8 Things Your Rental Car Must Have

Posted by Truffle on September 11, 2014
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Recent market trends provide insight into how the car rental industry is adapting, companies are renting out cars on an hourly basis, down from weekly and daily. People now just pack their bags grab a flight out for the weekend and drive home.

After all, what better way is there to cruise the city in search for the parties than to rent a car? Every vacation demands a trusty companion, be it to explore the city or go out for an adventure. A rented car with some of these extras is your best travel companion; these may very well be your tourist kit when you’re out of town.

1. Satellite radio

A lot of rental companies offer satellite radio with the car, and some as a paid add-on. This little addition allows you to listen to any radio station of your choice with a push of a button. Never lose reception or hear that annoying fuzzy sound over the radio. Easily find your favorite road trip music, program the frequencies you listen to often and make memories when on the road.

2. Navigation System add-on

navigation 500x372Another must have is the navigation system when out on vacation. If you passed on the tourist guide, then a nav system is all the more necessary. It is quite easy to get lost in a new place, miss a turn here, wrong turn there and you’ll end up God know where. It is far much safer and fuel efficient to know where you are going. The best part is that the navigation system comes programmed with directions to all the sights in the city. This way you can schedule your own tours.

3. Additional driver add-on

There is a very interesting feature rental car companies are providing these days, an option to add another driver. Upon selecting this option, you will get another set of keys for your rental car. This is a very useful feature when out as a couple or on a road trip with friends. This offers you the convenience of sharing you driving responsibilities.

4. USB charger

So many gadgets rely on batteries to operate, subsequently a car USB charger kit will prove invaluable juice in this digital age. The worst possible moment is when our phone dies, or when the camera beeps shut when you are just about to take decent picture. This gadget is necessary for any trip, just plug in the USB charger into the cigarette lighter, and charge your gizmo. This little widget is adaptive to the charging frequencies of most commercial devices, making it a one for all charger.

5. Roof rack

Planning a week long camping trip and packed heavily? Don’t worry most rental cars provide the option to equip a roof rack. Strap the excess baggage to the roof and you are good to go.

6. Safety vest add-on

weste 500x372An important addition to this list is a safety vest. These vests are used when getting out of a car on the side of the road. The fluorescent vests have high visibility and are extremely useful when swapping a busted tire in the middle of the night

7. Booster seat add-on

If you are a parent, a booster seat is a must have. Booster seat is a useful add-on to your vehicle that protects your children while in the car. They are very well padded, providing both safety and comfort for little ones.

8. Mini Air Pump

On road trips, cars often end up needing air in their tires. An air pump that operates via cigarette lighter can always come in handy.

Planning a trip is not an easy task, but a master event planner is prepared for all possible contingencies. The add-ons listed above should be on your ‘to-do list’ as it covers occurrences that might take place on the road.

6 Ways to Travel Smart and Cheap

Posted by Truffle on September 11, 2014
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Vacation time is finally upon us! For many who love to travel, this period is the highlight of the year. Travelling to a place you have always dreamed of and the excitement you feel when that dream comes true, is unparalleled. Most of you will have your tickets booked, your bags packed and your ‘to-do’ lists ready for your vacation destination.

A vacation may take a toll on your overall budget, but it’s worth it to relieve all the stress that has accumulated over the past 11 months; a welcome break from work and the monotony of everyday life. You don’t have to shell out a ton to enjoy a great vacation though; there are quite a few ways to vacation on a budget yet have a fulfilling experience.

Travel off-season

When planning a vacation, we make sure to get the most value for our money. One time-tested way to do this is to book your vacation spot off-season. Not only are the prices deliciously low and lines conveniently short, you can do a lot more in your travel budget as compared to during the season. At many destinations, some restaurants and hotels charge way less than their season rates; the only trade-off is slightly less desirable weather. Would you be willing to make that trade-off for  a fulfilling journey while saving a ton?

Most airports have bookstores you can buy guidebooks from. Plan ahead, use the guidebook to reserve a table at your favorite restaurant, book a room and most importantly plan your expenses throughout the maze of attractions you plan to maneuver. Once you compare your expenses to your previous trip, don’t be surprised if you decide to only take off-season trips!

