Modern family: Greece with grown-up kids

A decade after a first family holiday in Greece, Martin Love heads to Paxos and finds it wonderfully unchanged

The five of us stretched out on yoga mats with our toes pointing towards the sea. Above us the breeze stirred the leaves of the ancient olive trees. Emai ed, intoned Sophie. In Greek that means, I am here. She continued in her gentle voice. I am here in Paxos. I have arrived. I have moored on this rock surrounded by sea

Sophie was training to be a mindfulness teacher. When we lay down Id have bet my favourite Speedos that wed soon be in fits of laughter, but not one of us so much as sniggered. We lay in still, neat rows, like sardines, as her soothing words washed over us. After a while, Sophie brought us up from the depths. I hope you are now at one with this island, she said. Wed been on Paxos for less than half a day yet I had the giddy sensation I might just chuck it all in and stay here forever.

Paxos map.

Thats what happened to Sophie. She has now been here for 30 years, moored in Paxos. Back then, she said, there was only one road and just three cars. There dont seem to be many more than that now. Aside from being a mindfulness teacher she is also the owner of Villa Zoe, the house we were staying in. It sits on a cliff overlooking the sea and was built by a captain more than 200 years ago. Today its all wooden shutters, high ceilings and shady terraces, with plenty of quirky features, like an outdoor kitchen and an open-air shower. Its greatest asset, however, is the astounding view an immense sweep of sea and sky. I must have spent half our week gazing towards the glittering horizon.

Greece holds a special place in the list of our favourite family holidays. More than 10 years ago we went there on our first proper trip. We rented a house in Lefkada with a cool pool and drove around in a knackered old car. The kids were 12, 10 and five. Every night we dined in a different taverna. With burnt shoulders and washed hair, wed sit at pretty tables, ordering grown-up food and then, when the children didnt like it, feed it to the stray cats. And here we were again a decade later, with the kids on the cusp of adulthood and almost off our hands. Wed bookended their childhood with holidays in Greece. Would this be the last time it would be just the five of us? Their boyfriends and girlfriends are waiting in the wings.

The
The indoor kitchen at Villa Zoe

But what a bookend Paxos is. Its a craggy idyll garlanded with the bluest water youve ever seen. After much discussion we decided it was the exact aquamarine shade of Listerine. Its the smallest of the seven Ionian islands, 10km long and 4km wide. You cant fly there, you catch a ferry from Corfu, which takes about an hour. Its this last hop which has preserved Paxos from the excesses of mass tourism and, despite a few flash new villas erupting down its eastern flank, you get a sense that not much has changed in years, probably even decades.

To say the pace is unhurried would be an exaggeration even a gang of lethargic sloths would get fidgety here. But you soon adapt to the relaxed starts, long lunches and afternoon snoozes. Whats the rush, anyway? Other than the dazzling blue sea, the first thing that strikes you about the island are the olive trees. They are everywhere. The Venetians first planted them in the 13th century as a source of lamp oil, and now the trees cover 80% of the island. At the last count there were an estimated 250,000 thats about 100 trees for every member of the population.

Terrace
The villas terrace

Most people live in one of three small towns. Gaios is the capital a hilarious notion considering you can walk from one side of it to the other in five minutes. It unfurls itself along a natural anchorage with two tiny islands guarding the entrance, each with its own church. We strolled the length of the quay, ogled the posh yachts and ate ice creams (a fantastic peanut-butter flavour for one child and a disastrous lemon and chocolate combo for me). If you are into people watching this is the place to be. My daughter kept telling me to stop staring. The other two towns are Lakka, built around a horseshoe cove on the islands northern tip, and Loggos the smallest and, everyone agreed, prettiest. All three have quays bustling with traditional tavernas.

The towns are on the sheltered eastern side of the island. Villa Zoe, where we stayed, was on the more rugged west, near a beach called Erimitis. After our mindfulness session, the thing at the front of our minds was to have a first swim. There is little sand on Paxos most beaches are made up of sun-bleached pebbles and the effect, combined with the milky-blue water, is like swimming in a huge aquarium. We dived into the waves as the sun turned the cathedral-like cliffs of Erimitis a delicate pink. We bobbed about in the clear sea, marvelling that wed flown out of Gatwick that morning.

