How to make the most of your stopover

How to make the mostof your stopover

A stopover can be the kind of pain for a traveller that’s equivalent to a form of Game of Thrones style torture. Similarly, long haul flights in economy class are dreaded by travellers everywhere. It’s like taking the most awful kind of bus to a location far away where you’re stacked in tight with strangers. You’re expected to get some sleep in the most uncomfortable seat you’ve ever had the pleasure to sit in and entertain yourself with movies that appear in a device in the headrest of the seat in front of you. Sadly, the food is one of life’s cruel tricks; it sounds nice but then just isn’t what you expected and can leave you feeling like you’ve just eaten a deep fried stick of butter instead of a meal that would actually be beneficial to consume.

When you live in the South Pacific region you’re limited when it comes to options to get around the world. You can visit beautiful Pacific islands, parts of Asia, Australia and New Zealand in a small number of hours however, should you wish to go anywhere else you’re in for the long haul. This means that generally you’ll need to stop in a central location in order to catch another flight to get to your desired destination or simply for the aircraft to refuel and pick up more people.

I know after you’ve been on a flight for a long period a stopover doesn’t sound that great but there are redeeming qualities to this situation that every traveller will undoubtedly encounter. Stopovers mean time to recuperate and have some fun! There are two kinds of stopover – a layover which is really just spending a short amount of time in the airport until your next flight and a stopover which gives you the opportunity to leave the airport and discover a new place entirely.

Layover

Layovers are often more of a chore for travellers, when heading to a destination and full of excitement it’s a bit of a downer to get off a long flight and have to wait for what could be hours in an airport to catch your next flight. The airlines tend to fly to ‘hub’ airports and then distribute their flights to specific locations via the hub airport venue. The airports have become places travellers use to catch up on some sleep, charge their devices and do the most obvious thing; get ready for their next flight. Many of these airports have however started to transform into places that cater for this kind of traveller. No longer are there uncomfortable rows of plastic chairs and vending machines full of Doritos and Coke but vast lounges and shopping opportunities, entertainment options and gourmet catering. The airports have actually become a place that you would want to visit – making your transit time much more appealing.

I recommend making the most of your layover in three ways; Use an airport lounge to unwind, Explore all the airport has to offer and hit the shops for items you want.

Singapore – Explore

Singapore is a popular stopover location for trips through to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Often with short transit times but enough to visit the copious attractions of Singapore’s Changi Airport. The award winning airport offers a number of options for transit passengers and includes some amazing attractions so it’s the perfect place to make the most of your layover by exploring the amazing things the airport has to offer.

To make the most of a Singapore Airport layover;

  • Check your bags.
    Although you’ll most likely be wandering around with just your carry on, if you have a small suitcase or simply things you don’t want to walk around with you’re able to check your bags into storage at Changi Airport for a small fee.
  • There’s a rooftop pool and jacuzzi.
    I can’t think of anything more relaxing in the middle of of a long haul trip than going for a swim and chilling in the jacuzzi at the airport. Amazing.
  • Visit the gardens or Koi pond.
    The cactus garden, the enchanted garden, the butterfly garden, the water lily grade are all currently offering endless options to explore…don’t miss the koi pond. Perfect for travel with children or if you want to go some place quiet to read.
  • Be entertained.
    Play some Xbox or go to the movies, there’s limitless entertainment options.
  • Have some fun.
    Changi Airport has the world’s tallest slide in an airport located in T3, perfect for some family fun.
  • Tour Singapore.
    If you’re in the airport for more than 5 hours a free guided tour of Singapore might be right up your alley. The tours are 2.5 hours and you can register at the airport.

Los Angeles – Unwind

I have this habit, it’s not a good habit and it’s in no way intentional. It might be a reflection of the way I travel – cautious and selective. Whenever I’m booking flights I have an unfortunate habit of leaving too much time in between, in my mind I have a thousand ‘what if’ thoughts before I click the button and part with my credit card information; what if we get held up in customs, what if it takes us a long time to change terminals. What if.

This habit has left me sitting at airports for extended periods of time over the years. Over time I’ve improved and refined this practise but I’ve spent many an hour hanging out at LAX waiting for my next flight. I’m a huge advocate of airport lounge memberships, they give you the perfect opportunity to have something to eat, relax with a couple of drinks and even shower and change before your next flight.

