Posted on Leave a comment

Flights Part 1… What to do???

Having decided on where to go on your next adventure, are you going to fly like an eagle??? Well maybe not like an eagle, hopefully inside a plane? 

If you do then your next challenge will be getting the best value for money on your flight as there are a near infinite number of flights that you can choose from… Where on earth do you begin??? I don’t mean where on earth literally, that would be your home city, you know what I mean…

Now as always, I am going to ask you to make a decision. There are four questions that I am now going to throw at you:

1 – How much are you willing to spend on your flights? If you have a money tree growing in your back garden, then by all means, first class will give you the most luxurious time in flight. If however you feel more like you have a black hole in your pockets and your money doesn’t seem to hang around for very long, then you are more likely to vote for the economy cabin. Ok, we’ll say you’ve chosen economy, you still need to set yourself a budget for how much you are willing to spend. Do you know this figure?

2 – Are you taking a long haul or short haul flight? In other words is it going to be a 200 hour (yes I know a slight exaggeration) marathon flight, or a two hour flight to that place just down there.

3 – Are you more concerned with price or comfort? Is it value for money that you are looking for ? i.e. the cheapest flight available to your destination of choice, or are you looking for a journey where the economy cabin will give you a good nights sleep, FOOOOD, and a tonne of entertainment?

4 – How much baggage do you want to take – Are you a backpacker? Are you a fan of the traditional suitcase, or are you the extreme minimalist. This makes a big difference as if you are a budget flyer you often will only be able to take a small backpack/bag in the cabin without an extra charge, meanwhile. Backpack or suitcase makes a big difference as well with suitcases often being heavier than backpacks (because you can take more) and baggage allowance in general often being 20-30kg, varying between airlines, this is something you will need to consider.

It is essential for you to answer these four questions before booking your flight. All four questions don’t have a fixed answer but there is in fact a spectrum, how much money do you want to spend on travel? How far do you want to go? How important is the cost of the flight to you? How important is comfort to you in-flight? How many “essentials” do you want to take with you?

If you really want to do detailed research then I would suggest going to a website that I have recommended once before. This website will show you data on the airlines, seats, and feedback on various elements of these airlines… https://www.airlinequality.com.

No before you as I am not sponsored by this website, I just feel it gives you good information to help make your journey as comfortable as possible, yes comfort is something that I value…

Advertisements
Posted on 2 Comments

Money, money, money… oh and travel too…

Money… Ok now that I have your attention…

Let me guess, you’ve booked your next adventure, it’s approaching quickly, next month… next week… tomorrow?

If your adventure starts tomorrow what are you doing reading this blog? Your backpack is still half empty, hurry up and finish packing!!!

On a serious note picture this… your next holiday is booked and you are thinking “What should I do about keeping money with me on holiday?” This is where I can give you some tips… Have you had your caffeine fix? Ready to pay attention?

Now when money is involved there have historically been two different options… can you guess what they are? Yes you’re right, its cash and travellers cheques. These two have been around for donkey’s years so you could be forgiven for thinking this is where the buck stops… 

Oh but there are many more options… with the advent of the modern age and digitisation of the economy we were introduced to card based transactions, these cards are not just for use at home, they can be used abroad during your many many adventures as well…

To simplify things these are the options that you have, all of which I will be talking about:

1 – Cash

2 – Travellers cheques

3 – Cards 

To start with there is and will always be (possibly), the all mighty cash. I will always recommend someone to keep 3 different types of cash on them:

1 – Your home currency – This one is purely a backup of a backup and hide it so temptation doesn’t find it. The reason I say take some of this with you is because you don’t want to end up in the situation where you have run out of cash, as you typically do on your journey back home, and you don’t have any way of getting a cab. You want your journey back to be as stress free as possible.

2 – Destination local currency – This one is so in particular on arrival at your destination airport, you don’t have to stress about trying to find somewhere to convert your money to local currency and at the very least you can grab a cab and get to your first true destination. Now this format of currency is one that you may want to bring more of but it is dependant on exchange rate. If the exchange rate is greatly variable at the time of your holiday, you may not want to take a lot of local currency with you. In addition if you are going to a small country with more rural than urban areas, their local currency may not be available in your home country readily and as a result it may prove difficult to obtain a large amount or any amount of this currency. I personally say you should have some of this, I would try and source enough to cover at least half of my holiday in local currency.

3 – US Dollar $ – Now this one is the saviour (sort of). As I said above your destination’s home currency may not be available in your home country, but the US Dollar will almost certainly be available as it is one of the few currencies that almost all countries will accept, at least in the larger institutions. With the US Dollar you have two options, the first of which is to use this as an intermediary currency that you can exchange into your destination’s local currency at your destination, this depends on how readily your home currency is available as an exchange currency across the world. The second option is to use the US Dollar as your currency of choice whilst on holiday, which is accepted practice in a number of countries as I have seen in Cambodia and Costa Rica. You have to be aware of one thing though, if you use the US Dollar as your currency of choice, at least in the smaller institutions at your destination i.e. markets, the exchange rate that they give you may mean that the product/service that you purchase would work out to be a lot more expensive than it would in the local currency. The most savvy way to pay whilst abroad is to use the local currency.

