New Flat-Rate Taxi Fees for Paris Airports

For visitors to the City of Lights, the latest taxi fare law takes the financial guesswork out of grabbing a cab from either Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports into the center of Paris.

Announced in May, the new guidelines went into effect on March 1, 2016. The flat rates will be applied only to rides between the two major Paris airports and the Left and Right Banks.

What this means is taxi drivers must forgo the traditional metering system for aiport trips. Tariffs are set between €55 and 30€ depending on the airport and the side of the river Seine a passenger wants to go or come from.

Along with the price change (a cab from the airport into the center used to cost customers as much as €80), supplements for baggage and animals are no longer allowed. Drivers can, however, impose a surcharge of €4 per passenger when a group exceeds four (4), and if a rider books ahead for pickup, an additional €4 reservation fee (immediate pick up) and €7 (in advance) will be charged. Rates remain the same at night and on holidays. As of March 2016, prices are as follows:

Between Charles de Gaulle and The Left Bank €55
Between Charles de Gaulle and The Right Bank €50
Between Orly and The Left Bank €35
Between Orly and The Right Bank €30

The new rates are great news for travelers, but for cab drivers…maybe not so much.

Where to Leave Your Bags Safely in Istanbul

You’ve arrived in Istanbul in the morning but you can’t check into your accommodations until late afternoon (usually around 3pm). Hotels and B&Bs often offer to hold your bags until you can check in, but if you’ve booked a private apartment you may be in a quandary about where to leave your bags in the interim.

Alas, Istanbul no longer offers staffed storage facilities in their train stations, however the good news is that self-service luggage lockers are still available at some of Istanbul’s railway stations and the main bus terminal.


The Ankara Gar station, for instance, is less than a kilometer southwest of Ulus Square in the historic district and has ample banks of brightly colored lockers where you can place your bulky, heavy bags while you stroll around the center.

If you find yourself at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport with a long layover (four hours or more), you can leave your luggage for safekeeping and take the metro or tram into the city to see the sights. Emanet Bagai is located outside the customs area. Once you exit, turn right and walk toward the end of the terminal. There are also baggage lockers in the Departures Hall of the International terminal (at the far end of Row B check-in desks near the toilets/WC). *Note: You’ll need to allow about an hour to return to the airport to retrieve your bags before catching your next flight.

The lockers are available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. You pay by the hour, so it can be a bit pricey but it can be worth it – having peace of mind knowing your bags are safe and you’re free to see the sights without having to drag your bags behind you.

Emanet Bagai
(+90) 212 465 34 42 (International Terminal)
(+90) 531 942 39 80 (International Terminal)
(+90) 537 505 79 93 (Domestic Terminal)
(+90) 212 463 77 77 / 6650 (International Terminal)
(+90) 212 463 77 77 / 6651 (Domestic Terminal)

Left Luggage in London: Free Yourself!

Are you a curious and adventurous traveler who wants to immerse yourself in the rich culture and unique lifestyle of the places you visit? Cross-Pollinate has dozens of privately owned apartments in the London metro area from which to choose. Staying at a self-catered vacation property is an excellent way to experience what life is really like for a native Londoner.

Few properties have staffed reception areas, so they’re generally unable to provide left luggage service before check-in time or after check out. In a big metropolis like London, wherever can you stash your bags?

Well, you’re in luck! We’ve come across a company called Excess Baggage Company that offers over 14 locations (10 of them are near major transportation hubs) where you can safely and affordably drop your heavy, bulky or valuable items while you enjoy the sights of the city unencumbered.

It’s really pretty easy: Drop your suitcases as early as 7:00am and pick them up as late as 11:00pm. Short- and long-term storage is available, as is 24-hour closed circuit TV, full security screening and baggage shipping/delivery. You can even purchase new luggage and travel accessories.

In addition, if you opt for using their convenient online/pre-booking system, you’ll be able to take advantage of their VIP priority handling lanes – just go straight to the counter and deposit your bags…no waiting.

Excess Baggage Company outlets are sprinkled along Great Britain’s national rail network that links London to surrounding UK airports, as well as other European destinations.

Now you can sightsee London freely and without worry!

Excess Baggage Company
Hours: 7:00am – 11:00pm
London area locations: London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, North Terminal (The Avenue), South Terminal (Main Concourse), Charing Cross Station, Euston Station, King’s Cross Station, Liverpool Street Station, Paddington Station, St Pancras International, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street Station, Victoria Station and Waterloo Station.

Lisbon: Leave your luggage and go, go, go!

It continues to be an exasperating travel dilemma: where to leave your luggage before check-in or after checking out of your Lisbon accommodation. Fortunately, companies have heard the call from travelers and answered with many convenient solutions.

In Lisbon for example, CityLockers provides users a safe and uncomplicated way to deposit and hold valuables. The lockers are under CCTV monitoring 24/7 (they’re connected to a central alarm system), are economically priced and centrally located at the Rossio Metro station with easy connections to the Lisbon Airport (Green Line – change once at Alameda to the Red Line). The self-service process is pretty straightforward.

To deposit bags:

1. Place bags in any available locker
2. Close door and wait for the light to turn on
3. Pay your fee (cash or credit cards)
4. Obtain and keep safe your access code

To collect bags:

1. Enter the access code
2. Pay any balance due
3. Take luggage and go

Lockers dimensions are as follows:

  • Small lockers: 36x48x60 cm or 14x19x23.6 in.
  • Medium lockers: 36x65x60 cm or 14×25.6×23.6 in.
  • Large lockers: 36x99x60 cm or 14×38.9×23.6 in.

