Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much should I tip in restaurants in Italy?

Q. How much should I tip in restaurants in Italy?

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Is it best to pay for my Palma hotel room with cash, debit or credit card?

Q.  I will be visiting Palma in July and have booked the hotel independently. I was wondering if you could advise me what would be the most economic way to pay the bill? With euros purchased here, with a debit or credit card, or to draw cash in Palma and pay that way?

Frances Eden

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Do you know anything about the Honk Car Rental firm?

Q.  We need to rent a people-carrier for a holiday in Switzerland. I have found a company called Honk Car Rental which promises "We're like those mystery deals you sometimes get for hotels, but instead for car rental". Being very cautious, I follow the maxim, that anything that appears too good to be true, probably is. So before paying for a car, do you know anything about them?

Peter Canton

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Has easyJet let down its passengers with new on-board travel bag sizes?

Q.  With the announcement of the new guaranteed on-board travel bag sizes by easyJet from 2 July, it seems the luggage industry has been caught out. It's almost impossible to find luggage 50 x 40x 20. We have also just bought a 55x40x20 case and it will not qualify after 2 July 2013. Would you agree that easyJet has let down its passengers?

Ken Stone

Middlesex host Kent in May 2009, the first match to be played at Lord's under floodlights

England and Wales to host the 2019 Cricket World Cup

The England and Wales Cricket Board can begin the process of allocating matches for the 2019 World Cup after finalising the hosting agreement with the International Cricket Council.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Have I been overcharged for this minor Emirates booking change?

Q. I booked an Emirates flight to Durban online, with what I was told was a special fare as I am a Skywards member. I chose the departure from Manchester at 2.10pm as our usual departure time of 9pm was not shown on the schedule. This meant a 10-hour wait at Dubai.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can you clear up a disagreement over International Driving Permits in California?

Q. Can you clear something up for me please, a colleague is insisting that I need to purchase an International Driving Permit to drive in California; I have been going to California for nigh on 20 years and I have a full picture driving licence which has always been sufficient. Would you recommend getting an IDP for the future? It seems a bit of a money-making racket to me.

Ed Dunham

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Other than Paris, any ideas for a city break where I can take my daughter?

Q. Simon, it's my daughter's 21st birthday in late August, I'd like to take her on a city break to somewhere not too expensive to get to but which will give her great memories. By the way, we've been to Paris.

Sarah Gee

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can I avoid immigration queues in the US?

Q. I have flight to New York JFK from Bristol via Dublin in July. You said on Saturday that JFK is among the worst in America for long immigration queues. Can I avoid them, and can you point to a web link to show what we do at Dublin?

Patrick Mason, Taunton

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much do I need to worry about the scary advice on Quito in Ecuador?

Q. We've booked to go to Quito in Ecuador, but the advice from the FCO is scary to say the least. Can you advise?

Mike Pennick, Hindhead, Surrey

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Should I buy a separate ticket for a side trip from Australia to New Zealand?

Q I am attending a conference in Melbourne in September, and have been able to secure an extra five days off at the end of it. I want to take a side trip to New Zealand. Should I book a separate ticket or get the flights to and from as part of my main ticket?

John Slater, Stafford

Lord Hanningfield is well-known as the MP who fiddled his expenses

Andy McSmith's Diary: Tories’ Essex man is a gift to Ukip

On an exceptionally good day for Ukip, one of their most extraordinary results was in Essex, where they had no county council seats until today but now have nine. The Tories lost 19 seats. There was a local issue at work here, a leading Essex Tory tells me: the “Hanningfield factor”. Lord Hanningfield is well known in Essex as the former council leader jailed for fiddling his Lords expenses.

David Cameron greets Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan at 10 Downing Street
Lee Bradley Brown was arrested and later died amid allegations that he was beaten in custody

Fresh doubts over Briton Lee Bradley Brown’s death in Dubai

Family of Lee Bradley Brown raise new  concerns as UAE leader visits UK on state tour

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen