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

University not for you? Here’s why you should take a gap year instead..

University not for you? Here’s why you should take a gap year instead..

In light of the recent A Level results, there are likely thousands of teenagers currently in the UK at a loose end and perhaps you are one of them. You haven’t yet chosen a career path that warrants higher education and maybe you are scrambling through the competition to bag that summer job?

This is the not the time to be pulling your hair out, worrying about your future. This is the time to discover who you are and exactly what you want from this merry-go-round we call life. This is the absolute perfect timing to throw your essentials into a backpack and head of into the unknown as the glorious ‘backpacker’.

The world is a huge place and travel will teach you so much about life. Everyday will bring you opportunities to immerse yourself in a new culture and try food so exquisite you won’t miss your Sunday roast. It will bring people into your life who will mean so much to you and may never leave. Travel will teach you about change. It will teach you confidence and to love yourself and how to treat others with respect. Travel will teach you how to communicate with others, even when you do not speak the same language. It will teach you how to survive without your family and friends to lean on and most importantly, it will show you who you really are.

So when you return, your friends may be a year into their studies, but who will have the better education??

Is it scary? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely.

There are companies on the market that specialise in tailoring your year out to explore the world and find you the best airfares to visit all the places you can fit on your list and can hold your hand right up until the day when you spread your wings and fly (well… board the plane!)

So what are you waiting for? The world is waiting for you.

*Warning!! Travel can be highly addictive and you may get the ‘travel bug’.*

info@cuddleyourglobe.com

Gapyear

 

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Avios Points

Despite having a very good knowledge of air miles schemes, I knew very little about Avios points when I picked up this book so I was intrigued to see what it had in store.

I often read blogs about how to snag free or cheap upgrades but in reality, most of them don’t work. I have tried every ‘trick in the book’ to get upgraded on flights and despite it working once or twice (mostly down to dumb luck), in reality an airline will not upgrade your seat for the simple reason that its clients who have handed over literally thousands of pounds to fly in Business / First class would not be very happy sitting next to someone who paid an economy fare… and Business class passengers are the last type of clientele they want to displease!

Without giving away too much of this book’s top secret tips, Avios appears to be the next best thing in snagging aviation discounts and from countless proven accounts, it actually works! The book talks you through in a step-by-step approach, all you need to know to gain Avios points to snatch discounted flights or upgrade your seat to a Premium cabin for a mere percentage of the going market rates.

The book explains – in some depth – exactly how and where to collect Avios points, and where to spend them and gives very honest accounts on what is beneficial to you, and what is not. It is very simple – if you commit yourself fully and put a little time and effort into the Avios scheme, you genuinely can fly for peanuts!

It is the first book I have seen of its kind which actually breaks down the travel ‘zones’ and how many points are required to fly to these destinations, in which cabin, and roughly the value of points to be collected in various places, including Tesco Clubcard points!! Who knew that?!

To summarise, if you fly with British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Air Malta, Flybe, Monarch, Air Auringy, Qatar or Finnair, for business or leisure travel, this book is an absolute must read for you if you want to save a lot of money and get cheaper flights, or if you want to see how the other half live and travel in luxury.

Having flown in Business / First class myself several times, I can say from experience that once you have experienced it, you will not want to fly Economy again. I have just set up my first Avios account already and you can do the same at https://www.avios.com/

To purchase your very own copy of this incredible book, ClickHere!

Happy Travels!

Cuddle Your Globe

Travel Blogger

There are People Still Unaccounted for in this World.

There are People Still Unaccounted for in this World.

In developed countries, busy commuting to college or work, it’s easy to think this is normality for the entire world. We all moan about our governments and healthcare systems etc etc, but we hardly ever stop to appreciate the fact that we have them.

When travelling to the outback, farthest depths of developing countries, it’s only then when it hits you, hard, that there are people, families, children, who are ‘unknown’. They are not a statistic, they do not have a passport, they do not have a bank account. They live in the same clothes day in, day out, perhaps in a tent in the desert with nothing around for miles but their family.

I was fortunate enough to sit with such a family and drink tea with them in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan some years back. There was not a trace of electricity or television. They had simple cushions and blankets under a basic tent to provide shelter from the punishing heat. Two young boys played up in the rocks while their parents sat with us and talked. They were generous and offered what they could and more importantly, they seemed happy. Imagine a life where education and employment doesn’t exist. Only skills for survival..

The youngest of the two boys was coughing, a lot. I work in healthcare so I could tell he had a pretty bad lower airway infection. This family, with their simple means of survival, had no easy access to antibiotics. Even a shower.

In the developed world we lose our minds because our network provider ‘crashes’ for an hour, disabling access to making phone calls. But this family, they had never seen an iPad before.

Really makes you think.

Hotel Pennsylvania, Midtown Manhattan 

Hotel Pennsylvania, Midtown Manhattan 

Hotels in Manhattan are notoriously overpriced in general, so on a recent visit I was keen to cut back some pennies. I have known of the hotel Pennsylvania 2* for many years having booked it for thousands of clients and I actually walked past it 5 years ago. It’s well known for being a good budget hotel (starting rates around $150 per night) in the city centre. I have had mixed reviews about the hotel and was honestly not expecting much at all on arrival on a recent six day city break.

