5 Tips for Keeping Kids Comfortable on Airplanes

By Lawrence Schumacher

We’ve all been there — the crowded flight, the screaming kid, the glares directed at the parent. Flying with your children can be one of the most stressful things you have to do as a parent. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

With the proper preparation and the right mindset, you can not only survive an airplane flight with your little one or little ones, you might even be able to walk off the airplane with your head held high and passengers saying,”Your child was so good!”

The first key to keeping kids comfortable on an airplane flight is to look at it from their perspective. Flying isn’t a fun activity for most adults, and we’re used to waiting, sitting still and maintaining our composure for long stretches of time.

Flying takes kids out of their comfort zones — how can you get them back in? Image Credit: David De Lossy/Valueline/Thinkstock

5: Keep Them Entertained

Pack anything fits in a carry-on bag that will help keep your child entertained for as long as possible. That means toys, coloring books, reading books, stuffed animals, dolls, interactive learning toys, DVD players, MP3 or other music players –whatever you have that works. If you can afford it, buy some new toys, books, DVDs or music just for the flight.

Don’t bring them all out at once, though. Bring out one item at a time for your child to play with. Some parents wrap up new items and give them to their kids to open at different stages during the flight.

4: Bring Lots of Food and Drinks

Don’t count on the airline to have what your child needs to eat and drink. Bring along lots of healthy snacks to eat during the flight, including crackers, raisins, dry cereal and fruit snacks. If they’re old enough, give them gum to chew on to help with air pressure changes after takeoff and before landing. If they’re still drinking from the bottle or nursing, the sucking motion can also help relieve pressure problems.

Flying can dehydrate both children and adults. Make sure your child keeps drinking throughout the flight. Bring a sippy cup or bottle and keep it filled with water or milk.

3: Get Their Attention

When the toys get old and they’re not hungry, play lots of games. Work hard to keep your child focused on something besides getting into mischief. Maybe it’s “I Spy,” “Peek-a-Boo” or “20 Questions,” or maybe it’s talking about how an airplane works or what you can see from the window.

Eventually, your child is going to have to move around. Walking up and down the airplane isn’t always possible, but kids just aren’t cut out for sitting still for hours, so get up and move around with them when you can. Just make sure that they’re respectful of the other passengers.

2: Bring Something Familiar

Familiar blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals and other comfort items can be essential tools for calming down a frustrated child. Bring backups in case you lose one or it gets left behind. You don’t want a temper tantrum on the plane because a blanket was left at the gate.

Even if your kids doesn’t need a favorite toy or other familiar item, pack a travel blanket and pillow to help them get as warm and comfortable as possible in their seats. Also, come prepared with some infant pain reliever, in case of ear pain or other discomfort.

1: Sleep Tight

A sleeping child is a happy child. Sometimes the best thing you can do to make your kid on a flight is to schedule it for his or her sleep time. This may mean a “red eye” flight or one that takes place during regular nap time.

If your child does fall asleep, you should do the same, if possible. A few minutes’ nap can help you recharge your batteries so you can stay focused on your child when he or she wakes up and wants something to do. If you can’t sleep, close your eyes, let your mind go blank and relax.

Timing flights with nap schedules will give your child a better chance of falling asleep for a good part of the flight.

10 Safety Tips for Theme Parks and Crowded Vacation Spots

Losing a kid in the crowd is any parent’s nightmare. Here are 10 crowd-safety tips to keep in mind when visiting the beach, theme park, or county fair this summer.

By Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Nothing says summer like a trip to the beach, theme park, or county fair. But before you go, arm your family with a few basic rules for staying together and safe. Here are 10 tried-and-tested tips.

Tip #1: When our family visits a theme park, the last thing we do before leaving the hotel is to take a digital picture of each of our kids. If one of them ever got lost, we could show the park authorities a current photo of the child in that day’s clothes.

