Few Bargains at Duty Free

Now with many countries having Goods and Services Tax (GST)
or the similar Value Added Tax (VAT) the tax saving advantage of Duty Free on most goods is only 10-15%.

When you buy at airport shops you may be avoiding duty (including sales taxes) but the rents at these stores are astronomic.

The owners reflect the higher rent, and empoying people 24hours by increasing prices

What Is Cheaper?

Generally anything that has extra taxes if you buy outside the airport.

I find spirits and Liqueurs are about 1/3rd cheaper , typically you get a 1 litre bottle for the same cost as a 0.75 litre bottle at my local supermarket.

With wine there may be a little saving, but without comparative pricing you won’t know.

For the smokers tobacco products give a similar saving to spirits.

What’s Not Cheaper

I haven’t bought my wife duty free perfume for 15 years after I found I could have saved about 40% by buying it at the local discount chemist.

I would expect the same would apply to after shave and most cosmetics.

Chocolates and small gifts will be more expensive.

Electrical goods can often be bought at a local discount store at similar prices and if you have any problems warranty claims are much easier to manage.

Before you buy overseas remember that appliances bought in different countries may not be right for your local power.

Tourist Refund Schemes

The last laptop I bought was from an Australian store just before we went overseas. I presented the laptop and the receipt on my way out and got a refund of 15% which I was very happy with.

Other countries may have similar schemes, although not as easy as Australia’s.

My Travel Hacks

  • Plan to buy Liqueur, in my case Kahlua.
  • Use the Tourist Refund Scheme
  • Know my local prices for anything else.

Bad Facebook Posts

Tigers Nest Bhutan

Do you sometimes get a little bit jealous when your friends go to all those exotic places, like Bhutan, and then rub it in with lots of photographs on Facebook.

Well I have an antidote to that because I make a point of posting bad holiday photographs on facebook.

Most people would post the above photo on their facebook page.

I chose this photo of me, in front of the same view, but with everything hidden by cloud.

Other subjects have been stuck in traffic in Kuala Lumpur, and Venice in the pouring rain.

I must admit I do feel slightly disappointed now if I don’t get one crap facebook post for every holiday.

Buffalo, New York State

My # 1 Under-Rated Destination

Hotel Lafayette

Back in 2017 we went on an eleven week world tour for our 40th wedding Anniversary, and one of our stops was Buffalo.

Most Americans we talked to said “WTF are you going there?”

I must admit we originally only considered Buffalo as a destination because it had an Airport close to Niagara Falls.

When we checked into the Hotel Lafayette and saw the Art Deco lobby, including the Elevators, we started to think there was more to this town than we first thought!

Martin House Complex

Martin House, Buffalo

Frank Lloyd Wright is probably the most iconic American Architect and I am a big fan, so when we found that one of his major houses could be seen that became a second reason to visit.

When we got there we found it’s actually the main house plus two smaller houses.

A local restoration society looks after the Martin House complex and runs regular informative tours.

Naval and Military Park

At Canalside there is an impressive museum.

You can look over three WW2 vessels; A cruiser, destroyer, and a submarine.

In the museum building I was also interested to find a model of USS Wolverine one of only two Fresh Water Paddle Steamer Aircraft Carriers.

You can also take a pleasant boat tour from Canal Side, which takes you along the canal, and around the only Marina that is shaped like a Buffalo (Don’t believe me then search Google Maps for ‘Erie Basin Marina’)

Some Things We Missed

Buffalo City Hall

It was only as we were in the Taxi on the way back to the airport we were told not only could we visit this impressive city hall; we could get a free lift to an observation deck on the top floor.

Exploring the many other Art Deco Buildings in the city

Visiting the Anchor Bar, where the world famous Buffalo Wings were invented in 1964.

Take Different Shirts

Last year I was on a 19 day highlights of China group tour.

One of the men on the tour wore the same kind of blue lightweight shirt every single day!

I hope he had brought a few different shirts and changed shirts every night . . . . . but I wasn’t going to stand next to him to find out.

I usually travel fairly light so I only have a few shirts and wash after each days wear, but they are all different so it is obvious I am changing shirts daily.

What has a fellow traveller done that you thought odd?

Are Window Seats Overrated?

Advantages

Its great to be able to get views like the one in the photo.

Some people like to lean against the side of the plane to sleep. (Although I have never found that much benefit)

You won’t have people asking you if they can get passed.

Disadvantages

On lots of trans ocean flights there is not a lot to see for the majority of the flight.

For long haul the flight attendants want the window blinds closed for the majority of the flight. (They say its so people can see the video screens better. . . . I think they just want everyone to either sleep, or be absorbed in the movies, so there is less for them to do)

If you want to go to the toilet, or just stretch your legs you have to get someone else to move.

My Travel Hacks

  • Well I always go for an aisle seat when travelling long haul, but aim for a window seat for flights less than about 3 hours.
  • If you want the clearest view its best to avoid the side of the airplane that will be in the sun.
  • Use Seat Guru to avoid a seat directly over the wing.

Lost Luggage

I hear that Airlines performance with checked luggage is getting better.

According to a SITA Baggage Report for 2017 about one bag for every 170 passengers fails to arrive at the carousel.

Only a small proportion of those cases are permanently lost, around 1 case per 2,500 customers.

Reason for loss

Almost half of all cases of lost checked in luggage is due to the case going missing when changing planes, particularly when there is a tight connection.

I would say my experience tends to back up the figures in the last ten years and a couple of hundred flights my checked in bags have got missing 3 times.

Twice with transfer times of much less than an hour.

The other time it got held up in immigration at Los Angeles even though the transfer time was 6 hours.

Every time the bags have turned up within 24 hours.

My Travel Hacks

After 3 occurrences I now rarely check in luggage, even if I am travelling for a couple of weeks.

Even when I check in luggage I still have my carry-on with 4-5 days of clothes.

Flying to the US I aim to stay at least one night at the place where I go through immigration.