uk to europe

Newsletter - January 2005

to the January issue of our newsletter and a special welcome to all our new suscribers. We sincerely hope that everyone had an enjoyable Christmas break and we wish you all the very best for 2005!

Thank you for all the positive feedback. We will continue to strive to make the information as pertinent and helpful as possible. Please continue with the feedback and send in your requests for any issues you would like to see covered.

We hope the information we provide is of use to you but please note that we accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the content. These are our personal opinions. We therefore welcome
your feedback and comments.

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Car hire: The 'lingo' explained

With car rental, there are so many different companies around. Unfortunately though, the inclusions and exclusions are not all standardised so it is difficult to compare. So if you have looked at a couple of rates and some stand out as almost 'too good to be true' then it often can be. It really pays to look at the fine print to ensure that you are comparing 'apples with apples'. As an example – in the USA the Collision Damage Waiver can cost you USD$12.99 per day !! State taxes can be 14% etc. These are the things to look for and an explanation:

An airport surcharge: If you pick up at an airport. Does not apply if you return at an airport.

A premium location fee: Some companies charge this if you pick up in certain areas in London

Additional driver fee: If you want to cover a second driver. Often charged 'per additional driver'

Young driver fee: Often charged if the driver is under 25 years of age

Road Tax or Road Registration fee: A fee charged per day to cover government charges

CDW: Stands for Collision Damage Waiver as is a misnomer as it does not actually 'waive' the fee but reduces it to roughly AUD$750 / GBP500 / Euro 750

CDW Reduction or Excess Reduction Waiver: Where you pay a fee per day to reduce your excess to a lower amount or nil.

Theft Protection: Often called "TPW" or Theft Protection Waiver. Again a misnomer as it does not 'waive' the charge if your hire car is stolen. There still is an excess to pay if the car is stolen.

Theft Protection Reduction or Waiver: Where you pay a fee per day, to reduce or waive excess

London Congestion Charge: When you drive through central London between 0700 and 1830hrs Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), you have to pay £5 per day. This also applies to hire cars , so if planning to drive through central London, ensure you ask about the procedures in place when collecting your car.

Motorhomes in the UK - Welcome to our new company

We have Drive and Go who operate out of Southend and servicing the London area. They also have an arrangement with a Scottish supplier so we can also help out of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Now we welcome EmBee caravans and motorhomes. They service the Manchester area which is handy for those flying into that airport as transfers can be arranged. Plus points

  • The quality of the vehicles are great. Just one size, a 5 berth, but all less than 12 months old.

  • Low fixed cost of £50+ VAT for travel to UK and Ireland
  • Guaranteed Buy Back scheme available for those wanting a vehicle for 3 months or more
  • **Great Special*** Book by 28 February 2005 and we'll include the VAT which is a terrific 17.5% saving ....

The 'Positives' for using a Motorhome

  • Freedom: Change your itinerary at the drop of a hat

  • Not having to worry about pre-booking or rushing to get to a hotel
  • Your accommodation, transport and kitchen in one. Very economical for families
  • Unpacking just once
  • Not having to lug around heavy suitcases
  • Experience the 'real Europe' by shopping at fresh markets and supermarkets – just like a local
  • You choose to set the pace and what you see and what you miss...
  • Great savings if you prepare your own food, packed lunches etc.
  • Great social time if you choose. Meet people at campsites.
  • Overall? A great 'lifestyle' choice. More fun, more personal, more real and terrific memories

The 'Negatives' of Motorhome Travel

  • It can be slower than a car or a train...but do you want to zoom through Europe?
  • Larger vehicle so uses more fuel ...but the vehicles are diesel and fuel efficient
  • Overnight campsite fees to be factored in. But watch out for our 'tips' in upcoming newsletter
  • Harmony factor: Snoring? Consideration for others? Who cooks and who does dishes?
  • A bit of itinerary planning required as you are not on a 'guided tour'

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Rail: Want to be 'independent' but dont want to drive in Europe

So you dont want to join a bus tour but you don't want to drive... Well there is another option which still allows you freedom. The train.

Trains are quick, easy and frequent. They go from city centre to city centre and you wont have parking or navigation problems. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Be sociable and chat to fellow travellers and pick up some sightseeing tips. You can even take overnight journeys
on 'hotel trains'. Of course, like with all modes of transport – there are pro's and con's for each method of travelling. So when travelling by train, do realise that you will have to carry your baggage from place to place so try and use a 'wheelie' suitcase and keep luggage to a minimum. Plan your timetable carefully especially if you are pre-booking hotels. Allow yourself enough time to get to the station comfortably and to check that you are on the correct platform and going in the right direction.

