Gear up for Gold Coast Airport Marathon - Travel_Australia

In early July 2017 thousands will descend on the Gold Coast to take part in the annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

A rite of passage and/or pilgrimage for many, this marathon course is fast, flat, and scenic. Runners run next to surf beaches and Broadwater as the crowds cheer on with some ‘runspiration’.

An easy one-hour flight from Newcastle Airport, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon weekend event also offers shorter courses for those who are a bit daunted by a 42km challenge.  Why not try the half marathon, 10km run, 5.1km challenge, or the junior dash.

Take the challenge and enter here:

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon website has some great training tips to get you started, including setting a goal, how to choose your shoes, and great apps to help keep you on track.  Check them out here:

See you there!

How to get there:

Jetstar has daily direct flights from Newcastle to the Gold Coast starting from $99 on Saturday 4 July and returning to Newcastle from $99 on Tuesday 7 July.

Note: All prices quoted correct at 1pm Tuesday 26 May.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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.
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>         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.
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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. 

Five reasons you should quit your job and travel - Travel_tips

Almost everyone has at some stage dreamed about quitting their day-job and travelling the globe.  For most people, as quickly as this thought comes to mind, it is swatted away as a fantasy.  Here are five reasons you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea and instead quit your job and travel.

Air travel may be the cheapest it’s ever going to be
It’s now possible to fly around Australia for as little as $39 and fly to Europe or America for less than $1,000 return.  These prices are so good that, in our opinion, the only way they can go is up.

We’re not saying we can predict the future, but we can say this, the introduction of low cost carriers and a steady oil price has created a sweet spot for travellers.  Air travel is much more affordable today than it was a decade ago but, who knows how long this will last? 

More and more borders are being opened to young Aussies for working holidays
If you’re under the age of 30 and hold an Australian passport the world is your oyster.  The Australian Government has made arrangements with more than 30 countries for Australian citizens to work and holiday within. Ditching your job in Australia, doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand working in another country. 

So, if you’re looking for an America’s, European, or Asian experience, our government has negotiated bilateral agreements to provide our citizens the same opportunities overseas that are enjoyed by Working Holiday Makers visiting Australia.

Find out more information about working holidays overseas for Australians.

Travelling has never been easier
The internet has revolutionised the way we travel.  We carry a computer, an ATM, a travel agent, a map, and a camera everywhere with us in our pocket.  On my last trip from my phone I booked flights, accommodation, and tickets to a show; I transferred money into my travel spending account; googled the top attractions to see when I only had 24-hours in a city; and used my phone to communicate in different languages.

We’re living in a time of technology, prosperity, knowledge, and open borders.  Sure, the technology will get better and better but, what we have now is pretty great. 

You’ve been talking about it for ages
Lots of people have quit their job to go travelling and not one has ever said to me that they regretted it.  NOT ONE.

If you’ve been toying with the idea for ages, dropping it into conversation with your mates, or fantasise about it every day on the way to work, then do it. 

This is your life, you’re in the driver’s seat, and at the end of the day the only person you need to keep happy is you.  Don’t live your life for someone else; it’s you that has to live in your skin for the rest of your life. Trust me, your family will still love you if you quit your job and travel … even if they’re a little envious, they’ll still love you.

You’re in a ‘comfortable’ place
There’s something great about being comfortable.  Especially if you know what it’s like to be uncomfortable.  But, if you’ve been comfortable for months or even years, it’s time to shake it up.  Give your grey-matter a workout, quit your job, plan some travel and get out of your comfort zone.  It’s here that you learn, you grow, and ultimately become a better version of yourself.  What are you waiting for?

New dining options open for business - Airport_News

Today three of our new dining options opened their doors to our passengers. 

Cibo Café is located in the arrivals hall welcomes travellers with aromatic coffee and decadent sweet-treats.

Epicure Kitchen offers a fresh made-to-order meals inspired from an ethos of sustainable farming and locally sourced and ethically prepared food.  They also offer a selection of ready-made options for those who are tight on time before their flight.

Red Rooster is an Aussie favourite and there’s nothing quite like the smell of barbeque chicken to whet the appetite.

We think these new dining options not only offer great meal choices, they look great too. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details about the opening of the remaining dining options at Newcastle Airport.

Click on a thumbnail below to view larger images taken shortly after the retailers opened their doors.

