Most people I have discussed the Schengen zone visa rules with say, "Oh! It doesn't apply to me; I travel on a British or European passport." Good one! That will be helpful for your grandchildren. For those Australians with no other passport, you must factor this into your travels: The rule allows just 90 days in a six-month period to travel within the 28 European Union countries. The visa cannot be extended or reset by going to a non-Schengen country. With Croatia entering the zone, this is creating an almost impossible situation for extended trips to Europe, as the EU area is now huge and growing annually. New Zealanders are able to travel to each European country for three months, but Australians only have three months to travel ALL of Europe. I think this rule needs to be discussed by our government and reconsidered for the cultural growth of all Australians who travel solely on an Australian passport and those who will in the years to come.
I agree with Ken Johnston (Letters, July 13-14). I have been in the position, as I suspect many have, of going to put my one piece of hand luggage in the overhead locker and finding that someone already had my space. I then observed that they had several pieces of luggage throughout the plane. On one occasion when I had breakables in my bag I had to complain to the person trying to shove more luggage in a space where there wasn't room. I am also worried about the extra weight of all this luggage when none of it has been weighed prior to departure. The luggage in the hold is weighed, but not the hand luggage. It could possibly cause the plane to be overloaded and cause an accident.
BRIDGING THE GAP
In reference to the letter of the week (Letters, July 13-14), you might like to know that if you are a member of an official affiliated Australian bridge club you can get excellent overseas travel insurance, which includes existing medical conditions. While there are different prices for different age groups, these are usually cheaper than other quotes. The big bonus is that the policy a traveller takes out covers a full 12-month period, not just one trip. We have had personal experience of this and have nothing but praise for the insurers. OK, so you have to be a member of a bridge club. My club charges me $15 a year!
Hotels everywhere may want to do themselves and their guests a favour by adopting the alternative minibar service offered by the recently opened Hilton Garden Inn, Hanoi. There's a fridge in each room, but no minibar or snack rack. Instead, in the ground-floor foyer guests can access a pantry, which offers drinks, snacks, cold beer and wine. Purchases can then be paid for or debited to the room account at the adjacent front desk. No more minibar check-out hassles. And, on the 10th floor, there's a free washing machine and dryer, with soap powder available from the pantry! No pool, but a light and bright hotel with some staff trained in Melbourne, and centrally located.