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September 2015

Park at your peril. New airport scam investigated

Thousands of unsuspecting holidaymakers left their cars with airport valet parking companies this summer believing they would be left in secure compounds.

Park at your peril. New airport scam investigated

Bogged down: Some valet parking companies use muddy fields to park your car

However, some of these ‘Meet and Greet’ cowboys are leaving cars unattended by the roadside, at nearby industrial estates, in muddy fields and in one case at a strip club.

Airport Parking at Gatwick has just been fined £6000 after Trading Standards found cars parked in an unsecured field with the doors unlocked and boxes of keys left unsupervised.

After scores of online complaints that cars were being returned dirty, damaged or with too many miles on the clock a Mail on Sunday team concealed GPS trackers before leaving cars with companies operating at Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.

Not only were their cars not parked in secure areas but they were often taken to unsecured public locations including a residential street, an industrial estate and a strip club. A reporter calling to ask for his car to be returned found the car in a disused pub car park with thick mud and grass being hosed off.

One operator’s website showed rows of neatly parked cars in their ‘secure compound with CCTV’ but it turned out to be a Morrisons supermarket in Somerset with the sign obscured. A second picture on the website was of Montevideo airport in Uruguay 6000 miles from Heathrow...

Our advice if you are parking at the airport is to look for a company with a ‘Park Mark’. This means they are registered with the British Parking Association and have a secure compound which is checked annually by the police.

And check at parkmark.co.uk to double check that it’s not a rogue operator that has stolen the logo.

Get the measure of
Leisure Sickness

It's amazing how many people who spend most of the year feeling hail and hearty manage to develop a nasty cold, a series of headaches and migraines or an upset stomach as soon as they say farewell to Blighty and begin that foreign holiday.

Get the measure of Leisure Sickness

High flyers: Don’t be tempted by the free booze but drink water to stay hydrated

Dutch academics have found that about one person in 30 becomes unwell as soon as they stop working and prepare to relax. The condition even has a name: Leisure sickness.

Experts have come up with 10 reasons for feeling below par on holiday and how you can stop ill health from ruining that long anticipated annual break. So check out the following advice before making that call to DialAflight.

  • The body is constantly producing the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, which regulate the vascular system, alertness and the sleep cycle. They also dull pain, meaning that an impending illness is less likely to be noticed. The weeks before you go on holiday can be stressful so the moment you relax your immune system is at a low ebb.
    Answer: The Dutch study found that the 'cure' was to minimise stress before leaving, prepare for your trip well in advance and let some tasks wait until you get back.
  • You may innocently switch on your phone to check on sport scores or to stay in touch with friends and family, only to pick up some unwanted emails causing blood pressure to soar and stress levels to rise.
    Answer: Don't look at that smartphone unless you really need to.
  • Not many people make sure their digestive system is beach-ready to protect against traveller's tummy caused by contaminated water or food.
    Answer: A recent independent study found that people who took the prebiotic capsule Bimuno a week before the trip and for the duration had few problems. It costs £9.99p for 30 of the chewy pastilles and you take three a day.
  • That pre-holiday low calorie crash diet may mean you look better in your swim suit but the body thinks its in a famine situation which puts it under stress, impairing the immune functions that now can't cope with new bacteria and viruses found abroad.
    Answer: Instead of the diet, invest in some flattering clothes and promise to adopt a year-round policy of sensible eating.
  • Surveys suggest that Brits consume a whopping 5,756 calories (more than double the recommended limit) on the first day of the holiday alone. Those on a cruise will gorge an extra 1,000 calories a day - bingeing that causes damage and discomfort.
    Answer: Don't associate holidays with over-eating. Choose a starter or a pudding and don't eat big meals late at night.
  • You are likely to get a little dehydrated on your flight which can cause stress on the kidneys, muscle cramps and even raised blood pressure.
    Answer: Drink plenty of water before getting on the plane and during the flight, and avoid alcohol, even if it's offered free!
  • You can become lazy while on holiday and jet lag and bugs picked up during the flight don't help.
    Answer: Keep active while away. Work out, play sports and swim. The more you do the better you will feel.
  • Painful migraines, combined with sickness and visual problems, are often caused by changes in weather conditions and disruptions to eating and sleeping patterns.
    Answer: Take the right type of medication, drink plenty of water and try to stick to normal eating and sleeping routines. Also wear sunglasses and a hat.
  • As well as a disrupted sleep cycle, jet lag can cause constipation and diarrhoea.
    Answer: Adopt the local time immediately and try to get up at the same time every day.
  • Too much alcohol can play havoc with your heart causing it to beat too quickly or slowly out of rhythm.
    Answer: No need to stay on the wagon, but try limiting yourself to the lower risk guidelines of two or three units a day for women and three to four a day for men. And for every alcoholic drink, have a soft one, preferably water.

