Bali is one of our teams favourite places in South East Asia – the mixture of budget friendly living, variety of things to do and awesome culture makes Bali an awesome stop on any trip through Asia!

But with so much to see and do it can be tough to figure our the best places to visit in Bali – so we’ve picked the brains of our Bai experts to see which destinations in Bali make the top of their lists.

Time to start planning your perfect Bali adventure

 

5 Of Our Favourite Places To Visit In Bali, Indonesia

Canggu

If you’re planning your first trip to Bali then Canggu should be the spot you head to to kick things off and is easily one of the best places to visit in Bali.

This hipster paradise is THE place to be in Bali – with a huge range of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and there are also plenty of Canggu Surf Camps as well if you want to hit the waves.

And the beach is the focus of everything here too, with a variety of surf spots to choose from (for all levels of surfer) or simply kick back and enjoy a sunset Bintang on the beach!

For the foodies out there Canggu is the best place to visit in Bali for food too – with more cafes, restaurants and warungs (local restaurants) than you can imagine. From smoothie bowls and vegan delights to burgers and of course Nasi Goreng.

Canggu is also the start point for most of our Bali Tours too – so check those out if you want to hit up a few spots!

 

Ubud

Stray away from the beach and head inland to the popular spot of Ubud – another favourite place to visit in Bali. Discover the amazing rice terraces (get up early and head there for sunrise if you can!), brave the Monkey Forest and fill your backpack up with souvenirs from the bustling local markets.

It’s the yoga capital of Bali too, so if you’re keen to get your “om” on then there are plenty go yoga classes and studios that cater for all styles.

 

Uluwatu

If you surf this has to be top of your list of places to visit in Bali – the world class waves at Uluwatu offer up some incredible barrel rides and it’s a bucket list destination for sure.

If you don’t surf no worries – grab a cocktail and sit back and enjoy the show.

The Sunday sessions at Single Fin are legendary too and one of the bets nights out in Bali – so if you can fit that into your trip it comes highly recommended!

For those looking for a bit more culture on their Bali trip the Uluwatu Temple is a great spot to spend an hour or so wandering around, with the sunset Kecak show being a highlight.

 

Gili T

Ok ok we know that technically this isn’t part of Bali – but Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) should certainly be somewhere you try to fit in if you find yourself exploring Bali!

A 4 hour ferry from the mainland this is the spot to head if you’re on the hunt for island vibes, beaches and clear waters.

Famous for the abundance of turtles a morning high tide is the perfect opportunity to swim alongside this chilled creatures and is something you won’t forget in a hurry.

When the sun goes down on Gili T (and this island offers up some truly epic sunsets!) the beach parties kick off and you can dance on the sand until the early hours of the morning.

 

Nusa Lembongan

Again, we know it’s not technically Bali, but Nusa Lembongan it’s another epic spot you just can’t miss out on!

Much more chilled vibes here than Gili T, this island sits a much shorter 30 minute speedboat trip off of mainland Bali so is perfect for a quick getaway or last minute place to visit in Bali.

Again there are some incredible world class waves (and it’s a favourite stop for people jumping on our Bali Island Hopper Surf Adventure) so whether you paddle out or just enjoy watching make sure you take the time to do so.

The big draw with Nusa Lembongan though is the manta rays – so if you head this way jump into the ocean scuba diving or snorkelling and meet these gentle giants face to face!

If you have a bit longer to spare combine Nusa Lembongan with Nusa Penida for some even more epic adventure and Insta worthy photo stops.

 

 

 

Are you planning a trip to Bali?

What’s top of your places to visit in Bali?

 

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Fraser Island is one of the top destinations in Australia and is bound to be one of the highlights of your East Coast Australia trip!

The largest sand island in the world, situated just off the Queensland coast it’s one of the most stunning places you’ll get to visit.

But what makes Fraser Island so special and why should you add it to your Australia itinerary?

Well here’s 8 reasons Fraser Island should be on your bucket list…

 

8 Reasons Fraser Island Should Be On Your Bucket List

1. Lake Mackenzie

This is easily our favourite reason to visit Fraser Island – this rainfall fed, freshwater lake is surrounded by lush rainforest and even the drive to get here is stunning!

It’s the perfect place to cool off in the Aussie heat and the sand here is silicon rich – making it great for exfoliating your skin or even polishing up your jewellery!

 

2. Eli Creek

Kick back, relax and enjoy a slower pace of life floating down Eli Creek. This shallow, fresh water stream winds its way through the vegetation and spills out onto the beach. Grab an inflatable, maybe a cold beer and enjoy.

 

3. Beach Driving

If there’s one stand out reason that you should visit Fraser Island it’s to cruise along the beach highways! If you’re jumping on a Fraser Island 4×4 tag along tour you’ll get the chance to drive on the beach and through the rainforest – with your guide taking care of things like tidal times so you can just enjoy the ride.

 

4. Maheno Shipwreck

The iconic Maheno Shipwreck ran aground on Fraser Island in 1935 and the remains of it are still embedded in the sand today. It’s a great spot to explore, grab some pics and learn more about the history of this famous wreck.

 

5. Dingos

Fraser Island is home to the most pure population of Dingos in the world and they can be found all over the island, so keep an eye out for them. If you’re camping make sure you keep all your food locked up and in your t4ruck to avoid unwanted attention and if you do encounter them on foot stay calm!

 

 

6. Starscapes

With little in the way of light pollution on the island make sure you head outside at night and look up – you’ll be rewarded with some of the bets stars capes you’ll see anywhere in Australia, just remember to make a wish if you see a shooting star!

 

7. Champagne Pools

Another amazing place to cool off and escape the Queensland heat the famous Champagne Pools get their name from the bubbles created as waves crash over the rocks at high tide. Great for some GoPro selfies and the perfect spot to up your tan.

 

8. Indian Head Lookout

Take in the epic views across the coast of Fraser Island from Indian Head lookout. It’s only a short, easy stroll to the top so make sure you take the time to check it out. When the sea is calm keep an eye out for turtles, manta rays and sharks cruising below the cliffs.

 

Are you going to visit Fraser Island?

Figure out the best Fraser Island tour for you here!

Thinking of heading to a surf camp in Australia? Good choice! Crystal clear water, epic waves, and the chance to share them with dolphins, are just a few reasons why we love surfing here.

But with so many spots around the country, where should you base yourself?

Here, we recommend three of the best surf camp locations, plus a couple of extra options if you don’t have the time, or budget, for a full camp.

 

Surf Camp Australia – Where to Hit the Waves Down Under!

The surf camp advantage

It’s no secret that Australia is up there as one of the best places on earth to surf. But that’s the problem; it’s no secret. The masses of surfers upon surfers fighting for waves at the country’s most popular spots, take the word crowded to a whole new level.

You should definitely get in amongst it at least once on your trip (gotta tick surfing Bondi or Snapper Rocks off the bucket list, right?). But whether you’re heading to Australia to learn to surf, or to catch the best waves of your life, having a bit of local knowledge goes a lonnnng way.

That’s where surf camps come into their own; they eliminate the stress of wondering where to surf, or wasted time heading to the wrong places. You get the benefit of local knowledge from experienced surf coaches who will search out the best spots on the day based on crowds and surf conditions. Plus the added bonus that everything else is taken care of for you; just relax and throw yourself into surf life. Sweet!

Most camps will provide all meals and accommodation, as well as transport to and from the waves. Equipment can also be provided so you don’t have to worry about travelling with a board.

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at either. Whether you’re a total beginner or you’ve been shredding your whole life, a camp will make sure you get something to suit you, and give you the coaching that will push your surfing to the next level.

 

3 of the best surf camp locations in Australia

There are thousands of surf spots around the country, so where should you hit the waves? To help you narrow it down, here are three of our favourite surf camp locations, and the reasons why we love them:

Byron Bay

It’s been hailed as one of the best places on earth to live and surf. Famed for its stunning beaches, warm water, consistent waves, and buzzing nightlife, what really makes Bryon special for us, is its laid back vibe and epic choice of surf breaks.

Main Beach and Clarkes Beach are perfect for beginners, while more advanced surfers will love The Pass, one of the best surf spots in Australia, and nearby Lennox Point; the world famous point break.

Check out Mojosurf who offer a range of options starting from 2 days all inclusive, right through to multi-location camps where you can hit up several areas on the same trip.

 

Spot X

Set off the beaten track between Sydney and Byron Bay in one of the country’s most beautiful national marine parks, Spot X is dedicated to the surfer lifestyle. Its secluded location means that days in the sun and nights by the camp fire are the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the surf lifestyle.

What really sets it apart from other surf camp locations, is that the accommodation is right on the beachfront. Wake up to the sound of the ocean, roll out of bed, and hit the waves. Life doesn’t get much better.

Awesome waves and variety of breaks means that Spot X is perfect for both beginners and intermediate to advanced surfers.

Mojosurf include Spot X in their Sydney to Byron surf adventures. Options start from 5 days and are all inclusive.

 

Yamba

About an hour and a half south of Byron, you’ll find Yamba; another stunning, super-chilled Aussie beach town with heaps of awesome surf breaks.

What we love about surfing here is that it’s probably one of the least crowded spots on the East Coast. It’s also one of the areas where you’ll have the best chance of scoring a session with dolphins swimming through the lineup.

Surf Camp Down Under offer a 3 night surf and stay package which includes the essentials of accommodation and surf tuition.

 

Alternatives to a surf camp

Depending on your travel plans, and how your budget is looking, a surf camp may not be the right choice for you. Here are a couple of other options to get you enjoying some perfect Aussie waves, without having to figure it out alone.

Day trips

Take a full or half day trip with one of the local surf schools and hit the road to find the spot with the best conditions on the day. You’ll benefit from a coached session with an experienced, qualified instructor, plus all the equipment you need. Some even take a photographer along to capture the fun.

Check out Mojosurf and Stoked Surf School who both offer half day trips from Byron Bay including surf instruction and equipment.

Surf tours

If you are planning to travel up or down the East coast of Australia, a surf tour is a cost effective way of covering the ground, while enjoying the fun of a surf camp en-route.

Mojosurf run 5, 7 and 10 day camps that take you between Sydney and Byron in either direction, stopping at the famous Spot X along the way.

We’re stoked to introduce you to Australias newest hop on, hop off bus network – Stray Australia!

If you’ve been doing your research on the best way to travel around Australia we’re sure you’ve heard of Loka Travel by now – their range of flexible, semi guided bus passes covering Sydney to Cairns have been a huge hit and their unique stops make it the perfect option for those looking to explore off the beaten track.

And they’re now getting even bigger and better – merging with Stray Travel (who have a range of epic travel passes in New Zealand and South East Asia) to become Stray Australia!

So here’s the lowdown on what’s going on…

 

Stray Australia – New Name, Same Epic Australia Travel Passes

For the moment the only major change is the name and as of 1st October 2018 Loka Travel will officially become Stray Australia.

That means all the amazing passes will stay the same – including all their amazing unique stops like Barrington Tops and Great Keppel Island.

Basically they will still have all the amazing things we love about Loka, just with a shiny new logo!

So whether you want to travel form Sydney to Cairns, Cairns to Sydney or even just Sydney to Byron Bay they’ve got you covered.

And of course we’re sure they have even more incredible adventures in the pipeline too, so watch this space!

 

 

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It seems everyone has been super stoked with the Greyhound WHIMit passes (they’re certainly our customers bus pass of choice in Australia now!) so we’re excited to announce that Greyhound have now launched two WHIMit package deals!

These package together the flexible hop on, hop off bus passes (with unlimited travel across the Greyhound network) with up to 28 nights of accommodation at YHA Australia, Base or Nomads hostels – making them incredible value for money!

 

Introducing the new Greyhound WHIMit and Accomodation package deals!

WHIMit + YHA Australia

greyhound whimit yha australia packageWith over 70 hostels all across Australia from amazing views over Sydney Opera House or the epic vibes of YHA Yamba to the rugged red dirt of Alice Springs in the out back  or Darwin in the Northern Territory – YHA Australia is the perfect option for those who want something a bit more chilled, clean and comfortable.

All the YHA hostels are geared up with kitchens, wifi, common room and some even come with pools to chill out in.

We’d recommend these to anyone who wants something a little more flashpacker and chilled.

Check out the full range of WHIMit YHA Packages here.

 

WHIMit + Base/Nomads

greyhound whimit base nomads australia packageIf you’re looking for a more social and party orientated hostel experience in Australia then the Base and Nomads hostel packages `re the way to go!

With epic central locations across all the top destinations on the East Coast trail you’ll meet plenty of backpacker buddies from across the globe at these hostels – including the famous Arts Factory in Byron Bay, as seen on the Inbetweens 2 Movie!

The added bonus of the Base and Nomads packages is an uncapped amount of nights at each hostel – so you can use your discounted bed hopper pass to its full potential.

Check out the full range of WHIMit Base/Nomads Packages here.

 

Travel Australia For Less!

So if you’re looking for the best way to travel Australia for less these Greyhound WHIMit and accommodation packages are the perfect choice for those wanting total flexibility.

And of course you can bundle them together with any other open dates trips and tours (like Fraser Island or the Whitsundays) in a custom discounted package deal to get even more for your money.

Chat to our travel experts and we’ll put together your perfect Australia adventure!

Melbourne is any traveller’s best choice for a good time and Melbourne is one of the best places to start your working holiday visa too. Otherwise known as Australia’s cultural centre and most liveable city, Melbourne welcomes travellers and backpackers from across the globe to partake in the celebration of culture.

With its abundance of cafes, galleries, boutiques, street art and performances, and public green spaces, it’s almost like Melbourne is tempting you to throw away your itinerary and simply explore.

 

A Traveller’s Guide to Melbourne

First things first, how do I get there?

If you’re coming from another country, you’re very likely to find a direct flight to Melbourne.

If you’re coming from Sydney, most would recommend opting for a flight as it’s the fastest route between the too. However you can jump on the Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne or also include Melbourne as one of your stops on the Greyhound WHIMit Pass too.

 

When is the best time to visit Melbourne?

The southern parts of Australia have a temperate climate, so Melbourne weather remains fairly pleasant throughout the year. The hottest it can get is around 70°F (or 21°C) in January, while temperatures drop to 50°F (10°C) in the winter (July).  

You might, however, want to avoid the peak seasons, such as Christmas break, as accommodation prices go up and availability goes down. Sporting fans also fill up hotels during the Australian Open Grand Slam every January and the famous Formula 1 Australia Grand Prix in March.

 

Where’s the best place to stay in Melbourne?

If you’re looking to stay in a hotel, a double room for 2 begins at 120 AUD per night and many offer free breakfast during your stay. In the centre of the city, you’ll find doubles starting at around 200 AUD per night.

With Airbnb, you could find a shared room in a home for around 30 AUD. Whole apartments may cost around 100 AUD, but you’ll get the comfort of space and privacy.

There are also plenty of hostels to choose from in Melbourne. Dorms housing 8-10 people may cost around 25 AUD, which is great if you’re on a budget trip. Here are some of the best hostels in Melbourne:

  • Base St. Kilda in Melbourne
  • United Backpackers
  • Urban Central
  • The Nunnery

If you can’t afford it, you can ask to work for your bed. Many hostels allow travellers to pay for their bed by spending a few hours a day cleaning. Keep this in mind should you find yourself in a tight spot.

You could also try Couchsurf, which connects you to more than 57,000 trusted hosts willing to house you for your stay. This would also be a great chance to interact with locals and have them show you around.

 

How do I get around Melbourne?

From the get-go, you’ll need around 36 AUD to get to and from the airport via Skybus.

If you plan on exploring around the inner-city area or the Central Business District, you can take the free city circle tram, which runs from 10AM to 4PM.

For trains, you’ll need to get a Myki card that costs 6 AUD to get around. A Myki trip costs around 2.70 to 4 AUD and gives you unlimited travel within a particular zone for 2 hours.

And of course, there’s Uber, which is much cheaper than taking a cab.

 

What’s there to do in Melbourne?

 

  • Explore the hidden gems of Melbourne

 

Melbourne has a multitude of hidden alleyways with antique coffee shops, galleries, arcades and boutiques, all waiting to be explored.

Hosier Lane is a well-loved alleyway famous for its vibrant and colourful graffiti art. If you’re a fan of the 19th century, then head to Degraves Street where you’ll find elegant cafes and arcades.

Along the General Post Office by Elizabeth Street, you’ll also find plenty of talented musicians busking and performing for free.

 

  • Grab a coffee

 

Melbourne is well-known for its obsession with coffee, so be sure to try as many cups of joe as you can while you’re there. They say Degraves Street is where you can find the best coffee in the city.

 

  • Get a taste of Melbourne by joining a free walking tour

 

In just a few hours, you could get years’ worth of knowledge about the essential must-sees of Melbourne for free. How? Join I’m Free Walking Tours’ daily tours around the city.

Their walking tour will take you through Federation Square, State Library of Victoria, the Carlton Gardens, Chinatown and so much more. And should a certain place strike your fancy, you could always return to explore more afterwards.

 

  • Indulge the artist in you

 

You could honestly spend a whole week in Melbourne just visiting their museums and galleries.

  • Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) – For fans of film and the visual arts
  • National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) – Australia’s most visited art museum
  • Ian Potter Centre – Australian history and Aboriginal art

 

  • Explore the public markets

 

Visit the Queen Victoria Market and have fun trying local and international delicacies. You could also visit Chelsea Market which offers everything from fresh produce to handmade products.

 

  • Take a nature break at the Royal Botanical Gardens

 

Escape the urban jungle and find refuge at the Royal Botanical Gardens. This haven within the city is the perfect place to take a stroll and watch the world go by.

 

  • Watch the sunset at the beach

 

Just 20 minutes from the city, St. Kilda is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. You can also take a refreshing dip in the water. And if you’re looking for Melbourne’s nightlife, St. Kilda is definitely where it’s at.

  • Start your working holiday visa

With so much to see and do it’s now wonder why starting your working holiday visa in Melbourne is so popular! With a range of jobs, plenty of suburbs to live in and flight connection all over Australia and the world it’s a great base to kickstart your Aussie trip. And if you want to get off to the best possible start check out our Melbourne working holiday visa packages!

 

Click here to check out all our Melbourne tours

 

How much does food usually cost?

Eating out in Australia is actually quite expensive, but lucky for you, Melbourne is the best city to find good and cheap food in the country. You can find good take-out food for 8 AUD, while sit-down restaurants will cost you less than 14 AUD.

If you prefer eating at home, a week’s worth of groceries may range from 65 AUD to 100 AUD.

Broadsheet and Timeout have listed down the best cheap eats you can find in the city.

 

Any must-know information before visiting Australia?

  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Exchange Rate: 1 AUD = 0.74 USD
  • Electric socket: Type 1 (3 prongs, V-shaped)
  • Know some Australian slang.
  • Wear sunblock as Australia’s sun is particularly harsh.
  • Be careful where you light your cigarette as smoking is banned in most indoor and public spaces.
  • Internet isn’t available everywhere, so get your own hotspot.
  • Cars drive on the left side of the road.
  • Rentals are listed as $ per week not month.
  • It isn’t customary to tip service workers.