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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. 

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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. 


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.

Five of the best laneways to explore in Melbourne - Travel_Australia

Melbourne.  Famous for sport, food, shopping, and laneways.

I love exploring the laneways. I always feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland, never quite sure what’s going to be revealed to me. Will it be a quirky little boutique, a funky bar, hole-in-the-wall café, or the work of an up-and-coming along the street walls or inside a gallery?

After research on the interwebs, it seems that tourism bodies, bloggers and locals agree that these are the best lanes in Melbourne to explore:

Degraves Lane

Dining on Degraves is the quintessential Melbourne café experience. A real mix of cultures, Degraves has a Parisian vibe from the café umbrellas, but the food veers towards Italian and sweet treats. The most difficult thing about Degraves is choosing where to start!

Centre Place

Harking back to the days that Melbourne was built, this narrow paved lane is lined with hole-in-the-wall cafes combined with buskers and fabulous street art.  If you’ve seen a photo of Melbourne’s laneways, it’s likely it’s been taken of Centre Place.

The Block Arcade

Mosaic-tile flooring, a glass canopy and carved stone, the Block Arcade is one of the finest examples of a 19th-century shopping arcade in the world.  This arcade is temptation on a platter for anyone with a sweet-tooth.  The Hopetoun Tea Rooms has a window display of cakes, slices, and all things nice that tempt you in for a pot of tea.  Further in the arcade is Haigh’s Chocolates, one of Australia’s premier chocolatiers.

Royal Arcade

This building boasts stunning architecture while linking you to Bourke Street Mall, Little Collins Street, and Elizabeth Street. The clock, framed by Gog and Magog, have struck the hour of Gaunt’s clock, on the hour, since 1892. 

Crossley Street 

Men and women shoppers’ rejoice.  There is something for everyone on Crossley Street. Tailored threads await the men and designer dresses will delight the ladies.  Dining on this street ranges from hatted fine dining to Asian street food and includes everything in between.

The unnamed street

I often find that walking around Melbourne’s laneways I get fantastically lost.  Fantastically lost while I have a pretty good idea of where I am in the city, I have no idea what the name of the laneway is that I have just stumbled into.  These are always fabulous because the find is so unexpected and delightful. So, I’m going to add my own laneway onto this list, and I’m going to call it the Unnamed Street. 

The next time you’re in Melbourne, I hope you have the opportunity to discover at least one of these laneways for the food, the coffee, the wine, the shopping, and the art. They waiting for you.

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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.

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.

Aussie slang explained - Travel_Australia

When travelling around the world to non-English speaking countries, I find that I naturally slow down the speed in which I talk.  Pretty much every country around the world speaks English, however, it isn’t until I say something and get only a blank look in return that I realise how ‘Australian’ my English is, as I grapple for another phrase to replace the one I’ve just said. 

Here’s some examples of where I have said words to other nationalities (even English-speaking ones) and they have had no idea what I was talking about.


An abbreviation of afternoon. 

“I’ll see you this arvo.”

Cya (see-ya)

See you later.


Great looking, dressed up.

Eg; “You’re looking pretty spiffy. Are you going on a date?”

Bust a move

To leave

“I’m really tired; I’m going to bust a move.”

To dance

“I love this song, let’s go bust a move”

Thong / plugga

Casual footwear often worn in warmer weather, also known as ‘flip flops’

“I really like your blue thongs.  What do you think of my new pluggas?”

Like a stunned mullet

Bewilderment, astonishment, in a state of inertia.

“When he saw the baby being born, he just stood there like a stunned mullet.”

Mad as a cut snake

Very angry, mad, furious

“When she found out he’d taken the car without asking, and then crashed it, well, she was mad as a cut snake.”


Abbreviation for barbeque. 

“We’re having a barbie for dinner on Saturday night if you’d like to come around.”


Generally a women’s swimsuit. Can be one- or two-piece.

Budgie smugglers

Men’s tight-fitting swimming costume, resembling underpants in style.

“Nobody wants to see your dad in budgie smuglers”

Chuck a u-ee

Perform a u-turn.

“You missed the street! Chuck a u-ee and we can go back.”

Full as a goog

Having eaten so much that you are extremely full.

“Whoa, that was so much food. I’m full as a goog.”

