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10 summer driving hazards to avoid

Summer driving has its own set of challenges whether you’re on home ground or not. High temperatures, increased stress levels, and extra demands on your car are all par for the course, so make sure you read our advice to stay safe on the road.

Wet or lost key fobs

It’s easy to lose your car keys in the sand, or ruin your remote control with water by accidentally taking the fob for a swim.

Keep your keys safe and dry and check your handbook – on most cars, there’s an alternative way to open the doors that you can use if the remote stopped working.

If you do need a replacement car key or key fob, call AA Keycare on 0818 646 004. Our specialist service means you’ll have access to a nationwide network of locksmiths.

Punctures

If your tyres are already damaged or they’re at the wrong pressure, the higher temperatures of summer will increase the risk of a blowout.

Make sure you check tyres regularly – for condition and pressures – and increase pressures to suit extra loads, as advised in your handbook.

Check caravan tyres too, and replace those that show any signs of cracking in the sidewall or tread grooves.

Overheating

When driving in hot climates, high temperatures can aggravate cooling system problems too. It’s important to check the coolant and cooling system regularly to avoid overheating.

Glare

Dazzle from the sun causes lots of accidents but you can reduce the effect by keeping your windscreen nice and clean, and by replacing worn or damaged windscreen wipers.

It pays to keep a clean pair of sunglasses in your car year-round but avoid lenses that darken in strong sunlight.

Driving tired

If you feel tired, stop and take a short nap (up to 15 minutes) or drink two cups of strong coffee.

It’s best to avoid getting tired in the first place if you can. These tips can help:

  • Include a 20-minute break in journeys of more than 3 hours
  • On longer trips, take a break every couple of hours
  • You’re better off taking several short (at least 20 minutes) stops than one long one
  • Don’t drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal before driving
  • Don’t stop for a nap on the hard shoulder, and make sure you check parking restrictions before putting your head down at a motorway service area as you could get a ticket for overstaying your welcome.

Hayfever

If your hayfever is particularly bad, it’s best to get someone else to drive if you can. Also:

  • Make sure any medication you’re taking doesn’t cause drowsiness
  • Close windows and air vents to reduce pollen grains in the car
  • Clean mats and carpets regularly to get rid of dust
  • Keep tissues close to hand
  • Wear sunglasses to block out bright sunlight

Loose chippings

Roads repaired with tar and loose chippings are a common sight in the summer but they can cause cracked headlamps and windscreens, and damage paintwork if you’re not careful. Stick to any temporary speed limit that’s been put in place and keep your distance from the car in front.

Fire

If you’re a smoker, don’t just throw your cigarette out of the window when you’ve finished it. Verges and embankments can become bone-dry and a smouldering cigarette may be enough to ignite roadside grass.

Tractors

The driver of that slow-moving tractor in front of you may have a soundproofed cab or could be wearing ear protectors, so may not be able to hear approaching cars.

Be aware that tractors only have to have brake or indicator lights if driving at night, so they may stop or turn suddenly and without warning in daylight hours.

When you’re driving in the countryside:

  • Keep plenty of distance behind a tractor
  • Remember that a tractor may be longer than it appears – there could be a loader on the front
  • Before overtaking, make sure you have plenty of room to get past

Avoid a breakdown this summer

  • Slow down if you come across a spillage – if you hit a bale of straw at speed you will damage your car
  • Don’t park in a gateway or passing place – they are farmers’ field access points
  • Drive extra carefully after rain, which can turn dry mud into a skid pan
  • And don’t forget that if you do experience a breakdown AA Rescue fixes 8 out of 10 vehicles on the spot. Meanwhile, if you’re planning to drive across Europe this summer, remember that with AA European Breakdown Cover local garages across our European road network will be on standby should you experience any bumps on the road.

Looking for ways to keep your driving costs down ahead of the summer? With AA Car Insurance you can receive an automatic €100 discount on any policy purchased online.

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England France Germany Ireland Italy Scotland Spain Wales

Hiring and Driving a Car in Europe

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433753900038{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Hiring a car anywhere abroad should be a relatively easy and transparent process, but very often it is not and is something that can cost you dear when you get home.

The array of insurances and confusing conditions can make it virtually impossible to make an informed judgement – there’s a chance that you may either take out unnecessary insurance or face additional and often considerable costs later.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433754037283{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Plan Ahead

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]If you leave it to the last minute and simply pick a car hire desk at random when you arrive at your destination airport you’ll have no idea if you’re getting a good deal or not.

