An open letter to the people of the Hunter - News

Dear the people of the Hunter,

Wow, hasn’t there been some interest in our airport during the month of May! It’s heartening to see so much passion from our region.

The commencement of works on the $1.9 million international processing area fit-out seems to have more than piqued your interest. What is evident is your excitement and enthusiasm at the prospect of future international destinations becoming a real possibility.

I am writing this open letter to residents of the Hunter to thank you for your passion for the introduction of new routes out of Newcastle Airport. I have read your comments on social media, and listened to opinions on radio and in the media that prove we are an impassioned region with strong views on the future of their airport.

Your sentiments are not only warranted, but just what we need to convince airlines we have a local population that wants to fly to new destinations and would actively support new routes with fervour.

We can all agree our region most definitely deserves an international airport. These development works are the next step towards making this happen for you.

Partly funded by the State Government thanks to an $850,000 Restart NSW grant, the fit-out is due for completion later this year. This means that if an airline told us today they wanted to start international flights from Newcastle, by November we’d have all the necessary infrastructure ready for the services to commence.

We’re working hard to bring more flights to Newcastle Airport, but competition is fierce among airports to attract more flights. Just like any other company we pitch business cases to win new work (ie new routes). These pitches are backed by extensive passenger and traffic research and often include financial incentives.

As you can imagine, we’re not the only ones doing this, almost every other airport in Australia is hoping to grow their footprint and deliver new routes for their catchment. Ultimately it’s the airlines who decide where they will fly their planes and that decision is based on demand.

Completing this Border Force fit-out means that from an infrastructure perspective, we have done everything we needed to prepare our terminal for international flights. When international flights will start from Newcastle, is yet unknown.

That said, what is evident to me and my team is the wanderlust our community has.

We take this desire for new destinations—both international and domestic—seriously and we will continue to lobby the airlines and push hard for Newcastle Airport and our region to give you an airport the region deserves.

Domestically, we’ve listened to your comments and have focused on new services into South Australia and to additional airports in Queensland. We are in discussions with airlines at the moment about opportunities to both these states and I believe we have presented a strong business case for new services. Watch this space!

Internationally our focus is on short-haul destinations such as New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and—with the right aircraft—potentially Bali in the future.

While right now we don’t have any announcements on the horizon, completion of these fit-out works will remove the last infrastructure hurdle in bringing international flights to Newcastle. If we don’t build the infrastructure, we can never have international flights.

So, what we need you to do now is keep that enthusiasm going strong! We will continue to communicate openly and honestly with you and we also need you all to let the airlines know that Newcastle Airport is serviced by a population that is passionate about travel.  Let the airlines know where you want to fly and keep that enthusiasm strong!

Thank you again for all of your support,

Peter Cock
CEO Newcastle Airport

Seven destinations to see in 2016 - Travel_the_World


Estamos de volta com essa foto de Ipanema por @riodejaneiro_jk! #rio_lovers

A photo posted by Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (@riodejaneirolovers) on 

Everyone headed to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and, this year, Brazil will play host again to another world-class sporting event: the Olympic Games. Known for its love of a carnivale, Rio de Janeiro is readying itself for a party of all parties, with athletes and spectators from around the world descending upon its famed beaches, samba clubs, its caipirinha kiosks, and its buzzing streets in the name of sport and pleasure. With the beaches, the atmosphere, the sport; this is one party you don’t want to miss. 


Japan is a fantastic place to visit anytime. All the time. More often than not you can find a cheap flight from Australia to Japan which makes it such an easy international getaway. The sakura blossoming, the crazy Shibuya crossing, or tackling the slopes in Niseko are individually enough to make you want to get to Japan.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city filled with foodies. It's bustling, blaring metropolis where every single person has one thing on their mind: food. Hong Kong is the home of the dim sum, but also brings together cuisine from all over China, and the world. If you travel based on gastronomy, Hong Kong has to be on your 2016 travel menu.


You need to go to Cuba and you need to go now. Travel restrictions between Cuba and the USA have been relaxed after more than 50 years of both countries ignoring one another– 
as a result tourism is about to go gangbusters.  Cuba is on the cusp of change, this Caribbean island nation has been slowly revealing itself to the world and is about to throw open the doors as relations with the US improve. The embassies have reopened. The tourists won't be far behind. Get there now.

Sri Lanka

Lying between the well-visited countries of India and south east Asia, Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight. And if you’ve heard Sri Lanka described as the ‘poor man’s Maldives’ and been discouraged from visiting, boy-oh-boy have you missed out. Sri Lanka’s endless beaches, rainforest-covered mountains, ancient temples, elephants, rolling surf, flavourful food – and did we mention the elephants? – position Sri Lanka as a must-see in 2016.


Morocco is so close to Europe yet the two places could not be more vastly different. The weather, food, colours, smells, and history make Morocco one of the most diverse countries in Africa. The soaring mountains, sweeping desert, rugged coast, and winding alleys of ancient cities and souqs are wondrous.  

Byron Bay

Byron Bay has some of the prettiest beaches and best surf breaks in the world. It is also home to a stunning light house at Australia’s most easterly point, Cape Byron where you may even be lucky enough to spot a whale during the annual migration. During winter the Byron Bay delivers luscious warm days, perfect for strolling through the weekend markets, and the annual Splendour in the Grass music festival in July should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

The story behind airport codes - Travel_the_world

Three-letter airport codes are part of the alphabet soup of travel, and while some are glaringly obvious others are completely cryptic. So what's really in an airport code? Let's start with some homegrown examples.

The airport codes for Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth – SYD, MEL and PER – make perfect sense, being drawn from the first three letters of each city's name. But this simple convention can't always be followed.

For example, Brisbane is BNE instead of BRI because that code had already been allocated to an airport at the Italian city of Bari. (Bari missed out on the more sensible BAR because that moniker was assigned to the now-abandoned Baker Army Airfield on a tiny uninhabited atoll in the Pacific Ocean).

Even when a few letters are skipped, airport codes like BNE, Adelaide's ADL, Auckland's AKL, and Hong Kong's HKG are still a close fit to their locale.

Other airport codes, however, step further away from making immediate sense.

The X factor

Almost every traveller knows that Los Angeles and LAX are one and the same – but where did that superfluous X come from?

That's a remnant from the early days of air travel when airports were referred to by a two-letter 'weather station' code, which in this case was simply LA.

When the growth of air travel created the need for three-letter codes, the airport’s original designation had an ‘X’ amended to ease the transition, as did Portland (PDX).

Dubai followed suit due to DUB already belonging to Dublin, Ireland – so the airport code of DXB was chosen with the ‘X’ having no meaning other than to fill out the three characters.

Closer to home, the proposed Sydney West Airport at Badgery's Creek has already been christened as SWZ for similar reasons.

One city, many airports

In the case of London, the city's three major airports take the first letter of the city's name and append a two-letter code for the airport itself. That's how we ended up with LHR for London Heathrow, LGW for London Gatwick and LCY for London City.

But even then things aren't always consistent, with London Stansted Airport – home to many low-cost airlines – tagged as STN instead of L-something.


No, there isn't an airport burdened with WTF, but those three letters could well represent the reaction of first-time travellers to airport codes which bear no resemblance to their location.

Beijing is a well-known example, with the code of PEK.

PEK represents the old anglicised name of Peking, which was changed to Beijing after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Both Latin spellings are approximations of the city's Chinese pronunciation, which sounds a little like "pay-cheeng". Although the city name changed in the West, the airport code never did.

