Without doubt it’s the key to a successful move – the removal van and all those who get paid by the van’s owner to transport your possessions from one place to another. On the whole these days it’s pretty rare to get landed with a bunch of cowboys who will have lassoed you to the worst moving day scenario imaginable; yet it can happen.

Here’s how to remove the angst when deciding which removal firm to trust with your belongings.

Unless you have an uncle who runs his own impeccable firm, you will have to do what the majority of people do and that’s go find one via the Internet. In the old days we used to have to rely on a thick directory called the Yellow Pages (and yes, the pages were yellow) to locate a business such as a removal firm that seemed to be a shining example to its profession.

Thankfully, we now have websites to gauge the value and worth of businesses right across the board. Much better than a half page add in a directory, a website can give you all the information you need in much more depth. However, you can tell a lot just by the website itself.

It’s all about care. If the website looks like it’s been put together by a 2 year-old in a blindfold in less than ten minutes then there’s a good chance the firm whose services it is advertising will care nothing for you as a customer except your money.

That’s not what you want. You want the utmost in undivided attention – and that is the least you should expect. Moving your possessions is a serious concern and if the firm isn’t going to be all that concerned with you then you don’t want them looking after your stuff.

Another sure-fire sign that the firm can’t be trusted should be as clear as day to you if it seems reluctant to provide you with a quote. If you have to ask more than once to be given at least a fairly ball-park estimate, then the alarm bells should be ringing loud and raucously.

Lack of customer feedback or positive comments are another strong indicator that this friendly, family-run business, that says it has been established since 1872, is in fact a fly-by-night sham run by cack-handed charlatans. Avoid like the plague.

Because you’ll feel like you’ve been hit by one if you are unlucky enough to get stung by an unreliable removal team.

By Mitch Wicking

A journalist and reporter for many years Mitch enjoys investigating Life's little wonders for Hackworthy and many other domains and topics. Click here to find out more.

The act of giving is a special one, especially when it’s an extra special occasion. But more often than not it’s harder to think of anything ultra-unique to mark the occasion.

That’s why the words CRYSTAL GLASSWARE should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Why? Because crystal is not only a beautifully stunning material to behold that adds wonderful sparkle to the home, it is also eminently practical too; it’s not just for show.

Crystal glassware is all about class and sophistication, and best of all its not expensive. If anything it is one of the most affordable pieces of luxury one can procure.

Crystal makes an ideal gift for many occasions such as weddings, christenings, milestone birthdays, romantic occasions, and landmark anniversaries.

For instance, as a wedding gift a set of coloured crystal champagne glasses will not only be a beautiful present but also quite unique. The happy couple will no doubt be delighted with such a gift and whether they choose to use them or keep them merely for decoration is up to them; but the great thing is the option to do both is there.

As a christening gift it is less likely the item you choose to give such as an ornamental bowl or special individual tumbler would be used straight away, but in time the child when they become adult may decide to use the item when it is passed to them. Again, they would have that option.

On the other hand milestone birthdays are more likely to see the birthday boy or girl make full use of the crystal beer glass or martini glass right there and then, especially if it is the big 18, 21, 30 or 50. Equally landmark anniversaries will usually find the recipients making full use of the crystal vase or decanter they might be given to mark their Silver, Golden or Ruby.

As for romantic occasions, you cannot beat a pair of crystal wine glasses on Valentines to bowl either partner over in a display of ever-loving affection.

Crystal is so eye-catching and entrancing it is very hard to find a more suitable and stunning gift to mark special occasions. The extra appeal of choosing crystal as a gift for someone else is the fact that giving crystal as a gift is very often overlooked.

So shhhh, don’t go sharing this with everyone!

By Mitch Wicking

A journalist and reporter for many years Mitch enjoys investigating Life's little wonders for consumercheckpoint.co.uk, Gurasu and many other topics and domains. Born and bred in London, father-of-three Mitch now lives and works aboard a beautiful narrow boat on a peaceful marina in the heart of England which he shares with his Leicester “duck”/muse.