Tip #2: We write our cell phone number on our children’s arms with a marker. It will not wash off for several days. Don’t worry — it’s not a tattoo and will eventually wear off! Not only do our kids have the number handy in case they get lost, but we feel that a child predator is unlikely to snatch a child so obviously marked. Our children also know to stay put if we get separated. They know they can ask a mom with children to wait with them, but they are to stay in one place and we will find them.


Dreamland Gold Coast- Australia

Dreamworld Gold Coast, Tower of Terror- Australia

Tip #3: Take a few of your hotel’s business cards from the front desk (you also often find them on the nightstand in your room) and tuck them into your kids’ pockets. If one of them ever got lost, he’d be able to tell someone the name of the hotel, as well as its address and phone number.

Tip #4: Tell your under-10 child that if she gets separated from Mom or Dad, she is to stay put and let you find her. Remind her never to exit a theme park or go to a venue’s parking lot, which provides an easy getaway to predators.

Tip #5: When we go away in the summer, I always pack glowstick necklaces and bracelets for the kids. I buy them online. In the summertime, no matter whether we’re in a city, at a theme park, or on a camping trip, we inevitably wind up staying outside after nightfall. My kids love wearing glowstick jewelry, and I love that it makes them easy to spot in the dark!

Tip #6: We bought a box of hospital ID bracelets. When we know we’re going to a crowded location, we write our last name and cell phone numbers on them and put one on each of our children. We use them all the time, not just on vacation. I keep a few in my purse for when we visit any crowded place, like a shopping mall.

Tip #7: My young kids and I practice looking for other moms with kids in tow who they could ask for help in case they get lost. It seems far easier and safer for small children to identify a mom in action and steer away from guessing who else could be helpful. There are not too many moms who would be unwilling to help a lost child!

Tip #8: Shortly after you enter a theme park or beach area, get oriented by identifying landmarks together. If you feel that your child is mature enough (perhaps a savvy 10-year-old), agree on a designated meeting place in case you get separated. Have her repeat it aloud so it sticks. Never choose the entrance or parking lot. The ideal meeting place is an information center or lifeguard station, since staff are used to dealing with lost kids.

Tip #9: My family plays the “What Am I Wearing?” game before we go to an amusement park, fairground, or any crowded place. I tell my kids to take a good look at me, then close their eyes and tell me what I’m wearing. If we ever get separated, it might help them locate me in a crowd. And they’d be able to describe me to a park employee or other helpful adult.

Tip #10: On a recent trip to New York City, we went over various “what if we get separated” scenarios with my 12-year-old son. One of the most important was “What to do if we get separated in the subway.” The subways can get so crowded that my nightmare was that two of us would get on a train and the third would be crowded out and left on the platform. We told our son to always go to where he’d find an employee — in this case, the ticket window in the station. So if my son was left on the platform as the train pulled away, he was to go to the ticket window and wait. We would have hopped off at the next station and returned for him. If my son ended up on the train and we somehow got stuck on the platform, he was to get off at the next station and wait at the ticket window for us.

Keep your family save with Tune INSURE AirAsia Travel Protection. Find out more about our products at: http://www.tuneinsurance.com/group/product.php


10 Travel Safety Tips You Can’t Afford To Ignore

Article by locationindependent

Having survived cities such as New York, London, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh and Sydney, and a fair few other places such as Belize City, Mexico, Guatemala, Budapest, and Prague (back when it was far less touristy), I’ve learned how to keep myself relatively *safe* but you can never be too careful.

There is one travel experience I will never forget…and it involves being robbed of $200 by a group of 10 year old girls on the streets of Nice, France. It’s one of those things I’ll never forget for 3 reasons:

•At the time, I considered myself a fairly experienced traveller having flown and travelled to far flung places since the age of about five.

•The sneaky & crafty way in which they did it still astounds me – but knowing their trick has saved me (and some friends) on more than once occasion from succumbing to the same fate.

•The fact that I was robbed by 10 year old children is still just a tad embarrassing.

