10 top tips for amazing smartphone snaps!

June 30th, 2015

Smartphones have transformed our ability to take photographs – particularly whilst travelling. Arguably anyone can take a cracking picture nowadays – the ability to add filters, to work in low light, crop, edit and colour pictures really makes us all a David Bailey (or think we are).

Not only can we take pictures but we can also share them with the world in an instant and we can document our holiday ‘live’ every step of the way. That’s why social media was invented – wasn’t it?!

So, as you pack for your holiday and think about your luggage allowance – how many of you are ditching your camera and lens bag for a smartphone and an extra battery pack? You are not the only ones. You have become one of the world’s iPhoneographers.

Monica Stott, a travel blogger and multimedia journalism graduate, has used an iPhone for several years to take the photographs for her blog, The Travel Hack. “I recently invested in a fabulous new digital SLR camera. However, I’ve realised that I actually prefer using my iPhone.” she says.

Kirsten Alana, a New York-based photographer and travel blogger, who writes Aviators and a Camera, says: “I discovered a love for iPhone photography a few years ago – it was such a switch from my decade of earning a living shooting with SLR and dSLR cameras. Now that I use the iPhone as my primary camera for travel, I’m longing again to experiment with other technology. For me, the joy exists in continuing to always try new things.”

So we thought we would give you a quick 10 tips for iphoneography and some ideas for easy technology that could also help. Don’t forget that we love to see the results of your imagery and that you can share it with us on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

1. Adjusting exposure and focus
If you are looking to create an image with only a small portion sharply in focus with great depth of field you can use your finger to touch the screen and tell the camera where it should adjust both exposure and focus.

2. We all love the ‘Lux’ setting in Instagram
The small sun-like icon in the bottom-left corner is the ‘lux’ setting and can assist in correcting poor exposure and enhancing contrast. It is used retrospectively but is worth bearing in mind if you take a photograph in poor light.

3. Black and white
Black and white photography is always a portrait photographer’s choice and creates a great sense of story. It’s also useful when you are using the effects that some apps can give with enhancing shadows and contrast. Be brave and experiment – you can always change it back – that’s the beauty of phone photography.

4. Group multiple images
Sharing pics online with your friends? An effective way is to group photos together in a collage to tell a story. Picollage or Diptic and Frametastic make it simple to add 2 to 9 images at a time and it won’t clog up your timeline with hundreds of images!

5. ‘ProHDR’
ProHDR is a great app that does simulate the work by pro digital camera photographers as it allows you to take as well as to import photos for effect application.

6. Be careful with food shots
We all enjoy our food on holiday. But those at home are not always quite so interested – it often looks a lot less appetising in a photo than it did on the plate! Apps like Hipstamatic and their ‘Foodie Snap’ pack can help – but less is more. Oh – and turn off the flash when taking photos of food.

7. Add-ons
Snap on additional lenses, like the one Olloclip makes, to give your iPhone photographs added interest. Macro, wide angle and fisheye lenses – even telephoto – are all available from companies like Olloclip and Photojojo. An external wide-angle lens can really help to get amazing close up shots.

8. Use Photography apps
Sophisticated photo editing apps such as Camera+ and Kitcam allow you to enhance images without them looking overly manipulated. You don’t ant your friends to think that it’s all about the technology and not about skill now do you?!

9. Composition
The grid feature on your phone is there for a reason. It’s all about helping you to set the composition using ‘The rule of thirds’. Which means that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections to create more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject.

10. Use the headphones
Did you know that you can use the headphones that came with your iPhone as a remote for taking photos? If you plug them in, open the camera app, and press the “up” volume button then you can snap pics. It’s a great tool if you’re using a tripod or want to take a selfie. No need for that selfie-stick either!

Avoiding a Big Fat Greek Drama

June 30th, 2015

According to Bloomberg Business, Greece is in a worse spot than America was in 1933. The situation for the Greeks is looking bleaker than ever and many holidaymakers are beginning to ask questions about their safety and access to money.

