Travel tips and in-tray surprises

The agenda for my trip is coming together although various changes had to be accommodated because of factors outside of my control, the biggest one being me now returning home right after Nuremberg followed closely by the change to take my car across for the French leg.

The timetables from Saint Malo are sketchy at best and we still needed to get around between Saint Malo, Disneyland, Paris and Charles De Gaulle airport. So with haste I equipped my Nissan Silvia S14 (200SX) with the headlight converters, first-aid kit, warning triangle, jump leads and a spare bulb kit. A map, torch and compass may also be useful if I can find decent ones locally, failing that I’ll muddle through. It is being serviced tomorrow night and hopefully the Pioneer iPod adapter will spark to life too.

I’m a little nervous about driving in France again, the last two trips I’ve hired a left-hand-drive car so I kept to the “you still need to be sitting in the middle of the road, just like back home” school of thought to keep me driving on the right.

With my car being obviously right-hand-drive it might make for unfortunately interesting times. I’ve also been warned that the French police now hand out some pretty severe on-the-spot speeding fines but I doubt I’ll be going fast enough to garner any attention from them.

Okay, I promised some travel tips;

  1. When booking items individually start with the items that have the best refund policy or failing that, the cheapest.
  2. Don’t book late at night – systems update, become unavailable and prices suddenly recalculate. Tired eyes could also miss a painful typo.
  3. Some budget airlines won’t appear on LastMinute, Expedia or Travelocity. Head over to the airport official web sites for arrival/departure timetables to find out if any budget airlines service your route.
  4. If you don’t want to fork out for route finding or GPS gear then try the free route planners from ViaMichelin (indicates speed cameras) or RAC (more detailed inner-city directions).
  5. If staying in a country for more than a week and using a mobile phone consider acquiring a local prepay SIM card. As well as saving a small fortune in receiving/making calls and text messages you can text the temporary number to only the important people to keep holiday interruptions to a minimum. You will need to ensure your mobile is not locked to a specific network SIM – this is often the case with heavily discounted phones offered with a contract.
  6. While Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are jam packed with useful information you may find the fun and educational DK Eyewitness Travel Guides more useful for short trips.
  7. Visit cash machines on holiday with your Visa Debit card to obtain local money at a good rate without having to mess around with travelers checks and rip-off currency exchange shops.

“You’ve got kittens!”

While I’m used to the odd cutesy kitten picture in my e-mail inbox having them turn up to play in your desks in-tray is much more fun.

Two kittens in an in-tray

[)amien

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