Melbourne isn’t called the ‘world’s most liveable city’ for nothing. With a thriving art scene, wide variety of cuisines, vibrant nightlife, never-ending list of things to do, and of course, its welcoming residents, Melbourne is the kind of city you’ll never want to leave.

About The Author: Cal Bailey runs www.mountainleon.com – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, make sure you read hist latest post on choosing a sleeping bag.

Greyhound Bus Passes are the most popular option for travelling around Australia – especially the East Coast of Australia.

From the hop on, hop off bus passes covering Sydney to Cairns and other popular routes to the flexible KM passes their comfortable buses (which also include USB charging ports for your phone and wifi) and multiple daily departures the Greyhound bus is the most convenient way to explore Australia.

So we’re super stoked to introduce the latest Greyhound bus pass option – the WHIMit bus pass!

 

WHIMit Bus Pass – Unlimited Travel In Australia

The Greyhound WHIMit bus passes are designed for travellers who want the ultimate in flexibility for their Australia travel plans – which is why they all included unlimited travel in Australia!

greyhound travel passes hop on hop off km austraia oz epic gap year-2Yup, you heard that right – the WHIMit bus passes included UNLIMITED travel across the whole Greyhound Bus network – which includes the East Coast and even the Red Centre!

And yes that also includes backtracking too!

So if you loved your stay in Byron Bay and have headed north and realised you dont like Brisbane so much you can bounce back to Byron on the same pass no worries.

It also means you can fly between destinations and pickup continue your travel overland on the same pass too

The only restriction is your time frame – and the passes range from 7 days to a whole year so there’s plenty of options for people hitting tup Australia for a quick trip or a full working holiday visa.

 

WHIMit Bus Passses – The Cost And Options

So what are the new options with the Greyhound WHIMit Passes?

greyhound whimit bus pass australia east coast unlimited travel

 

As you can see there’s a good variety of options to choose from and the 45 Day option is actually now the most cost effective add on to most of our East Coast Package Deals – just $5 more than the standard hop on, hop off pass but with the added advantage of being able to backtrack, ideal for those on tour only packages.

**UPDATE**

Greyhound have now also launched the WHIMit and YHA Australia Package and WHIMit and Base Hostel Package – bundling up to 28 nights of accommodation with you pass for even more value!

 

Click here to book your Greyhound WHIMit Pass

Click here to check out our full range of Australia Travel Passes

 

Xmas is fast approaching and if you’re loved one is destined for a life on the road soon they can be a nightmare to shop for.

Space is at a premium so deciding what they’ll love and what they’ll leave at home is a tough call!

Luckily for you though we’ve compiled our teams favourite travel gifts – so whatever your traveller loves you’ll be able to get them the perfect present.

 

10 Epic Gift Ideas For Travellers This Xmas

GoPro

Ok admittedly this isn’t the cheapest item on the list – but if you really want to go all out for xmas a GoPro is one of the best gifts for travellers!

Waterproof, rugged and able to capture some incredible images on the road – it’s something they’ll be able to capture their entire adventure with!

If you want the best of the best the new GoPro Hero 6 is the top end, but the GoPro Hero 5 is almost as good and will save you a chunk of change too!

If you don’t have heaps of cash to splash or they simply don’t need all the functionality of the high end GoPro range the Gopro Hero 5 Session is still a greta option and nearly half the price!

If they already have a GoPro then there are heaps of accessories too – with the GoPro Supersuit Housing and red dive filter being our top pick for anyone into scuba diving!

 

Travel Insurance

Ugghhhhh yeah we know…this one sounds pretty boring hey? But travel insurance is essential these days and is the perfect way to show you care!

We personally recommend the guys at World Nomads who all of our team insure themselves with and they cover a huge range of activities. Best of all you can insure them AFTER they’ve left for their trip too.

So if you’re panicking that they’re currently bungy jumping through New Zealand without insurance you can get them covered!

Check out our travel insurance page for more info and to get a quick quote.

 

The Gift Of Travel!

Ok so we’re hugely bias towards this one!

But seriously what better gift to give some who loves to travel than travel itself? All of the trips on RTW Backpackers can be booked as a gift for someone else and best of all we can do that open dated for you too – meaning they can lock in their travel dates when it suits them.

Perfect!

Whether it’s a half day surf lesson or kayaking with dolphins through to a full open water dive course in Thailand or a bus pass in New Zealand we’ve got something for everyone…and more importantly for every budget too!

And if you aren’t quite sure what they want to do, or want to help them out with purchasing that epic East Coast Package then we also have gift cards starting at just $25.

 

Scratch Map

Help your travel buddy keep track of all their amazing adventures with a scratch map – an awesome visual way to see where they’ve been and how many adventures they still have to go!

From full size wall ones to mini travel editions it’s a great stocking filler and always well received!

 

Something For Their Passion

If you know this traveller well then something that reflect their passion is always a great way to go at xmas!

From a few block of sex wax for the avid surfer to a Girls That Scuba mask strap or even a shark themed phone case from the scuba diver in your life there’s plenty of budget friendly options packed full of love!

 

Travel Essentials

Looking for some stocking fillers for your traveller? Well you can’t go wrong with the travel essentials!

They might not be the most exciting, but they’re certainly the most useful – with items like Mozzie spray, first aid kits, padlocks, micro fibre towels, suncream and all those little things you ALWAYS forget to pack…there’s so much to choose from!

 

A Good Set Of Headphones

When it comes to long haul flights, overnight buses and island hopping ferries a good set of headphones definitely help make life on the road a bit easier!

And if you have a bit more cash to splash on your favourite traveller the Sennheiser PXC 550s  are pretty incredible – with up to 30 hours of battery life and noise cancellation features they really do upgrade your adventures to first class! Check out a full hands on review of the PXC 550s here if you don’t believe us!

 

A Drone!

Ok ok, so this is a pretty high end gift – but if you really want to help them capture the adventure a drone is the latest must have travel accessory!

For those really into their filming and photography The DJI Mavic Pro is still the top pick for travel drones, with its’ compact size and boasting some seriously high specs without taking up heaps of space.

Or for those getting their first drone the DJI Spark is super easy to fly and most importantly crazy small! It’s also one of the best value drones on the market right now – half the price of the Mavic!

 

Powerpack

With all this travel technology you’re going to want to make sure they can keep everything charged on the road – and a solid portable charger is an amazing gift for anyone who is bouncing around the globe.

The Anker Powercore 10,000 is super small and can still juice up your smartphone 3 times off a single charge – perfect for life on the road.

 

A Backpack

If they’re heading off on their first adventure soon then a backpack is one of the most essential items they’ll be needing.

Personally we always recommend the Osprey Farpoint which is the perfect size, super comfortable and most importantly super hard wearing – check out a hands on review of the Osprey Farpoint here.

If it’s just hand luggage they need or the perfect carry on only adventure pack then then Slicks hand luggage backpack is a no brainer. It’s not the cheapest but it’s certainly one of the best and most reliable.

 

And there you have it – 10 amazing gift ideas for every traveller this xmas! So no matter what they love, where they’re heading or how much you have to spend you can make sure the traveller in your life is smiling this xmas!

 

 

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular backpacker routes in the world and for good reason – there’s just so much to see and do!

But figuring out how to travel the East Coast of Australia can be a tough one as there’s the factors of time frame, budget and flexibility to consider.

So to help you plan your trip to Australia we’ve decided to compare two of the most popular options for travelling the East Coast – Premier Bus Passes and Greyhound Bus Passes – so you can decide which is the best fit for you…

 

Premier Bus Pass Australia or Greyhound Bus Pass Australia – Which Is Better?

Both Premier and Greyhound offer the popular hop on, hop off bus passes which are the most affordable and flexible ways to travel along the East Coast of Australia – allowing you to plan your trip online, change bus dates if needed and have all your bus travel sorted in one easy pass.

The only thing you need to keep in mind through is these passes is that you can only travel in a single direction (so no backtracking) however Greyhound also offer a KM Pass which is slightly pricier but does allow you to backtrack if needed.

 

premier bus pass sydney cairns australia east coast

Premier Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Sydney > Cairns – $350

Byron Bay > Cairns – $270

Brisbane > Cairns – $250

Valid For; 6 months

 

Greyhound Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Melbourne > Cairns – $549

Sydney > Cairns – $445

Brisbane > Cairns (includes free return to Byron Bay) – $350

KM Passes (from 1000kms) – from $199

Valid For; 3 months (Hop On, Hop Off Passes) but extendable to 6 months or 12 months for KM Passes

 

So What’s The Difference Between Premier Bus and Greyhound Bus?

Apart form the price the main difference between Premier and Greyhound is the departures. Premier only offer a single departure per day whereas on most routes the Greyhound Bus Pass will have multiple options to choose from.

For those travelling in low season this wont be a huge deal but in peak season (especially xmas and new year) the multiple options on Greyhound can be a huge lifesaver, especially for those less organised and booking last minute!

Generally speaking the Greyhound Buses are much newer and even boast phone charging points and free wifi (although it’s limited to signal strength and is pretty slow!) – so if you’re looking for comfort then Greyhound often wins out.

The other key things to keep in mind is that Premier only run Sydney to Cairns (or the other way around) whereas Greyhound also runs from/to Melbourne as well. Sure you can also bolt a single Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne onto a Premier Pass, but for convenience it’s something to keep in mind

 

Which Is Better – Premier Bus Pass or Greyhound Bus Pass?

For Budget – If budget is your main concern then the Premier Bus Pass is the cheapest way to cover the East Coast

For Ease Of Use – both options are easily managed online and you can change your travel dates through this system.

For Flexibility – Greyhound is more flexible, with multiple departure per day and the Greyhound KM Passes also allow you to backtrack and is also well worth checking out if you’re grabbing internal flights too.

 

Did you go with Premier or Greyhound?

How do you rate them?

RTW Backpackers are stoked to announce that we’re now part of 1% For The Planet – a global collective of businesses giving back to some amazing charities and non profits all over the world fighting for a variety of causes and goals.

By joining them we’ve pledged to give 1% of our total sales and in RTWs case this is going to the guys at Sea Shepherd – an organisation we always love to support.

We’ve had a few questions about what this all means, so we thought we’d help explain what joining 1% For The Planet means…

 

What Does It Mean For Me – The Customer?

First off we’re happy to tell you that this doesn’t add anything to the price of any of our awesome travel adventures!

So don’t worry about that!

But it does mean every time you book anything on the site you can have a nice warm feeling inside knowing that as well as having an amazing adventure, you’ll also be helping make the planet a better place

…consider it a good bit of karma!

 

Who Are Sea Shepherd?

If you haven’t already heard of Sea Shepherd you should certainly check them out!

Set up by the co founder of Greenpeace, Captain Paul Watson wanted to create an organisation that upheld international law on the worlds oceans where governments has failed – even if that meant implementing more direct action into their campaigns.

From the dolphin slaughter in Japan to the whaling vessels in the Antarctic to shark finning in the Galapagos – Sea Shepherd have a huge variety of campaigns to save to the worlds oceans and raise awareness.

All the RTW crew have been long term supporters of Sea Shepherd and the amazing work they do across the globe, so when we joined 1% For The Planet we didn’t hesitate to nominate them for our contribution!

If you want to learn more about 1% For The Planet or even sign up your business to join them check out their site at https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org

If you’re looking for the best Sydney to Cairns tour packages then we have you covered. Our travel team have been hard at work putting together a huge range of East Coast Package deals to help you make the most of your time in Australia.

All based on personal experience and our own recommendations we’ve pulled out the best suppliers, the most fun hostels and the most budget friendly options so that you can enjoy everything that Australia has to offer at a discounted price.

Because lets face it – you’re a backpacker and backpackers love to save money, it’s half the fun of the lifestyle!

So here are our best Sydney to Cairns Tour Packages – so you have a bit more cash in your pocket but still a camera packed full of incredible memories…

 

Our Guide To The Best Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages For All Budgets And Styles

And of course all the below can also be booked in reverse from Cairns to Sydney or extended to include Melbourne too!

 

The Ultimate Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages

For those who want to make the most of the East Coast on a month long trip and want to include pretty much everything you’d want to do our Ultimate East Coast Package combines all the best hostels, day trips and tours;

Of course there’s still room to customise it slightly and bundle in even more incredible activities – but that’s the perfect place to start to any East Coast adventure!

Click here for more info on our Ultimate Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

 

Budget Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

Want to complete the East Coast of Australia but also want a budget Sydney to Cairns tour package? Well no worries, we can help out with that!

Our East Coast Australia Budget Essentials Package ticks off all the main must do activities on the East Coast of Australia – whilst still keeping it budget friendly and includes the following;

By including a day trip to the Whitsundays and Fraser Island instead of overnight tours the overall price is brought right down – giving you more budget towards other activities, food, or of course partying!

And of course you can book it all open dated or add in accommodation as well.

We then recommend opting for the Premier Bus Pass add on if you’re looking for the most budget friendly transport option to pair with it.

Check out our Budget Essentials Sydney to Cairns Tour Package here.

tongarra whitsundays sailing adventure airlie beach east coast australia

 

The Most Flexible Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

If you want to keep your Australia travel plans as flexible as possible then it’s still possible to get al the benefits of a discounted package deal, but without having to lock in your dates.

Booking your main trips and tours open dated and in one package allows you to save heaps, but still allows you to stay fluid with your travel plans.

Whether you choose to just combine the main bucket list items like Fraser Island, The Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef of bundle in other extra trips like surf lessons, Cape Tribulation or dolphin kayaking kayaking is up to you – but the more you combine the better the savings will be.

Our East Coast Australia Essentials Package includes the following;

The main thing to keep in mind with open dates tours though is everything is subject to availability – so you’ll want to lock in your dates at least 7-14 days in advance, especially during high season. Fraser Island and the Whitsundays are the most important ones to lock in ASAP.

If you don’t want to go fully open dated and have a rough idea of your plans you could also just pick a few key tours to lock in the dates for. Excluding accommodation then allows you to make changes to your plans, but still use your main dates as a way of structuring out your East Coast travels.

Our East Coast Australia Essentials Package contains all the major trips and tours on the East Coast – so click here for more info.

australia east coast packages travel agency raw backpackers whitsundays sailing

 

Custom Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages

Of course there is no one size fits all when it comes to travelling and the above options might not quite fit what you wanted to do – whether that’s the activities, time frames or budget.

So we’ve also created our own East Coast Custom Package Builder so you can get a fully tailored Sydney to Cairns Tour Package!

Simply select your travel dates, destinations and the main activities and tours you’d like to include and we’ll do all the hard work piecing it together. And of course if there are any specific hostels, Whitsundays Boats or day trips you’d like to include let us know and we’ll make it happen!

Click here to build your own custom East Coast Package deal

open water dive course live aboard great barrier reef cairns australia

 

The Backpacker Banter East Coast Tour Package

We love our travel blogger buddies – and who better to put together an epic East Coast Package than award winning blogger Chris from Backpacker Banter?

He’s travelled all over Australia, lived in Byron Bay for a few years and knows the East Coast like the back of his hand – so we asked him how he’d spend a perfect month in Oz and this is what he put together;

  • 3 nights at Wake Up Sydney
  • 2 nights at Yamba YHA
  • Shanes Famous Yamba Tour
  • 3 nights at Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay
  • Half day surf lesson in Byron Bay with Mojo Surf
  • Dolphin kayaking in Byron Bay
  • 2 nights at Nomads Central in Brisbane
  • 2 nights at Nomads in Noosa
  • 2 nights at Pippies in Rainbow Beach
  • 3 Day/2 Night Fraser Island tag along tour with Pippies on Fraser (All Inclusive)
  • 3 nights at Beaches in Airlie Beach
  • 2 Day/2 Night  Whitsundays Sailing Adventure on Tongarra
  • 2 Night Magnetic Island Escape with Base Magnetic Island (inc return ferry transfers)
  • 2 nights at Absolute Backpackers in Mission Beach
  • 14,foot skydive in Mission Beach with Skydive Australia
  • 3 nights at Gilligans in Cairns
  • Cape Tribulation day trip with Uncle Brians
  • Great Barrier Reef Day Trip with Deep Sea Divers Den (Inc an Intro Scuba Dive)

Not a bad way to spend a month in Australia hey?

Click here for more info and to book your trip

cairns package deal australia great barrier reef east coast backpacker

 

Price Beat Guarantee!

Found an awesome Sydney to Cairns tour package elsewhere? Seen a special offer which works out cheaper?

Well forward the details and itinerary through to hello@rtwbackpackers.com and our team will happily beat the price for you!

We want to make sure you have the best time possible on the East Coast of Australia and know how valuable every dollar saved can be (it all goes into the goon fund after all!) so we’ll go out of our way to get the perfect package for you at the bets possible price.

And of course if you guys have any questions about any of our packages, general travel advice or tips get in touch and our travel experts will be happy to help.

 

Have you travelled the East Coast of Australia?

What would be your recommendations for a Sydney to Cairns tour package?

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most famous natural wonders of the world and this huge natural structure running down the East Coast of Australia can even be seen from space!

So if you’re looking to experience the best of what The Great Barrier Reef has to offer then here are our favourite ways to enjoy it from Cairns, in Northern Queensland and our round up of the best Great Barrier Reef Tours

 

What’s The Best Way To Experience The Great Barrier Reef?

Best Great Barrier Reef Day Trips

By far the most popular way to experience the reef is a Great Barrier Reef day trip – which run out of Cairns daily (weather permitting!) and these are the best choice for those on a limited time frame but also those looking for a budget friendly way to check out the barrier reef too.

Our personal favourite for is a Great Barrier Reef day trip with the Deep Sea Divers Den – with their snorkel package coming in at $120AUD, which is great value for money. You’ll kick back on their beautiful and spacious boat, enjoy unlimited snorkelling at a variety of dive sites and feast on their lunchtime buffet.

If you’re looking for something even more memorable and have a bit of extra budget to play with then the “Get High & Dive Package” is the way to go. This epic day trip includes unlimited snorkelling, an introductory scuba dive and even a scenic helicopter flight back to Cairns – it doesn’t get much more action packed than that!

down under cruise and dive barrier reef scenic flight day trip cairns australia

 

Best Great Barrier Reef Scuba Dive Trips

For anyone interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef holds heaps of appeal. For experienced divers it’s a huge bucket list tick and it’s also the ideal place to try scuba diving for the first time with an introductory scuba dive.

Again our pick of the bunch is with Deep Sea Divers Den who have a great range of dive moorings to choose from, a friendly crew and even an underwater photographer who’ll help snap your next Facebook profile picture next to Nemo!

Their dive trips include all gear, however we strongly recommend paying the extra for a dive guide – you’ll get even more out of your time underwater.

For those looking for an introductory scuba dive their crew of experienced and certified instructors will teach you all the basics needed to be safe under the ocean and guide you around. With a max depth of 12m it’s the perfect way to test out if scuba diving is for you and discover some of the amazing marine life that calls this part of Australia home.

cairns package deal australia great barrier reef east coast backpacker

 

Learn To Scuba Dive On The Great Barrier Reef & Cairns

And of course if scuba diving is something you’re really keen on why not learn to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and do your open water dive course in Cairns?

