Gifts for the traveller in your life - Travel_Tips

Obviously a round-the-world flight ticket would be the perfect gift for the traveller in your life, but for those of us who aren’t millionaires or flush with cash here are a few gifts that are going to make someone’s next journey that much better.

A travel pillow

We have to admit these u-shaped mini beanbags look pretty silly hanging from the backpacks of travellers when they’re not in use. But, when you’ve been travelling for 24 hours you don’t care how silly you look, you just want something soft to rest your head on.

The carry-on travel pillow is a lifesaver on a long or short flight; whether you’re flying overseas or interstate, catching some sleep in transit makes every adventure better. The neck pillow pictured above can be purchased from NewsTravels in our terminal for $19.95

A book they can’t put down

A little more inspirational than a guide book, a travel novel makes a great gift – especially if the book is based in your receiver’s favourite place. The Beach, The Alchemist, Wild, or Eat, Pray, Love are some great travel favourites. Even without a holiday on the horizon, a good travel book can make you feel like you’ve been on the adventure too.

Colouring books are not just for kids these days; the repetition, pattern, and detail has a meditative effect on the brain and allows a time out from technology. This is the perfect gift for your traveller friend searching for their inner zen.

Find a last-minute book gift at NewsTravels for a friend or in-flight read for yourself. The books featured in the image above are Girls who travel by Nicole Trilivas ($32.99), The Travellers and other stories by Carys Davies ($29.99) and a selection of The Mindfulness Colouring Book collection ($16.99).

Portable, easy-to-pack snacks

As great as airline food is, it’s always a relief to know you have something that will satisfy your tummy rumbles until you arrive at your destination. We have a sweet-tooth and can’t go past a pack of Starbursts ($4.50 from NewsTravels) for any flight, even if it’s only a one-hour jaunt with FlyPelican to Ballina.

A bonus bag

A foldaway travel bag is the perfect item to secret away in your suitcase read for use on your flight home. Pictured above is one from Korjo ($19.99 at NewsTravels) that takes up almost no room and folds out to become a strong, spacious extra hold-all.

Perfect for a holiday that sees the traveller shopping until they’re droppin’ and wantin’ to avoid excess baggage fees on their flight home.

Noise cancelling headphones

Every traveller needs a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones; they protect you from the Economy Class Symphony that usually includes a solo from an upset baby and a back-up singers harmonising over another in-flight chardy.

Control your environment by only listening to what you want. Sony noise cancelling headphones are available from NewsTravels from $159.95—other headphones start from $59.95 at NewsTravels.

Where to find free device charge points at Newcastle Airport - Travel_Tips

There’s nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment when you arrive at the airport with time to spare.  All of a sudden you realise that you have time for a cup of coffee or a schooner of beer and a good ol’ peruse of Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat using the airport’s free Wi-Fi.  Well, that is until you realise that you forgot to charge your phone and your battery is at 3%. 

Cue: Panic attack.

When our team designed our new terminal, we considered the features we looked for in airports when we travel.  Power points and USB charging points came pretty high on that list.

Taking this into consideration, when the electrical was being planned for the terminal, we made sure that lots of public charge points were included and installed.

With a terminal teeming with charge point locations, you can safely save the panic attack for another crisis.

Public charge points are in the following locations:


Power points can be found on the pillars and along the media wall.

Arrivals hall

Power points can be found on the pillars.

Departures lounge

Along all the laptop benches are power points with integrated USB charge points. Additional power points can be found on the pillars.  In total there is almost 100 charge points in the departures lounge.

Hostels, Hotels, Guesthouses, Homestays or Apartments? Which should you choose while you’re travelling? - Travel_Tips

There was a time when hotels or villas were pretty much your only option while on holiday or travelling. We all accepted this and didn’t question if there were any other options available.

If you were travelling on a budget you have to stay in a hideous budget hotel and there was very little flexibility. These days we have so many accommodation options. In fact, we have so many it can be difficult to choose which is best!

Here are some of the best accommodation options while you’re travelling and why they might be a good option for you.


Best for: Solo travellers + Budget travellers

First things first, hostels aren’t always the budget option. Hostels are evolving and they’re quickly becoming a great option for the mid-market traveller. People, like me, who can’t always afford a luxury hotel but don’t want to stay in a boring budget hotel. I like boutique hotels that offer something different and quirky and this is exactly what these luxury hostels have.

Hostels used to be over-packed bedroom filled with bunk beds and smelly backpackers but can now be a boutique experience. Boutique hostels usually have private rooms as well as cheaper dorm rooms. There are communal areas where you can meet people (great for solo travellers) and also have some space away from the confines of your bedroom. They have fully equipped kitchens too so you can save money on your meals.

My favourite hostels are KEX in Iceland and Generator in London.

There are also the super budget hostels available where you’re sharing a room with up to 20 people. It’s great if you’re on a strict budget and you’ve got a good pair of ear plugs!


Best for: Luxury travel + weekend breaks

When it comes to hotels I often use the phrase, ‘Go big or go home!’ I don’t mean big in size, I mean big in features.

What’s the point in staying in a 2* hotel? It might be affordable but it’ll be horrible. It will be a cookie cutter hotel room with cream walls and views to another concrete block of a building. Every room looks the same, no matter where you are in the world.

If I’m staying in a hotel I want it to be luxurious. I want a swimming pool, breakfast in bed, fluffy pillows, a mini bar, an enormous bath, toiletries worth stealing and a huge robe and slippers.

If I can’t afford a luxury hotel then I’ll go for a more affordable accommodation option.

Metropolitan by COMO lobbyMetropolitan by Como in Miami


Best for: Long-term travel + families + groups

I love renting apartments when I travel. It’s great to have the extra space with a living room and the flexibility of a kitchen. When you’re travelling for a long time, it’s often nice to have a space to call home and feel more settled than you ever could in a hostel or hotel.

Apartments are much easier if you’re travelling with kids so you can cook for them and adults have somewhere to sit once the kids are asleep. If you’re travelling with a group of people, apartments are really affordable, especially if you’re prepared to squeeze a few extra people in.

Central Apartments in Ljubljana, Slovenia


Best for: An easier and more luxurious apartment experience

Apart’hotels are a new one for me. As the name suggests, they’re a combination of apartment style rooms with hotel features. You have the reception, the cleaners, newspapers, a gym, breakfast and sometimes room service like you would in a hotel but you have an apartment rather than just a single hotel room.

I’m a big fan of Citadines Apart’hotels after staying in lots of their properties last summer.

Citadines Suites Louvre Paris


Best for: Budget travellers and unique experiences

Guesthouses are most common in Asia and they’re usually small and budget friendly. They range from beach huts to small hotels, little bungalows or rooms in a person’s house like a B&B.
You can often barter with guest house owners over the price or at least get your breakfast included for free.

Time ‘n’ Place beach huts in Jamaica


Best for: Local experiences

If you want to get a real feel for the local culture then you can opt for a homestay where you live in the house of a local family. You’ll have your meals with them and one member of the family will often take you under their wing and show you around.


Best for: Local experiences and budget travellers

Couchsurfing is a community website where you can seek out hosts and sleep on a person’s couch (or spare room if you’re lucky) absolutely free. Your host will usually show you around town and you’d be expected to hang out a bit rather than just use their place as a free crash pad.

This can be a great way to get to know the local area and many travellers swear by it.

Airbnb or private house rental

Best for: Budget travel, luxury travel, long term travel, groups, families and local experiences

Yes, private house rental is a great option for pretty much every type of traveller. Air bnb is the most popular website to find homes to rent but there are a lot of alternatives out there too. This is basically where you rent out a person’s home for the duration of your stay. The person may live abroad or go and stay with friends or family during the dates you’ve booked.

The houses are always clean, clutter free and relatively unpersonalised (it’s unlikely you’ll find family photos on the walls) but they do have a family home feel with everything you’d need.

You’ll find everything from tiny apartments to enormous and luxurious houses.

House sitting

Best for: Long term travel, flexible travel and budget travel

House sitting usually involves joining a community website and keeping your eyes peeled for the dream opportunity. It worked when a homeowner is going away and they’re looking for someone to stay in their house to look after it and possibly look after their pets and garden too.

It’s a win win situation because the homeowner doesn’t need to worry about their house and gets a free pet sitter, while the house sitter gets free accommodation and a friendly pooch to play with. 

Which accommodation choice is your favourite while you’re travelling and do you have any other options to add to the list?

This article was originally posted on The Travel Hack Weekend Travel Blog and was reposted here with permission.

Films that will ignite your sense of wanderlust - Travel_Tips

Movies, films, cinema.  Whatever word you use to describe them, there’s nothing quite like one to set your sense of wanderlust alight.

The films in this list are sure to set your imagination into overdrive as you picture yourself in the scenes of the lead actors.  Add them to your must-watch list and live vicariously for 90-minutes. 

Secret life of Walter Mitty
A movie about a man who thinks he has a boring life and dreams of something more.  Taking things into his own hands he embarks on a global journey that is a true adventure.  Walter Mitty has an adventure exploring some beautiful settings in Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Himalayas, Yemen, Afghanistan, and New York.

Image source:

The Bucket List
In a nut-shell, this is a story about two old guys who are dying.  In what could have been a morbid film, it is instead extraordinarily funny. These two men travel the world as they tick off destinations and experiences on their ‘bucket list’: Meeting monks in Tibet; watching the sunset over the pyramids in Egypt; visiting the Taj Mahal in India; riding along the Great Wall of China; going on safari in Tanzania; and racing cars and skydiving in California USA.

Image source:

Lost in Translation
I was awed by this film when it was first released in 2003. I had yet to leave Australia and the idea that a city could continue for as far as the eye could see boggled my mind.  In essence a love story, ‘two strangers in a foreign land’ this film showcased the city and culture of Tokyo in a way I haven’t seen repeated in the years since its release.

Image source:

Eat Pray Love
Elizabeth Gilbert hit a raw nerve with a generation of women with her Eat Pray Love journey. Reeling from her divorce she took year out from her life, embarked on a round-the-world journey to discover herself.  In Italy she discovered the true pleasure of nourishment by eating, in India she discovered the power of prayer, and in Indonesia, inner peace and true love. It’s the journey almost everyone would love to take.

Image source:

Catch Me If You Can
Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr who all before he was 19 successfully conned millions of dollars’ worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor. Frank finds himself in luxury surroundings in America and Europe.  Frank’s audacity is as spectacular as the places he visits.

Image source: (title image) 

Any James Bond film
Bond. James Bond. The man might have a licence to kill, but I think we’d all die with envy if we saw this man’s passport and the stamps inside!  You name it and Bond has been there: UK, Jamaica, Croatia, Turkey, Italy, USA, Bahamas, Japan, Mexico, France, Egypt, South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Greece, India, Russia, Germany, China, Macau, and many more. 