The best advice is to plan ahead and book before you travel. This will give you plenty of time to read and understand the conditions of hire and consider the cost and value of any additional charges.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433755003295{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

When you’re there

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To help you plan accordingly, we’ve listed advice below for hiring and driving a car in countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.

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Spain

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][image_with_text image=”18662″]

Source: “Llançà coastline” by Dennis van Zuijlekom on Flickr used under

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Many well-known car-hire brands have offices throughout Spain such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, and Alamo. If you’re an AA Member you can save up to 10% on global car hire.

What about tolls? Spain has a large number of tolls dotted throughout the country – inconvenient at times, but these roads enable easier access than their alternatives. You can view a list of toll prices in Spain here.

Is there anything else I should know? Hire cars are often targeted in service areas or tricked in to stopping on the hard shoulder by the occupant of a passing vehicle. They will gesture that something is wrong with the vehicle, so lock all doors and keep bags out of sight. The number of thefts by bogus policemen has increased in Madrid and Catalonia. It’s also worth remembering to bring the same credit card to the rental check-in desk that you initially booked with.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.25 – Diesel: €1.17

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “More Irish people drive abroad in Spain than anywhere else so lots of people have had the experience. The Spanish have spent hugely on their roads and the motorway network is excellent but it can be scary.

We are spoilt in Ireland because our motorways are new and feel comfortable in terms of lane widths and hard shoulders, compared to Spain especially. I saw a truck driver trying to change a wheel near Barcelona a year or so ago on a hard shoulder that was only half the width of his vehicle.

What you do find though, are plentiful good quality service areas (National Roads Authority please take note).

Spanish motorways are a good deal cheaper than France but they too are sprinkled with toll booths. Often the toll itself is set according to by-laws or converted from old peseta or franc denominations. Hence, you get utterly stupid charges like €2.56 that have tourists wrestling for small coins.

The Spanish have got their act together more recently in terms of enforcement. If you haven’t been in a while, you might be tempted to treat their speed-camera signs as just roadside decoration. A mistake – Spanish, French and Italian authorities can and do pursue you, and you will get an unpleasant demand in the post weeks later for anywhere between €45 and €80.

Especially in tourist areas, park carefully. It’s not just bag-snatchers – many parts of Spain are notorious for cars with dents and scratches.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Portugal

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Source: “Lisbon, Portugal” by Arden on Flickr used under

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Many well-known car-hire brands have offices throughout Portugal such as Hertz, Budget and Thrifty.

What about tolls? Tolls are charged at several motorways throughout Portugal. It is compulsory to either carry a Temporary Electronic Toll Device (DEM) or pre-pay tolls. This is required for many motorways throughout Portugal. The official guide to paying tolls can be viewed here but we understand the toll motorways to be the A4, A17, A22, A23, A24, A25, A28, A29, A41 and A42.

Is there anything else I should know? It’s not unusual to spot police cars at the side of the road with speed guns as speed limits are strictly imposed. In built-up areas, drive at 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas at 55 mph (90 km/h) or 62 mph (100 km/h) and on motorways at 74 mph (120 km/h).The minimum speed on motorways is 31 mph (50 km/h). Motorists who have held a driving licence for less than one year must not exceed 55 mph (90 km/h). In some town centres the speed is reduced to 12 mph (20 km/h).

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.41 – Diesel: €1.23

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan:There wasn’t just a Celtic Tiger in Ireland – Portugal had one as well. They invested very heavily in infrastructure so like Ireland, Portugese motorways are good quality modern ones.

In years gone by the Portugese road safety record was appalling, one of the worst in Europe and far worse than Ireland’s even when ours was a disgrace. However times have changed all around Europe and in Portugal standards have improved to the point where you will hardly recognise them if you are remembering a trip from a decade ago.

Even so, these roads are relatively more dangerous than Irish ones. In tourist areas especially you do need to concentrate at all times.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Italy

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Source: “Rome” by Moyan Brenn on Flickr used under

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Car-hire is available from Hertz, Avis and Thrifty alongside plenty of smaller independent car-hire firms.

What about tolls? Tolls are levied on the majority of motorways in Italy. You can calculate tolls here.

Is there anything else I should know? AREA C (A pollution charge, formerly Eco-pass) is levied in the centre of Milan. Charges apply Mon-Fri and generally from 7.30am until 7.30pm. Drivers must purchase an eco-pass before entering the restricted zone. Tariffs vary according to the emissions of the vehicle. Mopeds and motorcycles are exempt.

