Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

I have travelled to New York City several times, pre-Uber and post-Uber. Pre Uber was a lovely time when you could stand with one foot off the sidewalk and scream “Taxi!” Just like they do in the movies and the smiley yellow beast would glide up next to you and sweep you immediately off to your destination without any drama.

Times have changed.

A visit to The Big Apple last Spring has inspired this post. I was with my best friend in our hotel room excitedly getting ready for our Sex and the City tour which we had been planning for actual years!!

(Don’t laugh. )

The pick up address was outside the Plaza which wasn’t on an easy direct train route from our hotel.

“That’s cool, we’ve got plenty of time, let’s get a cab.” I said.

BIG MISTAKE!

Of course it was pouring down with rain. We had an hour to make a 15 minute cab journey. The rain didn’t help matters but no cabs were available. There seemed to be mysterious spots that New Yorkers would magically get picked up from. We even spoke to some locals and got tips and split up to face different directions of traffic, all to no avail. What were we doing wrong? Then we realised it. All of the locals were booking their cabs through Uber (an App used internationally for pre-booking private transport through a paid online account – a nifty idea in theory). But it’s not much cop when you’re travelling on a budget and have no internet access on the go!!!

We were down to 10 minutes remaining to make the 15 minute journey without wheels and now suitably soaking wet and pissed off. It was at this moment that all grown up ‘Adultey’ sense and logic left my mind and I actually burst into tears. Yup. Manahattan reduced me to tears, in public, in broad daylight. In front of other human beings.

Did we make it you ask?

Well things went from bad to worse. Against my better judgement I “Accidentally” stole a taxi from a New Yorker who had pre-booked with the fabulous app! Naturally, he challenged me. I turned to face him, tears streaming down my face and yelled “PLEASE!! PLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!! We’ve been waiting an hour, we’re going to miss our tour! PLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASE!”

He looked mostly confused.

And yes I am aware that this is not how New Yorkers interact with each other. Or humans, mostly.

But the chap gave in and let us take the cab. Through fear or kindness, I don’t know. But I’m going to go with kindness.

Sowhoever you were, thank you very much for letting us take your cab. It turned out to be one of the best days I have spent with my dearest friend and the tour was fantastic!

Cuddle Your Globe

13 Tips To Help You Avoid Being Scammed While Travelling

We have all been there – a horrible unjust has occurred that feels like your dream holiday has turned into a nightmare. You feel helpless, distressed, scared, angry, maybe even furious… But the worst part about being scammed abroad is being out of your comfort zone and not having friends / family in easy contact and more importantly, having different laws to abide by. Needless to say, it’s a very unpleasant situation that can cost a lot of money and easily ruin your holiday. 

I have been inspired to write a blog to help others avoid a scam situation either abroad or at home and to give advice on what to do if you find yourself a victim. I have based the blog on travel to any country and any continent. Cultures and law varies and sometimes, paying money out that you shouldn’t have to can save heftier unjusts, such as prison. This blog is a guide to differentiate and help you in these situations.

The most important thing to remember when travelling in general is to be savvy and careful. These tips may seem like there is no fun to be left when travelling but that’s not the case, they are really helpful but sadly there are no guarantees of avoidance. 

Scam and con artists are ruthless and genius and will try anything to succeed. I consider myself to be very streetwise and still found myself mugged in the street in Asia – it happens!!

1. The Hotel Scam

Some people consider a hotel a ‘safe zone’. Don’t. If anybody rings your room telephone claiming to be hotel staff and asks for clarification of credit card details, hang up and visit the front desk for clarification. Don’t leave cash or valuables laying around the room. In some cultures, maids accept cash left out as a tip. If it was not meant to be taken, don’t leave it out. Be careful of bulk safes kept behind reception. I have heard of ‘inside jobs’ where the safes have been raided and all cash / valuables / passports were taken. If you have an in room digital safe, use it for all of your valuables. If you are cautious I would recommend ensuring your hotel has this facility prior to booking.