Here’s how I was robbed by kids…

A group of young girls crowded round me asking for money and holding out a piece of paper in front of them, asking me to read it. I tried to push them away but they kept swarming round me and pawing at me, asking me to read this sign and surrounding me, despite the best efforts of my girlfriends to help push them away.

After a couple of minutes I felt a small tugging on the security money pouch I was wearing (but hadn’t had time to tuck away properly – duh!). I looked down and as I did the kids scarpered having clearly been rumbled. I noticed the zip was open about an inch and was convinced they couldn’t have taken much from such a small opening. They’d actually snaffled around $200.

Another would-be thief tried the same tactic on me again whilst I was having a coffee with a friend in London a year or so later; our mobile phones were on the table and some guy came up to our table and held a piece of cardboard over the table in front of our faces and told us to read it. Wise to his trick, I immediately shoved it away and grabbed our stuff off the table and he skulked away empty-handed.

Travel Safety Tip# 1: Don’t Let Them Distract You

If kids or anyone else ever come up to you begging or holding out a piece of paper/cardboard or something else in front of them, push it away immediately and secure your belongings. This is just a distraction so their nifty little fingers can get at your valuables.

Travel Safety Tip# 2: Secure your luggage

When everything you own is carried round with you, it’s of paramount importance to keep this safe and sound. Even if it’s not worth much, it’s all you’ve got on your nomadic wanderings and what seems of little value to you, may be exceptionally tempting and valuable to people in the countries you visit. Keeping your luggage safe means securing it in any way possible, to prevent and deter anyone from tampering with or stealing your luggage…

•Always have a lock for your luggage – TSA-approved padlocks help to ensure that airport security don’t just cut it off and leave your luggage unlocked, plus they let you know if your luggage has been inspected.

•If you’re travelling on trains or you need to secure your bags temporarily (even if you’re sitting right next to them), then consider getting a backpack & bag mesh protector which encases your bag in a wire mesh and allows you to lock it securely to something to avoid it being taken.

•To help keep your possessions as safe as possible in your room both when you’re there or when you’re not, consider a travel door alarm to alert you of any suspicious activity.

Travel Safety Tip# 3: Secure your laptop

As a nomadic, work-anywhere entrepreneur your laptop is probably one of the most prized items you’re carrying. Not only is it crucial to running your business wherever you are, it probably cost a fair bit of money too. It’s well worth securing this valuable item with extra precaution and measures…

•Consider carrying a laptop lock and using it to secure your laptop up when you leave your accommodation and/or if you use it at airports, in cafes or other places where it can easily be snaffled from right under your nose.

•You should also consider the type of bag you carry your laptop in – whilst a fancy Tumi laptop case might set you apart from the commuters in New York or London, it’s almost as good as carrying a sign above your head forecasting your “rob-ability”. Try getting a laptop backpack that looks more like an adventure backpack. Alternatively, you could try the Pacfsafe Theft-proof bag.

•There are certain places where you probably want to avoid carrying your laptop around with you. As nice as it might be to go and work on the beach or from a wireless cafe, be aware of who sees you out and about with it and keep it under wraps. You may also want to avoid broadcasting the fact that you have a laptop at your accommodation by wandering in and out of your accommodation with it under your arm.

Travel Safety Tip# 4: Secure your cash & credit cards

•You may or may not be a fan of those travel wallets that strap to various parts of your body. Whether you use one or not may depend upon where you’re going and whether you need to carry huge wads of cash about with you. If you do use one, then I’d recommend the more authentic “belts“over the leg, waist or shoulder-type pouches – unless, as a woman, it doesn’t go with your outfit!

•Keep a note of your credit card numbers and the telephone numbers needed to cancel them (but not the security number and/or expiration date). Whilst some people advise making photocopies of the front & back of your card, if these get mislaid or stolen the thief can use the details to order online.You can keep a soft copy of your cards, password-protected on your laptop if you must.

