VIVE LA LUXURY!

Booking a shopping holiday but not sure where the best value is to buy those luxury goods? Look no further than the home of that famous bike race, cheese, champagne and Louis Vuitton.

France is the most popular international travel destination for tax-free shopping, followed by Singapore, Germany, England and Italy.

The Chinese millionaire accounts for the largest proportion of consumption spent on tax-free shopping across the globe, making up about a quarter of Chinese global consumption.

In Singapore Chinese tourists spend an average of $10,481 on luxury watches and jewelry. And a single Chinese tourist can buy up to 20 branded bags at one shop based on a shopping list of requests from people back home.

Russian & Chinese tourists account for almost 40% of global tax-free spend, followed by Japanese and Indonesians.

And remember it can be worth putting in that tax form at the airport, saving you up to 19% of your purchases which can add up to a lot when you are buying a Louis Vuitton luggage set!

TRAVEL SAFE

To insure or not to insure?

The whole area of travel insurance is extremely confusing so hopefully this will help make your decision a little less so, next time you head overseas.

There are three main categories: trip investment (which covers trip cancellation or interruption), personal health (which fills in gaps in your normal health insurance), and personal belongings (which covers baggage loss and car rental damage). You should always have at least the first two. And make sure the personal health coverage includes both “medical evacuation,” which is the cost of getting you to an appropriate local hospital or clinic, and “repatriation,” which covers the cost of getting back home.

Top Tip – most people fail to recognise that most credit cards and health insurance packages already have some form of travel insurance coverage so you don’t need to buy more.

Credit card travel insurance usually covers everything, and of course platinum and higher level cards provide the best coverage. BUT most of the time you’ll only be covered if you paid for some, or all, of the international air tickets on the credit card, which is considered a trigger for the “activation” of the travel insurance. This means credit card travel insurance policies are useless for business trips (usually paid for by your company). So hopefully your company has something that covers you for work trips – it’s worthwhile asking as I have been caught out several times.

Luggage and personal items are covered well on credit cards, sometimes up to $15,000 per person, with a total of $30,000 for all family members. Standalone travel insurance policies quite often have limits as low as $2,000 for your baggage, so don’t assume you need an additional policy to cover this.

Of course, all the usual conditions apply – you may only get reimbursed for lost or stolen items if you have filed police reports within 24 hours, and only if you can provide original purchase receipts to prove ownership.

If you purchase the ticket for plane, train, bus or ferry on your credit card you will generally be insured against death or debilitating injury for a very high amount, such as $1,000,000 for the death of a cardholder. Regular travel insurance generally only pays out normal accidental death benefits of around $25,000 – $50,000.

And if you are lucky enough to have time off and are going on a long trip, choose your card carefully. Credit card insurance is often only valid for three to six months maximum, and unlike stand-alone travel insurance policies, can’t be extended.

DON’T FAKE IT

Decided you might treat yourself on your latest business trip and thought that Gucci bag was a bargain at $200… think again.

Counterfeit goods production has risen by over 10,000 percent during the past two decades, partially as a result of existing consumer demand. Fake product sales are now at USD$600 billion worldwide and make up 7 percent of all products traded around the world. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that this figure will double by 2015.

Luxury goods, such as fake Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, footwear and clothing, represent only approximately 4% of the industry. The other 96 percent is made up of pharmaceuticals, auto parts, airplane parts, electrical cords, toys, software, hardware, CDs, DVDs, books, baby formula, alcohol, toothpaste and even eggs!

The World Health Organization, has estimated that 10 percent of all medications worldwide are fake, with sales amounting to approximately $320 billion. And many of these medications are now being made in the UK, not just India or Asia.

In the UK alone over 800 million pounds of fake DVD’s are sold each year
In the Ukraine 90% of all computer software used is fake

So if it’s too good to be true… then it’s usually fake!

FASHION FRIDAY – Bagged


With the Olympics around the corner, women’s handbags trends are racing toward the finish line with all things athletic. Perforated leather, mesh paneling, and athletic detailing are being woven into all pieces. And these aren’t just for gym bags and backpacks, it’s for every day, take me anywhere use.

Don’t worry guys – you get to look stylish in a “manly” way too. Billy Reid has a range of leather bags made especially for men which will be the envy of everyone at the gym or going to work. http://www.billyreid.com/category/luggage/horween-cordovan.html

These are certainly a step up from the original duffle bag (the name comes from Duffel, a town in Belgium where the thick cloth used to make the bag originated) which are still used by military personnel.

TRAVEL TUESDAY – Best Business Hotels

Booking your next business trip and trying to work out where to stay? The Business Traveller awards highlight the best hotels and hotel chains based on readers feedback, for those of us who spend time on the road for work.

Best Business Hotel Chain Worldwide
1. Four Seasons
2. Hilton Hotels and Resorts
3. Mandarin Oriental
4. Marriott
5. InterContinental

Best Business Hotel Globally
1. The Peninsula Hong Kong
2. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
3. Four Seasons Hong Kong
4. Shangri-La Singapore

Best Hotel Loyalty Scheme
InterContinental Priority Club
Hilton HHonors
Starwood Preferred Guest
Marriott Rewards

And to look stylish and make life easier when packaging the favourite Luggage Brands
1. Samsonite
2. Tumi
3. Delsey
4. Rimowa

MUST HAVE MONDAY

There is nothing worse than a mis-matched belt and bag (a bit like a man wearing white socks with a suit!). Many of the fashion houses are making it easy for us this season with ready made matching combos.

One of my favourites is the M Missoni crochet bag ($465) and chain link belt ($250). Ideal for teaming together for work.

http://www.net-a-porter.com/

WIRED WEDNESDAY

If you are like me, I hate travelling with multiple battery packs, adapters and cords – especially when you are carrying it as hand luggage on the plane. Or you are running out of battery constantly.

A new solution is the PowerBag – These high-tech bags can charge up to four mobile devices at a time via Apple, micro-USB, mini-USB and regular USB connectors. The battery in the bag itself can be charged by plugging the backpack into a power socket. Makes life so much easier.

My favourite is the “Sling”, and it comes in lots of colours!

http://www.mypowerbag.com/