I get it – lounge memberships can be expensive but there are ways in which you can visit the lounges without holding a full membership. Day passes are available to many of the lounges attached to airlines and sometimes if you hold a particular credit card you can gain entry into specific lounges. Check the loungebuddy app you can book access to lounges and see what’s available, lounge ratings and comments from other travellers. There’s also the Lounger app where you can gain entry through people who hold memberships, this is usually only good for solo travellers as most of the time people can only bring one guest. Also, keep in mind you’re someones guest so you’ll need to be polite and be nice to someone – keep them company; they’re giving you free food and a comfortable place to sit.

Dubai – Shopping

Dubai airport, like the rest of Dubai is so impressive. There’s a lot going on, people going in all directions even more so than other airports. However, unlike Changi airport in Singapore the airport itself isn’t the entertainment, things to do hub you might expect. The shopping in Dubai airport was the absolute highlight for me. If you have a layover in Dubai Airport – focus on Shopping.

My highlights were;

  • Jo Malone Duty Free space, although if you’re going to the UK it will be cheaper there so keep that in mind.
  • The Lindt chocolatier, I don’t need to buy chocolate to appreciate the art that it truely is.
  • Dates as a delicacy; you can get some beautiful dates from the airport which make great gifts.

I walked out of Dubai airport with packages after every visit.

Stopover

A layover isn’t a great part of travelling. You can make the most of it however, why not turn a layover into a stopover! Many airlines will offer free stopovers when you’re stopping at their hub airports and it gives you the opportunity to see another destination, lay off the jet lag and relax in the middle of a long journey.

Many people see these destinations as not really worth it, I had a number of people ask me why I wanted to spend three days in Dubai when I could be seeing another destination in Europe. Additionally, I’ve noticed a similar sentiment when talking to people about Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It only takes a 5 minute search on Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram to realise that these places are amazing destinations and a stopover opportunity shouldn’t be missed.

Make the most of your stopover;

  • Plan accordingly.
    I chose to stopover on the way back home to break up the flights and hopefully be less exhausted when I returned home,
  • Treat your stopover as part of your trip.
    Don’t make the mistake of treating your stopover like it’s just transit time in a hotel, get out and see the sights.
  • Enjoy the contrast.
    Your stopover destination will often be quite different from your planned holiday vacation, embrace it!

I guess although long haul flights are painful and we all wish travel could be a cross between getting on a plane in first class and the DeLorean from Back to the Future where you’re just suddenly there the sad reality for is it takes time to fly around the world. So, there’s nothing wrong with doing some great things along the way!

What do you like to do on Layovers and Stopovers?

How to make the most of your stopover

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

BROOKLYN BRIDGE

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favourite things to do in NYC but don’t be mistaken, there’s a million tourists, many many people exploring on Bikes and you’re bound to be lining up at Starbucks after to use the rest room with half of the other people you just saw on the bridge.

Getting there

Getting to the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC I’m a huge advocate of the Subway, all the great landmarks and things to do are all over the city and you don’t want to be constantly taking cabs or town cars; it will take forever and cost you an arm and a leg. The Subway is a great fast and cheap way to get around town and you’re with every day New Yorkers so get to experience what the city is actually like and step out of the tourist bubble for a brief moment.

Of course when you get off the Subway you’ll need to figure out how to get to the bridge. Tip: don’t forget to save maps to your phone when you have wifi so you can use them when you’re offline. Google maps has a great feature for doing this, simply search the location you’re after, open the bar at the bottom of your screen and hit download. You can find the map in the menu under offline areas. You can even do this at home before you travel.

Brooklyn Bridge Experience

The Brooklyn Bridge experience shouldn’t be missed, you can take a love lock at attach it to one of the world’s great landmarks if that’s what you fancy, you can take some amazing pictures (I’ve seen some beautiful Black and White prints of Brooklyn Bridge images framed) and you can snapchat a selfie and say you’ve been there, let’s be fair if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen.

When you arrive you can either decide to walk or rent a bike from multiple nearby vendors and ride across the bridge – you won’t be alone in this but be warned; the walkway is VERY narrow, so narrow in fact I’m surprised you can even have bikes and people on there at the same time, you’re meant to stay in your lane but no body really does because everyone is so amazed at the bridge itself.

If exploring Brooklyn is in your plans, and who wouldn’t want to explore Brooklyn, this is the perfect time to do it – get ready to log a lot of walking miles.

Why walk the Brooklyn Bridge?