Traffic is also restricted in many historical centres/major towns known as ‘Zone a Traffico Limitato’ or ZTL’s, where circulation is only permitted for residents.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.65 – Diesel: €1.52

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “The Italians have a reputation for being warm, friendly, chaotic, stylish and disorganised. It is a wonderful country to visit but in keeping with the clichés their roads can be difficult for visitors. I drove in northern Italy a number of years ago and it is a Mecca for car nuts. At one stage, as we sat in traffic in our diesel Ford Fiesta hire car, I noted that the car in front and the two cars behind me were all Ferraris. We also took a spin up into the Italian Alps. I gather the scenery was lovely; I didn’t get to see it. Along twisted mountain roads that looked like they were straight out of The Italian Job, my abiding memory was of dodging the bikers flinging themselves into hairpin bends. I half-expected to see piles of smashed bikes at the base of the cliffs.

Don’t let it put you off. Italy has a good quality modern network, and while town and city centres probably do require an experienced and calm visiting driver the general driving environment feels safe and secure. Motorways are extensively tolled but are far cheaper than France and more comparable to Spanish rates.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

France

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][image_with_text image=”18675″]

Source: “Paris Skyline, France” by Luke Ma on Flickr used under

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? You can rent from companies like Hertz, Sixt and Argus Car Hire. Rental vehicles in France come with unlimited third party liability insurance included in the initial price.

What about tolls? Pay-as-you-go tolls are charged on most motorways in France. You can pay toll fees by credit card or cash.

Is there anything else I should know? “French authorities are quite stringent on all motorists carrying the correct documents and compulsory equipment when driving. These include a warning triangle and a reflective jacket. The jacket must be kept within the passenger compartment of the vehicle and be put on before exiting the vehicle in an emergency/breakdown situation. It is absolutely prohibited to carry, transport or use radar detectors. Failure to comply with this regulation involves a fine of up to €1,500 and the vehicle and/or device may be confiscated.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.39 – Diesel: €1.39

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “France is a beautiful part of the world and the roads make it easy. On the motorways especially, you quickly forget that you are abroad. The locals are reasonably friendly provided you don’t bring bad Irish motorway habits with you. Our tendencies to hog the outer lane or to switch lanes without indicating do not go down well.

The Autoroutes are peppered with tolls and they really add up. As a rule of thumb it is usually between 0.07-0.10 cent per kilometre travelled, add about half that again if you are towing a caravan. I did a 375km trip in the south of France last year and it cost nearly as much in tolls as it did in fuel: €31.00

French traffic police are notorious and their law is tough. Treat them as formally as you would airport security or you may regret it just as much. They are much more laid back off the roads but be warned. Don’t dream of taking an alcohol-risk.

Don’t ignore speed cameras either – they work and you’ll find a charge either applied to your card or sent to you back home in Ireland.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433771293246{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

For peace of mind

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]• Damage – check the car for damage with an employee from the car rental company before signing a rental agreement, and again when the vehicle is returned. Have the damage-free condition confirmed in writing, or note any damage. Disputes can sometimes arise after you arrive home so it’s a good idea taking the time to take some phone pictures of the car both when you pick it up and when you return it.

Controls – Check all the switches, indicators and other controls carefully and if any are unfamiliar or don’t work, ask the rental firm for guidance
Refuelling – check the refuelling requirements in advance and keep fuel bills as proof of a full tank when the vehicle is returned. Consider taking a photo of the fuel gauge, particularly if dropping the car off without a hire company employee present.
Insurance cover – third-party insurance is a must but in some countries the minimum statutory cover may be higher and if cover is insufficient, the hirer is personally liable for the excess. There may be a charge to increase cover.
Additional insurance – if you can, choose comprehensive damage cover without an excess, but check what is actually covered as some may exclude damage to tyres, rims, the underbody or stone chips.
Theft insurance – recommended if this is not included in the comprehensive insurance.

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Categories
France

5 Theme Parks in France Your Kids Won’t Want to Miss

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If you’re looking for a fun filled day out with the kids then these five theme parks are bound to keep you and the family entertained for hours on end.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Disneyland Paris [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

There’s a reason that Disneyland Paris is the most well-known theme park in all of France. It’s spellbinding, enchanting surroundings will bring wonder and awe to children of all ages. With breath-taking parades, family-friendly rides and the chance to meet Minnie and Mickey Mouse, it’s no surprise that Disneyland Paris is the most visited theme park in Europe. You and the family can take a trip down to Pocahontas’ Indian Village, spin about on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups or help Buzz Lightyear in his laser quest. As the sun sets on your magical adventure, you can see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle come to life with lasers, fireworks and a unique telling of the Disney classic stories.

