Category Archives: how-to

If you’re a tourist – demand a tax refund!

Stop Paying Taxes

Travellers can often claim back local sales tax on high-value goods you’ll be ‘exporting’. Whenever you make a purchase overseas it’s worth asking whether you can seek a refund of sales tax – it is possible throughout most of Europe but not for GST paid in New Zealand, for instance. Local regulations vary but this often involves having the goods and reciept stamped by customs before you depart. You may be paid on the spot, but more frequently you need to mail the stamped form back to the place of purchase for a refund check or electronic credit.

Global Refund - Tax Free ShoppingTwo services Global Tax Refund Tax Free Shopping and Premier Tax Free promise to simplify the process of reimbursement in many (overwealmingly European) countries, although whether you’re interested in the services or not the websites are useful for a guide to European sales tax rates and restrictions (e.g. time limit for export or refund claims).

Both services are designed to simplify and streamline the process and allow you to be reimbursed immediately at their airport kiosk for purchases previously mPremier Tax Freeade at participating merchants who display relevant logo. If you forget or don’t have a chance to claim at the airport you will often be able to access the refund by mailing the documents from home, but check this in advance. Global Tax Free is the larger with some 230,000 participating merchants in 35 countries, Premier claims around of 75,000 ‘retail partners’ across 15 countries. Both websites offer shopping guides containing a list of participating merchants and specific details of the claims process for each country.

Both of these systems charge a percentage commission (around 4%) for the service, which may or may not be a fair price for avoiding dealings with the local beuracracy.

For a good guide to tax refunds for travellers in Europe see Rick Steves’ guide.

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[Image by Jahat]

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Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web (13th of May)

Travel Tips of the Week

John Flinn, SF Gate: Travel Light Means Fewer Clothes, Wash Your Own

A great guide to washing clothes quickly with only a sink.

General

For everyone determined to make the most of their holiday time Bootsnall has five destinations where the summer sun just don’t set (literally).

Bravenewtraveler has some suggestions for avoiding getting lost in a new city.

Wired’s How To Wiki has an excellent guide to buying a digital camera.

Matador has some tips for visiting indigenous peoples.

The Americas

Intelligent Travel has some tips for finding the authentic Flushing in Queens, New York. The Guardian has some tips for free things to do in New York.

SFGate has a guide to LCC’s in Mexico.

Europe

Eurocheapo has some cheap places to see Michelangelo’s work in Florence, including the sadly overlooked Bargello. In Krakow they suggest five free things to do and for good measure they have five great places for a picnic in Paris.

Coach travel in Europe can be a more economical alternatives to the fabled Eurorail pass. itravelnet rounds up the low coast bus services in Europe and surveys European bus passes.

The Guardian has a guide to the Isle of Man. Ask a Local on High Culture on a Low Budget features Mike from London.

Nick Trend in The Telegraph claims to list Venice’s top ten budget (well less than £130 a night) hotels.

With the Champions League final around the corner The Guardian has some suggestions for Moscow.

Rick Steves has a very entertaining audio discussions about Rome and Istanbul.

Asia

9000 Hours in Saigon has a guide to Vietnamese titles

Frommers has an audio guide to South Korea with Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, author of Frommer’s South Korea.

MSNBC has some tips for first time visitors to India.

Thailand is pretty cheap to begin with, but Budgettravelguide has some tips for making it even cheaper.

Travel Blogging – is that thing still around? has some tips for dealing with Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Stuff.co.nz has some tips for seeing Singapore with children.

Africa

Frommers.com Podcast discusses Namibia.

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[Sunset in Iceland by Deivis, Coach image by orisfrancesco.com, NAIA image via alexyra]

European cheap sleeps

ClinkIn my round-up of tips and hints earlier today I left out this article from The Age Nights of Cheap Splendor. In hindsight I’m glad because it deserves to be highlighted, it really is a belter if you’re looking for a place to stay in Europe. Highlights include the Clink Hostel in London, a restored London courthouse, that starts at $25 a night, converted first class rail carriages in the Scottish highlands, a treehouse in Norway and Colditz castle which was (without intending to reinforce any unfair negative stereotypes of hostels) a prisoner of war camp.

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Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web (26th of April)

Travel Tips of the Week

Gadling: Big in Japan: 5 mistakes made by first-timers in Japan

In a country where using the word “no” displays ‘as much social grace as a bovine’ and “toilet slippers” should be kept out of the kitchen some cultural tips come in handy.

General

ContikiNational Geographic has a list of the world’s top guided tours. Continki gets nary a mention.

Patronising quote of the week goes to Flight Centre’s marketing manager in The Age’s tips for using budget airlines to get around the place:

“We have people who have spent time on the internet to put their own itineraries together, and then come in to talk to our agents,” Bowman says. “That’s when the agent might say, ‘Are you aware that flight to London goes in to Luton and not Heathrow?’ The response is usually, ‘So what does that mean?’

“That’s when we need to explain all the details that the customer has not found on the internet.”

In our experience workaday wage slaves simply LOVE receiving bulk emails from you gloating about the simply wonderful time you’re having in exotic climes. If that hasn’t been you’re experience Traveler’s Notebook has some tips for writing emails the folks at home will actually want to read.

Intelligent Traveler has a guide to guides; five tips on how to pick a guidebook. Vagabondish goes one better with four alternatives to let you dispense with the darned things for good.

MSNBC makes taking children on a plane trip sound a marginally less complex operation than Dunkirk, while the Perrin Post has the Top Ten Toyless Ways to Occupy Kids on Planes without alcohol OR Prozac.

‘To have tasty and nutritious food on board, and be the envy of your fellow passengers, you need to bring your own. With advance planning, you can eat like a King or Queen on the plane.’ How to eat well at 30,000 feet via Beat of Hawaii featuring lots of Tupperware.

