Making your holiday last longer

Date Created: 17 August 2018


snorkellingThe human brain can be easily fooled when it comes to how quickly time goes by and now a neuroscientist has suggested new ways that we can all make our holidays seem to last longer.

A growing body of evidence suggests this trick can be pulled off and David Eagleman, a best-selling author as well as the scientist in question, has set out how to do it in his essay 'Brain Time'.

Temporal illusions

“Time perception, just like vision, is a construction of the brain – and shockingly easy to manipulate,” he suggests. “We all know about optical illusions, in which things appear different from how they really are; less well known is the world of temporal illusions.”

A temporal illusion is anything that distorts our perception of time and the good news is they are all around us. “When you begin to look for temporal illusions, they appear everywhere,” Eagleman says.

When experiencing something extraordinary, different and exciting, the perception of time slows down and there is now plenty of research to support this claim. So an active holiday spent bungee jumping, skydiving or snorkelling will seem to last longer than if you simply lounge around the pool.

Mindfulness

However, there is still good news for holidaymakers who are looking for something more relaxing to last longer. Dr Steve Taylor, a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, believes there is another way to slow down our perception of time by paying conscious attention to the experiences we are having.

“Time perception is related to information processing so the more information our minds and our senses take in, the slower time seems to go,” Dr Taylor explains.

The unfamiliarity of new experiences slows down our perception so even walking around a new city can work, as long as you make a conscious effort to be aware of your surroundings. This is called mindfulness.

“We only get a certain amount of holiday each year so it’s very important to make them last as long as possible and expand our time perception as much as we can,” adds Dr Taylor.

For more interesting travel related articles and guides, check out our social hub or follow us on Twitter @QuestorIns.

The Best Views in London

Date Created: 14 August 2018

With so much to see and do in the city of London, it can be difficult for first-time visitors to know where to start! Fortunately, we have compiled a list of must-see sites to help kick-start your planning:

Piccadilly Circus Picadilly Circus

Established in 1819, Piccadilly Circus is considered a centre of tourism in London, attracting around 100 million people from all over the world every year.  As an intersection, it links some of London’s most famous roads including, Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.  Home to many tourist attractions from the famous Piccadilly Screens and Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum - to world-class theatres like the Criterion, Piccadilly Circus is the perfect place to experience some of the sights of London!  Alongside these tourist attractions, the intersection links to roads which are abundant with shops to suit your every need.

 

The Shard

At an amazing height of 310 metres, the Shard has remained the tallest building in the United Kingdom since its grand opening in 2013. Amongst the 95 floors, there are a variety of facilities including, offices, apartments, gyms, restaurants and even swimming pools. The shard is a spectacle which truly reflects the modern world and tourists come far and wide to see it.  The building is perhaps best known for its stunning and overwhelming views – which can be seen on the 68th and 72nd floors.  In addition, the exquisite restaurants add to the appeal for those wanting to indulge in some fine-dining.  

 

Big Ben – Westminster Big Ben

Perhaps one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world, Big Ben has stood for more than 150 years!  At a height of 91 metres, Big Ben is a vital part of the London Skyline with people from across the world recognising the clock as a symbol of Britain.  The tower is not open to visitors.  However, UK residents may write to their local MP asking for the chance to tour both the tower and the Palace of Westminster.  At this current point in time, Big Ben is closed due to heavy maintenance works in an attempt to make the building more sturdy and long lasting.

 

Canary Wharf

Home to a huge amount of corporate offices, banks and financial companies, Canary Wharf is considered the economic centre of London.  Alongside this business centre, the Wharf also hosts a huge variety of shops, cultural restaurants and recreational facilities!  If you fancy visiting the competitive world of banking and business or simply having a relaxing day out shopping and dining, Canary Wharf is the ideal place for you, your family and friends!

 

London Eye London Eye

Just like Big Ben, the London Eye is considered a centrepiece of the London skyline.  At a whopping height of 135 metres, the London Eye provides a spectacular view across London – overlooking sights such as the BT Tower, The London Aquarium and Buckingham Palace.  All across the world, tourists visiting London look forward to experiencing this wonder and experiencing London from the sky!

 

 

Keeping the children entertained during the summer months

Date Created: 08 August 2018

ChildideaThe summer holidays are now upon us! For many this can result in plenty of stress and hours of planning! We want to take away the stress this summer by helping you plan some great low budget activities for the whole family. Take a look below at our top summer activities:

Camping in the garden

If you have the space, why not have a camping trip indoors or in your garden. Make the experience like a real camping trip by only using touches for lights, storing food in a cool box, singing camp songs and going for a nature walk. If you set up camp indoors you can even enjoy the luxury of watching a movie while being wrapped up in your sleeping bags. Most importantly make sure you have plenty of hot chocolate and snacks for the evening.

Bring out your inner artist

We all love arts and crafts, whether it be painting, drawing, making things or playing with Playdoh, the whole family can enjoy getting creative! Why not create a picture or collage out of the resources found from exploring a nearby forest or countryside, some great items to pick up include pinecones, flowers, feathers and stones. 

Mini Olympics

Hold your own mini Olympics in the back garden or at a local park. Some great games you could play include; hula hooping, skipping, obstacle courses, running and of course, the egg and spoon race!  Don’t forget to get crafty and make some medals for the winners!