For those on a tighter budget you can complete your course based out of Cairns which takes 4 days and includes 2 day trips out the reef.

But if you want to go all out why not combine it with a 1 or 2 night Barrier Reef live aboard and spend a couple of nights on the reef?

Either way you’ll work your way through the theory lessons, written exam and pool skills before putting your knowledge into practice with the open water modules – on successful completion you’ll be a fully certified open water scuba diver with a world recognised certification!

Yewwwwww!

great barrier reef open water advanced dive course live aboard australia cairns

 

Liveaboard On The Great Barrier Reef

For those already certified scuba divers and wanting to make the most of their time in Cairns a Great Barrier Reef Dive Liveaboard is the ultimate option – allowing you to squeeze in even more dives and even some night diving too.

Trust us, jumping into the water with a torch and surrounded by reef sharks is something you’ll never forget for all the right reasons!

If you’re really serious about diving and have the budget then a longer trip out to the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs is well worth the splash (pun intended!) where you’ll discover pristine dive sites, less crowds and a whole array of incredible marine life – including the famous Giant Potato Cod.

open water dive course live aboard great barrier reef cairns australia

 

Scenic Flight Over The Great Barrier Reef

Don’t fancy getting wet or want to check out the Great Barrier Reef from a different perspective? Well a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef will pack your camera full of incredible photos and give you a whole new appreciation of the vast size of this natural wonder.

From a quick scenic helicopter flight to a a longer scenic aeroplane flight there are a number of options for all time frames and budgets.

Keep your eyes peeled for manta rays cruising along the currents, turtles chilling on the reefs and of course the annual whale migration too.

 

Skydive Over The Great Barrier Reef

If you like your day trips with a bit more adrenaline then why not take in views across the reef from a skydive at Mission Beach?

Available as a day trip from Cairns or of course from Mission Beach itself, it’s the most popular jump zone in Australia for a reason!

With a guaranteed beach landing and stunning views across the coastline, ocean and reef this is certainly one of our favourite bucket list items that the East Coast has to offer!

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns

 

How are you planning to experience the Great Barrier Reef?

Which option would you recommend?

Looking for some awesome Australia travel deals? How about saving a HUGE 10% off the famous Oz Experience bus passes and travel packages?

Well luckily for you if you book ANY Oz Experience Pass or Package before Oct 2nd you’ll nab some amazing savings and even the opportunity to get a FREE Great Barrier Reef trip bundled in too!

 

10% Off ALL Oz Experience Sale!

Yup that’s right, ALL Oz Experience Passes are now 10% off until Oct 2nd – so you can travel the East Coast of Australia for less!

So whether you want to travel Sydney to Cairns, Brisbane to Cairns, Melbourne to Cairns or the other way around you can now lock in heaps of savings…money you can spend enjoying even more of what Australia has to offer!

Check out the Cruiser Plus for the most popular Oz Experience Package deal – which includes heaps of awesome activities as well as your transport from Sydney to Cairns.

Just use the promo code OZSEP17 at checkout!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK

 

FREE Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Trip!

As an added bonus if you book any Oz Experience Strewth, Bruce Cobber or Skippy package we’ll also bundle in a FREE Great Barrier Reef snorkel trip – once of Australias top bucket list items!

Jumping on board the amazing Evolution Boat you’ll swim in clear, warm waters, check out the stunning coral gardens and even have the opportunity to go and find Nemo – it’s one of the top activities in Australia for a reason!

To score this added upgrade you need to make sure you book before 31st August and use the code OZSEP17.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK

 

And of course if the Oz Experience isn’t for you check out our range of East Coast Package deals and our East Coast Custom Package Creator to make the most of everything Australia has to offer!

The East Coast of Australia is packed full of incredible destinations and activities so planning your trip to Australia can be pretty tough!

However to help make sure you don’t miss out on the best bits here are 15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities that you should definitely fit into your travel plans!

 

15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities

Learn To Surf

Australia and surfing go hand in hand – so whilst you’re travelling Australia there’s no excuse not to give it a try! Whether you just opt for a half day surf lesson in Byron Bay or go all out with a Mojo Surf Trip up the coast from Sydney or a full blown surf camp in Yamba make sure you get amongst the waves, throw some shakkas and feel the stoke!

yamba surf camp down under 7 day 30 day byron bay learn to surf
Surfing In Yamba

 

Sail The Whitsunday Islands

One of the most popular East Coast Australia must do activities – sailing on the Whitsundays is something you’ll never forget! Snorkel the beautiful reefs and soak up the stunning views from the Hill Inlet Lookout over Whitehaven Beach – whether you just head out on a Whitsundays day trip or jump on board an overnight Whitsundays sailing adventure this slice of Oz will pack your camera full of amazing pictures!

 

Cruise Around Fraser Island

Along with the Whitsundays, Fraser Island is the other East Coast Australia must do!

Cruise around the worlds largest sand island exploring spots like the world famous Lake Mackenzie, Indian Head Lookout and the Maheno Shipwreck.

For the most adventure a 3 day Fraser Island Camping Safari is the way to go but there are days trips and Fraser Island hostel option too.

nomads fraser island tour 2 days rainbow beach noosa australia east coast
Cruising Around Fraser Island

 

Explore Magnetic Island

One of the most under rated stops on the East Coast, Magnetic Island is somewhere that should easily make your East Coast Australia must do list. Situated just off the coast of Townsville this amazing little island is best explored by “Barbie Car or Mote” and it’s only around 30 mins from one side of the island to the other!

Snorkel amazing beaches, take in sunset from epic lookout points, spot wild koalas or even party at the monthly Full Moon Party.

Grab one of our Magnetic Island Package deals for the easiest way to explore the island, which include return ferry transfers, accommodation, snorkel hire, welcome drink and even a koala cuddle at the Bungalow Bay YHA!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Australia is complete without a visit the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and this epic natural wonder should be one of your top stops on the East Coast.

Cairns is the main base for a lot of Great Barrier Reef day trips but if you’re looking for less travel time and less busy snorkel spots then check out the Great Barrier Reef Trips from Mission Beach too.

For those on a budget the snorkel trips are the best value for ticking the Barrier Reef off your bucket list – but it’s also the perfect place for an Introductory Scuba dive or you can even complete your full open water dive course in Cairns too!

mission beach dive great barrier reef snorkel intro dive tour australia backpacker
Check Out The Barrier Reef

 

Scuba Dive

And talking of scuba diving, the warm tropical waters of Australia are the ideal place to give it a go for the first time – with plenty of options for introductory scuba dives or full scuba dive courses too.

And of course there are a huge array of dive sites and locations for those more experienced scuba divers as well.

Our two favourite spots for scuba diving have to be Byron Bay and The Great Barrier Reef though – with both locations offers heaps of marine life for all levels of diver.

 

Kayak with Dolphins

Everyone loves dolphins right?! Well why not hit the water and kayak alongside them in Byron Bay? This is one of the top spots in Australia for dolphin spotting and combined with a picturesque paddle around the stunning beaches of the area and an ocean view of the famous lighthouse this is certainly an East Coast Australia must do – and best of all it wont break your budget either!

 

Whale Watching (June – October)

If you’re travelling the East Coast of Australia during June to October you’ll be lucky enough to have the chance to witness the annual Humpback whale migration – with these gentle giants giving amazing displays all along the coastline.

Hervey Bay and Byron Bay are the best bets for a memorable day whale watching though – but if you’re lucky you’ll also catch them on the Barrier Reef, Whitsundays and Fraser Island too.

whale watching tour byron bay australia east coast
Whale Watching

 

The Great Ocean Road

If you love a good road trip then the Great Ocean Road is certainly and East Coast Australia must do – the stretch of road from Melbourne to Adelaide is one of the best coastal drives in the world!

For the best experience hire a campervan and take at least 3 days to explore it, but if you’re pushed for time or on a budget check out some of the amazing Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne.

 

Grab A Selfie At The Sydney Opera House

No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the world famous Sydney Opera House and this global icon is selfie heaven!

Wander around Circular Quay for some alternative views or grab the ferry across to Manly Beach and grab some snaps from the water.

Of course if you want to splash out and treat yourself you can also check it out from the Sydney Harbour Bridget Climb too!

 

Sunsrise Or Sunset At Byron Lighthouse

Byron Bay is the most Easterly Point of Australia and the lighthouse walk is one of the best free actives that the East Coast has to offer.

Wander long the coastal path past famous surf spots like The Pass and Wategos Beach keeping an eye out for dolphins surfing in the waves along the way.

But for the best experience make sure you make it to the Byron Bay lighthouse for sunrise or sunset – it’s well worth the effort!

 

Skydive

If you want to really get your adrenaline going there’s not much that can beat jumping out of a perfectly good plane and ticking skydiving off your bucket list!

Australia has some epic skydive locations too – with Mission Beach, Airlie Beach and Byron Bay being the top pics, although skydiving Mission Beach is the most popular with amazing views along the coast and a beach landing.

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns
Skydive Mission Beach

 

Chill In The Forest At Cape Tribulation 

The only place in the world where two world heritage sites meet – Cape Tribulation is home to the incredible Daintree Rainforest AND the Great Barrier Reef!

Wander through the forests, spot wild crocodiles and laze around on stunning beaches – whether you choose a Cape Tribulation day trip form Cairns or opt to spend a few nights up there exploring a bit more and indulging in activities like kayaking or jungle surfing it’s worth heading that bit further north for.

 

Swim In A Waterfall

Nothing quite says tropical holiday like a picture swimming in a waterfall does it?!

Well luckily Australia has heaps to choose from and you’ll be spoilt for choice all along the East Coast.

If you want to go all out though a Cairns Waterfall tour through the Atherton Tablelands visits some of the best – including the famous Milla Milla Waterfall which featured in the herbal essences hair flick advert and was even the backdrop for Peter Andres “Mysterious Girl” music video!

 

Meet The Locals

If you travel Australia and don’t take the time to chill with some of the local wildlife you’re doing something wrong – who doesn’t want to kick back with a kangaroo, come eye to eye with a crocodile, kayak with dolphins or cuddle a koala?

Tick them all off the list with a trip to the famous Australia Zoo, or visit less crowded options like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for an up close and personal experience with some of Australia fluffy or scaly residents!

 

Need help planning your Australia trip?

Chat to our travel experts and we’d be happy to help or simply fill out our East Coast Custom Package form and create your perfect trip!

 

Have you explored Australia?

Any other things you’d add to our East Coast Australia Must Do list?

 

Figuring out the best way to travel around New Zealand is tough call – the land of the long white cloud is an incredible place to explore and you want to make sure that you find the best option for you.

By far the most popular ways to travel around New Zealand are the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ buses – both of which offer a variety of hop on, hop off bus passes covering the North Island, South Island or whole country.

Whether you want a short loop around the highlights of Waitomo, Taupo and Rotorua in the North, fancy exploring the famous Queenstown or Milford Sound in the South or want to spend a few months packing in as much NZ goodness as possible there’s something for everyone.

But despite their similarities the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ boast much different personalities – so which is the best way to travel around New Zealand for you?

Kiwi Experience Or Stray NZ – What’s The Best Way To Travel Around New Zealand?

Kiwi Experience Bus Passes

The Kiwi Experience is arguably the most famous of the two backpacker hop on, hop off bus options in New Zealand and their iconic green buses have helped hundreds of thousands of travellers explore NZ.

With heaps of passes to choose from – including north island only, south island only and whole country passes it’s easy to find one that suits your time frame, start location and budget.

Hitting up all the major destinations including the likes of Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo and Franz Josef you’ll get to discover the best of what NZ has to offer.

Best of all is the fact you have 12 months to begin your pass from the date of purchase and then 12 month to complete your route from the first day of travel – so whether you’re heading there for a few weeks or a working holiday visa it’s ideal.

Their full country passes also offer unlimited loops – so you can go again!

Kiwi don’t offer any accommodation inclusive passes (which Stray do) but you’ll benefit from heaps of accommodation deals and a guaranteed bed in each spot.

The Kiwi Experience offers some awesome party vibes throughout – so it’s the perfect option if you want to meet heaps of fellow travellers and enjoy the epic New Zealand night life in each destination…so if you’re looking for a more chilled vibe or are slightly older (25+) then maybe Stray is the better option!

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? Yes

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive passWhole Kit and Caboodle

Best For: 18-25 who like a good party

 

Stray NZ Bus Passes

In terms of setup Stray NZ is very similar to Kiwi Experience – it’s a hop on, hop off format, the passes are valid for 12 months and there are a variety of passes to choose from.

For those who want a more tour like experience Stray NZ also offer a range of Stray Journey Passes which are set travel times and also include accommodation and tours.

For us though the best thing about Stray NZ is they offer some passes covering some more off the beaten track destinations like Whakahora and Te Kaha – allowing you to discover even more of New Zealand.

They also hit up the amazing surf town of Raglan – which is one of our teams favourite places for some chilled vibes and waves.

And of course you won’t miss out on favourites like Kaikoura, Queenstown, Franz Josef and Wanaka either!

Compared to Kiwi Experience Stray NZ offers a more relaxed vibe (don’t worry there’s a good dose of party thrown in!) but it’s certainly more about exploring and experiencing New Zealand that doing shots.

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? No (but you’ll still have heaps of fun!)

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive pass – Stray Everywhere

Best For: early 20’s + who want a more relaxed experience or those looking to discover more alternative destinations.

 

Whichever option you choose – both Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand have some epic sales from time to time, so keep an eye out on our travel deals section for the latest offers and save even more on your New Zealand adventure!

 

Have you travelled New Zealand with Kiwi Experience or Stray NZ?

How did you find it?

Travelling around Australia can be a huge task to organise – Australia is HUGE!

In fact you can fit the whole of Europe inside of it!

And one things we’ve noticed with helping people plan their East Coast Australia trip is that a lot of people underestimate how big Australia actually is and how long it can take to get from place to place.

And with so many awesome places to visit it can become pretty confusing where they all are and how to get between them!

But don’t worry – we’ve put together a handy map which shows all the top destinations in Australia and we’ve even added in the bus travel times to/from the next/previous stop – making it super simple for you to get your bearings and put together your perfect East Coast adventure!

 

Travelling Australia – Distances Between Top Destinations

Here’s our East Coast Australia map covering all the most popular stops between Melbourne and Cairns – including the likes of Byron Bay, Sydney, Rainbow Beach (for Fraser Island) and Airlie Beach (for the Whitsundays).

Just click on the pin to bring up the travel info for the next location up and down the coast – easy as!

 

East Coast Australia Package Deals

If you’re busy planning your backpacking trip to Australia and not sure whee to start check out our East Coast Australia Package Deals for some inspiration and our top travel itineraries!

If you already know where you want to go and what you want to do put all the details in our East Coast Custom Package Creator and our travel experts will put everything together for you and hook you up with some epic discounts!

Finding the best Whitsunday Island tours can be a pretty tough task – there are just so many boats and trips to choose from and plenty of Whitsundays tours to narrow down!

And since sailing on the Whitsundays is such a big Australia bucket list item you’re going to want to make sure you pick the right boat for you – there’s nothing worse than picking the wrong tour and regretting it!

But fear not – our team of awesome travel experts have put together this mini guide of the best Whitsunday Island Tours to help you find your perfect match!

The Best Whitsunday Island Tours

Whitsunday Island Day Trips

If you’re short on time then a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach is the way to go. Sure you won’t get the full experience of an overnight sailing experience, but it’s certainly the way to go if time or money are an issue and you’ll still tick off all the must visit spots like Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach.

Our pick of the day trips is the Ocean Rafting option – as you can choose the Northern Exposure for more snorkel time or Southern Lights for more beach time. It’s an amazing day trip.

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Party Boats

If you’re looking to party hard on the Whitsundays then there are some goon filled options that will suit you perfectly!

The most famous (or should we say infamous?!) is the Atlantic Clipper. This huge boat can accommodate up to 70 travellers and comes with waterslides, diving board and lots of chaos!

If that’s too much chaos for you then the New Horizon or Apollo offer some seriously fun party times but without huge crowds!

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Sailing Boats

If you want to sail the Whitsundays and actually get involved with the sailing side of things  (although many boats will let you get a little involved!) then Derwent Hunter, Solway Lass and New Horizon offer a full tall ship sailing experience where you can get stuck into the pirate life!

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Chilled Boats

If you want goo vibes on your Whitsundays Sailing Adventure but not crazy amounts of partying then Tongarra is our top pick.

With a medium group size and great itinerary this catamaran style boat is a firm favourite for many travellers – ourselves included!

If that’s not your style or is fully booked (it sells out quickly so secure your place in advance!) then Wings and Waltzing Matilda are also good options.

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Luxury Boats

If you want to go all out an really treat yourself on the Whitsundays then there are a few boats which stand out from the crowd in terms of luxury. – Powerplay, On Ice and Whitsunday Getaway.

For us though Powerplay wins out – with it’s small group dynamic, amazing boat (including a hot tub on the back!) and the fact it won’t smash your budget heaps! Just check out their amazing promo video…

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Island Stays

If you really want to treat yourself then you can always stay on one of the Whitsunday Islands, but be warned this can be a huge budget killer!

If you don’t fancy staying on a boat, but still want a few days exploring some more of the island the Ride To Paradise option is perfect – you’ll two nights on an island resort without smashing your travel budget!

With dorm options or private rooms it’s perfect for those who want a bit more comfort or who don’t like the ideas of sleeping on the ocean!

The Best Whitsunday Island Tours – Our Pick

So which trip do our team like the most? Well after a lot of discussion it’s a toss up between Tongarra and Powerplay!

Tongarra is the more backpacker friendly option, with great vibes and a good size group, where as Powerplay is the pick for those who want a more “flashpacker” style experience and small group dynamic – so it really depends on what your priorities are!

**Plus get $50 off Powerplay or Tongarra with promo code WHIT50**

Hopefully this mini guide will help your find the best Whitsunday Island tours for your style and budget and check out our full range of Whitsundays Tours here!

Have you visited the Whitsunday Islands?

Which company did you use and how did you get on?

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Finding the best Fraser Island tour can be a tough decision – there are so many to choose from with a whole heap of options to suit every style and of course budget!

So to make things a bit easier for you we’ve put together a quick breakdown of the best Fraser Island tours – so you can find the one that’s perfect for you!

What’s The Best Fraser Island Tour?

Fraser Island Camping Tours

One of the most popular ways to see Fraser Island is an overnight camping tour. These tag along 4×4 tours allow you to get behind the wheel and drive around this awesome island, which makes them the best Fraser Island tour for adventure!

After a fun day of exploring everything that Fraser Island has to offer you’ll head to the permanent campsites on the island, kick back around the BBQ, sip a cold beer (or most likely some glasses of goon!) and enjoy the incredible night sky.

Available in 3 day/2 night options you have a few companies to choose from – including Pippies, Dingos and Nomads Fraser Island.

If you want the all out Fraser Island camping tour our top pick would be Pippies, with its awesome vibes and great location – however it departs Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat so you’ll need to make sure that fits into your time schedule.

Dingos on the other hand offers a very similar style tour, but does add the extra flexibility of daily (except December 23rd/25th/30th and 1st Jan). Group sizes are slightly bigger, which is great for availability too.

