# Tuesday, 30 September 2008

blogoftheweek_thumbThis weeks Travel Blog of the Week is matadortravel. The site aims to give travellers detailed information so they can the most out of a tight schedule. It contains a number of useful destination guides written by local experts who have visited and enjoyed the places they write about. One article entitled How to Enjoy Italy on 30E Per Day looks at how to cut costs when visiting Italy. One suggestion for finding cheap lodging is using a network such as Couchsurfing. As the name suggests the network helps connect people looking for accommodation with a place to sleep and vice versa. Whilst the network is not specific to Italy, Rome currently has around 1,400 registered couch surfers so you certainly have a good chance of finding a place to stay. The article offers a few tips for eating out in Italy that could help save a bit of cash. The first is don't feel obliged to tip as the service charge is usually added to the bill. Eating at the bar rather than sitting down can also save you money as it can cost 5 times the amount of an espresso for the privilege of a seat. Other tips include staying away from restaurants close to major monuments, choosing pasta courses that will fill you up and ordering the house wine which is often cheaper than water. This is just one of many useful articles on this website, you might also want to check out How to Enjoy Paris on $100 a Day, The Best of Ireland on a Budget and 10 Things to do in Europe that will make you Smarter.

posted on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 11:45:45 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 29 September 2008
If you are looking for something a bit special when deciding on a holiday destination then you might want to have a look at Only Exclusive Travel. They are a UK based travel agent that specialises in luxury holidays. They specialise in travel to unusual and exotic destinations and offer among other things safaris and golf holidays. One of the hotels they offer is Le Saint Geran Mauritius, a hotel which is set in 60 acres of tropical garden and offers a 9-hole golf course.  If that’s not enough then guests also have the advantage of complimentary access to the nearby 18-hole championship lle aux Cerfs Golf Course.  Other hotels in Mauritius include the Le Touessrok Mauritius where you can Stay 14 nights and only pay for 7 and get complimentary half board.  Prices start at around £2300 per person.

Only Exclusive Travel also offers what they call experiences. These are holidays which are tailor made to your needs. You can combine a number of destinations resorts or countries to create your perfect holiday whether it is a safari or a wine tasting break. These breaks are obviously not for the budget traveller but are a great idea for special occasions such as weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. For those thinking of booking  a honeymoon break they offer is a honeymoon gift service. With this you can select your honeymoon and pay a 10% deposit. Then you send the contact details to your friends and family who can contribute towards the rest of the honeymoon.

posted on Monday, 29 September 2008 12:35:51 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 26 September 2008

Boris Johnson has lent his support to plans to close Heathrow and build a new airport in the Thames estuary. If the idea were to go ahead it could mean a new four runway airport in the Thames estuary that could run 24 hours a day because it would not be subject to noise pollution rules which govern Heathrow flight times. The advantage would be that instead of landing and taking off over residential areas planes would fly over the North Sea causing minimal disruption compared to Heathrow. The airport would be connected to the high speed Channel tunnel rail link and would be only 35 minutes away from central London. If it were to go ahead Heathrow could be turned into a business park or used to create more housing for the area.

posted on Friday, 26 September 2008 11:01:27 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Ryanair will offer discounts on seats selling £5 million for just £5 each. The move is an attempt to boost demand as customers start to feel the effects of the credit crunch. The seats will be on sale during October and the first two weeks of November and the fee will include taxes and charges.

posted on Wednesday, 24 September 2008 11:25:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 23 September 2008

BA have suspended flights to and from Pakistan due to security fears after the bombing of a Islamabad hotel. 53 people were killed in the blast which happened at the Marriott Hotel at the weekend. No one has claimed responsability for the bomb but it thought the investigation will lead to al Qaeda and Taliban militants. British Airways have suspended its six flights a week to the country and have said "Our people at headquarters are reviewing the security situation."

posted on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 12:17:23 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 21 September 2008

blogoftheweek_thumbThis weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Cool Travel Guide written by Lara Dunston. The most recent article looks at Dubai on a budget. The article tries to dispel the myth that Dubai is expensive with a look at lots of stuff you can do for free. The author suggests visiting some of Dubai's museums many of which are free or only charge about one dollar. The Heritages and Diving Village also gets a mention. The village is a reconstruction of the first settlement at Shindagha and gives an insight into what Dubai used to be like. It includes barasti pal frond houses, old wooden boats and traditional performances. Another recommendation is to visit Bastakiya where you can visit some traditional Persian merchants' houses that have been restored and now house cafes, hotels and art galleries. There are lots of good ideas here which are sure to help people trying to save their hard earned cash.

