Travel

Picking a backpacking destination? Make your money go further!

It’s getting cold and dreary here in the UK and it’s no surprise that many of us are getting itchy feet and planning our next travel spot. But where can you head these days that’s not going to leave you out of pocket within a couple of weeks?

Well I’ve been searching around and found a great list on a website called Student Universe, who have complied a list of the 10 cheapest spots to backpack in – meaning more travel for your moneys!!

Who’s up for an extended vaycay??

Check it out here: Top Ten Cheapest Countries to Backpack

There’s some real gems in there, and some countries that I haven’t even thought about travelling to yet so it’s worth a look!

Advertisements

10 Reasons To Pack Your Bags and Head Down Under

There are about a million reasons to jump on a plane and see a new part of the world, but why Australia? Well, here’s a few reasons:

  1. There are so many faces to Australia you never know what you’re going to see next. One day you can be sunning yourself on the second best beach in the world (Whitehaven – The Whitsunday Islands), and the next you could be riding a camel or skiing down a mountain! If that doesn’t leave you spoilt for choice, I don’t know what will.
  2. It can be a good move financially. Many people believe that when they go away on their travels they will come home with a great tan and empty pockets. But why not save as you go? With the average backpacker’s annual wage at around AU$30,000 for casual jobs, you can afford to enjoy the lifestyle whilst getting together the money for your next trip! I’ve even known people to save up for a deposit on a house for when they returned home, so the possibilities really are endless
  3. Tim Minchin. Enough said. 
  4. You can finally do something you’ve always dreamed about. Be it diving on the Great Barrier Reef, learning to surf, exploring the bush or just travelling in general, there are so many opportunities to do new things you’ll be guaranteed to go home with at least a few ticks off the old bucket list.
  5. Lose your solo travel virginity. If you’re thinking of going travelling alone for the first time, this is a great place to start. It’s an English speaking country and one of the safest countries I have ever travelled in. You’ll find it so easy to settle in, and you can even drink the tap water (bonus for those with sensitive tummies).
  6. You will make some of the best friends you’ll ever have. Nothing brings people together like being stuck in a smelly hostel room with no money and just a bag of goon (look it up). There’s nothing like a few kindred spirits on the road, and when you look back on those memories you’ll be glad they were there to make it the trip of a lifetime.
  7. The Aussies have a great sense of humour and they really know how to laugh at themselves. It’s good to remember not to take yourself so seriously sometimes! 
  8. The Great Barrier Reef. Now Australia has countless amazing places to see, but the GBR has to top all of these. One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, this coral reef spans along 1,600 miles of ocean, and is home to some of the most stunning aquatic life you will ever see. And the best bit is whether you’re a diver, a snorkeler, or you prefer to view it in a glass bottom boat, everyone now has the opportunity to visit it.
  9. Whether you’re a sun, sea, sand or snow bunny there really is something for everyone – so why choose? You’re in a country with some of the most versatile climates in the world, making Oz a destination like no other. Grab hold of the opportunity to go wherever you like and see whatever you want all in the one place. Not many countries compare.
  10. Pack your bags because it’s Australia. And it’s freaking awesome. I’ve never met a person who regretted travelling to Oz, myself included, and it’s hardly a hard sell. Go see what all the fuss is about. 

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, get Work Anywhere: Australia the guide today!

Cars and Campervans – The Rent vs Buy Debate

So you’ve finally managed to scrape all your hard-earned cents together to put towards that road trip you’ve been dreaming of, now it’s time to start planning!

You know where you want to go, but have you thought about how you’re going to get there?

Cars and campervans are a great way to get around in Oz, especially if you want to see more of the country between destinations instead of flying. You’ve got the freedom to travel your own way, choose your travel buddies, and most importantly, call shotgun.

But there’s one question on the lips of every backpacker when it comes to getting their wheels:

“Should I rent or buy?”

Over the 2 years I spent Down Under I was lucky enough to experience both renting and buying a car, so hopefully this knowledge will be able to help you out a bit! There are obviously pros and cons to both, so let’s start there.

Renting

Pros:

  • It’s cheaper if just for a short trip
  • Break down? Most companies offer 24/7 roadside assistance to get you back on your travels.
  • You’ll probably end up driving a car you could never afford to buy anyway – no more scraping the mould off the windscreen first thing in the morning, this is luxury driving.
  • Hassle free – forget the tonnes of paperwork and checks needed to buy a car, sort out a few details in the rental office and you’re ready to hit the road!
  • You don’t have to sleep crouched in the gap between the back seat and the front – get a few friends together and you can afford a house on wheels – double bed anyone?

