Thursday, 15 August 2013

Budget Airlines charging for window seats

Budget airlines seem to be able to take money from us in just about any way possible - including extra legroom, early boarding, not printing your own boarding pass, extra luggage, food and drinks.

So, another way, was going to happen sooner or later, with Budget airlines coming up with yet another money making idea.

This time, it is charging extra for a window seat.

WOW Air - is going to charge extra for window seats on all their Iceland flights. They have identified specific seats on specific rows that give you a great view when coming into land in Iceland that have amazing views including the Blue Lagoon. 

The extra charge will apply to the window seats of rows 1 - 10, and 18 - 29 on the right hand side of Wow Air.

Ok - so it is only £5, but what happens if the pilot has to approach the runway from the other side ? Do you get a refund? Or do the people on the left hand side of the plane have to cough up the money instead ? And what happens if it is foggy on landing, or your flight is delayed and you arrive when it is dark?

Which airports would you pay extra for a window seat to see the views when landing?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Yes, you can pack for a WEEK in just your hand luggage (even though airlines have shrunk the size limit)

An article from the Daily Mail Online:

You've grappled with the fake tan, finally located your passport among a pile of old bills and fought your way through the sales to find that elusive bikini in your size.

But just when you think everything is sorted for your summer break, a new baggage restriction throws a spanner in the works.

This month, easyJet announced it was reducing cabin baggage size by a third, so only cases measuring a teeny-tiny 50cm x 40cm x 20cm could be guaranteed on board.

Anything above that may have to be checked in on busier flights, leading to long waits by the baggage carousel at the other end.

So is it really possible to pack for a week’s short-haul sunshine trip inside those tight parameters?

Yes, if you choose every item carefully and use some nifty packing tricks. Luckily, we have done the hard work for you and here is our no-nonsense guide to travelling light.


There is no better way to switch from beach to restaurant than an elegant kaftan (£12,

Pick a material that dries quickly and won’t crease too much so it can be folded small and slotted into your case. You can easily throw this on over a bikini, but it also doubles up for evening when teamed with trousers and a necklace.

The only other top you need is a silk shirt — the one luxury piece to give any outfit a glamorous edge.

Choose a bright shade like this pink to give a real pop of colour (£220, Equipment at You can button it up, tuck it in, wear it over your swimwear, knot it over a maxi dress — the possibilities are endless.

This is the toughest item to pack, so fold gently and put in your case last to avoid creasing.


A lingerie pouch or drawstring bag is a brilliant idea for space and practicality. You can pack all your underwear flat inside it, which keeps it together in one place.

This is especially handy if your bag gets searched at the airport, as it avoids your undies being on display to security and nosy passers-by.

A see-through plastic toiletries case will make your life, and your packing, so much easier. These cases aren’t as bulky as some, plus they can be whipped out to go through airport scanners without having to dig around in your case and disrupt your neatly-packed clothes.

As for the toiletries themselves, either pick travel-size items or decant your favourite creams and cleansers into mini containers.


You need just one pair of trousers and one pair of shorts to complete your wardrobe — and ideally you should choose neutral tones to allow you to play with colour on the top half and avoid clashes.

We’ve opted for this simple pair of smart white trousers (£29,, which are easy to dress up or down and can be neatly folded and slotted on top of the dresses.

These lightweight nautical shorts (£39, are a great staple as they can be teamed with swimwear or a shirt and they fold up into a tiny square to be stacked into the case.


Forget skirts and tops — three multi-tasking dresses are far more space-efficient. Choose a casual day dress, a comfortable but stylish maxi and a glamorous evening dress for that special dinner out.

Pick your materials wisely: chiffon and jersey are great, as they fold away to very little and tend not to crease.

We’ve opted for: a white and navy-striped Breton jersey dress (£35, perfect for day-trips and sightseeing; an aubergine jersey maxi dress (£220,, which can be worn casually or dressed up with a necklace and wedges; and a wow-factor red chiffon dress (£145,

Roll the jersey dresses into tubes to slot into spaces in your bag and lay the chiffon dress along the bottom of the case — the floaty fabric takes up little depth.