•You should let your credit card company and bank know that you will be overseas – and ideally where you’ll be. Banks monitor suspected fraudulent use and will stop a card from working if they suspect it. Whilst it often only takes a phone call to reactivate it, it’s more efficient to let them know your travel plans in advance.

Travel Safety Tip# 5: Stay Alert

If you’re new to a city and haven’t quite got the measure of the different neighbourhoods, then keep your wits about you as you’re walking around. You can usually tell whether you’ve unwittingly wandered into a different area by the type of people walking around, the state of the buildings and shop fronts on the streets.

If you don’t notice any other tourists and you do see more threatening looking people around, then walk confidently in the direction you came (unless you know a quicker way out already) without getting your map out and head back to a safer, more touristy/populated area.

Travel Safety Tip# 6: Blend in – or at least try not to stand out

If you are trying to blend in with locals – or at least stand out less – then on your first day in a place, notice how the locals dress and dress accordingly. Dead giveaways include:

•Wearing sandals with white socks

•Wearing trainers/sneakers

•Wearing a bum-bag/fanny pack (unless you’re in the US perhaps)

•Carrying a camera around your neck

•Having a tourist map sticking out of your pocket

•Wearing shorts & t-shirts when everyone else is dressed for business

Travel Safety Tip# 7: Avoid public demonstrations and marches

As exciting as it may seem to join a public march or demonstration, if you’re in unfamiliar territory and a foreign land, then it’s best to avoid these. Whilst peaceful demonstrations may be the norm in your country, you don’t know that this will be the case in a foreign country and your visa may also be at risk if you are caught taking part in political demonstrations. It’s just not worth the risk for that little bit of excitement and camaraderie you might experience at the time.

Travel Safety Tip# 8: Avoid broadcasting your lack of local knowledge

Unless you’re in a touristy area where everyone else is doing the same, the  be careful about getting your map out and trying to figure out where you are. The same goes for standing in the middle of the road and pointing vigorously to specific points of interest in the distance – another dead giveaway that you’re less than a local.

Travel Safety Tip# 9: Always know your escape route

As you’re walking around unfamiliar areas, especially in the dark, take note of specific landmarks, buildings and amenities. If you ever feel threatened, it’s useful to know a ‘friendly’ place you can duck into (the nearest shop, bar, cafe, gas station, mini mart or restaurant) as soon as you can to either call for help or wait until the threat has passed.

Travel Safety Tip# 10: Leave your valuables at ‘home’

Depending upon where you are, you may want to consider always leaving your laptop, jewellery, watches or other expensive items at home rather than carting them around with you. Whilst some people have had bad experiences of laptops and valuables being stolen whilst left in a room/apartment, being robbed of an item directly from your person can be a far more unpleasant experience. Plus, you’re increasing the chance of something else happening (like dropping it or losing it) whilst you’re out and about.

Tips to Prevent Pickpocketing

How to pickproof your pockets.

Weaving through a crowded Saigon market, a roll of freshly changed dong in my pocket, I almost crushed a tiny old woman who had suddenly stopped to pick up her cane. Ten minutes later, I realized my money was gone.

Pickpockets leave you feeling humiliated and violated. “Never again,” you swear, though most of us can’t figure out exactly how we got taken in the first place. Like a skilled magician, a good pickpocket makes you want to see the trick one more time.

Pickpockets Love Tourists

THE SCAMS The Dropped Cane An elderly or handicapped person is enlisted to let something fall down in front of the target (you). While you’re distracted, nimble fingers slip into your pockets. A friend experienced a variation on this theme in Paris. He was about to step off a Métro escalator when the gentleman ahead of him dropped his wallet. Although my friend smelled a rat, he failed to pick up the scent of the man’s partner, right behind him. Seconds later my friend had lost several hundred dollars (and a good deal of face).

The Grabby Children A persistent beggar hounds you for money, or plies you with fake watches, while her children clutch at your clothing. Feel free to indulge them with pens or candy, but watch your back—the waif behind you probably has her hand in your purse.

