Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Mobile Phone Bill While Travelling

Have you ever heard the horror stories from your friends when they returned from vacationing abroad? It usually doesn't involve being robbed by the locals, but by their own mobile service provider! Now that everyone owns a smart-phone, data roaming charges are sky-rocketing. In the past, you could simply make a quick phone call and only be charged a few pounds, no big deal. Now, you are making phone calls, text messaging, Tweeting, Facebooking, uploading photos and videos, using a GPS, and searching for the nearest bank or restaurant. All of those will rack up your mobile phone bill, which is why the smarter decision is to use an international wireless Internet service.
An international broadband company can provide you access to the Internet, wherever you are, at one flat rate price. Do not take any more chances of returning home with a £1,000 bill full of roaming charges. Now you can travel with your own personal WiFi mobile hotspot or WiFi USB stick, preventing any unnecessary data charges. Not only will your international wireless Internet cards help you out, but you can probably even set up a hotspot for other travellers who need to connect. Here are some tips to consider before taking your mobile phone on your next adventure abroad:
  • Search around for an international broadband company ahead of time, ensuring you will have WiFi everywhere on your trip.
  • Call your mobile phone provider, letting them know where and when you are going. They may have a cheap international rate plan you can set up temporarily.
  • Set up a Skype or other VoIP account, letting you make phone calls from your computer or mobile device connected to WiFi. This works great on the iPhone, using the Skype app when you are connected to the Internet.
  • Buy a local SIM card. Just in case you get disconnected from WiFi (which you shouldn't if you have an international wireless Internet service), you will save a lot of money with free incoming calls and very cheap outgoing calls over the local network.
  • Note: A lot of service providers do not want you to use another company's SIM card in your phone. You will need to search online on how to unlock your specific phone, allowing any SIM card to work.
  • Check to see if your provider is on a GSM or CDMA network. Unfortunately for CDMA users, your phone won't work in very many countries. GSM is more of a world standard, and the two U.S. providers on GSM are AT&T and T-Mobile. Also, GSM users need to check that their phone is tri-band or quad-band, determining whether or not it will work using international frequencies.
  • Make sure your mobile device is only operating on WiFi. If you simply leave all functions on when travelling, it will probably try and continuously download data. For an iPhone, turn on Airplane Mode, then turn on WiFi and you will only be using local WiFi (similar to an iPod Touch).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

How to Have a Pet Stay with You in a Holiday Rental

If you cannot bear going on holiday without your pet, then do not despair. Holiday home rentals can offer a great way for you to take your animal companions with you.

With changes in regulations, now allowing animals to travel aboard, followed by an increase of ‘pet friendly’ holiday accommodation, what previously involved months of planning and inconvenience to holiday with your pets has now become a much quicker and easier process.

For many of us, going on holiday means spending time with our families and loved ones; pets included, and with ‘pet friendly’ holiday rentals offering plenty of space and limited additional costs, a home away from home is ideal for pet lovers. Not only offering savings on the cost of kennels, but by allowing you to enjoy your trip with you animal companion by your side.

Searching for your pet loving holiday home, couldn’t be easier, with many holiday rental owners advertising that they are ‘pet friendly’. However the general term ‘pet friendly’ can often specifically refer to dogs, so it is always advisable to confirm with the Holiday rental owner, if it is another form of animal you wish to take.  It is also recommended that you speak with the holiday home owner as to suitability of their animal friendly rental before making a confirmed booking.

The phrase ‘pet friendly’ can vary greatly between each holiday rental, so be sure to ask specific questions and find out if there the holiday home has grounds and whether dogs are required to be kept in a kennel at night or in the event they cannot come with you on a daytime activity. 

It is also common place to pay an additional surcharge for bring a pet and this can vary greatly from £5 – £10 per stay to £25 per night. Check this and find out what is included in this surcharge and if it is refundable if no damage it done.  

Investigate the local area to be sure the community is as ‘pet friendly’ as your holiday rental, find out if the beached allow dogs and whether there are large recreational areas that allow you to walk your pets and whether they must remain on a lead. 

The most exceptional of ‘pet friendly’ rentals will go the extra mile offering pet welcome packs including pet food and toys and providing you with information of pet activities in the local area.

And remember be prepared to accept responsibility for your pet if they misbehave and understand that any damage could result in you being liable to additional costs!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Beach Safety – Having fun and staying safe whilst at the beach

Almost everyone loves the beach! It's the best place to do almost anything; relax, exercise, picnic, camp, take a nap and so on.