Another post also on the Middle East looks at 9 reasons to love Ramadan. Although many tourists avoid visiting the Middle East during Ramadan the author points out that it can be a good time to explore during the day when the streets are usually empty. In contrast you can expect to enjoy lively nights during Ramadan as everyone breaks their fast at sunset and shares a communal meal with their families or at a mosque. Many of the hotels hold lavish Iftar buffets which are great value and are shared by Muslims and non Muslims alike. Its all good advice which should give readers an idea of what to expect when travelling during the holy month. These are just a few posts from a blog that has lots of useful articles on a wide variety of different topics, it is definitely worth adding to your RSS feed.

posted on Sunday, 21 September 2008 18:01:47 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 17 September 2008

After much speculation BAA have put Gatwick airport up for sale. The chief executive Colin Matthews said the continuing inquiry into BAA by the competition commission was a "big chunk of the motivation" in putting Gatwick up for sale. It is expecting to receive interest from state backed investors and sovereign wealth groups such as Abu Dhabi Investment Capital, the Investment Corporation of Dubai and the Kuwait Investment Authority. Manchester Airport Group and Virgin Atlantic have also confirmed an interest in Gatwick.

posted on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 17:48:54 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Plans have been unveiled for a £400m revamp of Reading station. The plans would include five new platforms, an elevated railway, a new station entrance and a new train depot. The measures would allow more trains to run through the station and reduce delays and overcrowding. Work will start in 2010 and should be completed by 2015. The plans are being displayed at a series of exhibitions in Reading Town Hall.

posted on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 09:47:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 15 September 2008

blogoftheweek_thumb This weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Nomadic Matt's Travel Site written by a twenty something traveller called Matt. The blog charts Matt's travels around the world starting in Thailand in 2005 to the present day. One fairly recent post deals with the issue of how to avoid looking like a tourist, an important consideration when travelling. Some obvious tips include losing the Bermuda shorts and giant camera, things that are sure to make you an instant target for any unscrupulous locals. Other tips are steering clear of "the wrong way backpack" because it marks you out as a paranoid tourist and shows you don't belong, the advice here is to simply wear it where it belongs on your back, why else is it called a backpack? Likewise "The Fanny Pack" marks you our as an easy tourist as well as putting all of your valuables in one place making them easy pickings for a thief. Other tips include leaving the giant map at home and making an effort to blend in.

Another post looks at how to make the most from your travel photos. The tips here include planning ahead so that you can shoot when the light is good, usually between 11am and 2pm, looking for an interesting perspective and getting close to your subject. The advice here is not to put yourself in imminent danger but to take advantage of the zoom feature on your camera. It also includes tips on how to use selective focus tips for the best effect. Lots of useful information which is sure to make sure you don't come home with lots of poor out of focus snaps.

posted on Monday, 15 September 2008 22:25:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

The collapse of XL Leisure has left around 85,000 passengers stranded abroad. The company called in the administrators after the failure of last minute talks with investment group Straumur. XL's fleet of planes have been grounded leaving 85,000 customers stranded and a further 200,000 who have made advance bookings without their holiday. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is working with other airlines and tour operators to organise flights for stranded travellers. Anyone who booked an inclusive holiday with XL or a charter flight through The Really Great Holiday Company, Kosmar Villa Holidays, Freedom Flights and Aspire Holidays will be covered by the ATOL financial protection scheme. However, customers who booked direct with XL Airways will have to pay for a flight on the CAA's organised flights or make their own way home. The CAA has recommended that anyone expecting to travel with XL should not travel to the airport.

posted on Monday, 15 September 2008 09:54:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

The Cheshire based holiday firm Seguro Holidays has gone into administration. The firm runs budget package holidays to Spain, the Canaries and Portugal. People who have booked a holiday with the firm are likely to be protected by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing System which can be used to bring stranded customers home and compensate those who have made future bookings. Around 2,400 people are currently abroad with Seguro Travel and there are 17,253 with forward bookings up until the end of summer 2009.

posted on Monday, 15 September 2008 09:52:52 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 13 September 2008

A new rail ticketing system has been introduced which should make knowing what ticket to buy much simpler. It has two types of ticket "anytime" which as the name suggests can be used at any time, on any train and "off peak" which has restrictions on the time and date it can be used. Under the scheme tickets previously called Saver and Cheap Day returns will now be renamed as off peak.

posted on Saturday, 13 September 2008 11:48:18 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 12 September 2008

The Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that bus and underground fares in London will increase by 6% in the new year. Some fares will be cut, with the introduction of a new off peak rate which is aimed at encouraging people to travel after 09.30. There will also be a new half price travel scheme for people on income support, the elderly and war veterans. The rise in fares will go towards helping to fund projects such as Crossrail and the improvements needed for the London Olympics.

posted on Friday, 12 September 2008 09:46:59 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A train company has some up with an idea to shut off the trains engines on downhill sections of the route to save money. First Transpennine Express has said the move will save around 7% of its fuel consumption without compromising customer comfort. It works because its trains have multiple engines. They can operate on one, two or three engines but one engine can be shut down on downhill stretches allowing the train to run on just two and so save energy.

posted on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 10:50:18 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 09 September 2008

blogoftheweek_thumb This weeks Travel Blog of the Week is Gadling. The blog covers a wide variety of travel related issues. One article deals with using the Internet on your phone whilst you are abroad. The author points out that you need to remember to turn off the international data roaming on your phone when abroad because it can be hugely expensive. It cites a few examples where people have managed to run up large charges without realising how much they will be paying. Using a 3G phone like the iPhone can easily run up charges of around $60 a minute according to the article, a very costly mistake just to access a few emails.

