While an upcoming trip can have us all a little over-excited, packing in excess is something we’ve all done at least once. Rather than telling you what to pack (don’t forget that passport), this general guide is all about things you should leave at home.
Unnecessary makeup and skincare
Most airlines only allow 100ml worth of liquids in your checked luggage, so don’t over-do it and pay the extra baggage fees, or worse, have your items confiscated at the airport. De-pot your favourite foundation into a lighter, plastic bottle so you’ll have more space in your luggage. Plus, you can always re-purchase these products at a pharmacy when you land.
It might feel a little tempting (especially if you’re on a long-hair flight), but lugging around a book won’t make your suitcase or hand luggage any lighter. If you’re bringing a tablet, load it with various books to keep you occupied during the trip.
Clothes you’ve never worn
Bringing along that sundress you’ve been hoarding since 2009 isn’t exactly an efficient way to pack your luggage. Make sure your outfits can be worn in a variety of different ways, and that you will actually wear them. Otherwise, just remember all the shopping you will do when you arrive!
It might seem you can’t live without your hair drier, straightening irons, and curling wands… trust us, you can. Embrace beach-hair and save that room for other things in your luggage. Plus, most hotels are equipped with a hair drier, so don’t worry too much.
Most hotels, beaches and resorts come with complimentary towels to use on your stay. Keep a small hand towel in your hand luggage if you absolutely need to, just make sure it dries before packing it again.
Instead of lugging around a string of books in your bag, store it all electronically in your phone. This way, you can easily browse, compare, and travel light!
If your phone is equipped with memory, won’t shut down randomly, and has great optical zoom, them its best to leave the bulky DSLR at home.
Image via Late Rooms
Travel should be all exciting adventures, stunning sunsets, delicious cocktails and rest and relaxation, right? But what happens if it all turns to shit?
Be alert and alarmed dear reader, for travel crimes against humanity do happen, and when they do, it can be very handy to know what to do in the wake of a heinous travel rip-off. First things first – when you do suffer a horror travel rip-off, the worst thing you can do is stay silent and suck it up.
I only know this myself through bitter experience. I’ve packed a lot of travel into my 40 years and while travel will always be a true passion of mine, I have endured some toe-curling incidents that left me wanting to burn my suitcase.
And while I used to think complaining was a waste of time and energy – the advent of social media teaches us that sometimes it pays to loudly voice your opinion about travel rip-offs.
Case in point: unfortunately for me, I recently got ripped-off by an online booking site I’d used many times with previous success, when my “4.5 star luxury hotel”, as advertised, turned out to be anything but!
When I arrived at said hotel, I felt sick to the stomach at the sight of my grotty room, complete with heinous carpet and mattress stains, disgustingly cheap furniture and a barely-working air-con unit. To make matters worse, my promised luxury “pool view” – which I’d even paid extra for – overlooked a run-down, burnt-out house (I’m being generous here) and the hotel manager was surly at best.
I knew in my heart I was in the wrong place, even before I got to my hotel room. For, despite the hotel’s good, central location (arguably its only virtue), when I checked in, I politely asked the hotel manager what the restaurant directly below was like, to which he snapped: “I’ve never eaten there.” Hmmph.
And, like I say, the situation turned dire when I got to my horror hotel room, which was nowhere near worth the money I’d spent on it. It was an absolute dump! At best, more like one-star worthy. I was bitterly disappointed and fairly livid at being fleeced of my hard-earned.
Incidentally, sadly for me, I’d treated myself to a solo getaway in order to catch up on sleep; a rare night off from two toddlers under three, entrusted to my husband. Long story short: I complained to hotel manager – who couldn’t have cared less and refused to offer me another room.
I then voiced my disgust to my online booking service, which refused to take me seriously and/or issue a refund for my blatant travel rip-off until I sent them photos of the horror hotel via email and then finally, out of sheer frustration and rage, complained on social media when I didn’t get a response.
And, even then, I still only got HALF my money back. Oh the burn?!
In the end, I returned home that same night, a broken shell of a human, into the loving arms of my husband, who poured me a big glass of wine, having already put the kids to bed. And I did enjoy some solo beach time that day. Life wasn’t so bad…
So, what do you do when your dream travel escape turns into a nightmare? My travel rip-off fight-back plan is as follows:
- Complain loudly: Voice your outrage, the quicker the better, to whoever has so ruthlessly fleeced you of your hard-earned.