(Note: it appears that Bond is yet to visit Australia; he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on)

Image source:

Any film set in a tropical location
In the cold winter months it seems the mind can concentrate on only one thing, the warmth of summer sunshine.  It’s little wonder that any film set in a tropical location, such as Hawaii, Bahamas, or Thailand is going to set your wanderlust into overdrive.  Coming to mind is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 50 First Dates, Pirates of the Caribbean, Just Go With It, Fools Gold, Couples Retreat, and Finding Nemo.

Credit: Cristal Clear Images

How to travel in style - Travel_Tips

Living the jet-set life sounds so glamourous; we see celebrities and bloggers living it up in private planes and flying first class. But for those of us who choose to spend more on the holiday than the transport, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to fly first class to fly well!

If you want to travel in style, keep your outfit simple and comfortable.

Travel and style don’t always go hand-in-hand. After a long-haul flight most people feel quite unstylish, but there are some simple ways to change this. 

Here are a few common sense tips to make sure you can avoid wearing trackpants and crocs or arriving to your destination feeling and looking crumpled. 

A photo posted by @fashionbloggerstv on

The girls from @fashionbloggerstv make travel PJs look cool

Don’t overthink it 

A photo posted by Jessica Stein (@tuulavintage) on

@tuulavintage nails city dressing

Just because you’re travelling light, there’s no need for multipurpose items: zip-off cargo pants may seem practical, but they’re never a good look. Let’s break it down: if you were wandering the streets of your own city for the day, would you whip out the cargos and hiking boots? Probably not.

Don’t overthink it: if you’re going to a city, dress for the city. If you’re heading to the beach, dress for the beach. You don’t need to try to dress for all occasions at once. 

Don’t panic, it’s organic  

Vacation state of mind 🌿 | 📷 @yuanyu620

A photo posted by Diana Z (@zhours) on

@Zhours in a breezy linen shirt

Natural fibres are your friend! A glitzy nylon top might seem like a good idea but when you’re melting away in the Italian sun you need something that breathes. 
When things cool down, layer up with a nice merino cardy. Merino wool is luxurious but also light-weight and super warm. 

Keep it simple 

A photo posted by Pepamack (@pepamack) on

@pepamack makes basics look anything but basic.

A classic white shirt, a simple tee, a nice dark-coloured pair of jeans, neat shorts, and a basic dress will cover almost every base. 

Basics don’t date, they are classic, and can be mixed and matched. An added bonus is that these items aren’t overly memorable in photos; this makes them perfect for outfit repeating which is unavoidable when you’re travelling light.

If you want to mix it up add a colourful scarf or interesting jewellery to your outfit. Keep it simple and your travel outfits will be versatile and elegant.

Flatter your feet

A photo posted by STYLERUNNER (@stylerunner) on

@stylerunner make jeans and joggers look cool
When you travel you’ll be on your feet more than usual; meandering through markets, wandering cobbled walkways, running along railway stations to find the right platform (we’ve all been there), so you’ll need footwear that won’t compromise your feet – you’re going to be using them a lot! 

Comfort doesn’t always equate to ugly. My advice is to leave the crocs and worn-out runners at home and find some fun trainers that would look just as good with your activewear as your streetwear. Joggers and jeans can totally happen. There are so many shoes out there that are trendy AND comfy for covering the kilometres you do when you travel.

In the bag 

A photo posted by ECTU (@ectula) on

When you’re exploring you’ll carry more than you usually would. At a minimum you’re likely to have a camera, a notebook, sun cream, and a scarf! But that doesn’t mean you need a trekking pack. 

The best bag is one that doesn’t scream “I’m a tourist and I have lots of expensive things in my bag.”

Dress to respect  

@polkadotpassport in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
The key to dressing well when you travel is to blend in and be respectful of other cultures. Do your homework so you know the cultural norms and dress accordingly. This could mean you may need to show less skin than usual, a scarf is versatile here – have one on hand for temples and churches.

Hero image via

7 tips to clearing airport security screening - Travel_tips

We know there’s nothing worse than when you go through airport security screening, and set off the walk-through metal detector, not once, twice, but three times and then have your hand luggage searched for a pair of scissors.

Here are some tips to help you proceed through screening with as little fuss as possible.

The walk through metal detector

  1. Remove your shoes. Unless you are wearing rubber thongs, your shoes are likely to have metal in them—most shoes have metal under the arch that support your foot, and these can sometime have enough metal in them to set off the metal detector.
  2. Remove heavy watches and/or jewellery. Heavy watches and jewellery often set off the walk-through metal detector.  We suggest you secure your jewellery in your carry-on bag or in our dedicated jewellery container to be x-rayed.
  3. Remove your belt. Some belts have heavy belt buckles or are studded.  Either of these is likely to set off the walk-through metal detector.  It can be easier just to take off your belt before you walk through.
  4. Empty your pockets.  Lose change, mobile phone and keys are all culprits for setting off the walk through metal detector.  Save yourself time, check and empty your pockets before you walk through the metal detector.
  5. Advise the security staff if you have a pace maker or have had a joint replacement.  If you have a pace maker, you should not proceed through the walk through metal detector, but instead, be ushered through and be manually patted down.  If you have had a joint replacement, you will be asked to proceed through the walk through metal detector, which will alarm, you will then be manually patted down.

If at any time when passing through the walk through metal detector the alarm does sound, the guard will simply ask you to remove any metal objects and place them on the trays provided.  You will then be asked to walk through the metal detector a second time.

The x-raying of hand luggage

  1. Remove any aerosol cans from your carry-on luggage.  This enables the security guards to quickly check that the can has a lid or a lock to stop it from accidently spraying during the flight.
  2. Remove any notebook computers from your carry-on luggage.  This provides the guards a clear view of your computer as it is x-rayed. 

Bonus tip

  1. Check your bags for any forgotten items that may be classified as ‘prohibited’, and remove them prior to entering screening.  This will save you time while you and the guard search your bag for the item and will save the item from being disposed of.

By following these simple tips as you enter the screening area, your chances of experiencing a smooth security process is very high.

Holiday Guilt. You’re not alone. - Travel_Tips

Feel like you’re wasting time when you’re trying to unwind? You’re not the only one. 

Most Australians struggle to relax while on holiday.  Eight out of 10 workers recently surveyed admitted to feeling guilty when relaxing – and a third confessed that even the thought of relaxing stresses them out. 

The survey, conducted by Galaxy Research, revealed that two-thirds of Australian workers use their annual leave to take care of family emergencies, attend medical and dental appointments, and to run errands. 

Australia has one of the world’s highest levels of annual leave; full-time Australian workers are entitled to a minimum of four weeks’ holiday a year, yet the majority of workers (58%) said work commitments prevent them taking their full entitlements. 

The survey, of 1,250 Australian workers, found that almost two-thirds of workers suffered from FOTAL – a Fear of Taking Annual Leave – and would take more time off work if they knew there wouldn’t be negative consequences for doing so. 

Gen Y workers were revealed as suffering the worst cases of FOTAL, with 86% of workers aged 18 to 34 saying they felt guilty about relaxing. Meanwhile, 80% of Gen X workers felt the same way. Both age groups carry far more guilt about relaxing than Baby Boomers where only 67% reported a sense of guilt.  

Dr Suzy Green, Clinical and Coaching Psychology and Founder of The Positivity Institute, said the findings show that workers needed to ensure they separate their work life from their leisure time. 

Dr Green is concerned workplace pressures including increased demands, longer hours, and budgetary constraints are impacting negatively on stress levels and are causing hesitation to take leave due to the anticipated repercussions once returning from a holiday.    

“These survey results highlight the need for Australians to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing by scheduling in annual holidays and seasonal mini-breaks to avoid FOTAL and provide a source of anticipation to buffer against stress and guilt. 

“Workers need to try to create a ‘holiday game-plan’ to help enhance their time off,” Dr Green said. This could include actions such as ensuring dedicated time slots for physical and mental relaxation and setting boundaries around email and phone usage. 

Tackle FOTAL head-on and book a holiday today. 

BONUS tip: see our blog post on why you should take a digital detox next time you take a holiday

About the survey – The Princess Cruises National Relaxation Survey was conducted by Galaxy Research with 1,250 respondents interviewed nationally in September. Source: ETB Travel News. 

Reasons to travel in your 20s - Travel_Tips

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” Anthony Bourdain

The decade of your 20s is for exploration and experimentation. Make a choice to meet new people, taste new food, see new cities, and try new things, just because you want to. Make the choice to travel.

You might think your 20s should be the time to set yourself up for the future, but let me tell you that I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish spent more time at work instead of hiking the Andes and seeing Machu Picchu as the sun rose”.

Travel sets you up for the future in another sense; it allows you to immerse yourself in another culture and see how other people live. It will change your view of the world and how you live your life when you return home – for the better.

There are so many reasons why you should travel when you’re young. Here’s just a few:

  1. Because you can
    You are the exception to the rule if you have a 9-5 job, partner, a few kids, and a mortgage when you’re in your twenties.

    Most 20-somethings have the freedom to up-and-leave with little impact on those around them. Sure, your mum might miss you or your flat mate might be upset if you don’t find someone to pay your rent while you’re gone, but other than that you’re relatively free to do what you want when you want.

  2. To be intentional with your choices
    Making plans and making the ‘right’ choices can seem like a daunting task. But the important thing is that you just make a choice in the first place. Don’t be one of those people who reflects on a life that just happened, or worse, one that happened to you.  Don’t finish school or uni and roll on into a job (yeah, like it’s that easy K) because you’re expected to or because taking a break may hinder your career.

    There’s nothing wrong with starting your career at 27 or 37 or 47 – if you’ve been making intentional choices to learn, taste, and see something new you won’t have wasted any time.

    Equally, if you’re in a job that doesn’t inspire you, then taking some timeout may be just the opportunity you need to widen your horizons and work out what you really do want.

    Life is a result of intentional habits, decide what’s most important to you and do that first.

  3. Because science says it’s good to spend all your money on travel
    You might think that spending your money on a house or a car will make you happier than spending your money on travel, because these material things will last longer. But according to recent psychological research from Cornell University in New York, it turns out this is not the case. 

    Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who studies the relationship of money and happiness has said "We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them." 

    In a nutshell, you’re going to get used to the material things you buy and the happiness you derive from them will fade. Rather than buying the latest iPhone or new car, Gilovich says you'll get more happiness spending money on experiences like travelling.

    You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” 

    Sure, some assets and financial security are necessary, but nothing will make you richer than experience.

  4. To realise that the world is so big yet so small
    If you find yourself 20,000 kilometres away from home, in a city of 8.3 million people, you can still find a friendly face.