Both Pippies and Dingos start in Rainbow Beach and you can easily tag on some pre and post trip accommodation at their associated hostels their too.

Nomads Fraser Island offer a bit more flashpacker camping luxury at their legendary tipi campsite within Eurong Beach Resort. More comfortable than the other camping options it also means you have access to all the facilities of the Beach Resort – including the on site bar.

The Nomads trip departs from Noosa, which makes it the perfect option for anyone looking for a short Fraser Island Package (you can fly into Brisbane, get a bus to Noosa and then head back to Brisbane).

Fraser Island Hostel Tours

If camping isn’t your thing and you want a more comfortable Fraser Island experience then there are a couple of options to choose from too.

Departing from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay the overnight Fraser Explorer hostel options are a  2 day/1 night option, however unlike the camping tours these aren’t tag along 4×4 format – instead you’re driven around in an epic all terrain tour bus.

Great if you want to kick back and just enjoy the ride but it does lack the adventure the other options offer.

If you want the full 4×4 tag along tour experience combined with hostel accommodation then the best choice is Nomads Fraser Island.

As with their camping options this departs from Noosa and you’ll be kicking back in Eurong Beach Resort – making it the best Fraser Island tour for adventure with an added level of comfort.

It runs year round as a 3 day/2 night option on Tues, Thurs and Sat or as a 2 day/1 night option between Dec and April departing on Wed and Sat.

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Fraser Island Day Trips

If you’re pushed for time or simply don’t fancy staying overnight on Fraser Island then a day trip is a great way to quickly pack in the highlights.

The two most popular options for day trips to Fraser Island are Cool Dingos and Fraser Explorer – with our personal favourite being Fraser Explorer.

However with all the day trips you’ll be in a 4×4 tour bus rather than tag along tour format, so you lack some of the adventure.

These day trips are a great back up option if availability is full on the overnight options (especially for peak season or last minute bookings!) departing from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay everyday.

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Best Value Fraser Island Tour

So out of all the options which is the best Fraser Island tour when it comes to value for money?

Obviously if budget is the key thing the day trips are the cheapest at around $170, however if you’re wanting the full adventure experience our pick would be the overnight options, especially if you add in the discounted pre and post tour accommodation packages.

Pippies is the best value and comes in at just $417, or $469 with 1 night pre and post tour accommodation – which includes food, tent, 4×4, guide and pretty much everything you need. However if you aren’t travelling with a sleeping bag it an extra $10 to hire one for the trip.

Hopefully our mini guide will help you choose the best Fraser Island tour for your style and budget – have an awesome time!

And check out our full range of Fraser Island Tours here.

Have you visited Fraser Island?

Which company did you use and how did you find it?

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Having the reputation of New Zealand’s favorite visitor destination, Queenstown offers its stunning scenery and wide range of activities. It is a natural playground for all your adrenaline-fueled adventures!

Queenstown is also one of the major stops on the Stray New Zealand and Kiwi Experience bus passes which will make your trip more entertaining.
It is a home to a huge choice of blood-pumping activities like skiing which is particularly visited by tourists during snowboard season from June to October.
Journey through the Queenstown’s amazing landscapes and cool waters. Push yourself to the limits whether you like it mild or wild!

Here’s the top 10 things can you do in Queenstown that will sure give you an epic adventure.

 

AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping

Queenstown is the home of bungy jumping which started the worldwide phenomenon since 1988. The AJ Hackett bungy jump – a New Zealand original – is on the top of adrenaline junkies’ travel goals.
This extreme Queenstown experience lets you perform numerous styles of bungy jumps in stunning NZ sceneries from a platform situated as high as 400m above the city itself. Those bungy jump styles include standard jumps, spins and flips. The locals will even present you a “Jump Menu” so you can freely choose your own twists and turns.

There is currently three bungy jumping sites offering different outlook, including the famous and all-original site at the bridge above Kawarau River, although the Nevis Bungy is easily the most popular and extreme!

 

Tandem Skydiving

A Tandem skydive in Queenstown provides an inherent rush as you freefall from a plane soaring as high as 15,000 feet. During the drop, you will reach speed of up to 200 kilometer per hour as the stunning panorama of Queenstown unfolds right in front of your eyes.
The skydiving operator NZONE definitely knows their stuff so you will surely get your feet back on to solid ground. They also help the first-timer skydivers to feel safe for this thrilling adventure. Prove that you actually jumped with a photo or video package professionally taken to serve as a reminder of your once-or-twice in a lifetime Queenstown experience.

 

White Water Rafting

This water adventure is another Queenstown original ever since 1974. It is an activity no one should not miss, no matter what your age!
Queenstown offers a number of rafting spots with different kinds of rapids that anyone will surely enjoy. Top of the list is the most popular Shotover River boasting with a peaceful waters toward exhilarating rapids. A journey to Skippers Canyon is already an adventure in itself. Kawarau River, on the other hand, is ideal for first-time rafters providing stunning scenery and the longest commercially rafted rapid, the 400m Dog Leg. In fact, Kawarau starred as the River Anduin in the film Lord of the Rings.
The best thing about Queenstown white water rafting is that there’s no experience needed! But fret not, New Zealand’s largest rafting operator is internationally recognized for the high level of safety and standards it provides. So first time rafters can still enjoy this thrilling adventure – in fact, 80% of backpackers heading this way have never rafted before.

 

Skiing

With Queenstown being New Zealand’s premier ski and winter holiday destination, there is no better place to enjoy it than in this town. There are wide range of off-slope activities which gets more awesome with pristine alpine lake and mountainous environment.
Its leading ski fields – the Treble Cone Ski Area which is the largest, Coronet Peak Ski Area which allows night skiing, Remarkables Ski Area with dedicated area for beginners, and Cardrona Alpine Resort which offers something for everyone – also houses world class infrastructures.
Queenstown’s vibe and nightlife can replenish your energy even before you plan your next backcountry ski.

 

Shotover Jet Boat

A trip to New Zealand is not totally complete without a jet boating experience. It is the world’s ultimate jet boat experience delighting millions of visitors since 1965.

The most popular jet boat is the Shotover Jet that will take you deep into the rugged Shotover River Canyons at a speed of 10cm deepwater. Your expert driver will help your adrenaline rush as you ride into this breathtaking drive.
You’ll feel the rush as the jet boat whips the rocky ridges and glide around crags and rocks before performing its famous 360 degree spins, sending spray everywhere!

 

Hiking at Bob’s Peak

Right at the center of Queenstown is Bob’s Peak which has a variety of activities to do while taking in the stunning views. To get up Bob’s Peak, you can either hike through the Tiki Trail (which will take about 45-60 minutes) or the Skyline Gondola (which looks like a cable car).
After reaching Bob’s Peak, you will find your typical souvenir shop, a café and restaurant. There is also an observatory deck with binoculars for everyone to get the view of the sunset.

However, you have to make sure that you are early to get a nice viewing spot as the deck gets jam-packed!
Aside from epic adventures, the other reason why people go to Queenstown is for its spectacular sceneries. Its breathtaking view will surely leave you awe-inspired.

 

Skyline Gondola

Queenstown has the Skyline Gondola for you for a quick and comfortable way of getting the best views at the best vantage points. You wouldn’t want to miss the spectacular 220 degree panorama along the way which includes views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu and Cecil and Walter Peaks.
The Luge is also a great way to spend an afternoon (especially if you’re travelling with kids) which starts in an area with a chairlift which can take you back from the hill after you’ve reached the bottom.

Heaps of fun for all ages!

 

Helicopter Flights

Soak up the full beauty of Queenstown with a scenic helicopter flight (they even offer heli-tours!) and hang gliding while others who want to take it to the next level can either sky dive, parapent or do an aerobatic flight!
Whatever aerial activities you wish to do, do it definitely from the sky above Queenstown and you’ll enjoy incredible aerial view of its lakes, mountains and towns.

 

Milford Sound Return Transfers and Cruise

Being one of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is undoubtedly known for its pristine beauty and peaceful ambiance (extending from 15 km inland Tasman Sea). It is the only NZ fiord or narrow inlet between cliffs which is accessible thru cars. Penguins, seals and dolphins also come to greet tourists paying a visit.
This fiord sports two waterfalls: the Lady Bowen and Stirling Falls. However, after heavy rains, hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen.

Although a solid drive from Queenstown this is one of the most popular day trips to do from here.

 

Get a Fergburger

Fergburger is the only thing in our list that is not even about adventures or destinations but food. It is now New Zealand’s tourist attraction itself (and a part of the city’s tradition) with its hand-made burger with daily fresh produce!

Locally known as Ferg’s, the burger joint is full of customers queing up every opening hour and eagerly wait for around an hour at peak hours for a feed – they are even open 21 hours a day!
Recommended Ferg is the Chief Wiggum (pork belly) burger or the vegetarian Bun Laden. Other variant includes Southern Swine (beef, bacon, avocado), Codfather (cod), Holier than Thou (tofu), Little Lamby (Prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli, tomato relish), and Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland deer with a Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli).

With prices ranging from NZ$11-NZ$18 every Fergburger is also definitely Instagram-worthy!

 

Renowned for its adventure sports and majestic sceneries, Queenstown is one of the tourist destinations all over the world. It may seem like a small town but there is so much vibe and energy in this city.

Queenstown will no doubt be a highlight of your time in New Zealand so pencil in a good few days to make the most of what it has to offer

New Zealand is the adventure capital of the World. It is a country known for its abundant landscapes, friendly locals, and tender lamb! Each NZ destination is a spectacular place to see.

And choosing how to travel around this beautiful country is as important as choosing where to go – so, check out the 6 best ways to see and experience the land of the long white cloud — New Zealand.

 

Intercity

A two-in-one passenger transport and tourism company, Intercity operates New Zealand’s largest bus network and has been going for more than 30 years – connecting more than 600 destinations nationwide with 130 services daily.

Intercity is one of the country’s lowest cost transport network, with bus fares starting from only $1 (plus booking fee) and you can easily book trips online and the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. Buses are all equipped with wi-fi (free of charge), which is an added bonus!

They also offer flexible saver packs including InterCity FlexiPass and InterCity TravelPass for your total freedom to explore the national network at discounted rates.

Best for: Medium budget / alternative routes / bolt on travel

 

Kiwi Experience

Dubbed as New Zealand’s backpacker network and running for 25 years, the Kiwi Experience bus passes offer flexible, guided travel in a hop on hop off style. You’ll get to travel alongside your fellow backpackers and meet some new travel buddies – especially in the 18-25 age range.

Kiwi Experience has 6 main pass types to choose from with something for every style, time frame and of course budget:

  • Start anywhere/finish anywhere
  • Start Auckland, finish Christchurch
  • Start Christchurch, finish Auckland
  • North Island only
  • South Island only
  • Whole country passes.

The bus drivers are friendly, too! They’ll be chatting about what you can get up to, booking your succeeding trips, and even helping you with your accommodation – with your first night in each stop guranateeed.

Though not the cheapest option, Kiwi Experience bus comes with a lot of discounts and route options. Who knows maybe you can catch a bigger pass on a cheap price when it comes out on sale – so keep an eye on our Kiwi Experience deal page!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo and young-gap backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes / partygoers looking for an enjoyable nightlife

 

Stray New Zealand

“Take off the beaten path.”

That’s just how Stray New Zealand ethos works, immersing you into few different destinations alongside the major ones.

They have a range of authentic activities to do in NZ like a farm stay experience, a wild stop-over on Stewart Island, and a night in the country’s highest mountain – all of which are exclusive to Stray New Zealand.

Much like the Kiwi Experience their drivers also serves as your local “guidebook” providing their own insights on New Zealand’s history and culture.

Stray’s hop on hop off passes are valid for 12 months and during these months, you can re-travel and revisit your favorite spots in its operated routes – perfect for those who aren’t sure where they want to go but have a good chunk of time to play with.

It also comes in smaller group size of 24 for more intimate setting for you to meet fellow travelers and eventually, life-long friends. 

Age wise Stray New Zealand attracts a slightly older age range than Kiwi (think 25 rather than 18!) but it’ll still be packed full of heaps of fun and good vibes!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo, mature backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes

 

Naked Bus

This bus company is the middle ground between backpackers’ network and Intercity. It promises the art of ‘stripping the cost of travel’. They are labeled as the Greyhound of New Zealand.

Naked Bus passes through 320 towns, once or twice daily throughout New Zealand. The only day they don’t operate is during Christmas Day – so no matter when you’re travelling there will be a bus to grab!

Their fares are starting at $1 per journey but they have the “first in, gets the cheapest deal” policy. Cheap seats are sold first so you have to be quite fast to get the best fare available.

The company also offers a travel pass called Nakedpassport which is on a per 5 trip basis and is valid for 12 months – it doesn’t include activities and tours so you have to purchase it as an add-ons. However, they will give you a discount depending on the activity or tour you are going to do.

Naked Bus also introduced Nakedbus Sleeper, the country’s first lie flat bed on a bus. You can get the offer thru Nakedsleep.com which offers beds from $15 per person per night (plus booking fee).

Best for: solo, mature backpackers / people looking for variety of routes / flexible and longer stay / bolt-on travel

 

Campervan

There’s no freer and more satisfying feeling than taking off the long road and having all the facilities you need when travelling.

Stopping off where you want and when you want through a campervan gives you a more authentic and fulfilling travel experience. It won’t limit you from the box of planning too much prior to a trip (well, planning your driving itinerary is a different story!) and you’re not tied to the schedule of buses nor tours.

But this freedom comes at a price and is actually can be one of the more expensive options to go with, especially for a longer trip.

Also, take note of the temperatures in New Zealand during winter time. In addition to campervan’s common facilities, you also have to hire heaters from the companies.

And above all, don’t forget to pass on “camperaderie” to others campervanning!

Best for: Medium to high budget / small groups or families / people looking for alternative routes / people looking for a bit more adventure

 

Car Hire

Renting a car in New Zealand still gives you the flexibility of a campervan but without the added cost. It would give you the freedom of spontaneously stopping off at an interesting place and be able to go to another anytime you want.

However, hiring a car in NZ requires that you are 21 years old and a holder of a valid international driver’s license. You should also understand New Zealand’s road rules – so read up and make sure you stick to the correct side of the road!

Car hire is perfect for going to New Zealand on a budget. It is not expensive and is more common during the months of March to April when most travelers come and go.

Best for: medium to high budget / small groups / people looking for alternative routes and shorter trips

 

No matter what option you choose for travel in New Zealand there are heaps of activities to pack your itinerary with – caving, zorbing, dolphin tour, bungy jumping, skydiving, surfing, white water rafting, black water rafting, heli hike, and hobbiton movie set tour – take your pick!

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular travel routes on the planet – with heaps of backpackers and travellers travelling between Sydney and Cairns…or from Melbourne too!

But what are the must see destinations that you should stop off at along the East Coast route?

Well we’ve put together our East Coast Mini Guide which runs through some of the top spots and why you should pencil them into your travel plans!

 

Melbourne

This cafe culture city is a hub for big international events – including the Melbourne Cup, Australian Tennis Open and F1 Championship. But when you’re not busy watching on the big screen in Fed Square take the time to explore the amazing street art, tram lines and St Kilda Beach. For those looking for even more to keen themselves busy a day trip to Philip Islands Penguin Parade or a road trip along the Great Ocean Road is a must!

 

Sydney

Often confused as the capital of Australia (that’s Canberra incase you didn’t know!) Sydney has some of the most icon destinations in Oz. Wander around Circular Quay and get your snaps of the stunning views over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, hit the beach at Bondi or escape the city to the Blue Mountains.

 

Yamba

Yamba is one of the bets kept travel secrets in Australia and this sleepy little surf town is a great additional stop of you have some more time to play with! Wit pumping surf, amazing beaches and some incredible beach walks it’s the ideal place for some downtime. Make sure you head to Yamba YHA and say hi to Shane to owner…he’s a total legend!

 

Byron Bay

Byron is all about the laid back beach lifestyle, so get ready to kick off your shoes and enjoy everything ocean based! Whale watching, dolphin kayaking, surf lessons and scuba diving are all great ways to spend your days in the Bay or for those who want a bit more adrenaline skydiving over Australias most Easterly Point is incredible!

And of course you can slow the pace down even more with a  day trip to Nimbin 😉

 

The Gold Coast

Often referred to as the Miami of Australia spots like Surfers Paradise on the Goldie are full of all the glitz and glam of city life with skyscraper lining the beach front.If shopping isn’t your thing then the range of theme parks here has something for everyone!

 

Brisbane

Brissie is a popular spot for those looking to stop off and find some work midway up the East Coast and the capital of Queensland proximity to spots like the Gold Coast, Byron and Noosa make it a great base. If you’re spending some time here make sure you head out and see the ship wrecks on Moreton Island, one of the best snorkelling sites in Australia!

 

Noosa

Incredible beaches, more laid back surfer vibes – Noosa is another stop which takes full advantage of the Aussie beach life! Get in amongst nature and explore the Noosa Everglades on a canoe tour and witness some spectacular sunsets over the estuary.

 

Rainbow Beach

One of the main gateway to Fraser Island Rainbow Beach also has heaps to see and do! Whether you’re kitesurfing, whale watching or skydiving if you have some extra time to play with check it out!

 

Fraser Island

One of the must do bucket list items in Australia, Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island – so what better way to explore it than cruising around in a 4×4 through the rainforest and beach? Spots like Lake Mackenzie, Champagne Pools, and the Maheno Wreck will pack your camera full of awesome pics!

 

Airlie Beach

As the departure point for the Whitsunday Island Airlie Beach boasts and incredible nightlife! If you’re relaxing pre or post sailing adventure a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef or day kayaking around the bay is the way to go, or just chill out by the free lagoon swimming pool with your travel buddies!

 

The Whitsunday Islands

Another one of the big bucket list items in Australia, The Whitsunday Islands are all about finding a tropical paradise! With heaps of sailing adventures to choose from – from party boats to scuba diving – you’ll check out spots like Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout and snorkel some incredible spots on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

 

Magnetic Island

Just off the coast of Townsville is Magnetic Island and with its abundance of wild koalas and friendly rock wallabies it’s a great spot to relax and meet some of the unique wildlife that calls Australia home!

 

Mission Beach

If you’re looking to skydive in Australia then Mission Beach is the perfect place to do it! With views across the Great Barrier Reef and Australis only beach landing it’s not hard to see why! If you’re staying longer take a trip to Dunk Island for some epic snorkelling or hit the Tully River for some White Water Rafting!

 

Cairns

As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef Cairns is one of the biggest dive spots in Australia! So if you’re looking to complete your Open Water Dive Course or and Introductory Dive this is the spot! For those who want some non diving fun get your adrenaline on the go with a bungy jump or head north to explore Cape Tribulation for the day. Or if you’ve had a big night out at the Woolshed or Gilligans maybe just relax by the waterfront lagoon pool and have a BBQ!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Oz is complete without checking out the Great Barrier Reef – one of the natural wonders of the world! Join a snorkel day trip, give scuba diving a go with an intro dive or go all out with an overnight dive boat in search of Nemo! Get into the big blue and find explore some more of he underwater world.

