With summer finally getting into full swing, many of us will be looking forward to travelling abroad for a well earned holiday. Of course, you’ll need access to cash while you’re away, so what are the best and safest ways of arranging your travel money?
1) Local Currency
It’s a good idea to take a small amount of local currency with you whenever you travel, if only enough to last you for your first few hours. You’ll probably need to arrange travel from the airport to your hotel for example, and local currency is the easiest way to pay for these initial expenses. The exchange rates charged at airports are notoriously expensive, so buy some currency before you leave and you’ll get a much better deal.
The drawback to carrying currency is that if it gets lost or stolen, it can’t be replaced. For this reason it’s best to use another form of travel money for most of your funds.
2) Travellers Cheques
These are the traditional way of carrying money abroad. When you buy the cheques, which can be in Sterling, Euros or US Dollars, you have to sign the stub of each cheque in the presence of the teller. Once abroad, you can convert the cheques into local currency by signing the other half of the cheque at a currency exchange, where the teller will compare the two signatures and also inspect your passport.
This system is more secure than cash as each cheque is uniquely numbered, so if a cheque goes missing it can be quickly cancelled and replaced by the cheque issuer. There is a drawback in that you have to cash the cheques at a currency exchange, and you might not find one offering a good exchange rate.
3) Credit Cards
Credit cards are accepted virtually the world over, and may seem a good way of paying your way while abroad. As well as using them for shopping, they can be used to pay restaurant bills and even to withdraw cash. Before choosing this as your travel money option though, check your card’s small print to see what interest rate is charged on overseas use – it will probably be higher than the standard rate of your card, and you’ll probably have to pay exchange charges too.
4) Cash Machines
There are now several international cash machine networks in operation, for example the Cirrus network, and it’s likely that your cash card can be used internationally, especially in Europe and the USA. This is a good way of financing your holiday spending, as you can draw out what you need while keeping the rest of your money safe in your normal bank account. The downside is that you may have to pay a fee for each withdrawal, and the exchange rate you’re charged may not be the best available.
5) Prepaid Cards
These are a relatively new kind of plastic card, which are used in much the same way as credit or debit cards, with the big difference that you have to ‘load’ the card with funds before you can spend with it. They are a secure way of carrying money, as the card is replaceable if lost, and as it can only be used in conjunction with a PIN number then even if stolen it’s difficult for a thief to make use of it. There will, however, still be exchange commissions payable when you use the card, and also usually a flat fee for cash withdrawals.
The main thing to bear in mind with travel money is that while each of the above options is useful, not all are suitable for use everywhere in the world. The best advice is not to rely on a single kind of travel money, but to take a sensible mixture of cash, local currency, and plastic or cheques, to make sure you can always get local currency when you need it. Enjoy your holiday!
The following cities have been named as the top destinations to visit in 2014, according to travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.
Cape Town, South Africa
Auckland, New Zealand
When it comes to choosing a holiday, we are all spoilt for choice. There are thousands of destinations available through travel agents and on the Internet. However, the problem is that most packages only offer accepted types of holidays. In other words, if you are looking for something out of the ordinary then you really have to look for it.
When trying to find a funky hotel or holiday, you should start researching the market a few months before the day you wish to leave. Funky hotels are not widely advertised as such, especially if you fall into an older age bracket. They are generally only offered in unusual package holidays that are marketed towards individuals below the age of thirty. However, to give you a head start on your research, the top 10 funky hotels in the world are described below.
1. Katerina City Hotel, Moscow: This Russian hotel boasts a prime location just a few minutes walk from the sites of the city, as well as the entertainment and nightlife. It is decorated in pastel and lightwood to give a more relaxed feel and is thus informal. The food is good, the environment laid back and the modern feel makes it a lovely place to stay if you are looking for something out of the ordinary.
2. The Mosser Hotel, San Francisco: This hotel has created a culture of its own. The atmosphere is extremely laid back and relaxed. Its claim to fame is that it has the only hotel recording studio in the city! It is also only a few minutes away from the shop and nightlife areas of the city.
3. Caesar’s Palace Hotel, Las Vegas: The name says it all. This hotel is located on the strip and so has immediate access to the casinos, clubs and bars. The hotel itself is extremely elegant, offering excellent guest service, a spa and fitness suite and great food. The location makes it funky, but the sheer luxury of the hotel serves to heighten that.
4. Creatif Hotel Elephant, Munich: As soon as you lay eyes on the hotel, you know immediately that it is funky! The front is painted a variety of blocked colours, and the inner rooms are decorated the same way. It boasts modern facilities and access to all of the Munich’s main attractions without its guests being disturbed by the noise of the busy city.
5. Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo: Located in Shinjuku, this hotel is a spectacular sight as you approach it. It stands out above the other buildings because it is illuminated and looks very impressive. All of the facilities are modern and of the cutting-edge technology. It is located within a short distance of the city centre and provides a great place to relax.
6. Magnificent Plaza Hotel, Shanghai: Located in the heart of Shanghai, this hotel is a short distance from all of the main attractions of the city. All of its 182 rooms are modern and equipped with up-to-date facilities. It offers a variety of food options from around the world too. There is no better place to stay in China.
7. K-Port Inn, Dubai: At first glance, this hotel seems to be no different from any other. It could even be described as stately… until you walk through the door! It is in the city centre and offers contemporary furnished rooms with all of the latest amenities. However, it has Iranian and Arabic clubs, an American discotheque and an English pub on site! You cannot get any funkier than that!
8. Grand Oasis Resort, Cancun: This hotel’s appearance is phenomenal. It is a giant pyramid located in the heart of Cancun that seems to be rising from the Earth! You can play golf or lie on its half-mile beach until your heart’s content. You could also sit in one of the seven bars, or join in with other two themed parties the hotel holds every week. The choice is yours.