I understand why some tourists hesitate to actually walk the bridge and opt to go to base of the bridge, take a few snaps and be on their merry way. I’m not that kind of tourist but some people don’t like to spend the time on things like this, especially if they have a jam packed schedule while in Manhattan.

If you have the time and the capacity to walk the length of the Bridge I would really recommend it, it’s a great vantage point for some photos of the city, it’s a fun activity to do, especially if you might only make it to New York on one occasion.

Free New York Planner

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of my Must Do recommendations for any visit to New York, especially for first timers! I have a few other places that I recommend you visit, the list is long but I’ve included more walks and city landmarks on my Free New York planner. Everyone’s plan is different so there’s heaps of space for you to list the attractions YOU want to see.

free printable

Download the FREE planner here!

And I’m not being sponsored to say this, simply an honest recommendation from me – For paid attractions in New York City I also highly recommend the New York CityPASS, access to major paid attractions at a cheaper rate (who doesn’t want that?!) and the ability to jump the line at most places. New York CityPASS click here.

For more recommendations and FREE checklists and planners directly to your inbox sign up for my Newsletter right here.

10 Disney Tips for Couples

10 Disney Tipsfor Couples

It’s time to talk about Disney! In this post I’m mostly referring to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida but on my travel to do list is to collect the full set of castles, so far I have castles from Walt Disney World and Disneyland, I’ll be adding the Disneyland Paris castle in just a few months (whoop!).

I find there’s a lot of articles about Disney, particularly for family vacations but if you’re simply travelling on your own or as a couple this information will help. Let’s be fair Disney isn’t just a place for kids, it’s a place for big kids too! I also think when you’re coming from the other side of the world like me, you’re extremely likely to visit as a couple.

