Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Travel's In Review

So 2012 wasn't as big a travel year as 2011, but it did start off with a bang..

January 2012
We finished 2011 in South America and our trip there continued through January.

Machu Picchu, Peru (New Years Day)
Cusco, Peru
Colca Canyon, Peru
Arequipa, Peru
Nazca, Peru
Paracas, Peru
Lima, Peru
Galapogos, Equador
Quito, Equador
Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina
Santiago, Chile
Rapanui/Easter Island
Papeete, Tahiti
Moorea, Tahiti

February 2012
We kept it local for our five year anniversary, spending the day eating at Peats Bite, NSW

April 2012
We spent the Easter long weekend snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef on Wilson Island, Queensland

June/July 2012
We once again visited the Cook Islands, starting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, including the Cross Island Track, then heading off to one of the smaller outer Islands Mauke, Cook Islands.

September 2012
While based in Melbourne, Victoria for work, DH came down for a weekend.

October 2012
Not one's to stay at home when we can get away, we visited Hobart and it's surrounds in October.

Hobart, Tasmania, including MONA
Port Arthur, Tasmania
Tasman Island, Tasmania

Followed by a quick trip to Brisbane, Queensland for the rugby.

December 2012
Saw us celebrate my birthday by a home stay in Sydney


Okay, when I put it all together, it's not a bad effort for 2012....what was your year like?

Thanks for reading my posts this year, hears to great travels in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wish List: NYC on NYE!

We live in one of the best cities to celebrate NYE. There is simply no better place to bring in the new year, than sitting on Sydney Harbour watching the fire works on a warm, balmy night.

But I got distracted, new years in New York has always been on my wish list, but that's a little bit unoriginal. So I was very pleased when I found the New Year's Eve Midnight Run & Fireworks in Central Park. The 4 mile or 6.4 km, starts at midnight. They have fire works, plenty of supporters and a champagne station, yes a champagne station.

This isn't a race for those trying to achieve a personal best for the distance, there's no corals, no timing chips, it's all about getting out and having some fun to bring in the new year.

Has anyone done this run?

What's your plans for bringing in the New Year?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Travel by Accommodation

We've been lucky to travel to some a wide variety of places and the accommodation we've used has varied from the luxuriousness to the basic. They each have there advantage and disadvantages. Sometimes when all your doing is sleeping at the place basic is all you need, other times there's not a lot of option. Glamping has become a newer thing in Australia, which I personally love because it has the advantages of camping with a touch (or two) of luxury! So these are our favourites by "category"

Hands down it has to be Lord Howe Island and the Capella Lodge.

The Bay of Fires lodge used during the Bay of Fires Walk is a close second.

This is a toss up between Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay (which reminds I'll have to blog about that sometime soon) and Wilson Island, which is well know for it's "Ship wreaked in Style" feel.

We haven't done a lot of this lately, but the place we slept on day 1 of the Inca Trail had a spectacular view, and someone else set up your tent for you.

This one is difficult we've staying in quite a few small, boutique places, including the Islington Hotel in Hobart.

This is the prime example of where to stay when you want to spend little money, and there's one country that does them extremely well - New Zealand. The room we stayed in in Te Anau to base ourselves for our Sound cruises was clean, private (you can choose private rooms with or without private baths) and inexpensive.

We haven't done a lot of this, cruising isn't really our thing, but there are some places that are better seen by boat, such as our cruise on Doubtful Sound or our cruise in the Galapagos. Our boat in the Galapagos was our favourite, mainly due to the low number of guests (16).

Some trips we've been on a tight budget, so it can be a mater of how to we find budget accommodation without a tent and without staying in a hostel? One good example of this is the cabins we stayed at in Kings Canyon National Park in California, they were a great low cost option right in the park.

This is a bit of a broad group, and maybe should be other. I guess out of everything left the Hotel Bristol in Opatija with it's gorgeous sea views also belongs on this list.

Where is your favourite accommodation? Do you tend to stick to the same style?

Friday, December 7, 2012

To tour or not to tour

Everyone has their own travel style. Most people have strong opinion one way or another on traveling in groups or a tour group. We do a mix and match. Why? Because there are advantages and disadvantages to both:

Advantages of a tour group

  • There's a coup or a natural disaster someone has already figured out your alternative arrangements and made on the bookings (this includes minor things such as planes being cancelled)
  • You can pack as many things into as tight a time frame as you have
  • If your travelling alone it's a great way to meet other people, even as a couple it's great to travel with like minded people
  • The your transport, accommodation and tips of the areas your visiting are pre-planned, and for most of the trips we do there's time to do your own thing
  • If you can't speak the language or don't speak more than a few key phrases a group can give you more security

Advantages of doing it on your own

  • You can change your itinerary just because you liked a specific location
  • You can mix and match activities to suit your mood or style
  • You can choose your own accommodation based on where you are and what you've heard
  • Sometimes you want to immerse yourself in one city for that one trip and pick up side tours as you go along

Disadvantages of a tour group

  • There can be the over whelming personality Tip: Just go with the flow, sometimes by fussing you can make it worse
  • Even in a group that you get along with after a certain time period on a bus you just want a break Tip: Choose a tour where there is free time and/or optional activities build it
  • Some tours include things like meals, which limits you to more of the tourist style places Tip: Choose a tour with limited add on meals and do your own research
  • You can spend all your time on a bus/train/ferry Tip: Research the tour company and itinerary well before you book, don't be afraid to email the company and ask them lots of questions
  • Someone has always been somewhere you never thought of travelling to and you end up crossing off 5 countries this trip to add 20 to your wish list Tip:  The world is large, add it to your list, who knows what you've been missing

Disadvantages of doing it on your own

  • If you can't speak the language a boarder crossing can become lots more complex, or as we saw with a couple on the Thai/Cambodian boarder, stuck without transportation Tip: Research before you go to learn key phrases or find other travelers that have done it before
  • Costs can be more of a unknown, if exchange rates fluctuate unfavorably then the price goes up, or you don't get the group rate Tip: Plan ahead or if you like to be spontaneous then add some beef to your budget for the what if's
  • You can spend half your time trying to figure out where the doggy parts of town are, or what really is the best place to eat guinea pig Tip: Talk to other travelers as you go to see what they're experiences were, usually you can find someone who's just been to the place your headed to

So for one or more of those reasons we either do it alone, join a tour or do it in combination. It's really up to you and what you find to be the advantages or disadvantages, just don't tell me I'm not doing it "right" when I travel with a group :)

If your looking at small group travel two groups I recommend are:

Intrepid Travel - small group adventures based in Australia
G Adventures (previously GAP) - small group adventures based in Canada