Does this give you an idea how the value of having cash? Do bear in mind that in the more rural countries, the facility may not be available to use any other means of payment other than cash. This is true at least in a proportion of the destinations, and in particular those that are off the beaten path…

Travellers cheques… You may be fond if this if you remember a time before the world was conquered but the all powerful card!!! Millennials may be stumped with confusion here…. Ok listen up millennials, time for a history lesson… Travellers cheques are essentially like buying a Love2Shop voucher in your home currency, that is backed by the issuing bank because you’ve already paid for it. You would take it to a bank or other institution abroad where it would be converted to local currency cash but ID would need to be provided as it would be in a set person’s name. The benefit was that if the traveller’s cheques were stollen, they could be cancelled meaning you don’t lose you money, where as if you had cash it would be lost.

All joking aside, travellers cheques were once a gold standard method of taking money with you on your travels, but now like with all other forms of cheque, their use has declined. If you are comfortable with these, you can still use them but these may not be accepted in many places aside from large institutions such as major banks at your destination.

Now we step forth into the modern era… And again… Multiple options… Decisions decisions, where does it end? Don’t worry this is the last option that I will be talking about so here goes…

With cards now there are three different options; credit card, debit card and a pre-paid travel card. Here you can also include options like ApplePay, although used widely in the developed economies, may not be so readily used in other countries. With these options there a millions of different cards you can choose depending on your home country so this is where I will have to leave the research in your hand.

Here is a link for those of you who are in the UK, this is a site that I use a fair bit and you may find useful as well https://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/

One thing that I can say however, is that VISA and Mastercard are generally accepted in most countries and although you may get a better deal on some less well known card companies, VISA and Mastercard are usually a safe bet.

Oh don’t forget, before you take your card with you, let your bank know where you are going, you don’t want to find you’re on holiday trying to use your card and turns out it’s declined.

There are two things that you want to check, regardless of whether the card the you chose to use is a credit, debit or prepaid card.

1 – Fees on use – Make sure the card you use has no fees on purchases and withdrawals as this would be throwing money away, quite literally. Do however bear in mind that in a lot of countries ATM machines do apply a small charge to withdrawals regardless of which card you use.

2 – Exchange rate – This one will require a fair bit of research. Using comparison websites will help you with this but it may still be a tricky one to get your head around. Many websites do quote their exchange rates regardless of the type of card and you’ll soon start to see a trend so try to shop around. This will also impact you whilst withdrawing money from an ATM so try to withdraw in local currency as your card provider will work out the exchange rate that way.

I hope this has helped and if you need any more information please to let me know.

Here is a curveball for you now, particularly for those of who living in the post modern futuristic era… You know what I mean… Yes Cryptocurrency… I know I know, this is a controversial topic and this would start up a debate in itself, but there are countries across the world where Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ripple are being used at ATM machines, this could be an idea for those of you who like to try new things and are not afraid to take risks. Maybe you have already tried this, let me know of your experiences…

I’d love to hear what options you have decided to go with.

You're all excited, you've booked your holiday, you've got time off work, but wait, what about money??? No no, your local currency won't do, well not for the most of us, this post will tell you what you should know about travel money, what are the options? how much do you know? I want to hear from you!
Posted on 1 Comment

Why must that seat recline?

Last September I went on holiday and yes you could be forgiven for thinking “What’s the big deal about going on holiday?”. This holiday was in fact my first solo trip… eeek! Today’s post isn’t about the holiday, you’ll hear about that shortly. Instead this post is related to the journey leading up to the first destination… Hope you agree with what you read…

My holiday involved going halfway across the world, taking two flights, and more than 18 hours to complete… Why oh why can planes not go any faster?? I do have a habit of going off on a tangent, but back to the point.

Seats and reclining! Don’t be that person… This is not a post for those of you in front, but for those of you behind, my sympathies…

Yes I know what you’re thinking… “What on earth is this guy talking about…”.

Give me a moment, you will soon know what I am talking about.

With flights being one of the most common forms of long haul travel, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you used one airline or another during your last holiday. Tell me something… Are you a celebrity having booked a luxurious first class seat? Did you go on a work trip and have quite comfy business seats? Or are you like me and did you book economy seats in one of the many millions of airlines that are available today?

I’ll keep the focus of this post on economy seats. There is a lot to think about when booking your flight in relation to the seats alone; width, pitch, and even the number of seats in each row. Tell me, how many of you actually looked at this stuff when you last booked a flight. The reality is, when most people book a flight, they look at the price of the ticket and nothing else. I would recommend doing this research before your next flight, in particular seat width, pitch, and airline rating, I always check out https://www.airlinequality.com, try doing the same, you’ll find a tonne of useful information on that website.