My Best Holiday Ever

Former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman loves Bali and his home in France

How often do you travel?
I've spent a lifetime travelling with the Rolling Stones and my Rhythm Kings and after 30 years of flights and more flights I'm now happy staying in the UK and flitting between London and Suffolk, where I have a house. I've owned a home in the south of France since the seventies and really enjoy my time there.

What do you like to do on holiday?
I enjoy taking photos, sightseeing and exploring.

My Best Holiday Ever - Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman at home in France

Your most adventurous travel experience
In 1982, while still with the Rolling Stones, I took a three month holiday touring the world. It was an extraordinary trip and I spent time in Hawaii and Fiji. I moved on to Australia then Bali where the people where among the sweetest I'd ever met. Then I stayed for a month in Japan, basing myself in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Best holiday ever
Bali for two weeks in 1982. The beaches were so incredible and the villages so interesting selling hand-made silver products, wood carvings as well as tie-dyed cloths.

Favourite city
London. I've been all over the world but have never seen anywhere that beats it. Rome is lovely, but our capital city is full of parks, squares, sights and nature - it has everything.

Best piece of travel advice
Take good care of your luggage. I can't count the number of times I've lost a trunk or suitcase full of stuff I've bought or collected over the course of a tour. I have lost so much over the years.

To read the full interview visit www.telegraph.co.uk

Travel Gossip

What’s Up? What’s Down? Costa Rica flights, revamped Rome and new loos in Norway
Up Arrow

BA knows the way to San Jose

The wildlife and rainforests of Costa Rica will be easier to reach from next year thanks to new flights by British Airways. From May 4th the national carrier will begin a direct twice weekly service from Gatwick to the country's capital San Jose. By the winter of 2016 it is planned to increase this to three flights a week.

Protectionist? Mais non.

Meal sharing websites in Paris are seen by tourists as a great way to meet locals and have an authentic experience at a French home. But French restaurants are urging a Government crackdown on websites where gourmets book dinners cooked by amateur chefs at home. French hotels and taxi drivers have been protesting about AirBnB and Uber and now it’s the restaurants anxious to protect their status quo.

Thumbs up for Gladiators

A new floor at the Colosseum in Rome has been given the thumbs up paving the way for gladiatorial re-enactments to be staged at the venue. The original floor was removed by 19th century archaeologists to reveal the slave quarters and animal stalls below. The new £13m floor will be built of wood and topped with sand and there are plans to turn the area below into a museum.

Some height relief!

Loos are to be erected at the Norwegian landmark of Pulpit Rock in a bid to relieve the problem caused by hikers being caught short at the top of the 1,982ft cliff. Around 30,000 tourists make the two hour climb to the spectacular rock ledge every year and human waste has become a serious problem. The new loos will be in place by next summer.

Down Arrow

The Costa of getting drunk

Badly behaved tourists in the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar can now be thrown out of their hotels. A new law has been passed by town councillors determined to restore the reputation of a resort often described as the rowdiest in Spain. Now tourists guilty of fighting, getting drunk or urinating in the street can be forced to leave their hotels, with private security firms carrying out the evictions.