9. Leonardo Hotel, Prague: This is a converted Post House in the centre of Prague. It is absolutely gorgeous and extremely funky! The room décor combines classic and modern styles with skill and provides a pleasant and comfortable place to stay.
10. The Bellclaire Hotel, New York City: This hotel is funky primarily because of its crazy and friendly surrounding environment. It is in the heart of the city and is within walking distance of everything you would ever want to see in the city. It is very luxurious but also very modern. It was built in 1903 and is a fantastic place to stay for any tourist.
Canada occupies most of North America and is, size-wise, the second largest country in the world. There is nothing small about Canada and this makes it the ideal place for broadening horizons, traveling adventurously, and learning all about a country and its culture passionately.
When Is the Best Time to Go?
Summer begins in late May and ends in mid-September. Fall is from mid-September to mid-November. Winter starts mid-November and ranges on until mid-March. Finally, spring lasts from mid-March until late May. Canada’s tourism peaks from mid-June to mid-September. During these months, travels and accommodations are relatively more expensive.
In deciding when to go to Canada, you have to review your reasons for going. Are you going to Canada for the skiing or for the opening of the ice hotels? Then, winter is the perfect time for you to go. If, on the other hand, your reasons include outdoor activities, such as hiking, boating, or fishing, schedule your visit during spring or fall. No matter what season you schedule your visit for, there will always be a deluge of luxury vacation rentals Canada tourists such as yourself can temporarily call home.
What Does One Do in Canada?
There are many things to do in Canada. You could catch a chinook on the Campbell River, also known as the Salmon Capital of the World. You could join the seemingly endless merrymaking at the Carnaval de Quebec. You could try being a ski bunny at the Whistler, Blackcomb. You could skate through town on the Rideau Canal Skateway, too. You could look for bears in Manitoba. You could go on a wine tour in the Okanagan. You could spend hours scrutinizing the Haida Totem poles. Or, you could live in the pages of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book by pretending to be Anne of Green Gables. The list of activities is endless!
Canada’s Untainted Urban Gems
Canada’s cities are as diverse as its territory is expansive. French-speaking Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and arguably the liveliest in Canada. After the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Biodome de Montreal filled in the empty stadium with four actively maintained ecosystems and numerous living exhibits. The collection of species is nothing short of phenomenal. Montreal has a thriving museum culture (buy a 3-museum pass) and an irresistible nightlife, boasting the largest dance floor in the country and a pioneering music scene with an eclecticism not to be found elsewhere. Travel west into Canada’s serene backwoods to discover Vancouver, a metropolitan diamond in the rough of British Columbia’s rugged wilderness. Ski Whistler’s nearby slopes or enjoy a day of sailing, then flex your cosmopolitan muscle in the evening with a stroll through the acclaimed Vancouver Art Gallery and appetizers at Canada Place. Visit Vancouver for a taste of Canada’s blossoming multiculturalism and international flavor. For a slower and more intimate pace, discover Nova Scotia’s capital of Halifax in the northeast. This revamped harbor town has become Canada’s Hollywood, with a large number of movies and shows being filmed along the charming avenues.
Unlimited Supply of Adventure
Canada’s Northwest and Yukon Territories offer some of the most pristine stretches of natural beauty in North America, along with the best light show around complements of the Aurora Borealis. Kluane National Park protects Yukon’s World Heritage Sites and Canada’s highest peak. In Alberta, Banff and Jasper National Parks provide the most spectacular views from the Canadian Rockies and a visit to Canada’s Glacier National Park, British Columbia, is imperative to witness the retreating ancient glaciers. With 39 National Parks and Reserves, Canada provides an infinite stock of breathtaking encounters.
BEFORE YOU GO
Do a hotel research on the net looking not only for the cheapest rates but also considering the amenities and services provided, location, possible references from other people. Travel guidebooks can also be very helpful for choosing the hotel that suits you best. Be as much flexible with your trip schedule as possible. For example, business class hotels often have lower weekend rates.
As soon as you reserved the room(s) online, document all information about the hotel(s). The easiest way is to print out the whole page off your computer screen so you will have a clear statement that you can use as evidence in case of misplacing or incorrectly entering your information by a hotel clerk. Take a copy with you, make another one for your relatives so they will know when and where you are going to stay so they can contact you in emergency cases.
Learn the proper check-in and check-out times. Confirm the amenities and services the hotel provides. Ask for directions, a local map. Get a card with the hotel’s name, address and phone number so you can show it to a taxi driver or a passer-by in the street if you get lost.
Some hotels may provide extra services that you may not know about unless you ask for it:
- – laundry service,
- – hair dryers,
- – voltage converters/ adaptors,
- – newspaper service,
- – complementary meals,
- – access to fax machine, copier, printer, computer, Internet connection,
- – cable TV, rental movies, video games,
- – portable beds, baby cribs,
- – complementary shuttle service to airport,
- – rental safe for your money, jewellery, documents,
- – telephone access charges,
- – fees for using mini-bar,
- – guided tours, excursions.
AT THE HOTEL
Safety should be a priority for everybody and you have to take some precautions. We devoted a whole separate page to travel safety including hotel safety measures so we will skip this part here. When you go out for the day, leave your key at the reception desk. Confirm closing time. Some hotels do lock up at night and you’re expected to keep the key if you stay out late.
BEFORE LEAVING YOUR HOTEL
Check out your room for left-behind items. If you need extra time for staying over the regular check-out time (usually it ranges from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m), make a request in advance or the hotel may charge you an additional night.
Review the hotel bill making sure that all charges are accurate.
We wish you a successful and safe trip!