WE ARE A FAMILY OF FIVE ADULTS TRAVELLING TO GERMANY, ITALY AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC. WHAT IS THE BEST TRAVEL SIM TO BUY BEFORE WE LEAVE AUSTRALIA? I NEED TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH MY BUSINESS — WHAT'S THE BEST AND CHEAPEST WAY TO ACCESS DATA/EMAILS ON MY IPAD? WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TAKE OUR MONEY OVERSEAS? WE PRE-BOOKED AND PAID FOR OUR ACCOMMODATION IN APRIL BUT OUR ACCOMMODATION IN ROME WAS CANCELLED BY THE HOST A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO. WE PREFER A THREE-BEDROOM APARTMENT AND WE WILL NEED PARKING FOR OUR HIRE CAR. R. HENSHAW, TEA GARDENS
GO-SIM (gosim.com), One SimCard (onesimcard.com), WorldSIM (worldsim.com) and TravelSim (travelsim.net.au) will all allow you to make calls and connect to data services at a discount rate. Wi-Fi facilities are widely available throughout Europe, free or at low cost. I use the 28 Degrees MasterCard, which has no international transaction fees, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee. For accommodation in Rome, take a look at the websites suggested in my response to V. Sawford below.
THE FAMILY IS ATTENDING A WEDDING IN PARIS AROUND THE END OF MARCH. AFTER THAT WE WANT TO SPEND SOME TIME IN SPAIN, IN PARTICULAR SEVILLE AND GRANADA, FOR AT LEAST A WEEK. WE WOULD LIKE TO RENT A VILLA TO ACCOMMODATE EIGHT AND WOULD APPRECIATE SOME INFORMATION ON WHERE TO LOOK. ALSO, MY HUSBAND AND I WANT TO SPEND ANOTHER WEEK TRAVELLING FROM GRANADA TO BARCELONA. WHAT PLACES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO VISIT AND WOULD TRAIN BE THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL BETWEEN THEM? V. SAWFORD, POTTS POINT
The websites I'd be looking at for accommodation are Alastair Sawdays (sawdays.co.uk) and i-escape (i-escape.com). Both have many reviews of villas in Spain, in particular Sawdays, which makes a speciality of searching out small, interesting places with real character and friendly owners, and does a great job in my experience.
Sawdays is aimed mainly at an English audience, so language shouldn't be a problem. If possible, cross-reference your choice with reviews on Tripadvisor and you're in the driver's seat.
A week is a leisurely allowance to travel from Granada to Barcelona.
With that amount of time, I suggest you take trains and make cities the focus of your trip, with visits to Cordoba and Alicante, but you could safely miss Valencia.
WE ARE AN EXTENDED FAMILY VISITING BRITAIN FOR A SON'S WEDDING IN MID-SEPTEMBER NEXT YEAR. WE'VE BEEN INVITED TO SPEND A WEEK WITH THE BRIDE AND GROOM, PROBABLY ON THE MEDITERRANEAN. OUR GROUP COMPRISES GRANDPARENTS, THREE ADULT CHILDREN WITH PARTNERS AND CHILDREN AGED 1-12. WE ARE LOOKING AT A RESORT OR SIMILAR WHERE EVERYONE CAN BE OCCUPIED. WE LIKE QUALITY, WITHOUT IT COSTING A SMALL FORTUNE. P. DOUGAL, COWRA
You could go for Club Med, which has plenty to keep you all occupied - the Club Med Opio in Provence (clubmed.co.uk) would be a premium choice. A short drive inland from Nice, the resort has comfortable accommodation, a plush spa, gym, nine-hole golf course, tennis and pools, all-inclusive at a family-friendly price.
My one hesitation is that Club Med is a very French experience. Food, activities, the ambience - everything is geared to French tastes and it can be slightly jarring for Australians.
A happier choice might be Malta: influenced by the food and culture of Italy and well supplied with beaches and romantic architecture, it is reasonably priced. Check out Thirty Seven Gozo (thirtysevengozo.com), a small, beautiful hotel you could rent out.
OVER TO YOU ...
"Does it concern or even annoy you when fellow airline passengers cram the overhead bins with multiple heavy bags?"
"It is infuriating ... our solution is to board early and stake our spot! Airlines should enforce their own policies," R. and A. O'Donoghue write.
"The most outrageous one I witnessed was on a flight from Tunisia to France. Someone travelled with fresh prawns. Mid-flight, juicy water started leaking onto the passenger seated below. Imagine when the man beside me, and several seats back from the event, confided they were his prawns!" N. Lee writes.
"I try to travel without using the overhead bin but on an overseas trip it's unavoidable. Shame on airline staff who don't enforce the rules," A. Feeney writes.
And a solution from A. Dorey: "I have given up trying to get a bag in the overhead locker ... I take a large handbag as my carry-on luggage and stow it under the seat in front. Thus I can easily access my book and glasses while avoiding being frustrated by my fellow travellers."
Next question: Do you check Smartraveller, the federal government's travel advisory website (smartraveller.gov.au), before venturing overseas, and if so, do you find the advice accurate? Send a response, or your travel question, to firstname.lastname@example.org. All published responses will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.