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Puy du Fou [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If you’re looking for something a little different during your stay in France, then the historical theme park, Puy du Fou will be right up your street. Throughout the day, you can watch gladiator’s battle and chariots race in an authentic Roman stadium. Enjoy witnessing British and French armies fight in a medieval castle in the heart of a forest or be a part of the intense battles amongst the Vikings. In between shows, the kids can have fun at the jumping water jets or pick their own vegetable in the quaint 18th Century village. The park is located in the heart of the Vendée region of Western France and is less than an hour drive from the cities of Nantes and Angers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Futuroscope[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If the thoughts of roller coasters and being thrown 50ft into the air make your stomach churn, then fear not, Futuroscope is the ideal place for you and your family. Situated just 10km north of the city of Poitiers, Futuroscope is the perfect spot for those who wish to experience the thrill of a theme park, but without feeling faint. Combining a mixture of motion simulators, 3D and 4D theme rides, there is no room for boredom at Futuroscope. The Little Prince is a 4D experience your kids will not want to miss. Special effects such as ground vibration, rain, clouds, smoke and the sensation of falling are just some of the thrills you can expect during your day out. A stress-free day out is guaranteed, as there is a direct route to the park via TGV.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

The Astérix Park [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Centrally located just 30km from the city of Paris, The Astérix Park is the perfect blend of rollercoasters and amusements. With five different worlds for you and the kids to explore, you can spend the whole day immersed in Egypt, The Roman Empire or Ancient Greece, to name but a few. For the adrenaline seekers in your family, the park also boasts the biggest wooden rollercoaster in Europe, the jaw-dropping Goudurix winding rollercoaster. On a warm, sunny day you can cool off on one of the many water-based theme rides or face an incoming ‘storm’ on a swing boat. The younger children won’t be left out either. One third of the total attractions in The Astérix Park are catered to suit children under 6 years old so families of all ages can enjoy what it has to offer.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Cite de l’Espace [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Has your child ever dreamt of becoming an astronaut? That dream could become a reality with a day visit to Space City, located just a 15min drive from Toulouse’s city centre. Visitors can travel on board the MIR Space Station, an exact replica of the well-known Russian space station used for ground testing. As well as that, your family can lead a space mission, take control of a spacecraft, build your own rocket or practice your moonwalking. Watch their eyes light up as they walk towards the Ariane 5 Rocket, the giant life-sized rocket that reaches up to 53m in height. For the adults then, marvel at the Planetarium or sit back and enjoy a screening in the IMAX theatres.

Image credit: pixabay.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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England Featured France Germany Italy Northern Ireland Scotland Spain USA Wales

Avoiding a Medical Emergency Abroad

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There are plenty of steps travellers can take in advance of a trip away to minimise financial costs and the inevitable stress that comes with a medical emergency abroad. We’ve listed below some incredibly simple steps to take ensuring everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip.

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See your doctor before you go

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It’s a good idea to get a medical check-up from your doctor before you go. If you’re planning on taking part in strenuous physical activities such as hiking or skiing, pay a visit to your doctor to make sure you’re in good shape for it. (And don’t forget to check with your travel insurance provider that these activities are covered under your policy.) Consider whether you need vaccinations for your destination, too. In an AA study, 23% of males aged 17-24 years old told us they needed medical attention whilst abroad compared to just 15% of women in the same age bracket. So once you pay a visit to the doctor, tell your partner/dad/brother to do the same!

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Medical care at your destination

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Learning about the quality of medical care at your destination means you’ll know what to expect should you need it. For example, in Spain there are two types of health establishments you can visit depending on the severity and type of illness – a hospital and a health centre (Centro de Salud). For serious illnesses or injuries, it’s expected that you would visit a hospital, but for instances not requiring immediate hospitalisation the Centro de Salud is your best bet. Knowing information such as this allows you to make sound judgments about what type of treatment you need.

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Know how to seek medical care

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Do you know how to call for help in a foreign country? It’s not something you even think of amongst the flurry of packing and printing out flight tickets, but it could prove to be the most vital. Click here for a map that shows local emergency telephone numbers from around the world.

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Carry health information

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]You might know your blood type and that you’re allergic to peanuts, but what about other background information like medications or previous surgeries? These could be crucial to a doctor giving you emergency treatment.

And while it’s wise to carry your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with you if you’re travelling to Europe, be aware that it won’t cover for things like an air ambulance home if someone is in serious trouble, which can cost up to €20,000.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Check your insurance

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People often think medical care isn’t included in their travel insurance policy, but a lot of the time it is and they just don’t know. Check your policy to ensure you’re getting value for money and sufficient coverage. The AA provides unlimited medical cover for Members who have an extra Travel policy, meaning there are no restrictions on the amount you can claim.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]For more information on AA Travel Insurance, please click here.

