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10 April 2016

11 Budget Travel Tips

Hey guys,

Travelling can be really expensive. On average, a hotel can be around $200 per night (and that is for the most basic room!), flights can be anywhere upwards of $40 one way, and once your there, you have expenses that can really add up. I am really into being frugal when travelling, so I have worked out eleven handy tips for keeping travel costs to a minimum.

1. Book hotels early for the 'earlybird discount'
Many hotels offer an early booking discount, if you book in advance (often you need to book 30 days prior for this discount). This can cut off around $30 (depending on the hotel) off of the total cost, so it is worth doing. If you know that you are taking a holiday, take advantage of this offer.

2. Compare hotel prices and ask to price match
Often the best way of booking a hotel is by calling the hotel. If you look at all different websites (for example, Wotif, Bookings.com, TripAdvisor, Agoda, Expedia), and find the hotel rate cheaper than what the hotel is offering, you can call up the hotel and ask them if they'll match the price. Usually they will do this, and then you are able to book direct with the hotel, rather than through a third-party site.

3. Don't book flights through a travel agency
Travel agencies usually charge an extra fee (around an extra $20 each way) for having used the travel agency. Instead, book the flight through the airline directly, so you won't have to pay the fee.

4. Look carefully at what method you pay for you flight.
When you pay for the flight, there's quite a few options for payment. If you use a credit card, there's is quite a hefty fee for using it. As an alternative, there is usually an option to pay for it with a direct bank transfer. Make sure you check your payment method, so you can avoid the extra fees.

5. Find out flight sales day, and book that day/time.
Most airlines have a sales day and time. With Jetstar, it is Friday at 6pm - 8pm. If you book during this time, then costs of flights are really cheap (I once got a flight Gold Coast to Sydney for $29!!!)

6. Plan an itinerary to estimate the costs.
If you plan your itinerary, it helps to you estimate the cost of the holiday. You don't have to do it to the extent I do (I plan a minute-by-minute itinerary!!), but if you write down what activities you will do each day, you can get a rough idea of the cost.

7. Use public transport instead of taxis.
Needless to say, public transport is a lot cheaper than taxis. Although public transport is the worst here on the Gold Coast, in the cities (like Melbourne and Sydney), the network is amazing and really convenient to use.

8. Get a local travel card.
This goes with the previous tip. A lot of the major cities have travel cards which are used instead of paper tickets. For example, Gold Coast/Brisbane has a GoCard, Melbourne uses Myki cards, and Sydney uses Opal cards. With these travel cards, you pre-load on money, and then just tap your card on and off when you uses buses, trains, ferries and trams. The travel card is always much cheaper than paper tickets are (for example, from Gold Coast to Brisbane on the train costs $6 with a GoCard, and $20 with a paper ticket. As well as being a lot cheaper, it really is just more convenient to have a card rather than having to buy paper tickets.

9. When booking flights, look at all airlines.
Usually when I book flights I go straight for Jetstar, which is the known "budget airline". However, when I was booking flights to/from the Whitsundays, I found that although it was cheap enough to get a returning flight from the Whitsundays, the flight going there was cheaper with Virgin, which is considered a more "premium airline". Sometimes the premium airlines are surprisingly cheaper, so it is best to shop around before going straight to the budget airline.

10. Try to just take carry-on luggage.
If you can, just take carry-on and not worry about checked. Some airlines don't include any checked, especially if they are domestic flights. I take a small suitcase as carry on, and don't bother with checked. This is not only cheaper, but it saves a lot of hassle at the airport.

11. If you want to go on a tour, see if it is cheaper to go there independently.
When I went to Sydney, I went on a Home and Away Tour. The tour itself was a bit rubbish (they didn't take us anywhere, it was just a maniac bus driver taking three hours to drive us there, then he left us to get on with is). We paid $100 for that tour, so in hindsight it would have been cheaper to catch public transport up there and go there ourselves.

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6 April 2016

The Wanderlust Tag

Hey guys!

It's been quite a while since I last blogged on here, I think my last post was somewhere around January. I've been pretty busy so far this year, what with working on a few secret projects, and with senior year being a thing right now.

At the moment I've got a bit of travel fever. I'm super excited, since in May, I am spending a week in the Whitsundays, travelling around the islands on a houseboat with my family. In my excitement for this upcoming holiday, I will (hopefully) be writing a heap of blog posts about travelling. Today I'm going to be doing the Wanderlust Tag, which is a series of questions about travelling. I couldn't find a set list of questions for this, so I've just pulled the questions from various sources to write this.

