Darren Cronian runs the Travel Rants Blog, www.travel-rants.com
Cheapflights: What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Darren Cronian: I am paranoid about leaving my passport at home when travelling abroad, so, I continuously check my bag throughout the journey between home and the airport. I always check to make sure that I have my European Health Insurance card and travel insurance documents.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
DC: Oh, I could be here all day with this question. I think what annoys me the most are travel companies that profiteer. I am thinking back to the Volcanic Ash Cloud farce when car hire companies were charging three or four times more than the usual rates.
Families have no choice nowadays to travel during the school holidays, so, why are companies and airlines charging peak-time prices. Parents can either take their kids out of school during the term, and get a fine, or, book during the school holidays. Sure, it’s supply and demand, but when consumers have no option but to travel during these times, it’s not fair.
CF: What is your favourite kind of trip (preferences, romantic, city, beach etc)?
DC: I am not the type of person who likes to spend my holiday laid next to the hotel swimming pool or on the beach. I like to explore, eat at restaurants and drink in bars that the locals use, but also visit tourist attractions, museums.
CF: Best destination you have ever been to and why?
DC: It would have to be North Queensland, Australia, simply because of the scenery, weather, people and the Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation. In five weeks, I visited Kuala Lumpur, and then over to Sydney, Hobart, Cairns, Port Douglas. It was a fantastic trip.
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
DC: Difficult question to answer, because the exchange rate for the Euro to British Pound is so low at the moment. I don’t anything anywhere in the Eurozone is good value for money. I have read that long-haul destinations are now the places to go, but, while the cost of food, drink, entrance to tourism attractions might be cheap, the cost of flights seem to have skyrocketed out of control since I last took a long-haul flight.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
DC: Price and location are the primary factors when I am searching for a holiday, and I travel on a budget, so the quality of the accommodation is not always what I would like. You pay for what you get and consumers need to remember this, but surprising to many, the best value for money was in Oslo. A hotel in the centre of the city, near the train station, and it only cost me £25 a night!
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
DC: There isn’t an airport that stands out to me as the best, and I dislike waiting around so I think airports could improve the experience by providing services likes free Wi-Fi.
CF: When you fly, is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one.
Flying on a low-cost airline, isn’t always the best experience, so I make sure that I take my iPod, headphones and listen to music during the flight, to reduce the noise by all of those in-flight advertisements for lottery cards, and duty free.
DC: While I rant about travel, when I am flying I am pretty relaxed, and I think you have to be a pretty patient person nowadays when working your way from check-in to the departure lounge, so you just have to try and enjoy the experience.
CF: Most important piece of travel advice you would give?
DC: In the current economic climate, I think consumers really need to think before they book. It is important that consumers realise the consequences if their holiday company or tour operator goes bust. It is essential that flights and holidays are paid with a credit card, or, an ATOL-bonded tour operator, so that their money is protected.
CF: At one point in your life, you will have to sit in the middle seat when you fly. If you have two people next to you, who do you most want to share a long haul with and who would you least? And why.
DC: This might surprise people but Michael O’Leary, would be fascinating to sit next to. I have yet to see a company get so much free press, the Ryanair PR machine churns out some laughable “news” but the media love it. On the other side of me, it would have to be Richard Branson, so that I could pick his business mind. He is an interesting character, and, I am sure I would learn loads about business.
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
DC: Until this year, my trips had run very smoothly, which people find surprising considering I rant so much. In May, I visited The Hague, and found myself stranded there due to the Volcanic Ash Cloud, which was unavoidable, but let me just say that the airline involved was not helpful, and I had to find my own way home. Thankfully, it was only Holland!