Have an adventure

Some of the best places to visit in the summer months include beaches, national parks, a local castle, a theme park or even a zoo.  If you are looking to go further afield, check out our blog on top family days out.

As much as it can be tempting to make plans for every waking moment of the day to keep them entertained, it’s important to ensure there is still time available for children to be independent and grow their imaginations. The key to having fun and having the perfect summer holiday to remember is by keeping things relaxed and fun for the whole family (including you!)

If you do decide to take the children away on a summer holiday, make sure the whole family is protected with comprehensive travel insurance, click here to get your quote today or contact us on 0333 323 0090 to speak to a member of the team.

Discovering Italy by hire car

Date Created: 31 July 2018 by Questor Insurance

Italy1Italy is an absolute driver’s dream – roads weave their way through spectacular scenery, often against a backdrop of hills and high peaks.

The rugged coastlines and historic towns provide further reasons for you to explore the wonderful country by car, creating unforgettable memories in the process.

And while a number of routes represent a challenge, you can be sure that the experiences will make it all worthwhile.

So if you’re keen to explore Italy’s network of roads, you may opt to do it by hire car, or on the back of an iconic Vespa.

Here we’ve picked out a handful of the regions where you can enjoy a true taste of Italian life.

The Amalfi Coast

One of Italy’s most romantic and spectacular regions is the Amalfi Coast, with its iconic views and unmatched beaches.

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, the coastal routes are ideal for taking in all that the area has to offer.

Salerno, known as the gateway to the coast, benefits from great Mediterranean weather all year round too so there’s never a bad time to visit.

Other towns to visit include the main hub Amalfi, the colourful homes of Positano, and Sorrento, which survives in the lurking shadows of Mount Vesuvius.

Tuscany

Famed for its wineries and delectable cuisine, Tuscany is best explored by car as it allows you to take in the beautiful countryside at your own pace.

Indulge yourself in the Renaissance architecture of Florence before heading into Chianti wine country for a tasting session – you’ll often be able to stay nearby meaning you won’t need to worry about the car!

The region is also famed for its bistecca (steak) which you could sample in Greve, or in the heart of the picturesque wine country in Panzano.

Another must-visit is the incredible medieval city of Siena and its 12th-century square, Piazza del Campo, although in truth, it’s easy to get lost in the beauty and tranquillity of all Tuscan landscapes.

Sicily

From the ancient ruins of Syracuse to the historic centre of Catania, Sicily is a treasure trove of baroque treats.

You should also take in the sights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Noto and its 18th-century cathedral at the foot of the Iblean Mountains.

Messina features a number of spectacular buildings too, with its architecture spanning numerous cultures and time periods.

And don’t forget to visit Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna – you could even trek up it if you’re feeling adventurous.

If you do intend to hire a car to explore one of Italy’s famed regions, you may want to consider car hire excess insurance to provide cover should your car be damaged or stolen.

The added extra protects the excess that you would need to pay in the event of a claim and costs less than you may think. Get a quote today to see how little it could cost you.

The Lowdown on Car Hire Deposits

Date Created: 24 July 2018

Car hire depositsIf you intend to hire a car when you jet off on your holiday this summer, car rentals will require you to pay a deposit.

But why do you need to depart with your precious pennies, how should you pay for it, and when can you expect to get it back?

Here we’ve delved into the topic of car hire deposits so that you can know all that you need to when you’re at the rental desk.

How much will I have to pay?

Rental companies require a deposit for the period that you rent a car from them. This is to protect themselves in the event something goes wrong, such as if the car is damaged, returned late or in a state that requires excessive cleaning.

There is no set fee regarding how much you could be asked to deposit, as it varies depending on the rental company, the type of car and on where you’re renting.

It’s worth noting that if you hire a luxury or larger vehicle, you can expect the deposit figure to increase accordingly.

Typically, the deposit is similar to the excess figure that would be included on the Collision Damage Waiver that is provided as part of the basic insurance cover when you rent the vehicle.

How should I pay it?

The majority of rental companies will require a credit card in the name of the lead driver and will block the deposit on that card.

While the money does not leave your account, the deposit will count towards any spending limit you have on the card in the event they do decide to charge you.

Some rental companies may accept a debit card in the name of the main driver, but in this instance, the money will leave the account before being returned later.

It usually takes between 5 and 15 working days for your deposit to be returned, although it may take longer during peak times such as at Christmas or at the height of the summer holidays.

How can I reduce the deposit?

As deposits vary from company to company, it’s important to compare the makes and models of vehicles as some may have lower deposits than others, even if the specifications are similar.

Companies may also reduce the deposit if you purchase car hire excess insurance through them.

However, this type of cover – which protects against the excess, is often available for less elsewhere.

It may therefore be worth finding low-cost excess insurance elsewhere and paying a higher deposit to see if you could save in the long-run.

 

Exploring Jersey by hire car

Date Created: 24 July 2018

Exploring JerseyJersey may be less than 50 square miles in size, but it is packed full of fantastic things to see and do at nearly every turn.

While nine miles by five does not seem a lot, a diverse set of attractions and natural beauty make it perfect for a short weekend break, a romantic getaway or even a trip packed with adventure.

That said, it is best explored from the comfort of a hire car, although there are also an extensive set of cycleways if you fancy discovering the island on two wheels.

The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey boasts a rich history and you’ll find an eclectic mix of British and French culture.