2. The Booking Scam

When booking your trip, the golden rule is if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Shop around and compare prices. They should be reasonable comparable with other companies. If using a travel agent, I cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure they are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded before you hand over your cash. If they are not and they go insolvent, wave goodbye to your money and holiday. Credit card insurance alone is not enough. There have been incidents of people being scammed for over €90,000 from a timeshare con. Do your research before you book.

3. The Overweight Baggage Scam

I will not name individual airlines but I have experienced this scam personally. I have travelled on an international scheduled flight having pre-weighed my luggage and had it verified at check in, only to check in for a domestic flight with a different airline, usually a budget airline when I have pre-paid for up to 20kg to find out that my case that has always weighed 19kg suddenly weighs 24kg, according to their scales and they are demanding $30 per kilo over the 20kg. If you are in this situation, keep calm! Do not shout at the staff, it is not their fault. Politely explain that you are certain the bag is underweight and ask for them to use a different scale. Tell them you cannot afford to pay. Failing these, pay the fee. In some countries, failing to pay this fee can result in bigger fines, deportation or prison. Be warned.

4. The Hire Car Damage Scam

When you collect you hire car, abroad or at home, always check it for existing damage before you get in. Be thorough and report anything you find. On returning the hire car, allow enough time before flights etc to go through an inventory with the staff to ensure you are not left with a larger than planned credit card bill. If there is damage that they think to be caused by you, they will charge you. When you hire the car, always ensure it has CDW (collision damage waiver) and I recommend taking any option extra insurance offered such as tyre and windscreen cover.

5. The Insurance Scam

Separate to the above, when driving abroad (similarly to at home) always be alert and vigilant for other road users. Be prepared for somebody to slam their brakes on in front you. If they do and you crash into them, you just fell victim to the insurance scam which can be more unpleasant than at home as car hire insurance doesn’t always cover for equivalent fully comprehensive.

6. Don’t Get Too Drunk

Yes, most of us like to have a cocktail or two on holiday. Don’t ever lose sight of your surroundings. Alcohol causes a well known delay in reactions and a deluded sense of confidence which makes us all vulnerable prey to scammers.

7. Don’t Buy Drugs.

This one goes without saying really. You are breaking the law. Why on earth would you trust a complete stranger who claims to be selling drugs anyway?! There have been incidents of police offering to sell drugs in some countries, only to arrest and heavily bribe the tourist. This is best case. Other alternatives can include 10 years imprisonment. Just don’t do it.

8. The Crowd Scam

Busy crowds are breeding grounds for this kind of behaviour. Pickpocketing becomes easier and there have been cases of the fake injury scam by ‘bumping’ into a stranger, causing damage to something expensive in which they demand you pay for. If you can’t avoid crowds, be extra careful.

9. The Border Crossing Scam

These are rife in most developing countries, especially on public buses. The bus stops before the official visa check / immigration point and somebody claiming to be official demands money, or worse to check your passport and disappears with it. If in doubt, ask for I.D. Discuss it with other travellers. Somebody else may have done this before and give reassurance. Failing that if there is cause for concern, the scam is less likely to be successful if everybody ‘teams up’.

10. The Hiring Things Scam

This is most common with water sports and mopeds. You get a super cheap deal to hire the equipment, have loads of fun, but when you return it, the staff point out damage and claim you did it and you have to pay a lot of compensation. You can barter, explain, beg, plead, even threaten a lawyer. In many counties, this won’t stand and failure to pay will result in an army of locals claiming they ‘saw you do it’. Try negotiations and pay the fine. It’s easier than prison. The best way to avoid this situation is don’t hire anything without official documentation to protect both parties, unless you can afford to pay.

11. The Fake Cop Scam

It is common is some countries for scammers to pretend to be police in order to gain trust and demand to see passports / money, only to take items and disappear. The bottom line is, if in doubt ask them for identification. If they can’t produce it, say ‘No.’ And walk away. 

12. The Travel Agent Scam

In every country there are thousands of local tour operators. Generally they are fine to use. BUT, be careful. If you are spending a lot of money on a local tour, it is sometimes best to use a reputable agency or the Concierge desk in your hotel.