Cons:

  • You’ve got the freedom to travel, but only as far as you can afford – rentals can get very expensive over a longer period of time.
  • Not going back to your original starting point? Be prepared to pay a (sometimes hefty) new drop off location fee. Oh yeah, and make sure your rental company has an office there, or you’re going to have to turn around and head back home to give it back.
  • You’d better be a careful driver. And I mean more careful than my Grandma. The company will thoroughly check the car upon its return for scratches and rents, and if there are any new ones you’ll be covering the cost personally.
  • The money you spend to rent a car is money you’ll never get back, buying a car can sometimes be seen as a better investment option as you can always sell it and get (some of) your money back.
  • Some people argue that a rental car doesn’t provide a ‘real’ road trip experience – you haven’t really done it unless you wake up in a damp tin can with cramp from sleeping in a ball…

Buying

Pros:

  • You’ve got the car. It’s yours. Do what you will with it.
  • You’ve got the freedom (engine permitting) to travel wherever you want, whenever you want – what could be greater than that?
  • Works out much cheaper than renting would over a longer period of time, your only costs will be gas and the occasional check ups at the garage.
  • Unlike renting, you can sell the car when you’ve got your use out of it, and some people who have work done on the car can end up selling it for more than they paid for it – think of it as more of an investment than just a purchase.
  • You’ll be everyone’s new best mate. Who doesn’t love a mate with a car?

Cons:

  • You’ll more than likely be buying a used car. On a backpacker’s budget. Just make sure you get it checked first so it doesn’t break down on you within the first 10 minutes of the drive.
  • It’s your car so it’s your problem – any break downs, leaks or general car faults will be down to you to fix, and these aren’t always cheap. Another reason to make sure the car you’re buying is in a reasonable condition when you hand the money over.
  • Who doesn’t love paperwork? Oh yeah, everyone. Unfortunately there’s a good bit of it involved if you’re looking to buy/sell a car, so get that pen out. And don’t forget about those pesky MOTs –  they can be costly if the car hasn’t been loved by it’s previous owner.
  • On your budget I’m guessing you won’t be able to afford that mansion on wheels on offer at the rental office. Be prepared to spend the next few weeks getting a lot closer to your travel buddies in awkward sleeping positions. And weeing in the bush. Don’t forget about that.
  • If you’re only going to be travelling for a month or so, sometimes it can work out cheaper to rent than buy. Take into consideration the cost of used car insurance, break down cover, getting that tune-up at the garage and more, and suddenly that brand spanking new car isn’t looking so bad after all…

So there you have the top pros and cons when it comes to renting or buying a car/campervan, hope this helps with the decision process! Now all that’s left is to enjoy your trip – it’s a tough life ‘ey? 😉

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, check out Work Anywhere: Australia the book today!

What’s On: Mardi Grass – Nimbin (3rd-4th May)

No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Unlike the Mardi Gras celebrations held the world over, Nimbin’s ‘Mardi Grass’ really is a festival with a difference. Let’s just say it’s a little on the green side.

For those of you unfamiliar with the little town of Nimbin in NSW, the best way to describe it would probably be that it caters to those with more alternative lifestyles (otherwise known as hippies). Famed for it’s cannabis counter-culture, this commune has become a popular stop of for many a backpacker on their Australian travels, with organised tours running daily so you can experience this strange place without any fears of disappearing forever.

So back to Mardi Grass. This annual festival is a celebration of everything green, held on the 3rd & 4th May and is well worth heading to if you want to see a completely unique side to Australia. Compiling of events such as the ‘Hemp Olympix’, the ‘Nimbin Cannabis Cup’ and the ‘Global Marijuana March’, the real challenge will probably be seeing how much of it you remember once it’s over!

Tickets are on sale now, with prices ranging from AU$50 for a one day ticket, to $100 for a weekend pass with 3 nights camping. You can purchase these at www.nimbinmardigrass.com.

Cover photo: http://www.peacebus.com

 

Your Free Day Out: Sydney

Think there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Well how about a free whole day out? Being a backpacker often means that you can find yourself a bit strapped for cash, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time in a city. I want to show you how you can have fun in any city in Australia without having to delve into your pocket once. Now that’s what I call budget travel.

Never run out of things to do again with this great list of ideas/attractions to keep you busy, all without spending any dollar!

First stop – Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk – Like walks? Like bridges? Well then this will be just the thing for you. Walking across the bridge is a great day out as it’s a chance to stretch your legs without trekking too far and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views, especially when you get to the opposite side and look back at the Opera House. Great alternative to the bridge climb if you don’t fancy forking out $200

Bondi to Coogee Walk – Another walk (you can see a common theme here…) but really worth it if you’re willing to put the legwork in! The full walk is about 6km all along the coast, but if you’re not up for walking the whole distance there are plenty of beaches you can stop off at on the way. Also, make sure to head down end of October/start of November for ‘Sculpture by the Sea’, an annual exhibition of around 100 sculptures by local artists, placed along various points on the walk. For a bit of added beauty (and to avoid the crowds) do the walk at sunrise – absolute perfection.