  1. Accommodation
    Accommodation is one of the first things you’ll choose and it’s one of the most important. This is most important at Walt Disney World where you have the option to stay “on property” in one of the Disney hotels, where you stay in a never ending Disney Bubble, or you can choose to stay off site anywhere else.
    I’m a fan of the Disney Bubble especially if it’s a once in a lifetime experience. The resorts are great to stay in and give you a number of extra options like food plans, bottomless drinks, free transport to and from all the parks and to Downtown Disney. They also have all of the great florida ammenities like pools and gyms and lovely settings to explore.
    There is however, a very big pro of staying off property and that’s the cost. Your dollar will go much further if you stay off property. It’s a consideration everyone must make. Personally, I initially booked an offsite resort – then when I weighed up all the things I would be missing out on if I didn’t stay on site I felt like it was too much to give up so we booked a Moderate resort and had the time of our lives.
    Tip: Consider all of the options, don’t make a forced decision and look out for specials. We got 30% off our room rate and I’ve heard of a free dining plan offer that gets released every year as well. At Disneyland I found that the accommodation wasn’t as much of a big deal – we stayed close to the park in a non-disney hotel, we still got to experience the park as it was meant to be and had a great time but you do get a different experience if you stay at a Disney hotel so it’s worth considering if you don’t want to miss out.
  2. Tickets
    There’s so many options here, park hopper, one park per day, water park inclusive etc. Really this is dependant on how much time you have and what you want to do while you’re there, the parks in Florida are quite far apart so, unlike Disneyland, you can’t walk between them. However, if you’re travelling as a couple it might be appealing to get a park hopper to manage the crowds a bit more, you can go between the parks quicker than a family and check the crowd apps to decide where you would like to spend your day. There are websites that sell the tickets at a small discount if you’re not staying on site these could be an option if you’re on a budget.
    Tip: Decide on this early and make the most of the tickets you choose. Tickets can be purchased online in advance so you don’t have to line up at the gate. If you’re booking accommodation at Disney as well you can book them into your package. 
  3. Fastpasses
    Staying on Disney property at WDW means you get to book your Fastpasses early. This is a huge advantage in ensuring you get to do everything you want. Research the rides and ensure you book the fast passes that will get you on the rides you absolutely want to do. I found some free touring plans that really helped me out with this, I knew what was really in demand and booked my fast passes accordingly. I could then decide on the rides I didn’t get fast passes for and go to them first.The fastpass+ system at WDW is fantastic for flexibility, you can use the app on your phone (they have free wifi in the parks) and switch out fast passes that are available if you wish.
    Tip: Book your fastpasses for early in the day, this gives you more flexibility as the parks get busier.
  4. Food and Dining
    Advanced Dining Reservations or ADR are highly recommended from Disney faithfuls. If you book the Dining plan through your resort I would highly recommend these too however, if you’re just paying as you go (which I choose to do) you can simply make ADRs for sit down restaurants you really want to eat at. There’s so many options at Disney I don’t like to pre plan every meal. However, If you do want to go to a Character dining experience or somewhere that’s eternally popular such as The Crystal Palace or Be Our Guest I strongly recommend you make an ADR.Refillable Mugs at the WDW resorts are fantastic, you can fill them whenever you want at the resort and they continue to work for your entire stay. They don’t work in the parks but offer great flexibility for drinks at the resort.
    Tip: Make sure you try some signature Disney dishes. You’ll want to replicate them at home. 
  5. Photos
    Memory Maker is a package sold by Disney for a flat fee that gives you the opportunity to download all of the professional photos you have in the parks and order merchandise and prints if you wish. I have to say; Memory Maker is a costly exercise….but, if you don’t want to carry a camera and get some great photos in some perfect locations along with your ride photos…it’s actually not that bad. I invested in it and I highly recommend it.
    Tip: Download your photos as soon as you can after your trip, that way you have plenty of time to decide if you want anything else from the package before they’re removed. 
  6. Taking it all in
    Disney really is an amazing vacation. I personally have unfinished business at WDW because I was sick during our stay. There’s so much to do, so much going on, so many people it can easily become a stressful environment but if you’re having a great time taking in what’s going on around you is important, it might be stopping for a drink before running off to the next ride, either way it’s important to remember you’re on vacation and enjoy it.
    Tip: Don’t plan every second of your day, just the key elements then there is less room for disappointment. 
  7. Strategy
    Touring strategies and plans are always such a debate. Everyone does Disney differently and it’s really about finding what suits you, if you’re going as a couple you’re likely to be able to do more than a family and if you’re not too concerned about sitting together you can use the single rider lines. There’s touring plans online, both free and for a fee (I really don’t recommend paying for these because while it’s great information, it’s all out there for free). I would absolutely ensure I plan my park days, ensure fast passes and ADRs are booked so you don’t miss out and tour the rides as per touring recommendations so you can fit more in.
    Tip: Take note of the touring plans, specifically crowd levels and in demand rides when planning, it will make your trip MUCH better. 
  8. Buying Stuff
    From a set of ears to a year dated sweatshirt or T-Shirt buying merchandise is one of the great things about Disney, the Main Street emporium is amazing and I could spend all day just in there. If you’re shopping in the park you can have the march sent to Guest Services at the front so you don’t have to carry it around all day and/or sent to your room (if you shop in the first few days as I believe it gets delivered the following day). Don’t forget to hit the Disney store at the outlets, you can find some great bargains AND you’re likely to see things that are no longer at the parks.
    Tip: Check the Disney store online before you go and get an idea for the things you might like to get…there will of course be lots more to choose from in the parks but if there’s something specific you would like you can search for it. 
  9. Research
    Research will be the backbone of any trip to Disney, a great place to start is the Disney website but I also recommend going further a field and looking at blogs, forums and touring sites on the park that you will be visiting. There is a wealth of information out there.
    Tip: There’s also some fantastic Podcasts (my fave is Disney Hipsters) and You Tubers (TheTimTracker, Pixels and Pixie Dust) that you can follow to make your research fun and interactive.
  10. Booking
    What are you waiting for?! Your amazing Disney vacation awaits!
    Tip: I’m personally not a fan of Travel Agents unless you’ve decided to use them for a specific reason (e.g. great deals, first vacation ever, needing tickets to a specific event), so hunt around for deals, use the Disney website to your advantage and book! It’s super easy and all of the information is at your finger tips. 

 

How I’m going to Europe for free

How I'm going to Europe for free

I have a thing about travel, I love to travel but I don’t like to do it on a shoestring – I like hotels and restaurants and shopping. So, if I can figure out a way to make my money go further I’ll do it and let’s be honest – free flights mean that I’m saving a significant amount in my travel budget that I can put into the things I enjoy while I’m on vacation.