Cocktail
Cocktail hour Martin and daughter Liberty at Bens Bar. Photograph: Martin Love

The best way to take in Paxos is to hire your own speedboat. All three town harbours offer boats, which cost from 35 (30) for the day (plus petrol). It takes about 90 minutes to blast round the island, but youll definitely want to take all day as there are so many coves, cliffs and beaches to explore. We bought a picnic from the bakery in Loggos, packed sun hats and goggles and headed out. The children took turns at the wheel, carving white wakes across the azure surface. We nudged the boat into a huge cave, scared ourselves by swimming through a dark rocky cleft, and finally anchored in our own cove for lunch. It was a perfect day despite the fact ice leaked over the spanakopita and we had to dry the soggy spinach pie on the deck before we could eat it.

Also be sure to head to Antipaxos, a smaller and even more idyllic island a mile south of Paxos. Its home to a few sheep, and two of the most beautiful beaches this side of the Caribbean Vrika and Voutoumi. Its also quite funny to say: Actually, Im quite Anti Paxos!

Everyone you meet on Paxos asks which is your favourite beach as if your choice will give them some vital clue to your personality. There are dozens to choose from. For us it was a toss up between Mamari, which is lined by olive trees, and the stunning half-crescent of Kipiadi.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/aug/13/modern-family-paxos-with-the-grown-up-kids

Concrete thinking’s in fashion at Brussels’ brutalist Jam Hotel

Budget hotels always offer basic, boxy rooms, but not many are as creative as this alternative gem in the Belgian capital

Brussels is a city of grand townhouses and art nouveau. Yet plonked in the middle of the Belgian capital, on a nondescript street corner, has appeared a hotel that looks like downtown LA had it been swallowed by lava. An old 1970s art college has been redesigned and rebuilt, by people who usually make film sets, to become the oddest, most fashionable, most affordable stopover in Europe.

The reception desk is held up by a pair of motorcycles dipped in concrete above it rest maquettes, Paolozzi-like little bricks of angles and texture. Three guests under 10 years old leap joyfully between leather sofas and concrete benches while they wait for their parents to check into one of the Supra rooms which sleep five, one up by the ceiling, in what they call a cabine bed.

In my bedroom, the roughness of concrete and cement is softened by elegant plywood, glowing in the bright light of those office-wide windows. To the right of the double bed, above a built-in sofa, a ladder climbs up to what looks like a cupboard. But slide the doors open and here is the promised cabine bed. Its sleek neatness is pleasing, its promise of claustrophobia less so.

In a place where every corner hides a new, brutalist thrill, this is the most exciting aspect of the Jam Hotel. As well as the family rooms for up to six there is a boutique dormitory, a vast room of bunkbeds and Japanese-style cabins, their plywood doors in flashes of primary colours, and available for 18 (15) a night per person.

The
Lane swim the thin pool on the rooftop.

Upstairs on the roof, theres a pool. Nobody would call it a swimming pool. Its a long rectangle of water designed for plunging into on hot days, or for submerged drinking at night. The sunset is pink and yellow in the rooftop bar, which is alive with handsome locals from 6pm.

Huge slices of concrete tunnelling, once sewer pipes, decorate the wall by the terrace; at the other end of the room, windows look out on to a wildish garden. You see the trickling greenery from the restaurant, too, an old car park where lamps made from drainage connector pipes are held in place by luggage straps. Wood offcuts become cubist collages on the walls.

The food is Italian and good: vast bowls of pasta in the evenings, with a griddle for guests to fry their eggs at breakfast. Which is helpful because, at times, the staff can be almost as brutal as the design. This is not a May I take your bags to your room? kind of place, or even a sure, we have a plug adapter you can borrow kind of place, but its almost better for that casualness, which suits the brilliant, bonkers austerity of the building.

This is one of a group of alternative Belgian hotels that are run by Jean-Michel Andr, a hotelier aiming to innovate the industry. They offer experiences, he says. I note that as well as bikes, there are skateboards for guests to borrow.

Concrete
Tube planner concrete pipe sections in the bar.

The interior designer, Lionel Jadot, came up with the hotels name he was thinking of traffic. He said he treated the ground floor like a big constructivist sculpture and its an odd feeling, emerging from this romantic bleakness into streets of neo-classical architecture.