Considered one of God's wonders, those who are fortunate to live along the coastline have the opportunity to spend ample amounts of time at the beach. 

The rest of us however, spend most our time wishing our working day would end and dreaming of lazy holidays sunning ourselves outstretched on a beach.
How many hours do you spend dreaming about your next trip or looking for that special swimsuit or summer dress just perfect for your holiday? Everyone one does and I bet you're thinking about it right now.

However there's another side to the beach that many of us don't know about, or forget in the excitement of the moment. The beach can be a fun place but holds hidden dangers as well. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

One of the biggest hazards you face at the beach is the sun, regardless of your age or how frequently you visit the beach. It can effect anyone, whether you are ghostly flower or as tanned as a native.

The most dangerous hours to be at the beach are between 12pm and 3pm, this is when the sun it's at its peak.That doesn't mean you need to avoid the beach altogether, however there are things you should do to prevent skin illness; 
Always use factor 50 and reapply at least every hour. If you take a dip in to the sea, reapply again once you have dried off, even waterproof creams can still be rubbed or washed off whilst you splash about.
Pay particular attention to young children reapplying sun cream even more frequently and take a sun umbrella to provide them with some shade whilst they play in the sand.A great tip to keep your children safe and cool while under the umbrella is to soak a t-shirt in the cold water and put it on them, do it frequently and they should be fine.

You many have noticed the little flags that the life-guards put up but do you know what they mean? Here are the most common ones you should pay attention to 
Green - Means its safe to swim and you are free to enter the sea and have some fun. However always keep an eye on children and make sure the life guards are visable.
Yellow - Be cautious; You are still free to go in the sea, but need be more careful. If swimming or playing in the sea when displayed make sure the beach is being watched by a life-guard. One of the many reasons for a yellow flag is the tidal currents, even when the sea appears calm and quite these lurk underneath the surface of the water and can be found close to rock outcrops or wave breakers. Generally harmless to an adult, children could find themselves getting into difficulty  so don't leave your children unattended in the sea. 
Red -   "DON'T GO IN" The sea is a strong force, even for the greatest of swimmers. When the red flag is flying it can be really dangerous. You will often see this flag when the sea is really rough.

Be mindful of the water temperatures, and enter the sea slowly if the water is cold. Cold water can cause thermal shock to both old and young and can prove fatal; provoking fainting and heart failure.

The best snacks you can take to the beach are vegetables, fruit, natural juices and water. Packed full of carotene and rich vitamins they help defend your body against the sun. 

With the heat of the sun, digestion can be slowed and eating heavy meals may cause you indigestion. However these types of snacks are light and may also aid digestion.

Remember when eating and swimming that normal digestions takes at least two and a half hours. 

Most importantly, always drink plenty of water. Dehydration can occur quickly, especially in hot temperatures so make sure both you and children are drinking regular amounts. However sea water is salt water and increase dehydration. 

In addition, depending on the country you are visiting some areas of sea can be polluted so avoid swallowing this at all times.

One final word of warning. Beach sand can hide a number of different insect species, as well as become polluted from human neglect or the sea. Never allow your children to play naked on the sand for risk of infections and all pick up your rubbish and discard is appropriately.

So next time your one the beach, take note of these few things and make sure you have some fun in the sun whilst staying safe!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sharm el Sheikh: The Alternative Clubbing Destination

Night life, Sharm el Sheikh

Long gone are the days of all the clubbers heading solely to Ibiza for a week or two of living it up in the summer sunshine. We've entered a new dawn of clubbers paradise, where ultimate destinations are budding away from the Balearic isle. Take Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh for example; this Red Sea Riviera destination has everything young party-goers need and want. Foreign currency exchange is in Egyptian Pounds, so what do the visitors end up spending their holiday money on?

The Nightlife

The top nightclub in Sharm El Sheikh has to be Pacha. Complete with pool, pool bar, VIP area, dance floor and plenty of foam, this open-air club is what partying is all about. Before you dance the night away to the banging tunes here, it is probably best to grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants. For something you recognise, head to the Hard Rock Cafe off Sharma-Na'ama Bay Road. If you want to try something new, try busy Pomodoro for delicious Italian dishes.