 

Cape Tribulation

Just north of Cairns lies Cape Tribulation – unique in the fact it’s where two world heritage sites meet, The Daintree Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the waterfalls, join a crocodile river cruise or go for a scenic walk through the rainforest – it’s a stunning part of Australia!

 

Have you travelled East Coast Australia?

Any stops you’d add in?

 

Lets face it one of the suckiest things about travelling is the packing. Trying to condense your life possessions into a neat bundle and cram it all into a rucksack is nothing short of stressful!

And within seconds of checking into a hostel you bag has magically exploded across the room and you’ll no doubt find yourself hungover and rushing to shove everything back in before the 10am checkout time or your overnight bus.

So how can you make packing easier? And more importantly what should you be packing?

Well lucky for you we’ve got years of experience on the road…so here’s some handy tips to help make it that little bit less chaotic

 

Half The Stuff, Twice The Money

It’s a massively over used tip but it’s still the best one in the book! Lay all your stuff out on the bed and half it…simple as! Then find a way to take twice the money!hahaha!

Seriously though on the road you’ll quickly find you barely use a lot of your kit and you’re lugging it around ‘just in case’ – so if it’s a maybe make it into a no!

 

Packing Cubes

These things are awesome for keeping stuff organised and not having to rummage through and throw all your clothing onto the floor to find a pair of socks! Take a spare one too to chuck all your dirty clothes into too which will make laundry day heaps easier!

 

Suitcase Style Bag

Swopping from a top loading rucksack to one that opens flat like a suitcase is a simple yet epic move – suddenly all the contents are easily accessible (even more so if it’s in packing cubes!) and you can see exactly where everything is. No more elbow deep, blind rummaging for your toothbrush!

 

Go On Bag Size Bigger (or pack less!)

A lot of people make the mistake of packing their bag to the brim…totally forgetting that along the way you’ll probably want to buy some stuff to take home – clothes, trinkets, random stuff….

Grab the next size up and give yourself some extra room to make packing easier and some space to accumulate some stuff along the way!

 

Roll Don’t Fold!

It might sound stupid but this tip has helped us heaps! Rolling your clothes is waaaaaaaay easier and quicker! Not only that but your stuff will end up less creased too….not that that really matters though, you’re backpacking after all!

 

Dry Bag

Probably the best investment we’ve made on the road! A simple 10 litre dry bag is amazing for day trips to the beach, boats and anything else that involves water, not only that though but you can use it to hold wet stuff too – there’s nothing worse than having  wet towel or boardies/bikini to pack just before a flight or journey…whacking them in your dry bag means you can go for that last minute dip no worries!

 

Side Pockets

Sometime people just don’t think when they pack, we’re all guilty of it! Ever wondered where that plug adaptor was and have to spend 20minutes rummaging through everything?! Yeah us too!

So make use of the side pockets on your bag – stuff you need quick access to like your toothbrush, chargers, reservation vouchers – keep them there so they’re quickly to hand when you need them!

 

Have you got any awesome travel packing tips you’ve discovered?

Pass them on!

Learning to scuba dive is an amazing bucket list item to tick off on your travels – the world is over 70% water after all!

So if you’re trying to decide where in the world to complete your open water course or next dive certification we’ve put together this quick guide to help you figure out which location is best for you…

 

Best For Budget – Koh Tao

Without a doubt Koh Tao in Thailand is the cheapest place to complete your PADI or SSI Open Water Dive Course.

Packages are range from £180-200 depending and often include accommodation too – even more of a bargain!

This famous Thai island is a popular spot with backpackers due to this – with a variety of dive centres to choose from offering a full range of courses up to divemaster and instructor.

When you’re not busy diving there’s a wide range of activities to do – whether you fancy kayaking, island hopping or just kicking back at a beach bar with a cold beer!

If you’re looking to learn to dive on Koh Tao check out our dive courses here.

 

Best For Experience – Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard

If you’re looking for our personal recommendation on where and how to complete your open water dive course you can’t get much better than completing it on a Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard!

Based out of Cairns you’ll complete your theory and pool modules on the mainland before heading out to the Great Barrier Reef for a min of 2 days and 1 night to complete your open water dives. So not only will you complete your dive course and become certified but you’ll also get the opportunity to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef – an amazing experience in itself!

It comes with a bit of a higher price tag than just completing it as day trips (around $705AUD all in) but it’s well worth the extra cash and then that also covers your meal and accommodation on the boat too.

For more information check out our Great Barrier Reef Liveaboards here.

 

Best In Australia

We’re tied between two locations for completing your open water dive course in Australia. Firstly is Cairns as you get to dive on the Great Barrier Reef – which is amazing as…well…it’s the Great Barrier Reef!

A budget dive course here where you complete your open water modules on two day trips to the reef is around $625AUD.

For those who want to learn to scuba dive as they head up the East Coast our other favourite is Byron Bay. This amazing beachside town is full of barefoot living and good vibes – and the scuba diving here is incredible too!

You’ll complete your course out at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve and depending on the season you’ll have the opportunity to swim alongside Grey Nurse Sharks, Manta Rays and Leopard sharks along with the array of other awesome marine life that calls this spot home.

The Bryon Bay Dive Courses also allow you to complete your theory work online before arriving, so the whole thing only takes 3 days instead of 4 – ideal for those who want more time to explore Byron (an amazing spot for learning to surf) or who don’t have heaps of time to travel around Australia.

For more information on Great Barrier Reef dive courses click here and for Byron Bay dive courses click here.

 

If you need any help figuring out where to complete your open water dive course drop us an email or chat to our travel experts on our live chat and we’d be happy to help!

Ask anyone where to find the best affordable summer beach holidays and it’s likely their answer will be Turkey. The sun kissed country has it all! The sea is crystal clear and ideal for swimming while the winds on the Aegean coast create perfect conditions for surfing and windsurfing. What’s more, Turkey enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the high season (July-September).

 

To help you make the most of your Turkish summer holiday, we’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in the country, with a good mixture of tourist hotspots and hidden gems for you to explore:

 

Iztuzu, Dalyan

There’s nothing quite as magical as watching turtles coming to the shore to lay their eggs – if you’re lucky enough to catch them that is! This 4.5km stretch of beach is abundant with beautiful wildlife and is perfect for a family day out. The seabed shelf means that the waters are serenely calm and great for families with younger children. There are plenty of low cost options for those looking affordable holidays. Take a look at this great range of holidays for 2015 from Cosmos. A flight and three nights accommodation for one adult in a luxury Dalyan resort will set you back around £220 pounds, which is incredibly cheap for the quality of beachside resorts found on the Turkish Coast.

 

Pantara, Xanthos Valley

Pantara is without a doubt one of the best Turkish beaches, featuring the longest continuous stretch of sand in the Mediterranean. Its sheer size and beauty makes it a very popular destination but should you seek a more secluded spot, head over to the northwest part of the beach. During the summer, the waves can be pretty intense so it’s not an ideal place for families with small children.

 

Cirali, Turquoise Coast

Cirali makes the list not only for its beautiful secluded beach but also for its breath-taking surrounding scenery. A short trek from the beach will take you to the ancient ruins of Olympos, an intensely magical experience that shouldn’t be passed up! The entire area is a protected UNESCO site and features fascinating wildlife not to be missed.

 

Phaselis, Turqoise Coast

We’ve already included one beach from the Turquoise Coast, but this one couldn’t be left out! The collection of small peaceful bays makes for a wonderfully relaxing day at the beach. Phaselis boasts some of the best swimming in Turkey, with stunning surroundings and calm, crystal clear water.

 

Ayd?nc?k, Gökçeada

This 1500m stretch of white sand is a sight to behold. Extremely popular with tourists, it can get pretty busy as far as beaches go. Ayd?nc?k is located in an area popular with migrating flamingos, making it a perfect spot for birdwatchers and holidaymakers alike. Health buffs will also love the black mud found on the shoreline which is renowned for its healing properties.

It’s always worth subscribing to travel website newsletters as they often advertise great last minute deals that could save you even more money!

 

The current trend in the travel world is to book your holiday DIY.

By that, I mean you book your flight, transfer, and accommodation separately, to create your own bespoke package holiday. This is an easy process, and can be a real money-saver, however if you’ve never done it before, it might be a worrisome thing to embark on.

Worry not! I’ll tell you how. 

Finding a cheap flight can sometimes work out better if you cast your net further afield in terms of where you fly from. You’ll usually find London flights coming up cheaper than anywhere else in the country, and if you can get there, it’s worth trying, as you’ll sometimes find it all works out cheaper including travel, compared to a regional flight.

If you’re doing this, remember to book airport parking, such as my regular service of Gatwick Long Stay Parking  and you’ll find it often works out cheaper, easier, and more convenient than public transport. Head to ParkBCP to peruse what’s available, and you’ll see that most large UK airports offer a service.

Once you’ve opened your search up further, you’ll find a world of flexibility. Head to Skyscanner and put in ‘UK’, and your destination, your dates, or the month as a whole to give you the choice, and then watch and wait.

When it gets as low as you think it’s going to go, then book it and don’t look at it again! If you see it lower, because it is a risk, then you’ll feel very sick indeed, however there is the equal risk that it will go up.

Flight booked, turn your attention to accommodation, and this is where the fun bit starts!

Travel Republic, Sunshine, Alpha Rooms etc, amongst many others, are where you’ll find sales and deals on top quality accommodation, with every price range, and you can check out maps, photos and reviews to help you make your decision. You can also book your transfer here too, bringing the whole package together.

All that’s left from that point is to print out all your confirmations, put them in your hand luggage bag, and you’re done!

Booking a DIY holiday isn’t difficult, and it needn’t be a worrying experience. Package holidays can be found at great prices, but the flexibility isn’t there like when you book in this manner.

Creating your own adventure means it can be tailored to your needs and likes, which will overall make your holiday more fulfilling as a result.

Don’t know what to expect from a Lapland holiday?

You imagine Lapland as sleepy snow covered place where you will have to stay indoors and have no chance of having fun?

Holidaying here will open your eyes to the unexpected aspect of Lapland, the fun factor which will spice up your holiday experience. Lapland offers much more than a cozy cabin, hearty talk and storytelling around the crackling fire. It offers a perfect combination of picturesque beauty of the place along with the thrilling activities which make Lapland holiday a once in a lifetime experience and sites like The White Circle offer some incredible experience to be had.

Your will thoroughly enjoy the wild adventures in the Lapland wilderness and here’s some of our top to dos…

 

Cross country and downhill skiing: You will be enthralled to see the wonderful ski facilities available in Lapland. There are well maintained trails which pass through picturesque terrains for those who want to do cross country skiing. Looking at the well manicured slopes, you will realize why Lapland is one of the most attractive downhill skiing destinations. Beginners needn’t get disheartened because there are trainers at the resorts, who will help you, learn the basics to deal, with ice and snow.

 

Snowboarding and snowmobile rides: As Lapland is snow covered throughout the year. You can have fun as a family, as you enjoy snowboarding together. A must-do while in Lapland, feel the thrill of snowmobile ride as you feel the icy wind and cold snowflakes flying around while   speeding through the snowy terrain.

 

Husky dog safari and reindeer sleigh ride: Explore the beautiful and serene countryside while your sled is being pulled by a team of dogs. Opt for the reindeer sleigh rides to feel like Santa Claus. As you enjoy these rides, you will have a sense of adventure when you realize that the only thing disturbing the quiet and stillness of the surrounding is the sound of the sled or sleigh, being pushed and you can go looking for Santa Claus at his secret hideaway in the forests!

 

Snowshoeing: Venture deep into the snow covered forests and explore the Lapland wilderness as you go trekking with snowshoes strapped on. There are various trails here which you will enjoy. Cabin in the wilderness: For the ultimate adventure in Lapland, rent a cabin in the heart of nature and begin and end your everyday adventures from here. As you stay in this beautiful untouched setting surrounded by silence, your spirits are sure to go soaring high.

 

Go in search of the Northern Lights: You can either go on a trek in the evening or go snowmobiling, in search of the beautiful Northern Lights. Venture deeper into the forest for that wild adventure and also to better your chance of seeing that enchanting phenomenon, Aurora Borealis.

 

Go ice fishing: You can go ice fishing in the frozen lake of Lapland. Start this unique fishing experience by breaking the sheet of ice on top of the lake. You can add more fun to the activity by having a campfire to cook your catch and then relax and enjoy this outdoor meal amidst the beautiful though still white surrounding.

 

Have you headed to Lapland? Anything you’d add to the list?

 

Since I’ve taken up diving my scuba diving bucket list is fast growing – and if there’s one place that seems to be the top of every divers list it’s the red sea. It comes with a massive recommendation from everyone who has dived there – be it scuba or free diving (which I recently got addicted to!) and stories are always met with envy by those who haven’t!

So where should you hit up when there? And where from?

 

backpacker scuba diving
Clear, Warm Waters…

Sharm El Sheikh is an Egyptian city located on the coastline of the Red Sea and situated on the Sinai Peninsula, at its Southern tip.

Over the years, Sharm El Sheikh has earned the reputation of being one of the most extraordinary diving destinations, in the world.

The city was always well known for its amazing touch with nature however, these days, it has also become a tourist friendly city. A couple of decades ago, divers had to trek a long way through the dessert, before they could get to the spot from where they could go for a dive, today though the scene is more luxurious with many popular hotels setting up camp there.

The sight of the crystal clear waters, with beautiful corals and under water flora, is a treat to the eyes and in contrast to the beautiful waters is the white, sandy beach and the infinitely large dessert

 

So which dive spot should you add to your list? Well here’s a few to jump into…

  1. Ras Mohammed: This dive area is located in the extreme southern region of Sharm El Sheikh, at the point of confluence of the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. With an ocean depth of over 1000 meters and coupled with strong underwater currents year around, this dive spot remains a tough challenge even for the most experienced divers. Ironically, the unique reefs formed in this region and the variety and density of various species observed here are credited to these strong water currents.
  2. The Straits of Tiran: The Straits of Tiran is another unique dive area, near the Island of Tiran, located on the Gulf of Aqaba. This 2000 meters deep dive area is characterized by four coral reefs named after the British cartographers Woodhouse, Jackson, Gordon and Thomas. The strong currents caused during high tides, when the water flows through the narrow path in the region, are responsible for the large variety of fish swarms and corals in the area.
  3. The Locals: Stretching from Ras Nasrani in the north to Ras Cathy in the south, along the coastal region of Sharm el Sheikh are twenty-eight diving sites that can be reached on by taking a boat ride for around 10 to 60 minutes. These diving sites are collectively called ‘local dives’. The site is an ideal location for beginners to test their diving skills, while the experienced ones would also have a great time.
  4. The Wrecks: This dive site derives its name from its past history, where many ships entering from the Suez Canal got wrecked in this region, due to a shallow reef just below the surface. Since these wrecked ships lie within safe diving limits, special wreck-safaris are sometimes conducted in this dive area.
  5. Naama Bay: The Naama bay is a year around dive spot and surprisingly happens to be one of the least known sites in Sharm El Sheikh. The diving area starts just 50 meters after a walk through the water, where you can witness the amazing and unique sea life. There are also night dives conducted in this region, for those interested in interacting with the nocturnal creatures in the ocean.

 

Sharm El Sheikh is a Holiday Gem and diving remains the major attraction, but those interested in other activities like water sports and excursions can also visit the region – and Egypt itself is a great backpacking destination given the variety of terrain in the region – and of course the Pyramids which should be on everyones bucket list!

 

Anyone been diving here? What did you make of it?

A vacation in Lapland is more than the usual holiday experience. It is a magical experience for all, kids, parents and grandparents. The variety that Lapland offers is such that everyone goes back, content and happy.

Whether it is the beauty of the place, the fascinating phenomenon of Mother Nature, the festive feel of the spirit of Christmas and Santa Claus, or the adventurous and thrilling snow sports, there is something for each member of the family. It is this variety that makes Lapland, the perfect family holiday destination.

 

The pristine natural beauty

Lapland still remains unspoilt by tourism and offers a breathtaking view of immaculate snow covered pine forests, snow capped mountains and the frozen lakes. The flora and fauna and specially the large reindeer population add to the beauty of the place and is sure to be liked by everyone in the family.

 

The captivating wonders of Mother Nature

For those who want to enjoy a leisurely laid back kind of vacation, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Lapland and witness the many wonders of Mother Nature. You are going to love Mother Nature’s spectacular and colorful fireworks in the sky, the Northern Lights against the backdrop of the quiet white wilderness of Lapland. Everyone in the family is bound to be excited about seeing the midnight sun from the top of the mountains. These are unique experiences you take back to share with friends back home.

 

The enchanting and festive Christmas experience

Lapland is a magical experience for kids and parents. With this trip to Lapland, the land of Santa Clause, you can help your children enjoy the festive spirit of Christmas while reliving your childhood memories. What can be a bigger treat for the kids than a chance to meet Santa Claus and his elves? You can become a Santa to your child, by making the dream of your child to meet Santa Claus, come true. See in Lapland, the Christmas of your imagination, snow covered landscape, a Santa Claus with a sleigh run by reindeers, elves baking ginger bread and making toys, it’s all there for you to enjoy.

 

The thrilling outdoor adventures

Lapland has a lot in store for those who are adventurous and energetic. There are adventures which you can enjoy during winters, as well as fun filled activities to be enjoyed, during summers. Engage in a wide range of activities such as sleigh riding, husky safaris, cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, walking, cycling, white water rafting or canoeing. You can also try the fly-drives or opt for ice or sea fishing. Whether it is the impromptu snowball fights or these adventure activities, they will turn out to be more fun as you enjoy together as a family, laughing, shouting and screaming together.

 

More family fun with snow and ice

Visit the Snow Village, home to various massive construction made of ice and snow like ice castles, hotels ,ice sculptures etc.You are sure to pick up creative ideas for your own backyard snowman when you see such artistically made structures. Everyone will also love to see igloos.

 

Have any of you been to Lapland? Looking to head that way? Check out some more activities here

 

When you think of Liverpool’s music scene, it’s fair to consider The Beatles as the city’s crowning glory. These four lads from Liverpool took the world by storm in the 60s, transforming into international superstars almost overnight. While their career as a band is long gone, their influence over others still continues and their legacy remains. Liverpool is very proud of what The Beatles achieved and, to commemorate their 50th anniversary, has plenty in store for visitors to the city over the coming months. Book some very cheap Liverpool accommodation from Travelodge and you could sample the Beatles-inspired events and attractions during your stay – there’s plenty on offer, so make your visit last at least a couple of days.

Ever since Ringo Starr joined the group as their permanent drummer in 1962, The Beatles went from strength to strength. With 12 studio albums under their belts and so many hit singles that you’d be forgiven if you had lost count (22, if you’re wondering), their remarkable career between 1962 and 1970 has inspired thousands. Having sold an estimated one billion records worldwide, The Beatles continue to draw in younger generation fans, meaning that their legacy will continue for years to come.