Another is Chicago's ORD. While officially known as O'Hare International Airport, the original O'Hare field strip was adjacent to a small farming community named Orchard Place. The airport soon took the name Orchard Field Airport, which became ORD. 

So, there you have it: airport codes are a little more than three randomly-assigned letters stuck onto luggage, and sometimes there's a bit of a story behind each one.

This article was originally posted on:

Cities without their famous tourist landmarks - travel the world

One of the great wonders of travelling the world is the excitement of seeing cities and their famous landmarks. The Opera House is iconic for Sydney, the Eifel Tower is iconic for Paris, and Machu Picchu is iconic for Peru.

This is why we were intrigued to see the website put the challenge out to designers to Photoshop 'Cities without their famous tourist landmarks'.

Below is a sample of the winners and submissions. It's strange viewing; Sydney, Paris and Peru just aren't the same without their landmarks!

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Eifel Tower, Paris, France

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA

Machu Picchu, Peru

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

You can view all the 'Cities without their famous tourist landmarks' design submissions here

How to immerse yourself in local culture when you travel - Travel_the_World

A real differentiator between a tourist and a traveller is how much you immerse yourself in the culture of your destination. Certainly, there are some ‘tourist’ attractions that should not be left off anyone’s itinerary, but there’s some experiences – no matter where you are in the world – that every ‘tourist’ and ‘traveller’ should go the extra mile to include.

  1. Embrace something out of the ordinary that’s actually very ordinary
    Such as my attempt to post a parcel in France – communicating with what basic French I knew – had the cashier reverting to English by the end of the conversation, but she appreciated my attempt and it gave us both a laugh in the meantime.
  2. Make yourself at home, in someone else’s home
    When you’ve saved every last penny to make this your trip of a lifetime, it’s very tempting to book the crème-de-la-crème hotel in the area. But in my experience, the best way to get a feel for a city is by staying in an apartment for a taste of life as a local. I’ve had great experiences in both Paris and New York using sites such as AirBnB or Stayz to find a place to call home.
  3. cast iron • soho

    A photo posted by Naomi Melati Bishop NYC πŸ’•πŸ’• (@naomibishop) on

  4. Don’t be afraid of public transport
    Transport yourself around your new ‘home’ like a local and you’ll travel much more efficiently and see much more than you would sitting in traffic in a taxi. Some tourists avoid underground trains because they don’t offer as many sight-seeing opportunities, but it’s the underground where the locals come alive. You’ll never know what you might see unless you try it.

    Bat mobile broke down

    A photo posted by SamAlive (@samalive) on

  5. Taste the local food
    Eating traditional foods of the places you visit is a great way to connect with the local culture. Food markets give a great insight into the local culture and are often really inexpensive. At the food market you see what the locals eat, how they dress, and how they interact.

#Souk #Jemaaelfna

A photo posted by 🌸 Laure Mace 🌸 (@lauremace) on

What have you found to be the best ways to soak up new experiences when you’re travelling?

Planning an overseas holiday - Travel_the_World

Planning a holiday is exciting. Researching all the sights you can see, the foods you can taste, and the people you might meet builds the suspense for the excitement that’s to come once you embark on your journey. There’s another sort of suspense that can build when you’re planning an overseas holiday, and that’s around ‘have I thought of everything?’

Once you’ve decided that you’re taking extended leave (or even quitting your job to travel) and your flights are booked, there’s a few more things you need to consider when planning an overseas holiday:

Give yourself time
If booking your flights is the first thing you do, the second thing you should do is to ensure your passport is valid. If you need to renew your passport leave yourself plenty of time to complete an application, have your photo taken, send it off, and await its return all in time for take-off.

Become a list maker
Write everything down and tick it off as you go. This will help to make sure nothing is forgotten and you’re not worrying about what you did or didn’t pack. Any time you think of something you must do before your holiday, add it to your list.

Keeping a list with pen and paper is easy, but a list on your phone is just as good.

Ensure your safety
When you’re planning your holiday, you’ll not doubt spend some time on or but, another important site to investigate is

The place you’re visiting may have certain customs or hazards you need to be aware of, or it may not. But you’ll never know unless you do your research and know what you’ll be in for before you get there.

You can register your travel plans with so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Don't pack unnecessary items
When you’re trying to cover all your bases, it can be hard to shake your Scout’s motto of ‘always be prepared’ and pack everything but the kitchen sink.

But think about it; whatever you pack, you have to carry. Take enough shirts and underwear to last you a week, when you run out (or better advice might be, just before you run out), find a coin laundry.

Buy or rent bulky items once you arrive in the place you’ll need them. This will save you lugging around your ski jacket when you’re in Hawaii or your surfboard when you’re in the Swiss Alps. Also see our list of things you don’t need to pack to help you evaluate if you really need to pack your whole cosmetics cupboard or seven pairs of jeans.

Don’t forget about the home front
Don’t let yourself be so caught up in getting away that you forget to take care of things at home. If you’re moving out of your house/apartment, don’t leave it to the last minute to sell or organise storage for your furniture.

Your snail-mail is another important home-task to take care of, we suggest forwarding it on to someone responsible to mind until you’re home or who can pass on important-looking information to you. Where possible, have you mail sent electronically, especially in the case of bills, so you can attend to them on the go.

You know you should
You know you should photocopy your passport and itinerary – however vague it may be – and send to family and friends; you know you should make sure you can access your money while you’re away, organise a way to get hold of emergency funds if you lose your wallet; and finally, you know you should get travel insurance.

So, make sure you do.

Get healthy
Unusual sleeping arrangements and spending hours in close confines with others when you’re on a long-haul flight overseas can really test the strength of your immune system.

The last thing you want on your holiday is to have to spend time in bed, or worse, in the emergency room. Before you go on holiday, plan a trip to your doctor for a general check-up and to make sure you have any necessary prescriptions up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to make sure your vaccines are up-to-date for the specific destinations you'll be visiting. Nothing ruins your holiday quite like a bout of malaria.

Newcastle Airport has up to 16 direct flights a day to Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Melbourne. From these cities it’s easy to connect to anywhere in the world.

Stockholm will leave you wanting more - Travel_the_world

Sweden is beautiful. Especially in autumn. The morning air is crisp, the days are still warm, and if you’re lucky, the sun is shining.  This is certainly a country that will leave you wanting more and if it hasn’t already made it onto your bucket list, needs to be added quick-smart.

Stockholm in particular had me enchanted. In a way it reminded me of home; I think because the city is surrounded by water (the city is actually 14 islands connected by 57 bridges on an archipelago on the Baltic Sea).

The city is a wonderful combination of old and new.  Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s oldest district is one of the best-preserved medieval city centres in the world. The winding, cobblestone streets are full of handcrafts, antiques, and art galleries and it is easy to spend an entire day (or days) wandering these streets.

Sweden has its own Royal family, with the Royal Palace also in Gamla Stan. And, as I discovered by accident, just like Buckingham Palace, has a changing of the guard (that as a tourist you will be lapping up the pomp and ceremony and music of the blue-clad soldiers).

TIP: While following the herd is generally not known to lead to a good experience, sometimes when you do, you stumble upon a gem such as I did when witnessing the Swedish changing of the guard!
(image source: Rebecca Wilson)

A hop away from the Royal Palace is the Opera House and Parliament House. Both are beautiful and surrounded by gardens and water. The day I visited I was lucky to see a newly married couple out the front of Parliament House taking their wedding photos. It made my day (and theirs after I offered to take some snaps for them).

