Reduce the Risk of Lost or Stolen Luggage

Every time we travel and are separated from our baggage, we run the risk of it either being lost or stolen. The ever-increasing numbers of passengers which airlines and airports are serving these days makes baggage handling a constant challenge for them. Although the risks of lost bags cannot be entirely eliminated, there are some measures you can take to help reduce the risk of this nightmare affecting you.

1. Avoid checking in your bags – If you can avoid having to check a bag and only take carry-on luggage (for example, if you are only going away for a long weekend) then this is an obvious way to keep tabs on your belongings. Quite often, with some prudent packing and a decent carry-on case, this can be an excellent way of not only preventing having to be separated from your luggage, but also saving you some money (given that many airlines charge extra for checked hold baggage). It will also save you time, because you won’t have to queue at the baggage carousel.

2. Clear labelling – The airline will attach its own label to your case for identification purposes, but it still doesn’t hurt to also attach your own label, with details of your name and contact information. Some passengers are reluctant to have their personal information visible on their bags, as they do not wish to run the risk of their now obviously empty home address being advertised to a would-be burglar – but this risk can be avoided by simply including only a name and contact telephone number, rather than your full address. Don’t forget to include your country code (+44) in the phone number, and to write “UK” on the label.

3. Additional identification inside – For additional identification purposes, a sheet of paper detailing your name and contact information can be placed inside the suitcase, to aid with identification should the case get lost and its label has become detached. If you wish, you can tape it to the inside lid of the case to stop it getting lost or flapping around.

4. Easily identifiable – One of the main causes of lost/stolen luggage is misidentification. With many suitcases looking so alike, it is very easy for a passenger to remove the wrong suitcase from the carousel and not notice until they get home! You can reduce this risk by giving your luggage some form of unique identifier. This can be in the form of either a piece of coloured ribbon, a sticker, or your initials, for example. Find a way to make your bag distinctive and it is less likely to get picked up by another traveller by mistake.

5. Not too flash – Your top-of-the-range designer suitcase may be too much of a temptation to resist for some would-be thieves, so try not to check-in obviously expensive luggage as it is at risk of being stolen, regardless of how worthless the actual contents inside may be!

Protect yourself with good insurance:
Remember though that the risks of a lost suitcase can never be eliminated entirely, so if it is irreplaceable and you cannot afford to lose it, then don’t pack it!

EHICPlus travel insurance includes cover for a “Total limit for baggage including Valuables” of £1,500 – see the Policy Summary for details.

Malta: Still warm! A good time to visit!

If you are looking for somewhere to take a last-minute Mediterranean beach holiday before the winter sets in, it can often be tricky to find somewhere warm enough in Europe this late in the season. Why not consider Malta?

Climate
Malta is located far enough south (at the base of Sicily) that it is parallel with north Africa, and fortunately enjoys pleasant weather well into the autumn, with average temperatures in October still exceeding 20 degrees Celsius. This is a actually an excellent time of year to explore the country’s numerous in-land sights without the oppressive heat of the high-season sun.

Architecture
Once part of the British Empire, Malta’s history can be traced back to the fourth century BC. In fact, there are an abundance of ancient grand churches and stunning temples to explore, with the oldest, the megalithic temple of Hagar Qim, thought to have been built as early as 3600BC!

The capital, Valetta (the smallest capital in the European Union) was actually granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1980, which considering its wealth of preserved 16th century architecture is no surprise. A main focal point, magnificent both inside and out, is the St John’s Co-Cathedral built in the 1570s. Be sure to also visit the National Museum of Archaeology for a fascinating insight into Malta’s abundant history.

Shops
Valetta is also home to a labyrinth of limestone walled streets, which host a vast array of quaint little shops where you can purchase unique gifts and even watch some being made, for example, the art of glass-blowing can often be observed here and the finished articles purchased.

Restaurants
Just north of Valetta, Sliema and St Julian’s are the main tourist resorts and are where the majority of the hotels and restaurants and located. Malta is not considered a party island – which is what often makes it an attractive choice for more mature travellers – but St Julian’s does have a reasonable amount of entertainment in the evenings for those seeking it.