If you’re one of the thousands of Brits who will be making your way to the popular holiday destination this summer, fear not. There are ways you can head to Greece prepared and we’ve compiled our top tips for staying savvy in Greece:

Take out travel insurance

Experts have advised travellers to take out travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday – or as soon as possible if the holiday has already been booked – to provide protection should they need to cancel or change arrangements.

It is worth noting that the Foreign Office has stated that it “does not see the prospect for people getting stranded”, however travel insurance is still highly recommended to cover medical emergencies, flight delays or cancellations and lost luggage.

Why not take a look at the travel insurance offering from our preferred partner Holiday Extras?

Sensible sightseeing

Many travellers will no doubt be concerned about the outbreak of political violence at this time. If you see signs of unrest, leave the area immediately. According to the Association of British Travel Agents, Syntagma Square in Athens’ city centre is an area to steer clear of when protests break out.

Whilst it’s difficult to predict exactly when and where violence could break out, following the news can give you an idea of where to avoid. Seeking advice from hotel and resort staff may also be of use during your stay.

Cash is king

Experts have advised travellers to be prepared and take both cash and cards but have warned holidaymakers that establishments may enforce a limit on the amount that can be spent on cards.

Although it is deemed unlikely that Greece will leave the Euro in the immediate future, in light of the uncertainty surrounding the banks in Greece, travellers have been told not to rely on withdrawing cash from banks and ATMs. Ensure you have enough Euros to cover unexpected delays or emergencies and take more than you think you need, it can always be exchanged upon your return to the UK.

Stay Alert

Keeping a close eye on bags, valuables and identification is strongly recommended when travelling to any destination, but with concerns over rising crime in light of the crisis, looking after your cash, passport and expensive possessions is paramount. According to the Telegraph, holidaymakers in certain resorts in Greece are being given additional safety deposit boxes to store money when they arrive so ask at your hotel if this is a service they provide.

Money wallets or bum bags have never been the most glamorous accessory, but you can’t fault their functionality. For extra peace of mind (and to avoid a run-in with the fashion police), purchase a more discreet zipped money wallet and wear under clothing.

Shine On

We hope with this information you will be prepared for a safe and savvy trip to Greece, but it is equally important to enjoy your time in what remains a beautiful part of the world. After all, the economic crisis cannot take away the sunshine.

SOS! Gadgets in Distress!

June 18th, 2015

When you are on holiday your smartphone can contain everything. It’s your tickets, your proof of booking, your camera, your foreign currency converter, your language barrier breaker, your music, your portal to other worlds and the best way to make your desk-shackled friends aware of how utterly brilliant your holiday is.

But what if your phone escapes from your pocket into the swimming pool? What if it overheats in that wall-to-wall sunshine? What if it decides to dip its digital toes into the sand or run out of juice? Never fear, Airparks is here. You probably know we can make your trip easier from start to finish with car parking, bus transfers and even a rest in an airport lounge. But we like to think that our care extends further than that – and these seven tips could give you peace of mind if the worst thing happened to that gadget of yours.

Sand in your bits and bobs….
Sand isn’t very good for your mobile, your camera, laptop (why are you taking this on the beach anyway?) or your MP3 player. There are no easy ways to tell you this – but it’s best to avoid sand near your gadgets at all costs. BUT if you have to then it’s a wise idea to pack a compressed air canister, which can be sprayed around the gadget to blast out any lurking grains. Sand will also scratch your touch-screen though, so a protective screen is also a good idea.

The sun is bright but the screen is dark …
If you have been using your iPhone or iPod in the sun a lot then the prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can activate the pixels in the screen making it appear very dark. Stop using it straightaway and leave it somewhere cool and dark overnight. This will allow the pixels to reset back to normal.

