Discover beautiful Bruges

The Belgian city of Bruges is an interesting destination for a city break. It is within easy distance of Calais, being under an hour and a half by car, or you can get a Eurostar train from London St Pancras International station.

Historic buildings
Bruges, or Brugge, is Belgium’s, and perhaps Europe’s, most well-preserved medieval city. Almost every street consists of pristine and attractive houses built in the distinct Flemish style with ornate gables. Popular destinations in the historic city centre are the Markt (Market Square), and the Stadhuis (City Hall).

Ponies, waffles, chocolate, and canals
The city centre is a good place to sample the sugary waffles for which Bruges is renowned, or take a drive through the city streets in one of the many horse-drawn carriages that are for hire.

There are numerous gift shops where you can buy Belgian lace and chocolates. The best chocolate shop we have found, from personal experience on repeated trips, is Dumon, located in a very quaint building on a street called Eiermarkt. We managed to smuggle out a huge 1 kilogram block of pure chocolate from there, but they seemed a little reluctant to sell it, it was an under-the-counter job! Fellow gluttons who knew we were visiting Bruges asked us to bring back chocolates from Dumon too, so that’s a high recommendation! If you like your chocolate, that’s the place!

Bruges is also famous for its maze of canals – in fact, it has often been referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’ and a boat ride is an enjoyable and relaxing way of viewing the architecture from a different perspective. As with Venice, the houses look their best when viewed from the water, and it’s a good chance to escape the crowds of tourists.

Bruges is also a city that is extremely bicycle-friendly, and it is easier to cycle the streets than it is to drive. Hiring a bicycle is another good way of escaping the crowds and getting to experience the real Bruges.

Some rainy days
The weather in Bruges is mild, but it does attract more rain and cold weather than other North European cities of a similar latitude. In the summer months, the weather rarely exceeds 21C/70F. You can expect cloudy skies and damp drizzle.

You might be lucky and experience some sunshine, but visitors to Bruges would be well-advised to pack plenty of waterproofs and warm clothing. On a positive note, the cooler climate is ideal for walking around the city on foot.

Summer Events in Bruges
There are many interesting events happening this summer, such as the free summer festival in Benenwerk, 13 August, with music and dancing.

The KookEet food festival on 24th September 2016, which showcases the work of the best chefs in Belgium, is a great way to get to know the country’s cuisine.

Those interested in history might be fascinated by a two-hour guided walk through Bruges’ inner town, which offers the chance to learn what life was like in Bruges during World War One when the city was occupied. From 1st August to end of December 2016, leaving from Belfort (the 12th century Belfry), Markt.

TripAdvisor and travel guide apps

In the last issue of this newsletter we started a new series looking at travel gadgets and travel apps. Last time we looked at airline apps, and this month, Ian from our technical team takes a look at TripAdvisor and some of its lesser-known features, and sees if it can replace a traditional guide book.

Tripadvisor is one of the biggest apps out there, and you’ve probably used it, or at least heard of it. The basic premise is that people review places they’ve been to, including restaurants and hotels, both here in the UK and worldwide.

Here’s how to find TripAdvisor:
TripAdvisor Website
TripAdvisor app for iPhone
TripAdvisor app for Android

What’s wrong with review sites?
This approach of what’s known as “crowd-sourced” reviews has a few flaws. Firstly, someone else’s taste might not be the same as yours. They might prefer different things to you, or have a different opinion to you as to what constitutes high or low quality.

Secondly, there is the issue of fraudulent reviews. TripAdvisor acknowledges this phenomenon, attempts to take action to prevent it, and even publishes a Fraud Detection policy on its website.

Fraudulent reviews can include people reviewing their own restaurants and hotels (presumably favourably!), submitting artificially negative review of a competitor’s business, and incentivising customers to write overly-glowing reviews. There are even companies that try to boost an establishment up the TripAdvisor rankings for a fee!

How to avoid fraudulent reviews
The best thing you can do to avoid falling foul of this is to look for places that have lots of reviews. The more reviews a place has, the more likely most reviews are to be genuine, and the more likely that people with similar tastes to yours will have left a review.