The Sea Life

Sharm El Sheikh doesn't just have excitement on the dance floor; there is a load to discover in the sea as well. Sharm is a snorkelling and scuba diving haven, made possible by beautiful coral reefs and shipwrecks along the coastline. Many hotels and companies will take you out by boat for scuba diving, but anyone can try snorkelling just off the beach in their non-partying hours. Expect to be amazed at what you see beneath the waves; bring an underwater camera along if you want to show you trip off to your friends.

The Shopping

Whether you need to buy a new towel for lazing on the beach, or want to do some serious gift purchasing for those back in Blighty, there are plenty of places to shop in Sharm El Sheikh. There are a number of air conditioned malls that will seem particularly appealing in the midday sun, but there are smaller shops of interest too. If you are looking for arts and crafts, Aladdin at the Camel Hotel is a hot spot where you can part with your hard earned Egypt pounds. For some Egyptian trinkets, both Sharazaad and Fenton Egyptian Handicrafts should suit your needs perfectly.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Events in Rome: On September 25 and 26, all national museum in Rome, granting free entrance to all visitors.

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September 2010 is considered the GEP, European Patrimony Days, an idea from the European Government to empower and favour the dialogue and exchange of cultural ways between the European countries. 
For the occasion, opened to the public for free, will be places of culture which relate to archaeology, art and history, architecture, archives and libraries, cinematography, theatre and music.
If you want to spend the weekend in Rome, this is the guided visit we suggest:

Free entrance in Anfiteatro Flavio – Colosseo Piazza del Colosseo – Rome From  8.30 To 19.15

Free entrance in Domus Aurea
Via della Domus Aurea, Rome
From  9.00 to 19.45

Free entrance in Galleria Borghese
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5 Rome
From  9.00 to 19.30

Free entrance in National Museum Castel Sant’Angelo Lungotevere Castello, 50, Rome From  9.00-19.00

Free entrance in National Museum Terme di Diocleziano Via E. De Nicola 78 Rome From  9.00 to 19.45

Free entrance in Terme di Caracalla
Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 52, Rome
From  9.00 to 19.15

Free entrance in National Museum Vittoriano Piazza Venezia, Rome From  9.30 to 19.30

Free entrance in Villa Adriana - Antiquarium del Canopo - Via di Villa Adriana, 204. Tivoli Rome From  9.00 to 19.00

Free entrance in Villa d’Este
Piazza Trento, 1, Tivoli, Rome
From  8.30 to 18.15

For a perfect holiday in Italy find more info with expert advice from Deborah of Rome holiday apartments, vacation rentals for all budgets in Rome, Italy.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Various Types of Luxury Villas for Rent

Luxury villas are the essence of style, opulence, lavishness, and sophistication in terms of the vacation or tourism industry. All-inclusive hotel stays have their perks, but it simply cannot beat the homely yet majestic feeling that these upscale vacation lodgings provide. To tell you the truth, luxury villas for rent come in different shapes and sizes as well as types, although they all share the common goal of providing the rich and self-indulgent a lavish holiday that cannot be equaled by third-rate, economy-minded packaged tours and travel options. Here are just some of them.
  • Luxury Beachfront Villas: This particular villa type is the most common one off the bunch, and it's mostly renowned for its closeness to the beach and its many commonalities with a beachfront hotel. When renting a beachfront villa, you'll be getting quite a lot of the perks associated with a beachfront hotel but with the added bonus of not being limited to a given property's dining options, recreational facilities, and so on. Freedom that you can get out of your very own home is the main allure of this particular luxury vacation dwelling; it's even celebrated for its untouched aesthetics and sophisticated luxury that beats most hotel package deals any day of the week.
  • Luxury Oceanfront Villas: There's actually very little difference between a beachfront villa and an oceanfront villa simply because regardless if you're on an island surrounded by the sea or a bigger body of water like the ocean, the villa will still lie on dry land. With that said, there are certain added perks to oceanfront vacation homes that take advantage of the immediate ocean placement, such as more emphasis on fishing or surfing expeditions and other types of water sports when compared to its beachfront counterpart. There are even villas that throw in sky-diving perks for good measure just so you can better appreciate the immensity of the nearby ocean from another perspective.
  • Luxury Villas with Pools: At this point, there's a bit of an overlap between villa types. Pools can be present in oceanfront or beachfront villas as added benefits for those who want to swim at the privacy of their own villa. However, more often than not, it's the villas that aren't situated at sea that have this particular feature. You can either have a personalized pool right in your own villa or a community pool shared by a whole neighborhood of villas that also offer saunas, Jacuzzis, indoor gyms, secluded sundecks, and much, much more.