Phone overboard …
Actually – if your phone goes overboard, then we’re afraid it’s probably had it. But if it slips out of your hand during a swimming pool shoot or out of your back pocket during a visit to the ‘small room’ then quickly (very quickly) retrieve it and switch off the phone immediately as keeping it on could permanently damage the internal circuitry due to a short-circuit. Open the rear panel and remove the battery and open all the ports it has and drain out any water would have entered. Remove the SIM and memory card from inside. Dry it out first with a cloth and then with a vacuum cleaner (you may need to find the nearest room attendant). Follow this up by putting it in an airtight container with uncooked rice. This should absorb all the water and, after a few hours, you should be able to use the gadget normally. We advise you to keep the phone in the container for at least a few days—a week is best. This will ensure that the moisture is completely absorbed by the rice.

It’s getting hot out here …
Gadgets and devices like tablets and smartphones are not designed for desert-like heat. They contain heat sensors that automatically shut down if they get too hot. But of course we do love to take them to use whilst we relax on the sunbed, either to read, take pictures or take a sneaky peek at our emails whilst ‘the other half’ isn’t looking. There are a number of methods for sorting out these problems; Ziploc-covered ice packs, sun-protection cases and plain avoidance of direct sunlight.

Foreign bodies …
If your phone or gadget gets covered in something sticky then use a little lighter fluid on a cotton bud or piece of cotton wool to remove stains and stickiness from the keyboard or mix a little vinegar with water (50/50) and dab on to a rag to clean your screen (please don’t use the lighter fluid on your touch-screen).

Packing For Travel …
Try to limit the gadgets that you take with you on holiday. We know that might be tricky when travelling with children in particular! Can we suggest that investing in a special travel bag for smart devices is probably a good idea!

Activate the safety net …
Insure your data and your gadgets! Insure your data by making sure that it has all been saved to a hard-drive or a cloud before you travel. You don’t want to make one accident lead to the loss of all of your pictures, contacts and work. Finally, make sure you have your holiday and gadget cover in place.

If You’re Going to Fly, You Need Power

June 18th, 2015

Last summer there was a change in the rules about travelling with any electronic or battery-powered devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, if travelling to the United States. If you cannot show the security teams that they have power in them, you may not be allowed to board the plane with them.

This has meant that utilising charging points at any of the UK’s airports has become an important part of many passengers’ airport routines. With free wifi on our transfer buses and in our car parks and free wifi in the airports too – it’s bound to put some strain on your battery life. So here’s a helpful guide to charging your phone at some of the most popular airports where Airparks can help you find parking.

Before you leave home – make sure you have your charger packed inside your hand luggage – and if you have multiple devices with different charging sockets then you can purchase an all-in-one charger too. You might also find our previous blog on conserving battery power useful too.

You’ll find coin-operated ChargeBox charging points at Bristol and Gatwick airports. To save time (and battery power) at the airport, you could download the ChargeBox app before you leave home.

Heathrow Airport

  • There are 4,500 public USB and power sockets spread around its five terminals, which are free to use.
  • Free Power Pole charging stations are available in all the terminals before and after security. They are compatible with UK and European plugs as well as USB cables.

Gatwick

  • There are free charging points available across Gatwick airport both before and after security as well as free wifi and internet kiosks.
  • If you want to charge while you shop, then ChargeBox kiosks located in the departure lounges also allow you to securely store your phone in a locker while it charges.
  • You can enjoy 90 minutes free wifi through myGatwick and if you want to surf for longer, then high-speed wifi is provided by Boingo Hotspot.

Manchester

  • Manchester airport has recently doubled the free wifi time from 30 to 60 minutes in any 24-hour period.
  • In the airport – look for an SSID called ‘spectrum’ or ‘MAG Airports WiFi’.
  • In the airport lounges, the BA lounge uses the ‘BA lounge WiFi’ SSID and Servisair uses ‘Servisair’.

Bristol

  • Internet desks and charging points are available throughout the airport and there are wifi and printing services available before and after security.
  • The wifi is free for up to 30 minutes in the terminal, with a charge for longer periods and VPN access.

