Just a short note to let you know that Avis have extended the Fiat 500 trial due to popular demand and positive customer feedback. You can now rent this fantastic little car up to the end of March 2009.

The Fiat 500 has just won BusinessCar magazine’s City Car of the Year Award. This prize – decided by the publication’s readers – follows other accolades for the 500, including Car of the Year 2008, Auto Express’ Best City Car 2008 and Fifth Gear’s Car of the Year. And if this great car couldn’t get any better, Fiat will be showing off their convertible version at the Geneva Motor Show in March!

Have you tried one yet? Why not let us know if you liked it? If you haven’t experienced the Fiat 500, visit the Avis website for details of how to book your drive today.

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#2 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Agia Galini in Crete…

What’s the deal?
Agia Galini is another small fishing village on the list but, despite the growing tourism, is said to have retained it’s local charm and has been described as “one of the most attractive places in the south of Crete”. The village itself is built on a hill and is centred round the port that stretches out on to the Lybian sea. It is also a good base for travelling to ancient Greek locations such as like Phaistos, Aghia Triada and Gortys or for taking a boat trip.

What are other traveller’s saying?
To be honest I could find very little in the way of traveller reviews for this holiday destination. The limited reviews of Tripadvisor do suggest it could be an alll round destination for all the family as well as being a good location for a romantic getaway. If you are reading this and you have been to Agia Galini, please let us know whether you would recommend it and provide any tips on what you would do there!

How do I get there?
One thing travellers do recommend is flying to Chania airport rather than Heraclion airport as it is much closer (by 2 hours). You can access Agia Galini from the airport by bus, taxi or a hire car.

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Lonely PlanetIf you are tightening your budget, it doesn’t have to mean squeezing your holiday right out of the picture. With a little planning and some hints from the experts, I have found that you can still enjoy some holiday time this year. Avis have partnered with Lonely Planet guidebooks to give you some ideas on where to go, when and how to save money along the way.

Here are a few of the money saving tips I have picked out to help you get more planet for your pocket:

Save before you go…

  • Planning your itinerary and booking transport and hotels ahead of time ensures you get the best prices, saving you both time and money.
  • Booking online can fetch amazing deals.
  • Also try flying with a low-cost airline to a nearby city (like Girona instead of Barcelona). You’ll save a bundle and see somewhere new.
  • Travelling midweek will also set you apart from the big spenders.



Save while you’re there…

  • Travelling with kids? Family and student discounts are often available for transport and sights and many destinations have parks, beaches and museums that are absolutely free.
  • Family-friendly accommodation doesn’t have to cost big bucks – look for child-friendly guesthouse and family-run hotels instead of the big chains. Better yet, consider camping.



If you are looking to rent a car when you travel abroad, take a look at Rob’s post “Our tips for renting a car this summer” for lots of useful information.

If you have found the above information useful and would like to learn more from Lonely Planet, why not visit the Lonely Planet partner page on the Avis website, where you can save 10% on all Lonely Planet guides.

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#3 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Petra in Jordan…

What’s the deal?
Do you remember the hunt for the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade? If so, you will already be very familiar with Petra given that it is the site where Indiana actually uncovers the much coveted religious artefact. In the movie this site was left in a crumbling state. In reality this arncient city of stone is very much intact.

The thing that amazes me most is that Petra has only just been considered a travel hot spot. This site creates such great wonder that in 2007 it was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, sitting in the company of Macchu Picchu, The Great Wall of China, The Christ Redeemer and the Taj Mahal. Wow.

Petra is known to have been the ancient capital of the kingdom of the Nabataens but, to be honest, there is too much to cover on such a fascinating site in a blog post and the overview in Wikipedia is recommended reading.

What are other traveller’s saying?
There are some really good reviews on Petra on Tripadvisor that are worth checking out. There are plenty superlatives used to describe the site such as “amazing” and “incredible”. A couple of travellers also note the virtues of visiting at night where the crowds are minimal and, if you catch the right night, you’ll get the chance to watch “Petra by Night” show which is not to be missed. One word of warning though: travellers advise to beware professional beggars.

I have to say that, of all the “hot spots” on Tripadvisor’s list, it’s Petra that is most likely to make it on my list of my places to visit.