In one direction is Place Stphanie, which spiders out towards a strip of fashionable shops, with signs that urge you to Instagram yourself beside their displays and drink coffee among the handbags. In the other direction, a 20-minute walk downhill to Place du Jeu de Balle, is the Old Market. Its been here since 1854, a maze of blankets thrown down and strewn with masks and books and bartering old men.

If you kneel down and dig through the cardboard boxes, its even possible to find vintage ceramics similar to those that appear up the hill, like paint splashes on the hotels grey concrete surfaces.

However, if youre attempting to recreate the Jams interior, it will take a little more than a morning at the market.

Way to go

Dorm rooms cost from 18 (15) a night, while a room sleeping six costs from 150 (128) at Jam Hotel, Brussels (jamhotel.be). Eurostar operates up to 11 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels, with fares from 29 one way (eurostar.com)

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/apr/23/jam-hotel-brussels-belgium-review-budget-travel

Concrete thinking’s in fashion at Brussels’ brutalist Jam Hotel

Budget hotels always offer basic, boxy rooms, but not many are as creative as this alternative gem in the Belgian capital

Brussels is a city of grand townhouses and art nouveau. Yet plonked in the middle of the Belgian capital, on a nondescript street corner, has appeared a hotel that looks like downtown LA had it been swallowed by lava. An old 1970s art college has been redesigned and rebuilt, by people who usually make film sets, to become the oddest, most fashionable, most affordable stopover in Europe.

The reception desk is held up by a pair of motorcycles dipped in concrete above it rest maquettes, Paolozzi-like little bricks of angles and texture. Three guests under 10 years old leap joyfully between leather sofas and concrete benches while they wait for their parents to check into one of the Supra rooms which sleep five, one up by the ceiling, in what they call a cabine bed.

In my bedroom, the roughness of concrete and cement is softened by elegant plywood, glowing in the bright light of those office-wide windows. To the right of the double bed, above a built-in sofa, a ladder climbs up to what looks like a cupboard. But slide the doors open and here is the promised cabine bed. Its sleek neatness is pleasing, its promise of claustrophobia less so.

In a place where every corner hides a new, brutalist thrill, this is the most exciting aspect of the Jam Hotel. As well as the family rooms for up to six there is a boutique dormitory, a vast room of bunkbeds and Japanese-style cabins, their plywood doors in flashes of primary colours, and available for 18 (15) a night per person.

The
Lane swim the thin pool on the rooftop.

Upstairs on the roof, theres a pool. Nobody would call it a swimming pool. Its a long rectangle of water designed for plunging into on hot days, or for submerged drinking at night. The sunset is pink and yellow in the rooftop bar, which is alive with handsome locals from 6pm.

Huge slices of concrete tunnelling, once sewer pipes, decorate the wall by the terrace; at the other end of the room, windows look out on to a wildish garden. You see the trickling greenery from the restaurant, too, an old car park where lamps made from drainage connector pipes are held in place by luggage straps. Wood offcuts become cubist collages on the walls.

The food is Italian and good: vast bowls of pasta in the evenings, with a griddle for guests to fry their eggs at breakfast. Which is helpful because, at times, the staff can be almost as brutal as the design. This is not a May I take your bags to your room? kind of place, or even a sure, we have a plug adapter you can borrow kind of place, but its almost better for that casualness, which suits the brilliant, bonkers austerity of the building.

This is one of a group of alternative Belgian hotels that are run by Jean-Michel Andr, a hotelier aiming to innovate the industry. They offer experiences, he says. I note that as well as bikes, there are skateboards for guests to borrow.

Concrete
Tube planner concrete pipe sections in the bar.

The interior designer, Lionel Jadot, came up with the hotels name he was thinking of traffic. He said he treated the ground floor like a big constructivist sculpture and its an odd feeling, emerging from this romantic bleakness into streets of neo-classical architecture.

In one direction is Place Stphanie, which spiders out towards a strip of fashionable shops, with signs that urge you to Instagram yourself beside their displays and drink coffee among the handbags. In the other direction, a 20-minute walk downhill to Place du Jeu de Balle, is the Old Market. Its been here since 1854, a maze of blankets thrown down and strewn with masks and books and bartering old men.

If you kneel down and dig through the cardboard boxes, its even possible to find vintage ceramics similar to those that appear up the hill, like paint splashes on the hotels grey concrete surfaces.