From my own experience, if a place is ranked bad it usually is pretty bad, but if it’s ranked very good you’ve got a 50/50 chance of it being worth a visit. Having said this, some of my favourite restaurants are indeed ranked as Excellent by TripAdvisor reviews, so it almost feels like pot luck!

Careful of the location of places you visit!
Also, reviews don’t tend to focus on where the place is located, so you need to be careful. I once went to what TripAdvisor claimed was a great American barbecue restaurant in Las Vegas, which involved us walking down a very poorly lit, seedy back street, with no proper pavement, and ending up outside a neon-lit horror of a place! We pretty much fled for our lives!

I had another faux pax on a trip to Bath, where we ended up walking miles out of our way to a place that was apparently great, but was like some kind of crazy uncontrolled riot when we got through the doors! And the menu was rubbish too!

Fortunately, TripAdvisor gives you the website for many restaurants and hotels, and many places publish their menu on the web. So you can either research some places before you go on holiday, or use your phone or iPad with the wifi in your hotel or in a coffee shop to figure out where to eat next.

A great TripAdvisor feature: downloadable city guides
One of the lesser-known features of the TripAdvisor app is probably more useful than the reviews: you can download an entire city guide. This puts all the information directly onto your phone, so you don’t need to be connected to the internet in order to read it. This is great because quite often when you’re overseas you can’t use the data connection on your phone for fear of racking up a huge bill!

I usually just put my phone into flight mode when I’m away, unless I’m using the wifi. Bonus tip: don’t forget to turn off data roaming on your phone. This means that when you’re away from the UK, your phone will not use the internet unless you’re on a wifi network, so you won’t get charged for it (overseas data charges can be extortionate!).

If you’re not sure how to turn off data roaming for your phone, just search Google for “turn off data roaming on iPhone“, or “turn off data roaming on Android“.

We’ve just come back from a few days in Vienna, and the downloadable city guide proved to be very useful. Here’s why:

Your download includes a map, and your phone can show you where you are. You can then find a place you want to go to, read a review, then see where the place is on the map compared to where you are right now. The little blue dot that represents you will start to move as you walk, so you can check you’re heading in the right direction.

Does this replace a traditional guide book?
In my opinion, no, you still need a traditional guide book (or its modern digital equivalent). I personally find the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel books very good, with lots of illustrations (although they are printed on high-quality heavy paper, which makes them quite weighty to tuck in your bag).

A good guide book will give the historical context of the place you are visiting, and will give you a much better understanding of what you are looking at, which routes to take, how to use public transport, etc.

Of course, in this modern age, you can download many travel guides onto your phone or iPad too. Amazon Kindle is particularly good for this.

Alongside the standard publishers, such as Dorling Kindersley, Rough Guide, Time Out, and Lonely Planet, there is a rising trend of non-professional publishing on Kindle, where short travel guides are written by people who live in the city they are writing about. These are often surprisingly good, and often very cheap, costing only a pound or two. I like to read them before I go on holiday, or on the plane, so I don’t waste time when I arrive.

Something a lot of people don’t realise is that you can also download travel guides for a specific city directly from your phone’s app store. For example, bringing up the Apple app store on my iPhone and searching for “Vienna travel” brings up several guides, including audio and video, and detailed transport maps. Some of these are free to download too.

Foreign Office Travel Advice
With the recent security alerts and fears in some destinations, the UK government’sForeign Office travel advice has information for every country you’re ever likely to visit. It’s kept up to date, and it is always a useful guide to check before you travel.

For example, the page on Turkey contains sections on terrorism, safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health, natural disasters, and money.

Without wishing to sound too grim, if you are ever overseas and find yourself in an unstable situation, you should check the Foreign Office website first, and then check with your airline, who will also publish advice on what to do.

Airlines often have problems contacting passengers who are overseas on holiday, because the passengers’ mobile phones either don’t work, or they don’t have your correct number, and they may be laying on emergency flights for you to return home.