How do I get there?
Petra is most accessible from Wadi Rum or Aqaba. It is about an hour by either bus or taxi from either of these locations and both transport methods will cost no more than 30 JD.

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It amazing how many times I’m watching television or films and Avis pops up. As Rob blogged before, you may remember James Bond picking up a car from Avis Hamburg Airport in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. However, he returned it in a unconventional manner by driving it from the top of a multi storey car park into the Avis office. I’d hate to be the agent filling out the paperwork on that one!

But what are the famous cars that you remember from the big screen. Here’s my top five (in no particular order):

1. Lotus Esprit The Spy Who Loved Me
James Bond purists always go for the Aston Martin DB5, but how can you resist a car that has surface-to-air missiles, smokescreens and turns into a submarine.

2. Ford Grand TorinoStarsky and Hutch
It was the Seventies, cardigans were cool and two policemen travelled round in a car with the best paint job ever. Who hasn’t tried to copy the “sliding across the bonnet” technique? How many people ended up with dents in their cars because of it?

3. BessieDoctor Who
This canary yellow vintage car, driven by Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, used to entertain me on Saturday evenings (when I wasn’t hiding behind the sofa from the Daleks).

4. 1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID V8 – Bullitt
The coolest car chase in the history of film. However, please don’t copy it in an Avis car!!

5. Batmobile/The Tumbler Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
2.3 tonnes, 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and the ability to escape in the Batpod. I’ll be the first to try one of these if we ever got them on fleet.

So, what are your favourite film and TV cars? Why not leave a comment and let us know?

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#4 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Ardmore in Ireland…

What’s the deal?
Ardmore is another coastal town (or perhaps village in this case) but it’s not sun, sea and sand that is the attraction here (although the beach is popular when the weather is nice). Ardmore’s attraction comes from it’s historical heritage. Situated in County Waterford, the small fishing village is widely regarded as the oldest Christian settlement in Ireland. This owes very much to the story of St. Declan who introduced Christianity to the area before the coming of St. Patrick. In fact there is a really interesting story behind St. Declan that you can read on the Monastic Ireland website. There are a number of historical buildings and monuments that lay testament to this time including the ruins of St. Declan’s church and oratory. TheTravel Ireland website gives a good summary of these sites.

What are other travellers saying?
A lot of the discussion between travellers revolves around pubs. Well one pub. It seems a pub in Ardmore was the subject of a trilogy of books by the popular novellist Nora Roberts. In the novel the pub was known as Gallaghers but is now known as An Tobar. The discussions are really positive about the village, describing it as charming. The Marine bar is said to have some of the best traditional Irish music around while another traveller describes the White Horses as one of the best restaurants in the whole of Ireland!

How do I get there?
Ardmore is about equal distance from both Waterford and Cork. In the absence of public transport, car is the best way to go. You can get the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin or from Fishguard to Rosselare. Alternatively, you can fly into Cork airport and hire a car.

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In July 1998, the first UK photocard driving licences were introduced. What some people (including myself) weren’t aware of is that the photograph element of the card only lasts for 10 years. The first photographs on these licences began to expire in July 2008 and all holders need to renew their photocard at the ten year point. If you’re unsure if you are affected, the expiry date of the photograph is at point 4b of the licence. The paper part of the licence however does not contain an expiry until the holders 70th Birthday.

The DVLA have been sending out reminders from May 2008 to all relevant drivers. Currently, there is a fee of £17.50 to update your licence and failure to comply MAY result in a fine of up to £1000 for the driver. Details of how to renew your photograph can be found on the direct.gov website.

When hiring with Avis, we will still rent to you if your photograph is out of date (yet still resembles the holder) but your licence remains valid. However, we would urge you to update your photograph when you receive your renewal notice. You may have changed over the last ten years and it’s great for our rental agents to recognise who we are renting to!

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m4s0n501

Koh Phi PhiDay 28
I was sad to leave Railay but the view from the boat as I left was breathtaking and, thankfully, my next destination was another island (or two islands should I say) of stunning beauty. Again, with a limited number of days to play with, I had only a short stay planned at Koh Phi Phi – although, to be honest, I don’t my budget could stretch to many days here anyway. Koh Phi Phi was quite clearly the most expensive destination I had visited yet.