Vivid Sydney – Every year from the 23rd May to 9th June the ‘Vivid Sydney’ festival is on  – a celebration of the city’s creativity through lights and music. During this time buildings all over the city have stunning light projections displayed on them, with accompanying music, making it a real feast for the eyes and ears. You can pick up a free map of what’s on and where from information points, so grab one and take a night to discover a new side to Sydney. Don’t miss the Darling Harbour nightly music, light and water show, truly spectacular!

Art Galleries – The Art Gallery of NSW and White Rabbit are two fantastic art galleries, completely different from one another and both completely free to visit. The NSW Art Gallery was established in 1871 and is home to a diverse range of Australian and International artwork, covering all styles from traditional to contemporary. White Rabbit, on the other hand, is a reflection on Australia’s Asian culture, hosting one of the largest collections of Asian contemporary art in the whole country. Why not check them both out, and fill your boots with culture!

Royal Botanic Gardens – If you’ve been to Sydney before, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens, but that’s no reason not to head down for a visit if you’re looking for something free to do! Pack yourself a picnic and sit in the sunshine, admiring the wonderful views (and a great spot of people watching!), then walk along to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for possibly the best viewpoint of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge combined.

So if you’re stuck for something to do in the city, give these a go and enjoy some great days out whilst saving your pennies. More posts to come with ideas for free days out in other big cities, so keep your eyes peeled!

Cover Photo: http://www.vividsydney.com

What’s On: White Night Melbourne (22nd Feb)

Looking for something to do this weekend? Well if you’re in Melbourne you need look no further. This Saturday the city’s streets, lane ways and its many cultural venues are going to be transformed into an art and music extravaganza, buzzing all through the night from 7pm to 7am the following morning. White Night is back again.

With its 2013 debut attracting over 30,000 Australians and visitors alike, White Night really is a street festival like no other. This year it’s offering an even wider range of events and activities for people to take part in, from the breathtaking light projections all over the city, to indie film premiers and outdoor bands to keep the party going through the night.

The events are a mixture of free and ticketed, so you can style your night to your budget, but it’s recommended buying tickets in advance if there is anything you really want to see, as they sell out fast!

Get down there and see what Melbourne has to offer.

For more information on working and travelling in Australia, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Kindle today.

Cover photo Copyright: http://www.urbanmelbourne.info

5 Tips For A Stress Free Flight

Flying. Whether you love it or hate it, if you’re travelling, you’re going to have to do it.

It doesn’t have to be so drab though, follow these tips and you’re guaranteed to have a great flight!

1. Check the details before you fly

A UK couple were recently in the papers because they bought what seemed like a ridiculously good deal on a flight from Birmingham to the Caribbean – unfortunately on turning up at the airport they discovered their flight was actually leaving from Birmingham ALABAMA, about 4000 miles away…

Moral of this story kids is to make sure you check the details before you head off for your flight! Even if you’ve got the right airport make sure to check which airline you will be flying with, and which terminal you’ll be leaving from; some terminals can be situated a good drive from each other, so it would be a hell of a walk!

2. Plan how to get to the airport

You’ve booked your flight, booked your next hostel, and even booked a table at that new fancy restaurant. What’s left? Oh yeah, book your transport TO the airport! Getting to your flight can be one of the most stressful parts of the journey, so that’s why it’s crucial to make sure you plan it well, not only to get there in time, but to also not get ripped off in the process.

Take a trip to your local transport advice centre to find out the best ways to get to the airport. Although a taxi can seem like the easiest option, you can often end up spending a lot more than necessary booking them when there are cheaper transport options available. In some places there are even regular local buses running to the airport that cost just a couple of dollars. Do your research and you can end up saving a bundle in the long run.

3. Arrive well in advance

This is going to sound like a silly one, but it’s amazing how many people miss their flights because they didn’t leave enough time to get there. You might only live a half hour’s drive from the airport, but don’t forget rush hour traffic, forgotten passports and the dreaded security checks. Get there early and the worst that could happen is you’ll be waiting a bit longer in the airport – better than forking out a load for another flight! The general rules are for domestic flights try to arrive 1.5 hours before you’re flight is due to leave, and for international flights leave about 2.5-3 hours, just to be safe.

4. Bring entertainment

It’s easy to forget how big Australia is, but it’s fair to say you could fit the majority of Europe inside it. Therefore, try to remember when you’re casually booking that domestic flight from Sydney to Perth for example, you’ll be setting yourself up for a 5 hour flight. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me that’s pretty long haul.

Nonetheless, as the flight is still technically domestic, you’ll be flying on a domestic plane. That means, if you book cheap like me, you’re going to be sat on a Ryan Air-esque plane for FIVE HOURS. No entertainment and you’d be lucky to get a small packet of peanuts to satisfy your hunger.

