FROM OUR BLOG
If you, your family or friends are planning to travel to Europe in the near future, you’ll want the right advice and guidance to ensure you have a safe and memorable trip. The continent is one of the busiest destinations for tourists from all over the globe, especially during the warmer summer months.
Before you take flight, you’ll want to ensure you have sufficient travel insurance cover. This will cover you for things like medical treatment, lost or stolen luggage and even delayed or cancelled flights. You can compare the best policies from trusted comparison sites. Simply fill in the short form to get a free quote, deals can even be filtered by price and features. If you find this guide helpful, please share it with your friends and family members who may want to visit the continent.
Ensure your passport is valid
When you’re leaving your country, you will need a valid passport. Ensure that it hasn’t expired, if it has, get it renewed beforehand. A number of countries will require your passport to be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival before granting you entry. This is regardless of if you’re going for one day or one month. If you don’t have six months validity, you may be denied entry.
Travelling with less luggage provides freedom and a better experience. The last thing you want to be doing is lugging around heavy suitcases when you’re supposed to be enjoying a relaxing holiday. By taking less, you won’t have to pay for checked luggage, arrive early at the airport or stand in long queues that seem to take hours. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the airline losing your bags. Should your flight be delayed or cancelled, it will be easier to switch. Other benefits include being able to take public transport, which is normally faster and cheaper, especially in Europe.
An extra bag will help if you plan to shop
If you’re planning on buying a lot of things, it’s a good idea to pack an extra lightweight duffel bag. This means that if you do have too many items, you can easily check in the extra luggage on your return flight. Remember that if you’re buying expensive items, make sure these are with you at all times on the plane.
No more jet lag
The best way to manage the effects of jet lag is to adjust to the local time zone as soon as possible. You can do this by sleeping earlier a few days before getting on the plane. Set an alarm on your smartphone to make things easier. While you’re visiting, try to eat and sleep at the same time as the local residents do. Anyone who’s taking an overnight flight and isn’t able to get much rest shouldn’t go to sleep upon arriving. Try to stay awake until at least 9pm and adjust your body’s internal clock.
Inform your bank or credit card company
When you’re travelling abroad, you’ll likely need to use your credit or debit card at some point, even if you take a lot of cash with you. Inform your bank and/or credit card company that you will be making transactions overseas. Let them know where you’re travelling to and between what dates you’ll be away. The last thing you want is for your cards to be blocked because the company thought it was a fraudulent transaction. A quick call in advance should avoid this potential problem. Also try to use a card that doesn’t have any transaction fees.
Avoid ATM fees
Before you set off, check with your bank or credit card provider what ATM fees may be applicable overseas. You don’t want to be paying for any usage fees, operator access fees or international transaction fees. It’s always a good idea to take some cash with you as well, you can convert your local currency to your destination’s currency before travelling.
Mapping and translation apps
One great thing about modern smartphones is all the applications you have instant access to. You don’t need to worry about getting lost or being unable to communicate. Many locals will have an understanding of English; however, a translation app can help you with restaurant menus and signs that you’ll come across. Maps can help you get around much easier and quicker and you no longer have to unfold a large paper map.
Ensure your mobile network provider allows free roaming in Europe. Some network providers have a list of countries where you can use your existing minutes, texts and data. Alternatively, you can always buy an add on package or a cheap sim card when you arrive.
We hope this advice is somewhat useful before booking your next European vacation. Have a memorable and safe trip, and don’t forget to take lots of pictures while you’re away.
Uber and Lyft are both big competitors in the private hire taxi industry, so much so that many drivers can now even purchase bespoke Uber insurance. These ride-hailing apps have revolutionised the way in which customers pre-book taxi journeys. In this guide, we provide a brief comparison of the two popular services.
If you’re planning a vacation or attending a conference and don’t have your car, you will likely have two specific apps on your smartphone for this very reason: Lyft and Uber. Although, how do you select which ride-hailing service should be used at any given time? Especially when considering that both companies offer more or less the same service.
Both of these applications largely operate and carry the same functionality: Open the app, enter your destination, select your ride type, view cost and confirm the journey. The apps even allow you to pinpoint your driver’s location along with his/her ETA. However, each offering has its own differences. Before choosing, here’s what you should know about each service.
Uber – The best choice for international use
Launching more than a decade ago, in 2009 Uber was the first ride-hailing app on the market. It’s so ubiquitous that millions of customers around the globe will utter the phrase “get an Uber” when they are referring to a ride-hailing service. The company has more than 90 million monthly active riders, along with 3.9 million drivers across 63 countries. It is much larger than Lyft; which only operates in North America.
Having been around for so long, the app provides a friendly user experience, showing you a map of your current location along with a dialog box that asks you to enter your destination, allowing you to find a ride immediately or schedule one for later on. You have multiple options when choosing a ride too, each with their own displayed price.
