The tale of Lampo, the adventuring railway dog



Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Hey there, JFC-ers,

Spooky season is well and truly upon us - so we can expect a glut of emails about Halloween holidays, terrifying trip recommendations and spooky sojourns.

For instance, Thrillist has already landed in our inbox with a huge state-by-state list of the most haunted hotels in the USA: from abandoned hospitals and morgues to deeply creepy BnBs.

Our personal favourite is probably the Doherty Hotel in Clare, Michigan, which is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of bootlegging gangsters from the 1920s.

And even if you couldn't give a hoot about spectral mobsters, you can still drive out to Lake Michigan or into the forests for some stunningly eerie and beautiful hiking. Here's Lonely Planet's top scenic trails.


However, the really scary news this week (for AirBnB hosts, at least) has come from the ‘AirBnBust’ trend online, with hosts complaining that they’re seeing a massive decrease in bookings - and disgruntled guests jumping onto the trend to feign surprise, poke fun, and explain exactly why that might be the case.

A consumer backlash against AirBnB has been in the offing for a long time now, with popular posts on social media complaining about expensive cleaning costs, chore rotas, annoying or intrusive hosts, allegations around hidden cameras, and more.

One rather creepy story stands out - last week, a travelling couple went viral on TikTok after claiming that AirBnB had messaged them shortly after check-in, asking them to leave the property immediately without informing the host. (The host then allegedly also messaged the couple, asking them to 'ignore any weird messages from AirBnB.' Reassuring stuff.)

While it may not be able to entirely remove the risk of creepy hosts, AirBnB has signalled that it is at least trying to solve the problem of excessive cleaning charges - CEO Brian Chesky has called it one of his 'top priorities' to fix.

The company is also apparently taking a hardline stance against that greatest of scourges - guests who play The Monster Mash too loudly. Yes, AirBnB will be monitoring Halloween bookings and cracking down on noisy group celebrations with something it calls 'anti-party technology.'

How are you feeling about AirBnB these days, readers? Do you still find the flexibility (and cooking utensils) valuable for travel? Or would you rather head to the hotel and put your feet up, safe in the knowledge that nobody's going to try and make you water their plants? Let us know at [email protected].

Many thanks and happy flying,



Your Next Trip

In our regular feature, we offer tips, advice and travel inspiration in response to your questions. Let's get started!

Older, Adventurous...and Overcharged

We’re combining these two questions, readers, because they hit on the same broad problem - if you’re an older traveller, or if you’re travelling alone, you tend to get over-charged.

Travel insurance abroad

Let's start with the reader who asked about travel insurance - our advice is that you should absolutely invest in it. (And do bear in mind that if you want to spend a longer period of time slow-travelling in Europe and end up needing a tourist visa, many countries will actively require proof of medical coverage.)

However, we probably wouldn’t recommend attempting to find a plan locally at your destination. This is for a few reasons:

  • Some local insurance brokers do offer quotes for international visitors - for instance, you can buy a Manulife travel insurance plan either as a Canadian going abroad, or as a foreigner visiting Canada - but many others don’t. So this cuts you off from possibilities to find a good plan at a good price.
  • When you’re researching your options, you might stumble onto a couple of pan-European insurance brokers which offer temptingly cheap travel insurance for international visitors across the entire Schengen area. But these brokers have almost universally bad customer reviews (even by the low, low standards of insurance companies more broadly) so we’d be extremely cautious about applying for a plan with them.
  • Sometimes (see above), companies can let you down. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to place an insurance claim and it’s rejected unfairly, you’ll need to be able to follow the company’s complaints process and, if necessary, appeal to a higher authority. Doing this from abroad makes things much more difficult and stressful for you!

We’d recommend the boring but sensible option - start with an insurance comparison site based in Canada and review your options, double-checking the fine print as you go.

We used Insure My Trip Canada, inputted a birth-date of 1950 (so putting ourselves at 72 years old) and a $3,000 estimated spend, and found an all-inclusive plan for $500 - so still pricey, but at least not 50% of your total budget!

Since you’re planning on a number of different trips, you should also talk to your chosen insurer about what multi-trip plans they offer - it could be that you can save some money there.

Good luck and hope you have an absolutely fantastic time across Europe!

Hang Solo

As for our reader who was asking about solo resources - yes, that's absolutely something we can help with.