It’s a go-er

A project, idea, or other venture will definitely occur.

“Mum said she can take us to the movies, so that’s a go-er.”


An adjective used to describe a state of tireness.

“I’m knackered after that bike ride up the mountain.”

Mucking around

To waste time; be silly and mess around.

“The kids were mucking around instead of getting ready to go to school.”

No worries

An expression meaning “do not wory about that”

You’re welcome.

“Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it.”

“No worries.”

‘ow ya goin’

A friendly salutation

“How are you doing?”


An inoffensive term for a trouble-maker or someone causing havoc.

“You always know how to have fun; you’re such a ratbag.”

Chuck a sickie

Call in sick to work when you’re not really ill.

“I’m going to chuck a sickie and go to the beach.”

You bewdy / You little bewdy

Excited approval, something has gone really well.

“You little bewdy! My horse just won the race!”

Your shout

Your turn to by the drinks

“Tim, it’s your shout.”

Buckley’s chance

The chance of something happening is nil / it will never happen.

One day I’m going to fly…?


A person who is considered uncultured or unsophisticated, even if they have a bit of money. Generally a derogatory term. Used in a similar vein to the UK ‘chav’ or a US ‘redneck’

Yeah-nah / nah-yeah

Yeah-nah = yes I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree. 

“I’ve heard the new movie is a hit, do you want to go with me on Friday?”


Nah-yeah = no, I disagree with what you’re saying, but yes I want to take part.

“I’ve heard the new movie is a hit, do you want to go with me on Friday?”

”Nah-yeah. Let’s see something else.”

Do you have any Aussie slang terms that you think we need to explain to foreigners? Add them 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.

Visit these seven wonders of Australia to be true blue - Travel_Australia

Image source: @Australia
Australia is a very proud nation.  We love our Aussie icons, proudly don the green and gold, and we chant our war cry in every corner of the globe…Oi Oi Oi!

This is why my mind boggles when I hear of travellers jaunting overseas and discovering other lands, before they discover their own backyard.  How can you fully appreciate how good we have it in the Land of Oz when you haven’t seen the land of Oz?  It wasn’t until I travelled to Fiji that I fully appreciated the world-class beaches that are 5 minutes from my house.

I am proud to say that have seen a lot of Australia.  There’s a lot still for me to see, but in my opinion, here are seven trips that once you’ve completed, you earn the title of True Blue Aussie (I’m not quite there yet).


I thought I knew what I was going to see, “a bloody big rock”.  Well, yes, it is that, but it is so much more! I was awe-struck when the plane passed over Uluru—it’s massive and rises from the ground when the land around is so barren and flat.  Driving around Uluru had me gob-smacked, and the sunrise and sunset sessions for three consecutive days had me mesmerised. 

Kata Tjuta (Olgas)


A photo posted by Andrea (@kurtino981) on

I had no preconceived ideas about Kata Tjuta, and I was blown away.  These rock mountains are huge.  From a distance they appear to be like children’s marbles, but up close I had to crane my head right back, as in grab-the-sunglasses-that-fell-off-the-top-of-my-head back, to see the top of these wonders.  The sunset session here had me using up a memory card in my camera.

Great Barrier Reef

#kakadunationalpark #australia #travel

A photo posted by Ruslan Bikkulov (@becooloff) on

A natural wonder of the world; as spectacular from above as it is from below.  The pictures you see of the Great Barrier Reef are beautiful, but, they don’t compare to the sparkle and vibrancy of the real deal.


This island of ours was named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions for 2015.  It’s hard to believe this little bit of Brittan can belong to the same sunburnt country of mainland Australia.  The juxtaposition of Tasmania to outback Australia is something you can only appreciate by seeing the two in real life.

Drive all day and see nothing

Ok so this isn’t a ‘place’. But, nothing says Australia more than driving for eight to ten hours and only seeing a lonely road house, a handful of cars, and lots and lots and lots and lots of red dirt. 


#kakadunationalpark #australia #travel

A photo posted by Ruslan Bikkulov (@becooloff) on

This is still on my personal bucket list, and I really recommend adding it to yours too. The landscape, the wildlife, the vastness, and the beauty.  This place looks like natural Australia at its best.