    Maybe it’s when you literally run into someone from your hometown in the middle of Oxford Circus (that actually happened to me); or you manage to become fast friends with your bunk buddy in a random hostel in Cambodia over a mutual love of obscure pop punk bands; or something as simple as Skyping your mum using the free wifi in the New York Public Library. Travelling has a way of connecting people over a common experience and making you realise what’s important (eg skyping your mum).

  5. Because your body can handle what you throw at it
    A wise man once told me that the best cure for a hangover is being under the age of 30, and as I edge toward this milestone and hangovers are harder to bear, I am starting to believe him. 

    One of the best parts of travel is the food and the wine. From my experience many-a-day’s activity is planned around what you are going eat and/or drink next and when you’re travelling there’s no time to be wasted lazing around with a hangover. When you’re young you can handle less sleep and worse hang overs and not waste any precious memory-making, life-experience-acquiring time.

What if I’m not in my 20s? 
Travel anyway.

The same broad principles apply:
  • You make it work. Maybe this means you take the kids with you; that’s ok, adventures are great when they’re shared. Plus, you’re never too old OR young for travel!
  • You can spend as much or as little as you like, maybe you stay at a hotel with a few less stars this time.
  • Your career can be picked up when you come home. There’s always work to be done, someone will always need you.
  • Your body can handle it, you may just be little more hungover for your picnic under the Eiffel Tower.  
The moral of the story is there’s no time like the present. Get out there and see the world.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream, Discover. – Mark Twain

How to create the best travel Instagram - Travel_Tips

With an average of 70 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s really not hard to believe that every two minutes we take more pictures than the whole of humanity did in the 1800s

Of those 70 million photos posted, I would hazard a guess that at least 60 million are selfies or foodstagrams. While these are certainly an important part of the Instagram ecosystem, the world is such a beautiful place! You should point you camera up and out – especially when you’re travelling.

Instagram is the perfect platform to share your adventures with your friends, family, and however many followers you like. It’s also one of the best ways to document your travel for yourself.  

They say that mankind has taken 3.8 trillion photos, and if a picture is worth a thousand words… That’s 3,800,000,000,000,000 words to contend with. Follow my tips below to make sure your travel Instagram photos speak to your audience and earn you those hard-earned double-taps. 

Magic Hour

Magic hour is the period of time shortly after sunrise of before sunset that shows off a particularly soft-yet-bright quality of light. In Magic Hour the sun isn’t as high in the sky, so it won’t cast as many downward shadows or be so bright as to over-expose your photos.

As a traveller, waking up early for Magic Hour has another major benefit: all the tourists are still in bed. 

Left of centre

Create interest in your images by framing the subject a little left (or right) of the centre. 

Think back to high-school art class and the rule of thirds: mentally divide your frame into three sections, vertically and horizontally so your frame is split into nine sections. Using these sections, angle your photo so the main subject is positioned within one third of the frame, without interrupting the background. If you’re taking photos directly through Instagram, the sections are already there for you! 

This is good to keep in mind if you’re photographing a person in front of a building of landscape and you want to show off both elements in your picture.

Outside the box

It was nice to see you again!

A photo posted by Daniel Taipale (@dansmoe) on

Instagram rules, but its ok to think outside the box and take photos outside the app on your phone or even on another camera. Taking photos on a DSLR camera will give you higher quality images than what you can capture on your phone. Or, take it back to Instagram’s ‘instant’ roots and play with Polaroids and photo inception, like in the image above.

Keep shooting

To capture the perfect shot in one take is rare. It’s not as though you’re paying 20 cents per print for each photo you take, so take 10-20 shots and pick the best to upload to Instagram. 

Enhance your reality

Instagram has a bevy of in-built filters but, since the app allowed us to upload pictures from our camera rolls the enhancing, editing, and filtering, options have become endless. Here are my fave out-of-Instagram editors: 

  • VSCO Cam: before the app, the company behind VSCO Cam built filters and presets for Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture — "the gold standard of film emulation," according to the company. Using one of their filters, you can filter your photos to appear as though they’re taken on different kinds of film. (image above has been edited with VSCO Cam).
  • Afterlight: the filters in Afterlight are categorised as: original, guest, and seasons (that house 74 unique and fully adjustable filters). You also have the option to add as many light leaks and/or frames as your heart desires.

DIY hashtag

Hashtags are great to join in a conversation and add your image to a collection of other #sunrise or #travel or #wanderlust photos, but the best thing to do when you’re travelling is to create your own unique hashtag.

Be creative and craft a hashtag that doesn’t have any other pictures attached to it, it’s a cool way to group all your travel photos together and build a following. Look up #followmeto for inspiration on an original image and hashtag that’s gathered a worldwide following. 

Take photos of humans

People communicate emotion like little else can: a subtle smile, a wide-eyed surprise, an intense stare can evoke feelings in your audience more than a witty caption or clever hashtag ever could.

Scale it up

Including a person in your shot also gives a sense of the enormity of what you’ve captured.

Don’t stop travelling

The view will be worth every step!

A photo posted by Daniel Taipale (@dansmoe) on

The only way to have the best Instagram travel photos, is to keep on travelling! 

6 things you don’t need to pack - Travel_tips

Packing for a holiday can present some unexpected challenges, mainly deciding between what you want to pack and what you need to pack.

Whether you’re going away for a weekend or for a year, there are some things that you might think you need but, from my experience, you won’t use at all.

These six things you simply don’t need to pack.

A towel
Towels take up so much space in your suitcase and weigh about 100kilos (may be a slight exaggeration) if they’re not 100% dry. There are so many other options for you to dry yourself than having to take your own towel.

If you’re staying with friends, surely they have a towel they can lend you? If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll be spoilt for towel choice with most hotels offering both beach and bath towels; and if you’re heading off the beaten track consider doubling up the use of your sarong and using it as a towel.

A nice fluffy towel or your favourite Roundie beach towel are luxuries that, while lovely, aren’t entirely necessary when you’re travelling. If you can’t bear the thought of not having a back-up towel, consider a light-weight, microfiber travel towel.

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A sewing kit
If I lose a button or rip a shirt, I never whip out my travel sewing kit to fix it on the spot. I don’t do this when I’m at home, and definitely don’t when I’m travelling.

If the item of clothing is completely unwearable, I’ll eventually book in a mending session with my Grandma, the token sewer in my network. But until it’s at that point, I generally keep wearing the clothes without the button or by hiding the hole with a strategically placed scarf. Lazy? Maybe. Practical? Definitely.

If you’re a new-age Martha Stewart who’s quite handy with a needle and thread, maybe reconsider my advice. But, if you’re like me and have only ever used a needle to get your sim card from your iPhone, probably best to leave the sewing kit at home.

Hiking boots
This one applies to holidays that aren’t specific hiking holidays. Which to my surprise people do go on. And enjoy?!

The sort of hiking other travels might impose on you is more the trekking-to-the-beach and wander-up-a-look-out sort of hiking. And for this type of hiking, a decent pair of joggers will suffice.

Joggers and jeans are no longer a sartorial sin. What was once hailed as the epitome of tragic tourist attire has become the uniform of a well-travelled.

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More than one pair of jeans
Travelling or at home: I live in jeans. They’re comfortable, versatile, and warm. Yet, not too wintry-looking that they can’t be paired with a t-shirt for a warmer climate.

Yet even as such a wardrobe staple in my life, I won’t travel with more than one pair. A pile of denim in your port can add some serious kilos to your luggage.

Jeans are a great travelling companion and if you pack a darker colour, they won’t be too casual for an informal night out and won’t need to be washed too often – a gross reality of some adventures!

A full medical kit
Take the essentials: some paracetamol, antihistamines, band aids for impromptu blisters, maybe some Dettol, and stingoes. You’ll rarely need any more than this.  A first aid kit bursting at the seams with a zillion bandages, tapes, and gauze that you don’t know how to apply probably isn’t that helpful. Stick to what you know and if you find yourself requiring a zillion bandages I suggest rethinking your life choices and finding the nearest hospital.

The exception to this rule is of course if you’re travelling to a remote part of the world where medical help may not be close by.

An excessive amount of cosmetics
I’m only offering some tips, not telling you how to live your life, so I will leave it to you to decide how much is ‘excessive’.

Just generally avoid taking any creams and potions that aren’t entirely necessary, doing so will decrease the weight in your luggage and decrease the chance of something spilling all through your clothes!

If you’re brave enough to go on a travelling adventure, be brave enough to leave a few lippies at home. 

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Five of the best travel apps - Travel_tips

The app store is bursting at the seams with travel apps all claiming to revolutionise the way you travel.  The problem is, how do you know which ones to believe?

We decided to take a few on a test run to find the best travel apps. We think these five travel apps are among the best:

  1. Skyscanner
    This app helps find the best flights based on your budget and schedule by scanning flights from more than 500 airlines around the world and comparing their prices. From there, you can book flights through links to the airlines or travel agencies. Skyscanner will also scan the ground for you to help you find affordable car rentals connected to your flight

  2. Allsubway 
    iOS only 
    This app has subway maps for 216 of the world’s most visited cities. It will set you back $1.29, but if you’re on the move and plan to use public transport, it’s worth the investment.

  3. TripIt 
    Android and iOS
    TripIt transforms every one of your booking emails into a master itinerary so all your plans are in one place. It's a detailed, daily itinerary with important dates, times, and confirmation numbers.  Plus it also has directions, maps, weather, and more. Thee are both free and paid options for this app.

  4. Google Translate
    Android and iOS
    The number one sign you’re a good traveller is if you’ve taken the time to learn a few words of the local language. If new languages aren’t your forte, this app is a godsend. The Google Translate app lets you type or dictate short sentences and offer you short, accurate translation of what you input. You can also take pictures of signs with your phone's camera and have the app translate the sign's meaning. Very handy. 

  5. XE Currency 
    Android and iOS
    XE Currency helps you track exchange rates so you can stay across how much money you're spending while you’re away. The free edition lets you convert every world currency, monitor exchange rates, and stores the last updated rates so you can still check it without internet access.

Four often overlooked travel accessories - Travel_Tips

When you’re away from home you can find yourself turning into the Macgyver of travel using whatever you have on hand to get by – a scarf can double as a clothes line, an empty tube of lip balm becomes a place to stash your cash – but sometimes you need a few accessories that are purpose-built to make your trip easy. These travel accessory suggestions seem obvious, but they’re often overlooked until you wish you had them to get you out of an uncomfortable situation: 

  1. Torch
    You don’t realise how many situations require a torch until you’re in those situations and you don’t have one. Sure, your mobile has a built-in light, but using it will certainly drain your precious battery life. In a storm electricity is often the first thing to go; and shortly after will be your phone battery. 