The Angry Couple This method is usually deployed in crowded places—subway cars, train platforms, airports. An attractive couple begin bickering loudly, or two boisterous yahoos start pushing each other around. When people stop to watch, accomplices work the throng. (Tourist attractions such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the rose windows of Notre Dame may also provide sufficient distraction.)

THE SOLUTIONS Money belts and neck pouches are virtually impregnable; but they’re also uncomfortable and inconvenient. Besides, how would the waiters at La Tour d’Argent react if Monsieur had to unbuckle his trousers to pay the bill?Better to follow these simple strategies:

1. Put a rubber band around your wallet. The band makes it harder for the wallet to slide out, minimizing the pickpocket’s effectiveness and possibly alerting you to wrongdoings.

2. Keep your wallet in a front pocket or, preferably, in one that buttons shut. Avoid trousers with oversize (read: easy-access) pockets.

3. Carry your purse with the strap around your neck and the clasp against your body. Opt for bags with clasps that require two hands to open or that automatically lock—professionals recognize the ones that present a quick score.

4. Keep a small amount of “daily” money separate for incidentals. It’s better to hide the location and the amplitude of your assets: a full wallet in plain view will attract the eye of any observant pickpocket, who will also be sure to note where you put it when you’re done paying.

5. Trust your instincts. If you keep your wits about you, your sixth sense will tell you when something is rotten (in Denmark and elsewhere). Don’t wait until it’s too late: when in doubt, stop walking, put your hands in your pockets or on your purse, and move away from the crowd.

6. Say something. My friend’s wife had become suspicious on that Métro escalator, but rather than warn her husband, she waited till they were off the escalator. Then she told him to check his pockets. Too late.

Read about Tune INSURE AirAsia Travel Protection benefits for domestic and international travel: http://www.tuneinsure.com/travel_protection/benefits_oneway.php


Tips on driving in hazy conditions

Over the past week, the PSI index has been on steroids, thanks to our
Indonesian neighbour. In addition to caring for our respiratory system,
drivers should take extra care when cruising on the road.

Here are some tips on driving in hazy conditions:

Turn on fog lights (if equipped) -
Fog lights differ from driving lights in the way they project the
light. The beam projected by fog lights is usually wide and flat so that
it stays close to the road surface and minimises reflection by the
haze. They also better illuminate the sides of the road.

Keep a wider distance from the vehicle in front - Increase your count distance by five seconds instead of the normal two seconds behind another vehicle. Do not speed.

Use your low beams -
The visibility in front of you will decrease sharply in hazy condition.
The light from high beam headlights will be reflected by the thick

Do not let your car drift - There’s a natural
tendency to wander into the middle of the road when visibility gets bad.
Be sure to keep yourself in your lane.

Seek assistance from front passenger - Ask your passengers to help keep an eye out for oncoming cars and obstacles on the road.

Use the right edge of the road as a guide - This can help you avoid running into oncoming traffic or being blinded by oncoming headlights.

Drive safely and pray that hazy days will go away soon.

An extract from the original article “Tips on driving in hazy conditions” (http://www.mycarforum.com/blog/myautoblog/3118/tips-on-driving-in-hazy-conditions/)

Ways to Protect Yourself from the Haze

Ways to protect yourself from the haze

Take the following steps to protect yourself from the haze:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask when you go out – make sure you get a mask that can catch tiny particles below 0.3 microns.
  • Keep the doors and windows of your home closed.
  • Roll up the windows of your car if you are driving.
  • Use an air-conditioner in your home to help remove pollutants.
  • Use an air ionizer or air purifier to catch very small particles.
  • Drink more water than usual – this helps the kidneys flush out any toxins absorbed through the skin and lungs.
  • Cut down on coffee and alcohol – these promote fluid loss and leach nutrients from the body.
  • Build up your immunity with foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, guava, strawberries), vitamin E (nuts and seeds) and omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish).

