Tag Archives: europe

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]

Free! Travel Information Delivered To Your Door!

The internet is an incredible free source of destination information, but it can’t quite match the thrill of receiving a whole envelope full of free glossy brochures of beautiful people streched out before vistas of azure oceans. Here are two great sources of free travel information delivered to your door; one defintely useful, the perhaps somewhat other less so.

Travel BrochuresLet’s start with the best. Tourism authorities are a fantastic and often-overlooked source of travel information – particularly for decent free maps and basic info with lots of glossy pictures. ANTOR’s* represents 48 official tourism authorities (including the Australian State authorities) and the destination info page provides (along side some basic travel info) the URL, email address and contact details for all of them. If you’re interested in any major destination for Australian travellers it will be listed. Simply email the relevant authority with your address, rough dates of travel and as far as possible the specific regions or cities you’re interested in and wait for the postie everyday for a week or so! No substitute for a good guidebook or your own research but generally there will be at least a couple of genuinely useful items in the material sent.

TravelBrochures.com.au and TravelBrochures.SMH.com.au are another clearing house for free travel information, although arguably of a must less useful nature. These sites allow to order free tour company brochures, some of which are available in digital (tree-saving) format. All the majors are available as well as a few smaller operators – useful if you wish to compare tours from a number of companies or can’t get to a travel agent. Of course some major operators now send out (often unintenionally comical) DVDs as as a bonus! Be warned, however, apart from ending up on a tour (which may or may not be a bad thing in itself…), you are likely to end up on a mailing list of the tour companies from which it may be difficult to extract yourself!

*(Association of National Tourist Office Representatives in Australasia)

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[Image by Classroom III]

Portuguese now more Brazilian and less… Portuguese

Portugal’s parliament last week approved a measure to standardise the Portugese language, standarising the Brazilian spelling of numerous words. The benefits? Apparently, making the language Portuguese Flagmore uniform globally, internet searches and legal documents easier to understand and removing silent consonants in order for words to be spelt more phonetically. Oh, and ‘Portuguese officials hope the measure would advance an old ambition of getting Portuguese adopted as an official language at the UN’.

All sounds peachy, but Portuguese nationalists are furious at the prospect of this slight to national pride, with The Independent quoting distinguished poet Vasco Graça Moura as saying “There is no need for us to take a back seat to Brazil.”

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[Image by psychiccrow]

A bag, in a pouch, in a bag

My Love Affair With Dorky Luggage

Rick StevesPBS travel writer and presenter Rick Steves is a lot of things. A good writer, an intelligent and passionate traveller and someone who successfully preaches to Americans that there’s a world out there (OK, Europe) that is worth not just travelling to, but really seeing and experiencing. But, no matter his qualities, I’m happy to consider him the friendly old uncle of travel writing, encouraging the emptynesters to get out there and explore. But my guilty secret is I lust after his bags. Particularly his convertible carry-on and his daypack – all sorts of cool features, the best of all of which is they’re durable but damn light. But they’re so lacking in badass cred that they ought to come with a pair of slippers and a bus pass. But the design! The practicality! However, they don’t appear to be available anywhere in Australia and Amazon, fortunately my own self image, won’t ship them to Australia.

Today The Geeky Traveller caught my eye with the Kiva Keychain Backpack, made by the same company as Rick Steves line.

Kiva Keychain Backpack 1

Kiva Keychain Backpack 2

The Kiva Key Chain Pakc is a 120 gram nylon backpack (around 40 cms x 30 x 7) that collapses into a keychain pouch roughly 10cms x 6 x 3. A great idea for a daypack or extra capacity for things picked up along the way, even if the few Amazon reviews seem to (predictably) warn that it won’t carry a whole hell of a lot of weight. Like the Rick Steves bags, Amazon will only ship to US addresses. Saved from my own unconcious yearning for naff baggage again.

All in all, I reckon Kiva are a company that deserve a more active, better, or just bigger, Australian distributor.

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Extra! Extra! London more expensive than Warsaw

 Warsaw Royal Castle A survey by the UK Post Office Travel Service has found Warsaw to be the cheapest of ten ‘cultural captials’, with London shockingly rated as the most expensive:

For around £75 price tag tourists can enjoy a trip including visits to Warsaw’s historic art galleries, museums and heritage sites, together with nights at the renowned Polish National Opera, ballet and a symphony concert. The experience cost less than 25 per cent of the equivalent London cost. (TravelWeekly)

The survey measured the cost of admission to three top museums or galleries and three heritage sites, and tickets to an orchestral performance, opera and ballet. Prague, Lisbon and Amsterdam also fared well in the economy stakes, compared to Rome, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and New York.

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[Image via Kevin’s Gadgets]

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]

Emirates sale to Europe – $1,916 from Aus East Coast, $1,800 from Perth

MoscowEmirates are having an ‘Autumn Sale to Europe‘, although most of the ‘autumn’ sale fares are appear to be for travel in January and Febuary ’09, which is closer to my defintion of deepest darkest winter than autumn. Try packing for mild autumn weather if you’re off to Moscow in January.

Prices include fuel surcharge but not taxes.

Via OzBargains.

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[Image via meganpru]