There are a few travel companies out there which are geared towards supporting solo travel, finding reasonable accommodation for a lone wanderer, etc - Tripsavvy has a great round-up of their favourites here.

But if you want to go it alone, you could also check out some of the incredible peer-to-peer networks out there.

The Solo Female Traveller Network started up in 2016 and they're now a Facebook group with over 500,000 members - while they do run organised meet-ups across the world, they're also absolutely invaluable as a source of useful tips from real people.

(They also have a smaller over-40s group if you'd prefer!) Drop in, ask for advice about avoiding sky-high costs on your planned itinerary, and reap the wisdom from your fellow travellers.

Meanwhile, Lonely Planet and Which? have their own incredibly helpful recommendations on how you can save money as a solo traveller - and Women On The Road has a great list of links for budgeting (from cost calculators to suggested itineraries.

If your budget is particularly tight, there are also a few women's-only hostels out there which tend to be popular with solo travellers. (We've heard good things about Hostelle, which has branches in Amsterdam, London and Barcelona - and Orsa Maggiore Hostel For Women in Rome, a non-profit enterprise with both private and dorm rooms located inside the city's International Women's House.

Good luck and happy travels!

Flights to Philly

We’re sorry to say we don’t have any good news on this one, reader - American Airlines were planning to restart Manchester to Philadelphia direct flights back in summer 2021, but discontinued the route due to lack of uptake.

Right now, the only direct flight to Philadelphia from UK is from London Heathrow - and we appreciate that travelling down there from Manchester on the train may not be any easier than making the transfer.

We’ll keep an eye out for you - and we’ll keep our fingers firmly crossed that something changes.

Got an idea or a request for an article? Please share it with us!

Ask us for a travel tip! 🌴


Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

The Porter family is spending a year travelling the world - in a tiny single-engine plane flown by dad Ian and his co-pilots, daughters Samantha and Sydney.

From the BBC, here's a look at the stunning 'beehive towers' of glorious Sardinia.

The second-richest person in the world, Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault, has sold his private plane after being annoyed by flight trackers monitoring just how much time it was spending in the air.

(A few environmental activists online have claimed it as a victory - but in fact, Bernard will just be renting his private jets anonymously from now on.)

This really seems to happen more often than you'd imagine - yet again, a snake has snuck onto a plane, causing havoc and terror on a United Airlines flight.

Thankfully, it was just a harmless garter snake, but still.

And here’s the (sort of) hilarious story of how a misunderstanding in 1991 led to a babysitter accidentally taking a two-year-old with her on holiday.


And Finally...

From History of Yesterday, here's the impossibly adorable and heartwarming (and, we warn you, eventually sob-inducing) story of Lampo - the 'travelling dog of Italy's railways' in the 1950s.

Showing up as a stray at the Tuscan railway station of Campiglia Marittima one day, Lampo was befriended by the stationmaster Elvio and his daughter Mirna - and quickly began jumping on the trains with her to accompany her to and from school.

While Mirna was at school, Lampo would amuse himself by leaping on and off random trains to discover new destinations.

Being a smart boy as well as a good boy, he quickly learnt the train timetables, and was fully capable of jumping on an outbound train from Campiglia Marittima, sniffing around the platform at the other end, for a few hours, then catching a return train to ensure he was home by sunset. (In other words, he was a better travel planner than the vast majority of humans.)

The vast majority of passengers were charmed by Lampo's adventures (hooray), and the train drivers themselves would often wait to depart until he'd had a chance to hop on board, but Elvio's superiors were less impressed (boo). They ordered the stationmaster to get rid of the unpredictable pooch.

Elvio and Mirna sadly delivered Lampo to live with a friend 400 miles away in Barletta, south-eastern Italy - and then were shocked and delighted, about five months later, when they discovered their beloved dog sitting on the train station platform, looking thin and haggard but glad to be home.

International news coverage began to spread about Lampo, and the railway company admitted defeat - the pooch would continue to roam the trains and stations of the country as its official mascot.

In 1961, the elderly Lampo tragically died after he was struck by a passing cargo train (the train was, we should be clear, off-schedule. There's no way Lampo would have got his timings wrong, even in his old age). But to this day, he continues to be celebrated by spontaneous adventurers everywhere - and his statue stands outside the Campiglia train station in tribute.