  • Fully-Staffed Villas: Again, this villa type can overlap with all of the abovementioned villa types, such that if you avail of the most luxurious and complete villa possible, you can acquire a beachfront or oceanfront villa with its own swimming pool and staff of chefs and servants. In addition to the usual amenities of cable television and broadband Internet, these villas also offer multilingual or English-speaking maids and cooks (or a maid that can double as a cook) that will take care of your gastronomical needs and daily housekeeping requirements.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Why Enquiry Scammers Could be Targeting You and What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself.

Image: Salvatore Vuono
As a member of the holiday rentals community we are always keen to hear what topics are on home owner's minds and the subject hot on everyone's lips right now is email enquiry scams. 

Originating mainly in Nigeria there are several scams currently doing the rounds at the moment. The most prominent of which are the "The Overpayment Scam" and the "Premium Rate Telephone Number Scam".

The Overpayment Scam

Topping the list as the most common scam to make you part with your money, the enquirer will send you funds to book your rental in the form of a cheque. The first thing to note is that the value of the cheque will be considerably higher than the price of your rental, sometime 3 times as much and that the enquirer will provide you will what appears to be a valid excuse.

"...it is a wedding gift from a relative and they want to provide us with spending    money as well"

" my agent is sending our refund directly to you, the refund includes expenses for additional items we bought..."

Cheques are often sent from a third person and the enquirer will continue to check if you have received it and banked it. Once you confirm that you have, they will then ask you to return the funds in the form of "a personal cheque". However their cheque will not have cleared you account and is actually fraudulent.

By the time your bank notifies you of this, your personal cheque will have been banked and the scammer will have disappeared with your money.

The Premium Rate Telephone Number Scam

After an initial, seemingly genuine email enquiry, the enquirer will ask you to contact them via telephone so that they can discuss the booking in more detail with you and the number they provide will start 09.

This is a premium rate telephone number, which the scammer will be collecting a high call charge from, leaving you with one very expensive phone bill. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CALL A 09 TELEPHONE NUMBER.

How to Spot the Warning Signs

Most scam enquires come from free email accounts like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail, however many genuine enquires also do. Yet on these occasions you will sense that something is wrong or the email is amiss and your instinct on these matters is fairly often right. Below are some warning signs to help you spot potential scammers.

Look out for a - - at the top of the email. A large portion of spam enquires have this and be wary of enquires which are written in poor English and bad grammar with line breaks in the incorrect place, poor or no punctuation, bad spelling or wrong tense. Lines like "I will want to know if i and my wife" or "we on honeymoon, no drink, no smoke".

Keywords used by scammers include talking about their wife, honeymoon, don't drink, don't smoke, no pets. Pay attention if they mention all of these things together, especially if grammatically incorrect. "my wife and i We are coming for honeymoon. No smoke, No drink, no pets." Look at the date format they use when checking availability, often they will say they are British but use the American format for dates, i.e September 12 - 18 and note if they state "or any other time available" if they have given dates. Why, if they can come any time?
Often scammers will pose as someone who wants to book accommodation for their company but use a personal email address and give limited details on the company and on many occasions they will tell you that a third party such as a boss or relative will be paying for the rental.

Scammers frequently generalise their emails and will not specifically refer to your rental property instead using phrases like "your place" or "your space" or "your villa/apartment/townhouse" .They also have a tendency to apply pressure subtly with the use of phrases such as "don't hesitate to email me your total price for the whole 1 week" or "I will like you to get back to me with the cost and availability"

Finally, anyone wanting to pay you more than your rental fee should automatically raise suspicion.

So How Do I Protect Myself?

Detecting these scams is easier if you look out for common traits such as those mentioned. However be warned, scammers are becoming more sophisticated and some are near impossible to detect until they have already parted you from you money.

Common sense is key to protecting yourself against scammers, if something is to good to be true, then it probably is. Always listen to your head and your gut in these situations and be prepared to take a few extra steps in ensuring the enquiry is genuine.

Never feel pressurised by the enquirer and only accept payment in the methods you choose. If in doubt, ask for a telephone number and call it to make sure it is real.

Bidabooking.com along with many other holiday rental sites regularly monitors email enquires and users for acts of fraud or spam and will block them, however on occasion some will still slip through and reach your inbox, so be prepared and guard yourself against becoming a victim to them.