That’s part of the fun of it, isn't it? You've taken the plunge, booked your first trip to the Caribbean, you’re dead excited…but it also feels a little scary especially when having kids with you.

That’s only natural of course. It’s the fear of the unknown mixed with the knowledge that things can go wrong even though you have the reassurance that you have booked your holiday with the help of a reputable travel agent.

It’s all about being prepared for potential hiccups, so if you are setting off soon on a Cuba holidays package then here are a few things you may want to bear in mind before you go to take the edge off:

ID – this can be important if for some reason something occurs and you happen to be in a “wrong time, wrong place” situation so it is always best to have at least two photocopies each of your passport, travel documents, airline tickets, driving license, and anything else that might prove useful if you have to produce your ID at a moment’s notice. The reason to have photocopies is simply that they are easier to keep on your person than the originals, and you don’t really want to be carrying the originals of documents with you anyway in case they get lost or mislaid or stolen.

Cash Alternatives – it is always best to have a mix of both cash and credit cards when you are abroad as you don’t want to rely on just one or the other. It’s also a good idea to keep a bit of cash stashed somewhere as back-up in case you run out suddenly. The same goes for debit or credit cards – have at least two of these handy and place the spare in a safe place should one go missing. It’s never a good idea to carry too much around with you, and certainly not everything you have.

Personal Comfort – this is important if you are going to enjoy your Cuba holiday to the maximum so ensure you take items such as mosquito spray (you may need it as soon as you land!), a few long-sleeved tops (as it can get chilly at night), appropriate head wear (to fend off dangerous and unwanted sunstroke), and a good supply of your favorite medicines (paracetamol, plasters, insect replant etc. as these may be hard to get hold of once you’re there). 

Travelling afar for the first time, especially with a young family, is always going to be exciting, but it can also be disappointing if you are not just a little bit prepared. Taking note of the above can help you enjoy your holiday all the more.  

By Mitch Wicking

A journalist and reporter for many years Mitch enjoys investigating Life's little wonders for consumercheckpoint.co.uk, The Holiday Place and many other domains and topics. Born and bred in London, father-of-three Mitch now lives and works aboard a beautiful narrow boat on a peaceful marina in the heart of England which he shares with his Leicester “duck”/muse.

PictureCuba Capital
Here’s a quick Q&A to address some of the most basic and important questions asked each and every day about the biggest island in the Caribbean:

Is Cuba Dangerous?

For those that head to the mainstream resorts and practice the kind of common sense etiquette most travellers should, Cuba is one of the safest places on Earth. Of course, there isn’t a country in the world that doesn’t have its dodgy spots and it isn’t exactly a good idea to stray from the beaten path if you don’t know what you’re doing. Stick to the known places however and safety isn’t a concern in Cuba whatsoever. 

Are Foreigners Frowned Upon?      

Not even in the slightest. The reason some think this is the way in which Cuba doesn’t take kindly to anyone criticising the government, behaving like a thug or taking photos of military or government installations or workers. If you do any of the above then you’re in for a rather unpleasant dressing down, but behave as you should behave and they’ll welcome you with open arms. 

Is it Safe to Take Kids?

Yes, yes and a thousand times yes. Cuba is amazing for kids and has more activities than a thousand families could possibly ever need to keep kids happy for a lifetime. It’s the kind of place that’s built around amazing family times – don’t even think twice about sharing a Cuba holiday with the little ones. 

Can I Visit in Hurricane Season?

Absolutely, as while there is no realistic way of ruling out extreme weather throwing a spanner in the works, statistically it is very unlikely that any holidaymaker will find themselves staring down the face of a storm during the hurricane season trip. There are about a dozen each year, but the season goes on for months and so the odds are always stacked in your favour. 

Is Caribbean Food all Really Spicy?

Not in the slightest, as it hasn’t escaped local attention that visitors don’t always want their head blown off with fiery chilies. As such, there’s enough on offer to cater to even the most sensitive of pallets and kids of ‘discerning’ tastes. 

By Lisa Morton

Lisa Morton took advice from The Holiday Place and found herself on a multi-centre trip that would go on to change her life.