Moving into the new part of the city you will discover more museums than you can possibly imagine. There are more than 50 museums in the city and there’s bound to be more than one that takes your fancy.

In typical Swede-fashion, every museum I visited was well thought out and presented. My two favourites were:

>         Vasa Museum: showcasing the only preserved 17th Century ship in the world. Boys and girls will be amazed at Vasa, the 69-metre war ship that sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628, only to be salvaged in 1961. The museum has been built around the ship and showcases 10 different exhibitions to tell about life on-board the ship.
(image source:

>         ABBA Museum: forget any idea you have of stuffy museums because you won’t find it here. This museum is all about interaction, singing, and dancing. Take a friend and be prepared to laugh and sing your way through ABBA’s history.
(title image source:

If you have time, I highly recommend a day-trip visit to the Drottingholm Palace, roughly a 45-minute boat ride from the city centre. The palace offers entry to visitors where you then will find yourself gasping at the magnificent salons dating back to the 17th century, and delighting in the massive and beautiful parklands which also have their own Chinese Pavilion (or as I thought it was, a mini palace).
(image source: Rebecca Wilson)

Make sure you carve out time to enjoy the good food that Stockholm has on offer, both during the day and then at night. A chat with some locals and Aussie-expats (we’re everywhere!) put me onto the hottest places in town to enjoy some cocktails and then grab a bite to eat—every place recommended was packed to the rafters with locals.

For me Sweden was an unknown quantity, I went with no expectations, but even if I had I’m sure they would have been surpassed. I was delighted by what was on offer and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

How to get there
Newcastle Airport has up to 16 flights a day to Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne. From here it’s simple to connect to anywhere in the world.

Berlin, more than a party city - Travel_the_world

Berlin has a reputation as one of Europe’s best party cities.  While this is true, the night life is wild, there is also much to see during the day.  The modern history alone is phenomenal; combine this with the city’s ancient history and you have days-and-days’ worth of site-seeing. Be sure to leave yourself a few hangover-free days to explore.  

Listed below are the places I most enjoyed visiting when in this city.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I would go back to each of these places in a heartbeat.  

Brandenburg Gate
This triumphal arch is one of the best-known landmarks of Germany.  Built between 1788 and 1791 on the former site of a city gate, it marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. 

This site has featured in many major historical events and is today considered a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also of unity and peace. (title image sourced: wikipedia)

Reichstag building
Image: Berlin tourism photos 

Adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag building, Germany’s parliament house.  An impressive building from every angle, the glass dome on top of the building has walkways to the top, is open to the public, and offers spectacular views of the city. 

Checkpoint Charlie
Known as the border-crossing of the Cold War days, Checkpoint Charlie signified the border between West and East Berlin (or freedom and confinement).  Between 1961 and 1990 the site functioned as the main entry and departing point for diplomats, journalists, and non-German visitors who used to be allowed to enter East Berlin on a one-day visa.  Adjacent to the checkpoint is the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. This contains extraordinary detail on the many escape attempts from the East to the West. 

This square was planned in 1740 but today is better known as the venue for the Nazi’s first official book-burning bonfire on 10 May 1933.  This event has been marked by a monument, of empty bookshelves, set in the ground.  

Deutsches Historisches Museum
Germany’s history dates back 2,000 years and is as chequered as it is dynamic.  This museum does an amazing job of showcasing this wonderful and interesting history over its four levels (that equate to more than 8,000 square metres of floor space).  It is easy to while-away an afternoon in this museum, which caters exceptionally for its English-speaking visitors, and still feel like you’ve only scratched the surface.  

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Close to the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi’s during World War II.  The monument, which has 2,711 columns and took 17 years to complete, is humbling to walk through.  Beneath the monument is an information centre where visitors can learn about the victims of the Holocaust and various places of horror. 

TV Tower
Image: Berlin tourism photos 

Located near Alexanderplatz, this is the highest building in Germany standing at 368 metres.  It can be seen from all across the city and, when the weather is clear, offers its 1 million visitors each year a great view of Berlin. 

How to get there
Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines all offer the ability for you to book flights from Newcastle, hub through another airport, and on to Europe. 

Japan, a hop, skip and jump away - Travel_the_World

In the past 18 months, flights to Japan have made this country an affordable and pretty simple destination for Aussies to visit.  Already this year, two of our Airport team has made the trek to Japan; and both decided to leave from home (Newcastle Airport) and hub through Melbourne to Tokyo.  Here our Director of First Impressions (aka our fab receptionist) Ashlee shares with us her experience and her hot tips for travelling solo. 

I’m a keen snowboarder and was super excited to have the chance to hit the Japan ski slopes with some friends earlier this year.  Travelling from all over Australia, we decided that it was easiest for everyone to meet in Sapporo Airport.  That meant that I would be travelling internationally by myself for the first time ever.

When I booked my flights I decided to try flying from Newcastle where my family could drop me off rather than deal with getting to Sydney with my four bags (12kg suitcase, 17kg snowboard, 7kg carry on bag, and a handbag).  However, when you’re travelling with this many bags make sure you have ALL of them before waving goodbye to your family; I realised after my family had left that my big winter jacket was still in the car.  Lucky for me my dad was only too happy to turn around and bring it back for me, it would have been a very cold trip otherwise.

My flight from Newcastle to Melbourne was non-eventful and on time.  When I arrived my priority was to find the oversize baggage collection to collect my snowboard, and get the rest of my bags. 

Well aware that I had broken the rule of travelling with only two bags, I pounced on the first bay of trolleys I saw and loaded my 36kg of luggage onto it. (Hot tip: prepare for getting a trolley by keeping loose coins in your pocket.)

At Melbourne it’s super easy to move between the domestic and international terminals.  I was literally able to push the trolley full of my luggage from domestic into the international terminal.  I had a few hours to wait before check-in for my international flight opened so I staked out a seat in a restaurant near the check-in counters.  I killed time by eating, reading, listening to music, and my favourite, people watching.

When check-in opened, I found the process simple.  I checked in my bags, took my snowboard to oversize baggage and made my way through customs.

With plenty of time to relax before my flight boarded, I found a seat near my gate.  Travelling alone, I wanted to be prepared and ready to go.  I also took the opportunity to charge my phone using a power point near the gate. (Hot tip: don’t pass up an opportunity to charge your devices.)

Before my flight boarded, I received a personal page over the PA to present myself to the staff at the gate.  To say I was a bit-panicked as I approached the gate was an understatement; I had never been called up before.  But it was a fuss over nothing, all the crew wanted to move me from my pre-selected seat. 

I explained to the ground crew member that I was happy to move as long as I was moved to an aisle seat as I get a bit claustrophobic.  He was understanding and asked if I was travelling alone.  When I responded yes, a big smile crossed his face.  It wasn’t until I boarded that I understood the reason for the smile.  I had scored four seats to myself!!  Claustrophobia was no concern and I had the chance to sleep, laying down, for the majority of the 10-hour flight.

I was particularly nervous about arriving in Tokyo as I don’t speak the local language.  But, I discovered if I followed those who were on my flight they too were heading for the baggage reclaim belts.

It was a smooth transition through customs and immigration; I even had time to freshen up and change my clothes before my last flight which would take me to the ski fields.