If you are tight for space, make do with two pairs of shoes for your trip — flat sandals and wedges. Flats like these thong sandals (£85, are easy to pack by lying them sole to sole and slotting them down the side of your  case. Choose a slightly dressier style, rather than flip-flops, to take you from beach to bar.

Although they will be your bulkiest item, a pair of raffia wedges (£60, is more versatile than standard high heels. Use up the space inside by stuffing them with your swimwear.


Two bikinis and a one-piece swimming costume is plenty for a week away. If you choose a sleek bandeau swimsuit, like this white one (£199, Melissa Odabash at Fenwick), it can double up as a top to go under your shirt.

Ideally, choose notably different styles of bikini. We went for a purple triangle (top, £100, bottoms, £85, and a navy nautical style (top, £19.50, bottoms, £16,, which will look more varied and interesting on the beach.

Try to be creative with the way you pack your swimwear. A triangle bikini, for example, can be folded in half and then tied in a tiny package with the strings, to then be pushed inside your wedges.


To keep to your limit, you only really need two accessories: sunglasses and a statement necklace. Sunglasses (£9.99, are a style staple and essential to protect your eyes — but they can be easily breakable so put them in the middle of your case to protect them.

A statement necklace (£31, really updates your outfit for the evening, if you throw it on with your maxi dress or your kaftan. If it’s delicate or  valuable, pop it into your underwear pouch to keep it safe.

And finally: To broaden your choices even more, choose a travelling outfit to mix and match with the rest of your capsule wardrobe and wear your bulkiest items to go in.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Holiday Packing: Tops tips for packing like a pro

Holiday Packing: Tops tips for packing like a pro

Packing for your holidays should be fun and easy - so why do so many of us just get it so wrong and end up paying for excess luggage for clothes that do not even make it out of your suitcase ?
First of all you want to have a sturdy case that is light, and easy to maneouver - and there is where you choose between no wheels or 2 and 4 wheeled cases.
Or do you to look smart and want a matching set of luggage to travel ?

Top Tip: Make your bag very identifiable compared to other bags with some sticky tape or a fancy luggage label, take a picture of the bag with a digital camera or your phone after it is all packed and ready to go. Then if it gets lost, you just show the picture to the agent. It is much easier than trying to describe your bags and suitcases. 
Top Tip: If you find that your suitcase has been stored away for the past year and you want it to smell refreshed, you cannot go far wrong by scented drawer liners or even some tumble dryer sheets. 

Packing Techniques: 

Don't knock it till you try it - roll you clothes up rather than folding them. They stay smoother and more crease free.

Top Tip: What we can recommend is that you also take some plastic bags - the sealable / lockable ones. They are worth their weight in gold. Pack everything in plastic bags so that your clothes do not suffer from leaking suncream or shampoo. And you will need them for everything: wet clothing, lotions, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc. 


We also recommend you take some larger ziplock bags for your camera, mobile, iPhone, and other electronics.......sand can be like fine powder to cameras and iPads

Plan your wardrobe:

Be realistic, why take 20 outfits for evenings, when you are only there for 10 nights.

A different hairstyle, or necklace or belt or bag can transform the same outfit so easily

And are you really going to wear all that make up and change your nail varnish on a daily basis on holiday ? A clear bag for beach products, a clear bag for make up, and a clear bag for wash room products - make your life on holiday as easy as possible.

And useful items like sarongs take up so little space can be used in more than one way (skirt, dress, lying on it by the pool) and they can be washed and dried so easily unlike the traditional T shirts and shorts. 

Top Tip: Look carefully at what you plan to take on holiday and then cut it by half. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Sharing article: Viewpoint: Is 'gap yah' volunteering a bad thing?

I wanted to share this article I found about a slightly different point of view on volunteering abroad for a gap year on the BBC website:

Volunteering abroad to build schools or dig wells might make people feel good about themselves - but it can be detrimental to those who are supposed to be helped, writes tour company founder Daniela Papi.

I've volunteered all over the world - building homes in Papua New Guinea, doing post-tsunami work in Sri Lanka, helping paint a school in Thailand - and I used to think it was the best way to travel.

In 2005 I even organised my own volunteer trip - a bike ride across Cambodia with five friends. We were going to raise funds to build a school, and teach students we met along the way about the environment and health.