However, if youre attempting to recreate the Jams interior, it will take a little more than a morning at the market.

Way to go

Dorm rooms cost from 18 (15) a night, while a room sleeping six costs from 150 (128) at Jam Hotel, Brussels (jamhotel.be). Eurostar operates up to 11 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels, with fares from 29 one way (eurostar.com)

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/apr/23/jam-hotel-brussels-belgium-review-budget-travel

One-Way Ticket To Italy: 5 Things That Made Me Reevaluate My Wanderlust

Want to know what its like to buy a one-way ticket to a foreign country for an indefinite period of time?

When I told my family and friends I was packing up and going to Italy, I didnt hear a single person say, “Why? Thats a bad idea.”

Thats because people are drawn to travel. The idea of leaving our boring, old routines and dull, daily experiences is enticing.

For me, the idea of graduate school, getting a big-girl job or moving home with my parents made my stomach turn.

Travel is exciting, and traveling without a plan to come home? Well, that seemed even better.

So, I graduated early from college. I left two jobs I couldve advanced in, and I said goodbye to a solid foundation of family and friends in Colorado.

With good savings and not much of a plan, I moved in with a foreign family in the Tuscan hills to teach their kids English.

Sounds like an Italian dream, right?

Well, sort of.

There isn’t a single day that has passed when I regret leaving. Butevery day here has alsomade me feel so stressed and confused.

I have to continuously drown out the little voice in my head that says, What the hell are you doing here?

I know what Im doing here.

Im experiencing the independence of living halfway across the world, and Im in love with the food, the culture and the history.

Its all incredible to be a part of.

When catcalls are replaced with kisses on the cheek and Ciao, bella, I know Ill never put up with American college boys ever again.

But, this is not a dream.

I dont understand 90 percent of what people say to me. Theres dog poop on the sidewalk and smelly men sitting next to me on the bus.

This is real life, where things tend to go wrong as often as they can.

I moved in with a nightmare of a family who decided not to pay me when I told them I was leaving.

My friend got drugged at a bar and woke up in the hospital without any memory of what happened.

My purse containing every dollar I have, my debit card, the WiFi device that makes my phone work and numerous other small things was taken directly from my feet at a coffee shop.

Extended travel to is not an extended vacation complete with nice meals out, tour guides and a million photographs.

In a foreign city, you have to make

You have to make a lot of adjustments when you’re in aforeign city, where you simultaneously get kicked in the ass and slapped in the face from all the mistakes you inevitably make.

But, the beauty does show up eventually.

During the small moments, you’re given a chance to catch your breath and realize exactly what you’ve gone though.

Im notnave to how much this experience is changing me for the better, but nobody said change was easy.

Its important to understand the reality of the fantasy that is so prevalent in our culture.

Without a study abroad program to plan my semester, my moms hug on rough days, consistent access to my phone and the Internet or any familiar faces, I present to you my reality of living halfway across the world:

1. The best way to understand a culture is to live like a local.

My father is from Italy, and I visited multiple times with my family when I was a child. So, I had a leg up on some of the surprising customs that come with the Italian lifestyle.

But really, you dont completely understand a culture until you live in it day in and day out.

Simple things like learning how public transportation works, how to appropriately greet the locals and speak their language and how not to give a single f*ck about the rules of driving through the streets become hard to master.

For me, these daily changes hold the truest value of travel.

I see groups of tourists waddle on by with McDonald’s. (Sorry, America, but its true).

I hear sorority girls in their leggings talk about how drunk they got last weekend.

I listen to my new German friends criticize cultures that dont follow German standards, refusing to let a new way of life make its way into their minds.

To me, this isnt a great way to travel. This is just passing through.


2. Things will go wrong, so learn to laugh at them.

Even when you’ve perfectly analyzed every situation to avoid all obstacles, something will eventually go wrong.

Flights get canceled, trains get delayed, things get stolen and the weather doesnt cooperate with your plans.

Thats how life goes.

The sh*tty situations will eventually turn into precious, pivotal moments, though they seem like the end of the world at the time.

I tend to see things with such serious eyes, forgetting how incredible it is to wake up in Italy each morning.

Laugh at the blunders. The less seriously we take it all, the easier our lives become.


