Easter weekend: Chaos, cancellations and chocolate egg concerns!
Chalkmarks: Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 2024

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 29th March 2024

BIG news to share. We’re annoyed! Sit down and listen to this one. Deposits, guarantees and tipping. Welcome to Canada – another day, another surcharge. On TikTok it’s all maple syrup, ice hockey and poutine. But there’s another story. From the moment you arrive at your hotel they want a deposit. Why, I ask? It’s a guarantee in case we damage anything, or take a pillow, we’re told. But we’ve already paid, we insist. And, where’s my deposit, in case a member of staff goes into my room and steals my stuff or breaks my laptop? That won’t happen, we’re told. A hotel deposit is “standard” in Canada and can be CAD$100 (£60), CAD$250 (£150), or the cost of the first night’s stay. It’s refunded on check out without them even checking if we’ve robbed the pillow. For them, a hotel room is like a car rental – where a deposit is taken in case there are any prangs while you’re driving. But we’re not in a car. And why don’t they take it when you book and be upfront? There is no warning of this beforehand. Or why can’t they take our credit card details and bill us if we smash up the TV? It could be the TV is already broken before we even get into the room. On arrival very late at night in Montreal, we were asked to pay CAD$100 deposit, so we paid it. We were told, not to worry, we’d get it back two days after check out. It took seven. That was a week we couldn’t spend CAD$100, and the holiday was almost over. Also, we stayed in that hotel just two days. When we got to our next hotel in Quebec they wanted CAD$250 deposit. We were down CAD$350 (£200). It drains your bank account. If you’re on a budget it’ll ruin your trip. That money is not only lost to us but it’s lost to the local economy. Who’s happy with that outcome? We know we’ll get it back but it’ll be too late, and we’ll be in the UK. As we sit in our room scrolling on the Too Good To Go app, this is the exact type of information we all need to know. We all need to learn how to travel better. Where the best pancakes are, can wait! In other news, here’s this week’s travel headlines.

Academic enrichment aka a holiday!

Take a break: First up it’s Easter and school’s out, which means families are hot-footing it out of the country to escape the spring storm. It’s predicted a record 2 million will be leaving as Nelson brings gales and rain to the capital. PA Media here has crunched the numbers. How bad can it be out there? Travel hero Simon Calder has written about it and used the word chaos. It’s not an April fool! He warns of queues at airports, traffic on the roads and railway lines closed. Our advice: get a chocolate egg, although don’t eat it all at once (Times) … or do (TwitterX) depending on which doctor you listen to. Enjoy yourselves!

Swoon: So where’s everyone going? Calder says it’s Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris, Rome, Dubai, Orlando and New York. Also Geneva, Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Tenerife. But Abta say it’s Turkey, all the Canary Islands and Dubai, which are most popular. Visit Britain reckons 11 million are planning a staycation this bank hols – but they don’t say where to. No one coming to Canada then, where the temperature has finally reached 0C (see above) and you have to pay hotel deposits? Just us then!

Breaking news: Heathrow and Bristol airports warned passengers not to pack Cadbury’s Creme Eggs in their hand luggage as they are a security risk, breaking the 100ml liquid rule. You have to put them in your small plastic see-through bag, with all your other cosmetics, to go through the scanners. A Bristol airport spokesman warned that eggs might have to be checked! Bristol Live has the latest.

Add to bucket list: Vietnam was outed as the country where our British pound goes furthest. Chalkmarks covered this story at the start of the month: Far-flung destinations where even your pound goes further! But, it seems the Post Office wanted another crack at it. So, this week it’s Travel Money department revealed Hoi An, on the east coast, is where we can get the cheapest three-course meal and bottle of wine for £39.20. They didn’t mention the cost of the long-haul flight. Should we mention it’s almost four figures for the 15hr+ flight? Cape Town in South Africa has the second lowest prices, followed by Mombasa in Kenya, Tokyo in Japan, and the Algarve in Portugal. ITV News has the story. Meanwhile, £1 is not up much against the euro at €1.16 or the US dollar at $1.26.