As the birthplace of the group, Liverpool has always taken the subject of The Beatles very seriously and has plenty of attractions scattered across the city to celebrate their success. The fifty year anniversary celebrations continue throughout 2013 and into early 2014, giving you plenty of opportunity to see these special events as well as attractions whose doors are always open. From The Beatles Story to a Magical Mystery Tour, if you want a rock and roll weekend, you know where to go. Start at the very beginning by seeing the homes of young John Lennon and Paul McCartney before stopping off at the Cavern Club for a piece of nostalgia.

The real fun begins when you look at the myriad of events in store over coming months, starting with August which has oodles in store for The Beatles fan.

3rd August – Beatles’ Final Cavern Club Performance – remembering the final performance by The Beatles at the illustrious club before they went their separate ways.

21st – 27th August – International Beatleweek – Bands and artists from over 20 countries worldwide join forces to perform various gigs across several venues in the city, while exhibitions, sales, tours and a convention are also in store.

23rd August – The Cavern Club Beatles Show – Presented by the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, the quartet performs various tracks from throughout the band’s career.

23rd August – 14th September – Lennon – The Royal Court takes a look at the life of John Lennon, from his humble beginnings to his untimely end in New York.

24th – 25th August – Liverpool International Music Festival – August Bank Holiday weekend promises to provide two days of awesome entertainment, including plenty to celebrate the rock and roll heroes.

Plenty to look forward to throughout August and beyond – keep an eye on the event programme page online to see what’s in store over the coming months.

Managing your money on the road is one of the least glamorous parts of travel. It’s mundane, seemingly complicated and something many people unfortunately leave until the last moment. However it’s very much a necessary evil as no matter what you may think, money will very much be the driving force behind what you can and can’t achieve on your travels.

 

Cashcard

I’ve of the easiest ways to manage your money on the road is through a prepaid cashcard. It’s simply a case of load and go, without the risk of racking up any debt (one of the biggest reasons I refuse to recommend credit cards to travellers) and can be setup quickly.

Some companies issue single currency cashcards, with the most common being the US dollar,a Euro and Aussie dollar.

However for those hitting multiple countries options like the STA travel Cashcard are ideal, converting your money to local currency and being accepted via chip and pin anywhere mastered a is accepted.

 

travel money
It’s All About The Dollar!

Bank account

Even if you opt for a cashcard you need to back it up with a bank account. Personally I use my standard UK account for my savings and transfer it to my cashcard as and when it’s needed.

There are two other solid options which may suit your needs too – the international bank account and the local bank account.

So what is an international account? Simply out it’s baked by a large banking company and allows your to transfer, spend and otherwise deal with your cash from multiple countries, however it usually comes with a monthly charge for the privilege.

For those heading out on working holiday visas having a local account in your country of choice can save you heaps on bank fees and also allow easier payment of wages, just do you homework on which bank to use!

 

Cash 

Even with all this plastic having some cold hard cash is something I recommend to anyone. Getting some local notes in small denominations before you travel is always handy – getting cabs from the airport and something to eat and drink without having to struggle to locate and ATM in a strange new place will be much appreciated after a long haul flight!

I also strongly suggest carrying around $50US in small notes too, it’s a solid currency for visas, bribes and easily changing into local currency.

 

Preparation

Even though money is boring it’s important and it will really pay off (no pun intended!) to be prepared well before you leave.

Do your homework, find the option that’s best for you and make sure you have a back up – there’s nothing worse than being stranded abroad with no access to your cash!

 

Whatever you choose to use also make sure you track your spending and get in the habit of budgeting, you’ll thank yourself in the long run! 

The French Riviera is, without any argument, the most popular French holiday destination in the world. Situated on the southern end of France, the French Riviera or the Cote d’Azur extends from the Italian border to the other end of the country – a playground of the rich and famous, the place is filled with azure blue beaches and the most exotic resorts in the world, from 5* boutique hotels to some amazing offerings from QualityVillas.com.

Though August is considered the tourist season, the Riviera has been blessed with a beautiful climate that does not change much for most of the year. If you are not the kind of person who likes being in a crowd, go during the spring season, which is considered as off season here. During this time, the streets are less crowded and the prices are somewhat lower.

Some of the most famous holiday cities in the world are located here too, since it will be impossible to list out all of them, we will talk about the most popular among them.

 

Cannes 

Cannes, the city made world famous by the Cannes International Film Festival, has got more to it than the glitz and glamour associated with it. Once a small fishing village, the city is now bustling with night clubs and casinos.

If you are someone who likes it nice and quiet, the nearby streets of La Suquet is the place for you. With its cobbled streets and small roadside bistros, it is perfect for a nice evening of relaxation.

Reaching Cannes is easy by any mode of transport. The closest airport is the Nice International Airport. While getting around Cannes, the best method is by walking. This will also give you a chance to see the sights that you might otherwise miss.

 

Grasse 

The city of Grasse is synonymous with perfume. The home of the perfume industry, the city is in the inland region of the French Riviera. Filled with tiny, quiet villages, Grasse is one of the regions of the Riviera that has not been ruined by the throngs of tourists.

If you want adventure, you could hike in the sweeping hills or go horse riding or mountain biking. One thing to not miss would be a visit to the legendary perfumeries of Grasse.

If you don’t find anything to do, you can kick back and relax from the hills above watching the coastline. You can reach Grasse by train from Nice or Cannes. You could also reach by road from Vence.

 

Nice 

Nice, one of the most populated cities in France is also one of the most popular cities there due to the fact that it has something to offer every person who comes there.

With the beautiful waterfront, the Promenade des Anglais, Nice is also known for its pebble filled beaches. For the shopaholics, there is the iconic flower and food market in the old quarters of the city. Of late, almost all the popular international brands have opened shops here. Nice is accessible by any mode of transport. The closest is the Nice International Airport.

Now that we have seen the most important places to visit, we will look at some of the fun things to do in the French Riviera. Since most people know about the night clubs and casino, we will discuss some of the unusual things you could do here.

 

Take a long walk

As we said earlier, the best way to see the Riviera is to take a walk. Don’t worry about getting lost; everything you need is quite close. A walk along the cobbled streets of the old regions of the Riviera is an unforgettable experience.

 

Smell the perfumes

Another economical way to spend your vacation is to visit the perfumeries in Grasse. Though some tours might be expensive, there are legendary perfumeries, like the one started by Fragonard in the 18th century, that gives free guided tours.

 

Eat!

Instead of eating the high priced, small portions of food from the high class restaurants and hotels, walk around the small streets and eat from the tiny roadside restaurants to get an authentic taste of France.

Run by the locals, these little restaurants are a great way to enjoy the Riviera and also to make some friends.

Though these are some of the places to visit and some of the things to do in the French Riviera, to get the real feel of the place, there is no other way than to visit it.

travel planning
Latin America – Bucket List Heaven!

Latin America has the potential to re-charge your batteries and sweep you away on a carpet of natural sites and eye-popping scenes unlike any other in the world, I’ve spent some amazing times in places like Ecuador and Peru and it draws me back time and time again…it’s certainly a heaps more exciting place to explore than the more famous backpacking trail in Asia.

Travelling inspires an appreciation for diversity and life, as Latin America beats its own drum and betrays a singular, sensuous rhythm; for want of a better description, it can only be categorised as the collective heart-beat of this very dynamic and colourful part of the world.

While a salsa siesta and street festival may tickle your fancy (and why not? The experience is absolutely not to be missed) and there’s also a heap of unique attractions – like Bolivias San Pedros Prison Tours –  spare a thought and a couple of days for the glories of the natural world or the mesmerising juxtaposition of civilisation – ancient or modern – and geographical location. Need an idea of where to start? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

 

Lago de Atitlán

The deepest lake in Latin America, Atitlan flooded a vast and cavernous caldera, formed over 80,000 years ago by an earth-shaking eruption; framed by three towering volcanoes, it’s beauty and imposition steal your words and breath away. The area is a thriving centre of villages and Mayan traditionalism, but the real action is beneath the surface, as divers and local fisherman have discovered many pre-classical buildings and historic infrastructure, some clearly defined and easily dated after pottery shards were retrieved.

 

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

An assuming and stately island shaped like an hour-glass, Ometepe is a curious anonmly rising from the depths of Lake Nicaragua. Though at first glance, Ometepe may look like two mountains getting warm and snuggly with each other, these peaks are anything but fuzzy. Two volcanoes connected by a stretched isthmus, Ometepe is a lush, fertile island but one with a price if any pyroclastic surge should arise. The Northwest volcano is named Conceopcion and she is certainly very active; after a long sleep, she started to wake up in 2005, fracturing roads and forcing the local government to advise an evacuation. Nothing happened until 2010, when things became decidedly heated. Maderas is dormant (some say extinct), providing rich soils for rainforest vegetation and plot cultivation. Ometepe is an important site in the Central American narrative.

 

The Pantanal

You may have heard of the Amazon and dreamed about its eccentric and eclectic mix of animals, serpents, amphibians, crawlies and beautiful plants, but we’ll let you in on a little secret. Cruising the Amazon won’t always be what you wish it to be – the animals hide and avoid the sound of boats and people, and the canals sweat muggy claustrophobia. If you’re chasing an Animalia experience, the sloped basin of Pantanal houses 1000 bird speces, 400 types of fish, 480 scaly reptiles and 300 mammals, plus the innumerable invertebrates, including the intelligent and playful giant river otter and the awesome giant ant eater. Looking for a little big cat action? The Pantanal supports one of the largest and sustainable populations of Jaguar globally.

Only one question remains…

What are you waiting for?

The beauty and hospitality of Latin America awaits. Go check out some sites like www.myadventurestore.com.au or stir up your favourite search engine – You won’t regret it. 

 

If you’re looking for low-cost cruise escapes, whether it’s cruise deals 2013 or an early bird discount for next year’s getaway, there are a number of ways to help cut the cost of cruise holidays. Here are just a few of them:

 

Compare the Cruise Market

Firstly, the best place to start is with a tour operator like Thomas Cook cruises. Thomas Cook don’t own or operate any cruise ships; instead they sell cruise holidays from other operators which means customers can search a huge choice of cruise holidays all in one place. It saves you having to check multiple websites and also means you can compare the prices and offering of each. Use the Thomas Cook website to enter your search criteria and to filter the results based on your key priorities, like price, sailing date and preferred destination, until you find a shortlist of favourites.

 

Book Late

An ever-popular way of booking a low-cost cruise is to book late. Just like package holidays, this is a great way to snap up a bargain and means you could save a significant amount on the cost of your holiday. It doesn’t work for all holidays and some might be more discounted than others, but if you’ve got cruise deals 2013 in mind, this is a handy way to find a bargain.

 

Early Bird Deals

For those who like to plan their trip well in advance, it usually pays to book early. This way, you can often benefit from early bird booking deals which might include financial discounts or other incentives such as onboard spending or a cabin upgrade. What’s more, when you book well in advance, you can enjoy extra time to save some holiday spending money and pay off the cost of your trip, which means by the time your cruise holiday comes around, you can jet off without a care in the world.

Paris – it’s the epitome of the romantic city escape which conjures up images of fine dining, sprawling night time cityscapes, good wine and picnics under the Eiffel Tower.

For those with jobs it’s a perfect place to splash some cash and treat a loved one.

But Paris can also cater for backpackers keen to sample the European hotspots, culture and history this part of the world has by the bucket load – and with a range of accommodation in Paris you can opt for hostels, guesthouses, couch surfing or hotels depending on your budget, city life doesn’t have to cripple your budget!

So what can Paris serve up for those with limited funds or a taste for something different?

Well here’s 5 budget savers for Frances capital…

 

Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris

If you love a bit of old school, grand architecture the gothis stone building of Cathedreal de Notre Dame de Paris will bit right up your alley! According to Lonely Planet it’s also the most popular unticketed site in Paris – 14 million people a year can’t be wrong hey?!

The pure detail and expanse of the building will captivate you for a good few hours…

 

 

Le Champ de Mars

Want to avoid the cost for getting up the Eiffel Tower? Well soaking up the sun here allows you some epic views, postcard perfect pictures and will leave you with an extra bit of cash in your pocket…the icon of France without the cost! Bonus points if you spot someone proposing!

 

Outdoor Food Markets

For the photographer in you food markets always provide some great pictures and a great way to pass a day exploring exotic treat and lets face it food is a huge part of travel. If you’re really on the backpacker scrounge you can chow down on free samples for lunch – consider it a backpacker tapas crawl!

 

Climb The Arc de Triomphe 

If you’re looking for some awesome views of Paris but don’t fancy the Eiffel Tower the Arc de Triomphe has some great panoramas, so instead of snapping it from the outside take the time to cimb up the small winding staircase and soak up the chaos around you.

 

The Louvre

Ok it cost to get in here – but if you can shell out 6 Euros maybe Paris isn’t the best place to be traveling to!

It’s one of the worlds biggest museums so you’ll easily get your monies worth on a visit here – with both the artworks it contains and the building itself being a huge draw for millions of visitors each year.

 

Personally I need to explore more of Europe – and Paris seems like a great bouncing point to start – I can’t wait to return here and see more of what France has to offer…Paris and beyond.

 

Has anyone else visited or lived in Paris? Any hints and tips to add to the list?

Europe is much overlooked by a lot of backpackers – especially those from the UK. It’s true what they say – you always neglect what’s on your doorstep.

But the compact size of the continent, it’s transport network and sheer diversity of language, cultures and terrain make it an amazing place to explore – whether you’re new to the backpacking circuit or a travel veteran

 

The Land Of Pasta and Pizza!

If you’re looking for a holiday with a difference, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to Italy.

This glorious country is home to enormous diversity, ranging from sandy beaches and dramatic rocky coves to glorious rolling countryside and stunning snow-capped mountains.

It really does have something to suit every vice and budget. Whether you want to carve up the power on a skiing trip, kick back and soak up the sun on the beach or a  immerse yourself in the latte culture with a chic city escape, this beautiful, effervescent place is happy to oblige.

Take to the slopes in the Italian Alps and enjoy the chance to whizz down snow-packed pistes, or carve up fresh powder on a snowboard as the icy spray that follows in your wake glistens in the sun. Or, visit in summer to enjoy long rambling trails, pine-clad hillsides and beautiful wildflower meadows.

Whilst not as famous as it’s Swiss and French cousins the snow of Italy can produce some amazing powder days.

 

Town And Country

For a different scene altogether, live the postcard dream and hire a villa in Tuscany to experience wide-open spaces and rural country living in this stunning Italian region, which is also home to the fabulous cities of Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Following days spent exploring meadnering back lanes and cooking up a storm on the barbeque, you can head to lovely Florence and marvel at its stunning architecture and statues, or head to Pisa to snap that cliche but bucket list photo holding up the leaning tower!

Many travellers choose to go their own way on a holiday to Italy. Thanks to its efficient rail network and numerous airports, it’s easy to get here and to get around – especially if you hire a car.

Although package holidays aren’t the usual attire of many young travellers it can prove a pretty cost affective way to get a great overview of the country and is perfect for a quick last minute trip away – and with everything included it’s means you can simply kick back and enjoy your time away without the stress!

There are some great options in the the beautiful Neapolitan Riviera, but you can also book skiing holidays to the Italian Alps, or use your hotel as a base and hire a car to get out and explore the region. If that’s up your street head over to the Thomas Cook website and get started…

 

So, when will you discover Italy?

You may be tempted into believing that a stay in one of the tourist spots in the Dalaman region of Turkey is enough to keep you occupied for your week or fortnight in the area and for most people, you’d be absolutely right. It all depends on what you want to achieve from your visit to Turkey and while Direct Holidays can guarantee an unforgettable stay at one of the excellent quality accommodation options, there’s something rather special about taking time out to explore the rest of Dalaman and, in particular, the impressive and majestic city of Fethiye.

The Dalaman region is home to some incredible sights, notably the mesmerising coastlines and picturesque vistas, but that’s not all that it has to offer its visitors. If you’re staying in one of the tourist hotspots and you want to explore a little further afield, there’s a wealth of options available to you in and around Fethiye.

dalyan2

 

Shop till you Drop 

Head to Fethiye on a Tuesday during your stay and enjoy the huge open market that can be found there. From crafts and leather to spices and produce, the stalls cover a broad range of wares and are well worth a perusal – be prepared to haggle if you want to grab a bargain!

The streets of Fethiye are home to some absolutely incredible shops if the market doesn’t have anything to tempt you – jewellery is a particular speciality with the price of gold being much more favourable than the UK.

fethiye

 

Explore the History 

Fethiye and its surroundings are home to a huge range of historical sites that would make perfect additions to your itinerary, including the ghost town of Kayakoy and the Tomb of Amyntas – perfect day trip options.

 

Seek some Adventure 

From paragliding in the hills of Olu Deniz to white water rafting along the Dalaman Stream, if you’re hoping for a thrill injection, you’ve come to the right place!

Add a little variety to your Dalaman stay and incorporate a day trip to Fethiye or a book yourself onto an excursion – the beaches may be inviting but you could add to your Turkish experience with ease.

I love Australia – it started my backpacking adventures back in 2009 and it’s still one of my favourite places on the planet.

Backpackers visit the land down under for many reasons – some for work, some for wildlife and some simply for the epic east coast backpacking scene. But despite being a relatively young country Oz has some heaps good culinary treats up its sleeve…so here’s a little guide to Aussie Cuisine…

 

Progression

Originally of course, traditional Australian fare was whatever indigenous foods were available to the Aborigines out in the bush. Then with the arrival of the British it  lapsed into the traditional meat and two veg meals that are the staple of the Brit table!

australian food backpacker
The Humble Bacon Sarnie – But A Bit More Posh!

After the Second World War however, with the influx of people from all over the world, first from northern Europe and later from the Mediterranean and Afacesia, the Aussie table once again changed as these immigrants brought with them diversity and tastes that up until then had been relatively unknown in Australia.

Over the years with the mixing of cultures and the blending of dishes, Australia can not be said to have only one traditional meal and has even re-vitalized old Aborigine favorites such as kangaroo and crocodile – which is always a different experience from the backpacker staple of 2 minute noodles!

Like most western countries Australia hasn’t  got a single traditional dish – in fact Australians have perhaps separated into two groups when it comes to their dietary preferences; there are the city dwellers and those that live in the country. In the cities and towns, especially the bigger ones, the diversity of the food matches the diversity of the cultures whilst in the countryside they are more restricted to ‘home grown’ fare.

 

Urban Eating

Although eating out in the cities of Australia may not be as inexpensive as perhaps the UK or the States, Australians love dinning out, which means that there has to be a large number of cafes and restaurants to cater to this need. This of course means that with a large number of restaurants, there is also a wide diversity in choices. It’s Asian neighbours have become a firm favourite with Vietnamese, Thai, Malay and Chinese restaurants becoming among the most popular.

So whether you’re staying in a backpacker hostel or using sites like au.hotelscan.com to grab a hotel deal you’ll be well placed to sample some great eateries.

 

australian food backpacker pie
And Who Could Forget The Pie?!

Country Eating

Although Chinese restaurants are starting to make an appearance throughout the country, there certainly is not an abundance of them at this time and so those Australians living in the isolated countryside do not have much chance to eat out and certainly do not have many choices if they do.

The Aussie pie is definitely a staple of the working Aussie though and there’s more choices than you could ever imgaine!

