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It’s been a while since I popped up any actual travel-related posts and I hope to address this soon. We had a family holiday in Greece recently and I’d like to get a little something up about that, but it’s all down to time.

Also, my holidays have changed since I settled down and we now have three kids in tow so expect the content and pace of the posts to change! Of course, this does mean that the posts could be relevant to a slightly different audience. Gone are the backpacking days (except possibly the occasional long weekend with the wife if I can convince her, although we won’t be using shared dorms…), but the travel bug is still there.

Don’t get me wrong, my other half loves the idea of travel almost as much as I do, but family has to come first and the kids just aren’t ready for roughing it through South America (top of my travel bucket list) as yet!

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The Beard Has Gone!

SCROUNGE ALERT: For those who didn’t notice (how?!) the beard has gone as is evidenced by the wedding photos which will be published shortly. I raised around £275 from the kids at school for doing it and my dad’s rounding it off to £300.

All money, as ever, is going to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

Now… how’s about you folks help me round it up further? Say, to £500, before I send it on? Also, I’ll be trying to send it via someone in the US or Australia so they can claim tax relief on the donation to increase it even more.

If you want to donate, drop me a message. I’ll happily give you my PayPal or bank details.

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New plans!

Due to my change in circumstance (i.e. having a job and finding someone stupid enough to go out with me), backpacking is a little bit of a no-goer at the moment. Travelling, though, is still very much on the cards.

First up, the amazing Gillian is treating me to a long weekend in Venice for Valentine’s. I’ve been to Italy twice (once a quick visit to Rome, and again during The Walk when I covered the north west of the country by foot), but never seen this particular place. I’m very much looking forward to it and we’ll be there from February 12th to 15th.

Next, we’ll be taking the kids to Egypt at the start of July right after I finish work for summer. It’s only for a week and it’s a package tour but we will be aiming to fit in some diving and a trip to Luxor from our base in Sharm El Sheikh.

Plans are already afoot for a fortnight in Thailand in 2012. Assuming the Aztecs weren’t right and we’re all dead by then.

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Limited travel

Again, a quick post so that the blog doesn’t look like it’s completely lying fallow. I had “kind of” plans to travel over xmas, but they fell through for a variety of reasons. One was price, another was that I’ve started seeing someone who lives in Glasgow and I’d much rather spend the holiday season with her and her kids than travelling.

Given the “travel chaos” (i.e. Heathrow being rubbish) that hit around the time I would have been hoping to get a flight, this is perhaps for the best!

I may look at going somewhere for Easter. After watching the Top Gear Christmas special, I’m once again drawn to the Middle East. A shame that, unlike famous people, I ‘d struggle to get into Iraq. On the other hand, I don’t work for the BBC so Iran is permissible. Last year’s plan was for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – I may resurrect that plan. Kind of apt for Easter.

Summer will be another call. I have “permission” to go away for a long break if I want to. It would be strange, what with the kids, but I do still miss the backpacking and I’m as ever drawn towards Vietnam. Having said that, I’ve still not managed to make it to South America. Or if I fancy staying closer to home, I still want to do Sweden, Norway, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. Oh, and Liechtenstein. And more of Italy. And Germany.

Sometimes it’s a pain living in a world with so many interesting and exciting destinations!

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Avoid eDreams for bookings


Don’t. Just don’t use this company.

Just a warning to anyone out there. I’m trying to book a flight from Bangkok to Hanoi at the end of the month. Vietnam Airlines have one leaving at midday which is great as I’m due in around 7:00am from London, via Mumbai.

However, it’s around £130 booked direct. I checked using the excellent SkyScanner site and they found me it for nearer £70 through eDreams. I went through the shonky booking system – which changes the pricing twice. The claims partway through of “all fees” being included is a lie as they first of all add some unnamed fee, then chuck a tenner on at the end. Oh, and a surcharge for using a credit card. My £67 fair ended up being a shade over £80.

And that’s not the worst of it. When I booked it, I got a large page which told me there’d been a problem authorising my credit card. I was to expect an email with instructions. In the meantime my flight was “confirmed” – this despite them not having any payment.

Strange thing – I checked my credit card statement online and that sum seems to be sat as a “Pending Transaction”. This means the sum has been earmarked and is classed as “out of my account”. Which means there’s no issue at all.

Despite this, a day later I got an email from them telling me to fax a copy of my passport, credit card front and other details to an international number. Along with this were warnings about flight price increases, promo fares not allowing refunds and so on.

A quick Google found a stream of bad reviews of eDreams. And I mean bad. People in the same situation who’d had their cards charged and received no tickets. Another chap who faxed the details twice until they eventually said that had them… but that the flight was more expensive now and that he would have to pony up the difference or lose the tickets. And the money he’d already paid.

As such, I emailed them on both addresses they included in the initial mail explicitly stating that I was cancelling the order and would not expect any payment to be taken by them. See below:

Regarding your follow-up email, I have no means of faxing to an international number. Also, given my current geographical location I can’t telephone any of the numbers you provided to contact you.

I do notice that the fee has been taken from my credit card which tells me that your email is a lie – there have been no problems with the payment. Having checked online I have found many people with the same issue, and a huge number have not received tickets from you or have been told they must pay an additional fee once they contact you.

As such, take this email to be an official cancellation and expectation of full refund. I have contacted my credit card company and informed them of the dubious nature of this transaction and expectation of the end of this matter.

Half an hour later, I received the following short response:

Dear Customer;

The booking has been cancelled.
If you have more doubts, please contact us the most soon as possible.-

Thank you for trusting in eDreams

I will of course be checking very carefully to see if my card is billed. If so, the lawyers at that company can take it up. Their cancellation email is, in my opinion, an acceptance of my terms, to whit a full refund.

I am now booked on an AirAsia flight 2 days later which means 2 days in Bangkok. Not a bad thing, to be fair. I’m sure I can find something new to do. I might even be able to catch a film if the shopping centres are allowed to re-open!

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