Don’t forget YouTube
I don’t want to end on a downbeat note, so let’s take a look at one last thing this month! A useful source of information for your trip can also be YouTube.

Just search for the place you’re visiting, or a landmark within that city that you want to visit, and you can often find lots of interesting videos. Some videos will be from other travellers, some from professional publishers, and others from official sources such as the tourist board or the owner of the attraction.

Videos can give you a good feeling for whether or not something will appeal to you, how crowded a place can be, and any particular things to see or avoid.

Hopefully that’s given you a few new ideas to get the best out of your next holiday. Oh, and if you’re going to Vienna, go to Figlmüller and order the Schnitzel!

Be safe – insure your gadgets
Get 90 days Worldwide cover for your gadgets with Premier Gadget Insurance, and save 10% with code LAUNCH10.

The Big Beach of Ulcinj is Montenegro’s hidden treasure

Although its near neighbour Croatia attracts the lion’s share of attention when it comes to resorts facing the blue Adriatic, the more modest coastline of Montenegro, to the south, should not be overlooked. One of the most stunning beaches in this part of Europe can be found in this former Yugoslav state.

Montenegro is a delightful destination for British tourists with easy access to euros from cash machines and most restaurant meals costing somewhere between £15 and £20 before drinks. In the predominantly Albanian area of Ulcinj, prices can be even more competitive for accommodation and dining out, although tourism is picking up led, in the main part, by German and Italian visitors.

Ulcinj – An Overview
Ulcinj is pronounced “Ult-SING”. What marks Ulcinj out from some of the other municipalities of Montenegro is the high quality of its beaches. There is a small pebble beach near to the town which is said to possess fertility qualities.

Then there is the so-called Small Beach, which is more diminutive in size, but is situated close to the town centre, making it popular among visitors and locals alike. The Old Town is full of restaurants and bars with an impressive fort overlooking the sea.

The Big Beach
Nevertheless, it is the Big Beach of Ulcinj which is most likely to attract visitors with a serious hunger for top-quality sand. The longest stretch of sand to be found anywhere on the Adriatic, Ulcinj’s Big Beach, or Velika Plaza as it is known locally, offers around 8 miles of soft, flour-like sand. It is around 60 metres (196 feet) wide and it sits on a shallow south-west facing bay that is easy to reach from Uclinj via the R17 coast road.

There are a couple of beach bars and eateries at the most westerly end of the beach, but the further east you progress the less developed it becomes. The beach continues all the way to Bojana Island where the R17 ends, and which itself has a further stretch of beach facing the Adriatic.

When to Travel
July and August are the hottest months with average highs of 29ºC (84F). For holidaymakers considering Montenegro as a destination outside of the school holidays, when it is generally more peaceful, then September is the best month to opt for. September has 252 hours of sunshine on average, and a very respectable mean temperature of 26C (79F).

Podgorica airport, in Montenegro, is the nearest airport with direct services to the UK, served by Ryanair.

Failure of Low Cost Holidays

Current advice regarding the failure of Low Cost Holidays which will apply to all MAPFRE underwritten schemes.

EHICPlus, EHICPlus Expand, ANZPlus

July 2016: Failure of Low Cost Holidays

On 15 July 2016, it has been confirmed that Low Cost Holidays went into liquidation.

Low Cost Holidays, Spain, S.L. registered address C/ada Byron, S/N, 07121 Parc Bit, Balears, Spain.  Its registered company number is CIF B57813248 is an Appointed Representative of Cover-More Insurance Services, PO Box 9180, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 9AG, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to transact general insurance business. Cover-More Insurance Services FCA Registration.  The underwriter is ERV.

Customers may wish to use these details to assist with any assistance they may require.

If you have booked a holiday with Low Cost Holidays and need to change the dates of your cover on your policy, due to changing your trip arrangements, we can change this to cover your new holiday providing the new trip is within three months of your original departure date, is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.  If your trip is cancelled and you are being fully refunded by your holiday company and so have no claim to make under this insurance, we will also consider the cancellation and refund of your existing policy.  Please note that this will only apply to Single Trip policies for specific trips covering the dates concerned.