    The best type of torch to take travelling is a mini LED., There are many that come with key ring attachments so you can fasten it to your keys or necklace if you’re going for an industrial travel style. 

    Other uses:
    Ensuring you climb into the correct bunk when staying in a hostel, holding under your chin for impact when reciting a ghost story.  

  2. Zip lock bag
    These bags have more use than transporting your liquids through international security screening. The safe storage of your phone in a zip lock bag could be the difference between a romantic moment of being caught in the rain or the heartbreak of realising your phone is completely ruined in your waterlogged pocket. 

    Zip lock bags can also help you save money on bag organisers; put small items like lip balm, headphones, or different currencies in zip locks to make them easy to find among the rest of the stuff you’ve crammed into your bag.

    Other uses: staying on the ‘keeping things dry’ theme, a Zip lock bag is a great way to prevent a sopping passport, and spontaneous goldfish purchases. 

  3. Whistle
    An excellent accessory for drawing attention to yourself, particularly if you are being harassed when you’re travelling alone or at night. 

    A whistle is also something many people in earthquake-prone regions keep on their keychain to use in the event they need to help rescuers find them if they’re trapped in a building or under rubble after a disaster. The high-pitched sound can be easier to hear than the human voice.

    Other uses:
    rallying your travel compadres if you’re travelling with bootcamp-style precision, or kicking off an impromptu egg-and-spoon race. 

  4. Rubber band
    Looping a rubber band around your thumb and index finger creates the ultimate missile when released. Discharge one of these at close range and baddies may be momentarily inconvenienced while you make your escape.

    In less testing times, wrapping rubber bands around your phone and/or wallet will make it more difficult for thieves to slip these items out of your pockets.

    Other uses: building a makeshift clothesline, or to launch things sling-shot-style at other irritating passengers (just kidding, or am I?).

Take a digital detox next time you travel - Travel_tips

Travelling in 2015 is easy. All from the palm of your hand you can book a ticket, touch base with your mum, check a restaurant menu, send your friend directions, and plan the next stops on your itinerary. It makes you wonder: how on earth did people run their lives before the smart phone?

Quite efficiently really. And they did so without the unrelenting sense of loss that we 21st-century-beings experience when our devices run out of battery, our memory card is full, or when we don’t know the wifi password… These sensations are tell-tale symptoms of digital dependency and a sign that you should get in touch with the way our ancestors travelled the world before the days of ever-present technology.

Shake off your iPhone addiction and take a digital detox next time you travel. It’s easier than you might think. Here are a few ways you can get started:

Take a film camera instead of DSLR
>         Communicate with postcards instead of Viber or Whatsapp
>         Write in a travel diary instead of blog
>         Use a physical map, not Google maps

Take it as a challenge: can you traverse the globe without the collective knowledge of all mankind in your hand? Unplug yourself and take the challenge, you’ll find that there’s some nice side effects from stepping away from your iThings.

  1. You’ll rekindle your curiosity
    There’s nothing quite like a foreign language to make you feel infantile. Remove your translator app and you’ll truly feel like a kid again when you’re asking thousands of half-formed questions trying to make sense of this strange place you find yourself in.
  2. You’ll value your photos much more
    Taking photos on film means you’re more likely to consider your shots. You can’t delete your pics and try again on that roll of film. On film you’ll capture a truly special moment and it won’t matter how many ‘likes’ it gets. 
  3. You’ll talk more and talk to more people
    Without your phone to bury your face in when you find yourself standing alone in the street, you may find yourself making eye contact with a passer-by. You might even go all out and strike up a conversation.
  4. You’ll write for you
    Blogging while abroad is a great way to share your adventure with those at home but, writing with pen and paper means you don’t have to worry about what the audience wants. Jot down new phrases you’ve heard, a funny half-story you were told, the beautiful human that had you dreaming of songs for your first dance... The scribbles in your travel diary are for your eyes only.
  5. You’ll take it slow
    When you’re figuring out your new destination on your own, rather than from someone’s recommendation on TripAdvisor, you can take your time. When you’re flipping a table-sized map to figure out where to go next, you can take your time. When you find yourself wonderfully lost, you’ve sometimes got no choice but to take it slow.

In a technology-addicted world with an ever-decreasing attention span, sometimes it’s nice to simply switch off and tune in to the world around you.

Stay healthy on holiday - Travel_Tips

There’s nothing worse than going on holidays only to be struck down with a severe cold / migraine headache / a 24-hour bug / a massive allergic reaction.  I’ve been unfortunate to go through all of these; some unfortunately while stuck in a plane. 

I’ve concluded that it’s in the lead-up to going on holidays that’s that culprit. Life gets so hectic and I run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to fit 40-hours of preparation into a 24-hour day.  So, when I finally stop (ie go on holiday) my body sings Hallelujah, the stress-induced adrenalin stops pumping through my system, and my resistance to just about any bug wanes close to zero. 

“So,” I hear you asking, “What do you do recommend to stop the dreaded lurgy from attacking when you go on holiday?” I’m so glad you asked.

See your health professionals before you go on holiday

Before embarking on an overseas jaunt I always visit the doctor and get a check-up.  I tell my doc that I’m travelling abroad and check if I need to take any particular medication or needles for the regions that I’m travelling to. 
While I am there I also get a refresh script for medication to ensure I have enough for my trip.  I also ask for a script for strong pain killers so I can take these with me with a doctor/pharmacy sticker on the packet (in case I do get pulled aside at customs at the other end).

Watch what you eat and drink when you’re away

Australia is a first-world country and our water supply is free from horrid bugs that can make you incredibly unwell. Unfortunately, not all foreign countries enjoy the same luxury. 
Drink bottled or filtered water, be wary of ice in your drinks, and take care with salads that have been washed in local water. A lapse in concentration on this front could have you making firm friends with the porcelain for days.

Enjoy your beauty sleep 

Get as much sleep as you can before and during your holiday.  It might be really tempting to stay out all night long partying, but trust me, this WILL catch up with you. Unless you’re prepared to spend a few days couped up in your hotel room dealing with the pain and agony of whatever lurgies you’ve picked up, leave the all-night benders to everyone else and give your body some rest, for at least a few nights


While on holiday, don’t stay idle. Get out and get moving.  Even if you’re normally a sedentary person, getting moving. This could be walking to an attraction instead of taking a taxi. Your body and health will thank you for it. 

Take out travel insurance

Even the best laid plans sometimes fail.  Be sure to take out travel insurance that covers you for illness while away. Doctors for tourists in in foreign countries are expensive.  You don’t want to have a nasty doctor bill come your way because you were unfortunate and fell ill when you were travelling.

Create your own medicine kit

  • My medicine kit always contains the following

  • Paracetamol and Ibuprofen 

  • Codeine for migraine headaches (beware codeine is illegal in some countries)

  • Cold and flu tablets (I prefer to take ones with pseudoephedrine but it’s illegal in some countries)

  • Band-Aids

  • Imodium 

  • Throat lozenges 

It’s not hard work to prepare to stay healthy on your holiday and if the little effort that you put in prevents you from falling ill, then it’s worth it.  However being prepared for the worst is also important; while it might not be on your agenda fall ill, sometimes it’s just going to happen.  And take it from someone who’s learned the hard way, when you do become unwell, having your own medicine kit on hand is truly a blessing.

14 must pack items for carry on - Travel_Tips

We’re advocates for packing light—but in your mission to keep your carry-on under seven kilograms, don’t forget these essential items:

 The essentials

  1. Passport
    Obviously, if you’re heading overseas, you’re not going to make it very far without this. And remember, you need at least six months validity on your passport beyond your return date for your passport to be valid.
  2. Wallet
     A travel wallet is a godsend when you’re on the move, keeping your cash, credit cards, and travel documents together will help you keep an eye on them.
  3. Itinerary
    Keep your flight itinerary, hotel information, and any transport bookings handy, you may need to show these when you enter another country.
  4. Phone
    In case of emergency, and in case of something Instagram-worthy. Don’t forget to pack a charger for this too.
  5. Eye drops
    Even if you don’t normally suffer from dry eyes, a stint in an aircraft can leave your eyes looking red and feeling scratchy. Eye drops can calm this and are also a nice refresher for tired eyes.
  6. Lip balm
    As with the eye drops, you might not usually need this but after a flight your lips can use a little loving.
  7. Hand sanitiser
    They say there’s more germs on a public handrail than a public toilet seat. A little pre-snack sanitisation can’t hurt.
  8. Deodorant
    While we’re talking toiletries, deodorant is good for you, and for your fellow passengers.
  9. Pen
    Especially important for overseas travel so you can fill out your immigration and customs forms while you’re still on board.
  10. Headphones
    Sound-cancelling headphones help you enjoy your movie or music undisturbed and double as ear plugs if you need silence to snooze.
  11. A tablet device
    Loaded with a fully charged battery this is your own supply of inflight entertainment.
  12. A scarf
    Add a bit of personality to your outfit and warmth to your body, and if your scarf is large enough it can double as a blanket.
  13. A t-shirt
    If you’re wearing one and have one packed, you’ll always have something to wear while the other item is being washed. An extra pair of underpants is also good for the same reason.
  14. Snacks
    It’s best to avoid being Hangry at all times, and especially during travel times. 

Why you should travel with your partner - Travel_Tips

There’s wives tales about how your partner treats their parents is how you can expect they’ll treat you. What I’ve found to be an even more reliable barometer of relationship success is how you and your partner get on when you travel together.

Travel has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people, and these highs and lows can sometimes be experienced in one long-haul flight. For this reason, travelling with your partner is the ultimate relationship test.

Here are five reasons travelling with your partner should be a priority:

There’s no I in team

When you travel with your partner, it’s you two against the world.
When you’re outside your comfort zone, you learn quite quickly if you can a) handle being in each other’s presence 24/7 and b) truly come to rely on each other. Six years and several continents later, I can tell you from personal experience that working together to tackle the world as a team is essential for a successful long-term relationship. 

Armrest etiquette is very revealing

You can really tell what kind of person someone is by how gracious they are with the inflight armrest.
If they go 50/50, or even all-out offering their shoulder as a pillow, you’re onto a winner. If they’re an armrest hog and leave you squished between them and a 120kg stranger, I think that’s a good metaphor for a bad relationship.

Learn to play to your strengths

There will be things that each of you can do better than the other so, use this to your advantage.
If one of you is better at organising things, let them map your itinerary. If one of you has Instagram-worthy biceps, don’t be too proud to let them carry your case up a flight of stairs. I’m never too proud for this one.