Beaches
For sun-worshippers the Grand Harbour is not to be missed, and the glorious crystal clear waters – some of the bluest and cleanest in the Mediterranean, are very inviting. It should be noted though that Malta has predominantly rocky beaches as opposed to sandy ones. However, Golden Bay has a nice sandy beach and was in fact a film location for the film “Troy”.

Summary
Wherever you stay, the island is small enough (just over 122 sq metres) that you are never far away from something of interest. So, whether it is culture and history you are seeking, or sun and sea, Malta will definitely tick all your boxes and the Maltese people, being especially friendly towards the Brits, are sure to make you feel most welcome.

Munich: Surf in the City

Yes, you read the headline right, and no, it has nothing to do with Carrie Bradshaw! In Munich, you really can watch people surfing in the city and it is strangely captivating, as the crowds of tourists who visit the “Englicher Garten” (“English Garden”) in order to watch the surfers strutting their stuff every day demonstrates. The water flowing under a bridge hits a stone step around two feet high and creates “waves” from the rapids – there’s no shortage of locals with wetsuits jumping onto a surfboard and pulling tricks for the amused onlookers.

This is not only the largest park in Munich, but it is one of the largest city parks in Europe. It has excellent restaurants too – we had a first class meal at “Seehaus im Englischen Garten”, presented by the noted high-quality German restaurant group Kuffler.

Of course, there is much more to Munich than the surfers, or indeed the tranquil beauty of its public parks and well-tended open spaces and gardens – of which there are certainly plenty for you to explore!

Architecture
Munich has lots to offer as a city-break destination, regardless of how long you are visiting for. It’s a city brimming with beautiful historical architecture and landmarks, with the spectacular neo-gothic “Neues Rathaus” (New Town Hall) in the Marienplatz central square being a particular highlight of ours, with its coal-blackened façade and well-sculptured gargoyles. Munich escaped utter destruction during World War 2, and many attractive old buildings still remain to be admired.

Food and Drink
There is also no shortage of superb cafes and restaurants, not to mention the famous beer halls! The Hofbrauhaus is the most famous of them, but in any that you visit you can be confident of a traditional Bavarian experience! Imagine the iconic image of a lady dressed in traditional clothing (called a Dirndl), with a large tankard of beer in each hand, and the picture you conjure up is exactly what you’ll get! Of course, you can also get Bratwurst, the classic German sausage, and a good Schnitzel (flattened pork or veal, coated in breadcrumbs). Germany also has many regional sausages: Munich is in the Bavaria region, where the speciality isWeisswurst (“white sausage”, made from veal and pork). A tip from our German friends: you don’t eat the skin of a Weisswurst sausage, you suck the meat out of it! Large Pretzels are traditional in bavaria too.

BMW World and Olympic Park
Slightly to the north of the city (but actually very easily accessible thanks to Munich’s excellent tram and train links) you will find attractions such BMW Welt (BMW World), which is a great day out for car enthusiasts. Housed within a futuristic glass and steel building, there is not only a gigantic showroom of powerful cars and bikes for you to enjoy, but there is also a BMW museum adjacent to it where you can quite literally spend almost a whole day exploring the history of BMW. There is currently a Rolls Royce exhibition on the top floor (BMW own Rolls Royce), with lots of these wonderful historic and modern cars, so don’t miss that! If you are really lucky, you may even catch a live motorcycle stunt performancetoo – if you want to see a motorcycle ridden up and down two giant staircases inside a building, this is your chance!

The Olympiapark is next to BMW World and also hosts a multitude of attractions, depending on which day you visit. Built for the 1972 Olympic Summer Games, it also houses a public swimming pool and ice rink for those feeling a little energetic! A particular highlight is the views you can enjoy from here: on a clear day you get a magnificent view of the city of Munich, set against a backdrop of the Alps.

Experience
If you fancy giving Munich a try – and you really should do – visiting in autumn you can expect temperatures in the mid teens, with lows of around 10 degrees Celsius and moderate rainfall. You have just missed the Oktoberfest beer festival, for which Munich is famous. However, that’s no bad thing – German people have told us that you can have the same authentic Bavarian experience in the centre of Munich without the crowds or the inflated prices of the festival. So go and explore: it’s well worth a trip.