Arriving at my final destination, Sapporo Airport, it was freezing.  We were bussed from our aircraft to the terminal where I easily collected my bags for the final time.  This airport was fantastic but there was a lot less English signage and not a lot of English-speaking employees.  This made for very interesting ordering of food – lots of pointing and smiling and fumbling of YEN.  (Hot tip: smiling is international, make sure you give big ones when you’re in a foreign country.)

I am so glad I chose to fly from Newcastle to Melbourne to Narita to Sapporo.  I highly recommend this to anyone, especially when Newcastle and Melbourne Airports are so easy to navigate.

Jetstar are offering FREE return flights to Japan!

Book a starter Fare and you'll get a return Starter fare for free on selected Japan flights making it even easier for to take advantage of these great deals and fly to Japan from Newcastle in just one stop!

Grab a domestic fare Newcastle to Gold Coast and  take advantage of this crazy sale fare: Gold Coast > Tokyo (Narita) from $278!

Book here. But hurry sale end midnight February 7, 2017.

48 hours in Prague will leave you wanting more - Travel_the_World

Prague is beautiful. The architecture is amazing, the people are wonderful, and the history is mind-blowing.  During a recent European trip I had a couple of days to fill.  Good fortune meant a friend of mine did too, so we agreed to ‘meet in Prague’ and explore this city together.

I found this city laid back and easy going. Tourists clearly flocked to it but, the locals accepted this without disdain for us tourists. At first the city’s architecture reminded me of Germany’s southern cities Nurnberg and Regensburg, but there was also something Parisian about it.

What delighted me most about this city was the street entertainment. Dancers in the square, bands marching down the street, magicians finding bunnies, and quartets set up on the bridge, everywhere I turned I was delighted by the free and exquisite entertainment.

With only 48 hours, we didn’t have a plan, but instead chose to wander and explore. Here’s what we found:

Prague Castle

Sitting high on the hill, Prague Castle  dominates the skyline of the city.  The castle dates back to the ninth century and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ancient castle in the world.

Charles Bridge

Built to connect the Old Town and the Lesser Town, the bridge was commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and construction began in 1357.  During the 17th century, Baroque statues were placed along either side of Charles Bridge; the plaque on statue of St John of Nepomuk is polished to a shine as it is believed that rubbing it will bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague.

Charles Bridge is also popular with local artists and souvenir vendors; their stands line either side of the bridge year-round with their handmade goods for sale.  At night musicians come out to play and it’s easy to spend hours enjoying the free concert they treat you to.

John Lennon Wall

In a quiet square is a wall with constantly changing art.  The John Lennon Peace Wall was a hero for Czech subculture during the totalitarian era.  Although the Beatle never visited the city, the John Lennon Wall came to represent not only a memorial for John Lennon and his ideas, but also a monument to free speech.

Astronomical Clock

#earlymorninginprague #pragueclock #Prague

A photo posted by Inquisitive Brian :) (@curious_inquisition) on

Located on the walls of Old Town Hall the Astronomical Clock is pretty amazing. On the top of the hour, figures on the sides of the clock become animated with two windows opening to reveal 12 apostles greeting the city.  On the sides of the clock a skeleton rings a bell, a Turk shakes his head, a miser holds a purse full of money, and Vanity looks into a mirror.  It all ends with the crowing of a golden rooster and the ringing of a huge bell.  The moon on the clock also moves during the month to show if it’s full, quarter, or half-moon.  It’s pretty spectacular (as is the wine from the cafes located directly across from the clock!).

Old Town Square

All roads in Prague lead to Old Town Square. Overlooked by the elegant tower of Town Hall and the silhouette of the fairy-tale cathedral Church of St Nicholas, this square is bordered by multi-coloured houses.  The street artists flock to the Old Town Square to entertain the crowds – fire breathers, dancers, children’s shows, you name it, and you’ll see it at Old Town Square.

How to get there

Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines all offer the ability for you to book flights from Newcastle, hub through another airport, and on to Europe. 

Header image source:

Travel hacks to save you money in Europe - Travel_the_world

Travelling abroad is a luxury that more and more of us are indulging in.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to keep costs down when striking out in a new country or continent.  These hacks will help keep your bank balance in the black when you do decide to indulge in some overseas delights. 

Book open jaw tickets
A little-known aviation industry secret is the open-jaw ticket.  This is where you arrive in one city and depart from another—on the one return airfare.  For example you may fly from Australia into London but fly back home from Munich.  An open jaw ticket means you won’t be charged a one-way surcharge.  Some airlines let you book an open jaw directly from their website; others require you to book open jaw through a travel agent.  The benefit of an open jaw ticket is you don’t have to back track to your first location just to fly home. 

Stay focussed; don’t try and do it all
It can be really tempting to try and see everything in Europe/USA/Asia in the finite amount of time you have.  However doing this will mean you’ll spend up on air, train, and bus fares getting around.  Instead, consider choosing a region to visit, such as France/Spain/Portugal, Great Brittan, West-coast USA and spend quality time there. 

Plan how you’re going to use your money
Considering how you’re going to pay for incidentals while you’re on the road before you leave is really important.  Some financial institutions will slug you with foreign exchange fees, interest on credit cards on purchases made abroad, huge ATM fees and charges every time you withdraw cash, and the list goes on. 

Each person will have a solution that works best for them, but I highly recommend you look at the fees and charges your financial institution will charge you and compare it with the likes of a travel money card or cash passport such as those offered by Australia Post.  Taking the time to do a little bit of research could potentially save you hundreds, and that’s a night or two in accommodation.  Well worth it in my book. 

Eat up at breakfast and skip lunch
All around the world, breakfast is relatively the cheapest meal of the day.  If you load up at breakfast with a mix of carbs, protein, and fat, this can keep you going all day – or at least until afternoon tea / coffee and cake time.  Much cheaper than a seated lunch! 

Soak up the free experiences and entertainment
I never ceased to be amazed at the amount of free entertainment on offer in cities around the world.  Be it street buskers with interesting instruments in Stockholm or the astronomical clock that puts on a show every hour in Prague; I am constantly finding myself enjoying the simple, free experiences a city has to offer just as much as, if not more than the paid experiences.  Perhaps it’s because these free experiences are unexpectedly so enjoyable.  

Research which airlines fly into which airports
It can be tempting to fly with legacy carriers when abroad, as there is a certain comfort in flying with a brand you’re familiar with.  However, just like Jetstar was born from Qantas, almost every legacy carrier around the world has spawned a low-cost child of its own.  And just like in Australia, these low cost options provide a great no-frills alternative to get you from Point A to Point B. 

A little bit a research on sites such as Skyscanner, Webjet, and Kayak, as well as airport websites can provide you with great information about which airlines to possibly include in your itinerary. 

Travel in the shoulder-season
If you can travel during the shoulder-season for your end destination (eg August-September and March in USA and Europe; October / November in New Zealand) you’ll generally still enjoy great weather but could save a stack of cash as hotels during the shoulder-season will usually slash their prices to get people in the door.  

Walk, walk, walk
There’s nothing like discovering a city on foot.  You not only save a fortune in cab, underground, train, bus fares, but when walking you get a real feel for a city. 

Walking helps me get my bearings, and when you’re literally on the streets, you discover so much more about the city.  You see the quirky street art, you spot the little coffee shop in the side alley, and you hear the noises and sounds of the market one block over.  Save your cash and two-feet-and-a-heartbeat your way around the city. 

Don’t pay for internet
It’s 2015, not 2005.  Stop paying for internet. 

