Saturday, 23 August 2014

MOBILE PHONE CHARGERS are not all equal

I've just bought a new mobile phone (more about that later) and reading the instructions found out that they insist you use their charger and USB connector otherwise you could invalidate the guarantee.

I decided to do a bit of research into this in case it was just a ploy to market their own brand cheaper accessories and low and behold there is some truth in it.

I found an excellent article all about why not all phone accessories are interchangeable and now understand that whilst some are others are not due mainly to the amount of output amperage each phone requires.  Already I have discovered that my old HTC phone is different from my new Samsung one therefore I shouldn't use the same charger or USB cable for both.

Using the wrong cable could not only cause your phone to overheat and be damaged but may also undercharge the battery making the battery usage shorter.

Whilst I don't pretend to fully understand it all I did feel it worth sharing this info in view of the number of travellers who borrow chargers and also the incidence of people needing to charge phones at airports etc.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

MOTORHOME British Isles free or cheap camping

 Possibilities for free or low fee camping in Brtain seem to be increasing in some area but in others car parks and parking areas are banning motorhomes so it can pay to do research ahead of time.

When we first started motorhome travelling in UK in 1997 we had no Internet and little access to information so had to make it up as we went along.

If we were ever visiting a pub or restaurant we would ask the owner if we were could stay overnight in the car park and were always told yes.

Many small towns have car parks where the local council will permit you to stay if you ask.

We often write to people in the hospitality clubs to find out whether they have a place for us to park overnight.  Couchsurfing actually has a group for people who either have space for a motorhome to park or need a place.  We had an unexpected surprise after parking at Kevin & Ruths.  Inspired by us they sold up their home and set out full time travelling in a motorhome.

It is often worth joining one of the clubs to have access to their sites or information.

One of the newest "clubs" you can join is Brit Stops .  For just £25 a year you are issued with membership and a very explicit directory. This shows you where the stops are located, the type of stop (pub, farm shop, vineyard etc), facilities, info on access and more.

The Caravan Club has some great CL's - these are locations often on farms where they have space for up to 5 caravans or motorhomes to stay overnight.  Fees are low and facilities often minimal.

The Camping and Caravan Club is much the same but also has people camping in tents.

The Motorhome Stopover lists over 400 stopover options.

UK Motorhomes is a very interesting site and on it they have a directory of stop overs

Wild camping is a site where members post information on good places they have found for wild camping.

Recently we were trying to arrange a meet up with friends in their motorhome and wanted a pub where there was overnight parking.  A simple google search keying in the country + pub + motorhome gave us some excellent results although we did have to be detectives to narrow down exactly which pub it was in some cases.

Don't be afraid to look for other alternative parking spots but as a courtesy please consider other people in the area you are parking.  Ask for permission if possible and behave responsibly and don't draw attention to yourselves in order to maintain these possibilities for others.

Apparently in Scotland you have a "right to roam" but must still observe local signs which can be a little sneaky as we saw some advertising "no parking between 1am and 3am".

Above all we always thing that if you show CONSIDERATION for others when choosing a parking spot you are much more likely to be left alone.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

TRAVELOCITY TRAUMA and wealth warning.

An American friend recently came to visit us.  He booked his KLM flight from Amsterdam to Norwich using an app on his i-phone for Travelocity.

Arriving at the airport for his 9.15 am flight he was stunned to find out that he was in fact booked on the 9.15 evening flight.  After huge discussions with KLM they would only let him board the morning flight by paying an additional Euro 200 as he had supposedly booked a cheap ticket. (When you read on you will see that all tickets were offered at the same price although the one booked was listed as the cheapest).

On arrival we checked things out on line to figure out how the mistake had been made and you may find this hard to believe.

Whilst the www.travelocity.co.uk site shows flights in the 24 hour system the travelocity.com site and iphone app shows flights on the 12 hour system.  Worse still the website doesn't even do that properly and just shows a or p after the flight time.

The confusion was worse as the flights were listed in almost random order.

First flight listed was the evening one and was shown as the cheapest when in fact it was exactly the same price as the next 2 flights.

The next flight listed, the afternoon one, said fastest but was the same duration as the other two.

Finally the 3rd flight list (the same price and duration as the other 2) was the morning flight.

Where is the logic in that ????

Moral of the story, take extra care when using Travelocity especially on a phone as it is difficult to see things clearly.  

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Brilliant hotel multi search saving you time and money

Hotel Combined guarantee they will find you the cheapest price so this has to be a good starting point when searching for a hotel.

In one search it will check out many other hotel search sites including Agoda, Expedia, Hotels.com,Late rooms, Hotel Club, Easy click travel,Hrs.com, Dhr,Travelocity and more.

You have options as to how you want the results displayed, by distance, popularity, price, star rating. You can see maps, reviews and photos all on the one page.

UPDATE

Another multi search that has become popular is Trivago which claims to search over 200 sites at once.

However these sites often miss showing chain hotels such as :-

Premier Inn
Travelodge
Holiday Inn
Ibis Budget


AND

Don't just stop there, if you have time then double check first on a website like Top Cash Back to see if they match the price and also offer cash back

AND

Finally if you see that the booking form has a place for a voucher code then do a quick search to see if there are any current discount codes showing up on line.

Here are a few more tips on getting more from cash back sites

However don't forget that more often than not the biggest savings are made in the first 15 - 30 minutes so unless you have lots of free time then don't beat yourself up if you only do one of the above things, every little helps.