3. People at home will not understand what youre going through.

I love Skyping my friends at home. Theres something so relaxing about their smiles, voices and stories.

But, the only friend Ive been able to relate to is the one who is currently in Africa experiencing similar, independent, long-term travel.

He understands the stress that comes with a life like this.

So much of friendship is built upon relating to one another and feeling understood and accepted.

After college, we go our different ways. Paths change, and so do the dynamics of friendship.

Its more difficult to empathize with someone when you have no idea what he or she is going through.

Accepting travel as a personal experience, rather than something your friends must validate is, in my opinion, a crucial rule to indulging in all it has to offer.


4. Comfort has an entirely new value.

Im talking about that oversized hoodie, long drives in your old car, waking up to your best friends in your bed and walking through familiar streets.

Say goodbye to that for a very long time.

These everyday things we take for granted and often want to escape are what we value when were so far away from home.

We have the option to rebuild this type of comfort wherever we are, but it takes a lot of time to develop.

In the meantime, you learn to find comfort in the smallest of things, and you become comfortable with being really uncomfortable.


5. Insecurities dont disappear; they rise up when you’re out of your comfort zone.

Many of us have this idea that if we leave a place, our problems in that place will stay there, and we can safely escape.

This couldnt be further from the truth.

Problems become amplified.

They grow and grow, and then they are thrown right back in your face, giving you no option but to honestlylook at yourself.

Old patterns have a way of repeating themselves despite your location, and they demand attention if you want to keep your sanity.

Whether it’s addiction, old resentments that were pushed aside or undesirable personality traits, they are all increased with unfamiliarity and stress.

Living in denial becomes less of an option the further you push the boundaries of what you can handle.

Extended travel is, without a doubt, difficult work.

It’s not fantasy, but there are incredible moments everywhere when the beauty of travel becomes so clear.

This reminder of why I left and why Im staying here, despite the difficulties, is my motivation to stay.

Not only do I want a kickass story to tell my kids, but I want the confidence and reinforced bravery that tells me this type of adventure is worth the struggle.

Simply put, there are some things that must be personally experienced to be understood, and this is one of them.

With age comes fewer chances to travel, learn and grow without any other commitments.

So, I say, go now.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/re-evaluate-wanderlust/1239982/

14 Things That Will Inevitably Happen If You Date A Woman Who Loves To Travel

She can stand out of the crowd or be the one who prefers to sit quietly in the corner. She has seen a lot and has a lot of stories to tell. She can be the type to disclose all of her most extravagant experiences upfront, or she may prefer to remain mysterious until the time is right. She is a traveler, and if you date her, you will be in for some adventures, both big and small.

1. Your schedule will always be filled

Travelers are planners at heart. They are always planning something, whether its a major getaway, a night out after work, or even a new activity to try out at home. When you date a woman who travels, expect your schedule to become as packed as hers. She lives to experience things, and breathes to be immersed in new cultures and activities. Shes the kind of person who, whenever she can, will take you to a French cooking class after work or to a nearby town youve never heard of on the weekend. Sometimes, your plans will change at the minute because something new or unusual came up and she want to go.

2. You will learn to dedicate time to yourself

Her travels have taught her to be comfortable with enjoying time by herself. She lives to be free, and believes that being at peace with yourself makes you a better person. If you want to spend time with your friends or family, she wont be upset. Rather, she will enjoy her alone time. And eventually, when she makes plans on her own, you will learn to enjoy solo time as well.

3. You will become more humanitarian

She has probably seen the worse of things such as a family of five living in a single-room hut, people growing their own crop to feed their families, and people who have to go to the river to wash their clothes. If you complain about something mundane like the dishwasher being broken, she will tell you stories about what she has seen and give you a reality check. Travelers learn to become compassionate; they always help people when they can. Dating one will turn you into someone who will learn to think about the hardships that many people in the world have to go through, and appreciate the lifestyle that you live.

4. Youll learn laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously

Youll go on adventures and do things that youre not exactly comfortable with. You will make a fool of yourself trying to order ice cream in a different language, or surprise yourself with the grass hat-making talent you never knew you had. People will laugh at the way you act and dress. You will laugh at the way other people do certain things. You will screw up directions, miss trains and misunderstand instructions. You may get frustrated. But then, you will realize that lifes like that, and its absurdities are what makes it worth living.