The insurance policies do not provide cover for situations of this nature.  In most cases, we would advise you to contact your travel company to help you make alternative arrangements.  We understand that in this instance it is the travel company that has gone into liquidation.

Customers should refer to their terms and conditions for full details of their travel insurance cover.

  • Medical expenses – The failure of the travel company will have no bearing on the medical expenses cover.
  • Repatriation – The failure of the travel company will have no bearing on the medical expenses cover.
  • Cutting short your trip – There is no cover under the policy for cutting short your trip as a result of the failure of the travel company.
  • Cancellation – There is no cover under the policy for cancelling your trip as a result of the failure of the travel company.
  • Travel delay – The failure of the travel company will have no bearing on the delayed departure / travel delay cover.
  • Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) – As described in the section this only applies where a scheduled airline has gone into liquidation, which does not apply on this occasion. So no claims can be considered under this section.
  • Supplier Failure – This cover is not available, as it only applies where elements of your trip are booked independently of a package with a travel company and only refer to the failure of the following:
    • short let holiday accommodation providers (including hotels),
    • car hire operators
    • ferry operators
    • coach operators
    • train operators

As we are sadly, therefore, unable to offer any cover in this instance, we can only advise customers already abroad to contact the travel company, or the local British Embassy, for assistance in returning home.

Please note that our advice remains valid until further notice.

For information on your local British Embassy in the country you are currently in, please go to the following website address and locate the relevant British Consulate / Embassy for assistance:

Further to the information above, MAPFRE have advised that if a customer booked their trip with Low Cost Holidays and paid for this using their credit card, as long as this was more than £100 they should be able to contact their credit card provider to seek a refund under their protection program.

Quiberon: A Relaxing Beach Holiday in Brittany

With beautiful sandy beaches, prehistoric monuments, fishing villages and bustling markets, Quiberon (pronounced “Kibberon”) is a wonderful destination for a beach holiday.

When To Visit
Quiberon enjoys around 8 hours sunshine a day during the summer months; this is also the driest time of year. Daytime temperatures reach 22C/72F in July and August, dropping back to 20C/68F in September. The oceanic climate can be changeable and breezy, so pack a lightweight jacket.

Beaches for Everyone
Wherever you are on the Quiberon peninsula, a spit of land just 14 kilometres (8 miles) long and only 22 metres (72 feet) wide at its narrowest point, you are only a stone’s throw from the sea.

The sheltered bays near St-Pierre-Quiberon in the south are popular with swimmers and families with young children. To the north, the vast sandy beaches near Penthièvre are superb for horse riding, sand yachting and windsurfing.

The Grand Plage in Quiberon town has a boardwalk lined with boutiques and stands serving sweet and savoury crêpes — the local speciality — biscuits and salted caramels.

The Cote Sauvage, the wild coast, is best explored on foot or by bike: this is the rugged west of the peninsula, where dramatic cliffs are pounded by Atlantic waves.

Not To be Missed
The Neolithic site of Carnac lies just to the north: its rows of 3000 stones have astonished travellers for thousands of years.

Take a ferry to the island of Belle Ile and discover an array of wildflowers, pretty coves and restaurants serving some of the freshest seafood you will ever taste.

During the last week of July, Vannes hosts an open air jazz festival.

From 5-14 August, Lorient hosts the Interceltique Festival, an international celebration of Celtic music, dance and culture.

Where To Stay 
Quiberon has a range of hotels and self-catering apartments to suit all budgets. The town gets busy during July and August so make your booking well in advance. Bed and Breakfast is a popular option, with prices from around £60 per night.

Getting there
By car: Ferries run to St Malo and Roscoff. Many summer visitors park their cars at Quiberon’s main railway station and take the shuttle bus into town, as the two-lane road can get very busy in high season.

By train: the TGV runs from Paris Montparnasse to Auray, where you change to the local connection to Quiberon.

NEW: Introducing our Premier Gadget Insurance

We know that you value your holiday insurance, but many people also worry about their electronic gadgets when they are at home. What if they are stolen, or they break down, or they get dropped and damaged?