As well as beautiful beaches and coastal pathways, sea coves and caves, you can also explore numerous inland valleys that provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

1. The spectacular Mont Orgueil Castle towers over the harbour of Gorey, while the imposing 16th century Elizabeth Castle – accessible on foot via a causeway at low tide – can be found on a small tidal island visible from the capital St Helier.

2. Another popular attraction includes the Jersey War Tunnels museum, the former hospital complex details the occupation of the island during the Second World War.

3. Established in 1958 by Gerald Durrell and now known as Jersey Zoo, it is home to a huge range of endangered species.

4. If you wish to delve even deeper into the island’s culture, then a visit to the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, and the Neolithic tomb and museum at La Hougue Bie are a must.

And you shouldn’t miss out on a chance to try the delectable cuisine that is on offer at many of the island’s renowned restaurants too.

If you want to discover Jersey from the comfort of a hire car this year, you may also want to consider an added extra in the form of car hire excess insurance.  This can provide peace of mind by covering the excess you would need to pay should your hire vehicle be damaged or stolen, and it costs less than you might think too.

Get a quote today to discover how little car hire excess insurance might cost you.

How to avoid the car hire desk queues

Date Created: 23 July 2018

Car hire desk queuesThere’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your holiday destination only to be greeted by queues at the car hire pick-up desk.

But now new research from Which? Travel has showcased which hire companies can help get your holiday off to the best start, and also those that are more likely to keep you waiting.

According to the research, opting for the cheaper car hire options can increase the likelihood of having to queue, partly as a consequence of excessive upselling techniques used by staff.

Upsold items can include sat-navs and child car seats, as well as excess insurance policies to enhance the cover that is provided as standard.

The good news for customers is that these extras are often not required, as the majority of airlines will allow you to put a car seat in the hold for free, while your smartphone can easily double up as a sat-nav.

For car hire excess insurance – which covers the excess you would need to pay should your hire car be damaged or stolen – it’s worth looking online before travelling as cover can be purchased for significantly less than at the check-in desk.

Holidaymakers should shop around for the best options, especially if they intend to travel numerous times as annual cover is also available.

Customers also said that check-in desks were not staffed adequately during peak times, further adding to the wait.

Car hire firms in the spotlight

More than one in four customers using Budget had to wait more than half an hour before being able to drive away.  Compare that with Alamo, where more than 90% of customers were en-route to their resort within 30 minutes of reaching the check-in desk.

Of the companies with the longest queue times, all are described as low-cost brands with Goldcar (owned by Europcar), Budget and Hertz low-priced brand Firefly the worst offenders.

Auto Reisen, which specialises in car hire in the Canary Islands, was the best performer,  with only 13% of customers having to wait for 15 minutes or more.

Thrifty also performed well with more than two-thirds of holidaymakers saying they experienced no queue at all.

To make sure your experience collecting a hire vehicle is as quick and easy as possible, get a quote in advance for an excess insurance policy, it will soon stop the salesman in his tracks!

Understanding one-way car hire fees

Date Created: 23 July 2018

One way car hire feesCar hire is all about flexibility and it’s not uncommon for drivers to want to drop off the vehicle in a different location to where they picked it up from.  This is known as one-way car hire and it can save you a great deal of time and effort when on holiday.

However, this often comes at a cost and not all companies are clear with their fees, meaning that drivers need to carefully check the terms and conditions.

While some will not charge you for delivering the car to a different location and many are upfront with their fees, others hide one-way fees in the small print which can be easily missed.

When hunting around for car hire options, it’s therefore important to consider the potential for extra costs – usually applied to ensure that the supplier can return the car to its original location.

Unfortunately, these costs can be difficult to avoid if you wish to leave your hire car in a different place to where you rented it, although they can be kept down by booking in advance.

When fees may apply

Fees can be applicable if you want to take a car between various different cities or towns, between different airports, or between countries.

You may also be charged if you drop off your hire car at a different rental desk in the same city, although this is not always the case.

One-way fees are applied at the point when a vehicle is picked up and not necessarily when booking online, which is why it’s essential to read the small print.  They’ll also be paid in the local currency, meaning that even if you book in the UK, you’ll require a different currency than the one used to cover the rental itself.

It’s important to note that if you plan to cross borders, you’ll pay the one-way fee in the country where you first pick up the car.

Last-minute changes

If you book car hire with the same location for pick-up and drop-off and then decide to change, it’s highly likely that you’ll be hit with further charges too.  This is because changes to the rental are often calculated at the latest available prices, meaning any savings from booking up-front could be nullified.

So if you do change your plans at the last minute, you’ll likely pay more for the rental and then the one-way fee on top.

Remember that all fees will be stated on the paperwork that relates to the rental, either by full name or by the acronym OWF.

If you do intend to hire in the months ahead, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to protect against the excess you would need to pay if your hire car is damaged or stolen.

Not only does this cover provide peace of mind for your time away, but it also costs less than you may think. Get a quote today to find out how little the cover could cost you.

Car Hire: Saving Time and Money

Date Created: 27 June 2018

HirinArriving at airportg a car when on holiday is an increasingly common occurrence, but it isn’t without its pitfalls.

In an effort to make your trip as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the essentials for car hire that you won’t want to forget.

1. Don’t wait around to book

If you booked your holiday months ago and plan to leave organising car hire until later, it’s wise to take a different approach.