5. Shell choose adventure over Netflix and Chill

Shell stay in and catch some Netflix (or not) once in awhile. But she will be more content, and less bored, if you take her on more adventurous dates. Or even better, if you let her take you on an activity-filled date. Hit the town and try street food you havent tried before. Go for a photo walk in the in the woods or on the mountains. Take a painting class, or find a way to get creative at home.

6. She wont be impressed by expensive materials

She wont care about whether you drive a Porsche or some tiny old car. She has most likely traveled in run-down trains, cars with broken windows, and rickety scooters. She will just be happy if it can get her where she wants to go. She wont spend $100 on jeans because she knows that the train ticket she can get with that will be more worthwhile. There is no need to buy her an expensive watch; she lives in the moment and can define time by nature. Impress her by spending time with her, taking her to new places and trying new things with her.

7. You will achieve things you never thought possible

She will take you on adventures with her and encourage you to try things you never thought you would. Maybe youll conquer your fear of heights while paragliding, or swim with sharks and get closer to these giant creatures than youve ever imagined. Or, maybe youll realize you have hidden baking, artistic or athletic talents that you would not have discovered on your own.

8. You will grow as a person

You will walk alongside the rich and you will feel overwhelmed. Then, you will walk amongst the poor and feel grateful for everything you have. Whether youre at home or on the road, she will share her passion for trying new dishes, learning new languages and seeing the world in a different way. And every new perspective will shape you as a person.

9. You will feel like you cant keep up with her

She is always on the move. She always finds the best travel deals and leaves for trips on a short notice. If theres something interesting going on in town, a cultural festival, the opening of a new restaurant or a unique opportunity to learn something new, she wont want to miss it. She talks to strangers and is constantly expanding her network of those who share her passions. She makes friends everywhere she goes and has an extremely active social life. She will tell you about where she has been and about the crazy things she wants to do next. Just listening to her can get overwhelming. But dont give up. Support her in all that she does, because she will more than support you when you tell her about your crazy plans.

10. You will become better at teamwork

Sometimes in relationships, you have to compromise to make things work, especially if your tastes are a bit different. Sometimes, you may find it better to do things separately. Theres nothing wrong with that – thats just the nature of relationships. But sometimes, especially when traveling together, you wont be able to do things apart. You will find yourselves in situations where you absolutely have to meet each other halfway. Youll get lost in a foreign city or confused at some everyday activity and youll have no choice but to work with each other to find the solutions. Travelers are natural team players. Theres always room for teamwork development, and being with her is perfect for that.

11. You will learn to follow your dreams

She lives her life to the fullest and always follows her dreams. Once she envisions a destination, she will work hard to get there and when she does, she makes every minute count. Shell encourage you to talk about your dreams and ambitions and will support you on your journey there.

12. You wont settle down right away

Dont expect her to have a life plan. Sure, she might like the idea of settling down, starting a family and buying a house, but not now. Right now, her mind is on going with the flow. She wants to explore the world and be as spontaneous and free as she can. If you date a woman who travels, be prepared go where life takes you. Indulge in each other and all the pretty things that life has to offer. And when the time is right to settle, you will both know.

13. Sometimes, you will feel unneeded

She doesnt need you. Shes used to being faced with the unknown and dealing with problems by herself. She wont need your help to light the barbecue or fix her computer. She will turn down your offers to pick her up because she would rather enjoy the walk on the sunny day. Shes often told that shes too independent, and shes proud of it.

14. But most of all, you will know youre wanted

She knows a rare gem when she sees one. Shes not afraid to go to the extra mile for something that pleases her, and when she finds it, she treasures it and keeps it close to her heart. She doesnt need you, but she wants you. She will hold on to you, even if she is on the opposite side of the world. And you should hold on to her too, because a lifetime of adventures will come your way.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kimberley-chan/2015/11/14-things-that-will-inevitably-happen-if-you-date-a-woman-who-loves-to-travel/

Tell-Tale Signs of Dangerous Driving

It doesn’t always matter how many years people have been on the road, whether ten months or ten years, there are still some dangerous drivers out there. As the word suggests, there’s never going to be a clear-cut way to avoid road accidents but there are still some top tips to help to spot and avoid dangerous drivers.