We can Park your Car – But we can’t make it Fly

May 29th, 2015

At Airparks we offer great value airport parking with transfer options and meet and greet services, airport hotel deals at airports across the UK. In fact – along with our preferred partner Holiday Extras, we can pretty much cover everything you need to make getting to your holiday destination as smooth and comfortable as you would ever wish it to be.

However, we know that in the middle you might have to deal with the stress and strain of getting through security and onboard the actual flight – if we could make your car fly, we would. But we can’t.

Did you know that in the 1960’s it was possible to take yourself AND your car by air across to the continent from some airports. For about £25 you could literally drive aboard a DC4 Carvair cargo plane and off you went! Here’s one at Bristol Airport!

Nowadays – things are a little more conventional. But in case your interest is piqued….here are a few famous flying cars that you might also have heard of – although most of these are purely fiction!

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley’s Ford Anglia
This 1969 model appeared in the 1992 ‘Chamber of Secrets’; ‘7990TD’ was built by Henry Ford but magically transformed by George Weasley to flying condition in order to rescue Harry.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Not everyone realises that James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming was also the writer of ‘Chitty’, but actually the gadget-laden motor fits well with 007’s stable of cars!

Copyright 2005 – 2015 diseno-art.com

Flying Jeep
Properly titled the Hafner Rotabuggy after it’s inventor, this was a WW2 British idea for delivering vehicles to battlefields by air. An autogyro design, it relied on being towed through the air causing it’s rotor to rotate. Amazingly it really did work – but was not entirely a practical proposition. A version using a light tank was quietly shelved…

Scaramanga’s AMC Matador
This could actually fit the categories of both fact and fiction! Built for the Bond movie Man with the Golden Gun, this was the car in which Christopher Lee as villain Scaramanga eluded 007 but adding a wings/tail/power unit to the roof of the car and flying away with his minion NickNack. The car COULD actually fly – but only for about 500 metres – a scale flying model being used for further sequences.

The Airparks Guide to Beating Jet Lag

May 29th, 2015

Travelling a long-haul flight is great fun and can take us to some of life’s most exciting places. Returning from a holiday is not always so much fun, particularly if jet lag sets in.

Jet Lag is the common name for a change in our circadian rhythms, as they take time to adjust to the new time zone we have arrived in or are returning to. Instead our daily rhythm remains loyal to its original biological schedule, telling us to sleep during the day or leaving us wide awake in the middle of the night and sometimes even leaving us feeling weak and disorientated.

Jet lag is worse when you move from west to east because the body finds it harder to adapt to a shorter day than a longer one. GP Dr Dawn Harper from the NHS sleep clinic explains: “Our body clock is primed to respond to a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness. It is thrown out of sync when it experiences daylight at what it considers the wrong time, and it can take several days to readjust.”

Here are some tips we have gathered that we think might be help towards minimising the effects of jet lag.

  1. Try to adapt your sleep routine a few days before you travel. If you are travelling east then go to bed slightly earlier and get up earlier too. If you are travelling west go to bed later and get up later in the morning.
  2. When you book your holiday, try to book a flight that gets you to your destination in the early evening. Stay up until around 10pm local time.
  3. Make sure you’re fully rested before you travel. Booking an airport hotel will ensure you can sleep well before you fly.
  4. If do end up flying on an overnight route, try to get a bit of sleep on the flight. Take a sleep mask and earplugs to facilitate the best rest you can get. It will help you to stay up until nighttime once you arrive at your destination.
  5. Although it isn’t always easy during a flight, try to eat and sleep according to your destination’s local time. Prepare yourself in advance of the flight – you may need to take some food of your own.
  6. When you arrive on holiday or back home then modifying your behaviour can help your body overcome jet lag. There is little point in attending a social gathering as soon as you get there! Try to avoid a long car journey, particularly if you are the driver. Consider a hotel stay instead or cut down on some of the travelling time by booking a meet & greet service to avoid having to collect your car or catch the transfer bus.
  7. Get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. Shutting yourself away in a dark room only makes it worse. Children and young adults may need some gentle persuasion.
  8. The Sleep Foundation recommends Melatonin which is an over the counter product that can also help. Always seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist.
  9. Travellers who take medication according to a strict timetable (such as insulin or oral contraceptives) should seek medical advice from a health professional before their journey.
  10. Keep well hydrated or you will intensify the effects of jet lag. Aeroplanes are particularly ‘drying’ and any alcohol or caffeine will exacerbate the problem and both act as “stimulants” and prevent sleep.