This is why it’s essential to bring some entertainment for the journey. Bring a book, listen to music, or if you’ve got a laptop watch a movie, and definitely bring some snacks. Anything to save you from hearing the life story of the businessman to your left.

5. Wrap up

So this is a sneaky trick I learned from a friend whilst travelling in Malaysia. When you’re flying with super budget airlines they do the most they can to squeeze that extra dollar out of you on the plane. It’s natural that when you’re in a hot country that your general attire would be shorts and t-shirt, why wouldn’t it? Well, those crafty airlines have a trick up their sleeves – once you get all strapped in the plane in your holiday gear they blast on the air-con until the temperature is bordering on winter in the North Pole. “Would you like to buy a blanket madam?”

Cheeky.

Save yourself from getting ripped off by bringing warm clothes so you can wrap up. Plus you’ll feel super smug turning to the air steward and giving them a defiant “No thank you, I’m fine.”

 

 

Follow these tips and you won’t go far wrong…I hope.

Enjoy your flight!

 

 

 

Top Australian Road Trips

The Road Trip. These words alone conjure up visions of dusty roads off the beaten track, discovering hideaways and finding out ‘who you really are’. Well, if you’re into that kind of thing. Truthfully, road trips are simply one of the best ways to see a country on your own time, without the company of a hundred other pushy tourists.

Australia is notorious for it’s many stunning drives, unsurprising really for a country bigger than Europe. With so much to see, the real question is where to begin, and so to save you the trouble, I’ve compiled a wonderful list of the top trips you have to take when you’re Down Under…

The Great Ocean Road (Victoria/South Australia)

Easily one of Australia’s most famous drives, the Great Ocean Road spans from the small beach town of Torquay all the way through to South Australia’s Warrnambool. Now there are many variations of this trip, and you find different people telling you it ends in different places, but this is the core of the GOR drive. This has to be one of the the most sensational  ocean drives in Australia, if not the world, hence why it’s my number one Aussie Road Trip. It will take you through national parks home to some incredible waterfalls and walks, down to chilled beaches, big rocks, and the opportunity to see more wildlife than you can shake a stick at. And don’t forget the ‘I’m driving next to an ocean with my hand out of the car window’ picture. Classic.

Great Ocean Road

Snowy Mountains Drive (New South Wales)

So who would have thought that Australia had snow? Or even mountains? Well, luckily for you winter bunnies, it has both. The Snowy Mountains drive takes you around Australia’s highest mountains, showing you a side of the country you most likely never would have thought you’d see. Take your time to enjoy the views (and the snow) as you tour the area; just make sure to plan it well, as unlike the GOR it’s not just one long road, and it can sometimes take a while to get from one destination to the next! But hey, it’s all about the journey right?

Snowy Mountains Drive

Nullarbor Plain (South Australia/Western Australia)

Fun fact: This road was named in 1867 from the Latin words “nulls arbor”, meaning “no trees”. Standing true to it’s name, this tree-less road will take you all the way from Norseman to Ceduna, though it’s not for the faint of heart, as with a distance of 1201 kilometres between these destinations, you’ll have to be in for the long haul. As the road is incredibly flat, it does make for great driving though, and you’re bound to catch some amazing wildlife in their natural habitat. Ever wondered what Skippy the Bush Kangaroo did after retirement? You can probably ask him. Also, make sure to check out the Great Australian Bight – with the longest cliff face in the world it’s got to be worth a visit.

Nullarbor Plain

Fraser Island (Queensland)

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and it’s great to drive on. Why? Because on this terrain you can only get around in a 4×4. It’s pretty awesome. You will need to get on a tour to make the most of this one as there are no real roads, and joining others to drive a 4×4 is much cheaper than renting your own. Oh, and there are dingos. Don’t forget the dingos. But it’s still pretty rustic as far as tours go – you’ll spend 3 amazing days camping, driving along beaches and swimming in the bluest fresh-water lakes in the world. Not too bad at all.

lake-mc-kenzie-39166

The Great Tropical Drive (Queensland)

This is another drive that seems to be different lengths depending on who you speak to, but if you fancy a short(ish) trip I would recommend you do the drive from Cooktown down to Townsville, around 8 hours of straight driving that can easily be spread over 4-5 days. This really will give you a great insight into the tropical side of Australia, as this drive will take you through rain forests, past waterfalls, and most likely, through some of the most amazing storms you will ever see. It’s a great drive, and if you’re really enjoying it you can continue and do the whole loop back up to Cairns, a total journey length of 2080 kilometres and around 12 days to complete.

Innisfail

All that’s left to say is…happy driving!

For loads of handy information on making the most out of your Working Holiday Visa, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Amazon here.

Work Anywhere: Australia