It’s important to take note of both speeding and slow-moving vehicles. If a car in front is driving too slowly then don’t make any rash decision when trying to overtake. On winding roads, never overtake on a bend, and on a motorway, make sure there’s no speeding driving coming up behind you. Equally, if a car in front or behind is driving faster than the speed limit or fast in dangerous weather conditions, don’t feel as though you have to match their speed. It’s easy to find yourself matching the speed of a car in front even when it’s dramatically over the speed limit.

Unfortunately, there are many lazy drivers on our roads, too. Those who do not use their signalling correctly, whether they are pulling out of a junction or changing lanes on the motorway, are putting themselves at you at risk so always try and keep a safe distance if you spot this type of driver.

Of course there are many other types of dangerous drivers; those who use their mobile phones without a hands-free kit (remember this is also illegal), those swerving (could be a sign of a drink-driver), drivers who tailgate and even drivers that use the middle lane when the left-hand one is free.

It’s not just because each of these individual actions are dangerous. No, it’s because those who do any of the above are clearly not considerate or conscientious drivers. Although the number of road accidents and deaths decreased between 2009 and 2010 (2011 figures are yet to be released), there are unfortunately still thousands of accidents caused every year by dangerous drivers.

What Decisions Affect Your Auto Loans

There are many things that will affect you when you start looking at auto loans. Lenders are very fussy when it comes to giving away money. They want to be sure up front they have a chance of getting it back. Plus interest, of course.

The problem is not the money, you can make the payments. It is the part where you were late on other bills that could be causing your problem. Once they see those receipts they automatically consider you a high risk client. Most businesses do not want to deal with the risk.

This will show up on your credit history when the lenders do your credit check. When they see it they will consider you to be a slow pay so this will put you in a higher risk category. If you are slow with other companies you might be slow with them as well.

Comparison shopping of a lot of companies can let you find those who could give you a loan. By looking at the ones that provide this instead of the ones who are less interested you also save yourself time. Then narrow your efforts to the one who can handle the loan amount that you need.

Your next question will be where to find this loan. The best one available is necessary because it has to be affordable and with a reputable company. Not all companies that you talk to offer the same rates or the same loan amounts. To make your search easier and quicker, the internet will have all of the businesses you need listed.

Shopping around can give you information on all of the available loan companies and what they have to offer. You can comparison shop in your spare time until you have found the perfect loan. You can chat with them to get more info and then make your decision. When you are ready it will also be simple to apply for your loan.

Choosing The Right Luggage For Travel

While planning for an out of town trip, many steps are available that can make packing the necessary items a more simple and stress-free process. When preparing for a trip, it is important to consider purchasing a complete set of great quality luggage. This initial investment will pay for itself when the cases continue to be used throughout the coming years.

Leisure pursuit such as vacations or visits to family in distant locations and trips taken for business will all benefit when a complete luggage set is purchased. The price may seem a bit high at first, but the investment is well worth it when the number of dependable future uses is considered. There will be no need to replace the luggage set after a few uses as there would be with those sets made of lesser quality materials and construction.

Choosing a set with good, sturdy zippers is a must for obvious reasons. The interior should offer compartments and niches as well. These are great for organizing the items placed inside so that they stay secure and are simple to locate when needed. These also ensure that the contents inside the bag stay nice and neat.

An outside pocket is also a nice feature. Rather than having to open the whole bag, outside compartments offer easy access to things such as plane tickets, travel directions, medications, and other items that need to be kept close at hand. This is also a great place to store a magazine or a book to ease the boredom of any unexpected delays.

A retractable handle is an important feature and the addition of wheels is a must-have. Once packing is complete, many suitcases are much too heavy to carry comfortably for a long distance. Smaller pieces of the set can most likely be secured to larger cases giving the ability to roll along multiple bags comfortably at once.

The ability to add a lock to a bag is also important to think about. These locks offer a measure of security while the luggage goes through transit as well as when the bags are left unattended in an empty hotel suite. Styles are widely available in a number of sizes to suit any bag and may be opened with a key, combination, or both.

An additional bonus that is gained when a nice, matching set is purchased is that the pieces are also pleasing to the eye. If the print or color is unusual, this also helps a person to more easily spot the correct bags at the baggage pick up location. Another plus of a unique design is the lowered risk of another person picking up the wrong bag by accident when the style chosen is very common and widely available.