The firm also offers its own Uber Rewards membership where you can earn points for future rides. These points can even go towards Uber Eats food orders. In some cities, regular riders can register for the company’s Ride Pass subscription service, helping frequent travellers save money on private hire travel, although it isn’t always clear how much you’re likely to save.
The company does not come without criticism though. Uber has faced thousands of sexual assault allegations over the years, particularly from female passengers. Furthermore, large numbers of unauthorised drivers, some of which are convicted criminals, have appeared on the Uber app in major cities around the world. Uber has countered this by adding new safety features within its app helping riders verify they are entering the right vehicle along with the driver’s identity and are able to contact the emergency services.
Lyft – The best choice for frequent riders
Launching three years after Uber, in 2012, the second-largest known taxi-hailing service is Lyft. They experienced rapid growth as their main competitor was embroiled in a number of legal challenges, including the departure of Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former CEO. The company also has an app for iOS and Android users, just like Uber. Lyft boasts more than 30 million riders and approximately 2 million drivers across Canada and the US. It’s worth mentioning that it does not operate outside North America.
Unsurprisingly, Lyft’s mobile app also works very similarly to Uber’s. Once opened, a map will show you your current location and a dialog box will appear asking you where you want to go. You can type in your destination and find a ride straight away or schedule one for another time.
Once your destination has been selected, you will be able to choose from a few different levels of service. Like Uber, there is also an option for a shared ride, allowing you and other passengers to save money if you’re all heading in the same direction. The firm also offers customers bike, car and scooter rentals.
Lyft launched a new subscription service in December 2019 for frequent riders, called Lyft Pink. This replaced some of its previous plans. The new plan is targeted at riders who use the service at least two or three times per week. It gives customers a 15% discount off every ride and costs $20 per month. Additionally, subscribers will also benefit from priority airport pickups and three covered cancellation fees per month. Their subscription costs $5 less each month in comparison to Uber’s and clarifies how much money consumers can expect to save without any ambiguity.
Similar to Uber, Lyft has also received its fair share of sexual assault accusations. Just like their main competitor, they have also included new safety features within their mobile app in response to the above.
In summary, both private hire taxi-hailing apps largely offer a very similar experience. This is attributed to the fact that there is a lot of crossover as a number of drivers in North America work for both platforms. This figure is backed up by a 2019 survey from The Rideshare Guy, which identified that 84% of 1,000 Lyft and Uber drivers stated that they work for more than one service.
Both companies have very similar pricing, whereby it fluctuates based on current demand and traffic levels. To get the cheapest price, you will want to open both apps on your smartphone and see how they compare with one another at any given time. Each service has varying levels of activity dependent on the town/city it is being used. This means one option could be better than the other depending on where you live and how many available drivers there are.
For international travellers, Uber will be your only option. US-based customers who use private hire taxi-hailing apps frequently may be better suited with Lyft’s new Pink subscription. Security will always be an important factor for any passenger, and both companies stress that the overwhelming large majority of passengers will not experience any incidents.
Traveling is food for the soul for many who crave to travel around the world, visit every country, and gather new experiences. While some people choose to travel solo, others like to have some company with them to avoid making long journeys boring. No matter the purpose of anyone’s travel and how they utilize their time and resources, everyone who travels gains some positive experiences and health benefits. Here is how traveling can have a positive impact on your life as well as your health, according to researches.
You develop better immunity
When you travel to different countries, you get exposed to new environments. While it is always important to maintain your hygiene during the journeys, you are bound to get exposed to dust and air particles in different locations. New environments can help in building new antibodies for your immune system. Your body adapts to new bacteria that strengthen your immune system, and you are less likely to fall sick due to insignificant viruses.
Your stress level goes down
Travel is said to be the best medicine to relax. It is proven that traveling automatically boosts your happiness and reduces depression levels. A study on a group of people revealed that after a three-day journey, they felt less anxious, more relaxed, and in better moods. They also retained these effects for days after they returned home. Taking a vacation after a stressful period of work can help ease you off.
Your mental health gets affected
Travelling opens up new perspectives for you. As you start exploring different cultures and meet new people, you adapt to new situations. Your awareness level improves, which affects your cognitive flexibility. Travel has been found to help in personal growth. Those who travel to different countries develop a better understanding of the world and themselves, which helps them make better rational decisions.
You get exposed to new medicines
There are different medical techniques available all around the world. Medical tourism is the largest sector in the tourism industry in terms of people’s purpose for traveling. When you visit new places, you can find places and techniques with healing properties. From the hot water springs of Iceland to the ayurvedic therapies in the South of India, you can learn about alternative healing methods to improve your health.