13. The Dodgy Cab Scam

Never use an unlicensed taxi, period. If you use a licenced taxi, do research beforehand to find out the best company to use. Failure to do so can easily result in a nasty situation where you are locked inside a car with an angry driver demanding much more money than you are happy to pay. If in doubt, agree a fare before you leave. The chances are the taxi driver knows where you are staying – don’t forget that!!

Be safe out there folks!!

Cuddle your Globe xoxo

The ‘Alien’ Feeling in a Foreign Land

The ‘Alien’ Feeling in a Foreign Land

I have recently moved to a new area, alone, hundreds of miles from my loved ones. This has inspired this post….

“Please don’t be offended if I am staring. People watching goes to a whole new level in a place with a different culture, attitude and accent. Likewise with looking at buildings and landscapes. It is all shiny and new to me, even if you have seen it a thousand times before.

Please don’t follow me around the store because I look nervous, to the shop assistant. I have come in the store to buy something to cheer me up. I am nervous; I don’t know anybody here. I am not shoplifting.

Please don’t stare at me, to the man with his girlfriend / wife. I am not interested in somebody who is ‘taken’ and do not want to make enemies with your partner.

Please be welcoming. One nice word or act of kindness can change a very lonely feeling to a much happier one. Thank you to those who have done so.

Please ask me questions. If you are curious as to why I am alone, or why you have not seen my face around before, please ask me. I am happy to open up and share my story and would love to hear yours.

Please accept that this is hard. It is possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am not crazy for moving somewhere new, but brave and hopeful for a better life. For after all, like birds, we are not meant to stay in the same spot forever.”

The Time I almost Died, White Water Rafting

‘Do one thing every day that scares you!!!’ They said.

I’ve spent my entire life being pretty tame. I once even cried the whole way down an abseiling wall. I’d always liked my feet safely on dry land… Until I travelled. Travel pushes you to your limits. So, whilst in Bali I decided to push the boat out and try white water rafting.

Our guide, a slim, young Indonesian man gave us a quick briefing and explained that when he shouts ‘boom’ we need to duck to avoid fallen trees etc. I recall him saying that if we fall in the water it was ‘bye-bye’, and then he laughed. This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

He helped me into the boat with my friend and two Australian teenage boys. They were half my age and lived on the opposite side of the world. In every-day life, we would have absolutely nothing in common. Yet in this hour, smashing through the speeding waters in the jungle, they would become my family.

The start of the rafting was gentle, our boat softly pondering through the waters. Giant, powerful cliffs surrounded us and there would be the occasional family sitting on the banks, farming or making clothes. I could hear rattle snakes and cheerful bird songs. Then things started to speed up…

We each had an oar to help row, but naturally were using it to splash as much water as possible at the passing tourists. The world passed by quickly, my eyes were struggling to keep focus on danger, whilst trying to spot potential water-fight warfare. The rocky, green cliffs were whizzing past me in a hot blur. I believe this is where the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome kicked in… Adrenaline started pulsating around my body. My clothes were soaking wet, my finger nail bent right back and I bumped my helmet-covered head on a rock-wall. All the while, I felt no pain.

A collection of boats had gathered, stuck at the top of a small waterfall in the direction we were headed. Our pathway was blocked except for a large rock protruding from the centre of the waters. We ricocheted from several boats and at high speed slid up the rock and became wedged. Before I even knew what was happening, I felt myself in mid-air, violently flung from my boat. I was face up, watching the sky distance itself from me, aware that beneath my body was a sheer drop into harsh, rocky waters. I wasn’t afraid or worried, I guess it all happened too quickly for anything resembling emotion to settle in me.

In that second, the guide (who was half my size) grabbed onto the shoulder of my life-vest and a large chunk of my hair and pulled me effortlessly back into the boat. He actually saved my life. I couldn’t stop laughing and hugging him.

On my next visit to Bali, what was the first thing I did? Booked myself onto a white water rafting session.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Claim Travel Compensation Unless Essential..

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Claim Travel Compensation Unless Essential..