To help you with this, we’ve just introduced a new policy, Premier Gadget Insurance.

This offers low monthly payments (or yearly payments if you prefer), and gives you up to £1,500 of cover on every gadget.

You also get 90 days worldwide gadget cover, which is useful because most travel insurance policies offer only limited cover for your gadgets.

We offer cover for mobile phones, tablet computers, iPads, laptops, cameras, MP3 music players, and other popular gadgets too.

What’s covered?
You can enjoy peace of mind, with all our policies covering:

  • Accidental damage
  • Theft
  • Liquid damage
  • Fraudulent use
  • 90 days worldwide cover
  • Upgrade to our Silver policy to also get cover on Loss, and the Gold policy also includes cover for Breakdown.

Get your 10% discount today
So whether you lose your gadget, have it stolen or it just breaks down, our Premier Gadget Insurance policy could have you covered.

Get a quote on Premier Gadget Insurance today and save 10% with code LAUNCH10.

Brexit – getting good value on your holiday

Although the UK has voted to leave the European Union, the decision has not yet formally come into effect, and will not do so for at least a couple of years.

Nothing changes yet
The good news is that you will not face any immediate obstacles to your holiday arrangements. You will not need additional visas to enter EU countries this summer, and your current European-Union-issued passport remains valid.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) remains valid, allowing access to emergency treatment and healthcare while travelling within EEA countries and Switzerland.

How this affects your holiday money
Bear in mind that the media always likes to dramatise a crisis. That’s how they get more readers and more viewers, by pumping out a story of constant crisis!

So let’s have a look what’s really going on here.

Currencies have been fluctuating in value, and this volatility is likely to remain until the end of the year, perhaps longer, although of course nobody can be certain.

On 23rd June, the day of the referendum, you could have bought 1.30 euros for your pound (you had to pay 77p to buy a euro).

At the time of writing (on 4th July 2016), you can currently buy around 1.19 euros for your pound (you now have to pay 84p to buy a euro).

So it’s become a bit more expensive to buy your euros. Having said that, buying euros is still better value now than it was back in 2013, which wasn’t exactly eons ago, so don’t be too disheartened – the sky most certainly hasn’t fallen in!

Should you buy euros now, or wait a while?
If anyone knew this for certain, they would be able to predict the money markets and would be the richest person in the world! (Maybe we should ask the richest person in the world and see what he thinks!)

So any advice or articles you see in the media about whether to buy currency now or later are complete guesswork! Unless you’ve got a crystal ball, there’s no right or wrong answer here.

The exchange rate seems to have stabilised now, but of course you can never be sure!

The easy way to find the exchange rate
To keep an eye on exchange rates, you can just do a google search for GBPEUR (this is just what the banks call the pound-euro exchange rate). A handy currency converter and exchange rate will then appear immediately within Google.

One note of caution though: Google will show you the rate that the banks use to trade with each other, it’s not the tourist rate, so you will have to pay a little more than this, but it’s a good guide.

You can also see a more detailed currency chart for the past few months if you wish.

Where to buy your currency 
Keep in mind that exchange rates can change quite quickly, so check for the best deal only at the point when you’re actually ready to buy.

The Post Office and supermarkets are still easily-accessible places to buy currency, and they still offer reasonable deals.

You might find a price comparison site such as Money Saving Expert or Money Supermarket useful.

Airline seats are cheap now!
Insiders in the airline industry will readily tell you that right now airline seats are cheap.

The airlines are struggling. The reason for this may surprise you: it’s because the cost of aviation fuel went down so much, as oil dropped from over $100 to around $35 per barrel (it’s gone up a bit since then). This meant that airlines decided to fly far more planes this year than they did last year, because it costs them less to fly.

This extra “capacity”, as they call it, means they’ve all got lots of planes to fill with happy travellers like us, and they’re having to sell tickets at bargain-basement prices. It’s almost turning into a price war – bad news for shareholders, good news for travellers.

It all balances out
There’s no need to panic. You might need to pay a bit more for your hotel in Europe, and your spending money might not go as far, but the cost of your flights will have gone down compared to last year, so probably overall you’re not much better or worse off.