The first thing that shocked me was the size of the hotel, it has around 2,000 rooms and towers high (much like many New York buildings) and the queue for check in.


After a long day of travelling, a 45 minute wait to get to the front desk was not ideal. Properties of this magnitude will always have drawbacks. BUT, on the flip side, having a room on the 12th floor meant so much of the New York noise couldn’t be heard when sleeping which is a massive bonus and something most people do not think about when booking a hotel. The check in staff were very friendly and professional.. Worth the wait.

The bedrooms are a little dated and the bathrooms, although clean could certainly have a little revamp. The beds are very comfortable. I think the mattresses were the fancy hypo allergenic sprung types with a topper, which my back appreciated after battling the city each day.


A very bizarre thing happened during our stay. We had a ‘do not disturb’ tag on our door so house keeping did not visit. But, on our return, there was an extra fridge freezer in our room! We couldn’t understand why it had been brought in as we already had one and we certainly hadn’t asked for it. I half expected to find an oven the next day…!

The room keys frequently decided to fall asleep during our visit requiring a frustrating 60 minute round trip to reception and security etc etc to gain access to our room.

Facilities at the hotel are decent, hotel guests have access to an Olympic size swimming pool next door free of charge and if you are offered breakfast, take it!! It’s at a buffet cafe accross the street and is fantastic; salad, fruit, cereal, bagels, pancakes, toast, hot food, tea, coffee and juice…. I am salivating whilst writing this just remembering it. There are also a few stores inside the hotel and a coffee shop. Seating is available in the lobby, but there could be a little more given the amount of guests. The hotel is wheelchair friendly as there are ramps / lifts available.

The best bit by far, location location location!! The hotel is directly opposite Penn train station (which operates a direct train to Newark airport), and Madison Square Garden. The hotel also has several subway stations within a few minutes walk. Times Square is about a 15 minute walk north of the hotel and Central Park another 15 minutes north.

Overall, I was happy with my stay. Would I stay here again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. Suitable for all ages? Yes, although in my opinion it is perhaps a little more suited for 18-45 years. Friendly staff? Yes, and mostly very helpful.

I was pleasantly surprised by my stay and if you are considering staying here, do not let bad reviews put you off. It is budget accommodation so don’t expect a 5* hotel, but it’s a great gem in the heart of Manhattan.

Thomas Cook it to Cape Town

Thomas Cook it to Cape Town

Charter airline, Thomas Cook has just announced a fabulous new route to add to their collection of long haul destinations including the likes of Cuba, Mexico and Goa.

As of December 2016, they will now be operating a direct flight from London Gatwick to Cape Town 3 days a week with economy and premium cabins available. Ticket prices will start at just £699 which is definitely at least comparable with its schedule airline rivals. They are using a brand new Airbus A330 and have invested millions into their new fleet.

This is fantastic news for South African tourism. Cape Town is stunning and has much to offer the most discerning of travellers including table mountain and the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. The garden route nearby offers stunning and tasty wine regions, too.

10 quirks that really set aside a Dublin hostel from the rest

10 quirks that really set aside a Dublin hostel from the rest

  
1. The indescribably loud street noise. Drunken ramblings and shouting appear to occur 24/7, the odd song is broken into or words such as ‘Guinness!’ Randomly yelled out from every direction.

2. Many types of interesting guests – there’s the sweet and excitable American girls, moody solo girl, angry hairy leather guy, no spoken English guy who sits near you and smiles, but says nothing, drunken couple in love and hooking up on the staircase and Irish guys who are on a “why not” booze up.

3. It is apparently acceptable for the neighbours to crank up the electro house music randomly at 4am (walls are made of paper).

4. They have two plug sockets and one toilet for nearly 30 people to share on each floor. Oh, and it is unlikely you will have a locker.

5. Many different varieties of smells during the night. There is very noticeable garlic breath. Much vodka / beer breath and also vomit breath creeps in occasionally. You may be extra lucky and have smelly feet or wet shoes airing out in your room.

6. Everybody is drunk. This also means if you are on the bottom bunk then you stand a pretty good chance of being hurled on by your upstairs neighbour.

7. Literally constant sirens passing by all night… All day.

8. Instead of talking in their sleep, your room mates may be singing in their sleep.

9. People are the best of friends and happy at night. Not a word is spoken, nor eye contact made during breakfast.

10. Taking a shower will probably result in being less clean than before you went in.

  

Despite of all of these quirky traits, there is something so bewitching about this magical city. The locals have a spring in their step that I don’t see in England. (Probably the copious amounts of alcohol in their bloodstream, but still…) Hotels are overpriced in Dublin so staying in a hostel if you are travelling solo is a total no brainier.

Personally, I stayed at the Abbey Court Hostel by O’connell bridge / temple bar. The location is fab if you want central. It is extremely ‘no frills’ and If you are going for the party scene and a bed to crash on, it’s ideal. There are only two pubs on the road which is bloody noisy, but I understand some of the other hostels are actually louder. Basically, if you want to sleep during your visit to Dublin, either find a hostel that is not central, or pay for a hotel.

The River Liffey, taken from O’Connell street at night