Instead, you should look to book as early as possible. As well as providing more choice, this should also help you to secure a better price.

Demand in the summer months is always high, so don’t wait around to book in the hope you might secure a last minute deal.

Think about your needs Find a vehicle that’s fit-for-purpose

Upgrading to a bigger car at the hire desk could cost upwards of £100.  So to ensure you get the best price for your vehicle, do your research in advance and secure a vehicle that suits your needs.

Depending on your chosen location and the plans you have in store, you may also want to opt for a car that can handle the terrain.  Mountainous roads, for example, are a lot easier to navigate in a vehicle designed for that environment, and likewise, a smaller vehicle is better equipped to handle narrow city streets.

2. Check your insurance cover

It’s essential that you know what insurance cover you have, as policies may not always cover every part of the vehicle.

The tyres and windscreen are two of the most common parts to be excluded, and the rental desk may attempt to make you buy excess policies to cover these.

It’s also important to shop around for car hire excess insurance as booking a separate policy before you travel will work out cheaper than purchasing at the check-in desk.

Such policies protect you in the event that your hire car is damaged or stolen, as without one, you would be liable for the excess which could amount to thousands of pounds – even if the damage was not your fault.

3. Plan ahead for extras

If you believe you’ll need a sat-nav on your trip then it’s probably cheaper to take your own with you and upgrade its map system because car hire firms will often overcharge for extras like these.  Another alternative is to use the GPS mapping on your smartphone, although you will need to watch out for those roaming charges! Planning ahead and downloading a Google Map to your mobile before you travel can save some expense.

If you require a car seat on your trip then it’s also worth doing your research, as many airlines will allow you to stow one in the hold for free.

4. Consider who will be behind the wheel

You may think that naming several drivers on the rental agreement is a good idea, but this will come at a cost.  If one person will do the majority of the driving, then it’s worth asking yourself if it is worth naming someone else as well.

It’s also worth noting that it will cost you even more if the extra driver you name is under the age of 25.

As you can see, there are many advantages to planning ahead when it comes to car hire, and doing so should ensure that you can really enjoy your time away.  For more travel tips and tricks, check out our social hub or follow us on Twitter @QuestorIns

Top family days out

Date Created: 27 June 2018

Theme parkAt Questor Insurance we know it can be hard to plan that perfect half term or summer break. That’s why we have put together an action-packed list of attractions and things to do in the UK to help keep the children entertained.

Chessington World of Adventures

Visit Chessington World of Adventures for an adrenalin-fuelled day out with plenty to do for the whole family. Originally a zoo, Chessington is home to a number of animals and furry friends including lions, tigers, gorillas, penguins, sea lions and underwater species. During your visit to the zoo and Sea Life centre, don’t forget to attend some of the talks and shows for that extra special experience.

While at Chessington World of Adventures Theme Park, you will find yourself soaring through the trees on the spooky vampire ride, floating in a river boat through The Gruffalo's deep dark wood and clearing an ancient tomb of an evil curse in Tomb Blaster.

One day not long enough? Book a short break in one of the themed hotel rooms and return the next day for double the fun!

Cadbury World

Love chocolate?  Why not visit Cadbury World in Birmingham for a choctastic day out. There are 14 different zones to explore, from learning how some of your favourite treats are made to embarking on a 4D chocolate adventure. Throughout half-term and the summer holidays, there will be a host of children’s entertainers to make your visit extra special. Before leaving don’t forget to visit the world's largest Cadbury shop for a range of chocolate treats, souvenirs and personalised gifts.  

W5

W5 in Belfast features over 250 interactive exhibits, providing an incredible experience and hours of fun. Learn about health, genetics, explore space, create circuits, make and race your own K’nex car and become the animator of your very own cartoon!

It's advised to give yourself a minimum of 2 hours to be able to experience many of the attractions on offer, however, we believe you will be staying for longer. Before you leave don’t forget to visit the coffee shop for a Costa Coffee and snack.

Legoland Windsor Resort

Legoland is the perfect building block for an amazing half-term or summer holiday. You will get to search for hidden treasure in the Kingdom of the Pharaohs, watch the pirates of Skeleton Bay perform in a stunt show and experience the Nordic themed hedge maze. To find all your favourite attractions download the interactive Legoland mobile app from the AppleStore or Google play.

Don’t forget to visit the BIG shop before you leave to pick up all your Lego souvenirs such as your very own Lego mini figure!

Sea Life

With 13 locations around the UK and many others around the world, you can choose the one closest to you. The Sea Life Centre is great for the whole family no matter their age. Experience sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and many other underwater creatures up close and in a natural setting. Don’t forget to check out the talk and feeding times so you can see your favourites in action.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo has been rated as the third best zoo in the world according to Trip Advisor and has won many awards including the Essex Time Star Award for Best Venue for Animal Encounters from 2014-2017. Home to over 270 species including bears, lions, elephants and wallaby’s your bound to see plenty of animals in their natural themed exhibits.

Go Ape

Go Ape is an action-packed day out for the whole family. With a number of adrenalin-fuelled activities including the original treetop adventure, segways and an outdoor zip trekking adventure you’re bound to have an action-packed day. With 33 locations across the UK, you’re guaranteed to have one within a short distance of you.

Trip to London

Many of the activities in London are within walking distance of each other or are linked by tubes and buses. Some of our top activities to do in London include visiting a show, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeons, The Science Museum or even having a picnic in one of the capital's parks. Check out the Visit London website for a list of other attractions and offers within and around London.