Better-value places for a holiday
Some areas of the Eurozone still retain a significantly lower cost of living than the European average. This means your costly Euros will go just that little bit further.

The best value for money can be found in the east and the south of  mainland Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, and Portugal are all traditionally affordable, and each one offers more than their fair share of spectacular rural scenery, and metropolitan excitement, for your trip away this summer.

So have a good shop around online, and prepare to go somewhere a little bit unusual and off the beaten track, and you might just have your best holiday yet!

Airline apps and parking apps

To celebrate the launch of our Premier Gadget Insurance policy, we’re starting a new series looking at travel gadgets and apps for your smartphone, helping you to make the most of your holiday.

Check your app store
There’s an obvious place to start when looking for travel apps for your phone.

If you have an iPhone, bring up the App Store, choose Categories from the top left, and scroll down to the travel category. You’ll be surprised what you find. A treasure trove of apps awaits, from airline apps, to travel guides, to apps for individual attractions such as museums.

If you have an Android phone, you can find a similar set of travel apps on the Google Play store.

Airline apps
This month, we’ll look at airline apps, to help you book your flight, change your flight, check your flight is on time, and help you at the airport. Airlines are putting a lot of time and money into their apps at the moment, because they see it as one of the ways to encourage you to fly with them and not their competitors.

The most popular airline for European destinations is easyJet, so let’s start there. The easyJet app is free to use, and gets updated regularly.

To see it on your app store, click one of these links:
easyJet app for iPhone
easyJet app for Android

You can search for flights, make bookings, and check in up to 30 days in advance, directly from your phone. You can also keep your boarding passes directly within the mobile app, which saves you having to print out your boarding passes – a welcome relief if you’ve ever tried to find a working printer while you’re on holiday!

Of course, don’t let your phone run out of battery while you’re away, or a mobile boarding pass won’t be much use!

The Flight Tracker part of the easyJet app lets you keep an eye on your flight, see if it’s on time, and will give you the latest messages directly from the Operations Control Centre at easyJet if your flight gets disrupted.

Although disruption is often unavoidable in this era of frequent air traffic control strikes, airlines know it is a major source of dissatisfaction for travellers, so they are trying hard to help by at least giving us information on what we can expect when our flights don’t leave on time.

You can use Apple Pay to pay for easyJet flights on the app too, which saves the difficulty of having to type your payment card details into a phone.

The future of airline apps?
An interesting innovation that easyJet is currently experimenting with is called Mobile Host. It’s being trialled at Gatwick, and a dozen other popular airports.

The idea is that app will guide you through the airport process, reminding you to check in online before travelling to the airport, providing directions to the bag drop area, telling you which gate your flight will depart from, and telling you which baggage belt your suitcase will arrive on. It also gives live flight updates and directions to the gate as soon as it is open.

It sounds like this could make travelling a lot easier, especially if you are unfamiliar with the airport, or if you do not fly very often.

Other airlines also have apps, including Ryanair and British Airways — some more advanced with others — so search your app store before you fly and download your airline’s app. You could find it very useful, especially if your flight is delayed.

Parking your car
One last useful little gem this month:
Ever forgotten where you parked your car at the airport? There are several apps that use the GPS on your phone to remember where you are. You just set it when you park, and it drops a pin on the map to remember where you are.

Your phone’s GPS is accurate to within a few feet, so when you come back from your holiday you can use it to guide yourself back to your car! Simple but often very useful.

On the iPhone, the Parking Aid for iPhone app costs £0.79.

Android users have a couple of other choices, both free to download: ParKing for Androidor Valet for Android.

Be safe – insure your gadgets
Get 90 days Worldwide cover for your gadgets with Premier Gadget Insurance, and save 10% with code LAUNCH10.

Brexit does not affect your EHICPlus policy

We want to reassure all our customers that our policy (EHICPlus or EHICPlus Expand) is not affected by the Brexit vote.