Hunt for bargains

Everyone knows some way or other to stay notified on trending deals to minimize air fare and hotel expenses. I have a friend who is on every possible list for printable coupons and discount codes by subscribing to their websites and following them on Facebook. Be smart in your travel-planning; hunt for the big saves. But don’t forget the incidental costs such as a taco from a street corner, souvenirs, and anything that you could’ve foreseen and prevented; these little bad boys add up to a sizable amount especially on extended trips.

Vacation Rentals

Ferienhaus 500x338As a solo traveler, renting a house on your vacation is redundant. But if you travel with a group of friends or family, vacation rentals are your best bet. You save big as the per-head cost goes down significantly; the more the merrier! If a three-bedroom and two-bath villa cost $225 per night, that’s almost $50 per night if you can find 4 friends to make the trip. You can even choose to cook at home rather than eating out. Marinate the meat and have a good old-fashioned barbecue.

Keep an open mind

Unless you are celebrity who has an image to maintain, change your perspective. Instead of acting like typical tourists who mostly go for the mainstream travel options like hotels and rental cars with their eyes closed, look for innovative alternatives. There are many options just waiting for you to avail. You can home-swap, this here is a growing trend; couch surf or simply renting a home directly from its owner; take trains and public transport like buses and subways to get around the city as long as you have a map, etc. Moving away from mainstream travel options is almost always cheaper.

Explore

A day trip to explore the city and all it has to offer injects the element of travel into the vacation other than the plane ride. More and more people spend time glued to their computer screens and children on their handhelds, rendering a vacation that is full of possibilities, into an uninteresting “staycation”.

Staying on topic, a day trip is quite possibly the cheapest way to travel and experience the locality. Choose a place within the city, a park or a landmark and start making memories. To avoid paying an extra day’s rent, leave early and return late so you have enough time to see all that you would like to.

Foreign fees on credit cards

credit-cards 500x372The best mode of payment abroad is via credit card, but the foreign fees on transactions rack up each time, a charge of 2%-3%. The trick is to find a company which offers a no foreign transaction fee on their credit card. This is the best way to spend your money as it protects you against fraud and theft.

So in conclusion, it’s not the things with huge price tags that are worrisome, as I’m sure you got yourself the best deal you could find; it’s the incidental expenses that pile up, taking a huge chunk out of your budget without you even realizing it as the costs rack up.

Adventures in Amsterdam

Posted by Truffle on September 11, 2014
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The uninhibited city of Amsterdam offers a diverse variety of entertainment opportunities to tourists looking for a well-rounded vacation. You can immerse yourself in culture, and try all sorts of adventures and end your days by partying till dawn. If you plan to take a vacation to Amsterdam, be sure to make a trip you’ll never forget.

As soon as you land in Amsterdam, you see where the city gets its notorious reputation from. The airport offers you some delectable psychedelic chocolates and a chance to marry a questionable stranger in the airport chapel. Hopefully you’ll dodge this bullet, and will move on to some more serious fun.

The canals of Amsterdam

These beautiful flowing wonders running through the city are a treasured UNESCO monument and were an important part of the city’s defense in the 17th century. This large network of 165 canals is beautiful to behold, and a guided tour is a must to get the full Amsterdam experience under your belt.

Blow carting

This new sport invented in New Zealand takes go-carting to the beach. This 3 wheeled cart has an attached sail that uses the wind to propel you forward with even more feet, and you traverse the sandy beach for a time of your life. Hosted by the company Stag Aboard, this Blow-carting experience takes you to the outskirts of the city and on a 45 minute drive to the beach where you will have the adventure of a lifetime.

De Wallen

de wallen 500x372Here’s the only time you can enter the taboo red light area of a city and get away with calling it tourism. It is a different kind of daring adventure to pay this area a visit, even if just to kill your curiosity. You will discover that the provocative displays in the red windows are not the only attractions here, but the area is rich is architectural beauty and boasts a few landmarks of its own, such as the Oude Kerk and the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. And of course there’s the sex industry, with shows are Casa Rossa and Bananenbar which is enjoyed by couples and singles alike. If nothing else, you will have a great story to tell your friends back home.

Amsterdam Dungeon

This chilling experience is more than just a haunted house; it is a walk through the brutal history of the city. It is a different level of haunting when you are aware than this is not just make-belief but these heinous acts and places actually existed. You will be guided through the history of medieval Europe, through the haunted house of an accused witch hanged at the town square or a VOC ship complete with canons and flying limbs. You can also enjoy the bone-chilling Hades on the Reaper roller coaster ride. Not at all for the faint-hearted, the Amsterdam dungeon will surely add adventure to you vacation.

