We are hoping to combine a week in Orlando with a week on the US gulf coast this autumn. We understand you need a car to get around, but we've heard that we are likely to be faced with hefty extras.
Jill Crawshaw replies: The so-called "free" cars that come with most fly-drive packages to Florida (or anywhere else in the US) have been the cause of a huge number of holiday complaints in the past few years.
You are likely to have to fork out an extra $40 (roughly pounds 27) per day in extras for the "free" car, for handling fees and Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) supplements for additional drivers. Another problem is that as each aircraft decants its passengers at the same time, they all head for the rental desk, where they may have to queue for an hour or more - not much fun when you are jetlagged.
There could be considerable advantage in taking the shuttle bus or a taxi to your hotel, and picking up the car the next day when you are feeling brighter. You may also find at Disneyland that you don't need a car at all for this first week. The theme park has its own transport,and other attractions have their own services. If you decide you do want a car at Orlando when you arrive, an increasing number of operators now come clean and, after years of pressure by travel writers, they offer pre-bookable all-inclusive car-hire packages; with Thomson Holidays, for example, you pre-pay between pounds 21 and pounds 24 a day, dependent on the date and size of car. This does at least help budgeting problems. Another alternative is to price your flights, accommodation and car hire separately; flights are cheaper after the main summer season, and there is a glut of hotel and motel rooms that can be booked when you're there, on the spot. Specialist car-hire firms will pre-book cars for collection, or even delivery when and where you want them. Holidays Autos, for example, charge from pounds 168- pounds 173 a week for a four-door economy car, including all the extras, for which you'd be paying pounds 24-pounds 27 a day on a "free car" package.
Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, broadcaster and writer.
ARE THERE ESCORTED HOLIDAYS IN EUROPE FOR THE BLIND ... AND IS IT SAFE TO TAKE A TRIP TO BOSNIA?
I heard recently about a company which organised holidays escorting blind people in Britain and Europe. I am interested in taking such a holiday; please could you suggest names of some companies?
Miss J Roberts
The travel editor replies: The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) (tel: 0171 250 3222) issues books detailing worldwide accommodation that is accessible to disabled travellers. The book covering Britain (pounds 7) will not be available until next January, but a book for Europe (pounds 5) can be obtained. Write to RADAR at 12 City Forum, 250 City Road, London EC1V 8AF, enclosing a cheque (above prices include P&P).
RADAR can also suggest various tour operators. One such is Can Be Done (0181 907 2400), which particularly recommends hotels in Switzerland and Finland (rather than Britain) for offering the best facilities for the visually impaired.
I am interested in going to Bosnia and wondered whether you have any information about tours or travel in that country. Any help will be much appreciated.
Upper Breeding, Sussex
The travel editor replies: If travelling by land, there are regular (at least daily) buses from the Croatian cities of Zagreb and Split to Sarajevo. There are as yet no direct flights from the UK but Croatian Airlines fly once weekly (on Thursdays) to Sarajevo via Zagreb; the cheapest available fare from London is pounds 359 + pounds 35 tax. DAT Travel (Tel: 0171 379 6249) is a UK-based tour operator which can arrange flights, accommodation and use of a car in Bosnia.
There is a Holiday Inn in Sarajevo, where rooms can be as much as pounds 100 a night. Otherwise you might stay in private homes. Beyond this, for sketchy information on where to stay and how to get around, you can consult Lonely Planet's Eastern Europe on a Shoestring (pounds 14.99), which has a thin chapter on Bosnia.
Don't forget that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advisory Service still has Bosnia on its list of countries where travel is not recommended unless on "essential business". Uncleared mines are still a major hazard in certain areas.
WILL MY SPECS CRACK IN THE ANTARCTIC?
I wear varifocal glasses with plastic lenses. Being very shortsighted, I'm entirely dependent on these. In a few months' time I'm going to the Antarctic and it suddenly occurred to me that the extremely low temperatures might affect, perhaps crack, the lenses. Am I panicking unnecessarily about this or is there something I should do?
Miss C Dex
Dr Dawood replies: Spectacle lenses should not crack at low temperatures - people who wear spectacles for skiing, for example, do not have that problem. If you are very dependent on your spectacles, however, it would be foolhardy to travel without a spare pair. Varifocals can be expensive, so make sure that your spectacles are covered for loss or damage, either by your travel insurance or by your home contents insurance policy. It is also worth taking a spectacle screwdriver with you, so that you can carry out minor repairs. You should also make sure that you have prescription sunglasses or a clip-on, and an anti-mist spray.
Another important precaution, albeit only for travellers to parts of the world where there might be some prospect of finding an optician, is to carry a written note of your prescription so that a replacement pair can be made up in an emergency; or to carry the phone and fax details of your optician at home, so that a new pair can be sent out. Don't forget that spectacles are a popular target for theft in many countries; I had a pair stolen in Brazil, and I know of several cases of theft from passengers during long-haul flights - particularly in First Class. The only other major hazard to travelling spectacle wearers is DEET, the active ingredient of most insect repellents, which dissolves plastics, and will ruin your lenses and frames.
Whitby & Co at 29 Fleet Street, London, (tel: 0171 353 4455) are opticians with a special interest in travel-related products and problems.
Dr Richard Dawood is Medical Director of the Fleet Street Travel Clinic, London, which provides immunisation and pre-travel health advice by appointment (tel: 0171 353 5678).Reuse content