Five Top Ways to Entertain the Children Without a Charger

May 29th, 2015

In some controversial research revealed in The Telegraph last year it was found that more than 80% of parents admitted that handing over devices with games and apps loaded was an easy way to relieve travel boredom. And half of parents said that giving their children electronics as entertainment in turn gave them an hour of respite from complaints.

The research showed just how much parents now rely on mobile technology instead of interactive games with their children, with only 14% considering games such as ‘I Spy’ essential to their trip.

Parenting expert and broadcaster, Liz Fraser said in an interview with The Daily Mail: ‘There’s nothing quite like that sinking feeling when you first hear ‘are we nearly there?’ – often when you’ve only been on the road for ten minutes! Tablets and smartphones are fantastic tools to make the journey more bearable for everyone – and we can all talk about the games together, and interact while they’re playing and learning. I wish they’d been around years ago!’

Well here at Airparks we believe in traditional values, but we are also modern and forward thinking – and we like to think that we are able to service and predict your every need. Our mission is to provide the highest quality secured airport car parking to our customers and every year 0.75 million passengers trust their parking to us. That is a lot of car journeys – and a lot of people. But you’re not just a number to us and we care about your journey and your travel and that’s why, when you come as a family we want you to have had a relaxing journey – not always possible with children. So here are some traditional games to keep things running smoothly – and if all else fails, then the more modern devices can be employed when that traffic gets a little slow! (Remember to bring the chargers in your hand luggage – you may need them!)

  • I Spy: Whilst you are looking for the next services to stock up on coffee, or looking for the next exit that signals your imminent arrival, this game vcan keep the children amused without too much worry. “I spy with my little eye something..” One person spies something beginning with a letter of the alphabet and everyone else takes turns trying to guess the mystery item. Note – some little ones often get the letter wrong. This leads to a very, very long game.
  • Road Trip Bingo: This takes a bit of preparation, but if you make a list of things that you may see along the journey, such as a red car, a yellow camper van etc then give each child a flat surface, such as a clipboard to put on his or her lap then when a player spots one of them on his card, he covers the picture with a one penny piece. Just like in regular bingo, the first player to cover all the squares in a straight line wins. Note: save up your pennies before the journey – and make sure you have spare for the ones that slide into the nooks and crannies of your car.
  • My Grandmother: My Grandmother went to the market and she bought… The first person says, “My grandmother went to market and bought a (noun).”  The second player builds on this by saying, “My grandmother went to market and bought a (first noun) and a (new noun).”  You continue until a player is unable to keep the chain going.  A chain would sound something like this, “My grandmother went to market and bought an anchor, an apple, a bird, a sweater and a car.” Note – this game takes some concentration and adults get into big trouble if they mess it up!
  • 20 Questions: This easy game is a good one for the younger children. Somebody thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess and it keeps going until a player guesses correctly.
  • Activity books such as drawing, colouring or puzzles – are a surefire way to while away the hours. Traditional story or picture books are great if your children love to read, too.
  • Travel games: Main high street shops such as WHSmith all sell magnetic travel games are in many forms, such as Connect Four, Backgammon, Battleship, Chess, draughts. Note: teaching them to play these games before they enter the car will probably minimise any boost to stress levels as you attempt to turn around and explain it as you go.
  • Hangman: Hangman is a quick and easy game that requires nothing more than paper, pencil – and the ability to spell! One player thinks of a secret word, while the other player tries to guess the word by asking what letters it contains. However, every wrong guess brings them one step closer to losing as they start to draw the hangman’s noose!
  • Top Trumps: Top Trumps is an old fashioned game that really has stood the test of time and is still made and bought today. It is a card game published in 1968 and normally contains a list of numerical data with images of all sorts of things – from cars to ponies and toys to animals. The aim of the game is to compare these values to try to trump and win an opponent’s card.
  • Name That Tune: For those with singing/whistling/humming talent, this can be as much karaoke as a guessing game. Choose a theme for the game, such as show tunes, movie or TV themes. The winner gets to be the singer for the next round.
  • PunchBuggy! The concept is that players keep track of how many Volkswagen Beetles they spot on the road. This great fun if your children are relatively sensible! The idea is that you punch your seat mate when you spotted a Bug, counting on your fingers as you go (first to 10 wins) or something more in keeping with the Bug’s peaceful hippie history. Note – this game could all end in tears – and they might not necessarily be the children’s.