- Be courteous yet direct. Don’t give in easily. Be a warrior woman: stand your ground! Consumers have rights.
- Always, always take photos of dodgy hotel rooms and/or keep any other evidence of your travel rip-off.
- Turn to social media if all else fails – ain’t nobody got time to be stuffed around, and most travel companies, if smart, do not want a PR disaster on their hands. Post often until you get a response.
- Contact Australia’s competition and national consumer law regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Visit ww.accc.gov.au or consumerlaw.gov.au.
Do you have a travel horror story? How did you fight for your rights?
Images via driverlayer.com, pixabay.com
If you’re planning a getaway this summer, there are a list of things that you mustn’t forget for your travels – and no, we’re not talking about your passport or your boarding pass (although that’s also important!). Make sure you add the following items to your checklist before boarding the plane!
It goes without saying that SPF is absolutely necessary, even if it’s not summer! The higher protection, the better. Try for an SPF 50+ since this means you won’t have to apply it as regularly throughout the day, plus you will avoid burning.
The chlorine and sea water can dry-out even oily skin and leave it looking rough and flakey. Keep your skin hydrated every morning and night with a lightweight formula that sinks easily into the skin.
If you haven’t already waxed your legs before leaving, a razor is necessary for those touch-ups. Choose a small, travel-sized razor which fits into your carry-on luggage and will last the entire trip.
Keep your face feeling hydrated with a pack of face wipes in your beach bag. Not only are they great at removing excess dirt and makeup, but you can also clean your hands with them – without the use of water.
Protect your eyes from the sun (and glare from the water) with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Don’t invest in an expensive pair since they’re likely to get scratched, lost in transit, or stolen!
A baseball cap or a wide-brim hat is a must-have to protect your face, neck and décolletage from the suns rays.
Pretty obvious! Pack a few different swimsuits in your beach tote to have some variety in your outfits each day. This also means that you don’t have to wash your swimsuit every day after the beach.
A cover-up or loose dress for the beach is necessary for commuting back and forth all over town. Choose a dress which protects your skin from UV rays – it’s crucial!
Thongs, flip-flops or sandals are essential if you’re travelling to and from the beach. Pebbled beaches are painful to walk on and you might need to swim in your sandals. Don’t get annoyed if they get wet from the sea water!
Pack a small cosmetics bag into your tote and store your essentials such as makeup, phone and iPod. Most cosmetic bags are actually waterproof and won’t destroy your precious items inside.
Have we forgotten any other must-haves for the beach?
Image via Cindy Mangomini
Whether you have a relaxing trip booked overseas for a week, or are simply heading interstate for a girls weekend, there are a few items which you should never leave home without.
We’re not talking about your passport and credit cards (those are a given), but these will make your trip run smoother and are a little more on the pampering side.
1. A good book
Bring along a book you’ve had pinned onto Goodreads for the last few months and have been dying to get stuck into. Stick to something short and sweet (less than 500 pages) if you’re bringing a paperback, or bring an entire library if you have a Kindle in your handbag.
2. Hand sanitiser
It goes without saying that keeping your hands clean is absolutely necessary. Keep a few hand sanitisers in your luggage and handbag, but make sure they’re alcohol-free so the formula won’t dry your hands.
3. Mini moisturiser
Flying can leave the skin on your hands feeling particularly dry, so always make sure to carry around a small hand moisturiser. Choose a soft, lightweight formula which won’t feel too greasy on your skin.
4. Face mask
A portable face mask is the perfect way to keep your skin hydrated if you’re on a long flight. All you need to do is apply it on clean skin, then sit back and relax!
Just pat the excess product into your neck and hands, then dispose of the mask after you’re done. It also takes the place of an eye cream, which can be hassle to apply and will free some room in your cosmetics case.
5. Noise cancelling headphones
Nobody wants to hear your music and you probably don’t want to hear theirs. A pair of noise cancelling headphones is a must-have since you can discreetly go about your business, or even block every thing out as you sleep.
Keep your breath fresh by storing a few mints into your carry-on luggage. You probably won’t be able to brush your teeth on a longer flight and mints are so much more convenient than gum.
7. Lip balm
Many women suffer from dry, chapped lips since the moisture is sucked out of your skin during a long-haul flight. Choose a stick so you don’t have to dip your hands into the little pot, which also keeps it clean and sanitary!
A pair of warm, woolly socks is the best way to keep your feet warm during a long flight. Since planes have the air conditioner on at all times, choose a beanie to keep your head and ears warm as well. A scarf also works well at keeping the cold away.
If you’re strictly a ‘no-leggings as jeans’ type of girl, then you could make an exception for a long plane ride. If you haven’t changed into a pair of comfy pats before boarding, do it right away!
Finally were would we be with a bit of floss? Use it to keep your teeth fresh (especially on international flights), then dispose of it afterwards. Those little picks are extremely helpful since you don’t actually have to touch the inside of your mouth.
Have we forgotten anything? Comment with your essentials down below.
Image via Refinery 29
Tomorrow (Sunday, March 8) marks the annual International Women’s Day aimed to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. With global guided holiday leader Trafalgar revealing that 77 per cent of its solo travellers were female in 2014, we’ve listed the top female-focused travel trips to help women embrace the female solo travel trend in 2015.
The small village of Demircidere in Turkey has the second-highest rate of working women in the country. The women enjoy an equal status in community relations and open their doors exclusively to Trafalgar guests. The women invite you inside their family homes to share their love of traditional Turkish cuisines and culture in an unforgettable Be My Guest experience. Sitting around the table, you’ll be empowered by the remarkable persona these women share as they interact with you through their native language. In a truly emotionally filled holiday, you’ll be able to walk the pebbled shores of Anzac Cove 100 years on remembering the brave soldiers that lost their lives in Gallipoli. Trafalgar offers single supplement waivers of 100per cent on its 8-day Highlights of Turkey guided holiday departing April 25, June 27, August 29 and October 24. For more information, visit www.trafalgar.com.
The World Economic Forum recently ranked Norway, Finland and Sweden as the best countries for gender equality. The survey measures opportunities available for men and women in four critical areas – economic opportunity, health, education and political empowerment. Experience the Scandinavian culture first-hand when meeting Arild Nydegger Øvre-Eide on Trafalgar’s 14-day Scenic Scandinavia & its Fjords guided holiday. Arild is one of the fifth generations living on her family owned farm, Ovre-Eide. A working farm since the Viking Age, Arild’s family bought the property in 1870 and has continued to pass it down generation to generation. Arild will share her experiences of working on the farm as well as her ambition to teach students the skills of becoming bakers or pastry chefs. Dining with her family, you’ll discover their passion for using Norwegian products in their dishes that are locally grown to ensure the economic growth within their community.
Unpack once as you cruise the breathtaking rivers of Europe enjoying scenic views and indulging in all-inclusive luxury. Travel with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises on the new S.S. Maria Theresa on the 15-day European Jewels itinerary and experience a world of history, culture and art as you journey along three great rivers. Spend the day absorbing the musical background in Vienna, get active with complimentary bicycles to discover the banks of the Danube or relax onboard with a good book. Uniworld offers single supplement waivers on select itineraries and departures, for more information visit www.uniworldcruises.com.au
Recalibrate and connect with your inner goddess in India. Women who spend their days juggling commitments and children can’t help but unwind amongst the temples and monasteries in the foothills of the Himalayas. Be soothed by the serenity in the home of the exiled Dalai Lama with Adventure World’s Journey to Himachal Pradesh. The 8-day journey is priced from $1,514 per person including accommodation, many meals, transportation by private vehicle, sightseeing with local English speaking guides and train journey between Shimla and Kalka.
According to a survey released by Lastminute.com.au, a third of Australians are planning to travel solo in 2015 with meeting new people, cultural immersion, freedom, and getting to know themselves better listed as the top reasons to take a trip alone. Take a step in the direction of the popular novel and new film ‘Wild’, and find yourself during a hiking trip through Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park. Rise with the sun and take in the beauty of Bryan’s Beach, Wineglass Bay and Bluestone Bay before following the track used by the Oyster Bay Tribe through the pristine bushland, you’ll be captivated by the rich and diverse nature that surrounds you. On AAT Kings’ 5-day Tassie Trails – Freycinet Experience Walk, you won’t be completely alone. On this world-class hiking trip, you’ll enjoy the company of up to 10 people, luxury lodge accommodation, scenic boat cruises and delicious Tasmanian food and wine.