There turned out to be more than one small problem. We didn't really know that much about the environment or health - or Cambodia for that matter. 

Much of the money we had raised for other small projects had been wasted, or landed in corrupt hands. And that school we helped to build? Well, when I arrived to see it, I found a half-empty building.

I decided to stay in Cambodia a bit longer to see how we could better use our time and money. That bit longer eventually turned into six years living in Cambodia and that first school building turned into an education NGO (non-governmental organisation). 

To raise money for our work, I started a volunteer travel company that led hundreds of volunteers on trips to Cambodia.

At first, our tours looked a lot like that first bike ride, with foreigners coming in to "serve" people in places they knew very little about. I slowly stopped believing in our "voluntourism" offerings and began to see that young people didn't need more fabricated opportunities to "serve" but rather opportunities to learn how to better contribute their time and money in the future.

I feel that the growing practice of sending young people abroad to volunteer is often not only failing the communities they are meant to be serving, but also setting these travellers, and by extension our whole society, up for failure in the long run.

From half-built school to home of an education NGO in Cambodia  
The school - now housing an NGO - that Daniela Papi helped build in Cambodia

Hundreds of thousands of young people are going abroad to volunteer each year, as part of school requirements, to build their CVs, and as part of gap year trips. 

Yet much of this demand is fuelled by the belief that because we come from financially wealthier countries, we have the right, or the obligation, to bestow our benevolence on people. Never mind if we don't speak the language, don't have the skills or experience to qualify for the jobs we're doing, or don't know anything about what life is like "over there".

As a former serial volunteer myself, I'm not in any way trying to criticise the good intentions of these volunteer travellers - I know from my own experience that our desire to help is sincere - but I now also know that good intentions are not enough

Our lack of critical engagement about international volunteering is creating a double standard.
When someone goes for a work experience or internship placement in a law firm or an accounting company, they don't expect to be leading a case in a courtroom, or managing their own clients - they understand their number one job is to learn (and bring the coffee). Yet when we go abroad, we sometimes forget that we have to learn before we can serve.

It's like we think we are all Clark Kent. At home we slave away and work hard to be useful in our jobs, but then we enter a magical phone booth and - ta-dah - we take off to a far-away country and somehow our Superman suit, or our volunteer T-shirt, gives us all of the power and knowledge we need to save the world.

We're teaching our next generation of leaders that development work is easy, and that their skills are so valuable to the people abroad that it is worth donating money to send them to help.
And we're teaching them that, just because they come from the UK or the US, they are in a position of superiority over the people they are going to "serve".

We must stop volunteering abroad from becoming about us fulfilling our dreams of being heroes. The travellers are not just missing out on learning the lessons that lead to more sustainable changes in themselves and in the world, but they are also often negatively impacting the people they are meant to be "serving".

Orphanage volunteering is one of the most popular volunteer travel offerings in part because it fits with both our desire to be heroes and our desire for fun. 

Volunteering to take care of orphans might not sound too bad at first - at least I didn't think so on my initial orphanage visits.

But then I started to realise that my visit repeated over and over and over again can indeed become a problem.

Imagine if an orphanage near your home had a rotating door of volunteers coming to play with these children who have already been deemed vulnerable. 

Imagine if, during times when they were meant to be in school, they were performing "orphanage dance shows" day after day to visiting tourists. Imagine if any tourist could come in off the street and take one of the children out for the day with them? You are right in any assumptions you might have about what type of harm that could expose them to.

In Cambodia, orphanage volunteering has become a big business. While the number of orphans has decreased, the number of orphanages has risen with the rise of tourism. Unicef estimates that three out of every four children in Cambodian orphanages actually have one or more living parents.

The most corrupt orphanage managers even have an incentive to keep the children looking poor, because, as I have heard many travellers say, tourists often want to give their time and money to the poorest looking place, as they think that is where it is needed most.

People often say, "doing something is better than doing nothing". But it isn't. Not when that something is often wasteful at best, and at worst causing a lot of harm. 

We need to focus on learning first - not just encouraging jumping in. Like the legal intern delivering coffee and learning what it takes to be a good lawyer, their most significant impact in the role is not achieved in a short time, but rather in avoiding being too much of a distraction in the short-term and learning how to have a real impact in the long run. 