Getting to Grips with Travel Gripes

May 19th, 2015

The Airparks Guide to being a Traveller, not a Holidaymaker

There’s nothing like a holiday to look forward to – and there’s nothing like packing up and making those final preparations to go. Releasing your car into our care is the final piece in the jigsaw before your adventure truly begins. You enter the transfer bus and head off……it’s just such a pain that there’s an airport between you and the freedom of your time away!

What is it about an airport that sends people into a spin? Despite being the gateway to adventure it’s impossible to pass through like a summer breeze – there are a whole host of seemingly unnecessary obstacles. These are called holidaymakers. You of course are not one of them. You are a traveller – an adventurer. Holidaymakers are different; they’re the ones with the annoying habits that are spoiling your fun. You could of course avoid them as much as possible by opting for the tranquility of an airport lounge, but if not, then here’s a list of top gripes. Take note of them – be a traveller not a holidaymaker!

1. Water is a Liquid!
Why is it, that despite the signs, despite the many years that this has been the case, there are still people that don’t realise that liquids must go in a re-sealable see-through plastic bag? Every bottle of water, nail varnish and tube of hand sanitizer in the bulging bin by security represents 3 or 4 minutes of frustrating delay in the queuing process. Bag it before you leave, people!

2. Holding up Security
As you are stuck in the inevitable line through the security checks there are several signs to remind you to remove your belt, your shoes, your coins, your mobile phone, your laptop…..these signs are not just to keep folks in the queue entertained – they mean you have to do it. In the queue. Not beside the irritated security officer. That goes for the other members of the family too.

3. Duty Free for all
Airport shops. You can buy a tube of toothpaste or a multi-thousand pound outfit, a diamond bracelet or a Paddington Bear. Whatever you buy, you need your boarding card to verify your purchase. It’s not because of the tax, it’s because they want your marketing information – but have it ready instead of holding up the line of slightly anxious passengers because you have to locate your other-half who’s patiently guarding the bags.

4. Walking Slowly or Standing Still on Airport Walkways
Walking the moving sidewalks make it easier to get from point A to point B. However, they aren’t a ride and you are not in Disney World yet. Meandering along or stopping to browse your mobile can hold up other travellers and put you in an embarrassing and ungainly position when you reach the end. Keep walking, stay to the right and avoid stopping or blocking the way for others. Oh – and nobody thinks it’s funny when you try to walk on it backwards, or forwards whilst going backwards. Old joke.

5. Boarding Traumas
Now there are several different types of people in an airport boarding lounge. Those that get there as soon as the gate number is called, those that arrive at the last minute in a red-faced flurry, those that queue up before their group number is called, those that edge around the outside of the queue and those that remain nonchalantly in their seats with arrogant confidence that ‘the plane won’t leave without us’. Give it too much thought and any of those types can provide fuel for annoyance.