I’m sure there’s a number of ways you can score free flights; dating the crew, winning them from an airline, finding great friends who will give you lavish holiday gifts, screwing someone with a private plane – I’m a bit more of a realist and my life doesn’t mimic an episode of Gossip Girl; here’s one technique I’ve used to book my flights to Europe during the European summer. I’ve used Frequent Flyer points, more specifically I’ve changed some of the things I do in my life in order to earn enough Frequent Flyer points every day so that they build up as fast as possible.

Points are like gold for me. First I needed to identify the value of the points to me, this method isn’t going to work if you like to trade points for household appliances. When you use the points for appliances it actually costs you more points because the program buys the appliances and then sells them to you for ‘points’, whereas flights are their product so you get a better deal when redeeming flights, essentially your points go further if you go for points instead of items in the redemption store. Although, it’s not a bad thing if you’re hanging out for that new Nespresso maker if that’s what’s important to you, to me, the points are extremely valuable, I’m living in another country so if I had to go home quickly having points can reduce the cost for me. I’ll never trade my points for anything but flights.

Points are everywhere, you just have to know where they are. I used to think that you could only get points from flights themselves, it would take me forever to get points anywhere near getting anything for them and then I would trade them for some random household appliance like a waffle maker or cupcake maker and be done with it. However, I learned that I can actually get rewarded with points for things I do all the time anyway; Hotels I already stay at, things I want to buy and most importantly how I spend my money.

I replaced my no-reward debit card with a rewarding option. I earn points through flying domestically, flying home to see my family, my grocery shopping, any shopping I do with some selected stores and mostly through every dollar I spend. I used to have a debit card and I used it for my every day expenses, 90% of my expenses I would charge to the card with no real benefit to me. Then one day I noticed a deal where I could sign up for a credit card that would reward me with points. I’ve since got said credit card with a low limit that I use for every day spending, I pay the entire amount off at the end of the month so I don’t incur any interest charges and the limit means it’s within my reach to pay off every month so I never feel tempted to leave large purchases on the card. Note, I said replace -the credit card doesn’t mean that I have extra money to spend it’s just the money I would have spent through my debit card anyway. The particular credit card I got gives me points for every dollar I spend, plus I got a bonus for signing up. I’m earning points quickly, every single day.

Points for stuff I was buying anyway, hell yes. I found that another great way to add to these points is when I was going to buy something, I found that my chosen airline has a programme where you get points from a particular group of stores. Sometimes I had to order online and wait for the item instead of going directly to a store but to me this is worth it. I was able to get points for many of my Christmas present purchases and it was an added bonus when doing shopping I needed to do anyway.

Passport packed, ready to go. Once I started to earn points in good time I was able to figure out exactly how many I would need to go to Europe. The airlines are very upfront with this and all of the information about how many points needed and how to redeem them can be found on their website. This differs from Airline to airline. I found I got a better deal by using the points for seats specifically for rewards as opposed to using the points as a form of payment on any seat. This meant I needed to be organised and get my desired dates reserved over eight months before departure.

Choose wisely and maximise points. Once I had enough points for a return flight, I booked online. This isn’t completely free, I still needed to pay the taxes for the country that I’m flying to and from. Not only could I book seats on my chosen airline using the points but I could use their booking system to book on their partner airlines with code share arrangements. This means greater choice about the places you can go and the airports that you can choose. I found that some airports are more points than others so Europe gave me plenty of choice.

That’s it – some simple changes in my every day life but mostly things I was doing already and not getting rewarded for. Do you have more tricks to get flights faster? Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: This is not in any way financial advice. I’m not qualified for that. This is simply how I was able to get free flights to Europe. It took time and some changes to my everyday habits.  

 

 

I’m addicted to Kmart

I'm addicted

I have a problem. I’m addicted to Kmart. So here I am, taking the first step and admitting my addiction.

Specifically, I’m addicted to Kmart homewares. I blame Instagram for this obvious vice in my otherwise perfect life. Every day in my Instagram feed amongst the travellers, pictures of healthy lunches and the must-have sunsets; they’re there. Pictures of perfectly styled rooms and beautifully crafted items. It’s all from Kmart. The hashtag #kmartaddictsunite is where I can find my fix each morning.

The thing is, I resisted for so long. I was buying cool kitchen gadgets and the occasional plain singlet. I didn’t notice the amazing house of homewares that is Kmart. Then, the ‘rose gold’ and ‘copper’ items appeared. I was drawn to the copper dipped items and shiny copper metallics. And then, the game changed – the marble items arrived. My home taste is clean and minimalist and the marble LOOKS AMAZING in my home. I must buy it all.