I do not mean travel insurance claims. Of course if you need to claim for medical reasons or any other legitimate reasons, you should!

I am discussing the ‘middle-man compo’ companies who state you are entitled to claim compensation if your flight is delayed by more than 3 hours or for food poisoning in Egypt etc etc. Here’s why;

1. Nothing in life is free. Every time some uptight twit claims money back from an airline or tour operator because their £500 holiday ego has been dented, guess what happens? They hoik up the rest of their premiums to cover the losses. So we all end up paying more.

2. Blood pressure. It’s not worth getting yourself worked up enough because you arrived in Malaga 5 hours later than planned. Yes, it can be a huge inconvenience to be delayed. Let it go. Enjoy the rest of your holiday. Fretting about it will likely ruin your holiday and increase your blood pressure. Having a stroke in Tenerife is not fun.

3. Plan better. Don’t stay in a cruddy 3* hotel in Sharm El Sheikh. You know the drill, frankly if you do, you deserve food poisoning. Don’t plan a flight that lands in an hour before your meeting because flight delays are common.Welcome to aviation – your fault!

People who do the things I have listed above really piss me off and ruin travel for the rest of us.

Have a nice day.

  

You are ABLE to Travel, Disabled.

You are ABLE to Travel, Disabled.

*warning* material in this article may upset readers.

Did you realise that there are over 11 million people in the UK living with a severe dibilitating illness or disability (estimates of 6% of children, 16% of working age adults and 45% of 65+) that’s over 17% of our population.

In the UK, we are very fortunate that most medical conditions are recognised and we generally get the support we need. It’s not uncommon in developing countries for disabled or impaired individuals to be seen as having drawn the short straw and have no alternative but to resort to a desolate life of begging on the streets for food.

  
How does a disability affect travel? There are many factors to take into account.

  • Will I be able to get travel insurance?
  • Will there be amenities to suit my requirements?
  • Will the different climate affect me?
  • Will flying be stressful / possible?

Travel insurance can be tricky if you have extensive pre-existing medical conditions and will take a little time to research the best policy for yourself. Most policies will insure everybody but simply exclude cover for any existing illness. Other policies will allow you to add on cover for certain illnesses, for an additional premium. There are also companies that specialise in these areas and / or elderly travellers. Please do not be simply discouraged from travel altogether because of this, rest assured with a little research, you will get there in the end.

Any reputable UK tour operator will have a selection of wheelchair friendly properties. When you call with your requirements, please be patient! When I worked as a travel agent I recall a client becoming irate on the phone because I wasn’t able to produce an immediate selection of suitable hotels for him and his requirements and he accused our company of discrimination. The travel industry is very broad and it can take time to liaise with hotels / resorts to ensure that what is offered is definitely suitable. Villa companies usually will have ‘wheelchair friendly’ properties with wheel-in / walk-in wet rooms, wider doorways and handlebars.

In the UK, we are mostly graced with miserable, cold and wet weather. The good news here is that warmer climates can actually help certain medical conditions. Heat therapy (or thermotherapy) can improve muscle pain, chronic pain or stress, amongst others. So get your sun cream out and enjoy!

Flying long haul can be stressful for everybody. If you are elderly or have difficulty in walking long distances but are not in a wheelchair, the prospect of battling the airport alone can be terrifying. At the check in desk you can request a buggy to take you to the gate for your flight. If you are immobile, you should advise your airline or travel agent prior to departure and they can arrange boarding assistance for you. Wheelchair users normally receive priority boarding to ensure you are comfortable prior to the flocks of other passengers boarding. If you have a life threatening allergy, you should also advise your airline prior to travel. I have known instances in the past where the airline has banned all nut products from the entire aircraft because one passenger had a severe allergy.

I am one of the 11 million people to suffer with a disability. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibro myalgia and can empathise with others who find travel difficult but do not want to miss out on these fabulous joys in life. 

If you have any queries, please feel free to email me and I will try my very best to help you;

Info@cuddleyourglobe.com
References

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-facts-and-figures/disability-facts-and-figures

https://www.painscience.com/articles/ice-heat-confusion.php