An extract from original article: How to Minimize Health Effects of Haze (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/fit-to-post-health/minimise-health-impact-haze-012847111.html)

Facebook Contest: Mad About Bags

Today we’ve announced the winners for our recently held Facebook contest, Mad About Bags in collaboration with ZALORA Malaysia.

The prizes are:

1 piece luggage. 3 sets of clothing for men, women and children. 3 pairs of shoes for men, women and children. 1 Rizalman Dress for woman. 1 sport shoes. 1 set sports top and bottom from Reebok. RM150 Zalora vouchers. Items worth up to RM2500 in value.

1 piece luggage. 3 sets of clothing for men, women and children. 3 pairs of shoes for men, women and children. 1 Rizalman Dress for woman. RM100 Zalora vouchers. Items worth up to RM2000 in value.

1 piece luggage. 3 sets of clothing for men, women and children. 3 pairs of shoes for men, women and children. RM50 Zalora vouchers. Items worth up to RM1500 in value.

Consolation PRIZE from Gin & Jacqie:
6 Consolation Prizes from Gin & Jacqie
3 x Passport holder
3 x Carry All Danni

5 Tricks for Eating Street Food Safely

You might be tempted to taste the local flavours, but be sure to take caution when choosing to eat at street stalls.  Cause being sick on holiday is no fun.. Read the article below about street food safety.


photo:cupid speaks

photo:cupid speaks

By Travel +Leisure Souteast Asia

You can have your char kway teow and eat it too. Here’s how to dodge food poisoning but still enjoy some of the world’s best cheap eats


1 Follow the locals.

In a busy marketplace, you can often tell if a stall is reputable based on the line. But pay attention: Mexico City street-food guide Lesley Téllez avoids stalls that draw a primarily young—and less cautious—clientele. Instead, she looks for “a mix of workers, policemen and older customers.” And knowing local mealtimes means you can beat the crowds to get the freshest foods.


2 Cleanliness counts.

“Keep an eye out for signs of cross-contamination,” says Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University. Check that prep surfaces look clean, cold foods are kept on ice and raw foods are stored separately from cooked. Téllez prefers stands where vendors who handle food don’t touch money.


3 Bring your own utensils.

There’s no way to tell if chopsticks or forks have been given more than a quick rinse.


4 If possible, watch your food being cooked.

And avoid precooked seafood in particular, advises Jeff Koehler, author of the forthcoming cookbook Morocco (Chronicle Books). Dishes containing raw meat, and ice-based drinks that may have been made with unfiltered water, are off-limits.


5 Look for cooking methods

that reduce microbes. Pickling vegetables and using citrus juices can reduce the levels of dangerous microorganisms, Powell points out, but they won’t remove your risk entirely. Some spices, such as chilies, turmeric and epazote, a Mexican herb, also have antibacterial properties.

Guide to hiring a car and driving abroad

by Rebecca Burns

If the idea of hiring a car and driving abroad fills you with fear, you can help gain some confidence by getting prepared. Learn about what to look for when hiring a car, and pick up some overseas driving tips.

From major international car hire chains to small, independent car rental firms in local destinations, the choice of car rental is huge and can be overwhelming. Here, we offer some basic tips for car rental and driving abroad, and point to some additional online resources you may find handy in preparing for your driving trip.

Car hire abroad

Choose a reputable car hire company so you can be confident that they have high car safety standards. The cheapest car hire deal may not always be the best. Word of mouth recommendations are well worth listening to, however, so if you know people who hired a car at your destination ask them which company they used and whether or not they had a good experience.

When you’ve shortlisted several reputable companies you’d be happy to rent a car from, spend a bit of time comparing their car hire prices and contractsw before you book to make sure you get a good deal.

girl driving


Car hire contracts

There are reports from travellers that some car hire companies in Europe and beyond do not have their car hire contracts translated into English. Don’t take the risk of hiring a car from such a company: go elsewhere so you can read the small print.