Any Aussie beach

As I noted earlier, it wasn’t until I travelled abroad that I began to appreciate what’s in my own backyard.  The more I travel, the more I understand why tourists come to our great land and hang out on our beaches.  A photo I posted on Facebook from a day down at the beach had my international friends commenting to ask where I was.  My reply, ‘I’m at home!’ 

Add these seven Australian wonders to your bucket list so you can call yourself a true blue Aussie.  I’m sure you have others that you have on your list.  I’d love to hear about them.  Tell me yours in the comments below and we could feature your own true blue bucket list in a future blog post.

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.

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.

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.

Switch off this festive season - Travel_Tips

On a recent holiday I was forced into a mobile black hole due to a misunderstanding that international roaming was set up on my phone.

I arrived at my end destination, switched my phone on and waited for the ping of messages to filter through …. only the pings never came. The top left hand of my phone simply told me 'No Service'. Say what?!

It was then that it dawned on me that international roaming was indeed not activated on my phone. I panicked. How will I stay connected with my people back home? OMG, I had no phone reception!

Following initial panic, I shrugged my shoulders, found WiFi so I could I message that I had no service and then turned off my phone.  The freedom that came in the following two weeks from not checking emails, Facebook, or Twitter was something I haven’t experienced in a long, long time.

So, this Christmas holiday period, I challenge you to switch off.  If you can’t be without your phone for the entire period, then at least turn off emails on your phone (turn off push notifications to your email or disable your work email from your phone while you’re on leave).  The relaxation state you will fall into after a couple of days of being switched off is one that you will thoroughly enjoy for the rest of your holiday period.

If something is incredibly urgent at work, someone will CALL your phone to talk to you.  Otherwise, all those ‘urgent’ emails can wait until you’re back from leave.

7 summer essentials for your carry on - Travel_Tips

Leather is trendy, just as long as it isn’t your skin

As a redhead, of course sunscreen is going to be at the top of my summer essentials packing list.  I love the Banana Boat 30+ spray on.  I don’t really seem to miss much skin when I use this spray.

Be shady

Sunglasses are a must.  Be they hipster, oversize, round, Ray Ban, Dior, or the $10 pair from the petrol station. Whatever floats your boat, just don’t forget to pack them.

Top it all off

Embrace the fact that hats—big, wide ones—are back in fashion.  Not only will you look uber cool, your skin will thank you for it.

Bling it on

Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t don some sparkle. I’m a lover of earrings and the bigger the better.  And, earrings are great in summer, as they hardly touch any of your skin and make you hotter than you need to be.

Wrap on

Don’t tempt fate by not packing something that will keep you warm if needed.  A simple wrap that doubles as a sarong, picnic blanket, or shoulder wrap will have you set for whatever weather or adventure hits you.

Sweet scent

Perfume maketh the women; cologne maketh the man.  And, the warmer the temperature, the more of your scent you give off.  So go forth, spray, and let the world enjoy your good taste in scent.

Easy breezy

Forget the tight fitting clothing for hot climates; you’ll look great as long as you stay in your air conditioned hotel room.  As soon as you leave the room, you’ll be a sweaty, hot mess.  Instead, opt for easy breezy clothing that floats over your skin.  You’ll stay looking fresh all day and night long.

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.

Five things that will ruin your weekend getaway - Travel_Tips

  1. When you book, not looking at where your hotel is located compared to the action
    I did this only once.  Found a great-looking hotel. Had all the bells and whistles. Thought I was pretty good, booking such a great hotel at an awesome rate. Until I realised that unless I hired a car or spent a month’s wages on taxis, I was stuck at the hotel all weekend. Epic fail.
  2. Checking in a suitcase
    You’re going for a weekend, not a month. Be realistic about what you really need to take for your one or two night stay.

    If you can’t pack two or three days’ worth of clothes in less than 7 or 10 kilos, you need to read this post about
    7 reasons you’re packing too much.
  3. Not buying luggage for the trip home
    On the flip side of the note above, if you’re going on a shopping trip, allow yourself to ENJOY the shopping and buy yourself baggage for the flight home.  That way you can max out your credit card before you get to the airport, and not at the check-in counter for overweight luggage.
  4. Flying by the seat of your pants
    It’s all well and good to live in the moment, but sometimes a stich in time will save nine. A little prep before you arrive will save you time and stress hormones when you arrive. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you’ve been completely stung for a hotel room because you left it until 6pm that night to book and you didn’t know that every major event known to man was going to be in town that night.
  5. Trying to do everything
    It’s called a weekend getaway for a reason. You’re there for a weekend; two days (ok, maybe three at most).  You don’t have time to get the visitor guide and tick off every item.  Realistically, you should be happy if you can tick of three or four. 