Polish up your rose-coloured glasses

When you’re together night and day for an extended period, things aren’t always going to be peachy.You’re probably going to see each other in some unflattering circumstances – cue examples such as a few days without a shower, running on little sleep, and copping a nasty bout of food poisoning after some dicey Barcelonan KFC. It’s a testament to your love for your partner when you can see the best in them even in a bad situation.

Know each other’s stories

Travelling together gives you seemingly endless hours to swap stories ask questions, and also gives you the chance to make new memories together and create your own stories together. Having new experiences with your person allows you to share some unique moments that will confirm that you’ve chosen the perfect partner in crime.  

How to avoid blowing the 7kg weight limit for carry on - Travel_Tips

If you’re flying with carry-on luggage only from Newcastle Airport, here are two things to keep in mind

  • You can take one main item of carry-on luggage and a second smaller item.
  •  these two items must have a combined weight of no more than seven kilograms.

This is a standard limit set by the airlines and is ample if you’re also checking in a suitcase. If you’re travelling with carry-on luggage only, it pays make sure you’re not overweight.

On a recent flight from Brisbane to Newcastle I had my carry-on sized suitcase packed with Tetris-like precision and used my handbag as my ‘one other smaller item’. I thought I was running a covert operation by sticking to the seven kilos with my little suitcase and jam-packing my handbag with other (heavier) items.

The handbag – bursting with my laptop, jumper, toiletries, snacks, and a spare pair of shoes – became my undoing. I was asked to weigh both items and the combined total weight completely blew the weight limit.

I was sprung; and had to check-in my carry-on for double the price it would have cost me if I had just checked in a larger suitcase in the first place.

Learn from my mistake and avoid getting caught out at the boarding gate. Here are my tips for flying with a carry-on bag only and not blowing the weight limit:

Purchase a lightweight bag

There are so many lightweight luggage options on the market you’re sure to find one to suit your budget. While you’re looking for new luggage, consider if you really the need to have wheels and a handle. These can quickly eat up your allowed kilograms and aren’t entirely necessary if you’re only carrying the bag short distances and it’s under seven kilos.

Wearing is not carrying 

I’m yet to hear of an airline that weighs its passengers. So layer up! Wear your heaviest shoes, jacket, and jeans and de-layer if necessary once you’re on board.

Forget toiletries

They actually do sell shampoo and toothpaste world-wide! Don’t worry about packing these items for a quick-trip. I would leave your towel behind too. Towels are surprisingly heavy and even heavier if they’re not completely dry.

Leave the laptop

And the guide book, and the camera, and the note pad. These days your smartphone is capable of doing most of what these things can do. At a stretch pack a tablet if you really feel the need for a bigger screen.

Take a Frisbee

Q: When is a Frisbee not a Frisbee? A: When it’s a plate, a fan, or an impromptu seat for wet ground. Apply this same logic to your other packed items, think about what can become multi-purpose. A sarong can become a curtain, a sheet, a picnic rug, or a towel.

Purchase luggage

If all else fails, simply purchase checked-bag luggage. It will save you the stress of being caught out like me as you board your flight.

Have I missed anything? 
Add your tips for packing light in the comments section below.

Image source: NBC / via

Ditch your boring day job and get paid to travel - Travel_Tips

If you’re feeling a little bored of the 9-to-5 daily grind, why not mix things up and get paid to travel? We’ve found seven jobs that are perfect for you to combine work and travel.

1. Flight attendant

This is probably the most obvious travel-job you can think of, but it’s certainly not the easiest. Case in point, if you want to join the Virgin Australia Cabin Crew, there are a range of skills you must have such as first aid training, food and beverage preparation and service skills, the ability to assist guests with special needs, and exceptional customer service. You also have to be at least 18 years old, an Australian or New Zealand citizen (or Australian permanent resident), and hold an unrestricted passport with at least 18 months validity. 

…and this is all before you join their Training School!

Job perks include competitive pay, performance based rewards, training at the in-house learning and development centre, plus travel benefits for you, your family, and your friends.

This is a great job for those who are friendly, patient, and looking into a long term career in air travel. 

2. Au Pair

If you’re a natural with kids, becoming an Au Pair might be a good option for you.

An Au Pair usually lives with a host family in a foreign country and takes care of the families children. The role can include babysitting, helping with schoolwork, cooking, and sometimes light cleaning duties.

Typically an Au Pair receives a free accommodation and a small salary. So, you might not make your fortune in this job, but you do get to fully immerse yourself in another culture and experience an authentic lifestyle in a new country. The term ‘Au Pair’ is French and translates to ‘At Par’ or ‘equal to’—you’ll be considered as part of the family.

This is a great job for young people who love kids and are looking to live abroad like a local.

3. Tour guide

If you’re well-travelled and have a great memory, this is the job for you.

As a tour guide, your ‘work’ days see you sharing your knowledge of ancient cities and wonders of the world with fellow travel-lovers. If you speak a second language, or are willing to learn another langauge, this is will add to your tour guide employability.

Travelling the world has never been easier; the more people take advantage of the ease of travel the more tour guides the world is going to need!

One thing to keep in mind is that tour guiding is often seasonal, meaning job security might be an issue. On the upside, this gives you more time to travel in the off season.

This is a great job for people who are friendly, energetic, have a good sense of direction, a healthy dose of patience, and an appreciation of different cultures and history.

4. English teacher

If your first language is English you’re lucky enough to be a native speaker of one of the world’s most popular languages. People all over the world want to learn English.

Teaching English in a foreign country is a great way to experience a new culture and location. Teaching is a very rewarding job and choosing to teach in a classroom abroad will certainly set you up for some challenges and adventures.

Many teaching positions in foreign countries do require a certification.  There are degrees specifically for teaching English as a second language (TESL); STA Travel has some useful information on how to obtain this.

Pay, benefits, and living arrangements will vary greatly based on where you choose to teach. Teaching English is an excellent job for great communicators who love teaching and thrive in a challenging environment.

5. Travel writer

Spending your days eating, drinking, and luxuriating around the world and taking a few moments to capture your experiences on paper (or in pixels), sounds like the dream job but, it’s not the easiest way to make a living.

While full-time travel writing positions exist, the most common type of work is freelance writing, meaning you can expect much of your writing to be ‘on spec’ – that is, you write, then cross all your fingers and toes in the hopes a magazine or website will buy it.

A good way to lure in potential publishers is to set up a travel portfolio or travel blog online that showcases your work.

Travel writing is a good job for someone looking for a creative outlet and has a nice ‘rainy day’ bank account to cushion them when they’re starting out.

While it may take a little while to build your income from travel-writing, perks of the job can include free familiarisation tours, previews of exhibitions, discounted rates at hotels, free meals, and concert tickets.

6. Hotel manager

Working as a hotel manager will usually place your office in some of the most sought after holiday hotspots.

But to reach the top of the pops in this job, you’ll need essential training and experience in people and hotel management. Many major hotel chains have a tendency to promote within their teams; so, get your foot in the door as a bell-boy/girl and work your way up.

This job is good for people who a very organised. A hotel manager needs to keep track of everything from staff, rosters, uniforms, reservations, guest needs, just to name a few.

7. Interpreter

If you’re bilingual, we’re talking truly fluent in at least two languages, working as an interpreter can take you all over the world. If you’re looking for work outside the tourism field, becoming an interpreter could be for you. International conferences, political and business meetings, court rooms, hospitals, refugee camps, and multinational companies all employ the skills on interpreters.

Although you'll generally be based in one location you can easily see the world on a series of short-stay contracts. You'll need a language degree, a qualification in interpreting, and specialist knowledge of the field you’ll be working in (eg science, politics, law etc).

The Australian Institute of Translation and Interpretation has great information on courses in translating and interpretation.

The worst type of travelling companions - Travel_Tips

I’ve been fortunate to do decent bit of travel. I’ve travelled with family, my partner, with an organised group tour, and have also travelled solo. For the most-part, I’ve experienced some great travel companions; but I haven’t always struck the jackpot. Hey, that’s life. I’m grateful that I haven’t personally had a shocking travel companion, but I’ve witnessed enough to know they exist. I’ve compiled my list of worst travel companions.  Trust me, this is a list you don’t want to make it onto …

‘Whatever’ companion
One of the most infuriating companions, this travel companion doesn’t care what they do. They haven’t done any research about where you’re travelling to, and when you ask their opinion, you get ‘whatever’ or ‘I don’t mind’ as a response. Agggghhh! This person drives me mad. If you’re travelling with someone, it’s for their company, not so you can be their parent/tour guide and make all the decisions.

This is the person who packs 30kg for two nights. Who when travelling alone expects everyone to help them because their luggage is ‘too heavy’. I’m sorry. If you pack it, you can carry it. If you can’t carry it, unpack it.  It’s that simple.  I have my own luggage to think about wrestling up the stairs, let alone doing it for you too.

The fussy eater
One of the best things about travelling is trying new foods. Fussy eaters can definitely make trying new foods exactly that, trying. But, in my opinion, the worst kind of fussy eater is the one with allergies, and tells you about them. All. The. Time.; If you genuinely have a special diet, learn how to communicate your needs in the language of the country you’re travelling to, and expect that sometimes you’re going to have to be happy with the garden salad. It’s better than going hungry.

The clinger
These are particularly rampant in organised group travel. This person decides you’re going to be their best friend whether you like it or not. They tag along and often don’t get the hint that they’ve overstayed their welcome. Look out for the clinger; they often don’t stop whinging, can prevent you frommaking more friends, and can really cramp your style.

The too tight to enjoy anything
This traveller won’t part with their cash for any reason. This traveller is more than happy to sit at a restaurant with you and proceed to complain that everything on the menu is too expensive (seriously??) and then pick food off your plate because they’re hungry. They also will refuse to visit any major tourist attraction that has an entrance fee. This means they will not see the inside of La Sagrada Familia Basilica because they won’t pay the entrance fee and they miss seeing the view of Paris from the Eifel Tower because they won’t pay. To stingy travellers like this I say, bugger off!

The incessant shopper
Travelling to a new place is exciting. And, if you love shopping, travelling to a new place and discovering new shops is really exciting. This traveller isn’t interested in discovering anything more about this destination that its shops. They say they don’t care about seeing the buildings, the people or discovering the food. Really? To me, shopping can definitely compliment a destination, but it’s not what makes it. If you find yourself with an incessant shopper, the only way out is to leave them to it.

The 3Ger not the 3Der
This person is all about showing their social networks how awesome their life is. And it would be, if they lifted their head from their phone. This type of traveller takes beautiful images, has the selfie down pat, and incessantly posts to every social site known to man. From the 3G world, it looks as if the two of you are having an amazing time. But, reality is that your companion is more interested in which filter to apply than the historic site you’ve travelled for days to see.

Travel agents aren’t passé; how to find a great one - Travel_Tips

The wonderful world wide web has made booking your own travel seem easy and cheap.