Free WiFi is available everywhere.  If your hotel doesn’t offer it to you for free in your room, it will usually be free in the lobby.  But, if you’ve failed to strike gold with internet and your accommodation, I can promise you that you will find a café that offers this necessity for free.  So, repeat after me. Stop paying for internet. 

In Europe, use rail when travel time is comparative
At the risk of being disloyal to my industry, this hack is a cracker.  If time is against you, flying is always my first option. But, if you've all the time in the world, or the travel time is comparative, rail can be a more affordable option (and allows you more sightseeing time as there’s no check-in time). 

And let’s be honest, there is no adrenaline rush like running through a train station, bags flying behind you, and swinging yourself and bags onto the train as it pulls away from the platform. 

Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines all offer the ability for you to book flights from Newcastle, hub through another airport, and on to Europe. 


How to beat jetlag - Travel_the_world

The number one tip to beat jetlag

Travelling is fantastic.  I love the excitement of getting on plane and visiting somewhere different.  But, if you’re travelling long-haul, or in Australia from one side to the other, jet lag can be a killer.

I’ve been fortunate to travel abroad annually for many years which has given me ample opportunity to work out what makes jetlag horrendous and what seems to make jetlag a myth. 

My number one tip to beating jetlag is this:

Book a flight that has you arriving at your final destination in the morning and stay awake until at least 8pm. 

We’ve all done it, booked flights that have us landing in London at 8pm or Munich at 10pm at night.  But, while it might be dark outside, your body is telling your that it’s morning; I find that I’m literally buzzing with excitement and, sleep doesn’t visit me any time soon.

Instead, booking a flight that has you arriving at your destination in the morning allows you to start to train your brain to a new time zone and see sunshine in the day.

Bonus: when you do go to bed you will sleep because you are tired. 

Make sure you get up the next day by 8am and do it all again; go all day and don’t sleep until at least 8pm that night.  This will put your body into sync with the time zone you’re in and is a winner for me every time.

These tips will also help to alleviate any jetlag that may overcome you:

Avoid alcohol on your flight

While it may be tempting to make use of the free booze, just don’t. The only clear liquid you should be drinking on a long-haul flight is water.  The alcohol will make you dehydrated and mess with your system. You’ve probably spent a fortune on your holiday so don’t waste a day, or two, or three feeling like total crap with jetlag because you couldn’t say no.

Drink lots and lots and lots of water

Flying makes you dehydrated.  Drinking water will help your body handle the travel at altitude better and because of this, you’ll feel better and recover faster.

Get up in the morning – no matter how tired you are

If you can’t sleep because of jetlag, it can be very tempting to succumb to the tiredness that overcomes you as the sun rises.  Don’t do it.  Get up and stay awake until the magic hour of 8pm. Then you have my permission to go to bed.

Get out and get amongst it

Sunshine is one of the most powerful tools in getting your circadian rhythms into sync with wherever you are in the world.  So, get amongst the day, see sunshine, explore new sites and ignore the temptation to close those weary eyes.

Nine signs you're a good traveller - Travel_the_world

You’ve learnt the basics of the language before you arrive
It’s a true wonder of the world that English is such a universal language.  Every tourist region has English-speaking staff.  This makes it so easy for us English-speaking tourists to get around. It also makes it so easy for us English-speaking tourists to take the English being spoken to us for granted and even have the audacity to get cranky and speak louder when someone doesn’t understand English (I’ve seen it happen over and over again).

When you’ve taken the effort to learn basic words in the native language of the place you’re visiting—words such as hello, thank you, goodbye, please, water, and you’re welcome—you are usually respected by the locals for it.  I’ll even go as far as saying that you’ll often find that for your effort they will go out of their way to help you.

You don’t travel with more luggage than you can manage on your own
In my blog ‘The worst type of travelling companions’ I called out everyone who over packs and then expects help from those unlucky to be in the vicinity when the bags need to be moved. 

In my travels, I’ll help out a first-time traveller who’s made the rookie error of too much luggage for them to handle alone.  But mate, if you’re travelling around the world and have three big bags, all I’m going to say to you is “God gave you two arms, not three,” as a nip up the stairs with my own bags.

You know when you’ve earned the luggage badge for good traveller, because this is when you’ll know what combination of luggage works for you and what doesn’t. For example, I love travelling with my big checked-in suitcase, a carry-on suitcase and a small handbag. My handbag goes over the shoulder and I use my two arms for my two cases.

You plan, but you’re flexible with the plan
I’m a real planner.  But, I’ve discovered that planning every minute for every day will mean that I miss out on the impromptu stuff that a city has to offer. 

A good traveller will arrive in a city with a hit-list of what they need to see, what they want to see, and then there’ll be spare time to ‘discover’.

I usually use discover time to browse the shops. Some people use this time to check out the pubs, museums, or any local sporting event. But the reason discover time is important is because I have also used it to discover and indulge in the hot springs in Rotorua, New Zealand; the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany; buy last-minute tickets to West End shows in London; and randomly meet local English-speaking Chinese in Beijing and go to dinner with them at their ‘local’.

You always take your own version of a first aid kit
As a good traveller you’ll travel with your own personal version of a first aid kit.  For me this includes tough strip band aids for blisters on my feet, sunscreen and after sun care, headache / migraine tablets, and antihistamines. 

You’re happy to ask for directions
Disclaimer here: I acknowledge that not knowing the way can lead to an adventure.  But, if I only have one day in a place, I can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll have a list of things I want to see. Don’t be above asking for directions.  It will get you taking with the locals and who knows, they may even give you a hot tip.

You quiz the locals about the best restaurants and bars
This is one that guidebooks don’t tell you. Chatting with the locals and quizzing them about the best places to eat and drink will get you in with the in-crowd. 

After checking in at your accommodation hit up the concierge or reception team and ask them where they go to eat.  Don’t be surprised or disillusioned if they try and direct you to the tourist spots, this is their default response.  You need to be persistent, tell them you’re asking for ‘their’ opinion and ask direct questions and for details.  Which restaurant on ABC Street? Which bar along the wharf? 

You’ll be enjoying the best the city has to offer without the crappy tourist food in no time.

You make the most of it – rain, hail or shine
Every traveller leaves hoping that they get sun, sun, and more sun.  However sometimes Mother Nature has a different idea and you end up with rain, rain, and maybe even sleet. 

The rain and the grey is probably not the vision of the city you had in mind.  But, don’t let this stop you.  Get out and get amongst it and get exploring. 

So what if you get a bit wet—are you the wicked witch of the west who’ll melt if you get wet?  The upside to the rain is your photos will look different to everyone else’s, and you’ll have great stories to tell of dashing from cover-to-cover as you attempt to stay dry.

You know the risks of not booking in advance and take the risk anyway
As I noted above, I love a good plan.  But, there is nothing like the spontaneity of booking that night’s accommodation while sitting in an airport waiting for your flight. 

However, beware.  While this might feel exhilarating and exciting, you’re walking a tightrope of bargain shopping or selling your first-born to be able to afford a bed. 

As someone who’s experienced both sides of the tightrope, I still occasionally find myself booking accommodation like this for the thrill of it but in doing so I’m well aware that this decision means I could very well be fleeced.

You take note of, and respect local customs
Local customs make travelling so interesting. Learning about how other people live, eat, and enjoy their spare time is fascinating.  Just like learning some key phrases before arriving in a non-English speaking city, learning about local customs and what is and isn’t appropriate will prevent you from faux pas. 