If you are planning to do a lot of travelling, then consider a Rail pass, as opposed to Point to Point tickets. Passes offer unlimited stopovers and flexibility and the price is the same year round. There is no surcharge to travel in peak season. You get various passes but the most important distinguishing feature is that some offer 'flexi' travel which means you choose the number of days you wish to travel and you then decide when you want to travel – ie. The days do NOT have to run in a row. With a 'consecutive' day pass, you should ideally be using it as much as possible within your chosen travel time because each day counts - from day 1. This is a brief synopsis of the kinds of passes available:

Eurail Selectpass: Instead of having a pass that covers 17 different countries, if you are only travelling in 3, 4 or 5 countries rather choose a Selectpass for better value. With this pass you select the number of countries you wish to travel in. However, the 3, 4 or 5 countries must be adjoining one another or linked by a direct train or shipping line that is part of the Eurail offer. Then you can choose for how many days you wish to travel in a 2 month period and it is flexible - the days do not have to be consecutive. You can choose, 5,6,8, 10 or 15 days (15 day pass only available for the 5 country pass).

Eurail Pass: The original. It covers travel in seventeen European countries. The main feature of this pass is that you can travel to all 17 countries if you so wish BUT your pass is based on consecutive day travel.

The Eural FLEXI Pass – still allows travel in 17 countries but comes in a 'flexible' version meaning days of travel do not have to be consecutive. So for a flexipass, you can choose to travel for any 10 or 15 days within a 2 month period.

Eurail does have some variations in costs – for example you get Youth fares if you are under 26 and happy to travel in 2nd class. Children uner 12 travel at half the adult pass fare and children under 4 travel free. If you are 2 or more travelling together you get a Saverpass.

Eurail also offers bonuses to passholders – for example: 50% off the Calais-Dover Seafrance crossing, approximately 50% off the full fares on Eurostar crossings between London to Paris/Belgium and vice versa, free ferry crossings from San Giovanni(Italy) to Messina (Sicily),free travel on RER underground in Paris on lines B & C etc.

European National Passes: You also get passes valid for travel in one country only eg. France Rail Pass or the Trenitalia Pass only valid in Italy . You also get combination country passes. Eg. France & Italy pass, or a France and Spain pass or France and Switzerland and many others.

There is so much to be written about rail and so many little tips, tricks and traps that indeed, there have been many books written about rail as a topic in itself. So if you are interested in travelling by train, it is probably easiest to drop us a line, tell us a bit about your plans and we'll do all the hard work for you and narrow it down to the Best Value options for you.

Some handy websites to help you with timetables, routings etc would be:

For the UK -
For all around Europe -
The French rail site -
The Spanish rail site -
More rail websites under the info section

HOT RAIL NEWS: New for 2005. The Eurail pass is now valid for travel in Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro !!

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Ok, Ok – we heard you. We have 'lightened up' on the questions & made them a tad simpler.

Closing date: 28 Feb 2005. Winner announced March 05 newsletter

Email your answers to :

The prize: A Nike travel bag, 2 bottles of Aussie Wine and a $100 travel voucher to be used on this website. The prize will be mailed anywhere in the world.

  1. What is the capital city in Spain?
  2. Where does the Running of the Bulls take place?
  3. Where were the 2004 Olympics held?
  4. Which country is not in Eastern Europe? Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade or Belgium?
  5. In which country would you find the River Thames?


Here's a little money saving tip. Some countries are better priced than others when it comes to renting a motorhome...or a car. Of course, this is not an 'absolute' statement because every rental is different, so exceptions will apply. For instance our Winter Special out of Amsterdam, is absolutely phenomenal ... less than half the normal price if you travel for 2 or 3 months between 01October and 15April. As you know, we are happy to look at your individual plans & advise you.

So let's say that you are scheduled to fly into London... but you want to start your motorhome rental in Europe. No problem.... Thanks to EU reforms and deregulation you can hop onto the net and book yourself a 'no frills' airline. As an example, in October we flew into London but our starting point for our motorhome was Madrid. Logged onto and booked ourselves flights for a measly £12 each – including taxes and charges. We were also smart in that we did two separate bookings. On the return leg from Madrid to London, we paid €12, which worked out much less then £12 because of exchange rates.

But before you go rushing off to check this out, you must be aware of certain things that make up a budget airline. The tickets you book are generally non-refundable and virtually non-changeable.

Some of these airlines fly into non major airports. Flying Ryanair and Frankfurt is an example. The main airport in Frankfurt is Frankfurt-Main (wow! Bet you would never have guessed!) ... but Ryanair flies into Frankfurt -Hahn airport which is 110km west of Frankfurt. Not a major drama really as they are well geared up and busses run regularly into the city of Frankfurt. The cost per adult is Euro 11 one way or Euro 16 return and children up to 7 years are Euro 5.50 one way.

Now if you don't find a direct routing to your destination, you can go part way by plane and then hop on a train...if the alternative full priced airfare is too expensive. However, now that there are so many budget airlines, you should be able to find something.