But, sometimes booking your holiday can be overwhelming and considerably time consuming. There are so many options, so much information to sift through to try and get the ‘best deal’, and there are so many scammers that it’s easy to be fooled.

For these reasons, personally, I am a fan of the travel agent. I can (and do) provide my agent with a brief of what I’m looking for and they come back to me with a shortlist of options.  In short, they do the leg work for me, save me a ton of time and are a simple phone call away if something goes wrong while I’m travelling (which is a fantastic type of travel ‘insurance’). 

But, how do you find a great travel agent who ‘gets you’ and what you want your holiday to be?

Well, finding a travel agent you gel with can be much like speed dating. And, the more effort you put in from the outset, the better your results will be.

Here are some things I suggest you look for in prospective agents:

An agent who’s transparent

Look for a travel agent who shows you their screen, who tells you up front what their fees are, and also tells you about any terms and conditions of your holiday booking. It’s standard practice for agents to charge some sort of administration and cancellation fee. 

Also look for an agent who’ll tell you when it’s in the best interest of your back pocket for you to  make the booking directly with a provider because they can’t access the same deal/special as you (eg hotel, airline). If you find an agent who does this, then you’ve hit the jackpot. 

I found an amazing deal on a 5-star hotel in London and asked my travel agent if she could access the same deal. When she looked it up, she discovered it was only for direct bookings.  Her advice to me was to book direct with the hotel.  She does the same for me with airfares. I’ll call her and ask if she can see a special fare in her system. If she can, she gets my booking, if she can’t she tells me the airfare is a steal and to book direct straight away.

An agent who’s happy to do the leg-work for you

If you’re travelling around the world, it is easy to spend weeks (literally) researching and planning.  Save your time and give your travel agent a brief of where you want to travel, and they will do the leg work and come back to you with options.  Then, you can research the options they give you and go back to them with your own suggestions and changes. 

An agent who’ll get back to you in hours

If you’re agent is taking DAYS to get back to you, it’s time to move on. You want your travel agent to be on your side and looking out for you. The big agencies also offer 24/7 support, so if you’re stuck at an airport with the most horrible customs agent ever, you have help at the other end of the phone.

An agent who knows what they’re talking about

I like my agent to be knowledgeable. This doesn’t mean that they need to have travelled to my all exact destination (and it’s unrealistic to want this), but they need to be well-travelled and willing to do some leg-work to learn about it for me.

An agent who sticks

Some agents are flash-in-the-pans. Look for an agent who has a few years’ experience and has proven staying power with their current agency.  In theory, you’ll be using this person over and over, and you don’t want to have to go through the ‘getting to know you’ process every time.

How to balance your urge to travel with your work - Travel_Tips

Work-life balance can sometimes seem fictional – like unicorns, and getting a full eight hours sleep – but it’s not as though these things don’t exist*, you just have to create time for them.

I know many people who work full-time feel as though they ‘don’t have time’ for travel or that they ‘have too much work on’ to take a holiday. With a bit of planning and getting your priorities in order, these excuses evaporate.

Here are my tips for balancing your urge to travel with your work:

  1. Make travel a priority
    Waiting for the right time to travel or waiting until you have enough money to travel or waiting until your workload isn’t as intense before you travel is a terrible idea. There will always be more work and you could always use more money. Don’t wait for the perfect time to travel. The perfect time is now. Make travel a priority and let the rest fit around your plans.

  2. Extend your business travel
    If you’re travelling for business, (eg a conference, training, or meeting), why not tack an extra few days of leisure time on the end of your trip? Usually you work will cover your flights and you won’t have to waste any annual leave days on travel-time. It’s a cost- and time-effective way to travel.

  3. Choose your travel dates wisely
    Last year I managed to take a 14-day holiday and only use seven of my annual leave days. By taking time off during a period where public holidays nestled among weekends I maximised my time away from the desk.

  4. Negotiate extended leave
    If up until this point you’ve been too much of a workaholic to travel, I bet you have weeks of annual leave that needs to be used. Negotiate with your boss to take a block of time off at once. This will force you to be organised to keep your work rolling while you’re away, and you can switch off your emails and jet-set into the horizon with no work worries for a good number of weeks.

  5. Leave without pay 
    If you’ve exhausted the above options but you’re still feeling the travel bug bite, it could be worth discussing leave without pay. Some truly adventurous types throw in the nine-to-five way of life for a life in the sky and foreign lands… but I know others would rather hang on to their hard-earned gig. Some companies are more open to this concept than others, but there’s no harm in asking. If you’re successful, you get the best of both worlds; you can satisfy your wanderlust and come home to a secure job.

How to get the best seat on a plane - Travel_Tips

If you've ever traveled on a commercial jet, you probably know to avoid picking the middle seat in a row of three. If you purchase a last-minute ticket or you didn't select a seat before check-in, you might not have any other choice but to sit between two strangers on a long transcontinental flight, but assuming you do have your pick of where to sit, it's worth spending a few minutes to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck.

An air carrier's seat map may highlight certain rows as having additional legroom or a missing seat in front, but airlines typically leave out a few critical details that can mean the difference between a decent flight and a miserable one. Take the row just behind a bathroom for example, or one adjacent to the galley, where chatty flight attendants tend to gather between beverage services on a redeye. You don't want to end up in either, but without some input from passengers who have traveled on the same aircraft type in the past, it can be tricky to know which seat to pick.

Sites like SeatExpert and TripAdvisor's SeatGuru take the guesswork out of selecting an ideal seat. Both sites display similar results, but it's worth dropping by both SeatExpert and SeatGuru before you pick a seat for any upcoming flight. SeatExpert lets you locate the aircraft type using your airline name, flight number, and date of departure, making the process a bit more straightforward for novice seat pickers. If you're already familiar with your carrier's fleet (you know a Boeing 737-900 from a 737-800, for example) SeatGuru is probably your best bet.

To get started with SeatExpert, enter your flight details and click "Find your Seat." If all goes well, a detailed aircraft layout will pop up, with seats colored green (a good seat), yellow (less than ideal), orange (worth avoiding), and red (avoid at all costs). White seats are average, and if you end up there, you should be just fine. Naturally, you'll have the best experience in a green seat, which typically offer more privacy or additional legroom. Red seats, at the other end of the spectrum, are often located near galleys or lavatories, and may lack a window, floor storage, and a normal amount of legroom.

SeatGuru includes additional info, such as a list of in-flight amenities and reviews from people who have traveled on that aircraft type, along with green, yellow, and red color-coding for great, poor, and terrible seats. You'll find a bit more detail with select seats as well -- for example, the seat map for United's 787-800 (Dreamliner) makes it clear that seat 27L has restricted legroom, a tiny window, and a tray table in the armrest, giving you less space to sit. 16L, meanwhile, has heaps of extra legroom thanks to its bulkhead position behind the business-class cabin, though you won't have space to store belongings below the seat in front.

Airlines have caught on to the demand for better seats, of course, labeling preferred rows as "Economy Plus" or "Main Cabin Extra" and charging a premium for a more spacious seat. Oftentimes these roomier rows are located in the front near the restrooms and baby basinet locations, however, so even though an airline may charge the same premium for two seats with comparable legroom, you may still have a better (or worse) experience in one location than another. Just as you might not get a better return when you blindly purchase a higher fare or a more expensive bottle of wine, the same applies to pricier seats.

Some seats are better than others in premium cabins as well. Just as you do in coach, you'll want to avoid seats near the lavatory or galley while seated in business or first class. An expensive flat-bed seat will only go so far when the flight attendants are clanging dishes and silverware after the meal service or blabbering away on an overnight flight. If you want to have the best experience, be sure to review your aircraft seating plan thoroughly before you board the plane, and keep an eye on the seat map after you check in--passengers may change flights or get upgraded to first class, opening up better seats just before departure.

This post was originally featured on 

The types of people you’ll meet when you travel - Travel_Tips

Travel exposes you to new places, cultures, and people. Some of the most interesting people you will encounter are fellow travellers.Travellers come from all walks of life, they can be rich, poor, smart, or silly, among many, many other things.

Here’s a short list of types to befriend, and to be wary of, when you travel.

  1. The Planner
  2. The Planner usually steps up as the leader of the trip. With activities organised and daily budgets set, the Planner makes for quite the practical t

    ravel companion. On the downside, they can be a little rigid when others want input on the itinerary; if it’s not already on the schedule, it’s not going to happen.

  3. The Gap Year Kid
  4. Gap Year Kids are usually fresh out of the classroom, young, and eager to explore. If you’ve grown tired of travelling they’re a great travel companion because their enthusiasm is contagious. Taking a Gap Year Kid under your wing will rekindle your love of travel.

  5. The Backpacker
  6. Backpackers possess a very unique set of skills that include being able to pack their entire life into one bag; being able to sleep anywhere (parks, crowded dorm rooms, in airports); being able to recite their passport number with no prompts; avoiding people with the same accent as them; and getting dressed in a crowded dorm room at night with only a mobile phone screen for light and still managing to have their shirt on the right way.

  7. The Flashpacker
  8. A Flashpacker travels with the same adventurous ethos of a regular backpacker, but they prefer the creature comforts of a clean bed and wifi over the more budget-savvy choice of a hostel (or airport floor). Put simply, it’s backpacking with a bigger budget and a smaller timeframe. A flashpacker's preferred mode of transport is generally the quickest and most comfortable, with air travel their preferred mode of transport.

  9. The Adventure Addict
  10. Unless you’re one of them, you’re unlikely to see an adventure addict in their natural habitat.

    They steer clear of typical tourist traps and are often defying death as they go canyoning, big wave surfing, white water rafting, and/or bungee jumping.

    They’re the perfect travel companion if you’re looking to get well outside of your comfort zone.

  11. The PDA Partners
  12. Beware the PDA Partners, they’re rampant in cities such as Venice and Paris. They’re unaware of the uncomfortable vibes they emit from their constant kissing, hugging, hand holding, and baby talking.

    They present a real safety hazard to fellow travellers as they stop abruptly mid-stride to take a smoochy selfie.

  13. The WiFi Whinger
  14. Less likely to have a sore neck from craning their head to see the top of the Eiffel Tower, but more likely to have a sore neck from burying their face in their phone. The WiFi Whinger is yet to learn that life is better in 3D than 3G. 

    This travellers is often heard exclaiming phrases such as: ‘Is your Instagram working? This upload is taking FOREVER’ or ‘ergh, this wifi is SO SLOW – Nepal sucks!

  15. The Contiki Cougher
  16. The Contiki Cougher fully adopts the YOLO (You Only Live Once) philosophy when travelling. This means they’re often partying all night, yet up at 6am to sight-see the next day. These travellers often suffer from sever FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and do not want to miss out on anything while they’re travelling; but their non-stop approach often wears them out, they get sick, resulting in the symptoms of their namesake.