CityLockers is open from 6:30am to 1:00am, 365 days a year. Hourly fees start as low as 1€ and special long-term rates are available. Note: For luggage storage of more than 7 days, advance booking is required. There’s also a new location in Porto (Porto-Trindade Metro Station).

Drop and go. Lisbon is waiting!

Rossio Metro Station
1100-201 Lisbon, Portugal
Hours: 6:30am to 1:00am (365 days a year)

Is it safe to travel to Europe?

I remember one morning back in September of 2001, getting a series of last minute cancellations by phone at our hostel, The Beehive.  Each caller had a different excuse as to why they couldn’t make it, with strange stories about their flights being cancelled that sounded like the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework”.  What did they mean a plane flew into the World Trade Center?  It was crazy.

Then we jumped online to CNN’s webpage and found a static image of the twin towers burning.  For the next 24 hours phones were jammed and news spread slowly.  The internet, which wasn’t particularly fast at the time anyway, was totally blocked.  From then on, life changed for just about everyone.

Since then, working in travel, we’ve experienced many other disasters – some natural and others man made. Even though our experience might not have always been first-hand, the world is all connected and the impact ended up on our doorstep one way or another.  The volcano in Iceland that grounded all flights for a week; the beginning of the Iraq invasion; countless airport and transport strikes throughout Italy and France; and now the attacks in Paris, Istanbul, and Brussels to name a few.  Each time our hearts break, our faith in humanity slumps, and as we brace ourselves for cancellations and losses, we wonder if this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Even without terrorist attacks people ask us regularly if it’s safe to travel to Europe, so every disaster seems like it could be the beginning of the end of what we do.

Our first, and perhaps knee-jerk reaction to that question is that yes, Europe is safe.  Certainly safer than any major city I’ve visited in the US.  If you really want to get technical, when it comes to malicious, senseless, violent crime, even Paris, Brussels and Istanbul are safer than these places:

That’s some powerful perspective, but despite living on a continent that has very little violent crime, and virtually no mass shootings, we found ourselves this last month on the other end of the debate.

Our family has been planning a trip to Tel Aviv and Istanbul this summer, and after the bombing in Istanbul, our kids were clearly freaked out.  One tried to be the voice of reason, saying “but it’s not like we would be near where that happened, right?”

But no, it was on Istiklal street – a bustling, amazing part of the city.  One of the areas I was most excited about us hanging out at together.  Our young adventurers, who are always eager to travel, were thinking twice.

The reasons for their fear are clear and justifiable – I’m not denying that.  In fact, it’s pretty tough to argue against it.  Fear just doesn’t respond to reason.  You might be able to intellectualize it, but that doesn’t make it go away.

But let’s intellectualize anyway: on the one hand, I ask myself how can I willingly and wilfully put myself and my family at risk by going somewhere where things like this can happen? But where would I draw the line with that kind of thinking? Is traveling risky behavior?  Riskier than driving on the highway, or flying in a big metal bird high in the sky across the world? We can’t put our lives on hold and lock ourselves away from potential danger, especially when the world has so much to offer us that are worth all these risks.

Philosophically, why does it feel different to brave the highways each day, knowing that statistically my chances of dying in a car accident are higher than getting caught in the crossfire of a terrorist act? How many risks do I face each day and where does terrorism, or any kind of unexpected disaster, fit into them?

My answer is that there’s a difference between accepting risks as a cost of life’s necessities, and adding risks onto voluntary and seemingly unnecessary luxuries of life. In other words, we can accept that driving in our cars imposes serious risks, because we feel we have few alternatives – we have to go to work. We have to go get groceries. We have things to do, and getting there is a necessity, so that’s an acceptable level of risk.

But I don’t have to go to Istanbul.  I don’t have to go skydiving.

Travel is optional.  It’s a luxury. And there are many destinations, some that are safer than others.  So choosing one that seems at a higher risk, even if that risk is marginal, is precarious, right?

Perhaps if my only goal was to go on a vacation – unplug from the stresses of life and recharge my batteries, then yes, it might make more sense to choose a beach holiday (although past terrorist attacks in Bali and Tunisia would be a good rebuttal for that option).

But for me, travel is more than vacationing and getting away for a break. European travel especially isn’t so much about getting away from your life, it’s about understanding your life better.  It’s about putting the entire modern, Western world in context.  It’s about experiencing an alternate world – one with different value systems and politics that need to be experienced. It helps us understand ourselves and understand others. It helps us be more tolerant and accepting. It helps in combatting what terrorism is all about.

This might be optional, but it shouldn’t be. What is more dangerous is viewing the world as “us versus them”, dividing people and cultures and always seeing the world from the center of your own value system. People who don’t have their mind opened by travel are more of a hazard to the world in general because closed mindedness is what fuels the kind of hatred behind terrorism and makes the world unsafe.

When I weigh the pros and cons, the pros far outweigh the risks. I think the result of never traveling, or delaying until the world is “safe” enough, is risky.

Travel is optional, and the risks may seem unnecessary, but when we have that feeling of the world as a dangerous place, and our faith in humanity is at its lowest, travel is the best, if not only, cure.

For more interesting reading on this topic, check out this article on Isis’ strategy, and in particular why France is important to them.

This article with some tips from the NY Times

This inspiring post by our friend Jodi of Legal Nomads

And Wendy Perrin’s views on why not to cancel a trip to Europe