There are well-known customs such covering shoulders and knees when visiting churches in Europe and Asia, restraining from public displays of affection in India, but there are also little know customs such as leaving a little on your plate in China to show your host they gave you enough to eat that can go a long way to show respect for the city you’re visiting.

How to find luxury for less - Travel_the_World

The word ‘luxury’ often conjures the thought ‘expensive’ but when you’re travelling the two words don’t always have to go hand-in-hand.  If you take the time to think a bit differently and research before you leave, you could discover that there’s no need to sacrifice hard-earned cash to enjoy a little luxury.

Travel in the low- or shoulder-season

Travelling during the high-season will often mean you’re also going to pay peak price. It’s a simple equation:  an increase in demand will increase price.

The ‘high-season’ varies from destination to destination, so it pays to do a bit of research before you book.  For example, the Gold Coast high season is December to January, in Europe and America it’s generally May to July, and in China high season is Chinese New Year in February.

If you can avoid travelling in your end destination’s high-season and instead go in the shoulder-season, you will generally still enjoy great weather.  Add to this you could save a stack of cash, as the luxury hotels during the shoulder- or low-seasons will slash their prices to get people into the hotel. 

The added bonus to not travelling in the high-season is you get the luxury surroundings with the luxury of no crowds.

Take advantage of the exchange rate

If you’re flexible on your destination, let the exchange rate guide you.  It makes sense (cents) to go to the place where your dollar will stretch the furthest. 

Where the Aussie dollar is good value

  • New Zealand (Dollar)
  • Canada (Dollar)
  • China (Yuan)
  • Thailand (Baht)
  • India (Rupee)

Where the Aussie dollar will have you hiding from price tags

  • America (Dollar)
  • UK (Pound)
  • Europe (Euro)
  • Sweden (Krona)
  • United Arab Emirates (Dirham)

Make friends with voucher and discount websites

Websites such as LivingSocial, MyHolidayCentre, and Cudo have amazing discount offers to some very luxurious five-star destinations.  Think Maldives, Japan, Fiji, and Thailand.  Bonus: when buying from these sites, you’ll often be buying more than a hotel room, you also be buying meals, massage, day trips, and drinks too.

If you’re heading to America or Europe, sites such as and can be excellent at helping you sort your search by factors such as number of stars, price, and distance from a major attraction.  It is possible to get five-star luxury for less than $150 a night; it just means you may need to narrow your search and keep your eye on these websites for sales.

Use your points

If you’re part of an airline frequent flyer program, like millions of Australians, you’re able to earn points not just when you fly, but almost every time you spend.  Make use of these accumulated points and upgrade to business or first class on your long-haul flights.  It won’t cost you a cent and you’ll enjoy pamper of a dedicated flight attendant and the luxury of space on your never-ending flight. 

Do it for FREE! (or at minimum cost)

Every city has free tourist attractions that can be some of life’s little luxuries.  Sitting under the Eifel Tower for a picnic will cost you your baguette. Appreciating a sunset over the ocean is luxury, sipping on cocktails on a rooftop bar is (usually) inexpensive, and climbing the steps of an ancient church bell tower to gasp in awe at the city skyline from that angel is free.

Commonly mispronounced places across the world - Travel_the_World

Aussies love to travel but when it comes to pronunciation we may not be as worldly as we think. Here are 18 places that you may not know you are saying wrong:

1. Bangkok, Thailand

It’s NOT “Bang-kok”, it’s “Bahng-Gawk”. Source: Supplied

2. Budapest, Hungary

It’s NOT “Boo-da-PEST”, it’s “Boo-da-PESHT”. Source: Supplied

3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It’s NOT “Doo-BYE”, it’s “Du-BAY”. Source: Supplied

4. Pakistan

It’s NOT “PAK-uh-Stan”, it’s “PAH-kee-Stahn”. Picture: B.K. Bangash Source: AP

5. Beijing, China

It’s NOT “Bay-zhhhing”, it’s “Bey-Jing”. Picture: CHINA OUT/AFP Source: AFP

6. Carnegie Hall, New York, US

It’s NOT “CAR-na-gee”, it’s “ker-NEGG-ee”. Picture: AP Photo/Carnegie Hall Source: AP

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

It’s NOT “RAKE-ja-vik”, it’s “REY-kya-vik”. Picture: Icelandair via AP Images Source: AP

8. Niger, Western Africa

It’s NOT “NYE-jer”, it’s “nee-ZHAIR”. AP Photo/Jerome Delay Source: AP

9. Thames River, UK

It’s NOT “THAYms”, it’s “TEMs”. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

10. Yosemite, US

It’s NOT “Yo-se-MIGHT”, it’s “Yoh-sem-it-ee”. Source: Supplied

11. Qatar

It’s NOT “Kah-TAR”, it’s “Kuh-Ter”. Picture: AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE Source: AFP

12. Phuket, Thailand

It’s NOT “Foo-kit”, it’s “Poo-get”. Picture: Sophie Devitsakis Source: News Corp Australia

13. Colorado, US

It’s NOT “CALL-uh-ROD-o”, it’s “CALL-uh-RAD-o”. Source: News Corp Australia

14. Versailles, France

It’s NOT “Ver-SAYLZ”, it’s “Ver-SYE”. Picture: Lonely Planet Images. Source: Supplied

15. Louisville, Kentucky, US

It’s NOT “Loo-iss-vill”, it’s “Loo-i-vul”. Picture: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

16. Montreal, Canada

It’s NOT “MON-tree-ALL”, it’s “MUN-tree-all”. Picture: Tourisme Montreal. Source: News Limited

17. Lafayette, Louisiana, US

It’s NOT “Lah-FEY-et”, it’s “Laff-EE-yet”. Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman /The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

18. Colombia, South America

It’s NOT “Co-LUM-bee-a”, it’s “Co-LOHM-bee-a”. Picture: AFP/STR Source: AFP

This blog was originally posted on

Rethink your flights when you head overseas - Travel_the_World

Today we launched a joint campaign with Singapore Airlines challenging you, residents of the Hunter, to ‘rethink’ how you fly internationally.

As a British-expat who now calls Australia home, I’m well-versed in the travel down the M1 to get international flights.  I am all too familiar with having to work backwards from my flight departure time to determine what time I actually need to leave the house to make said flight. So, say I have a 3pm departure; I should be aiming to arrive and check-in at the airport for midday, which means I should be leaving home no later than 9.30am (excluding the time I’ve taken to collect my rental car to drive to Sydney).

That’s almost six hours before my flight even takes off and makes the idea of a long-haul flight seem even longer. And, that’s best case scenario, because that’s what you do for an afternoon flight.

If I’m on an early morning flight, then I always book myself into a hotel and stay the night before; as it’s hard to predict what you’ll encounter in the early-morning traffic on the M1.

If you’ve flown internationally, I’m sure you can relate. This is the reason this campaign is setting the challenge to ‘rethink’ international travel. 

It’s possible for Hunter residents to book their international travel with Singapore Airlines; you can check-in for the international flight at Newcastle Airport the same as you would for travelling domestically, this means you can forget about the six hours of travel before you even get on a plane. 

From Newcastle, you can fly on Singapore Airways’ codeshare partner – Virgin Australia – to Brisbane or Melbourne, and easily transit through to connect to the international leg of your flight. Your bags are checked all the way through to your final international destination.