Where have you travelled to that you would love to travel again? Everywhere I have been I have loved, so this question is really, really hard. In particular, two of my favourites are Sydney and Byron Bay, so I would love to visit both of those destinations again.
Byron Bay at sunset

The Sydney Opera House


You're leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going? I would be going on a trip around Europe. Ideally I would like to spend a week in each place. The itinerary includes England, France, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or cars? Probably planes, just for efficiency reasons, although if I am in the window seat I drive everyone mental, because I can't sit still for a whole flight, and have to get up to "go to the toilet" (meaning I just need to walk around). I don't particularly like trains, as I catch one to school everyday, although I would love to do one of those overnight train trips, like The Sunlander or The Ghan. I'm not a fan of car trips, because I can't sit still for long enough and get fidgety, but I would love to do a roadtrip with my friends one day.

Favourite travel website? In terms of reviews, I love TripAdvisor (although there have been times when these reviews haven't been exactly accurate!!). For booking accommodation, I like Bookings.com, because it's a nice website and is really easy to look through. With regards to travelling blogs, I like Joseph Travels, because the blog posts are really honest and funny to read.

Where would you travel to just to eat the food? Anywhere, I love trying the food that belongs to the culture of the place I am in.

A Chinese buffet (China Bar Signature)...not in China...but in Chinatown in Melbourne


Is there a place you would never go again? Not that I have been to so far, everywhere I have travelled to (as of right now) I've really loved.

Can you recite your passport number from memory? Definitely not! Most of the flights I take are domestic, where they don't need you to have your passport. The only time I've ever used it was to travel back to England in 2009.

Do you prefer the window, aisle or middle seat? I like having the window seat, for the view when taking off/landing, but I do get up a lot in flights to walk, so it's probably nicer for me to have an aisle seat.

How do you pass time on the air plane? I always read a lot on planes. I'll take those trashy celebrity gossip magazines, and then a book that I've been wanting to read. Some books I've had in the past on planes were Ascend by Amanda Hocking, Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr, A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks and Girl Online by Zoe Sugg. I do read really quickly, though, so sometimes (like on the three-hour flight to Melbourne) I finish the book before the end of the flight.

Hotel or hostel? Definitely hotels. I don't love the idea of sharing a bathroom at a hostel.

Your most treasured passport stamp? I don't have that many, because, as I mentioned before, the only international flights I've taken are between England and Australia.

Top 3 travel items? My camera, my sunglasses and my converse.

Are you a repeat visitor or do you like to go to new places? I like going to new places, but if I love a place or have a reason to return, I won't say no (like Sydney!!)

Central Sydney
Do you research your destination or do you wing it? I research heaps before I go on holiday!! I usually start planning a year before, and I get every detail down - where we are going each day, what we are doing, how we're getting there...even where we are going for dinner!!

What is the best/worst hotel you have ever stayed in? The absolute best hotel is by far the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney. The hotel was beautiful. The lobby had all marble (?) tiles and columns, with a red carpet, and a concierge man who greeted you every time you went in or out of the hotel. The worst hotel was probably the Pullman on the Park in Melbourne. It wasn't that it was a dirty or bad hotel, it was just that after having been to the Radisson, going to the Pullman was a little bit of a disappointment.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Sydney

Pullman on the Park, Melbourne
Where would you recommend a friend to visit? That depends. For a city holiday, I would definitely say Sydney, because the city is beautiful and there is heaps to do there (maybe I should do a "Things to do in Sydney" post??). For a beach holiday, I am tied between Byron Bay and Port Douglas, because they are both really cute little beach towns!

Do you buy souvenirs when you travel? Yes. I always get a few postcards, as well as a snowglobe, because I collect a snowglobe from every location. I also like to get a deck of cards from everywhere I travel to.

Darling Harbour, Sydney

Byron Bay

Port Douglas Harbour
Where was your first plane to? The first plane I caught was when I moved from England to Australia in 2006. Well, technically the plane was to Dubai, because that was the first stopover.

Where are you travelling to next? In about four weeks, I am going to spend a week houseboating around the Whitsundays (so expect a heap of blog posts about that when I get back!!). After that, I am planning a holiday going around Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru for next year.

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