6. Baggage Offences
In one of our previous posts we gave you the rules and guidelines around the size allowed for carry-on luggage. Obviously the holidaymakers didn’t read it. Why do they have more than one bag? A suitcase that doesn’t seem to fit down the isle despite their insistence on trying? A bag that will not fit in the locker without someone revealing their bare tummy as they agitate the carefully stowed luggage around it (squashing your neatly folded coat) to make it fit. Then later, just before take off, they remember something in that luggage that they desperately need. And the process begins again.

7. Seat Etiquette
Never has a sanctioned action made so many so irate. The seat recline button is there for a reason and when it’s our turn to press the button it feels reasonable and right to do so. When it’s you that is pinned by your own tray table in an already restricted environment, it is absolutely the rudest thing that has ever happened and it seems only right that you should ‘tut’ and shove the seat and jiggle the table in disgust. Or does it? What about the armrest? Shared space or a rule of first come first rest? Invasion of territory is a real blood boiler on an aeroplane.

8. All about Timing
Why is it that some people hover their finger over the seatbelt release as if their life depends on it? When that release seatbelt light pings – are there prizes for the first to the draw? No! These are the people who decide that it’s ok to walk around while the flight attendants are heading towards us with the food and drinks trolley, the ones that need to get their book from the overhead locker just as you find a comfortable position for your tiny cushion to support your sleepy head.

9. Overstepping the Carousel
Ok – so this might not be so bad in the excitement of reaching your holiday destination, but you can bet your last piece of foreign currency that it’ll be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you’re on your way home. Why oh why do they find it necessary to crowd around the baggage carousel desperate to be the first to retrieve their luggage? Not only does it mean that you have no view of yours, but it also means that when you do see it, it’s a scrabble to reach, an effort to pull it off and you are likely to injure yourself in the process.

Mind Your Ps and Avoid the Queues!

May 8th, 2015

Your holiday is all booked. You’ve worked for it, waited for it – and paid for it! Finally the day is nigh.

Most of us will be travelling to the airport by car, and it will often involve a few hundred miles of motoring – more than our everyday commute or school run.

The last thing we would want is to hit the buffers with a car-snag before we even get to the Airparks car park (or indeed on the way home afterwards) so what tips are there to reduce the stress and the risk to a minimum?

Let’s break it down into three sections – Mind your Ps!

  • Planning the Journey
  • Preparing the Vehicle
  • Providing for the Passengers

Planning the Journey really does matter!

Start from the point of making sure what time you MUST be at the Terminal by (and monitor any security issues that might mean an earlier arrival) and calculate back from there, working in your route to the Airparks location and transfer-to-terminal time. You can keep an eye on our Airparks Newsfeed to make sure you know if there are any snags en route. We will also keep updating our social media feeds with traffic reports too.

Add an hour for unexpected traffic chaos, dial in some coffee time, and never ever leave yourself tight for time – you simply don’t need the stress of a rushed journey.

Airport hotels offer the chance to start or end your holiday with a touch luxury. They are also a practical and convenient solution to the problem of arriving back to the airport late at night or having to depart early in the morning. Rather than endure a tiring drive home late at night after a draining flight, book a hotel near the airport. You can be in a warm, comfortable bed within minutes of stepping of the plane, and awake the next morning refreshed for the last part of your journey home.

Research the route and get it programmed into your magical electronic gadgets; you might even make some old-fashioned paper/pen/map provisions in case you forget to charge your device!

Time spent planning is rarely wasted.

Preparing the Vehicle is perhaps the most frequently overlooked part of our travel plans. We take it for granted that our modern cars will do what we want, without letting us down. But a few simple checks can go a long way to alleviating the risk of a breakdown.

Here is a simple aide memoir – POWDER

P – Petrol (And this includes Diesel!) So many motorists ‘break down’ for lack of fuel; will you have enough for the mileage (there AND back?) and where can you refuel if you need to? Fill up before you travel – one less job to do on the day.
O – Oil. When DID you last check yours?
W – Water. Coolant and screenwash. A clean screen makes driving – and especially night driving – so much easier and safer.
D – Damage. Does anything need rectifying before you leave?
E – Electrics. Does everything work? ALL the lights checked?
R – Rubber. Tyres and Wipers! Check your pressures, and make sure you have plenty of tread; get any dubious tyres examined or changed.