Travel reduces the risk of heart diseases
When people develop a positive attitude and experience a decrease in their stress and anxiety levels, they automatically improve their heart’s health. The Framingham Heart Study has found that both men and women who travel at least once in a year are less likely to catch any heart diseases. As their adrenaline level increases, while having new experiences, the heart beats at a normal rate, prolonging its health and automatically preventing any risks.
The first five months of 2020 slowed down several industries, including the tourism industry. Due to the pandemic, most countries shut down their international airline network, and any business or leisure traveling was restricted. But as the new medicines manufacturing and natural recovery of people are slowly speeding up, the tourism industry is about to get back into the business through a controlled environment. Despite many countries facing the quarantine, the tourism industry is ready to put efforts in promoting safe travel. Different sectors are now working together to provide comfort, safety, and convenience to people at the destinations that have opened up today.
Croatia is the first country to open
Croatia is the first country to open up tourism once again, along with China and Vietnam in Asia. Countries like Greece, Vietnam, Denmark, Egypt, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland have also reopened tourism destinations and attractions. Every tourism attraction in these countries has arranged a social distancing and sanitization measures to ensure control over the pandemic.
After being impacted majorly by COVID-19, Italy has recovered fast and opened domestic tourism after four months gap. Germany has also terminated the lockdown and opened up tourism for Europen countries. Anyone traveling to Italy and Germany does not have to self-isolate themselves upon arrival and can travel around while maintaining the social distancing procedures.
Hong Kong is the safest travel destination
With only a 0.53 rate of average-case per million, Hong Kong is the safest travel destination right now, followed by Japan(0.63), and Greece(1.51). Italy, France, and Spain have also emerged from being the epicenter for COVID-19 to become a safe tourist destination. While many other countries are opening up domestic tourism, they are still unsure about starting international tourism.
Countries are opening domestic tourism.
Over 50% of countries are now open for domestic tourism. The tourism industry is encouraging people to travel domestically and help the declining economy of the states due to the collapse of tourism sectors in the past five months. The travel enthusiasts are also supporting this cause by traveling to nearby destinations, but not too far from home. Only 31% of the countries have permitted international tourism for a selected number of countries.
Online booking is the norm now
A maximum number of tourist destinations and travel agencies have mandated online bookings. The exchange of cash is not regulated for now to prevent any contact between the services and tourists. Compared to 85% of all experiences sold offline in the past, 45% of the services have switched to online bookings.
Paper tickets are out of the picture now that tourists have access to digital tickets for transport, accommodations, and activities. Pre-bookings also ensure that there is no queue in front of the ticket counters, and people have enough time to sanitize themselves before entering the local attractions. It also limits the number of people to enter a place (Museums, art galleries, historical sites) and avoids any crowding.
Ever since the break of the pandemic in late 2019, the tourism industry faced a significant downfall in the business. The majority of the countries closed domestic and international traveling from January up until the end of May. Many European countries (Croatia being the first one) have opened up tourism once again, permitting travelers from limited nationalities. If you had to terminate your holiday plan in early 2020 due to Covid-19, this is the time that you can replan everything and set off for the journey. But before you do so, make sure that you are following the right safety procedures made mandatory by airlines and tourism destinations.
Here are some steps to follow and keep yourself safe during your journey.
- Maintain a six-feet distance from people while exploring the crowded places, such as streets, public attractions, airport, etc. Avoid contact with a stranger while you are traveling and keep a hand sanitizer in your quick reach to sanitize your hands after any contact or exchange with a stranger.
- You should also limit your contact to objects that are publicly placed. Avoid resting your hands on the counters while waiting for your tickets. Sanitize your hands after pressing elevator buttons, using handrails, and using hotel keys.
- Wear a facemask in all situations and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth while you are traveling outside. Wash your hands, arms, face, and neck properly after coming back to your room. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, at least whenever you see a washroom. When washrooms or soaps are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Apart from your self-precautions, you should also check for the regulations set by the country you are traveling to. There will be a specific list of rules for traveling, using vehicles and hotel rooms, and visiting attractions.
- Many countries have implemented a 14-day home quarantine rule for travelers who are arriving. Make sure that the country that you plan to visit does not have this rule to avoid any unnecessary home quarantine situation is a different country. Many European countries have allowed tourists to travel from the first day itself with a strict health check-up.
- Air Travel is now possible with the right safety measures. The air circulation in the airplanes is effective in preventing any viruses from spreading. The airlines have begun their services with the right social distancing measures. The travelers also need to go through a long security check, so the earlier you are, the better. The airport staff and security want to create a no-contact process from entry till exit, and that is why you need to carry digital tickets with you. You can only carry a 350mL bottle of sanitizer with you on the flight. Make sure to wash your hands and sanitize them before and after going through the screening process.