Traditionally in Australia, local hotels will sell meals at lunch time and the evenings but they do so between limited times and offer limited choice if any, often all hotels selling the one thing; steak, salad and chips (another lapse over from the British culture!). With such a limited choice to eat out, most Australians outside of the bigger towns cook for themselves but that hasn’t stopped them from seeking diversity and they have returned to some of the traditional foods of the Aborigine.

 

Aboriginal Food

Although there is now an abundance of better known meats available in Australia, the Aboriginal foods would consist of meat from Kangaroo, Wallaby, Emu and Crocodiles and in many backpacker towns you can tuck into an Aussie BBQ night serving up all of them. Other Aboriginal foods include Flathead fish, which although found all around the country have to be dealt with carefully as they have two poisonous spines on their backs, so be careful if you decide to go catch your own meal!

One of the most famous though it the Witchetty grubs –  larvae from Ghost Moths and were once collected for either eating raw or barbecued…although personally I couldn’t bring myself to try them.

australian food backpacker bbq
Get Your BBQ On!

BBQ

When anybody thinks of Australia, they probably think of BBQ – it’s the backbone of the Aussie household and beaches.

BBQs can be found throughout the country at beaches, parks and even some car parks, often free but sometimes coin operated. Although all Australians use BBQs, what they put on it can once again depend on where they live. If they live near the beach or coast they may BBQ shrimp or crab whilst those in the country may BBQ kangaroo or Emu.

 

Fruit and Vegetables

With it’s amazing tropical climate fruits are readily available in Australia both with perhaps traditional, well known ones like bananas, papaya, mangoes, pears and avocados and more local ones like Tasmanian Cherries and Quandong fruit.

A good variety of veggies are available too whether they are from America, Europe or Asia, they are all there. Vegetarian restaurants seem to have surprisingly become popular in this meat loving country so if you’re diet is swaying that way you’re all covered.

Although it may not be as cheap to eat out in Australia – especially if you’ve just bounced over from Asia, at least in the cities you will have as big a diversity of choices as you would at home and perhaps an even wider one.

Outside of the cities the choices may not be so vast but could certainly be different with many options being unique to Australia, such as crocodile eggs or grubs.

One of the great things about backpacking is the freedom this style of travel permits, and in this sense, Finland is the ideal destination. Its big, open skies and vast wilderness provide the setting for truly unique and thoroughly enjoyable vacations. Parts of the nation, particularly in the north and east, remain fantastically remote. For example, the Lemmenjoki National Park and Oulanka National Park offer quiet treks under pines and by lakes. In contrast, the capital Helsinki is a modern and bustling metropolis.

 

Summer Fun

During the warm but brief summer, the country comes to life in a burst of sunshine and travellers can experience festivals along with many other events throughout the year. Meanwhile, in winter visitors can enjoy dramatic snowy vistas while skiing, sledge riding and trekking. After a day in the elements, they can warm up in wood-fired saunas.

Backpackers keen to get away from it all while in Finland should make their way to Lapland, this beautiful northern outpost encapsulates much about this rugged yet welcoming nation. Extending hundreds of kilometres above the Arctic Circle, it offers continuous daylight in the summer and long nights in the winter. Holidaymakers in the area have a great chance to see the magnificent aurora borealis between late September and early April.

 

Get Cultured

At the other end of the spectrum, the coastal city of Helsinki offers style and culture in abundance, with plenty of museums, restaurants, cafes, Art Nouveau buildings and more. It also boasts great nightlife, particularly in summer. However, backpackers should note that there is a lack of cheap accommodation in the city and from mid-May to mid-August, it’s a good idea for holidaymakers to book in advance. In general, Finland offers lots of good quality hotels, but they are notoriously pricey. Those looking for budget options should set their sights on youth hostels as they are more affordable.

During the warmer months, the Lakeland region in the east of the country is well worth checking out. Here, lakes, rivers, locks and canals abound and visitors can take to the water in canoes and ferries. Meanwhile, the south coast also has plenty to offer. Its various coastal settlements include the city of Turku and tourists can check out a series of historic ironworks that have been turned into rural retreats.

Backpackers looking for budget for breaks in Finland should bear in mind that, as well as pricey accommodation, they will have to cover relatively high transport costs. Also, alcohol doesn’t come cheap, so nights out can leave wallets feeling distinctly lighter. That said booze from stores is more affordable.

So we’ve been a bit slack on the blogging front lately – the whole team is pretty busy bouncing around juggling travel and work (oh it’s a tough life hey) so we’ve decided to recruit a new face to the RTW Backpackers Team to help provide some entertainment and lighten the hard, arduous work load of blogging!

I’ve been following a few amazing travellers who I can tell will be having some heaps good adventures over the coming few months but it was a tough decision decided who would add some chaos to the mixing pot!

So let me introduce our newest wandering nomad – Stephen…

 

stephen a backpacker tale rtw backpackers blog
Meet Stephen!

So Stephen, introduce yourself…who are you and where are you from?!

Right! I’m an aspiring travel writer, adventure junkie, and world-wide vagabond from Ohio. In 2006, I took a trip to Ireland that rocked my world. After that trip, I went back home and nothing was the same. I had my first taste of a bigger world and backpacking culture; I fell in love with both.

Every year I would eagerly wait for summer, when I could take off for 3 months. At the end of each trip it was harder to come home. Two years ago I couldn’t take switching back and forth anymore and I started my path towards becoming a full-time vagabond. I worked, I saved, and I started a blog. Finally, a couple months ago, I set off to travel full-time; focusing and working two years to create the life I wanted was the best choice in my life.

I’m a backpacker to my core. I’m never more at home than when I’m showing up at a train station in a foreign country with my backpack and no set plans.

 

– You’ve just set out on your RTW adventure, any stand out highlights so far?

Can an entire country be a highlight? If so, Croatia holds that title.

However, by the time you read this I’ll have just  ran with the bulls. It is the main item on my bucket list, and if I survive I’m sure that it will be my greatest highlight.

 

stephen a backpacker tale rtw backpackers blog– ….anything you’ve had to learn or adapt to quickly that you didn’t envision?

Ha, it is funny you say envision. Two days ago on the beach in Barcelona sand got into my contact lens and scratched my eye. Yesterday, I had to wear an eye patch, plus, take my contacts out.

Imagine navigating the trains and subways in Spain, while you are trying to keep your valuables safe with almost zero visibility. Luckily, I had some friends to help me out or I would have never made it.

Today I can see a little better, but everything is still blurry. I’m going to use my lack of vision as an excuse for any spelling errors in this post, just kidding.

 

– Tell us some more about your blog, what can readers expect from your musings?

Alright, time for a little self-promotion! A Backpackers Tale is an adventure/misadventures travel blog. I focus on all the adrenaline pumping activates around the world. I want to encourage others to travel, to have adventures and to explore the world. However, I also offer practical travel tips and personal stories from the road.

It’s weird because I thought my audience would eat up the adventure posts but my personal stories, and thoughts are by far the most popular post on my site.

 

– What inspired you to start writing about your adventures

After traveling I developed a reputation in my town as being the go to guy for travel advice. I would receive emails from friends of friends, people I didn’t even know asking me for advice. Then, I discovered travel blogs and saw a passionate group of people living my dream, and writing about it. There really wasn’t an option from that point. Travel writing is a perfect outlet to share experiences while helping others to travel.

stephen a backpacker tale rtw backpackers blog

– Shameless plug time, what’s your favourite post so far?!

I like my post What Two Years of Saving To Travel Taught Me. It captures the moment in life when my dream was shifting into reality, and when all the hard work started to pay off.

 

– What’s the plan for the rest of the year then, where are you heading and any epic adventures in there?

I’m packing in the adventures in 2013! The Mongol Rally starts July 13th where I’ll be driving over 10,000 miles through two continents and nineteen countries in five weeks. After that, I have La Tomatina, Morocco and Oktoberfest. In October, I fly to India and from there; your guess is as good as mine until I fly to Australia in January.

 

– On your adventures what 5 things are you really stoked about doing?

I’m super pumped to be crossing some of the top things off my bucket list. My top five are the running of the bulls, camping in the Sahara, The Mongol Rally, Oktoberfest and Ye Ping Lantern Festival.

 

– Any awesome travel bloggers you’d recommend we all follow, who’s been inspiring you?

Well, Nomadic Matt taught me how to blog, so I always follow him closely. I also love reading Backpacker Banter; you’ve inspired me to pick surfing back up.

 

A few other blogs I follow closely are:

 

  • Further Bond
  • One Giant Step
  • Expert Vagabond
  • Active Backpacker
  • Pause the Moment

 

stephen a backpacker tale rtw backpackers blog– Any advice you’d give those thinking about long term travel?

Stick with it, traveling is awesome but like anything else you have days when all goes to hell. Use those days as a chance to learn. People are always surprised how strong and capable they are when they have to figure something out on the road.

 

Stephen will be blogging occasionally on RTW Backpackers – but you can also follow his adventures over at A Backpackers Tale and his tweets via @XXXXXXX

The US Open is one of the 4 Grand Slam tennis tournaments that take place every year. The importance of the event means that it attracts top players, with significant amounts of prize money on offer.
That prize money is regarded by most tennis players as being considerably less important than the prestige that can be earned by winning this famous tournament. A place in the history of the sport is guaranteed, joining the likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf.

For those wishing to see the players in action, the good news is that it’s possible to get tickets for the event, which takes place at Flushing Meadows, in New York City.

 

Book Early

Although tickets can certainly be expensive, they are made available to the general public in the months prior to the tournament. A variety of ticket options are available and you’ll generally pay more to witness the action on the show courts. Fortunately, the quality of the entry list means that you’ll also get to see some fantastic options on the other courts.

Unlike some other tournaments, the US Open also sees some matches being hosted after dark. Locals suggest that these night matches often have a particularly vibrant atmosphere.

If you are looking to see competitive matches, then you may wish to aim for dates towards the latter end of the tournament. The best players tend to make serene progress through the earlier rounds, meaning that matches can sometimes be a little shorter in length during the first week of action.

 

Getting There

If you’ve been examining your options for car hire in USA with Avis, then you’ll be pleased to hear that a considerable amount of parking is provided in the area surrounding Flushing Meadows. You do need to take into account the parking charges, however, since these are usually separate from the cost of entering the venue.

You may be tempted to bring a large bag of belongings on the day, but it’s worth noting that security is particularly tight and that all bags are searched. This means that your entry to Flushing Meadows will be delayed. You may wish to avoid taking a bag, if possible, in order to ensure that you can avoid the queues.

There’s also a distinct lack of shade available in the grandstands, so it makes sense to bring your own hat and sunglasses. Although it’s possible to buy such accessories within the grounds, prices do tend to be inflated.

You’ll also discover that it can be expensive to buy food and drink within the venue, but a number of stalls offer cheaper options outside the main gates. It’s possible for you to exit Flushing Meadows and to get your hand stamped, ensuring that you will have no problems with re-entry. That means that you can step outside at lunchtime and save yourself a bit of money.

As an alternative, you might prefer to pack your own sandwiches. The regulations at the venue do permit you to bring a reasonable amount of food and drink.

If you’d like to take the opportunity to get even closer to the stars of the tennis world, then look out for the autograph signing sessions, which take place on most days of the tournament.

Even if you can’t afford the prices that are associated with the very best seats, you shouldn’t despair. Action continues into the night on many of the outside courts. Even on the main courts, there’s a chance for you to get closer to the action than you may imagine.

Many wealthy visitors to the US Open tend to leave early and ushers will often hand out passes, as they attempt to fill seats. This means that it may be possible for you to get an upgrade, although this doesn’t happen every day.

In order to reach the US Open from the Grand Central Parkway, you should leave at the Tennis Center exit. You’ll then find that the venue is located on your right.

The US Open has a profile that is only matched by the Australian Open, the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships. Your visit to the US Open will be a memorable experience, allowing you to witness Grand Slam tennis live. It’s an opportunity that’s not to be missed.

People head to Thailand for a number of reasons – its cheap to get to, it’s easy to travel around and there’s a lot of culture to be had if you travel to the right places.

With its boom in backpacking unfortunately the land of a thousand of smiles has been slightly tarnished (I won’t go off on a rant about this – I’ll leave this to other bloggers who seem to get in a slight rage about things they can’t change and would rather sit in the past when “things were better”!).

The gorgeous white sand beaches can still be enjoyed though, you just have to look a little bit further afield for the slice of paradise you seek so much. That’s one of the joys of travel – if you want to find that idyllic place you have to discover somewhere new.

A well worn path will never look as good as it did the first trip around. 

Whatever your reasons for venturing in the hub of Asia there’s a variety of events year round, you simply have to pick your poison.

So here’s two of my favourite, sitting at very opposite sides of the travel scale…

 

Full Moon

full moon thailand
Full Moon – Bucket Fuelled Chaos!

If you’re coming to Thailand to let off steam, get messed up and make some bad decisions then the now iconic Full Moon Party is surely on your to do list.

Situated on the island of Koh Phangan (the east coast of Thailand) on the once tranquil beach of Haad Rin it has now become the poster event for how bac

kpacking can completely transform a place for all the wrong reasons.

Each full moon around 30,000 backpackers swarm to the beaches which are now littered with fire dancers, bucket sellers, illicit substances and more genres of music than you can shake your UV glow sticks at.

It’s the epitome of beach party madness!

…and no matter what your view on these type of events it’s something that has to be ticked off the travel bucket list.

It’s glorious, unadulterated chaos!

Make sure you pre book your accommodation (it sells out heaps fast, especially the summer months and the Haad Rin based hostels), prepare yourself (I put together this handy guide to surviving full moon), be safe and enjoy!

Lets face it – every backpacker needs to let off some steam every now and then!

 

Loi Kratong

On the very far and opposite side of the scale of Thai events is the traditional calendar filler of Loi Kratong.

It’s pretty much as far away from the backpacker created mayhem of Full Moon as you could wish to be and is perfect for the culture vulture traveller.

The event lies in mid November and celebrates the Thai goddess of water – locals and traveller alike fill the water ways of the country with floating lanterns.

Flickering flames, reflections in water, starry skies, people from all over the world coming together?! What could sum up the true spirit of travel more than something as picture perfect and romanticized as that?!

Personally I’d head up north to Chang Mai for the event – where thousands of people send flying lanterns into the air simultaneously, which is said to rid you of your troubles.

And seeing those flames float into distant skies certainly does have that affect.

…just make sure you take the time out to photograph the whole thing too as it’s a spectacle you’ll want to capture for your desktop wallpaper for sure!

 

Full moon and Loi Kratong – very same same but different. The perfect examples of good travel vs bad travel, the old and the new, the educated and the inebriated. 

..but both heaps good fun to slot into your Thailand travel itinerary!

 

What’s your favourite Thai event of the year? Any unusual things you’ve stumbled upon or recommend to backpackers heading that way?

Certain parts of Egypt are complete tourist traps but this is a vast country and there’s plenty to discover elsewhere if you’re looking for a more authentic Egyptian cultural experience. Here are some of our top tips.

 

Getting There

Isolated desert border points, tedious customs, and regional tensions mean your best bet really is flying in to Egypt. All major European countries run cheap flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, the country’s glittering coastal tourist resort. EasyJet runs flights from London, Geneva, Manchester and Milan for £50-100, saving £250 on a flight to Cairo. As soon as you set down, high-tail it out of Sharm. If you are set on the beach life, Dahab is more backpacker-friendly although no more Egyptian and Nuweiba is the spot for beach-hut seclusion. However, Egyptians don’t go to these resorts and you will hear more Russian spoken than Arabic. In Egypt all roads lead to El-Qahira, Cairo.

 

Getting Around

In Cairo, the transport system seems impenetrable. 20 million people swarm around almost as many identical white microbuses, that speedily criss-cross the city, spilling people as they go. Many bus  drivers take off their doors so they can cram more people in, hanging over the road on the flyovers. The experience cannot be missed. The adrenaline and the terror is part of daily life. Thankfully, Cairo also has a fantastic metro system, the lines are incredibly easy to navigate and each journey costs just 1EGP. Just don’t get into the wrong carriage, it is segregated between women and men.

 

Between cities there are plenty of air-conditioned buses that are a blessing – Superjet is the best company. Bus journeys are in fact usually far faster than the antiquated train system, a relic of the British occupation. Shared taxis are also a very viable way to travel between towns but always remember to haggle.

 

Eating

Street food in Egypt is incredibly cheap. Falafal wraps (‘tamiya’) are great value at about 1EGP while chicken or meat ‘shawarma’ is almost a full meal at 5EGP. The best deal is Cairene favourite ‘koshari’ – this spicy mix of rice, lentils, garlic, tomato, chickpeas and macaroni, topped with crispy onions starts at about 3EGP.

Be sure to try breakfast classics such as pitta bread with ‘foul’ (beanpaste) or fresh hummus.

 

Escape The Tourists

Although there are several big sights that it would be a travesty to miss – The Pyramids, Abu Simbel, Luxor, Aswan – the charge that Egypt has become just a package holiday destination is completely unfounded. As soon as you get off the main tourist route, which runs Sharm-Cairo-Luxor-Aswan, you can experience the real Egypt. Here are a few recommendations:

 

1) The Western Desert Oases

Four isolated oases mark the route of a prehistoric branch of the Nile through the Western Desert. El-Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga all have their distinct atmospheres but they share the same desert wilderness. Opulent date-palm plantations jostle with crumbling medieval fortresses, sand-swept ancient temples and Bedouin camps.

 

2) Alexandria

Cairo’s second city has a Mediterranean feel. French colonial architecture towers over cafes and book-markets on the way to the vast bay. The new Library of Alexandria is a fitting monument to the ancient wonder that fell in to the ocean. Divers can explore the ruins of Cleopatra’s Palace offshore. Siwa Oasis, where another language is spoken, is not far from here.

 

3) Assyut

This city will lead you well off the tourist trail. In Mubarak’s time Middle Egypt was out of bounds but now there is now nothing to stop you. Assyut is the industrial heart of modern Egypt and is interesting not for its architecture but for its culture. This is real, day-to-day Egyptian life and its markets are every bit as exciting as those in Islamic Cairo. Plenty of ancient temples and early Christian fortresses are in the local area as well.

 

 

Travelling the world is a wonderful experience and for those with the means to do so it can be the trip-of-a-lifetime. To ensure that a long-term commitment to travelling does not have to be cut short it is important to keep a keen eye on the budget.

As well as this it is important to have some relaxing downtime, whether that be on the beach or a bit of pampering. This allows you to reflect on all of the amazing sights you have seen and recharge your batteries before setting out once again.

In order to achieve these two aims it is a good idea to do some research in advance and get a great deal so that you can truly relax and know your funds are not being eaten away. Here is a guide to some of the places to take that time out. So sit back and enjoy planning your holidays for 2013.

 

Croatia

Croatia is pretty much the ultimate beach destination with its 5,835 kilometres of coastline stretching along the Adriatic. It is an incredibly easy place to travel with good public transport and an overall pleasant disposition in the locals.

It also offers some fascinating places to explore when you have had enough of relaxing on the beach. The picturesque old towns and pretty fishing villages are perfect for wandering around and taking it all in.