 

For more useful tips and inspiration, follow us on Twitter @QuestorIns or visit our social hub

Travel Insurance: Common mistakes that could invalidate your policy

Date Created: 22 June 2018

Are you covered by your travel insurance?

Nearly 10 million Brits travelled overseas in the last year and were not covered by a travel insurance policy, leaving them at risk should something go wrong.

Figures from the travel association ABTA reveal that two in five holidaymakers went abroad without the right insurance cover, were involved in activities that were not covered as part of their policy, or didn’t have any cover at all.

It may be impossible to predict the future, but insurance is designed to protect you as far as is possible from unforeseen events.

Reduce the likelihood of potential financial hardship in the event that your trip does not go as planned by giving the following careful consideration before you travel.

1. Travel Insurance through your bank or credit card provider

One in seven people said they didn’t take out travel insurance as they had cover via their bank or credit card – however, this type of cover may not provide protection in all circumstances.

Certain activities, even one as basic as cycling, might not be covered, while there may also be other qualifying criteria that an individual must adhere to.

This could relate to age, geographical location, health or any other factor listed in the small print – and may mean the cover is not adequate for your needs.

The average travel insurance claim can approach £1,300, while in the event of costly medical treatment or even repatriation, that figure can increase to tens of thousands of pounds, meaning you can probably ill-afford to not have sufficient cover.

ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer has warned that mistakes with insurance policies can be extremely costly, which is why it’s key to check what cover you have.

“Every year we see cases of people falling into difficulty due to travelling without sufficient travel insurance,” he added. “I would urge all holidaymakers to make sure they take out travel insurance and check that it covers their circumstances and holiday plans.”

2. Travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions

According to the study, while 22% of Brits were totally uninsured, a further 27% invalidated their insurance by failing to declare existing medical conditions or by doing things that were not covered by their policy.

It’s a common misconception that travel insurance won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

However, it is important that you always declare absolutely everything – even if you think your ailment is something fairly minor. You can then be confident that the insurer is aware of your specific needs and is able to determine the risk imposed.

If you have an annual travel insurance policy, you’ll also need to keep your insurer updated regarding any health developments that may take place during the period of cover.

A failure to reveal all details can result in a policy being void, meaning you may need to pay for medical treatment or trip cancellation costs.

You should declare any medication that is prescribed by a doctor and should mention any other long-term health conditions, even if you are not regularly affected, or believe them to be under control.

Common ailments that travellers failure to declare include skin cancer, heart attacks, blood clots, breast cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and high cholesterol.

If you have recurring medical conditions, often from within the last two to three years, then they should also be declared prior to travelling.

Our partner insurance provider, BrokerSure offer a range of excellent travel insurance products including cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions. If you are interested in obtaining an online quote, just click here.

3. A European Health Insurance Card

If you’re venturing into Europe, you should have your  EHIC in your possession – but it isn’t a substitute for travel insurance cover.

You should be able to access state health care with the card in any of the 28 EU countries, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. But it won’t necessarily be free – costs such as air ambulances, extra accommodation or private treatment must be funded from your own pocket.

Applying for an EHIC is free in the UK, but you’ll need to renew it regularly as it only lasts for a period of five years. To apply online, visit the official government website for EHIC.

 

Medical bills can run up to thousands of pounds in some countries, especially if you need expert medical care, while travel insurance can also protect against lost luggage or unexpected cancellation. This is why it is so important to do your homework. Understanding your policy and knowing what it will or will not cover you for will not only increase the likelihood that you will find travel insurance tailored to your individual needs, it will give you that all so important peace of mind.

For more travel news and helpful tips, just check out our social hub or follow us on Twitter for all our latest travel advice @QuestorIns

How well do you know international driving laws?

Date Created: 13 June 2018

International driving lawsIf you’re preparing to drive overseas this summer, ask yourself one key question: ‘do you know the laws of the road?’ 

A new study has found that the majority of British holidaymakers do not check laws and regulations before they travel, in spite of road rules offten varying from country to country.  The research, by EasyJet and car hire provider Europcar, surveyed 2,000 Brits and an incredible 89% said they had little or no understanding of foreign driving laws and road signs.

A similar proportion (87%) said they never bother to check the Highway Code of the country they are visiting, despite either intending to hire a car or take their vehicle.

British drivers listed a number of factors that cause concern when considering driving abroad, with 59% worrying over driving on the right-hand side of the road.  More than half of holidaymakers said understanding the rules of the road represents the biggest challenge, while 44% said they cannot always identify road signs.

An analysis by Professor Cole, Professor Emeritus of Transport at the University of South Wales, found that signs in certain European countries are particularly difficult to understand.

Around 78% of British drivers said they struggle to grasp Italian road signs, while 69% and 68% reported similar problems in Portugal and France respectively.

One in four drivers also said they feared speeding, as they struggle to convert miles per hour to kilometres per hour and vice versa.

Reducing the Risk

A lack of knowledge increases the risks associated with driving overseas and means drivers can fall foul of local rules – especially if the laws require a person to always have their licence or other equipment in their vehicle.  This can result in fines or potential charges, depending on the nature and severity of the offences that are committed.

It therefore pays to do your research before you travel, as it allows you to be safer when driving on foreign road networks for the first time.