Most of the connection and transit times in Melbourne and Brisbane flying with Singapore Airlines are less than two hours, the perfect amount of time to clear border controls. This means that it is actually faster to depart for international travel from Newcastle Airport and enjoy the convenience that comes with leaving from home.

When it comes to international services at Newcastle, we’re still aiming for direct international services; in the meantime this initiative of Singapore Airlines is most certainly a convenient option when travelling overseas.

Book your Singapore Airlines flight here.

Newcastle to Vanuatu, it is possible! - Travel_the_World

I was recently very much in need of a holiday, but as a mother of two small boys (aged four and 18 months) the idea of travelling anywhere for any length of time filled me with so much dread that I only dared venturing as far as the local shops.

The only thing I felt stronger than dread was a desire for my children to see different places and experience different cultures, and simply to get away from reality for a bit.  So I was constantly looking up destinations on the internet in the hope that some inspiration would hit…And then one day it did. I discovered something truly amazing – I can actually travel overseas and start my trip in right here in Newcastle!

Once I worked out this pearl of wisdom, I realised that you can pretty much fly anywhere in the world with a simple stopover in Brisbane or Melbourne. It's even possible to drop your bags off in Newcastle and the next time you see them is at your holiday destination.

In the end, we chose to fly to Vanuatu for our holiday. I was surprised to discover that the total travel time from Newcastle was actually much less than travelling via Sydney. To fly from Sydney to Vanuatu is a three-and-a–half-hour flight. While to fly from Newcastle to Vanuatu it is a one-hour flight followed by a flight that’s less than three-hours.

So yes, the total time in the air is about 30 mins more, but there was a lot less time on the road getting to the airport.  I also discovered that the flying time is broken up by some running-around-time in Brisbane; if you’re travelling with two children, some energy-burning time mid-trip is a life saver (for me and my fellow passengers)!

When I did the calculation of the three hour drive to Sydney, plus the possible expense of an overnight hotel and explaining to the kids who’d think they’ve surely already reached their destination by now that in fact the real journey hasn’t even started; it was a no-brainer to start my trip from Newcastle.  Actually, it was bliss.

The world has suddenly opened up to me and my young family. With so many new possible destinations available, holidays now are something to look forward to. In fact I’m planning my next trip already – kids and all!

A city hit list for travelling on a shoestring - Travel_the_World

Travel site Tripomatic has announced the cities that were the most affordable for travellers in 2014.  Using the 50 most popular cities in the world* as their starting list, they then ranked these cities in order from cheapest to most expensive.

The top 10 cities that gave you the biggest bang for your (literal) buck were:

  1. Goa, India 
  2. Hanoi, Vietnam
  3. Manila, Philippines
  4. Denpasar, Bali
  5. Kiev, Ukraine
  6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  7. Bangkok, Thailand
  8. Beijing, China
  9. Cairo, Egypt
  10. Lima, Peru

Pat on the back to us; we predicted Goa as an up and comer in our “9 travel destinations that will be hot this year” article earlier this month.  

The least affordable cities in 2014
At the other end of the scale, these cities brought up the rear of the list (and will leave your back pocket a lot lighter), the most expensive city is at the bottom:

  1. Honolulu, Hawaii
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Raykjavik, Iceland
  4. Boston, USA
  5. Paris, France
  6. New York, USA
  7. Venice, Italy
  8. London, United Kingdom
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Oslo, Norway

When considering the cost of a bed, food, transport and attractions, for US$100 Tripomatic says you can get a whopping 8.36 days in Goa, 7.15 days in Hanoi, and 6.88 days in Manila.

In contrast, your same US$100 will get you a mere 1.1 days in Oslo, 1.25 days in Nassau, and 1.26 days in London.  

So pretty much, you can stay in London for one night, or one week in Goa.  Food for thought.

The overall theme was that ‘western-country’ cities were in the most expensive city list and ‘eastern-country’ cities were in the cheapest list.  

Now, if you’re like me, the dilemma is deciding where to spend my hard-earned cash – in a value-for-money city or splash out on a little bit of luxury. Decisions, decisions!

You can view the full Tripomatic report on

9 travel destinations that will be hot this year - Travel_the_World

Travelling to big cities is always exciting but, so is getting off the beaten track. Here is my pick of 9 destinations that will come into their own this year as they make their way onto more, and more travel itineraries.

1. Gallipoli, Turkey
The 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli has brought this sacred site back into Australian conversation in recent months. I expect that in the next few years, any Australian travelling to Europe will add this city to their itinerary.

2. Singapore
This place is more than just a stopover. This ‘dot’ on the map is modern and blends many cultures in its own unique way. In the words of my good friend who now calls this place home, “Singapore has soul!

3. Santiago, Chile
The additional seats to from Sydney to Santiago introduced in 2014 by airline Qantas has made this city more accessible than ever to Australians. Be you an adventurer, foodie, or come-what-may-er, Santiago has your needs covered.

4. Honolulu, Hawaii
Yes, this place has great beaches, ridiculously cheap cocktails, and hunky surfers, but the draw for Aussies is the SHOPPING. When booking your flight, take advantage of the ability to buy excessive amounts of luggage—this will allow you to shop for big ticket items at bargain basement prices. Anyone for a 1 litre bottle of shampoo for $35?

5. Boracay, Philippines
Voted the world’s best island by Travel+Leisure in 2012. A google image search (see images here) for this place will explain why.

6. Niseko, Japan
Located in northern Japan, prepare yourself for world-class day skiing and the largest lit area in Japan for night skiing. Anyone up for a moonlit run down the mountain?

7. Goa, India
Hugging India’s western coastline, this place has stretches of idyllic white sand beaches. A perfect clash of east meets west; the Indian culture is influenced by Portuguese lifestyle from a 500-year occupation.

8. Yellowknife, Canada
This place has been rated one of the top spots to view the spectacular northern lights, with the aurora display happening right over year head, not just on the horizon.

9. Port Stephens, Australia
I’m biased, but I love this place. Sun, sand, and seafood combine in an explosion of wonderfulness that literally make me forget my real life and wish I could live like that forever. There’s a reason why the tagline for this place is PS, I love you.

Top 20 cities you need to see in your lifetime - Travel_the_World

The travel bucket list just seems to get longer and longer every year.  
But, some cities are on the majority of bucket lists because they are simply just awesome cities to visit.
Here is our list of top cities that you must see in your lifetime.  Some may seem a little cliché, but these cities become a cliché for good reason.