By booking through an online deal you will also be able to make your money go further and indulge in the type of luxury you haven’t experienced elsewhere on your trip. Sooth aching bones with a massage and wile away the hours in a Jacuzzi – absolute bliss.

 

Portugal

Portugal is another great option for those of you who want to spend some time flaking out on the beach, with plenty of choices as to which piece of the coast to choose. Whether you prefer to be in a resort or tucked away in a quiet bay there will be somewhere that is just perfect for you.

As well as the sun worshipping, Portugal maintains much of its pre-tourist charm with little fishing villages to explore and small pine forests in which to take walks. And if all of that sounds like a lot of effort why not just chill out on your terrace or spend the day catching up on your reading by the pool?

 

Greece

When it comes to taking a break from the frenetic pace of a world trip then Greece is a good shout as it offers so many different possibilities. With hundreds of inhabited islands you are bound to find a spot that suits you, whether that be for accessing the beaches of Kos, nightlife of Zante or the historic sites of Crete.

Greek food is particularly tasty and an all inclusive deal is a great way to eat like King Minos while staying within your budget. Fresh salads packed with locally produced olives, feta cheese and the reddest tomatoes you have ever seen complement the climate totally.

Even if you intend to stay in one place for a while it is easy to hop between islands for a daytrip if you know that you get restless easily. Otherwise grab a cocktail and watch the sun go down behind the white-washed walls and blue sea.

 

You’re young, you’re free, and you’re looking to party. With these basic truths helping guide your travel itinerary, you should consider these tried-and-true destinations known for offering nightlife experiences like few other places on earth. So pack your bags, leave your inhibitions, and head out to some of the world’s best party locations.

 

New York

Along with being generally regarded as an incredible place to visit, New York has earned a reputation as a global contender for best place to party. The various boroughs of the city are packed with bars and clubs that are each trying to outdo the other on the dance and drink scale.

You can try Greenwood Park, a popular beer garden with 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space devoted to beer and revelry. This former mechanic shop has happy-hour deals inside and bocce courts out back.

For a true Manhattan skyline experience, head to La Piscine at the Hotel Americano, where the young, beautiful and restless indulge in margaritas and tapas next to a pool that becomes a big hot tub in the winter.

 

Ibiza

It would not be possible to round up party destinations without talking about Ibiza. The Balearic paradise is the global hedonistic capital. The year-round sun and never-ending clubbing season has made Ibiza the most famous European party destination of all.

The island is beautiful in its own right, so even if partying 24/7 isn’t your thing, there’s plenty to do to fill your time. However, if an Ibiza holiday 2013 is your thing, then San Antonio is the place to be – the music and the dancing never end!

 

Budapest

The river Danube cuts Budapest in two, between the historical cities of Buda and Pest. Although Budapest does not initially strike you as a great city for partying, there is a growing dance music scene in the city, and a night out at Buda beach (sometimes known as Buddha Beach) is definitely worth a look.

These ‘beaches’ lie right in the middle of the city and in the summer they open up onto the river, so you can party the night away on the banks of the Danube. The drinks are cheap, the music is loud, and the bars stay open late – it’s pretty much perfect.

full moon thailand
Full Moon – Bucket Fuelled Chaos!

 

Thailand

If your budget for flights is a little larger, then a trip to Thailand is definitely in the cards. The cost of living in Thailand is minimal, and so any expense on the travel there is reclaimed once you head out to the bars and restaurants.

One of the best parties in the world is the once-a-month Full Moon Party in Ko Phan Ngan. Here they serve drinks by the bucket, and the balmy weather means you can party on the beach until the sun comes up.

 

Berlin

Berlin has become the spiritual home of house and trance music in the last ten years. The number of abandoned warehouses, particularly in the eastern half of the city, means that there are a number of super clubs in the city that have become destinations in their own right.

Berghain is this kind of place-to-be club, and it has become one of the most famous techno locations in the world. Although you don’t have to be in to dance music to enjoy Berlin’s nightlife, it definitely helps. Plus, it’s difficult not to love a city that sells beer by the litre.

If you are looking for the best places to party in the world, then the only determining factor is your bank balance. Whatever your budget, you can definitely find somewhere to party until the break of dawn.

Holidays in Central America can take many forms. Cultural visits to ancient Mayan sites, lazy beach vacations set among the palms and activity adventures involving white-water rafting and zip lining.

And for those who enjoy strapping on their walking boots and hitting the trails, there’s a huge range of spectacular hikes to be enjoyed, featuring volcano walks and oceans views.

If you fit into the latter category, here’s a list of the best walks in Central America, which you can get stuck into with TrekAmerica.

 

Cerro Chato, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country blessed with incredible natural landscapes, many of which are dominated by towering volcanoes. Located in the centre of the country, the Arenal Volcano National Park is home to several spectacular cinder cones.

Although Volcan Arenal is the most prominent in the park, it is far too dangerous to climb. However, the slightly smaller, and dormant, Cerro Chato is perfectly safe for hikers.

Those who make the tough trek up through the humid forest to its 1,140m summit are rewarded by the sight of a beautiful turquoise lake, which they can scramble down to for a closer look.

You have to pay a small fee to climb the volcano, with the main route starting from the Arenal Observatory Lodge. The steep ascent and descent can be accomplished in four to five hours.

 

Volcan Maderas, Nicaragua

If you can’t get enough of climbing volcanoes and visiting crater lakes, you’ll love the ascent to the summit of Volcan Maderas on the island of Ometepe, situated in the centre of Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua.

Slightly shorter and less dangerous than its cousin, Concepcion, Maderas makes for a challenging but doable day’s hiking. Although this is a popular hike, a guide is necessary to ensure your safety, and the climb to the 1,394m summit is a tough all-day one, often made more challenging by slippery and muddy conditions underfoot.

Upon reaching the top, you’ll be treated to the sight of Laguna de Maderas and fine views to Concepcion. As with Cerro Chato, a small fee is payable that allows you to trek through the coffee plantation on the slopes of the volcano.

 

Cusuco National Park, Honduras

If peak bagging is not your thing, but trekking through lush jungles in search of waterfalls and wildlife is, the Cusuco National Park offers endless opportunities for exploration.

Head underground into the Taulabe Caves, which extend for miles, sample the raw power of the Pulhapanzak Waterfall, where the water plunges 140ft. You may even get the chance to take a guided tour into the caves directly behind the waterfall or swim in one of the pools.

And as part of the Meso-American biodiversity hotspot, there are also plenty of exotic species lurking in the forest, such as Baird’s tapir and jewel scarab beetles.

 

Hiking tips

For all of these hikes you’ll need to come prepared. Sturdy walking shoes or boots, a waterproof jacket (jungles can get pretty wet at times) and a rucksack containing plenty of water and snacks are a must. Also remember, it gets colder and windier at altitude so while you might not need layers when you set off, by the time you reach the peak it could be chilly.

You’ll also want a camera to capture the sights, some sun cream for when you’re on more exposed sections and some bug spray with plenty of DEET in it.

Once considered a medium-sized Spanish City, Valencia has undergone a massive transformation in the last 10 years. The creation of the ‘City of Arts and Science’ is one statement that underlines the nature of the place, especially as it comes from that of renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. It is fair to say, that Valencia has now become iconic for its beautiful architecture and cultural importance, this is highlighted from its reputation lying with its inner city buildings rather than its beautiful beach sitting right next to it.

 

Thinking of going this summer? Well it’s heaps easy to find places to stay in Valencia – but be sure to take your sun cream – at this point of the year Valencia begins to knock up temperatures of 30-40 degrees, and with the vastly built up area, there is not much of a breeze to settle the heat. Bare this in mind when going out, think about trying to get things done in the morning – the weather can play with you at times.

 

In terms of travel, you’re best off just using public transport because there is so much of it in and around the city. Valencia offers both the Bonobus and Bonometro, an option that is best for value for money. Wherever you need to get to, there will be a bus for it, so you won’t be short in wasting time trying to get to places. In the hustle and bustle of the city, it can get very humid on buses with the crowds, so be sure to take plenty of rests at cafes around the city. Preferably, just walking can cover much of the city, but it can become tiring in the heat.

 

The City of Arts and Sciences is somewhere you cannot ignore, the centre has 5 buildings, offering something for everyone from opera to the IMAX. Check out the Science museum, a completely 21st century experience that offers interactivity with almost all of its contributions to science and technology. Just a short walk and you’re at the Agora, a huge sporting complex that has been home to some worldwide events, including the Valencia Open Tennis tournament. This really is a place to visit throughout the day, its modern facilities provide you with an enjoyable day out to both learn and have a bit of fun! Once more, the centre is never overcrowded, so you are able to walk around and not feel pressured to move on.

 

If its photography and culture you’re after, then I highly recommend the North Station. Take your time, sit back and take in some of the breathtaking architecture from creator Demetrio Ribes. The building has it all, using a range of wood, glass, marble, metal and ceramics to produce a stunning view of old and new. Be sure to take your camera with you, the building offers some great photography with the glimmer of the sun bouncing off the colourful glass. A short trip, but one certainly worth taking!

 

If you’re fancying something a little bit different though, check out the Oceanografic, a stunning aquarium that holds a range of different buildings with so much to do. The building features underground tunnels, where you are able to quite literally walk with the whales! The crystal clear waters and state of the art facilities ensure you will never have a disappointing trip! So, instead of taking your chances with a dolphin boat trip, pop to the Oceanografic to get up close and personal with sharks! There are a few cafes on sight so there is food available, all you really need is your camera to get some snaps you won’t get anywhere else!

 

Valencia is a beautiful place to be, but don’t let the hot temperatures and stuffy city travelling stop you from enjoying the city.

 

It seems a bit of a shame to travel all the way to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro and then simply jet home again without seeing any more of the country. Don’t get me wrong, the experience of ascending the peak is amazing, but it’s also worth allowing a bit of time to explore what’s on offer elsewhere in Tanzania once you’ve finished the trek.

To give you some inspiration, I’ve come up with two suggestions of places to visit and things to do after the first part of your holiday to Kilimanjaro comes to an end.

 

Visit Zanzibar

The first option is to head to the stunning tropical islands of the Zanzibar archipelago – the perfect place to kick back and relax after climbing a mountain! There are two main islands here, with lots of small islets dotted around them. Their location in the Indian Ocean means you can expect to find pristine white-sand beaches, as well as amazing coral reefs just below the surface.

While you may be tempted to just sit back and relax on the coast after the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro, I think it’s better to include a few activities and excursions on your trip to Zanzibar. One place worth visiting for a dose of culture is Stone Town, a vibrant and eclectic city that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a host of outstanding buildings.

Large palaces and mansions can be found on its streets, as well as small houses nestled on its narrow alleys, a wide range of restaurants and shops and bustling markets. It’s got more than its fair share of historical sites, too, with the Anglican Cathedral, House of Wonders, Palace Museum and the Old Fort among the places you shouldn’t miss.

 

Go on a safari in Africa

Tanzania is a wonderful place to go on a safari and, although you may have spotted some of the country’s fascinating wildlife during your Kilimanjaro ascent, I think the chance to see a host of amazing animals in their natural habitat is too good to pass up – after all, you have travelled a long way to get here, so you may as well make the most of it!

You can travel to the famous Serengeti Game Reserve if you want, or head to one of Tanzania’s lesser known national parks, like Lake Manyara, Tarangire or the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. If you don’t have lots of time to spare on your safari adventure, I reckon Lake Manyara is the best choice.

This reserve is relatively small – 330 sq km – and, unsurprisingly, features a very large lake! Because it’s reasonably compact, it’s a great place to see a wide variety of creatures in a short space of time. For instance, in the forests you can look for the likes of baboons, blue monkeys, bushbucks and forest hornbills, while on the flood plains you’ll spot animals including wildebeest, zebras, buffaloes, klipspringers, lions and elephants. Around the lake itself there are hippos, in addition to a vast array of birds, such as pelicans, cormorants, flamingos and storks.

If you’re after spectacular scenery as well as astounding wildlife, the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best options, with the stunning Olduvai Gorge and the vast volcanic crater among the landscapes you’ll encounter. The main crater is home to black rhinos, lions, grant’s gazelles, elands and zebras, to name just a few, while leopards are found on its forested upper slopes.

Mon has already chatted through some great ways to start saving for your backpacker travels – but what about once you’re on the road?

Yup money will be at the fore front of your mind through all your adventures, but if you manage it and are sensible there’s no reason that it should ruin your mood!

I’ve been on the road for a few years now so I’ve picked up a few handy tips for saving money – so here’s 5 of my top tips for saving whilst you’re on the road…

Last Minute Deals

Last minute travel deals are a great way to keep your bank balance healthy whilst bouncing around. Things like standby rates on trips and accommodation are more common than you think so keep an eye out.

If time is on your side being flexible enough to accommodate a few days waiting around for a spot to open up can soon let the savings mount up.

travel planning
Proper Preparation…

 

Pre Booking

On the flip side of waiting until the last minute is pre booking things, which is something Sam mention with her pre travel tips. When I left for Australia I knew I wanted to complete my PADI dive course on the barrier reef from Cairns.  Having this all paid upfront nearly 9months before I even landed meant it was a huge cost out of mind and I could simply turn up and enjoy the whole thing as it then didn’t form part of my budget.

Pre booking some things like bus passes also means you can take advantage of sales as they come up – take the Kiwi Experience for example, they quite often offer up to 50% off their bigger passes if you pre book…now that’s some serious discount!

 

Creating A Budget – And Sticking To It!

Having a solid budget always allows you to save on the road, it reigns in your drinking, makes you think twice about big spends and generally means you spend your money wisely.

Sticking to that budget on the other hand can be a bit more troublesome! It’s easy to say it doesn’t matter if you go over but it can quickly mount up.

A handy thing I’ve started doing is taking out your weekly spend in cash and keeping half in my wallet and half in my bag, that way I know exactly where I stand budget wise. If i over do it one day, I simply take it off of the next days spend. The trick is being strict with yourself!

 

Discount Cards

Sure a card that saves you a dollar everytime you spend heaps of money may sound like a waste of time – but on trip of a few months or more those savings can really add up and you’d be surprised how quickly they can snowball!

Whether it’s a hostel chain card, supermarket card, cram your wallet with some plastic and let the savings build up.

 

Group Together

One of the simplest things to do to save you money is bulk buying and grouping together. If a group of you want to do a tour approach them and negotiate a deal if you all book in one hit.

The same goes for booking two or more activities, there’s no harm in asking for a discount if you book them all in one go, whats the worse that could happen!?

If you plan on staying in a hostel for a while too ask if they offer a weekly rate or if they’ll cut you a deal for a longer stay – most hostel will be happy to reduce your room rate by a few dollars per night – happy days all round!

 

Any of you guys picked up some great ways to save on the road? Share the love and help your backpacker brethren out!

It’s a common problem affecting the best of us – your bank balance is not as healthy as you would like it to be – but this does absolutely nothing to negate your burning desire to get away from it all with one of the last minute deals that you find online. You’re not alone and that’s why we have compiled a checklist of ways to ensure that you are ready to rock at a moment’s notice…

 

Time off

Unless you work in the rare kind of place where the HR guy isn’t a complete tyrant, you will need to make sure that you have booked the time off well in advance – normally at least two weeks. Booking the time off doesn’t mean that you also need to book the holiday. As the time approaches, lie in wait and keep a close eye on those websites to find the best deal for the dates that you have off work.

 

Vaccinations

Depending on where you are planning on going, it is probably worth checking whether or not you will have to pay your doctor a visit to get some vaccinations. If you are off to more tropical climes you will need to make sure you have up-to-date typhoid, tetanus, polio, diphtheria and hepatitis A jabs, plus it is possible that you will need malaria tablets. Although it is cheaper to visit your GP for these, if you are really pressed for time, you can visit a travel clinic where you will pay more, but get the jabs faster.

 

Visas

This won’t be a worry if you only plan on holidaying in Europe but again, if you plan on snapping up a deal to somewhere more exotic then you will need to check what the visa restrictions are. If you are off to the USA, you can get your ESTA visa granted online in minutes; others you will be able to get upon arrival to the country as long as you aren’t staying more than 30 days. However, some countries like India and Vietnam are far stricter and may require a trip to the Embassy. Make sure you are informed before you go ahead and book anything to avoid being sent home as soon as you arrive!

 

Pre-pack

If you are King or Queen of the last minute deal then you are probably one step ahead of us already and have that case packed! Those who aren’t so organised could at least make sure that their case is loaded up with all the travel toiletries that you will need and a list of what to pack should you book something which means you only have hours to get packed and get to the airport.

 

Money

Hopefully you have been putting aside the funds for a while now in order to pay. It’s a good idea to keep your holiday fund separate from your day-to-day funds so that you don’t spend it elsewhere and then have to whack the last minute holiday on your credit card. Keep that holiday fund topped up and ready to go!

They say good things come in small packages, and those seeking for the proof to support the claim need look no further than the lovely Mediterranean island of Menorca. Far smaller and less developed than its Balearic sibling Majorca, this Spanish island is one of Europe’s real hidden gems.

So why come here with the bigger Balearic island lying just across the water? Well for one thing, whilst Majorca may have stolen the crowds, the reputation and Franco’s construction budget in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Menorca has been left with something far rarer and more valuable: its purity.

 

Get Back To Nature

Boasting places of extreme natural beauty such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands and a rich biodiversity notable thanks to the island’s abundance of flowering plants, birds and butterflies, this really is a Mediterranean Eden. Menorca is practically unique in its region in offering the opportunity to discover miles upon miles of secluded, if not deserted beach, which for some travellers represents adequate reason to book a ticket in itself. If you’re looking for sun-kissed bliss in an unspoilt location with a strong tourist infrastructure, you couldn’t do better than look into some of the options available for Menorca holidays.

Menorca has all the wonderful scenery, flora and fauna you could possibly hope to see in any holiday destination, but that’s not all. The island also bursts with an alluring human presence, past and present that really brings its beautiful environment to life.

The locals of this so called ‘Gem of the Balearics’ love nothing more than a good fiesta, making the summer months your optimum period to plan a visit to Minorca. Fiesta season runs (intermittently) from late June until late September – be sure to check dates carefully with your tour operator or a reputable online source before booking. Highlights of the fiesta calendar include the stirring ‘L’ithica’ full moon pageant (August 6-8) and The ‘Festes de Sant Joan’ – watch out for a burly local man carrying a grown sheep through the streets at this one!

 

A Quiet Drink?!

Menorca is not famous as a party island in the ‘UV foam party/throwing up everywhere’ sense, and to many, that’s exactly where its appeal lies. There’s ample provision however, for a spot of cultured fun-seeking; traditional singing and dancing, and drinking Pomada, a traditional mixture of gin and bitter lemon – phew!

This really is the Mediterranean island destination for grown ups – absolutely not dull in any way as some would like to think us adults are, but mature, tasteful and truly rewarding. People have settled here since prehistoric times as the island’s extant megalithic structures attest, and within its traditions it’s not hard to see a strong link back to the distant, distant past. To experience a taste of how the Menorcans have enjoyed unwinding over the centuries, waste no time in booking yourself a flight and setting out for this vibrant paradise.