Destination of the week: Venetian tax dodge
As The Independent reported last week, Venice has imposed a tax of up to €10 per double room per night. A good way to avoid the new charge is to base yourself on the long peninsula known as Lido de Jesolo, on the mainland – and accessible from the main airport, Marco Polo, with frequent buses for a fare of €3.50.
A hotel here – such as the excellent four-star Hotel Victoria Prestige at Via Padova 79 (00 39 04 21 371 100; victoriaprestige.com) – allows you to dip in to the city during the course of a beach holiday. A bus-and-boat connection gets you to Venice, via some of the lagoon's loveliest islands, Murano and Burano.
Warning of the week: No fly? No frills
Last weekend, thousands of British travellers were stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic when airports were closed and flights cancelled ahead of Hurricane Irene.
Passengers booked on EU airlines are entitled to meals and accommodation until they can be flown home. However, Virgin Atlantic has a strict assessment about what constitutes a duty of care.
Travellers who make their own accommodation arrangements are expected to choose a "no-frills/express-type hotel". Passengers travelling alone on a single booking are allowed a hotel room for themselves, but otherwise Virgin insists upon "a minimum of two people sharing one room", which could place in close proxmity work colleagues who happen to be travelling on the same reservation.
Virgin Atlantic will also count your calories. It will accept claims for "breakfast (if it has not been included at the hotel) followed by one snack and one main meal per person per day, plus approximately six regular soft drinks or beverages per person per day".
Bargain of the week: Fly cheaper from Heathrow
BMI (08448 484 888; flybmi.com) has joined the airlines' September sales party with fare cuts from its hub at Heathrow to enticing winter hotspots. Book by 20 September and travel between November and March for fares starting at £98 return to Nice (below), £149 to Marrakech, £189 to Agadir and £338 to Amman.
Tip of the week: Ryanair relaxes
For the past two years, Europe's biggest low-cost airline has insisted that passengers check in online and print their own boarding passes. That policy continues, with a £40 fee for having a boarding pass issued at the airport. But the other element – that you could not amend a booking once checked in – has been relaxed. Ryanair will now allow you to "uncheck" for a fee of £15: you must call the airline (0871 246 0000) to do this, but once you are unchecked you can go to the "manage my booking" section of the website and change dates or names – subject to further fees.