Planning your next trip but don’t exactly want to break the bank on just the airfare alone? There are many different ways to travel around the world without using up all your hard-earned cash. From booking hotels, or even eating out, below are just a few suggestions to have the best trip at a great price.
Do your research
One major way to save some money is to avoid staying or eating at tourist-targeted facilities. Most of these places are not only a rip-off, but take advantage of travellers since they are new to the city or country. Make sure to do your homework before booking that trip, and write an extensive list of places to go and also to avoid before you jet off.
If you can easily get the time off work, it is cheaper to travel in the off-season since prices are often more affordable. If you’re travelling to Europe, this means that it’s best to make the visit during the months between October and April. These seasons see a lot less travellers which is also better for those who wish to still see the world without a large price-tag attached.
Many countries in Europe offer cheap tickets if you choose to pass-through via train, instead of flying. Interrailing is a popular way to visit almost every inch of Europe without spending too much money. Tickets are extremely affordable and passes can range anywhere from $56-$390 for a global 10 day trip.
Youth hostels are very popular alternatives to hotels since they are cheaper and more affordable if you choose to stay in one place for a limited amount of time. Accommodations don’t necessarily have to be considered first-class to make your stay worthwhile, so find somewhere safe and cost efficient to leave your luggage and also stay the night.
Pre-plan your trip with a guidebook which will not only help you around the city, but also give a rough idea of how much things cost. Most are usually equipped with useful local lingo which is important if you’re travelling through numerous cities in a short amount of time.
Rather than wasting your money with international calls to loved-ones back at home, simply purchase a local phonecard for each city you visit. This will not only be cheaper in the long-run, but also won’t allow you to be carried away during a phone call since they are capped at a certain price. Easy to find since they are sold at almost every news stand.
Pay in cash
Although using a credit card can usually offer a good exchange rate, pay with cash since most local shops or stalls only accept money as a payment method. Always carry some type of cash on you, just in case of emergencies or if you can’t access your cards.
Travel in groups
Even if you’re travelling with a partner or in a large group, it is best to stick together. Not only will this be safe, but will save you all a lot of money on food, accommodation, and transport costs. Many tours still charge people travelling on their own a small fee anyway.
Ask for a discount
It depends where exactly you are shopping or staying, but many times asking for a deal or cheaper price will often save you some money. This works well especially if you’re buying from a small shop or stall, or staying at a countryside hotel with a group of people.
Image via Travel Blat
We’re all looking for the best deals when it comes to travel, so rather than scouring the interwebs, daily deal emails and social media for the right advice, we have tapped into the expert knowledge of those in the know. A panel of high-flyers, consisting of Mark Hodgson, general manager of Escape Travel; Tom Walley, executive general manager of Flight Centre; and Monique Van Gelder, national marketing manager of Cruiseabout, have shared some of their insider expertise:
Flights and accommodation:
• Choose a holiday package that combines flights with your accommodation. Not only are these more convenient, but the price is based on wholesale rates which work out to be a better value option, plus they often have a specially negotiated saving or added value attached.
• Earlybird offers. It is standard practice in the travel industry for airlines to release ‘earlybird’ fares in September for travel to Europe, so keep an eye out for these by signing up to travel agent newsletters to get the jump on the best deals.
• Visit a Travel Expo prepared to purchase. With the help of a travel expert onsite, you’ll get the best deal possible and a wealth of advice in the process. Flight Centre holds expos for key destinations such as Europe and USA/Canada/Alaska every year to coincide with earlybird season, and if you book on the spot, you’ll get the best price of the year.
• Choose alternative stopover airports when travelling long haul to avoid hefty airport taxes. Bangkok Airport is a cheaper stopover option than Singapore or Hong Kong when travelling on to Europe.