If you are hiring a vehicle in the coming months, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to cover against the excess you would need to pay should your vehicle be damaged or stolen.  Not only does the added extra provide peace of mind when driving overseas, but it also costs less than you might think.

Best Travelling Apps

Date Created: 12 June 2018

The advances in technology have made travelling much easier and can help to reduce the stress of navigating unknown areas. One of the greatest advancements was the development of smart-phones, which today, are often affordable and always within hands reach. There are a number of smart-phone apps available on the market to help reduce stress of travel and enhance your experiences. Take a look below at some of our top apps to download:

1. App in the Air

App in the Air is your own little personal flight assistant in your pocket. The app provides great updates about your flight, information on your flight status, waiting times and even airport tips. The app is available to download for both Apple and Android users, with a free or premium version.

2. Cities Talking

Cities Talking is a great app if you are fairly new to a destination or visiting it for the first time. The app provides a selection of walking guided tours for most European cities. Using your device’s GPS, the app knows where you are, enabling you to travel the city without Wi-Fi or a data connection!

3. Expensify

Available to download from iTunes and the Google Play store, Expensify is a great app to help you keep track of all your expenses on the go. Using the app, you can cleverly scan all your receipts and summarise your spending at the end of any trip.

4. Gas Buddy

The perfect app for those of you who love to hire a car on your travels. With Gas Buddy you can take away the stress of having to find the next fuel stop in an unfamiliar area, the app can not only help you find where the next gas stop is, but can help you save money by finding the cheapest fuel.

5. Google Trips

Relatively new to the market and available for free on both Apple and Android devices, Google Trips is a great addition to any traveller’s pocket. Google Trips allows you to bundle reservations, find nearby attractions, customise itineraries and get recommendations based on your search history.

6. Stop Breath & Think

Travelling isn’t always stress-free, that is why Stop Breath & Think is such a great travel companion. At Questor Insurance we love the personalisation of the app depending on your mood, recommending mediation to calming walks. If you decide this isn’t the meditation app for you, there are plenty of others to try many offering different features.

* When downloading mobile and tablet applications always ensure you download them from a reputable source designed for your device e.g. iTunes and Google Play. When using a sat nav or your smartphone for navigation, make sure you adhere to the highway code. More information on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law


Swear by a great app on each of your travels? We would love to hear about it, tell us by  which one by tweeting us @QuestorIns

At Questor Insurance, we can provide cover for your private motor excess insurance policy or for a policy taken out for a hired vehicle. To make sure you are protected on your travels, get in touch today for a quote.

Up the fun-factor with a hired car

Date Created: 07 June 2018 by Questor Insurance

Hiring a car when on holiday is incredibly common, but it’s not the only scenario in which you may want to rent a vehicle.

Not only can you enjoy the flexibility that not having to rely on public transport brings, for example, but you could also mark a special occasion by upping the style stakes!

So when might you want to think about rental services, and is there anything else you’ll need to consider? We have the guidance you need.

1. Road Trippin’Road trip hire car

An escape to the seaside or to see some of Britain’s picturesque countryside or stunning attractions? What better way to do it than hire a car and set off on an adventure?

Using a hire vehicle might also be a more cost-effective alternative, especially if there’s a large group of you going.

Cornwall, the Lake District, the Norfolk Broads or the Brecon Beacons are just a handful of the locations you may want to visit. 

2. Wedding day cruising

There’s no bigger day than your wedding day, so why arrive and leave in style? From high-end sports cars to lavish BMWs, limousines and cool classics, you’re sure to find a vehicle to make your special day even more spectacular.

You may even want to have a hire car that matches your colour scheme, or that really accentuates the dress when getting in and out.

3. Getting off the beaten track

If you have a hire car when you venture off on holiday, you may also want to get away from your resort and explore more of your surroundings.

You’ll need to plan ahead if you do intend to do this, as you’ll need your licence and possibly a permit depending on where you are. If it’s your first time, check out our advice for driving in a different country and be fully prepared to discover the best of what the world has to offer.

4. Soaking up City Life

Getting around a big city is relatively easy in the UK, as most have excellent public transport services. But those services are not always the answer, which is when a hire vehicle can come in handy.

Providing a short-term solution, a hire car is ideal for any long errands or trips where using trains or buses is simply not practical or cost-effective.

With such a huge range of vehicles available from the majority of car hire firms, you should also be able to find a type or model that best suits your needs.

 

If you do intend to hire a vehicle, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to protect you against the excess you would need to pay should your vehicle be damaged or stolen.

The added extra costs less than you might think – get a quote today to find out.

 

Discovering Denmark by hire car

Date Created: 01 June 2018 by Questor Insurance

DenmarkDenmark comes alive in the summer months and with the majority of its sights and attractions found close together, it’s perfectly suited to being explored by car.

With thousands of miles of picturesque coastline and hundreds of islands, there is ample opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, and really unwind.

Hiring a car provides a simplistic way to get around and to take in the sights as you please, allowing your trip to be as adventurous or as relaxing as you want to make it.

Hidden secrets

Denmark’s stunning beaches are one of its best kept secrets, and you’ll find more than 200 Blue Flag beaches dotted around the coastline – ideal for if you fancy a swim.

Kitesurfing and windsurfing are also incredibly popular, with Klitmoller Bay in North Jutland offering some of the best conditions in Europe for the latter.