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Categories
Europe Ireland

Keeping the Kids Entertained on Long Car Trips

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]With summer right around the corner many of you are probably busy searching for and planning the perfect holiday for you and your family. While staying in Ireland may be the most convenient option, particularly if you have a young family, the thoughts of a long road trip with the kids can bring dread to any parent.

Road trips and children bring about the age-old conundrum – how can I keep the kids occupied on a long car ride? Nothing dampens the holiday spirit more than bored kids in the back seat and the “Are we there yet” phrase from the rear of the car.

In May 2012, the AA revealed that, of a sample of 4,911 parents, the most popular method of keeping the kids occupied was to bribe good behaviour with a few choice snacks. The second most popular technique was to play some good old-fashioned car games such as I-spy.

In third and fourth place came the less-traditional methods of hand held games consoles and portable DVD players, while the use of audio books or children’s music rounded out the top five.

Now that you know the more popular methods, why not try something different? Any parent knows that variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to entertaining young passengers, so an out-of-the-ordinary activity might be just what your family needs for your next car journey.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”WHITE BOARDS AND MARKERS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_column_text]

You can pick up a small whiteboard and marker at almost any arts and crafts shop and the possibilities are endless. Whether the children are in the mood for a game of Hangman or prefer X’s and O’s, this will be sure to keep them entertained for a good while. It also doubles up as a good way of keeping score for the more traditional games such as I-spy.

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Yes, disposable cameras still exist and the novelty of an old-fashioned camera without the modern zoom and filter features can be a big hit with the young ones. They’re relatively cheap too and can be found at some pharmacies and newsagents. If you’re looking to make a bigger investment, there are some instant cameras on the market that spit out small polaroid photos in a matter of seconds. Let the kids take silly photos of themselves or capture images for a holiday scrapbook.

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This game works whether you’re going on a short stay-cation or driving further afield through Europe. Before you go, print out a map of Ireland and/or Europe with the names of the counties/countries and tell the kids to keep an eye out for the borders. The person who gets them all correct at the end wins a prize!

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Other Important Tips:

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Car Seats

Did you know that according to a survey done by the AA in November, 76pc of parents have had a child escape their car seat? Before embarking on a long road trip with the family, make sure your child’s car seat is properly fitted and secured. Not sure how to go about that? Luckily we have a helpful guide with more information:[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Snack Attack

To keep the munchies at bay, an exhaustive supply of snacks is essential. Keep in mind what snacks will work well on a long journey – think boxes of raisins, bananas, apple slices and string cheese. Remember that not all your children’s favourite snacks are suitable for road trips – so stay away from the yogurts! It might be a good idea to try and keep fluids in spill-proof sippy cups or bottles as juice boxes often result in sticky spillages.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

To an even smoother road trip through Europe, it is worth investing in European Breakdown Cover. Take out cover online today and get a €15 discount or a €25 discount if you’re an AA member.

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Categories
Featured

Do you need a European Health Insurance Card or travel insurance for European breaks?

Sometimes a vacation is what’s needed to escape the daily routine, and with the Easter midterm break on the horizon it’s the perfect opportunity to gather the family for that much-needed sojourn. But in between making sure you’ve packed the kids’ essentials (passport, togs, iPad – check!) it’s easy to forget things like taking out proper travel insurance or to just neglect it all together. In fact, research from the AA reveals that almost 20% of holidaymakers don’t bother with it because they carry the free European Health Insurance Card (previously known as an E111 card).*

Do I need an EHIC or travel insurance?

Source: Librestock.com
Source: Librestock.com

The EHIC allows you access to healthcare services when travelling to other European Union (EU) and EEA (European Economic Area) countries. There you can avail of the same level of state-provided free or subsidised medical treatment that local citizens would expect within that country. Once you’re living in Ireland or intend to live here for a year you can apply for the EHIC from the HSE.