How many of these people have you encountered in your travels? 

Do you have any more to add to the list?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Things you didn’t know about airline food - Travel_Tips

Funny tasting tea

In the sky, due to the reduced-pressure environment of the aircraft cabin, water boils at 90 degrees Celsius. Any tea connoisseur knows this isn’t hot enough for the correct brewing process - which explains why your tea tastes funny in the sky. British Airways and Twinings Tea have designed a blend that tastes just right when flying.

Bland food

When flying, there’s less humidity. This means your throat dries out a bit, which impacts your sense of smell. If you remember back to the human body classes at school, you’ll know you need your sense of smell to properly taste food. 

What about the leftovers?
Most leftovers from international flights are incinerated in order to comply with customs and border protection laws. Some airlines even fire any employee who is caught taking food off the aircraft, or ground handlers caught with left over alcohol or cigarettes.  Like any contraband, there is a black market for airline food, particularly in India where bottles of water and alcohol are found in local markets.

Bad food is banished thanks to celebrity chef menus
In the past decade, airlines have tried to ditch the cliché of bad food by bringing in the big guns to create the inflight menu. Airlines are aiming for flamboyance and even a possible Michelin-star or two. Qantas was one of the first airlines to trial and keep this tactic, partnering with Neil Perry, and seemed to have set a trend with American Airlines, Air France, and British Airways following suit. In recent years Virgin Australia launched a partnership with Luke Mangan for their business class menu.

How many meals are consumed each day?

Qantas prepares approximately 70,000 meals every day for its passengers flying on Qantas and Jetstar. That’s a lot of meals!

How to put your business travel on a budget - Travel_Tips

Long gone are the days of luxurious and automatic business class travel if you are travelling for work. Instead, these days it’s all about the bottom line and staying under budget.

In my working experience, most companies have a travel policy which talks along the lines of the company ‘facilitating business travel, while managing travel costs’. What this really means is ‘we get you have to travel for work; but when you do, make it cheap.’

Follow these business-travel hacks to be a savvy-saver when you’re next booking business travel. You could even show off your knowledge and savings during your next performance review ….. You’re welcome :)

Early morning and late night
I don’t know about you, but if I have a choice between an 6am and an 8am flight, I’ll always choose the 8am option. And, so will most of the population. Based on the principles of supply and demand there can be bargains to had on the early flights; choosing the early option can save you up to $100.

The same goes for the last arriving flight at night. Newcastle Airport’s curfew is 10pm, so that means any flight arriving after 9pm is shutting down for the night. This is also quite late to be getting back from a business trip. Again, there’s money to be saved by choosing the last flight of the day.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are your best friends
The cheapest days of the week to travel domestically are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The most expensive days are Friday and Sunday (thank those travellers taking long weekends and/or flying home for the weekend).

In the coming month, the difference in price between a Tuesday and a Friday is up to $220, proving day of the week matters.

Be all about the price, about the price, no frequent flyers
It can be tempting to build your frequent flyer points on the company expense, but doing this can sometimes mean you’re paying a higher price for your flight. If you’re serious about saving money when you travel for business, be frugal, stray from your favourite airline, and check every airline’s fares before you book.

Book as far in advance as possible
Most airline fares work on a scale. For example, if there are 200 seats on an aircraft the first 10 seats might be sold at $49, the next 10 at $59, the next 10 at $69 and so on. This usually means that the longer you leave it to book, more people would have booked in front of you which will push up the price you’ll pay.

This is obviously a very simplified scenario of how airfares work. There’s a lot more that goes into it that this (that’s why airlines employ revenue managers), but it gives you a basic idea of how airfares can work.

Get a corporate agreement with an airline
There is an exception to the price rule. If your company does a lot of travel (in excess of $20,000 worth each year) than it could definitely be worth your while chatting with an airline about arranging a corporate agreement.

5 travel lessons to take with you everywhere - Travel_Tips

The saying “travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer” is quite insightful. When you book the flights for your next adventure, the cardboard ticket that lets you board the plane isn’t the only thing you get in exchange for your hard-earned cash.

What you actually receive is an admission pass to the school of life where you can learn as much about yourself, and others, and the world as you explore this place called earth.

Here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way that I think we could all benefit from practising in our daily lives.

  1. It’s cool to be kind
    Some of the best people I know are people I met when I was travelling. Perfect strangers became best friends after sharing a once in a life time experience. But I don’t think it’s the experience alone that starts the friendship. More often than not it started with a simple “hello”.

    Why are we so open to greeting a stranger just because we’re in a foreign land yet in our home town busy ourselves with our phone or cross the street if we see a stranger walking toward us?

    It takes the same amount of effort to extend this simple kindness to a stranger when you’re away as when you’re at home. Set yourself a challenge and say “hi” next time you pass someone in the street; I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t make you both smile.

  2. It doesn’t hurt to try new things
    Learn a new language. Taste a new food. Start a new hobby. Go ice skating. Tick something off your bucket list. Travel has a way of luring out your adventurous spirit, but there’s no reason you have to pack it away when you’re unpacking your suitcase.
  3. Things don’t always go the way you plan 
    And that’s ok!

    As a self-confessed control freak, this was a tough lesson for me to learn. After a few re-directions due to track work on the London tube, accidentally booking a flight to Porto instead of Lisbon in Portugal, and a near-missed flight due to a lost taxi driver in Melbourne, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

    I take this lesson with me wherever I go, and highly recommend that you try it too: whatever comes your way, go with it. When things don’t go to plan, adapt and keep moving ahead.

  4. Don’t take your health for granted
    Sure, you need to sample a croissant when you’re in a French patisserie and go ahead and treat yourself with some take-away after a long week of work… but, whether you’re at home or abroad you need to look after yourself.

    Incorporate exercise into your adventure and into your daily life. Get moving by involving yourself in activities that you enjoy so they don’t feel like a chore.

    If you want to walk along the Bather’s Way in Newcastle, or cycle along Death Road in Bolivia, these activities are going to be more enjoyable if you’re not struggling to breathe.

  5. Be present
    With the world now literally at our fingertips, thanks to our mobiles, we can look at and share anything with almost everyone whenever we want.  We’re apparently more social than ever before, yet I personally find when I’m scrolling through ‘social’ media I am more involved in my own thoughts than with whomever is in the room with me.

    Travel and Instagram go together like bees and honey; the perfect way to share your life with the world. But, it’s just as nice as to stand there and share it with people IRL (in real life). Wherever you are, take some time to experience the world in 3D not 3G. 

How to travel when you have no money - Travel_Tips

I bet most of us would consider it unthinkable or impossible to live like a globetrotter. 
Obviously having money helps this cause, but a lack of it shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing your travel dreams. 

So, if you’re wondering how to go knocking around the world without having a million-dollar bank balance (or $100,000 or even $10,000 bank balance), then read on. 

Have the courage to let go
Be mentally prepared to embrace change and let go of routines, attachments, and preconceived notions.

When travelling, all you really need is food, clothing, shelter, sanity, and self-respect. All these are easily available and some are even free. 

Look for local lodging and boarding
In many places, locals open up their homes for travellers to stay for free, and in return for some household chores it’s also possible to get your meals on the house. will help you find a free bed all around the world, while will give you a bed and meals in exchange for a few hours of hard work in Australia.  

Find work that will pay your bills
Need to make money for some necessary expenses? Then get a job. Not a career, a job. 

Consider jobs such as housekeeping, babysitting, waiting/waitressing, bartending, being a hostel or a store worker. 

You’ll soon meet others like you and realise that people from all walks of life do this for some extra travel cash. You may even make friends along the way. 

Fly for free
You can fly free by earning frequent flier points every time you fly and if you sign up for a few travel credit cards and enjoy collecting and using the miles. This is one of the easiest ways to collect points as most subscriptions will get you at least two flights.    

You can also save a lot of money by booking your tickets (flight and rail) in advance. 

Housesit your way around the world
Want a taste of champagne on a budget that can barely buy you a pint of lager? Give housesitting a go. 

You essentially look after the upkeep of a house when its owners are away.  In return, you get to stay there for free.  An added bonus is you’ll have a fully equipped kitchen at your disposal (think how nice it would be to say goodbye to spending a stack of cash each time you want to eat something).

Use discount cards
If you’re a student under 26, make it a point to use your discount card wherever applicable. This will get you the things you need at almost half the price. 

A lot of cities offer traveller’s discounts on tourism, transportation, and access to museums and monuments. This is another great way to save money on your journeys, so do make that London pass, the Paris museum card, and that Helsinki card save your money for you.    

Six questions to ask before you book your next holiday - Travel_Tips

Depending on your personality type, you’ll plan your holiday one of two ways: book every part of your holiday so you can tell someone exactly what you’ll be doing at any given moment OR you’ll book your one-way ticket and go where life takes you. Whatever your preference, there’s one thing all travellers should have in common: they’ve considered these six questions before they booked anything.

Where do you want to go?
“So many, many places,” I hear you utter dreamily. But, this is a serious question that deserves serious consideration. The world is a massive place and while we all like to dream, it’s going to be hard to make it to all 190+ countries and their sights in your lifetime, let alone one trip. To help you decide, I strongly urge you to come up with a list of places you have ALWAYS dreamed of visiting.

This could be the Fiji Islands, Disney World, Rome, the Great Wall of China, Uluru, or the next state. For me I had always dreamed of seeing Italy—so my first overseas jaunt included two weeks in this sun-drenched country.

The trick when thinking about your destination bucket list is to be judgement free. Let your heart lead and don’t listen to any naysayers who will tell you that the camping ground 300km away is nowhere near as good as hiking the Austrian mountains. You need to identify that place YOU have always wanted to see—and go there. You won’t regret it.

When do you want to travel?
This one goes hand-in-hand with your destination. If you’ve always pictured yourself under the Eifel tower surrounded by snow, then you’ll have to travel in January. And, if you want to swim in the aqua-blue waters off the north coast of Queensland, you’ll have to travel in Australia’s winter months to escape the stingers.

Other things to take into consideration include school holidays—you will usually pay a higher price during the school holiday period—and finding out if there are any major events happening at your destination.

It certainly pays to do a bit of research before you book to give yourself as much chance as possible of having the holiday you imagined.

What sort of holiday do you want?

There are so many different types of holidays: adventure, rest and relaxation, historic, the great outdoors, backpacking, organised group tours, and so on.

I’ve pretty much done every type of travel—with the exception of backpacking, I’m a suitcase on wheels kinda gal—and some types depend on the destination as much as the individual. Horses for courses!

Give some thought to what would suit you and suit where you’re going.