If you hire a car online you have chance to examine contracts, agreements and procedures before parting with your money. Word of mouth recommendations from friends or family are also worth listening to. When you do part with any cash, try to use a credit card: this may provide some degree of cover if you are ripped-off.

It’s also worth knowing that in some countries, car hire companies may demand you give them your passport as guarantee when you sign the contract. The UK Foreign Office advises travellers not to hand over their passport under any circumstance.

Second driver surcharges

Surcharges for a second driver vary enormously from company to company and between destinations. If you are planning to add a second driver this could have a big impact on the cost of car hire, so do some research before you book.

Insurance and excess

Insurance cover is often limited to the legal minimum of the country or state you hire in, and you could be held personally responsible for any claim for injury or damage over this limit. Read the small print on the insurance before you make any decisions. You can ask your UK insurer whether they are able to provide top-up insurance to increase your insurance cover, as it may be cheaper than buying it abroad.

Insurance provided, even by most big companies, has an enormous excess, even if the accident is not your fault.  This is often reduced by free collision damage waiver, but is still a huge amount.  You may have to pay a further pre-day premium to reduce the excess or remove it completely, but sometimes it’s not worth it — the daily amounts add up to more than the excess.  Sometimes the company will not remove the excess altogether, particularly in the case of the car being stolen, so it makes sense to consider whether the car has an alarm, whether it’s a desirable model, and where you park the car!

Condition of hire cars

Most well-known international car hire companies have a reputation to look after, and therefore will be keen to make sure their cars are well-maintained. In a recent survey by the AA, however, certain countries were highlighted as having many car hire companies with poor standards. Malta was highlighted as a particularly poor destination for car hire, with half its cars in poor condition — while a quarter of cars were found to be defective in Greece, Spain and Turkey.

Comparing multi-national with local car hire firms, 84 per cent of the big-name cars were in good condition as opposed to 60 per cent of the small companies. That said, I’ve personally used small car hire companies in a range of destinations, including Turkey and Spain, and have had many good experiences with them, including great service, good value, and decent cars. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best.

Check that the car has a first aid kit before you set off, and a warning triangle in case you break down. If it’s missing, ask the car hire company to provide this before you leave.

When you’ve hired your car and are given the keys, it’s worth photographing or taking some video of the car before you drive off. Check for and photograph any existing damage such as scrapes or stains on upholstery so you can’t be blamed for them when you return the car.

Driving abroad

Driving practices in other countries can be quite different to those at home, and it’s best to be prepared before you set off on your travels. Always read up on local driving laws in the country you’re planning to drive in, as some rules could be significantly different to those you’re familiar with in your home country. Some destinations will expect you to keep your lights on throughout the day, for example, and in others the alcohol limit may be lower than it is at home.

For British drivers, the UK Foreign Office provides some excellent Road Travel advice for each country, highlighting any specific local driving habits you should watch out for, and any local laws that are different to those on the roads in the UK. You could also check out the AA country-by-country advice for driving overseas.

If you’re covering long distances, make sure you take plenty of breaks and don’t drive while you’re tired. The same rules apply when you’re driving at home, of course — but on road trips it’s easy to forget and push on when you should be taking a break.

Driving licence and other documentation

If you’re a young driver, note that some companies set a minimum age for the vehicle driver, which in some cases is as high as 25, even in countries where the minimum legal age to hold a driver’s license is much lower.

You will need your driving licence and passport as a minimum to hire a car abroad, and in some countries you will need an International Driving Permit. You also need to check whether you need a ‘Green Card’ for the country you’re visiting; this provides minimum insurance.

Remember that if you only have a provisional licence, you can’t drive abroad with it.

Local vehicle requirements

If you’re driving your own vehicle rather than hiring a car at your destination, you will need to make sure your vehicle complies with local vehicle requirements. If you hire a car from a reputable car hire company at your destination, on the other hand, it should fulfil any such local vehicle requirements. It’s still worth asking specifically if the car provided will be fully equipped to meet all the legal requirements, and ask for a breakdown number to call if something goes wrong.