Say yes: Whenever anyone asks us for travel inspiration, one of our top three answers is Vietnam. Go for Halong Bay, Train Street, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Sapa, Hoi An, Mekong Delta…then there’s egg coffee, Bun Cha, Pho… Why not go? 

Travel mood: How do you cope with jetlag? Hotel Yotel says one in four of us suffers with jetlag after a long flight. Some remedies of those polled include wearing sunglasses, playing loud music and wearing compression socks. Our top tip to beat feeling tired is to use a neck pillow (Chalkmarks knows were you can get one – DM us!).

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

It’s a bug: There has been a 278 per cent increase in the number of reports of bedbugs in the UK in the past two years. At the end of 2023 it was Paris that was being overrun with the blood-sucking critters – biting everyone from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. The Daily Telegraph says in the UK there were 1,319 complaints of bedbugs in hotels on Booking.com in 2023, compared with 826 in 2022 and 457 in 2021. Travel hero Simon Calder was all over this story, saying infestations could put people off travelling. He called on hotels to share how they are dealing with outbreaks. “The hospitality industry, and travel as a whole, needs to tackle the problem swiftly,” he said.

Travel theme: The old days of paying one price is over – it now rises and falls depending on the day of the week, the month… the weather! It’s called surge pricing which fluctuates on demand. The owners of Thorpe Park, Legoland, Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds, announced they would be introducing surge pricing by the end of the year at its attractions. The boss of Merlin Entertainments, Scott O’Neil, explained to FT: “If it’s August peak holiday season, sunny and a Saturday, you would expect to pay more than if it was a rainy Tuesday in March.”

To my private island: Virgin Atlantic named its latest plane in honour of its founder Sir Richard Branson to mark its 40th anniversary. You’ll be able to fly on the aircraft from May. Look out for the Airbus A330neo and the Ruby Rebel icon. So it’s not named The Richard Branson then? Seems not! So? We know… it’s more of a nod to him! Trade mag TTG has the story but doesn’t explain much more tbh.

Mayday Mayday: Chalkmarks is late to this one, but earlier in March it was reported that an Australian billionaire wants to rebuild a replica of the Titanic, ready to sail in 2027! Critics are very concerned that not only could passengers be put off because of the tragic ending of the liner in 1912 but by its design. Mining tycoon Clive Palmer wants to build Titanic II just like the original with the sweeping staircase and the ballroom – but also cabins that are the exact same size as the first class, second class and third class accommodation. Also, Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats? Here, it was on Sky News. Crossing the Atlantic was our toughest ever challenge: Hell or high water: Atlantic crossing was my biggest test.

Superstar profits: What does Taylor Swift and Travelodge have in common? They’re both billionaires. The budget hotel announced it had made £1 billion last year helped by fans booking rooms for Taylor Swift and AC/DC concerts in 2024. It’s boss Jo Boydell warned though that room prices might rise by up to 6 per cent this year. The Mirror has the story. But did you know, Travelodge doesn’t charge a room deposit. Are we going on?

This time last year: Heathrow holiday hold-ups: Strikers target Easter break for walkouts! 1,400 security workers walked out for 10 days leaving Heathrow Terminal 5 in a mess … Amsterdam had a message for boozy Britons: “Stay away” … Gulp! … The Dutch capital launched a series of ads that will pop up when you search “stag party”, “cheap hotel” or “pub crawl Amsterdam” … Not so long ago Chalkmarks was told that Britons had thrown off their drunken “cheap and cheerful” image. Here’s what tourist boards had to say … The UK was named and shamed by Greenpeace for having the most private jets take off than any other European country in 2022 … One takes off every six minutes … King Charles and the-then Queen Consort were in Berlin, Germany for a three-day getaway … We’d recommend a much longer as there’s just so much to see, do, eat and drink … For a start there’s the Bavarian Alps … We’ve tiptoed through the treetop trail and kayaked in the Regen region … Our base was Zwiesel in the heart of the glassmaking region … If you haven’t discovered it yet, explore the crystal kingdom here … Elsewhere the enormous double-decker Airbus A380 was back in Glasgow to fly passengers out of the rain and over to Dubai … Here Chalkmarks reported how the Emirate became such a success story.

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Happy Easter!

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