No scrum for rooms

Hotels hoping to make big profits from this autumn's Rugby World Cup have been disappointed after travel companies handed back thousands of un-booked rooms. Sports travel firms that block-booked the rooms have found that supply outweighed demand and now some properties close to the sports venues are offering big discounts.

Sweets plan turns sour

Airport police are refusing to hand out bonbons to children arriving in Paris as part of a drive to end France's reputation for rudeness. The idea was to make them appear more 'human' and welcoming with sweet wrappers bearing the message in English: "We want to help you." But police say that it is demeaning and inappropriate for officers to give out the sweets, particularly as France is on high alert for terrorist attacks.

Never walk alone

Pilgrims walking the famous Camino de Santiago have been warned not to walk alone after the attempted kidnapping of a 50-year-old woman on a section of the trail near Santa de Catalina de Samoza, in Leon. The failed abduction follows the disappearance in April of an American pilgrim. Locals also report that there have been incidents of lone females being harassed along the trail.

Quirkiest hotel of the month

Sleep beneath a canopy of stars in a luxury safari treehouse for two
A four poster bed under the starry African sky - perfect for a romantic safari escape.

A four poster bed under the starry African sky - perfect for a romantic safari escape

5 star Tinyeleti Treehouse at Lion Sands Game Reserve offers guests the opportunity to sleep out in the open air surrounded by South Africa’s stunning Kruger National Park, where they can spot lions, leopards and elephants in their natural habitat. Holidaymakers are exposed to the elements while they dine, relax and sleep under the stars in a four-poster bed from £188 a night.

Overlooking the Sabie River, the treehouse is lit by candlelight, and guests arrive to a picnic dinner at sunset. The treehouse can be booked as an extension to a stay at Lion Sands luxurious River Lodge or Ivory Lodge for the ultimate safari experience.

Mailbag Update

Feedback helps us improve. Here's what people are saying...
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Reliable and friendly

My father and I have both used DialAFlight a few times now for big trips. When I flew to Cape Town in 2010 the DialAFlight Sales Advisor Shelly liaised with my father to rebook flights for my brother and me after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption caused severe disruption and left us grounded in South Africa.

More recently I have booked 5 star holidays to both Oman and Croatia through Eric who is extremely friendly and helpful. For the Oman trip he was very knowledgeable about the hotel and area. For the Croatia trip he was very patient in helping tailor a holiday from scratch as my initial request was 'a holiday in the Med’.

I am already a repeat customer and would recommend the firm to others.

Vanessa Bradford   |   April 2015

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Barbados/Florida Keys multi-trip

I didn't ask Jonathan to book me a holiday - I asked him to solve a dilemma.

I have a daughter that loves the beach, a son that wants an activities break and partner that hates to stop in one place for longer than five minutes (I'm just try to keep the peace).

A week in Barbados then on to Miami with three stops in the Florida Keys ticked every box and stayed in budget. The organisation of multiple flights, ideal hotels, courtesy pick-ups and overall itinerary was faultless. I changed (by committee) almost every option and each time nothing was too much trouble.

Excellent.

Mr Lewis Pek   |   August 2015

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Where would I be?

I have depended on Raymond of DialAFlight for more years than I can remember to provide the best price for the flights I need - not only for myself and my family, but all the clients who book flights to stay in my Florida holiday rental property. However, he doesn't only organise my Florida flights and cars, he knows exactly what I need. And that is where the difference begins.

Any fool can look on the internet and book a flight. But can they make sure they book with the right plane as the earlier one was an airbus, not a jumbo and that’s your preference. Can they send you to the best car hire company for the kind of SUV you want, in that area? Can they hold flights on release at the best price? Do they have the knowledge of planes/seats/cars/local area etc? He has all this in Spades, and I trust him with all my clients, knowing they will enjoy their time in my holiday home thanks to his professionalism and efficiency.

Thank you Raymond, and for heaven’s sake never leave!

Susan Johnson   |   July 2015

Sparkling footnote: Susan's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way to her.

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