• When flying in and out of Europe, consider using alternative departure airports to save money on your return flight. Most return airfares include a multi-city option and your travel agent can help you choose the best route option to avoid paying excessive airport taxes. Airport taxes vary from city to city and London has one of the highest, so for the return journey consider flying out of Paris where the airport tax is far less and the overall price of your ticket, even with the inclusion of a cheap one-way Eurostar journey from London to Paris, will be less that a return flight departing from London.
• Pay it off. Escape Travel offers a flexible payment plan with its nine-month interest-free finance option which lets travellers book a holiday well in advance to secure the best price, but pay off their holiday in a series of easy payment.
• Work around the peak season by opting for the ‘shoulder’ period either side of peak travel times as these are generally cheaper, but still a desirable time of year to be travelling to your intended destination. For example, peak season for a Greek Islands holiday is July and August, but the shoulder season in June is much more affordable and the weather is just as good.
• Midweek is a great time to travel if you can be flexible with your dates. Flights are generally cheaper at this time as they are less popular that at the start and end of the week, plus you can often pick up a cheaper hotel deal with many properties offering discounts for stays during the week.
• Take note of the seasons for your holiday destination, as there are bargains to be had when avoiding peak travel times. For example, Thailand is a great year-round destination and travellers can pick up an excellent deal when travelling in the low season months from May to September when many resorts offer significant discounts and ‘stay-eight-nights-pay-four-nights’ type deals are standard.
• Book childcare upfront. For resort-bound families, make sure you consider what daycare facilities you will need on the ground before booking the cheapest upfront package price. Avoid additional expenses such as fee-based kids clubs and baby-sitter rates by reviewing the different complimentary in-resort child minding facilities and factoring this saving into your total holiday cost before making a decision.
• Don’t assume you are restricted to the airfare options listed online. Your travel agent has access to a host of deals unavailable to the general public and can advise on the best value route network for getting from point A to point B based on your budget, or create a custom built round-the-world airfare that may represent better value for a multi-stop holiday.
• ‘Double Dips’ are unique to Flight Centre and are a great way to double your holiday fun by visiting two places on one low fare. You can double up in Thailand with Phuket and Bangkok, double your beach time in Fiji and Hawaii or combine city stays in Los Angeles and New York or Hong Kong and Singapore. Visit in-store and ask your Flight Centre expert about double dips for more information.
• Steer clear of peak times. If you can, avoid school holidays and special event cruises, such as those over Christmas and New Years, as these cruises are priced at a premium.
• Take advantage of earlybird cruise offers for the season ahead as you can pick up discounted rates for travel in the following year, discounted or even free airfares or other bonus inclusions like extra onboard credit not offered outside these earlybird booking periods.
• Save money by asking your cruise consultant about special rates offered to seniors and military personnel. P&O and Princess often offer military benefits such as extra onboard credit for local cruises, while RCI and Celebrity Cruises have seniors’ rates that can be quite a bit cheaper.
• Sign up to agency newsletters and follow their activity on social media to see the latest deals the moment they are released.
• Try a one-way cruise. Travellers more interested in the cruise experience of life on the ship rather than sightseeing at different ports can pick up a cheaper cruise by opting for a repositioning cruise. These are one-way cruises designed to take the ship from one destination to another at the change of the cruise season and feature fewer stops on the itinerary, meaning passengers also save money by staying onboard.
• The ‘guaranteed cabin’ option is often the cheapest way to go if you know the category of cabin that you’re after, i.e. inside, outside, balcony, but are open to being located anywhere on the ship. Passengers pay more for their cabin when selecting its exact location on the ship – like the specific deck or away from the lifts – but those that choose the guarantee option receive at least that cabin type and can sometimes score an upgrade.
We discover some of the purest, and most beautiful, untouched destinations in the world.
The hidden beach of the Marieta Islands, Puerto Vallarta
Hidden from view and protected from the outside world, this secluded slice of paradise is located just off the coast of Mexico. ‘Playa De Amor’, or as it’s more romantically know, the ‘Beach of Love’, is thought to have formed as a result of volcanic activity over thousands of years. To get to this hidden gem, tourists must first swim through a cavernous tunnel that opens up onto the sandy beach and crystal blue water. Now a national park forbidding fishing and hunting, the islands are protected and therefore home to some rare and remarkable marine life, so snorkelling is definitely one for the bucket list.
Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
This remote region of Northern Sichuan in China stretches over six hundred square kilometres and is regarded a holy mountain by the Tibetans. The majestic Jiuzhaigou Valley is home to nine Tibetan villages, seven of which are still populated, and is filled with breathtaking scenery. Think multi-level waterfalls, lush forest, snow capped mountains and colourful crystal clear lakes. Difficult to reach by land, the valley is one of the less frequented scenic spots in China, and one of the purest! It is also home to a variety of rare and beautiful plants and animals, including the endangered Giant Panda and Golden Monkey.
When it comes to breathtaking scenery and pristine nature, it doesn’t get much fresher than Iceland. This ruggedly beautiful landscape is filled with adventure – glaciers, waterfalls, streams, lava fields and mountains – and a clash of ecological variants which make the land so intriguing. Channel your inner Viking and enjoy the rawness of nature by taking a dip in a geothermal pool such as the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’ volcanic hot springs, or camp out for a front row seat to view the Northern Lights, one of nature’s seriously spectacular phenomenons.
For a hit of culture, you can’t go past Sri Lanka. An increasingly popular travel destination thanks to its beautiful beaches, welcoming people, and affordability, Sri Lanka remains vastly undiscovered due to a history of civil unrest and natural disaster. Sitting like a tear drop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is brimming with culture and home to several World Heritage sites and some of the world’s most incredible ancient cities; from Anuradhapur’s ancient ruins, the stone carved buildings of Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla to the rock-top fortress of Lion Mountain. Witness afternoon elephant gatherings and enjoy the serenity offered by unscathed pristine white-sand beaches.
It’s the world’s fourth largest island and sits off the coast of southeast Africa. Rainforests, trekking, beaches and diving make this undiscovered gem a dream destination for lovers of the outdoors. Half the fun is getting to these attractions. Madagascar alone is home to five per cent of the worlds known plant and animal species, and one of the few places on earth with extensive land diversity; you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Boasting 250 islands, hundreds of kilometres of barrier reef and a pristine coastline that wraps the whole island, much of Madagascar’s population and culture is yet to be touched by western society, offering the purest cultural experiences. Free from public transport, enjoy the views as you meander along the various lagoons and swamps of this inspired destination!
If you enjoyed these pure destinations, and want to find out more about all things pure, smooth and original, head to facebook.com/vodkao or on Instagram @VodkaO, Australia’s purest tasting Vodka. The secret is on Facebook.
An ATM that dispenses freshly-baked cupcakes? Sounds like a dream come true!
LA’s much-loved Sprinkles bakery has launched the first of its 24-Hour Sprinkles ATMs that are soon to pop up all over the country. Simply scroll through all the flavours (Red Velvet? Chocolate Marshmallow?) then swipe your credit card and watch as a mechanical arm selects your cupcake, which is dispensed in a pretty pink box at the bottom of the ATM, just like cash!
Watch a video of how it works here!
When was the last time you emersed yourself in a sweet smelling, steaming bath?
If you’re mind is a little hazy, then it’s time to experience Melbourne’s Great Indoors.
Visit Melbourne for unrivalled shopping, fabulous food in cosy cafes, a chance to sleep in or treat yourself to a little pampering and then take in some world class sport or theatre. Whatever your passion Melbourne has something to warm
- Return economy air travel
- 3 nights accommodation
- $100 hotel credit offer per room per stay to spend on hotel services
- Melbourne?s Great Indoors Privilege Kit including genuine bonus offers and two-for-one deals to retail outlets, tours, eateries and attractions.
UTAG are offering packages that include a range of accommodation options from 3 to 5 star so no matter what your budget you’ll find something to suit. You can use the $100 credit towards hotel services such as mini-bar, car parking and restaurant meals*.
Package prices start from $382.68* ex Sydney, $489.88* ex Brisbane, $379.13* ex Adelaide, $675.56* ex Perth, $719.98*
Treat yourself, without paying top-dollar, to a heart-warming escape to Melbourne this winter.
For bookings and more information:
For Melbourne Great Indoors value prices and bookings contact UTAG on 13 13 98 or for more information visit Tourism Victoria.