James Wysong has some tips for navigating customs: no fruit, no jokes, no phones and no porn are apparently the secret to avoiding being patted by down by your friendly neighbourhood customs officer. Hardly seems worth it.

Vagabondish has 12 clever and creative uses for a digital camera on the road.

The Americas

TorontoThe Times recommends six destinations in the United States, while Intelligent Travel has an excellent guide to taking teens to NYC. 10 free things to do in LA from Frommer’s.

Toronto is oft-overlooked even by travellers to Canada. Peter Greenfield has an introduction to its lesser known attractions.

Get closer to nature with five gems for the eco-tourist in Costa Rica.

Europe

The New York Times spends 36 hours in Naples where incredible history, garbage and toxic mozzarella meet.

About.com has a list of the five worst wookie rookie France travel mistakes. You’ll feel like Captain Cook with PeterGreenberg’s secret spots in Paris and The Times Undiscovered France: Poitiers. Alexander Lobrano reckons it’s possible to eat well in Paris. We remain unconvinced.

KrakowThe Guardian’s Blog by Blog section has some really interesting and unusual tips for things to do in London

The Telegraph has published a Madrid city guide, and claims to have a list of Madrid’s best budget hotels (£44+). To get there the Independent has some tips on tourist trains in Spain.

Eurocheapo has five free things to do in Krakow.

Whether or not to get a Eurorail pass can be a difficult business, here are some tips as to when it is likely to represent a decent deal.

YogaAsia

Business Week (of all places) has a list of India’s top five yoga centres.

Seth Mydans has some tips for Singapore hawker fare, street food heaven.

Viator has some tips for Kuala Lumpur.

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[Contiki image via Glenn Ross on Flickr, Toronto image via Photofusion on Flickr, Krakow image via astilly on Flickr, yoga image via premasagar on Flickr]

Stiching with photos

Lifehacker today has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to create panoramic images. Well worth a look.

Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web (12th of April)

Chinese Medicine

The Best Travel Tips of the Week

How to handle medical emergencies while travelling (via Bravenewtraveler.com)

Know some basic phrases (‘hospital’, ‘pain’, ’emergency’) in the local language; know your insurance situation (Australian travellers should check whether a reciprocal agreement exists with the countries in which you will be travelling which may entitle you to subsidised medical treatment) and, finally, be patient.

General

Indonesian ChildrenVagablogging and The Guardian provide reminders of the joys of spontaneous travel. Travelnotebook’s ‘How to Photograph Children During Your Travels‘ is much more interesting (and less creepy) than its title suggests.

Bravenewtraveler has some pretty good tips in 5 ways to protect your essential travel documents; a good follow-up to ‘5 Tips Every Traveler Should Know About Internet Security‘.

The LA Times chips in with 14 ways to save money on your travels, although unfortunately none are earth-shattering.

Worldhum rounds up some resources about travelling with children, while Frommers has some suggestions for keeping your family safe while travelling.

Two questions every traveller has asked – how the hell do I cross this road and is it possible not to look like a tourist?

10 Nastiest Travel Diseases because malaria isn’t the ONLY disease you need to be wary of when travelling (via Vagabondish).

Flights

How to cope with flying if you hate flying or overcome a fear of it.

Making the most of your stopover – how to get the most out of less than twenty-four hours in a major city.

Recovering airport lost property – MSNBC’s guide.

Australia

‘There are some things in life you should never see, and seeing your bags being unloaded by baggage handlers is one of them’ – James Clark’s reviews his flight from Singapore to Melbourne on Tiger and his experiences in Melbourne’s Tiger Airways terminal.

EuropeBrixton Market

The Independent rounds up the 50 best free activities in London, some great (and less-familiar) suggestions to make the most of your time in an expensive city.

Viator presents a through review of transport options from all of the airports servicing London, including (of course) Heathrow.

Budget-conscious tourists heading to Germany should check out Culture on the Cheap’s latest ‘Ask a local’ which has tips provided by ‘Mike from Munich‘, including free thrills and ‘What do you do with €5.00 for dinner? ‘.

The Telegraph tracks down finds 10 places to stay for less than £120 a night in Rome, while its competitor The Times provides selection of treks in Europe.

The Age gives some common sense advice on plane vs train travel in Europe.

Concierge.com has a feature on budget Europe.

has a guide to Barcelona or consider one of Madrid’s less well-known galleries –Museo Sorolla.

RentaTent – camp your way through in Europe.

Vietnam food

Asia

Budgetglobetrotting asks are Thailand’s islands are still the best in the region? The New York Times provides some tips on activities in Chiang Mai.

Hints for cheap lunches in Vietnam – even if the photos don’t look the most attractive.

A great list of ‘Do’s and Don’ts in Cambodia‘ by a Fillipina living in Cambodia – ‘DON’T expect nice clean public toilets to be readily available anywhere’.

United States

The LA Times has some local knowledge on transport options to and from LAX and Long Beach airports.

Intelligent Travel suggests some ‘distinctive’ American destinations or just do Vegas on the cheap with Viator.

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Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web

Bus

Streching the dollar in Europe (MSNBC)

How to survive airport stopovers (Travelling Board)

That’s Sick! 9 Ways to Avoid the Bug When You Travel (Frommers)

How to survive your next bumpy bus ride (Gadling)

The waiting game: How to cope when widespread delays hit the air travel system (MSNBC)

10 ways to get the best airplane seat (MSNBC)

How to avoid Heathrow Terminal Five (The Telegraph)

How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed (eHow)

How to Avoid Getting Bloated on a Long Flight (eHow)

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