Meanwhile if you want to explore, there are hundreds of dunes and hidden coves just waiting to be discovered.

Who can forget Lego!

It’s extremely difficult to talk about Denmark without mentioning Lego. The world’s first Legoland in Billund is just part of a huge complex that also features Lalandia waterpark and Givskud Zoo.

Billund Airport regularly serves the UK too, making the region the ideal start or end point for your trip to Denmark, especially if you plan to take the kids.

A picturesque capital

Copenhagen is packed with beautiful cobbled streets, delectable cuisine and numerous pop up markets, providing plenty to keep you entertained.

This year marks the 175th birthday of Tivoli Gardens, while Danish cities offer events and distinctive urban experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you do plan to hire a car for your travels this summer, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to provide added peace of mind.

The added extra covers the excess that you would need to pay should your hire car be damaged or stolen, and costs less than you might think. Get a quote today to find out more.

Getting to grips with the basics of car hire

Date Created: 29 May 2018 by Questor Insurance

Car HireIf you’re jetting off to sunnier climes this summer, or need to travel overseas for business, then car hire can be an essential part of your trip.

But against a backdrop of reported hidden fees and bad practice, how can you be sure that you’re getting the best deal?

In a bid to make your outing a stress-free experience, we’ve detailed some of the basics of car hire that you won’t want to forget.

Do your research

It’s very easy to use the first car hire firm you find, but you should always look around to see what is on offer.

An online search will often throw up any issues that are prevalent at specific companies – such as if they have poor customer service, low quality vehicles or long waits at collection.

At the same time, doing some research also allows you to find special offers which could help you to save.

However, take lead-in offers with a pinch of salt, as they are often just starting prices and may change based on dates or with add-ons.

Check what suits your needs and act accordingly, ensuring that you have a vehicle that is big enough, and practical enough for your needs.

Do you really need add-ons?

Sat-navs and children’s car seats will often incur an extra charge, so you should ask yourself if you really need to have them.

You could opt for a make or model of vehicle that has a sat-nav systems built in. Alternatively, you could opt to take your own.

Check the hire car out

It may be tempting to just get behind the wheel and start enjoying your trip, but it pays to check the vehicle over first.

Take plenty of photographs of your hire car and ensure that any damage or marks are noted by the rental company, in writing, before you leave.

Test out functions such as electric windows and reclining roofs and double check the fuel policy with the rental firm – this should help you to avoid any hidden charges.

You may also want to consider getting car hire excess insurance cover before you travel, to protect against the excess you would need to pay should the vehicle be damaged or stolen.

This added extra can provide peace of mind while on your trip, especially as the excess figure could amount to hundreds of pounds depending on the problem you face.

European road rules you need to remember

Date Created: 25 May 2018 by Questor Insurance

EuropeanIf you’re travelling to certain parts of Europe this summer, there are certain rules of the road that you can’t afford to ignore.

So if you want to avoid unexpected fines when you hire a car, here are a few driving laws you may want to watch out for.

Although it’s also worth doing your own research before you set off, just to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Low emission cities in France

We’ll start in France, where you’ll want to ensure you have a Vignette sticker if you plan to visit any of the major cities.

Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble are designated as low emissions zones and you’ll need a sticker from the Air Quality Certificate Service on the windscreen.

The ‘Crit Air’ scheme means you’ll be hit with a fine in the region of £60 if you don’t have a Vignette sticker, while it’s best to apply well in advance of travelling as demand will be high during the summer months.

Limited Traffic zones in Italy

On a similar theme of trying to keep cars out of major cities, you’ll need to watch out for Limited Traffic Zones in Italy, which are designed to reduce congestion and pollution.

Found in the historic city centres, including in Rome, Pisa, Florence and Milan, you’ll be fined heavily if caught on camera in these areas.

And it will likely be more obvious if you’re in a hire car, as permits for driving in the Zona Traffico Limitato (or ZTL) areas are only ever given to locals.

Shoes and glasses in Spain

In the interests of safety, Spain has strict rules on what you wear. You’ll likely be fined if you’re pulled over by the police and they have reason to believe your shoes inhibit your ability to drive safely.

While it isn’t against the law to drive without shoes or in flip-flops, it is recommended that you opt for sensible shoes – just in case.

Spanish law also states you must have a spare pair of glasses (if you need them to drive) in the vehicle with you, as well as a high visibility jacket in case of breakdown. In the case of the latter, cars for hire should have one as standard but it’s always worth checking.

Check your Sat-Nav in Switzerland

And in France, Macedonia, Cyprus and Turkey, as it’s illegal to have speed camera warnings that reveal the locations of fixed installations.

Fortunately for you, most devices will allow you to disable that specific function, which will be vital if you want to avoid a fine – those for minor driving offences in Switzerland must often be paid on the spot too if you wish to continue driving.

If you are planning to hire a vehicle for your travels this summer, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to cover the excess you would need to pay should your vehicle be damaged or stolen.

This added extra costs less than you may think, and can provide peace of mind, especially if you plan to take on some of Europe’s more challenging roads.

Exploring Australia by camper van

Date Created: 23 May 2018 by Questor Insurance

AustraliaDiscovering the vast landmass of Australia can be an incredibly rewarding experience, especially if you canhire a camper van to explore at your own pace.