The problem with this addiction of course, is that I’m not alone. When Kmart stack their aisles with copper and marble goodness other addicts shop for it too. Leaving me in a position where, if I want specific items that Instagram has told me i must have….I can’t find them. This has left me in an interesting state of being; termed ‘visiting Kmart on my lunch break every. single. day’. I buy whatever I can get each day, then I bring them home and stash them away until I can display them in all their glory. The beauty of it all, the most a daily shopping trip has cost me so far is $15. Yes.

I want to buy all the things. I want to bring them home and make perfectly styled spaces that I can upload to Instagram. #kmartaddictsunite . I want to redo my office space, my formal lounge. I NEED a black cross rug for my family room. I must have all the things.

YOU ARE SIMPLY THE

I feel the need to point out that this post is in no way sponsored. Just the musings of a girl who is loving Kmart right now.

 

Quit Sugar Cheat Sheet

#ee8614

If you’re a reader of by my blog you’ll know that earlier this year I watched ‘That Sugar Film’ and it scared me senseless! Immediately I stopped eating sugar and so did my husband. Cold turkey.

I was an addict. I was addicted to soft drink (mostly the sugar free kind) but all I ever drank was Coke Zero, Coffee and Red Bull. I even used to add sugar to my coffee in the form of Vanilla Syrup. Everything I ate was laced with some kind of refined sugar. It was gross and unhealthy and, for the most part, I didn’t actually know it was in there.

Now I avoid processed foods like the plague, I read the ‘I quit sugar’ books like they’re the only cook book on earth, I don’t shop in the middle of the supermarket except for some very strategic items and I’ve lost weight, I feel 100 times better. But I’m not perfect and it’s not easy.

So, here’s my cheat sheet for quitting sugar.

  • Food – Food is good for you, if it’s in actual food form and not processed and laced with sugar and salt. To quit sugar, if you’re a sugar junkie – you pretty much need to change your thoughts on food. I only shop in the outside of the supermarket (ordering online makes this easier, no wandering in to the naughty sections). Read the label and determine exactly how much sugar is in the item you want.
  • Snacks – I pretty much no longer snack on anything that I used to snack on. Now I snack on fruit (I know, but the sugar is natural and you’re eating fibre so your body tells you when to stop), avocado and nuts. There are lots of other snacks without sugar, read the label.
  • Sugar avoidance – I do my absolute best but on some occasions I give in to peer pressure, birthday cakes at work, nibbles when I’m starving and there’s nothing else to eat, gas station food. I avoid sugar as much as I can but – I’m not perfect and some days it’s about low sugar rather than none. That’s okay, I just start again next time.
  • Detox – Detox is awful (I ate low/no sugar items like you wouldn’t believe), but it’s worse when you’ve had minimal sugar for weeks and then you accidentally have something packed with sugar. I was running late for breakfast one morning so I had an optislim shake: 4.15 teaspoons of sugar in one shake. A 90g soft serve at McDonalds has 4 teaspoons. I remember feeling really sick that day, crazy hungry and not myself. Sometimes you don’t know that you’ve consumed a lot of sugar and it sucks but you can get over it and start again next time.
  • No / Low Fat – Is pretty much always full of sugar, that’s how they make your body decide that it’s delicious without the fat. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
  • Just make your own – There’s a million recipes online so, if you can’t find what you’re after without sugar just make your own. I do find however, if you dig around enough you’ll find what you’re looking for without the nasties. Pana Chocolate is my personal example of this.

I have to keep telling myself this on a daily basis, but over time it gets easier! Good luck!

And for those of you who are sugar free, what are your cheats?

 

Travel Planning for Career Girls

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Where to start

If you’re busy with work and life in general it’s easy to get caught up and never actually go anywhere. The wanderlust starts to fade and suddenly you’re more worried about spreadsheets and coffee makers than you are about getting out and seeing the world. It seems that the majority of career girls seem to have it tough in the travel stakes, especially when we’re younger and committed to building our careers, going to university and focusing on the end game. Then all of a sudden on one random Tuesday afternoon in your early thirties you discover that you haven’t done or seen nearly as much as the people that you periodically stalk on Facebook and Instagram.

Cue the panic and the ‘what have I done with my life’ over a few glasses of wine. And here you are wondering where to start on the life experiences you’re willing to part with your cash for.