We can confirm that cover remains in place for emergency medical treatment in the EU as normal, including private facilities, provided that the admission has been authorised by the medical assistance company.

The EHIC card remains valid within the EU and our insurance offers cover in both private facilities as well as the EHIC state Facilities.

Tips for packing: Useful items to take with you

Experienced travellers know that the secret to a successful trip lies in the preparation.

Here are some ideas on essential items to take with you to save time and ensure that your holiday is spent in peace and relaxation.

Essential Documents and Medication
Your passport is obviously a crucial item, but every year a surprising number of people have their holiday plans disrupted by forgetting it, or failing to realise that it has expired. Check your passport expiry date when booking your trip, just to be sure!

It’s a good idea to take copies of important documents, and to take pictures of valuable items, with details and serial numbers written on the back so that if anything is lost or stolen, you can easily report its theft and claim on your travel insurance.

A hidden travel wallet or money wallet can be a sensible choice if you feel you might be at risk from theft.

Don’t forget to take any necessary medication, and be sure to stock up on your prescription medications in advance if necessary, although Europe has plenty of pharmacies and hospitals.

Useful over-the-counter medications to take are headache tablets, travel sickness tablets, indigestion tablets, plasters, antiseptic cream, insect bite cream, and also medication for upset stomachs, in case the food isn’t quite as good as you’d hoped for!

Electrical Accessories
Modern technology makes travelling so much easier than in the past. Take advantage of it and download useful apps onto your smartphone before you set off. There are train and flight schedule apps, hotel and restaurant apps to name but a few, so get the right ones for your destination.

The TripAdvisor app is very useful: it lets you download entire city guides, including maps and reviews of places to eat, so that you can view it without racking up expensive data charges on your phone.

Just before you get on the plane, turn data roaming off on your phone. This should stop your phone from using its data connection outside the UK (apart from when you’re connected to WiFi), which will keep your bills down.

Put your phone into flight mode when you’re not using it to make calls, to be double-sure it’s not still receiving emails or using data in other ways. Otherwise you could end up with a nasty surprise when your phone bill arrives!

Flight mode is also useful to save your battery, in case you won’t be able to charge the phone for a while.

A currency translator app is always useful when working out how much something costs in pounds. As a rough rule of thumb though, right now:

  • 10 euros is around £7.50
  • £10 is around 13 euros

A USB world travel adapter is vital if you are taking electrical items. It’s best to pack two adapters, to prevent arguments about who can charge their phone at any one time! An adapter for Europe isn’t the same as an adapter for the USA, even though both systems use two-pin plugs, so make sure you take the correct type!

Don’t forget chargers for mobile phones, cameras, and laptops. To prevent them from getting tangled in your bag, put each charger into a separate carrier bag.

If you don’t want to take too many chargers, an Amazon Kindle with an e-ink screen (as opposed to the type of screen you get on a mobile phone or a laptop computer) can last a very long time without being charged, so you can just charge it before you go away.

Travel in Comfort
Pack comfortable shoes for walking along cobbled and sometimes hilly streets, and pack for changeable weather. Researching the likely weather just before you set off can help guide you in what type of weather to pack for.

If you are going somewhere sunny, buy a good pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes. (More information on sunglasses here.) You can also buy prescription swimming goggles.

It’s better to buy sunglasses before you travel, so that you can be confident in the level of protection offered, or you can arrange for prescription sunglasses if you prefer. Make sure you get a good sturdy case for them, so they don’t break in your bag. Don’t forget a good sun hat too, and suncream that is appropriate for your skin.

You might find a travel iron or a travel clothes steamer useful, especially if you are packing formal clothing such as a suit. These only cost around £20.

A laundry travel bag is useful for keeping used clothing separate, and especially handy for wet bathing costumes.

Make your journey and stay more comfortable with a two-in-one travel pillow. These convert from a horseshoe-shaped neck pillow to a more standard rectangular pillow.

It can be difficult to drift off in an unfamiliar room, but you can increase the chances of a good night’s sleep by taking good quality ear plugs and a sleeping mask.

So there you have it – hopefully a few new tips to help you pack for your next great adventure!