Art and culture

Amsterdam is a pioneer of the fine arts of centuries past and was the home of artists such as Rembrandt. His former residence is now a museum dedicated to his name, the Rembrandthius, and has been restored to look like it did back then giving a chilling experience of walking through history. Another great museum, the Rijksmuseum houses a large variety of historical masterpieces worth seeing.

Anyone visiting Amsterdam cannot wish to call it a complete trip without visiting the Van Gogh Museum, a collection of the Modern Artist’s Masterpieces which also curates some temporary exhibits of works my his contemporaries. If you are a lover of art and history, there is no better way to witness it than in Amsterdam.

Xtra Cold Ice Bar

extra cold 500x372This exciting bar is like parallel universe made of ice. Sit on the ice stools and the ice bar and enjoy an extra chilled beer in ice mugs. The lighting and the fiber-optics ceiling gives the illusion of being outdoors. Enjoy a 4D experience with a 3D movie with polarized glasses while battling the cold blizzard winds and extreme weather conditions. This is a one of a kind experience that only the most toughest adventurers can brave, and will surely make your vacation extra special.

Walking tours

There are also countless walking tours you can take of the city to get to know the various sites and attractions. There are many interesting ones available that cater to special experiences such as the Amsterdam Food by Foot, where you can have the local delicacies and nibble on gouda as you you walk through the city and test various spirits directly from the distillery. You can also try the Amsterdam Beer Tour and the Cycling Amsterdam, both of which speak for themselves and will offer unique experiences of the wildly famous city.

Amsterdam is famous for various reasons, and whichever of these you come here for, these few activities will definitely fulfill all your desires and should definitely be on your must-do list. Make your time in Amsterdam one you will remember for years to come.

Zürich Airport

Posted by Truffle on September 11, 2014
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Overview

Zürich Airport (IATA Code: ZRH) is known by locals as the Zürich Kloten Airport, the largest international Airport in Switzerland. The airport is equipped with three runways and two terminals serving approximately 25 million passengers a year.

Brief History

The first flights leaving Zürich International Airport departed in 1948, with a new terminal opening in the early 1950s. Throughout the following decades, Zürich International Airport has experienced a number of expansions with construction of terminal B completed in the early 1970s. Interestingly, complaints regarding noise despite a nighttime curfew instigated in 1972 initiated an agreement with German airspace regarding arrival and departure flights via German airspace. The Zürich Airport underwent another huge expansion project in 2003 with the construction of a new midfield terminal, automated underground train, and new parking garage structure.

Facilities

ZRH 500x372Zürich International Airport provides a number of assistance, services, and facilities for travelers. Services for passengers include money exchange services, ATM machines, layover lounges, and VIP services. A number of shops and restaurants are located inside the terminals. The passenger area offers a variety of traditional and duty-free shopping, restaurants, cafés, and bars. Food and dining options include Swiss cuisine from Chalet Suisse to Burger King. The Sports Bar, the Montreux Jazz Café, and la Corbeille provide a variety of beverages, coffee bars, and sit-down as well as take-away dining options. Over 50 shops are located in the terminals, including Bally Fashion and shoes to Gucci to duty-free stores that are located near most gates.

Car Hire Services

Car hire rental desks at the Zürich Airport are easy to access. The car hire center is located on Level 1 at the airport center, open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 at night. Be aware that while the car hire center is open for the mentioned hours, that some carriers may only operate the desks based on flight schedules. The rental desks are easy to locate by passengers and are accessible by foot.  Major carriers at the Zürich International Airport include: http://www.carhirezurich.net and www.car-hire.net.

It is recommended that passengers pre-book car hire during heavy summer or other common vacation timeframes throughout the year in order to ensure a car will be available when you land.

For additional information about Zürich International Airport services contact them at their website at www.zurich-airport.com or by calling them at + 41 (0) 43 816 22 11. The airport is located at 8058 Zurich-Flughafen, Switzerland.

Switzerland

Posted by Truffle on September 11, 2014
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Overview

When most travelers think of Switzerland, they think of the snowy Alps, delicious, rich chocolate, and beautiful watches and jewelry. However, Switzerland has so much more to offer travelers, including gorgeous scenic drives, interesting places to visit and things to do, as well us some of the best culinary delights in Europe.