Another post looks at travelling with your pets. The article starts with looking at what trips are possible when travelling with pets. The key, it seems is research before you go. The article suggests calling the hotel rather than booking online, that way you can make sure you can organise a pet friendly room. You should ask for a list of restrictions and policies regarding pets and inquire about any perks that may be offered such as dog beds, treats and water bowls. The article also deals with taking your pet abroad and includes tips of what to pack so that it has a comfortable journey. It also suggests booking your pets flight early and calling to confirm that your pet is actually coming a few days before the flight. It also recommends arriving at the airport early in case of any problems. Its all useful stuff and certainly worth a read before taking your pet on vacation.

posted on Tuesday, 09 September 2008 21:50:08 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

A confused Swedish woman checked herself in at Stockholm's Arlanda airport after misinterpreting instructions. The 78 year old lady checked in her suitcase and then climbed on the belt after it. She arrived in the baggage handling bay where she was rescued by surprised airport staff. The woman suffered no injuries and managed to get her flight on time. Perhaps this conveyor belt system could be a way of speeding up the check in process.

posted on Tuesday, 09 September 2008 11:41:29 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 06 September 2008

XL Airways have become the latest carrier to announce cut backs due to rising fuel costs. The airline has announced that it will cancel all flights to the Caribbean from November. It blames rising costs and the falling popularity of those routes and will affect flights to Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Barbados and Grenada. Travel operators will now have to find replacement flights for hundreds of customers who have already booked. Customers who have a flight booked from November are advised to contact their tour operator.

posted on Saturday, 06 September 2008 11:10:51 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 05 September 2008

A solar powered spy plane has set an unofficial record for the longest continuous unmanned flight. The British built planes called the Zephyr stayed in the air for 82 hours and 37 minutes. It is powered by solar panels and a rechargeable battery for flying at night. The aircraft's designers believe that in the future the aircraft will be able to fly for weeks or months at a time.

posted on Friday, 05 September 2008 12:11:17 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 04 September 2008

Automatic number plate recognition scanners are being installed at Manchester Airport as part of increased security measures. Five of the cameras will be installed at the airport. They will be able to read around 500,000 number plates a day providing an extra level of security and allowing police to check whether there is any reason to investigate vehicles at the airport.

posted on Thursday, 04 September 2008 10:04:27 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 03 September 2008

More than 40 post offices are likely to close in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. If the plans do go ahead 29 post offices will shut completely and 13 will be replaced by an outreach service. The proposed closures are subject to a six week consultation process during which the public will have a chance to put forward their views. A full list of the proposed closures is available here.

posted on Wednesday, 03 September 2008 08:46:58 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 02 September 2008

9musespoolblogoftheweek_thumb This weeks Travel blog of the Week is Package Holiday written by Ian Sims. The blog  aims to help people find the best package holiday deals. Whilst the blog is relatively new it already contains some useful articles and reviews on various package holiday destinations. The most recent article looks at package holidays to the Greek islands and more specifically to Kefalonia. It includes links to useful websites that are worth checking out before you go away such as Trip Advisor which offers reviews from real travellers. The article also gives an informative review of the package holiday offered through First Choice Holidays. The hotel called the Nine Muses gets a favourable review for being clean and modern and close to the beach. The author also highlights some nearby attractions in Scala which are worth checking out. The only disappointment appears to be that he was not invited aboard Tom Cruise's yacht which was anchored nearby. 

Other articles on the blog give reviews of travel related websites. One such website that I have not come across before is Sidestep a US based site that Ian recommends for finding flights. Although the site is US based he points out that it offers flights to and from any destination so is just as useful for people who live outside of the states. The website gets a good review for being easy to use. It also gets the thumbs up for useful features that it offers such as email alerts on the best deals for your destination and the fact that it saves your holiday dates for the next time you use the website, so you don't need to input them again. This blog offers more than a simple review of the package holiday itself, it goes beyond that and reviews the whole travel experience from booking and researching the holiday before travelling, to the journey and destination itself. Its certainly a useful resource and it worth checking out further.

posted on Tuesday, 02 September 2008 10:28:36 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback