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Page 11: Living: Holidays.


Wish you were there? The average holiday, home or abroad, per adult costs say £350. Add to that the cost of new clothes, gifts, meals, want to have a good time on holiday, don't you? Er, NO! You want to save your house from being taken away from you! By all means take time off work, but please stay home until the debts are cleared. Once they are gone, then you can go too. And have a really relaxing time!

Please read on.

Wish You Were Here?

(Friday 4th March 2005 news story)

Package deals are still the most popular form of holiday, despite a profusion of bargain flight deals and online booking facilities making things cheaper. A survey by the Jamaica Tourist Board says 59% of families will leave Britain for a package holiday this year. 38% are happy to book their flights and hotels separately but this is actually down from 41% last October.

On the package holiday theme, we occasionally catch a few minutes in front of the TV we've recently plugged-in at Surgery reception, and today, in-between some group financial therapy sessions at the day care centre, we dropped-in on something on Sky Travel or Thomas Cook TV (Freeview channels 11 and 20 respectively). We couldn't believe how this particular deal that we stumbled in on was being sold: "Stunning apartments close to swimming pool with tennis facilities, bowls, near the sea, Costa something, for all the family, only £200-and-something, ...".

What occurred to us was how poky the white-walled cane-furnitured apartments were, how full the pool and poolside was, how brown-bodied the usually beige-sanded beaches were. The heat was in evidence, the family facilities were emphasised, the package was so packaged.

Imagine: The rip-off, sticky-seated, hot-sauna taxi and bus rides, the queues at the airport, the oppressive heat of the daytime sun. The screaming, crying, moaning children running around or splashing about. Then the dodgy food. The sleepless nights on the cut-price bamboo bed, eyes wide open from the oppressive night-time heat that means the windows are open to let in some breeze, but also the noise from the drunken teenagers, the boom-boom disco, the car tyres, the dog barks, and the bawling babies from neighbouring appartments. Then you're too tired to make the most of excursions and to stay up and out late. Now the realisation: You're actually paying to stay here. You've left behind your comfortable home, filled with all the beautiful and entertaining things that are yours, that are suited personally to you alone, to pay for this. You start to feel nostalgic for showery Britain, and why not, millions are trying to get into the UK illegally.

Why pay to go to hell, when heaven is at home?

New Flight Compensation Rights for EU Passengers

(Sunday 13th February 2005 news story)

As from Thursday, 17th February, passengers who suffer flight delays, cancellation or over-booking by airlines will have the right to claim compensation from the airline. The EU regulations apply to flights to or from Europe, on a European carrier and the compenstion will be between 250 and 600 euros (Approx. £170 to £420), depending on the length of the flight and regardless of the fare paid. However, compensation will be halved for passengers who are found alternative flights which depart within 2 - 4 hours. Other rules also apply, depending on the degree of disruption.

Passengers can also claim for damaged, lost or delayed luggage up to 1,800 euros (about £1250), and for injury or death due to an accident on a flight by a EU airline. The regulations even apply to package holidays bought from a tour operator who fails to provide services booked.

If you suffer any disruption or are unhappy with the service from your tour operator, you should request compenstion. If it refuses, complain to the relevant authority, details of which can be obtained via the freephone number of Contact Europe Direct which is, 00 800 678 910 11, or via e-mail:

For those of us who would love to get rid of our debts, flights to far-flung places are not on the itinerary. It just costs too much. Go after you've beaten Debt. What better reward is there than to take a holiday after you've paid off the last bill, or made that last payment? What better incentive to clear those debts is there than to take lovely long (warm) relaxing break after they're cleared? Each year we ask YOU readers your opinions in our MoneyOscars awards, and each year we always ask "What is the ideal luxury for when debts are cleared?", and each time you guys choose "Holiday" over "Jewellery", "New Car", or "New TV or HiFi".

The cost of taking a holiday doesn't end at the travel agent's office. There's the cost of meals and drinks and treats, excursions, visiting places of entertainment, entry into clubs, taking taxis, fares on buses, extra accommodation maybe, presents for family and friends, presents for yourself, unplanned-for items like batteries, suntan cream, electrical accessories, forgotten items like toothbrushes, hair driers. Then there's the clothes that you buy beforehand to wear on holiday, which could total as much as the booking itself. Don't forget the cost of a new camera or camcorder which many of us consider before a holiday. Or electrical adapters, travel vouchers...

Overshadowing all this like a dark cloud are the things we don't want to think about but can happen on holiday. When taking a holiday, we take a risk on things like the weather, the quality of the accommodation, the good-nature of our fellow-travellers and the locals. Without going into the awful detail, staying at home can often reduce the risks.

We think these new rules which protect the consumer are excellent and will hopefully take away a lot of the risks and pain, associated with some holidays. To our Patients we repeat one of our old adages: "Why travel when you don't HAVE to?"
Beat debt, then take a holiday. And have a ball.

Currency Rates.

(Tuesday 6th November 2001 news story)

One thing that we have failed to bring our patients is a regularly updated table showing the latest pound value compared with foreign currencies. They can be of vital importance to travellers about to trade some of Her Majesty's notes for those of a distant, probably sunnier, country.

Did you know that one pound buys 22.14 Gambian dalasi? Maybe Italy's 3017 lira is of more interest, it certainly sounds like a lot. Apparently, you can get 1.362 dollars per pound in Bermuda.

Unfortunately, tourist currency rates will never appear on Money Surgery because if you are struggling with debt, why spend on luxuries like holidays? In case you are unaware of our well publicised doctrines, we regard holidays abroad and travelling for pleasure generally as illogical, when the money used to fund the trips is borrowed and your debts are threatening to affect your well-being. You may be trying to forget reality on a beach in Bermuda but the house you left behind in Britain might be threatened by your mounting debts. Don't hide. The sooner you face up to debts spiralling out of control, the better. the next step is to regain control, monitor spending and decide if changing your lifestyle is a secrifice you are willing to pay to beat those debts. If so, get back in the black then relax, abroad if you like. Imagine ...sun, sea and savings. Go for it. By that time you will have earned it.

...Don't fancy the Bermuda triangle, though.

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