While the EHIC is well worth having, bear in mind that healthcare systems vary from country to country and are quite likely to be different to the system here in Ireland. The EHIC doesn’t provide for private medical treatment abroad, or other costs such as sea or mountain rescue, an emergency flight home, or indeed accommodation if an accident or illness means you have to delay your journey home. Some countries may even charge EHIC cardholders for ambulance services, local doctor visits, prescriptions or specialist medical costs. Costs can vary and you may be required to make a contribution towards your treatment. Holidaymakers should also remember that there are some areas within the EEA where the EHIC is invalid, such as parts of the Republic of Cyprus.**

A holiday saviour

Source: Librestock.com
Source: Librestock.com

A travel insurance policy will cover all of these costs. The most common claim type we receive is for medical emergencies, but it’s important to remember that insurance covers you for a lot more. The second most common claim type is for holiday abandonment with travellers having to cancel their getaways due to unforeseen circumstances. Beyond that, your policy will also help meet the costs of lost or stolen belongings. Those jetting off should bear in mind that some policies won’t cover the cost of treatment at a state hospital if the EHIC should have been used and was not.

And while you might be tempted to go for the cheapest policy on offer, the AA warn against taking out cover based on price. “The cheapest policies often have high excesses, meaning you could be paying anything between €50 and €350 before an insurer will process your claim. Make sure your policy covers everything you need it to,” advises Conor.

The AA offers great value and benefits online with Annual Travel Insurance.  Get a quote now here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

*Research carried out by Populus among 23,085 AA members aged 18+, 7–15 May 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

**Neither your EHIC nor S1 form (a certificate of entitlement) is valid in the parts of the Republic of Cyprus where the government of the republic does not exercise effective control (the northern part of Cyprus). http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/countryguide/Pages/healthcareinCyprus.aspx

Categories
Uncategorised

Travel Insurance Competition Terms and Conditions

Ski Lessons & a Stay at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa 

  • Competition closes on 5th of December 2016 at midnight.
  • To be eligible to enter the competition entrants must be over 18 years of age and resident in the Republic of Ireland.
  • To enter the competition each entrant must complete all aspects as outlined in the competition entry rules and submit before the competition closing date of 5th December at midnight.
  • The prize:
    • Two ski lessons, for two people, at the Ski Club of Ireland, Kilternan.
      • Booking is necessary for lessons.
      • Lessons can been taken Monday to Friday 8pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am & 3pm, based on the class level be scheduled.
      • Age limit for normal lessons is 7 years. Kindergarten 4 to 7 years – scheduled on Sundays only @ 1pm.
      • 24 hours’ notice is required if you wish to reschedule a lesson.
      • No other discounts can apply.
      • Please arrive half an hour before your class is due to commence.
      • Everybody using the slopes must have completed an Indemnity Form.
      • All those under 18 must have a parent sign their registration form at their first lesson or practice.
      • Classes go ahead regardless of weather.
      • All users of the slopes must wear gloves.
      • Practice is available for competent skiers and snowboarders. To use the ski slope without lessons you must have completed the course of four beginner classes at the Ski Club or done at least some skiing/boarding on snow. You must be able to turn, stop, control your speed and use the drag/button lift.
      • Parents must be present at the Ski Club for the entire session for children under 14 years of age.
    • An overnight stay for two people in a luxurious Deluxe room with breakfast and a dinner for two in Sika restaurant.
      • Valid for 12 months from when winner is announced, subject to availability.
      • Voucher not valid in conjunction with any other offer.
      • Voucher cannot be redeemed in part or in full for cash.
      • Voucher must be used in full, and there is no exchange for services not listed in the prize details.
      • Voucher is non-transferable, and Powerscourt cannot accept responsibility for lost vouchers.
  • Winners will be chosen at random via a prize draw. Draw will take place & winner will be notified no longer than one week after the competition closes.
  • AA staff, their immediate families and their agents and any other person connected with the competition are not entitled to participate.
  • The Judge’s decision is final and binding on entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.
  • Entrants must consent to the disclosure of their name as a winner (If successful). The winner may be required to take part in future publicity.
  • Any entrant to the competition may obtain the name of the winner by sending a stamped addressed envelope to Competition, Marketing Department, 61a South William Street, Dublin 2.
  • The promoter is AA Ireland, 61a South William Street, Dublin 2
  • Customer’s data will not be used for marketing purposes. A copy of the AA data protection and privacy policy can be found here: http://www.theaa.ie/AA/About-Us/Privacy-Policy.aspx .
  • Entrants agree to the terms and conditions when they engage in any way with the competition online.
Categories
Europe

Win Ski Lessons & a Stay at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa

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Win Ski Lessons at the Ski Club of Ireland and a stay at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa

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To celebrate the launch of our Winter Ski Travel Insurance campaign, we are giving one lucky winner the chance to win the ultimate winter holiday experience.

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The prize

 

Two ski lessons at the Ski Club of Ireland

The lucky winner will hit the slopes in the Ski Club of Ireland, where they, along with one other, will receive two ski lessons on the slopes of Kilternan.