    Savour the time you do have and don’t run around like a headless chook.

How to fly Newcastle to the Whitsundays - Travel_Australia

"I’m sorry I went on that holiday" said no one, ever.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a cheeky post-Christmas holiday to the Whitsundays. 

Sunshine, relaxation, and crystal clear water, need another reason to escape to the Whitsundays?

Here are three.

The Great Barrier Reef

This famous reef is world heritage listed, is the world’s largest living structure, is visible from space  and, it’s on millions of bucket lists all around the world.

The Whitsundays is the closest point off the Queensland coast to the Reef which means it’s the ideal hub for reef exploring (and possibly finding the heart reef located in the Whitsundays).

The hardest decision for us lucky enough to live a few hours flying distance away is: do we discover the majestic reef by snorkelling, or scuba diving, or flying over it first?

Whitehaven Beach

Named the 2013 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Beast Beach in Australia and number three in the world need we say more?

We’ll say just a little bit more: The beach is a seven kilometre stretch of white sand that meets aqua water.  Whitehaven Beach is known by locals as the most photographed beach in Australia.

Hot tip: Go to Tongue Point on low tide for the full experience of colours this beach can offer.

Relaxing getaway

When you’re on a summer beach holiday, it’s mandatory to pamper yourself (well, it is in my world anyway), and the Whitsundays won’t disappoint in the pampering department.  See you after I’ve had a massage, foot spa, mani and pedi, and spray tan to kick start the browning process….(the only safe tan is a fake tan).

How to get there

Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia all fly Newcastle to the Whitsundays (Proserpine), hubbing through Brisbane.  This makes it all very easy, and cuts out the hassle and stress of the M1 and the two hour trip south to fly north. 

Jetstar and Virgin Australia both have one-way fares from $154 each way* – that’s around $300 return. Bargain! 

*Prices correct as at  16 January 2016 for travel between 22 and 27 February 2016.

Information and images sourced from

Newcastle Airport's unbusiness breakfast - Airport_News


On Thursday 17 July, we’re officially launching our brand new fundraising initiative, Donate an Hour, with an un-business breakfast.

“Huh?” quizzed that voice in your head “What is an un-business breakfast?”

Well, it’s certainly not ‘boringggg’, you won’t be thinking “I got out of bed for this?” and there’ll certainly not be any looooooong talks. 

Instead, the un-business breakfast is a morning of fun and laughter. We’ll be playing games that will have you reminiscing your childhood, you’ll be entering raffles for the chance to win flights and accommodation, and defending your last bid on the silent auction items (anyone fancy a signed MR surf board??).


The un-business breakfast will have a delicious canapé-style food (mini bagels, anyone?) so you can get involved in the games and help us raise some money while you’re doing so. You’ll have the chance to meet a lot of people and network in an incredibly relaxed environment.  You’re sure to walk away from our breakfast with a smile on your dial.

The only official proceedings of the morning will be the reason we’re there, to officially launch a website set up by Newcastle Airport to collect donations that go directly to Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation.

When? Where?

Thursday, 17 July 2014
7.15am for 7.30 – 9.30am
Chevals Restaurant, Newcastle Jockey Club
Darling Street, Broadmeadow

Tickets can be purchased here, are $39 each, and include breakfast and a gift on arrival


The ultimate carry on kit for chicks - Travel_Tips

Let’s face it. Being a female can be tough—and some days it’s takes more effort than others to look presentable. (We’re not Beyonce; we didn’t wake up like this #flawless.)

This often results in a rather large supply of make-up and beauty products our toiletry bag (or in my case multiple bags).

Now, when I’m at home, this doesn’t pose a problem.  My bathroom cupboards are brimming with beauty supplies and I’m cool with that. But, when I decide I want a short getaway, my make-up bags soon take up a lot of my carry-on kilo allowance. Not cool when I really “need” to go shopping at the other end.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, I have a dedicated travel make-up bag I only use when I travel.

