I don’t know about you, but as we get towards summer (well at least out of winter…) I start to think about having a holiday. Much as I love my work, it’s fun to get away, too!
And as I sat down to write this, it crossed my mind how useful computers, the internet, tablets, smartphones and so on are for organising holidays. It can make it totally different from before they existed.
Before them, you might book a holiday based on what you read in a brochure or were told by a travel agent. And you might find out a bit more about the place by reading a guidebook.
But now you can find out so much more before you go. I think that’s a really good thing – you can be more certain that it’s a place you’ll enjoy and also you can find out more before you go to make sure you don’t miss the things you’d really like to see. To say nothing of how it means you can enjoy the fun of the holiday more before you even go!
Even if you prefer to actually book your holiday through a travel agent or over the phone, you can still find out a lot about the place online first.
So I thought I’d pass on some tips about using computers and so on to help with holidays – before and even while you’re away.
First of all, you can research the areas – the simplest way is to just type the place name into Google. Or you can type in the place name along with “tourist information” and you’ll usually get the official tourist information page along with some others.
Say you’re thinking of going to Normandy in France and are considering two different towns. You can go onto Google Maps and type in the name of each one in turn and see how the town is laid out, what’s nearby, what the transport is like – and if you want even drop the little yellow man onto the map to go into “StreetView” mode and wander around the streets, all on your PC or tablet.
You can also look up transport. Not just to get to wherever you’re going on holiday, but transport while you’re there. It can be helpful if you’re planning on driving everywhere – in which case you might want to check what parking is like in the places you might visit. Or if you’re planning to use public transport – in which case you can look at where buses go from and to, what times, when trains run and whether you might get caught out if they stop early on a Sunday.
Or if you want to walk around a town, you can check how far everything is so you know whether it’ll be a quick stroll or a long hike.
Of course, you can also look up the local sights. You can just type “Things to see in Bognor Regis” into Google (obviously if you’re going somewhere else, don’t type Bognor Regis in…) and get a list of ideas. But even if you already have a few places in mind, you can check on the web when they’re open, what parking is like there, how much it costs, what the best way to get there is and often get an idea of how long to allow.
If you’re driving to your holiday, checking the route on Google Maps can be helpful as well. A lot of people have Sat Navs nowadays but even so it can be a good idea to have a rough idea of the route beforehand. And If there are some junctions or turnings that look like they might be hard to recognise, you can use Google Streetview to get a good idea of what they look like beforehand – you might be able to notice that the turning you want is just after the two tall trees or the funny looking narrow building or whatever.
You can even use the internet to book hire cars for while you’re away, sometimes book tickets for things you want to do while you’re away that you need to book in advance… or even book the whole holiday!
Oh, and one clever trick my wife came up with – before we go she orders a supermarket delivery to our house for the day after we get back. That way we don’t have to worry about doing a big shop when we get back. As long as we’ve got enough milk for a cup of tea and something to eat that night, we’re all right.
Funnily enough as I’ve written this I’ve realised there are quite a few things technology can be handy for when you get back from holiday – and even while you’re there. But they might have to wait until next time!
Advance Warning (but you’re in time)
Since you’re a reader of my emails, I wanted to give you advance warning that on the 2nd May, we’ll be putting the prices of some books up.
The ones currently priced £11.97 will go up to £12.97. My calculator tells me it’s an 8.3% increase.
The books have been £11.97 for a long time – in fact, that’s what they were when I first launched the Computers One Step at a Time book back in 2005, 12 years ago. (Hello to anyone who’s been reading since the early days – I know there are several people still reading my emails from then!)
Meantime everything from the paper we print on to rent on our little warehouse to employing people to answer the phones has got more expensive.
But the reason I wanted to mention it now is that it’s not happening until the 2nd May. So if there’s a book you’re thinking of getting, you might want to order it before then.
Of course, by sending this email, I’m telling you how to pay a bit less than you otherwise would, so it might seem odd I’m suggesting it! But since you’re a reader of these emails, I wanted to give you the chance to get in before the price increase, rather than suddenly spring it on you!
You don’t need any special code or anything – simply if you order before the 2nd May, whether it’s on the phone at 01229 777606 or online or by post, then you’ll get the old, lower price. Since today (Monday) is a bank holiday, we don’t have our full staff in, so if you’d prefer to ring you might be best waiting until Tuesday. Or you can read a bit about each book online:
If you want to have a browse of what books we do so you can order any you want before the increase, you can have a look at the affected books here (including a bit of information about each one)