I come from a land down under....

Hey there blogmates! Sorry for I haven’t been in touch. I was nursing the mother of all hangovers on Sunday and yesterday I had a surprisingly productive day in the office.

Today I’m back to normal, i.e. An expect in procrastination and distraction. Therefore I thought I would share with you something that caught my attention for 15 minutes… http://www.adventurouskate.com/is-australia-a-value-destination/ 

I follow the awesome Adventurous Kate on her many travels around the globe. Today I caught a piece on Air BnB and was so intrigued I’ve created a profile for Coco and I. I’m hoping that somewhere buried in the thousands of properties is a little place where Coco and I can escape to for a couple of days sometime this year or next. Has anyone used Air BnB whilst out travelling? Had any good or bad experiences…Let me know!

Then I stumbled across a piece she wrote on travelling in Australia and was pleasantly surprised to find a positive budget travel piece written about my home country. Being a local who also works in the tourism industry (and has done since I was a teenager) I thought I’d add to Kate’s info with the following tips:

– Australia is expensive. Period. The dollar value has risen since I last travelled to the States (back then it was .63cents per $1USD. Now it’s almost .90cents per $1USD) and its not dropping any time soon. Therefore make sure you save A LOT to travel here – you don’t wanna miss out on all of the awesome experiences we have to offer!
– Airfares are a HUGE cost but you can still get good value for money. Worldwide travel wholesalers offer early bird flight specials at least 10 months out from travel – try and grab one of these and save yourself a good $500-$700 straight up!

Case in Point: The First time I travelled to Europe we booked our flights in the May for August travel. The best deal our travel agent could get was $2700 return. When I went back to Europe a few years ago I saved over $750 paying just $1950 return for my flights by booking them 10 months in advance.

– Also don’t forget to use your points! If you have em, use em! You can put them towards an upgrade to premium economy or even business class – it’s a long flight to Australia and it pays to be comfortable.
– Do use online travel agents such as expedia, agoda, HotelClub and Wotif. They list all the major hotel chains along with independently owned properties and they always have specials! You aren’t always able to get these deals through your traditional travel agents either.
-Do consider staying in hostels! I know backpackers have a bad wrap but times have changed and a new wave of ‘flashpacker’ accommodation is emerging. If dorm rooms aren’t your thing (they certainly aren’t mine) there are private rooms. YHA and Nomads are both really reputable hostel companies that have some great properties throughout OZ and they’ll cost you the fraction of the price of a standard hotel. Plus both have a loyalty card program offering specials and bonuses to their members which is really worthwhile.

My motto is “It’s only a bed”. Spend less on accommodation as all you’ll be doing there is sleeping/eating so you can spend more on activities!

Uluru
Uluru

– For first timers do visit the East Coast and Uluru. The East Coast of Australia is home to some of the most stunning coastline in the world and it’s the place where you’ll see the 12 Apostles (Victoria), Bondi Beach (NSW) and yes it will be busy but it’s worth it – plus don’t miss the Bondi to Bronte walk it’s approx 6k return right along the ocean foreshore, visit Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast (QLD) where crocs rule (still a really special place for me as I lived on the Coast for almost 10 years and have visited the zoo many times for work and leisure), Watch the majestic Humpback whales play in the calm waters of Hervey Bay (QLD) which I love as it’s also home to World Heritage listed Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island (the cover photo for this piece is from Fraser’s inland tracks). I know Fraser very well and I should – my parents have worked on this Island for over 17 years running guided tours and hiring 4WD vehicles for their business. Further north from here there’s the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef and amazing Cairns with the Daintree rainforest.
– If you’re looking to do a decent East Coast trip it will take you at least 3 weeks. You can drive some of it but because this sunburnt country I live in is so very vast I recommend you break it up with some flights. I recommend flying Melbourne – Sydney. Then drive Sydney – Hervey Bay (it’ll take you approx days if you just drive but if you stop I’d allow 5+ days to have a night here or there to see the sights). Then fly Hervey Bay – Brisbane (I know I know it’s annoying to back track but it’s a regional airport) and grab another flight to Cairns! You will also definitely need to fly return to Uluru from one of the capital cities.
– If this is your second time in Oz I recommend visiting the magical West Coast of Australia and don’t forget Tasmania way down south.
– If you’re on a budget get smart with your food choices! Hotel breakfasts are normally at least $15 each and can rise up to $50 for 6 star properties like Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast. But you can always find cheaper options or even buy mini yoghurt/museli tubs in the supermarkets. Want breakfast with a view? Walk down to your nearest beach or River and enjoy!
– Do consider self contained apartment accommodation as it will allow you to cook your own meals. The same is said for most backpackers will have a communal kitchen where you can whip up something yummy. Otherwise you can’t go past the beachside BBQs most councils have installed along the East Coast. For a couple of dollars you can learn a great Aussie tradition and have some tucker with a view again! Also there’s a bunch of seafood wholesalers/outlets that sell fresh seafood at reasonable prices so you can indulge in Hervey Bay Scallops, King prawns (not shrimps), mud crab, and much more without a costly restaurant tag. It is important to note that drinking in a public place is illegal in Australia so if you’re planning your BBQ its best to be discreet if you want to try some South Australian wine or an Aussie craft beer with your food.
– If you love fine dining you can still get good value for money. Aria restaurant in Brisbane and Sydney sometimes offer a $50 a head 2 course weekday lunch menu (a fraction of the cost of the menu normally) – you’re on holidays so there’s a high possibility you’ll be visiting these places during the week rather than the busy weekends.
– Activities are expensive in Australia. But we have one of the best safety standards in the world and this is what you’re paying for.
– Public transport is fairly good in all capital cities in Australia which can save you $$ instead of taking taxis. Also in Sydney I never take taxi’s as they are notorious for getting lost. I use the private car service Omni Car – you will have to pre-book –  for longer distances (just $50 from the Airport to the CBD) and public transport for the rest. In Melbourne I live on the trams until around 10pm then I’ll take taxi’s to get me back to my accommodation.
– Accommodation will be the most expensive during the Australian school holidays and over Christmas. Also as a general rule Brisbane is dearer during the week versus weekends due to corporate travel, Sydney is always $$ and Melbourne weekend rates are highest!

I hope this has helped….If you’ve got any other tips to add or just have a question speak up!

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