of its history. Without doubt the most popular tourist attractions are the temples at Angkor, just outside Siem Reap. The most famous of these is Angkor Wat, but Ta Phrom and Bayon are also a must. Popularised by the Tomb Raider films, the temples are as impressive in real life as they are on the silver screen. The brutal Khmer Rouge regime is also a significant part of Cambodia’s history and there are many museums dedicated to telling the story of this tragic time. From the Killing Fields to the Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, to really understand the country, you should really check out its past. Continue reading

Taking Your Children on a Great African Vacation

Every parent wants their child to see the world, but that doesn’t meant hat you will always have the opportunity to do this for your child. So, when you actually do get the opportunity to travel abroad, it’s a good idea to go ahead and take the opportunity. Who knows — you may not ever have that chance again.

If you travel with children, you need to think about where you actually want to take your children. Children tend to be very curious, so it doesn’t hurt to expose them to a new culture and get them the education that they need to get ahead in life. Being tolerant of different people and cultures is something that really does come in handy when you’re trying to get a job or even to just build connections that will open doors later in life.

African Vacation

If you aren’t sure where you should go, you might want to think about going to an African country. Contrary to poplar belief, the countries in Africa are indeed safe on the world. Why wouldn’t they be open to travelers? If you think bout it from the right perspective, you’ll see that there are numerous companies and even full scale governments that are working together to make each African nation as safe as possible. There are some countries within Africa that are almost completely dependent on foreign tourism to survive. This means that if they want their people to be taken care of and protected, those tourism dollars are truly worth their weight in gold.

So as you plan your African vacation, you can rest easy knowing that you aren’t going to have to worry about sending your children somewhere that they won’t be safe.

Building the perfect vacation that will delight your children is just a matter of following certain steps. For example, the last thing that you want to do is travel to an African country and end up staying in your hotel room all day. You should feel comfortable walking around the numerous shops and looking at the many different examples of culture, art, and entertainment.

Your children will definitely have questions, so packing along a guidebook is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to answer their questions, or go on a guided tour where a local person can answer their questions better. If you and your kids approach this vacation from the right direction, there’s really no limit to all of the fun that you’ll have!

The Travel Agent Down Under Planning a Trip to Australia

Australia is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. There are so many visitors coming in and out the country from all parts of the world, either for business or pleasure. Summer stretches up from late November all through February, and that’s the time when most visitors flood in because of the summer sun. Arrangements for any kind of trip to Australia should be made way in advance because there is so much to do.

The biggest question when you are planning for the trip is where you are going to visit and the things to see. There are those must-go places which your agent must suggest to you. If time allows, Sydney and Melbourne are compulsory, otherwise you will not claim to have gone to Australia. These are among the most important cities that you have to visit for your trip to be complete. There is just so much on offer in these two cities which you may not complete in a single visit. If you wish to read more on Australia, make sure you check the internet for details.

Trip to Australia

Other places you must visit include, Uluru, the Great Ocean Road, and the Great Barrier Reef. These are some of the historical sites you will read from any Australian journal, as they make a typical Australian recipe. People who visit for pleasure are on an upper hand because they get all the time to explore the beautiful isolated country.

Lest you forget, Australia is a lone continent in the middle of waters, and there is no greater joy that saying that you once had the pleasure of visiting. If you want your trip to be remarkable, get your agent in good time and let them assist you identify the things to do. It doesn’t happen very often and the best you can do is making the most of it.

When you have some time for holiday, say on honeymoon or typical family holiday, Australia is quite an easy pick. It is a big tourist attraction and the reasons will most definitely be relevant to you too. Just prepare everything well and let the rest be done by your travel agent.

What a Travel Agent Does

In this day and age, when most of us have access to enormous amounts of information through the internet, is it really necessary to use travel agents for our holiday bookings? Can we not go online, search for the best deals and make our bookings ourselves?

The truth is, travel agencies cannot be easily ousted with the arrival of the internet. Travel agencies can have resources that you and I do not have access to. There are often agency quotas when it comes to tickets and hotels even. So even if we see that a particular flight is completely booked, an agency might still have tickets available on the same flight.

travel agent

Travel agencies may have options that are not available to us directly. This includes private rentals which may not have a web presence. For example, if you’re looking for Miami apartments, a travel agency may be able to give you more options than you can find on the internet.

Travel agencies can make life much more convenient. Yes, it may well be possible to make all the bookings online, but think about the time and energy spent on doing that. On delegating this task to a travel agency, not only can you rely on their professionalism and experience, but you can also spare yourself the hassle of doing it yourself.

Many of us regularly make bookings for our holidays on our own, but for some things, especially for long and multiple destination holidays, it still does make sense to go to a travel agency.

Tips To Save On Your Holiday

Things are looking bleak on the financial front at the moment, so many of us are looking to get away from it all for a bit. This is a bit difficult however, if you finding yourself short of cash. So, how can we get away without spending a packet?

Budget Holidays

Like well known supermarkets, some tour operators have now started doing ‘value-brand’ products like holidays. They have created packages which strip back all of the luxuries to ensure that the holidays are more affordable. So, for example you could get a once in a lifetime Incas tour for half the normal price.

Get Haggling

When you’re looking at the rates online for your holiday of choice, bear in mind that this might not necessarily be the best price. It’s always worth giving the hotel a quick ring to see if you can get a better offer. However, if you are going to try to haggle, it’s probably a good idea to try and be flexible with the dates you would like to go.

holiday-budget

Opt For An Apartment

Instead of going for a hotel, why not consider renting an apartment? Many websites have boosted their apartment offerings, giving holidaymakers even more choice.

When looking to get an apartment, make sure that you check for guarantees should anything not go quite right with your booking. Downsides of getting an apartment though, is that many landlords will say that you have to stay for a minimum of one week, so not convenient if you are looking for a short break away.

As always, make sure that you ask if the price shown is their best offer, as they are likely to be willing to negotiate.

Home Swaps

A holiday craze which has become increasingly popular over the past few years, is home exchange sites. The idea of these websites is that you swap homes (and maybe even cars) with other holidaymakers, for a set amount of time. Let’s say for example, you’ve got a house in London and fancy going to Australia, just look online and see if there’s someone willing to swap.

Go Camping

If you fancy something a bit different than staying in a hotel, why not try camping? There’s a new craze started called glamping (glamorous camping). If the thought of being stuck in a tent in Bognor Regis in the rain doesn’t appeal, then you could go a bit further afield. For example, you could stay in luxury sites all over the world like Morrocco, Goa and Australia from as little as £41 pp per night. Searching for bargains could give you a whole new experience, for a lot less money.

Short Term Loans

If you really want to get away on holiday, but payday is too far away, you could consider taking out a payday loan to help cover the costs. You’re able to get anything from around £50 up to over £1000, which you then just repay on your payday. Although they aren’t meant to be used on a permanent basis, they could be a quick and convenient way to cover the costs of a holiday before you get paid.