Q&A: Travel unravelled

Q. I am travelling to Israel later this month. Should I take US dollars? Would travellers' cheques be a better alternative? Lisa Gould, Hertfordshire

A. May is a splendid time to be in Israel (Jerusalem, pictured above). Expect warm days, without the humid intensity that afflicts the coast in high summer. It can be, though, an expensive destination for British visitors, so squeeze the most you can from your sterling.

Given the low crime rate in Israel, you can confidently carry cash. Take sterling and change most of it there. Assuming you will be beginning your trip in one of the big cities, exchange perhaps £20 at a Post Office for around 100 New Israeli Shekels before you leave; there is no commission charge, making this a good source of small amounts of foreign cash.

You'll get better rates for the main part of your spending by shopping around in Israel. Every shopping centre or main street has one or two bureaux de change, which clearly advertise their rates and generally charge no commission.

The keenest rates are for US dollars, with euros close behind. Sterling, as usual, finds itself in a second tier of popularity along with the likes of the Swiss franc and Russian rouble. The "spread" between buying and selling rates is wider than for the $ and €, but even so it is not worth changing pounds to either currency in advance. You can expect a buying rate of around NIS5.75 to the pound.


Q. Is there good local transport direct from Bratislava airport to Vienna? I have been on a transfer coach before but that service has now stopped, I believe. Lisa Black, Wiltshire

A The Terravision website shows the link as "temporarily suspended", but there is a public transport option that has the advantage of letting you get a glimpse of the Slovak capital. On arrival, buy a 90-cent ticket at the machine and board bus 61 for the city, cancelling your ticket immediately (random checks are frequent). From Bratislava's main station, trains run hourly to Vienna's Sudbahnhof, taking 73 minutes. While you presumably want to get to Vienna as quickly as possible, it's worth building in a bit of time on the way back to explore Bratislava's attractive old town.