  • Geography – Choosing where you want to go is the most important thing. It doesn’t even have to be exact, you just have to choose a general location so that you can start researching, look at flights or other ways to get there and start to cost it up.
  • Coin – Speaking of costs, deciding on your budget early can be helpful – it stops you from booking all those 5 star hotels that you have to cancel because you eventually decide you can’t afford them. It’s reality but at least you know what kind of experience you can have up front, and then you can strategically plan how to stretch your funds.
  • Google it – Now is the point where you start to research. Trip Advisor is your friend but there are some limitations, it’s often geared for independent travellers so if you want to do an organised tour it’s not the best place to go, and lets face it sometimes an organised tour from operators such as Top Deck, Contiki or Cosmos are a great way to see the world when you have limited leave from your workplace and want to see ALL THE THINGS. Don’t just trust the travel sites, read widely.

Deciding where to go

You’ve already decided roughly where you want to go, at this point you may have even booked flights; with your credit card….late at night after a few wines and and an Instagram stalk.

As a career girl you’re probably pretty organised. Or, you’re super organised in your work life and not so much when you leave the office. Either way, you need to roughly decide how many days you’ll be spending in each specific location. If you’re taking a tour this is decided for you but you’ll want to decide on exactly what tour to go on.

Trip Advisor is a great resource for helping you decide but there are also some fantastic travel blogs that will help you out. (Some of my faves are Big World Small Me, World of Wanderlust and Love and Road.)

I use Google Calendar for this, I can plan out exactly what I’m doing on what day and I can take it everywhere and make changes on the go if I read an article or get a special offer email.

To agent or not to agent

I’ve always struggled with using a Travel Agent. On the one hand it saves you time and there is the luxury of having someone to call if something goes wrong. Also, they’re full of great advice even if they haven’t been to your destination themselves they can draw on the clients who have for their feedback. However, I really think if you’re going to use a travel agent for these purposes you need to have done your own research, check every recommendation they give you (again Trip Advisor is your friend) and don’t accept their first recommendation as the only option.

You’re also paying for this in some way, they work off commission but there are also other charges that you wouldn’t usually need to pay. Things like credit card surcharges and other random fees, they don’t add up to much but to me those are funds that mean I could do an extra activity while away (or shop.).

If things are complicated, multiple destinations, stopovers, lots of flights and tours. I prefer to book the basics through a travel agent and then book the rest myself. If it’s straightforward and I’m only visiting one country, I book absolutely everything myself (with solid research).

What’s Next

Now it comes to actually booking, although you might have booked your flights in the drunken manner we discussed earlier. You need to have a real experience while you’re there. Whatever you decide – I hope you have a great time!

Do you have any amazing travel planning tips for career girls?

 

Missing the city

 

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a very extended period of time somewhat because I think it’s not really a post most people would want to read, it’s kind of more personal than usual but I feel like I want to share as many angles of my life as I feel comfortable with.

It’s no secret to my circle of friends, I have my sights on a promotion, maybe not so much of a promotion but a job back in the city, the promotion is the ideal situation that I’m putting out to the universe on a daily basis. I don’t even want to go back to the city where I’m from…I really want to move to Sydney – I’ve set a 12-18 month time frame and, it’s going to happen. I’m doing everything I can to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I miss the city so much. I never thought I was a city girl as I grew up on a farm but I always wanted to move to the city. I think back and when my husband and I were first dating we would often drive into the city. We just wanted to go to a cafe and soak in the atmosphere.

I miss the atmosphere so much.

Things that are a bit shit

I know there are things about living in the city that aren’t so appealing, traffic for one, rude people for another, smaller living spaces and the cost of living in general.

I can’t get past it though…I feel like I’m missing something in my life and every time I travel to any major city I sit longingly, usually over breakfast at people going about their day wishing so desperately I was one of them.

The things I actually miss

I miss going to boutique farmers markets with a friend on Sunday Morning and collecting some beautiful vegetables for the week, I miss going though the local paper and always finding something to do, I miss feeling at home.

I miss the escape from the city, driving out to the beach and exploring the tranquil surrounds of the city, then driving back to reality and having all my comforts close to home.

I’m putting it out there

I feel like if I actually write it down it’s that much closer to happening. I’ve been away for a few years and I’m completely grateful for the opportunity and the experiences I’ve had. I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards to be here though. So here I am, writing it down and willing it to happen.

City life – here I come! I’ve missed you.