Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

My Top 10 Travel Tips

Travelling is kind of like sex; it's addictive, exciting, can be taken slow and steady or fast paced and full on, is fun, adventurous, and once you pop your cherry you can't help but wait for your next experience.

So what is it about travel that  makes it so addictive?

That you're breaking routine? That you're anywhere but at work? That you get to experience different cultures, ways of life, food, entertainment, music and senses that tickle your fancy?

That you get to see the things that you only thought existed in movies, in real life? That you get to play out your real life dreams and create memories that you'll have forever?

The planing, saving, anticipation and excitement?

Seeing and doing things that you never dreamt of?

I'd say all of the above and more.

Travel doesn't have to be some super expensive, across the other side of the world, full on planned, out there trip away, it could be popping down to a little local spot for a couple of days, or playing tourist in your own state, country or region. The best thing about travel is that it's what you make it.

Now more then ever, globalisation and the advances in technology means that virtually every corner of our planet is now accessible in some way shape or form, making travel a multi billion dollar industry.

You just have to hang out at your local pub on New Years Eve to realise that people are either planning a trip, have recently returned, or are missing in action due to travel calling them far and away from home!!!

So what tips does a travel agent have for those who want to travel?

1. Try to pick one country and do it really well, instead of trying to cram 20 countries into 4 weeks. Going to a country and seeing only the capital is like coming to Australia and only seeing Canberra or Sydney and saying that 'you've been there.' As we all know, Sydney is only a very small snippet of what Australia has to offer, and many would argue that it isn't the 'true' Australia at all. When I travelled to Europe in 2008 I saw 6 countries in 6 weeks (Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Norway). But what I mean be 'being to' a country is going to France and seeing Paris for 4 days, so it isn't exactly seeing the whole country. As I become a more experienced traveller, I have definitely prioritised seeing one country in depth, over rushing through several and it all becoming a blur.

2. Determine what type of a holiday you are after right from the start. Are you over your super busy, flat out all on all of the time lifestyle and are desperately looking for some r n r and cheap cocktails? If so, then you are probably better to invest more money in a decent resort with a day spa, by the beach, where you can hang around in hammocks, chill by the pool and beach, and become a sea lion basking in the sun and then refreshing in the water. If you are after an adrenaline seeking holiday, but you're on a budget, then you're probably best to stay in cheap accommodation and spend more on activities. Just be careful what countries you choose to do these activities in, as different countries have different safety regulations. If you are after a cultural experience, then doing your research and 'going off the beaten track' is probably the best way to experience the 'true culture' of places, instead of being sold 'fake replacements.'

3. Always, always take out travel insurance, no matter whether it's a domestic or international holiday. My motto is if you can't afford travel insurance then you can't afford to travel. You never know what unforeseen circumstances my be lurking in the future, and it's always best to be safe then sorry. You insure your car, house and income, why wouldn't you insure your holiday that you've probably worked and saved darn hard for?

4. The Lonely Planet Guides are like bibles for travel. They include recommendations for places to stay, amazing restaurants to eat out at, activities with great value for money, maps, local sayings, currency conversion, culture and religion and so much more! I don't travel without one.

5. Pre book your must see activities, you know, those activities that you travel half way around the world to go and see and experience for yourself? You wouldn't want to go all that way to find yourself in a queue 1,000 people long, waiting out in the hot sun, parched, and end up thinking stuff it, and then regretting it later on!!! Pre book the activities that you really want to see and do and you won't be disappointed.

6. Consider a guided tour. Tours have changed so much over the years. I know personally, that I used to hate the idea of tours; I thought they were fast paced, with late nights and early starts, full of drunken idiots, and a waste of money. Now I view tours entirely different. When I travelled to Europe I missed out on so much knowledge, so many inside, unique experiences and so many attractions because I stringed on tour guides and screwed up my nose to Contiki and the like. Now I would seriously consider a partially guided, leisurely paced tour when I next travel. They are awesome because they can include first class accommodation, right in the city centres,with local tour guides, the opportunity to have meals cooked for you in peoples houses, activities that you couldn't even imagine, things that you don't see unless you are on a tour, and plenty of free time, as well as guided opportunities.

7. Don't be afraid to try new things. I've drunken snake wine in Vietnam, eaten Reindeer in Norway, tried chips and mayonnaise in the Netherlands, eaten god knows what in Cambodia and probably other things that are a bit hazy due to giving the local beverages a crack, but I don't regret a thing. Be open to new experiences, new foods, giving the local language a go, taking a chance, and stepping out of your comfort zone, and that's when your real experiences begin.

8. Always organise airport transfers. Sounds stupid but can you think of anything worse then being on a plane for 12 hours, not sleeping, jet lagged, blurry eyed and maybe a little drunk after hammering the free alcoholic beverages on international flights and rocking up to a country that doesn't speak your language and having to try get your bags, find a cab or train station and explain where you need to go?

Wouldn't you rather get off the plane and seeing someone with your name on a sign who'll take the stress out of it for you?

9. Don't overlook travel in your backyard. There's such a focus on overseas travel now but there are some truly amazingly beautiful places in Australia. I've travelled the world and I still think Far North Queensland and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia are two of my favourites! You're keeping your money in your country, and enjoying what your country has to offer, from the Great Barrier Reef, to tropical rain forests, to deserts, large rocks in the middle of no where, mountains, rugged cliff lines, untouched beaches, four wheel driving tracks, man made attractions in Sydney and Melbourne, and so much more!

10. Take the stress out of your holiday and book through a travel agent; they'll do all of the organising for you and you just need to rock up at the airport on the day of departure ready for the ride of a lifetime!

What tips and tricks do you have for travelling?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

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