Now here is something that is going to make you go rushing off to check things out. At the time of preparing this newsletter, 15 December 04, Ryanair are offering absolutely heaps of FREE airfares!!

All you have to pay is the normal tax and booking fee, credit card charges etc. There must be at least 50 destinations that have free seats on offer ...

So these are some of the budget airlines you can check out... We do suggest you first go to or and see which airlines operate on the route you want and then you can also check out the individual airline directly.... Have fun.... - great for comparisons and checking out who flies where! - great for comparisons and checking out who flies where ! - about 20 destinations from UK to Europe - over 50 destinations - over 30 destinations - discount flights within Germany - discount flights to/from Scandinavia - discount flights within Germany - flights to/from Scandinavia - over 15 destinations - German discount airline - German discount airline - Italian discount airline - mainly Spain to other European destinations - flight passes with flexibility - large routing - London to Eastern Europe - London to Netherlands - flights to Europe - from Scotland to Europe - from UK/Scotland to Germany -from Bradford and Leeds to Europe - from UK to Europe - from UK to Europe - from UK to Europe

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Just 2 pots...which is handy as most campervans will have at least 2 gas rings.

Smoked Salmon Risotto (serves 3-4)

Put 4 cups of water on to boil, throw in a vegetable or chicken stock cube or two (nice & tasty) and keep it simmering.

Meanwhile, slice some mushrooms and saute that in a pot with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

Pour in another tablespoon or two of olive oil and throw in 2 cups of arborio / paella rice.

Coat grains in oil and saute for a minute or two. Add the simmering stock, a ladle or two at a time, allowing it to be absorbed and then continuing in this way until the rice is soft. About 15-20 minutes (If you run out of stock just more water, a bit of a stock cube if necessary and continue simmering). In between ladling in the stock, slice up some smoked salmon and optionally, shred some baby spinach leaves or parsley and when rice is soft and still quite moist remove from heat, stir in the salmon, mushrooms and the 'greenery', and serve with parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and lemon quarters.

Hint: If you dont like smoked salmon, substitute with chopped bacon which you can stir fry with the mushrooms.

Quick Minced Beef stew

Brown 500g minced beef in a pot. Add a chopped onion and a beef stock cube for flavour.

When browned add a tin of baked beans and about half a cup of water. (more water if you want it to be runnier). You can put in other veggies if you have ie. Tinned corn, peas, mushrooms, etc Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with instant mash, make burritos (use less water so mixture is thicker), on toast or over leftover rice or noodles which you have reheated.

Canal Boat Holidays – Did you know?

Some boats have 2 steering positions. One on the upper sun deck which is great in summer and one inside the saloon for when the weather is not so great. However, if you are an absolute novice and your sense of judgement not that great, steer from up top when going through narrow tunnels and arches as it is easier to judge the sides until you get comfortable with steering. Don't let this statement scare you...because the boats do have bumpers and fenders to prevent damage.

  1. There are also boats which are suitable for dis-abled persons....all on one level. Also good when you have kiddies on board.
  2. You dont need a licence to drive a even the kids can have a go !
  3. Bikes give additional freedom. Cycle to castles and monuments and pick up bottles of local wine or enjoy a morning trip to the bakers for fresh croissants and warm bread.
  4. If you hire a boat in the Lot area, you can hire your own horse for the duration of the cruise. Stabling is provided en route
  5. Exclusive to Nicols – They can fit an insubmersible Heated pool onto certain boats. It has a capacity of 700 litres and is suitable for 3 people. It has a little terrace with double safety rails. Absolute pleasure!
  6. We have year round specials – for example: discounts for couples, reduced prices for families, long term discounts, low season discounts, free days in selected periods. We also have specials over the long weekends in April, October, All Saints holidays etc. We have a few well chosen companies and are sure to find somthing that will suit your budget and your choice of location.
  7. If you're a golf lover and visiting Ireland...this will be the perfect trip. Whether you head north or south, you will find at least 4 golf courses along your route and these courses are open to all visitors and if you're a fisherman as well – then you'll definitely think you've died and gone to heaven!! Great fishing abounds.
  8. Do you love Venice as much as we do? Our boats are allowed on the Venice lagoon and its islands - so why not try a boat for your accommodation and transport in one.
  9. Did you know that one way trips are allowed between bases but that these are never totally guaranteed. Whilst change of direction seldom happens it is something that you must be aware of. This applies to all canal boat companies. However, we do have solutions for you...just ask if you are interested in a one way trip.
  10. Locks are not somthing to be scared of. You're allowed to be nervous for the first one or two but after that you will consider yourself a 'pro' !! They are such fun, you chat to lockkeepers and other boaters whilst waiting your turn to pass through.

    Next issue:

    Car hire – watchpoints when renting

    Motorhomes – tips to save you money

    Canal Boats – The best company in Britain

    A new way to travel .....and more.


    Copyright 05/te


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