I keep it stocked with:

  • Miniature containers I’ve filled from my full-sized cleanser, toner, and moisturiser.
    The Reject Shop has a great collection of containers for this purpose.  I also scored some great mini containers from my beautician.
  • Shampoo and conditioner in mini bottles
    These mini bottles are a dime a dozen in the cheap shops these days, or you can be super thrifty and repurpose the mini bottles from your last hotel stay
  • A toothbrush. That way it’s never left behind
  • A mini tube of toothpaste.
  • Samples of my liquid foundation
    I go to the beauty counter and ask for samples of my foundation–this saves packing the full-sized foundation bottle
  • A mini blush from a make-up kit my mum gave me for Christmas
  • Finishing veil and bronzer. Again, I siphon these from their full-sized container into sample size containers. I scored some great size containers when I trialled the Nude By Nature make-up range, the lids are removable and make for easy reuse!
  • My perfume; I’ve decanted this into a handy handbag container.  This container was a tad harder to come by, but I just kept asking at the beauty counters for one until I was given one.
  • Full size eye pencil and concealer. These are also a great back-up when I run out when I’m not travelling.

And things I add each time I jet away:

  • Eye shadow – and I am ruthless here as I own A LOT of eye shadow.  I only allow myself to pack what I really will wear.  The natural shades win here.
  • Mascara – it’s not overly hygienic to let open mascara sit for months on end so I take the one I’m using with me
  • Any favourite make-up brushes – I’ve decided that these are too expensive to buy a spare to keep in my travel make-up kit
  • Hair brush – again, too expensive to have spare sitting around.

I have also invested in a travel-sized hair dryer and hair straightener.  Not as good as the real deal, but man, they’re not far off.

Do you have any tips for me?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

*The opinions expressed here are those of the author. Newcastle Airport does not endorse any of the products listed above.
Gif source:

About the author:

Rebecca is Newcastle Airport's Marketing and Communication Coordinator and has worked with the Airport for six years.  She and is also a part-time TAFE teacher, wanna-be runner, baker, and sometimes writer. Follow Bec on Twitter: @becjwilson




Winter getaway: Byron Bay - Travel_Australia

In winter, Australian’s are a bit delusional. Anyone living south of Port Macquarie pretends that it doesn’t get cold in winter. Despite the fact that 4 and 5 degrees at night in winter is common. 

When travelling around the world, it’s not uncommon to hear another Aussie gloating “I live in ‘Straylia mate, it don’t get cold there”.  It can gets really cold in ‘Straylia.  And when it does, it provides the perfect excuse for a warm escape north.

Enter Byron Bay.

While widely known as a mecca for backpackers, Byron is also an amazing getaway for people who prefer to travel with a trolley case and have their own non-share bathroom.

Here are some of the things that people love about Byron:

That lighthouse
After a casual hike up the hill, the vista is incredibly rewarding.  The blue sky, punctuated by the stark white lighthouse is a pretty spectacular sight.  Walk around the lighthouse and discover the most eastern point in Australia as well as some lush bushland. But don't take a hat with you - the most easterly point is also very windy!!!

Beaches with sand, grass, and shade
Any fair-skinned Aussie will tell you they love the great outdoors … in 10 minute bursts. Byron Bay caters for these crispy creams and has stunning white sand beaches, which backs onto grass, AND has trees sprouting oodles of shade.  Heaven!

Image source: @brgd on

Walk everywhere!

Town is centred around the epic coastline and therefore holiday accommodation is usually few blocks from the beach. This allowed you to have a peaceful and quiet night of sleep, but be close enough that you don't need a hire car - just walk everywhere.  This also means that there is no need to watch how much one drinks with dinner.  Cheers!

Wellness retreat treats
Any yogi worth their Himalayan salt would know Byron's reputation as a mecca for the 'enlightened' and the organic revolution has reached fever pitch in the retail scape of the town meaning you have access to lots of cafes (TIP:  turmeric lattes are king!) This also means the great number of day spas that use only organic products and one of the best has to be Buddha Gardens Day Spa.

Our very own home-based airline, FlyPelican, operates direct services from Newcastle to Ballina-Byron Bay six times a week. 
They also have some great all-inclusive Byron Bay packages through Pelican Travel. Enjoy a winter getaway at the luxurious Byron at Byron, with transfers to the resort and return flights from Newcastle starting from $549 per person twin-share.

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