Brief History

Since the 13th century, Switzerland has held itself apart from global wars, understood and respected by surrounding countries. Switzerland remained neutral during the two world wars and is most known for her international organizations, peacekeeping endeavors, and promotion of human rights.

Languages and Religion

Due to ethnic diversity, a number of languages are spoken in Switzerland. The official and national languages of the country are German, Italian, French, and Romansch, but other minor and ethnic languages are also spoken. Religious diversity is also recognized in Switzerland. Most inhabitants of the country follow the Roman Catholic Church or belong to Protestant and other Christian denominations. A small percentage of Swiss residents are classified as Muslim.

Climate

The climate in Switzerland is pleasant and mild in summertime, and downright chilly in the wintertime. In general, summers are warm and humid but autumn is the driest season of the year. Nevertheless, visitors to Switzerland should be prepared for any type of weather as climate and weather conditions are relatively unstable, regardless of season.

Places and Cities to Visit


Home to over 100 mountain peaks averaging 13,000 feet, Switzerland is best known for skiing and mountain climbing opportunities.  Switzerland’s best-known mountain peaks include the Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa Eiger, and Jungfrau; all attracting hundreds of avid skiers, ice climbers, and mountain climbers and hikers every year. Whether you want indoor or outdoor activities, Switzerland has something to offer.

  • Admire medieval architecture and a clock tower built in the 13th century in Bern.
  • Visit the Chillon Castle near Montreux on the eastern side of Lake Geneva. It’s the most famous castle in Switzerland.
  • Take the Glacier Express for an unforgettable tour of some of Switzerland’s most famous Alpine scenery. The rail line extends between St. Moritz and Zermatt in central Switzerland.
  • Stay at some of the most popular resorts beneath the shadows of Switzerland’s most famous Alpine mountains that include the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, and Dom.
  • Take a ferry or lake cruise on Lake Zürich or Lake Constance, which offer visits to shore-side towns in Germany and Austria.
  • Spend a day or two in Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland and home to Altstadt, or Old Town. Zürich offers a number of cathedrals, the Swiss National Museum, and a number of art galleries that will keep you busy and entertained for hours.

Car Hire Services

Be aware of the rules and regulations of renting a car in Switzerland, as well as across the border on the French or Swiss side of Lake Geneva and the Geneva International Airport.   Most rental cars obtained in Switzerland can cross borders throughout Western Europe without any restrictions, but the same does not apply to countries of Eastern Europe. Ask rental company personnel regarding their guidelines regarding allowed or restricted countries or areas.

In Switzerland, a driver must be a minimum 20 years of age and have had a valid driver’s license for a year in order to rent a vehicle. Be aware that anyone under the age of 25 renting a car may have to pay a young driver surcharge.  It is required that a warning or hazard triangle be in the vehicle at all times, and authorities recommend visibility vests and a first aid kit as well.

Compare vehicles and pricing options with some of the most popular car hire agencies in Switzerland: http://www.expedia.co.uk and Car-hire.net: Car hire Switzerland

and http://www.carhireairport.co.uk/switzerland/airport-car-rental-switzerland.php

Be aware that rental insurance may be required depending on car hire provider. Required coverage typically involves third-party liability and fire. Optional coverage may also be available, including collision damage waivers.

It is recommended by car rental agencies in Switzerland that traveler’s book a car in advance of expected arrival date to ensure that a vehicle is available upon arrival, especially during heavy tourism months in winter and summer.

Driving Regulations

Ampel 500x372There’s nothing quite like driving to Switzerland, but at the same time, it’s important to be aware of the rules of the road. In Switzerland, you drive on the right hand side of the road. It’s mandatory to wear seatbelts in the front and rear seats. Obey speed limits, which are readily and visibly posted in all locations.  In general, speed limits throughout the country are:

  • Town or city speed limit – 41 kph (31 mph)
  • Open roads (80 kph (50 mph)
  • Highways 120 kph (75 mph)

Mountain roads, especially through the Alpine region, can be scary for first-time mountain drivers. Take extra caution with the severe S and hairpin curves and use common sense regarding speed limit.

When it comes to parking, cities are equipped with “blue zones” that require a parking disc to be placed on the dashboard in those zones. You can obtain parking discs at police stations, gas stations, and motor clubs.

Do not drink and drive in Switzerland.  The blood alcohol content limit in the country is 0.5%, and any level over 0.8% will result in the confiscation of your license, coupled with very high fines and possibly even jail sentences.