We can encourage young people to move from serving, to learning how to serve. It's a small change in vocabulary, but it can have a big impact on our futures.

This piece is based on an edited version of Daniela Papi's Four Thought on BBC Radio 4

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Travelling with children & some innovative luggage

Having completed a little poll amongst my friends and colleagues 

Kids + Travel + Luggage = Stress ! ??

Travelling with children is not easy as you need to have toys and games to keep them amused, food incase they get hungry, DVD's, spare batteries for their games, nappies, favourite toy tissues, perhaps some medication, colouring pencils, etc.,.... and that is just the start.

Hand luggage for us adults is hard enough to pack with our own need for kindles, make up, wallet, passport, mobile phone + charger, sweeties, laptops, magazines, newspapers, etc as as well as any clothes that I need.

Imagine my delight when visiting one of the luggage trade shows, and I found the perfect case which has been brought out for children initially - but do not worry, the good news is, that there is an adults version on the way too (just without the cartoons, but I wonder if they will provide us with the word seaches, etc).......

The case is 
cabin sized (fitting most major airlines)
has wheels
a telescopic handle
is very light
and has its own "play centre" which is ........................ educational too !! (read on, read on...... )

Basically this case has a removable play centre section on the front which means you can pack the rest of the cabin sized case to the limit - and shut it till you reach the destination.  

The removable play centre section 'pops' off, and opens to 90 degrees. So it looks like a little desk. Inside the desk you can fill it with your own games, sweets, books, etc - but as part of the package every case is supported by a whole range of quizes, word searches,  colouring sheets, and games which can be downloaded before your trip. 

What a fantastic invention which means kids are happy, mum and dads are happy, 

Happy Kids + Happy Mums and Dad = No Stress (or at least reduced stress anyway)

Alexsee Playaway Case

Eva Dee Playaway Case

Saturday, 9 March 2013

What would you take into space in your luggage?

A team led by millionaire and former space tourist Dennis Tito plans to send a "tested couple" to Mars and back in a privately funded mission.

The Inspiration Mars Foundation plans to start its one-and-a-half-year mission in January 2018.

Conditions will be a little tight and the report suggests that 1,360kg of dehydrated food will be enough to last the journey and the manifest includes 28kg of toilet paper for a crew of 2 for 500 days.

Would you take a Silver Antler Case?

Or would you take something a little tongue in cheek?

 Would you take a This is my suitcase?

Or would you take your washing machine with you?

So, if you got the chance to travel into space and you could take a cabin sized case.... what would you take in your luggage?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Our Debate: To Buy 2-Wheel or 4-Wheel Spinner suitcase

We know there are strong opinions out there in the case of 2 wheeled luggage versus 4 wheeled luggage (other wise known as spinner cases).

There comes a point in a traveller's life when such a choice must be made, and it's not always easy to pick a side. 

There is design, colour, comfort, weight, internal volumes, brands, guarantees and overheard storage space to consider and it's a tad overwhelming when you're searching for the perfect constant travel companion. 

As we are in the luggage business, we often have conflicting opinions about which is best.

So we have put together a list of pro's and con's for each one. 

Advantages: 4 wheels

  • Heavier suitcases are easier to push
  • Easier for the elderly when travelling
  • Easier for travelling with families
  • They can be pushed along with relative ease
  • They walk beside you rather than dragged behind you
  • More stable as the weight is spread over 4 wheels rather than 2
Disadvantages: 4 wheels

  • 4 wheels easier to roll away - need to hang on to it all the time
  • Potentially takes up more space in an overhead locker
  • Looks like your taking it for a walk like a dog or pushing your shopping trolley
  • 4 wheels adds (minimal) overall weight
  • If one wheel goes, you are back to 2 wheels anyway
  • Maybe more difficult to take up stairs?
Advantages: 2 wheels

Easier to store in an overhead cabin locker
Lighter in weight
Easier to manouver over a variety of different surfaces ie: cobbles, etc
Your bag will not run away on a slight incline

Disadvantages: 2 wheels

2 wheels can be abit wobbly on uneven surfaces
It needs to be dragged behind you

So help us out fellow travellers; how many wheels do you swear by?