Who do you want to travel with?
Is whole family going to join you? Your partner? Best friend? Group of friends? Or are you going to fly solo?

Who you travel with can have a major impact on your travel itinerary. I personally like to travel with just one other person. Then there are only two agendas and to consider; theirs and mine, and any need to compromise is usually a fairly even split.

In my experience, the more people involved in the decision making, the slower decisions are to be made and less sight-seeing is achieved. The upside to travelling with more than one other is that costs are shared amongst more people which makes it a really affordable way to travel.

How much do you want to spend?
Ah, this is the million-dollar question. Or not in most cases.

Lack of fundage is the killer of most great travel ideas. It’s important to be realistic about what you can afford—be it through savings, credit, or (a personal favourite) the Bank of Mum. Then consider how much you are comfortable spending. Is it $500, $5,000 or $50,000. Find your upper limit and don’t spend past it. And don’t forget that you will have expenses while you’re on the road, so make sure you factor these in too.

There’s nothing worse than having travel-induced buyer’s remorse.

How long do you want to stay?
Your answer to this question will likely be dictated by two things: what you can afford monetarily and what you can afford to take off work.

Something to consider is the distance you travel to get to your destination. If you’re travelling for 10 or more hours, you really want to make the trip worthwhile. In these cases, consider a minimum of nine days, as two of these will be taken up with travel to and from your destination.

Ultimately going on a holiday is great fun, but a bit of preparation before you book can save potential heartache and leave you with a clear idea about what you want from your hard-earned break.

10 travel hacks you need to know - Travel_Tips

This time of year is a popular time for holiday-makers to travel over land and sea.

The team HotelsCombined put their heads together to come up with a list of their top ten travel hacks to help out travellers in this busy travel period:

1. The adaptor

Forgotten your phone charger? Or are you just stopping over for a short period without the correct country adaptor? Just use the USB port in your hotel television to charge your phone.

2. The phone stand

Tired of holding your phone to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones? By sitting your sunglasses upside down, you'll create the perfect phone stand for the plane.

3. The photocopy

Make copies of your passport, plane tickets, birth certificate, health insurance and hotel booking information before you leave. Save these documents as PDFs on your iPad or print them out so that you can access them offline if urgently needed.

4. The sock

By placing delicate or breakable items inside a sock when packing will ensure that they arrive at your destination in one piece.

5. The rope

A long, thin piece of rope will prove invaluable, when you can create a makeshift washing line in your hotel room. It's much easier than hanging your dripping clothes over the back of the chair in your hotel room.

6. The clip

Binder clips are multi-talented and can be used to both protect your razor and to wind your headphones around so they don't get tangled.

7. The scarf

Packed at the top of your hand luggage, a scarf or sarong will ensure that you have an extra layer or a blanket when it's cool and can cover up if required.

8. The roll

Roll your clothes instead of folding to both reduce crinkles and create extra space in your bag.

9. The ribbon

Every second person has the same black suitcase. To save yourself from picking up the wrong bag, attach a bright ribbon or sticker to yours. That way you'll be able to spot it from a mile away on the airport conveyor belt.

10. The app

Having the HotelsCombined mobile app on your phone will ensure that you get the best deal possible for your hotel, no matter where you are. It's easy to use, 100 per cent free and you'll be able to find nearby hotels on the go.

This post was written by Alycia Simons, originally appearing on, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission. Follow on Twitter: @hotelscombined

Travel safety hacks every woman needs to know - Travel_Tips

Having travelled internationally solo, I know that the secret to staying safe can be different for men and women. For all my fellow female solo travellers, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt when travelling alone.

Check-in regularly with your ‘person’ back home
This may be your family, friends, or other half. Whoever your ‘person’ is, daily check-ins are important. If something does happen to you, these are the people who will raise the alarm and help you.

Blend in
This doesn’t mean don the full traditional dress of the place you’re visiting, but be smart about what you wear. If you wear your runners, a bum bag, and have your camera hanging around your neck, even dumb Freddy is going to know you’re a tourist.

As a female, my hot tip is to wear your general weekend gear, and use a mid-size handbag that can be fully zipped—I have found this fits my SLR camera nicely, as well as my wallet, phone, scarf, and drink bottle. I have done this on my past few trips and until I pull out my camera, no one has any idea that I’m a tourist who is carrying a few thousand dollars’ worth of camera equipment.

Don’t get drunk
As tempting as this one may be, getting drunk will definitely reduce your inhibitions and bring your guard down. Travelling alone means you need to be aware of what’s going on, and who is, around you. By all means, taste the local tipple if you feel so inclined, just be sure to stay alert.

Keep a wedged doorstop in your luggage
Early in my solo travel days I stayed in some less than desirable hotels. Putting my wedged doorstop under on my hotel room door (on the inside) gave me added protection and peace of mind that I could close my eyes at night.

Don’t flash cash
This goes for anyone travelling solo, as a duo, or part of a group. If you must carry a lot of cash (and I get it, it sometimes makes sense to withdraw a lot of cash at once to minimise transaction fees), put it somewhere where it’s not on display every time you open your bag or wallet Nothing screams “rob me” like a stack of cash.

Have your ‘travel companion’ back story down pat
Some travel sites will tell you to wear a wedding band if you’re travelling alone. I’ve never gone to that extreme when travelling solo but, I have also had unwanted attention; my travel companion back story has saved me many-a-time. My ‘companion’ may have been at the pub while I was shopping, meeting me in 10 minutes at the pub / tube station / whatever the situation called for. Fear can be paralysing with the possibility of a disastrous outcome. Some bullishness has definitely paid dividends for me.

How to save money when you’re booking flights - Travel_Tips

I’m someone who makes no apologies for saving up annual leave for my next holiday. In my travels I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to secure a great deal on airfares. 

Don’t believe the hype that you need a take-out second mortgage to travel during peak holiday season; with these tips you can keep your hard earned cash in your pocket when you book your flight.

Don’t be a last-minute Larry

There’s nothing like that exhilarating feeling of deciding last-minute that you’re going to take an overseas jaunt.  I’ve done it and the spontaneity is the best feeling.  But, for all the exhilaration, I’ve also had to pay what I call the Last-Minute Larry Tax for my impromptu decision (think two to three times the cost of what I would have paid if I’d booked earlier).

Save your bank balance and plan ahead.  Airlines sell airfares 12-months out.  That means that in December, you can purchase tickets for travel in November the following year.  Most airlines sell seats based on supply and demand; that is, 12-months out there’s lots of seats, so the airfare is relatively inexpensive, but as you get closer to the travel date, seats sell.  This means there’s less supply and hence the price gets higher. 

So, if you can, plan ahead you can spend your money on your actual holiday—not on getting there.

Being flexible isn’t just for limbo
Flexibility is key for snagging a great airfare.  Last year I knew I wanted to go to Europe around August / September / October.  I wasn’t tied into particular travel dates, I just wanted a bargain airfare.  I set alerts from December and then bided my time. 

My patience and flexibility was rewarded—I scored return flights for less than $1,400.  I was more than delighted with my travel dates and my bank balance was left in a somewhat healthy state too.

Think alternate gateways
Look at alternate gateways to where you’re flying into.  For example, if you’re flying into London from Europe, London Stansted or London Gatwick can be a lot cheaper than flying into London Heathrow.  In Europe, airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet fly into a range of secondary airports (such as Memmingen, Munich West) and by doing so will often pay less in airport fees and taxes—a saving they can pass onto the passenger. 

Travel on Christmas Day
If you’re travelling domestically to have Christmas dinner with the family, then get yourself a 10 or 11am departure and you’ll arrive at your end destination mid-afternoon.  Perfect.

The bonus to travelling on Christmas Day (or New Year’s Eve and Easter Saturday) other than a cheaper ticket, is that the staff you interact with are usually super perky and are just looking to have a great day—just like you.

Flying is sometimes faster
Travelling around Europe is so much fun; but it’s quite large.  The Eurail is awesome, and yes you do see a lot of the scenery if you’re on a train.  But, if I’m on limited time, I prefer to fly.

I can fly to a destination in one to two hours, whereas on the rail it would take six to eight.  I much prefer to see the sights than the back of a railway seat.

Don’t just automatically book with your preferred airline
While it may be tempting to just look at your regular airline, or the airline that you collect points with, this lazy attitude could be costing you more than fundage. 

Your ‘preferred’ airline may have a flight schedule that will cost you time.  If you’re trying to catch a flight that will have you arriving in Brisbane for Mum’s roast lunch, being a stickler to your preferred airline may have you arriving in time to pick the bones, while another airline may have had you there with time for a drink or two BEFORE the meal was even served.

Travel tips from industry insiders - Travel_Tips

One of the perks of working at an Airport is collecting travel tips from industry insiders and gypsy globetrotters that are forever roaming the world/building that I work in.

Many of these have already been shared with you including how to travel with a suit, survive long flights with children, and how to pack your carry-on like a pro.  

The five quick tips below are ones that you may not have come across yet:

No phone charger? No problem
Have you ever unpacked your bag with the sinking realisation that you’ve left your phone charger behind?

Worry not, dear travellers.  Fellow forgetful travellers can help you out of this particular pickle: the number-one item left behind in hotels is the phone charger. So, before you rush out to buy a new one, check with the hotel's front desk for a spare you can borrow – or even keep!

Enjoy infinite reading options
Spending time in transit means offers the perfect opportunity to read uninterrupted by guilty thoughts of how your time should be better spent. This often means reading an entire book can be achieved in a matter of hours or days instead of weeks or months. So what do you do once you’ve finished your book?

Read another of course. Travelling with a library in your luggage is definitely not what we would describe as practical. In this instance an e-reader is your answer.

Never go hungry

It can be tricky to travel when you have a restricted diet, especially if you don’t speak the local language. Avoid the headache – and stomach ache – of dietary requirements becoming lost in translation by carrying a card with you that describes what you can or can’t eat in the language of the destinations you plan to visit.

Personally, I’m a fan of google translate. I type in my allergies and take a screen shot that I can print, email, or simply show to the waiter on the screen of my phone.

See the world in your language

Experiencing different cultures and languages is one of the best things about travelling, but it can also be one of the most confusing.

Enter: Word Lense. This free app instantly translates printed words using the built-in video camera on your phone. It can be a real life saver if you’re not a polyglot.

Fix a broken suitcase zipper

It's Murphy’s Law: your suitcase zips perfectly when you’re leaving home, but when you’re packing for your return trip, your zipper just won’t budge. If the zipper is stuck, rub lip balm, or bar soap on the teeth to help it slide a little smoother.

If the zipper handle has snapped off completely, loop a loopy keychain through the slider to create a makeshift zipper pull. The loopier the keychain the better, as it can also help you spot your bag on the luggage carousel.

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