Providing for Passengers can go a long way to giving you a stress-free journey – especially if you will be travelling with children.

Food and drink, games, books, movies, stops for a leg-stretch or loo – have them all ready. Make sure you will have enough charge or chargers for all the devices in the car!

Most of all – enjoy the trip, and enjoy the Airparks service!

Stepping on the Scales to Travel Light

May 1st, 2015

It’s coming up to the silly season – when all those phrases that we ‘love’ to hear keep cropping up in the press: ‘Bikini body’, ‘Beach Body Ready’, ‘Sexy Summer Abs’, ‘Get in Shape for Summer’, ‘Get the Perfect Beach Bum’, and ‘Summer Slimming’ – not forgetting all those quick fix holiday ‘must haves’.

Well, you’ll be glad to know that we don’t really care whether you’ve fake-tanned, detoxed or consumed your own body weight in celery and cabbage soup to prepare for your holiday! The only thing we care about it making sure that you have a stress-free trip, a wonderful holiday and a smooth, uneventful return home. So we thought we would help, by coming up with suggestions, not based on the result of the scales you stand upon, but the scales that weigh your ‘holiday essentials’ (sorry – that’s another one!).

Here’s some advice that we think will help to do all those things – avoiding stress, making up time and saving money – leaving some extra cash to spend on something such as one of our airport lounges or even an upgrade to get your break away off to a great start by making it even better value for money.

Why consider just taking hand luggage?

Even if it isn’t a business trip or a city break it doesn’t mean that you cannot make hand luggage work for you. If you can pack it efficiently you can make it work for a week or even longer. The benefits are that

  • It’s quicker and less stressful – no need to join a check-in or bag-drop on departure
  • Easier to put on and off the transfer buses
  • No long wait at the luggage carousel
  • Get ahead of everyone else for a taxi or car hire
  • No worry about your luggage going missing, or bursting open
  • Avoid checked-in bag charges, which can be up to £160

What bag should you use?

It’s amazing how many people nowadays will use the small hard cases as their hand luggage bag, simply because they are marketed as being the ‘right’ one. However they’re unforgiving. A hold all or soft-sided bag on wheels could mean that you can fit your belongings far more efficiently and they are lighter to start with too. But before you make the final decision, do make sure that you have checked the hand luggage restrictions for the airline(s) you are travelling with.

Tips for Travelling Light

  • Wear Your Heaviest Clothing. If you are travelling somewhere warm, then the heavy clothes will only be needed whilst you travel. But if you are heading to a cooler destination wear your heavy items like jeans, hooded tops and coats.
  • Pick your Pockets. Use the pockets of the clothes you’re wearing to take heavier items such as phone chargers, cameras and books, which you can then transfer to your bag once you are on board
  • Roll, Don’t Fold. Despite looking as if it were an ironing nightmare, rolling can actually prevent unsightly creases and reduces space. Remember that the insides of shoes can provide storage space for small items too.
  • Be ruthless! Unless you are heading to a catwalk in Milan – you probably don’t need to pack as much as you think you do. Lay out in piles, the outfits you have chosen, along with the shoes, the underwear, and accessories if you have them. Then reduce it by a third! Could you mix up a couple of them to provide more options?
  • Wash and go. Don’t forget that you can only take 100ml bottles of liquid, sealed in a clear plastic bag in your hand luggage. Now is not the time to introduce a whole new range of toiletries to your collection. You can buy small empty bottles from the chemist and add small amounts of your usual ones. It will cut down on expense and limit the use of space. Small travel versions are often available of you need them – such as deodorants.
  • Duty-free. Alcohol, food, tobacco and other items can be bought and carried in one duty free bag. Some airports such as Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester also allow you to buy duty free, collecting it on the way back.

Have you got some packing tips for travellers? Send us your packing pictures and let us be the judge of your expertise!