Friday, 9 August 2013

Tips and Travel Lines

Perhaps if I was Japanese I'd have had palm surgery some months back and discovered then that booking a trip to Central America this August wouldn't be the best move financially. Maybe I'd have had the surgery even earlier and been able to look into the future to tell The Boy he'd need a doctor's check-up sooner in order to have the op in time. As I'm not Japanese, have only recently discovered palm surgery even exists and seriously question its point, I'm now about to go on our annual adventure on my own.

Having finally had confirmation from the specialist on Wednesday that The Boy is indeed not fit for travel or coverage on our insurance, I've been doing some last minute organisation. In the process, I've discovered a few useful tips for fellow travellers I thought I'd share before my departure. If, like me, you are venturing to foreign and occasionally somewhat remote climes with some time still before the off, the following may help:

1) Despite what doctors tell you, antibiotics are indeed accessible for emergency situations. Last summer's Morocco trip left me feeling pretty jealous when I suffered from some form of impenetrable stomach upset. My walking pharmacy was no armour against my ailment and while I visited a pricey Moroccan hospital, fellow trip chums easily recovered, having taken their supply of home-brought antibiotics. I, on the other hand, felt somewhat off for several days longer and had to take an alarmingly large number of strangely labelled drugs I'd been prescribed, including one called “Spasfon”.

Keen to avoid a repeat occurrence, I visited the doctor who after trying to put me off, gave me a private prescription, warning me I'd have to shop around chemists as additional dispensing costs would probably be a minimum of £20 for my antibiotics. Fear not – this information seems to have been yet another attempt by the doctor to deter me. The very pharmacy that partners my doctor's surgery and is indeed right next door, sold me said antibiotics for less than the normal prescription charge at a mere £4.

2) Never trust your bank to give you the best exchange rate. Having always banked with Natwest, I went to get some dollars and came out with rather a raw deal. Two hundred US cost me £181 of your English pounds. Returning home, I checked the exchange rate and as suspected found I had been cheated and given a rate of around 1.1 to the pound, instead of 1.5.

Annoyed, I returned to the bank the next day and to my relief found it was a mistake and a new cashier had accidentally given me the Euro rate. One refund later and I was disappointed to discover Natwest's rate was merely 1.3 when I'd seen much higher elsewhere. The answer? Take recommendations, forsake your bank and go British. Good old M & S offered the best rate of 1.54! Certainly a new favourite for buying currency.

Wisdom imparted, I'm going to continue packing my life up and prepare for lone travel. I'll be absent for the next three weeks so if anyone reading is due to depart soon, enjoy.

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