The Ski Club of Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion and development of skiing and snowboarding through the provision of classes and training facilities for all standards of skier or snowboarder, from complete beginner to expert.

The ultimate Grown Up Getaway at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa

The winner will also enjoy a relaxing overnight stay in the luxurious five star AA Hotel, Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa.

AA Hotel of the Year, Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa is giving away the ultimate Grown Up Getaway for one lucky winner. The prize includes an overnight stay for two people in a luxurious Deluxe room with breakfast overlooking the Sugar Loaf Mountain and a dinner for two in Sika Restaurant.

Outstanding amongst 5 star hotels in Ireland and set amidst one of the most historic estates in the country, Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa is the ideal destination for your grown up getaway.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Competition closed.

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Are you going skiing this winter? Make sure you have travel insurance for winter sports before you head off. If it’s your first time hitting the slopes and you’re looking for some tips, see expert advice from the Ski Club of Ireland here.

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Categories
Europe

What You Need to Know For Your First Ski Trip

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It’s hard to know what to expect on your first ski holiday. Without the correct information and advice before your leave, it can be a daunting experience. So, we have teamed up with the Ski Club of Ireland who have given their expert ski advice so that you are fully prepared for your first skiing experience.

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Take ski lessons before you go and when you are there

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtWqU3LhiMA”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]It is recommend that you take lessons both before you go and when you are there. Four lessons is equivalent to approximately two days on the slopes, or more if you are a natural. If you take at least four lessons before you leave you are likely to spend less time on the nursery slopes. To get you started, watch the video above; where John Barrett, Instructor at the Ski Club of Ireland gives a ski lesson for beginners.

Taking lessons when you get there is also recommended. They will help to get you comfortable with the surrounding area, determine where is best to ski and will prevent you from practicing any bad habits on the slopes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Don’t let family or friends teach you

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As tempting as it may be, do not let your family or friends teach you how to ski – unless they are qualified to do so. When learning to ski, it is vital that you have the basic techniques right from the beginning. Qualified ski instructors will be able to give you the relevant exercises to get you started and will offer advice to help correct any faults that you may be exercising.

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Bring Ski Socks

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It’s important to protect your shins while skiing, as they can become tender when leaning forward in the correct skiing position. Most ski socks have a little padding in the area of the shin to prevent any pain. It is worthwhile spending a little extra on a buying one or two pairs of good socks, they are sure to come in handy!

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Ensure ski boots are comfortable

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Uncomfortable ski boots will only make learning to ski more difficult. Before you head out on the slopes, make sure that you can comfortably wiggle your toes in your boots. Do not allow for too much room as this can cause friction and may lead to a blister. For maximum comfort, it is advised to only wear one pair of socks, not two.

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Choose a low lying ski resort

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For your first ski holiday, it’s a good idea to choose a low lying ski resort. The surroundings on lower ground is most suitable for beginners with no skiing experience, as opposed to the challenging slopes on higher ground. Low lying resorts also tend to be less expensive than those higher up.

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Bring sun glasses or goggles

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Source: Jake Vince

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Ski goggles or sunglasses are an essential piece of equipment for anyone going skiing. It can get very bright on the slopes, especially when the sun shines and reflects off the white snow. Wearing eyewear will protect your eyes from the sun and will ensure a clearer view of the slope. Another benefit of wearing goggles or sunglasses is to keep the cold wind from your eyes while travelling at speed.

If it rains, goggles are your best option. When the light falls on the mountain, otherwise known as flat light, it can be difficult to see the ground. The orange lens in goggles will brighten your view of the terrain[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Layer up and bring warm clothing

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There is no need to spend a fortune on clothing for your first holiday, unless you would like to indulge in some high-fashion gear. There are a few pieces of clothing that you will need to bring; a breathable ski jacket, a thin wicking or thermal top, a fleece and a pair of ski or waterproof trousers. It is wise to wrap up well; however, steer away from wooly jumpers to avoid getting over heated. The best advice is to layer up, that way a layer can be removed or added when needed.

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Wear sun cream

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Source: Graeme Smith

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Sun cream is essential on a ski holiday, whether the sun is shining or not. The sun and the wind is stronger at a high altitude, which can ultimately lead to sun and wind burn. The sunlight can reach your skin directly and also by reflecting off the snow, so it is important that your skin is protected.