1. Prague, Czech Republic
An eclectic, yet perfect mix of the old and new.  Ancient history, a palace, art everywhere you look, culture, and the astronomical clock.
Image source: Instagram user @diana19_92

2. London, England
So much to see so little time – Buckingham Palace, St Pauls Cathedral, The Tower of London…the list goes on…
Image source: Instagram user @zvvd8

3. Berlin, Germany
Such an important city in modern history, it’s possible to spend days learning about it.  By night this city truly comes alive with vibrant restaurants and one of the most exciting nightlife scenes in Europe.
Image source: Instagram user @travelbrat

4. Granada, Spain
Not as well-known as its Spanish-city counterparts, Granada, in southern-Spain, is home to the awe-inspiring Alhambra Palace.  This city is full of unexpected delights, from its people, food, wine, shopping, and architecture. This city will weave its way into your heart. 
Image source: Instagram user @Krystle_shaw 

5. Venice, Italy
Satiate your wanderlust by wandering along the cobbled paths of Venice or recline in a gondola and let your gondolier do the leg work – or arm work. There is so much to see and explore in Venice you’ll need more than a day, it took me that long simply to find the famous San Marco Piazza!
Image source: Instagram user @mc_johnjrawesomemc 

6. New York, USA
New York has to be on your bucket list; must-dos include catching a Broadway show and trying not to catch a cold on the High Line. One hot tip for your time in the Big Apple is to swap your trip to ‘the top of the rock’ and take in the view of the city lights from a roof top bar.
Image source: Instagram user @lotus20250

7. Xi’an, China
Perfectly capturing the essence of China, this city is home to the Terracotta Warriors.  The ancient city wall is stunningly beautiful, and the street markets and street food truly authentic.
Image source: Instagram user @zahariz 

8. Petra, Jordan
Flashback to scenes from ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ you’ll find the ancient archaeological city of Petra; hidden for hundreds of years by its natural fortification. A narrow opening between mountains opens to the amazingly preserved buildings carved from sandstone, aptly giving it the name the ‘rose red city’.
Image source: Instagram user @masanyafly

9. Paris, France
Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time picnicking under the Eiffel Tower just doesn’t lose its charm. If it’s too hot or too cold for that escape the weather altogether in one of many a Musée; Lord knows you can’t see everything in the Louvre in one day!
Image source: Instagram user @leparispicnic

10. Istanbul, Turkey
Where East meets West, Istanbul straddles Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. Be mesmerised by the hundreds of minarets lining the sky-scape and the haunting sounds of the call to prayer. Lose yourself (or your spending money!) in the Grand Bazaar, boasting over 3,000 shops.
Image source: Instagram user @gecenight

11. Queenstown, New Zealand
The adventure capital of the world reigns is situated underneath the Remarkables mountain range and adjacent to the aqua blue water of Lake Wakatipu. It’s all rather breathtaking. 
Image source: Instagram user @nav_a

12. Oia, Greece (on Santorini)
Think Greek Islands and you’ll likely conjure an image of Oia—its postcard white buildings and blue roofs rolling down the on the side of a hill. Quintessential Greek Islands.
Image source: Instagram user @travel_is_life_

13. Vegas, USA
You need to see it to believe that a city like this can exist!
Image source: Instagram user @wellx

14. Cape Town, South Africa
Standing proud on Table Mountain and taking in the vista of Cape Town and the south Atlantic is a must for everyone on this earth.
Image source: Instagram user @_h_e_n_

15. Kyoto, Japan
This often forgotten city is the former imperial capital of Japan.  A UNESCO World Heritage site is where you’ll see historical Japan.
Image source: Instagram user @maiko_henshin_shiki 

16. Agra, India

Home to the Taj Mahal, still one of the most breathtaking buildings in the world.
Image source: Instagram user @mymumlikesflowers

17. Luxor, Egypt
On the Nile and home to some of the world’s most historic sites, the Valley of the Kings and the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
Image source: Instagram user @deedeesan

18. Sydney, Australia
Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach. Archetypal Australia wrapped neatly in one city. 
Image source: Instagram user @cityofsydney

19. Tulum, Mexico
Tulum is a tropical paradise; the main beach near is actually called Playa Paraiso, or “Paradise Beach”. A day spent exploring the famous Tulum ruins is also a must-do. Whether you’re a beach-bum or history buff, you have to see Tulum. 
Image source: Instagram user @axeelnc

20. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you are looking for a beach destination in winter that boasts tanned, fit bodies in tiny bikinis and speedos, then Rio is the destination for you. Home to the biggest party on earth, Carnivale, this city features the world-famous Ipanema and Copacobana, which are overlooked by the spectacular Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado).
Image source: Instagram user @rioguioficial

Fly to New Zealand, it's so easy - Travel_the_World

New Zealand is the top international destination for travellers from the Hunter region, according to the State of the Nation report released by this week.

Last month I unknowingly added to the region’s statistics and took my first jaunt across the ditch. I wasn’t surprised by the report and how popular this holiday destination has become; it really is easy to travel from Newcastle to New Zealand.

By easy, I mean jump on a plane at home (aka Newcastle Airport); make a quick stop at Brisbane or Melbourne Airport for a spot of duty free shopping; then, in a brief three hour jaunt across the Tasman you’re in New Zealand (I travelled via Melbourne).

According to Expedia, it also seems the fact that I become restless if I don’t have my next annual international holiday planned is actually quite predicable.

“More than any generation before them, young Australians are seizing every opportunity to see the world, explore new destinations, enrich themselves with cultural experiences and meet locals in different lands. They’re traveling more and spending more than ever,” said Georg Ruebensal, who’s the Managing Director Expedia Australia and New Zealand.

I consider myself ‘young’ and that I scrape into the Gen Y category, when it suits me.  But enough about me. Back to New Zealand.

It wasn’t until I saw New Zealand first-hand that I fully appreciated how shockingly-amazing the scenery is.  New Zealand is so different from Europe, for example; you don’t stand open-mouthed admiring attractions of ancient buildings and ancient architectural greatness.  In New Zealand the attractions are the hard work of Mother Nature, and they are spectacular. 

If you’re looking for a near-by international getaway, I can’t recommend New Zealand more highly.  I loved it and will be back within the next 12 months.

Qantas operates daily flights available from Newcastle Airport, via Brisbane, to New Zealand with prices starting from a very reasonable price of $275* one-way.  Virgin Australia operates flights from Newcastle Airport, via Brisbane and Melbourne, to New Zealand with prices starting at $307* one-way.

*Prices correct as at 14 November 2014 for travel in January 2015.

Newcastle to Fiji? Yes please! - Travel_the_world

Newcastle Airport is great. If you’re a local, it’s convenient; if you’re from out of town, it’s small enough that you can be on the road within minutes of landing.

But, you know what would make Newcastle Airport better? Direct flights to more places.  Now, we are working on that.  But, in the meantime, just because we don’t have a direct flight to Cairns, Hobart, or even Fiji, this doesn’t mean that you can’t start your trip from Newcastle Airport. 

Trust me when I say this, because I have flown from Newcastle to Fiji. 

As a child-less person, I didn’t realise when I applied for annual leave, I was planning to scoot away to Fiji during the NSW school holidays.  But the airlines knew this.  Flights to Nandi from Sydney were so pricey I was considering selling a kidney to pay for them.

But, to my wallet's delight, my wonderful friend advised me that Queensland has different holidays to NSW.  So, booking short-haul international to Fiji from Brisbane became a very attractive option. 

Flying from Brisbane meant I didn’t have the two hour drive (or longer train ride) to Sydney with the traffic and toll roads that come with it.  Instead, I could depart for my international jaunt from home (Newcastle Airport).  And bonus, the total cost for all my flights (Newcastle-Brisbane-Nandi return) was cheaper than if I flown from Sydney.  I promise; that’s the truth. 

I’ve done exactly the same thing to discover Tasmania.  I flew Newcastle to Hobart, after hubbing through Melbourne.  Life is just so much easier when you leave from your home town.  And, the time spent in transfer at Melbourne Airport was a lot less than if I’d had to travel to Sydney.  Not to mention so much less stressful!

So, my recommendation?  Next time you’re looking to head off on holiday, look at all your options.  You’ll be surprised where Newcastle Airport can take you (and the pennies you could save by doing so).

Fantastic Fare
Fly Newcastle to Hobart for as little as $324.42 return.  Book at

*Correct at 6 March 2014.  For departure on 14 May and return on 21 May 2014.

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