So with time at the essence, I quickly found a room that was just within my budget (it was a bit of dive though) and immediately booked myself in for a half day sunset tour of the islands. The tour included two snorkelling stops (the snorkelling was excellent), a stop at Monkey Beach (which is quite literally awash with Long-Tailed Macaque monkeys) and a tour round Koh Phi Phi Leh (the uninhabited island of the two). Thankfully, as a protected island that is devoid of any kind of development, Koh Phi Phi Leh has remained a bit of an unspoilt gem and included within the various stops around the island was Maya Bay, where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed. The entire tour cost just 450Baht which, quite frankly, I would declare as a bit of a bargain.

With my “lonely traveller” beacon shining oh so brightly on our sunset tour, I was invited out for some drinks in the evening. So at 11am, I headed out to Loh Dalam Bay where a number of parties take place along the various bars that line the beach. The bar we ended up at involved fire. And plenty of it. They also actively encouraged audience participation so, on Koh Phi Phi, a burnt tourist was as common a sight as finding tourist scarred from a scooter accident on Koh Phangan. Unfortunately, having booked in two scuba dives for the following morning, I couldn’t go too overboard so I had self-imposed a limit of just two cans of Chang before turning in for the night.

Day 29
I woke up in the morning feeling a little worse for wear. I knew it was the Chang. I only had two cans but that stuff has insisted on doing funny things to me since the day I got here. Like the way I’d always end up waking up in places like Brighton or Twyford (in both instances my destination was Iver) whenever my night had involved a certain Belgium beer. Still I felt my body recovering and, eager not to miss out, I went for the two dives as scheduled.

And I’m glad I did because I saw my first shark (a leopard shark), a turtle, a seahorse and a plethora of fish including a lionfish. By the time we arrived back in Koh Phi Phi however, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I had planned a couple of hours of “tan time” but the only place I was headed was bed.

I rested for a few hours but by the time I woke up I could barely move. I had planned to go to Viewpoint to check out the stunning views of the island that I was told it provide. I was determined to make it. At that moment I could not think of putting my body through anything worse than making that challenging walk up the hill. I had already been made well aware that it was not the easiest of walks, even for the fittest of people. But walk it I did. And when I made it there I rested. Then I took in the view. Then I rested again. Then I watched the sunset. And then I dragged my body back down.

I ate dinner (pizza because that was the only thing my body seemed to want to take) and then thought it best I retire. It’s a bit of a shame really because Koh Phi Phi has a really good party scene with loads of great bars both in the town and on the beach. But I was no state to party. And my body needed to recover because tomorrow I was making the trip out of Thailand and into Malaysia.

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#5 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Peschiera del Garda in Italy…

What’s the deal?
Finally! A destination on the Tripadvisor list that isn’t a coastal town. But it is on a lake. The stunning Lake Garda in fact, as the name suggests. Located on the south side of the lake in the Veneto region, Peschiera del Garda is a small town best known as one of the four fortified settlements that constituted the “Quadrilateral” during Austrian rule. The fortress itself is located on an island in the Minico River. Peschiera del Garda has been described as a “pretty” and “bustling” town and local activities include hiking through the through the olive groves, wine tasting or, of course, boat rides on the lake itself.

What are other traveller’s saying?
Reading the Tripadvisor forum, Peschiera del Garda is popular place camping destination for all the family at the Camping del Garda site. All the reviews are really positive with this review particularly comprehensive. Day trips from to Venice are also very popular.

How do I get there?
The nearest airport is Verona although a lot of people prefer to make the flight to Venice Marco Polo airport to spend a couple of days in Venice before travelling down. Car hire, including Avis, is available from both airports although some travellers prefer to get the train.

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In his recent blog in the Daily Mirror, Richard Hammond said he’s happy that Avis have the Fiat 500 to rent and that it should be a permanent part of the Avis Fleet. We recently introduced these great little cars into our Select Series for a limited period and from the feedback we’ve received, they have gone down really well with our customers.
 
So, what do you think? Have you driven one? If so, do you agree with Richard? Why not tell us what other cars you would like to see on our Select Series fleet in 2009? And don’t forget, the Fiat 500 is still available to rent from locations across the country until mid February.

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

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But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.