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Take out travel insurance for winter sports

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”600×300″ image=”21730″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Skiing without travel insurance is a slippery slope. In the unfortunate event of an accident, it is important to have travel insurance for winter sports so that you are covered.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]AA Travel Insurance offers a wide range of important benefits as standard like flight cancellations, lost or stolen luggage and medical expenses. And, by adding on Winter Sports Cover we’ll make sure to cover you for many activities on and off the slopes. So, for things like your ski pass, lessons and equipment we’ll cover you if something were to happen.

Our Travel Insurance with Winter Sports Cover has other great benefits, like:

  • Lost or stolen Personal ski equipment – up to €1000
  • Piste Closure – up to €600
  • Avalanche Closure – up to €600

 

Get an AA Travel Insurance quote today.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Top 10 Dos and Don’ts When Travelling With A Roof Rack

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The folks over at Mick’s Garage know their stuff when it comes to travelling with a roof rack.

They have been selling and fitting roof racks to customers’ cars for over a decade. During that time they’ve built up a wealth of experience and knowledge with regards to the common issues that you might face. Here’s their list of the top 10 things to look out for:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”READ THE INSTRUCTIONS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

“As a rule, us chaps don’t read instructions and to be fair, most of us get away with it 95% of the time! If you’re fitting a roof rack to your car it’s extremely important to read all the instructions fully before you take a single bolt out of the box. They will help you get the job done more quickly, easily and safely in the long run. While not essential, a second pair of hands is certainly a big help. Remember your car is worth a lot more than the set of roof racks you’ve just bought, so don’t damage it by not reading the instructions!”

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“Pay particular attention to the torque settings (if mentioned). A properly fitted and used roof rack will give years of trouble free service and will not damage your car. An over-torqued, under-torqued, badly fitted or overloaded roof rack can damage your car. If you’re unsure about how to fit a roof rack correctly, check out this MicksGarage video for some top tips.”

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“If left on your car, your roof rack will be exposed to the elements, and as a result the fittings can corrode over time. To counteract this, a bit of copper grease on the mounting bolt threads will help protect against corrosion and make removing them in the future so much easier.”

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“The owner’s manual for your car will have a section on the maximum weight that can be carried on the roof. We often find the car will have a lower weight limit than the roof bars so it’s important to check and never exceed whichever is the lower of the two.”

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“Loading a roof rack with big, bulky items can be quite difficult. It’s when you’re struggling and straining that things tend to get damaged, so rather than scratching your lovely paintwork with that 12-foot canoe you’re trying to manhandle on your own, get someone to give you a hand.”

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“You’d be surprised at the number of calls we get from customers telling us they’ve just driven their car into a multi-storey car park (or their own garage), forgotten they had the roof rack and roof box or bike racks fitted and ripped the whole lot off! It’s more of an issue on taller MPVs and 4×4s but still possible in family saloons, so try to remember the extra height you’re carrying!”

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“At MicksGarage, we only sell roof racks with security locks – be sure to use them at all times, especially if you’re carrying bikes or kayaks that can be worth thousands. It can also be a good idea to keep your roof rack keys on your car key ring. We get hundreds of calls every year looking for replacement keys!”

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“Canoes, kayaks and surf boards must be tied down to the car front and back, not just to the roof rack. You can use the car’s towing eyes or tow bar if it has one. These kind of products can generate absolutely colossal amounts of aerodynamic lift when travelling at speed and could rip any brand of roof rack clean off your car if it’s not tied down properly. Even if you’re not travelling quickly, strong winds (and it often is very windy when surfers/wind surfers are heading out) could exert forces higher than the roof rack is rated for and cause damage so this is a really important point.”

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“Some roof rack accessories such as roof boxes come with a maximum speed warning which shouldn’t be exceeded. Aerodynamic drag increases with speed, and exceeding the speed rating could effectively exert too much force onto the accessory or the roof rack.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”TAKE IT OFF” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]”Despite the use of lightweight materials and aerodynamic profiles, a roof rack still adds a degree of weight and aerodynamic drag to your car. Although a small amount, it will negatively affect your fuel economy. So if you’re not using it, take it off!

“Finally, if you’re planning on taking a trip to the safari park with a roof box attached to your rack, stay away from the baboons! Or just make sure you lock it.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

For more information on roof racks and travel accessories, whether for business or leisure, head to MicksGarage. They have a team of experts on hand seven days a week.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][action full_width=”yes” content_in_grid=”no” type=”normal” show_button=”yes” background_color=”#0a0a0a” background_image=”20100″ button_text=”Get a European Breakdown Cover Quote” button_link=”http://www.theaa.ie/aa/insurance/european-breakdown-cover.aspx” button_hover_text_color=”#e5e5e5″ button_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_hover_background_color=”#ffcc00″][/vc_column][/vc_row]