Now… Seats…

Let me tell you a story… As you already know I went on holiday last September. I took a flight. I did my research and ended up choosing Qatar as the airline that I travelled with, and of course, an economy seat. Anyone who has flown with any airline knows that there is a foldable mini table and a small LCD screen integrated into the back of the seat in front of you… Oh and the main topic of this post… these seats can recline.

I’m predicting two different responses from people who read this post. 

The first response will be “What’s the big deal?”, which will be from the following people:

1 – The recliners

2 – Those who don’t fly economy

3 – Those who don’t fly

The second response will be “OH HOW I HATE THOSE RECLINERS”, and this will be from:

1 – Everyone else in the economy cabin

You may be wondering whose perspective I’ll be coming from next, rest assured I belong to the “Everyone else in the economy cabin” group and I cannot stand reclined seats.

So back to last September… I generally opt for window seats as I enjoy looking outside the window and seeing the clouds go by, I don’t know I guess it appeals to the little kid in me.

All is fine and dandy until the guy in front of me decides to recline his seat… The only question I have here is “Why?”, I can not see why anyone would need to recline such seats. Imagine this scenario, you’re at work, sitting on a standard seat for hours on end, do you recline those seats? No, you wouldn’t, but you do on an aeroplane, purely because you can, and you want an experience that’s above the basic economy experience. You might think “Why shouldn’t I recline my seat? I want to be comfortable”, but I think you’ve forgotten something… There is someone sitting behind you!!!

Now back to my story… There I was sitting at my window seat, and a few hours in, I believe it was dark outside now, the person sitting in front of me decided to recline his seat. The first thought that went through my head was “Woah!!”. Within the “recliners there are a subset, those people who recline their seat slightly, and those who go all the way. I must admit I don’t mind those who recline their seat slightly, its tolerable. Those people who want to go all the way down are the people who I find very hard to tolerate. 

There are two main reasons why people behind don’t like reclined seats. The first reason is if the seat comes all the way down, the seat gets quite close to your face, into your personal space, and it can feel quite claustrophobic in this scenario. The second reason will affect the taller passengers more, but may have an impact on everyone, when the seat comes down you may find your knees feel the squeeze. For me both of these reasons had an equally large impact and it led to some drastic action on my part. Before I carry on, I have to say don’t judge, I’m sure you all have done something like this at some stage. So here I go, as the seat went beyond a tolerable level, I intentionally used my knees to stop it going any further. I know this may be controversial for some of you, and especially for the recliners themselves, but the recliners need to understand that they need to be considerate to the people behind them as they may face the same inconvenience from in front of them at some stage in the future.

So what has been the effect of this on me… I have stopped selecting window seats and have been opting for aisle seats going forward. I feel the advantage of this is that if the person in front of me does decide to fully recline, at least I can stick my head out into the aisle, thereby preventing that sense of claustrophobia and invasion of personal space.

Recliners…I tell you this, think of your fellow man and woman, don’t be that person… don’t recline!!!

If you’re a traveller you must have flown on at least some of your travels. Along the way I’m sure you  have used economy seats on the flight at some stage. Did you have anyone sitting in front of you? Did  that person recline their seat when you were trying to get comfortable in your seat? This is what my post is  about. Which group do you fall into???

Posted on Leave a comment

Wait… Stop… Who pays how much???

Have you ever found yourself asking this question “Who pays how much?”

Ok so picture this… You are on holiday with your friends, you pay for a cab to the hotel, one friend pays for snacks, while another pays for an activity that you do later in the day. You decide to “sort it out” later and when later comes you all end up faffing about with your calculators out trying to figure out who owes what to whom.

Let me tell you a story… On my last trip I found myself in a the following scenario. I was on holiday with two friends. We started off splitting costs evenly but found ourselves in the scenario where one person would cover the cost of an entire activity and then we would put our heads together at the end of the day to pay that person back. Now one day, we were at Soda Viquez, an unmissable restaurant in La Fortuna, and we were seated next to another small group having the same dilemma of how to split their costs. Thats when I heard one of them talk about Splitwise.

For those of you who have never heard of Splitwise, it’s an app that you can download to your phone. Once downloaded and set up, you can connect with friends, add expenses in various/multiple currencies, and Splitwise will do all the calculations for you saving that headache of doing the sums. The good thing about this app is not just that this app will do the maths, you can also tell it that only two out of three people contributed to a cost, then it’ll work out what the third person owes, quite handy if you ask me.

For all those accountants out there, yes you know who I mean, Splitwise also gives you a spreadsheet with a running tally of expenses, feel free to print and file this for your records….

I’m a fan of Splitwise and I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t have to wait until you go on holiday use this app, you can use it for any group activity… Are you planning to go to an escape room tomorrow? Are you due to go for drinks over the weekend? Have you bought a present and you need to share the cost with colleagues? Theres an endless number of uses to this app, how do you plan to make use of it? Let me know…

On that thought, I’m Today’s traveller and I’ll be back with another strange and entertaining post soon…