Traveling needs to be as stress free as it can possibly be. There are so many other factors to consider, luggage should not be an issue. Avoid malfunctions and problems by investing in a dependable set of bags that will give great service for many travels in the years ahead.

Auto Loans To Purchase Affordable Transportation Now

Many consumers find it difficult to come up with the cash to buy an vehicle when they need new transportation. Most vehicles bought today are purchased with auto loans. Buyers pay a certain amount as a down payment and are required to make periodic payments to cover the money financed along with interest charges on the outstanding balance.

While increasing the term of the loan can lower payments, it is important that the loan term is not longer than the usable life of the car. By making this mistake, many buyers find that they are still paying for a vehicle that is no longer serviceable. It is usually better to make a slightly larger payment to ensure the vehicle is still useful when paid in full.

Many new car buyers find that they are upside down on the amount of money owed on the vehicle. Since new vehicles drop rapidly in value when driven off the car lot, the owner may owe more money than the car is worth. Buyers who make larger down payments or have a higher trade in value on their vehicle can avoid this common problem. Choosing quality used vehicles can also prevent the drastic initial loss.

Consumers generally get better financing by shopping for the loan before shopping for a car. While many dealerships offer to finance vehicles for buyers, the interest rates are usually higher. Consumers that take the time to locate their own financing for a vehicles often save the most money.

It is easier to make rational decisions concerning financing before one is struck with new car fever from shopping and test driving the new vehicles. Consumers that arrange financing before shopping are less likely to overspend for transportation.

Auto loans help consumers to get the vehicles they need now. The financing allows consumers to have dependable vehicles for their transportation needs.

Car Security Alarms Can Potentially Put a Stop to Break Ins

If you have been carrying out some research into auto body shop Chicago il, then you may possess a decent idea of what is known. But we have noticed that not all of it can be useful, it just depends on your particular needs. As always, you may possibly have to branch out and look in places you had not thought about, yet. Yes, it can be disheartening when you think you have all you need, but you actually do not. Putting together the big picture for any subject is often not easy or fast with online research. You can really feel free to include the following info about this topic into your research findings.

We all live in a world where lots of the people don’t seem to be very trustworthy. If getting the car stolen would create a inconvenience for you, you need a car alarm. Bad problems happen to good people everyday, but there are certain things that are easy to protect against. You definitely should do something to defend your car from thieves if it’s not stored in a garage. A number of cars come with an alarm, but most will probably need to have one added.

You definitely do not need to have your car stolen, and there are safety measures you can take. There should not even be a concern about it, but a burglar alarm is a great thing. Ordinarily a car thief doesn’t have any idea there’s an alarm until he suddenly sets it off. What have just discussed is crucial for your understanding about auto body shops Chicago, but there is a lot more to think about. However is that all there is? Not by a long shot – you really can expand your knowledge greatly, and we will help you. It is difficult to determine all the different means by which they can serve you. Gaining a high altitude overview will be of immense value to you. But we have saved the best for last, and you will know what we mean once you have read through. What is also nice about an alarm system is when you forget about something that could be expensive, and you leave it in the car, if it is broken into, the alarm will go off. A standard security alarm makes such a racket that the ordinary thief just scurries off right away. Think of having your car or truck outside your residence and the alarm goes off. No matter what time of day it happens to be, it should lead to enough commotion that no one would hang around long enough to finish robbing your car.

Find out if your car has an alarm and, if so, read all about how it works. You have to know what things can set it off, and the way to turn it off. And make sure it’s working – it will do you very little good if it’s not. If your car failed to provide an alarm, then you should obtain one, because they do work. Never delay ’til your car is broken into to think about purchasing a car alarm – that’s too late. Naturally, you want to buy a security alarm before anything bad happens.

Talk to your local car dealership to find out which system would be best for your car. The right alarm system won’t cost too much but still provide the features you need. It is one thing to have a garage to park your car at night, but if not, and you have to park outside, you need protection. Same thing, in case you have to park some place throughout the day at the office, or at other times.

Also remember, there might be other valuable items that thieves covet in your car, things like CD players, stereo systems and more. Car alarms frighten the you-know-what out of almost all would-be thieves, especially youngsters.