Given that the island is roughly three quarters the size of Europe, there are an abundance of roads and highways that allow you to take in all of the sights.

You’ll be able to wander golden sandy beaches and swim in pristine waters if you fancy the coastal routes, or venture inland to view tropical forests and green pastures, and cross the outback desert – all vastly different experiences than if you jet into one of the major cities.

And all of this is best done from the (relative) comfort of a camper van, as you can travel at your own pace and plan your itinerary to be exactly how you want it.

Not only does it provide a convenient means of exploring, but it’s affordable too. But where should you consider visiting if you’re planning a road trip around Australia?

The South Coast

The route between Sydney and Melbourne provides plenty of coastal beauty, as well as opportunities for surfing, swimming and bush walking.

Cross the renowned Sea Cliff Bridge and take in the sights of the Royal National Park, home to a host of wildlife and plants, as well as beautiful secluded beaches.

Watch the penguins on Phillip Island or visit the Koala Conservation Centre if you want to experience more of Australia’s wildlife.

The Great Ocean Road

Widely considered to be among the best driving routes in the world, and with picturesque ocean views at every turn, a trip on the Great Ocean Road is one you won’t forget in a hurry.

There’s also plenty of great surf, numerous national parks and several wine regions as you travel between Melbourne and Adelaide – providing all you need for a relaxing evening after a long drive.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Twelve Apostles, a set of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park – although only eight remain, the site is truly spectacular.

Sights of beauty in the north

Travel between Cairns and Airlie Beach and you’ll be able to see the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the rainforest mountains of the Wet Tropics in North East Queensland.

Both are World Heritage listed regions and the route provides ample opportunity for snorkelling, diving and hiking.

Pause for a break in Townville if you wish to break up your trip, while white water rafting and other adventure activities can be found along the route.

Of course there are few limits on where you may want to travel when you hire a camper van in Australia, bar the cost of fuel!

However you may also want to consider motor home excess insurance to cover against the excess you would need to pay should your vehicle be damaged or stolen.

Can you help the environment when you travel?

Date Created: 14 May 2018 by Questor Insurance

Eco1Nearly a tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the world’s flourishing tourism industry, but what can you do to cut your carbon footprint when you travel?

A new study – the first of its type to attempt to quantify the impact of tourism on the environment – reveals that emissions were four times higher than predicted.

It means that tourism accounts for 8% of all emissions, with the researchers including all operations as part of their study – from transport and events to hotels, food and shopping.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study focused on more than 160 countries between 2009 and 2013, while suggesting that the impacts are likely to have increased since.

Rising demand for luxury travel and greater reliance on air transport are among the leading factors for the upsurge in emissions.

Lead author Dr Arunima Malik, from the University of Sydney, described the results as “eye opening” but what can everyday travellers do to feel that they’re doing their bit to tackle the issue?

How can you reduce your own holiday emissions?

One option, if you’re travelling a bit closer to home, is to consider the train. Europe has an exceptional network that is often both timely and reliable.

Of course airlines can’t be avoided for long-haul trips but might still be able to keep your own carbon footprint down – many airlines use fuel-efficient aircraft and biofuels, so it might be worth checking their environmental policies before you jet off.

Another option is to take advantage of public transport, especially if you’re visiting major cities and intend to do a lot of your exploring in a relatively small area.

If you do need to a hire a vehicle, you could opt for a more environmentally friendly model or one that has the best fuel economy.

While these actions may appear minimal, tackling rising emissions does need to start somewhere.

Should you hire a vehicle while on your travels, you may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to protect the excess you would need to pay out should your car be damaged or stolen.

The additional cover often costs less than you might think to, meaning you could have even greater peace of mind as you venture out and explore.

Choosing a hire car that is right for you

Date Created: 10 May 2018 by Questor Insurance

Choice1Hiring a car is now easier than ever, and with more options to choose from, how do you go about selecting a vehicle that is right for you?

Not only does hiring a vehicle open up a world of possibilities in terms of where you can explore when on holiday, but it also provides plenty of flexibility.

What you select will often depend on what cars are available to hire, although the location and type of roads will also be important.

You’ll need to address a number of questions in order to decide what vehicle you need, starting with how far you will need to travel from the airport.

If you have a long distance to cover then you’ll want a car that is both comfortable and fuel efficient, while the same will apply if you intend to do plenty of driving while you’re on holiday.

On top of this, you should also consider the amount of luggage you have to determine if extra boot space is required.

Furthermore, you should look at the region where you will be driving as the terrain could shape the sort of car you need.

While basic models or sporty types are perfectly suited to motorway driving, you may need something more robust if you intend to use mountain roads or venture away from the main road network.

If you’re unsure on the types of roads or driving conditions that you may face, you should ask questions at the rental desk.

Staff should be able to assist you with any queries and are well placed to provide advice or even directions if you are unsure how to reach your destination.

Don’t forget that free data roaming is available in the EU too, so you could use your mobile phone to access GPS maps for directions – but remember that using your mobile phone while on the move is illegal.

Picking the right car can make a big difference to your trip – not only helping to make it more enjoyable, but also more practical.

Given that many rental companies have such a wide range of vehicles to choose from, you should take steps to make sure you are well placed to take advantage of what is on offer.

You may also want to consider car hire excess insurance to protect against the excess you would need to pay should your hire car be damaged or stolen.

This added extra can cost less than you might think – get a quote today to find out for yourself.