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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Travel Hacks

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I came across a term ‘Travel Hack’ yesterday, and with interest I started reading the internets to see what it’s all about.

I love to travel, but since RichLifeJnr came along, our trips have been limited to visits to the family, short farmstays and weekends at a beach house. My Wanderlust has not gone away though and I’ve been getting itchy feet lately.

Now that we are trying to stick to a budget in preparation for early retirement, does that mean my travel dreams get put on hold indefinitely? No necessarily…I just need to be smarter about how we might travel.

Flights

Getting to and from anywhere when you live in Australia is just downright expensive. However I suddenly remembered that I have membership with both Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity. Out of interest I logged on to my accounts and was pleasantly surprised at the number of points I have.

Qantas

202,797 points. That’s enough to get returns flights to Bangkok for all three of us.

In researching Travel Hacks, I also came across ideas to boost the number of points you have. After a bit of research I discovered that  ANZ is currently offering a credit card with 50,000 bonus Qantas frequent flyer points. I’m going to look into that a bit more seriously, because buying those extra points would cost over $1000.

50,000 extra points would mean all three of us could get return flights to Johannesburg, Tokyo or Honolulu!

Virgin

41,437 points. For that, I can get a return flight to Fiji for one of us or all three of us to Brisbane or Melbourne return.

I haven’t yet been able to find any amazing deals to boost my Velocity points, but realised that I can add my car rental for my upcoming trip. That might add a bit.

Cruises

I’ve never really been that interested in cruising, but after reading a few blogs from Families who are travelling the world in slow time, I might be converted. The idea is that if you have excess time, but limited funds you can actually use cruises to get you between locations, whilst providing accommodation, food and entertainment for a reasonable daily budget.

As an example, VacationsToGo currently has a deal where you can travel London to Boston for AUD$801 per person ($57 per night) or Vancouver to Los Angeles for $181 per person ($31 per night).

I have even seen deals where kids under 17 travel for free. Obviously this type of travel requires extreme flexibility, but I have dreams of being free enough to take advantage of such deals. It might be something we consider when RichLifeJnr is out of nappies and old enough to go to the kids club.

Accommodation

In Australia, I regularly use Stayz to book reasonably priced, self contained apartments or houses. I love that you usually have your own cooking and washing facilities and can live more like a local, without breaking the budget. There are probably better ways to organise longer stays, but I find short breaks have been well accommodated using this website.

AirBnB is another website I’m hearing good things about, but I haven’t used it yet. It seems Australia hasn’t quite embraced it yet, but some of the places in Europe look fantastic. Dreaming of an apartment in Prague for a month!

 

How about you? Have you got any Travel Hacks you care to share?

Photo by: Norma Desmond

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I’m back

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Photo by: Stuck in Customs

I’ve been off gallivanting around the country for the last month and now I’m finally home. I spent a wonderful week in Alaska visiting a good friend with my Husband and my Sister-in-Law. Afterwards, my friend and I spent a long weekend in New York City and then I was off to Washington, DC and Cape Canaveral, Florida for two week-long work conferences.

Something has intrinsically changed in me. I no longer get the huge thrill that travelling used to instill in me. Sure, it was great seeing new places and catching up with various friends that I haven’t seen for some time, but the whole time I felt like I was no longer being true to the new me. All those miles travelling via air, consuming convenient food and being exposed to all the waste that modern industrial  society produces really bugged me. In fact, I was beyond being bugged by it. I physically cringed.

At some point in the last three months I’ve reached a tipping point. I had gone from someone who was casually downshifting their life to someone whose fundamental value system has taken a massive leap. Now I’m at a point where values I’ve held for much of my life are conflicting with new, strongly held beliefs. To be honest, it feels good. Scary, but good.

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog for this reason. I was having a hard enough time working through things in my head, let alone putting it coherently on the screen. I was reading so much, thinking so much and all at a frenetic pace. A month away let me digest some of it, and hopefully I can now begin writing down what I’m feeling and where to from here.

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Alaska

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Yes….I’ve been in Alaska for the week. I’ve been without internet access until now so I wasn’t able to add any words to the picture I already had pre-posted. That will serve me right for assuming I could get easy access to internet anywhere.

I must say Alaska has been truly stunning. We’ve been hiking in snow, cross-country ski-ing and dog-sledding. We’ve seen an amazing array of wildlife which is a huge plus for me. We watched the start of the great Iditarod race and an ice-hockey game. We’ve also spent a good amount of time indoors catching up with my friend who lives up here.

Tomorrow, she and I head to New York City for a few days.

Photo by: Image Editor

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Lately it seems I’ve been talking a lot about nitty-gritty personal finance stuff. It’s not what I had intended for this blog, but it seems that it’s what has had me pre-occupied since the beginning of the year. I need to get all that sorted out this month so I can think more about my journey towards voluntary simplicity and sustainability. These topics are very important to me, but I feel like I can’t adequately launch into them until I’ve done some housekeeping in my mind. So I’m sorry to say that there will probably be more personal finance discussions in the comings weeks. Please bear with me.

Today however, I wanted to think more broadly. I want to talk about my dreams… the vision which drives me towards a future which is outwardly simple but inwardly rich (I’m sure I’ve taken that from somewhere, so apologies if I stole your phrase).

Here’s how I want my life to look in five years:

  • I will be living in an Australian City which is big enough to have access to all the modern conveniences, but small enough to be close to nature and have a community minded spirit.
  • I will have a smallish home (3 bedrooms) which is free of clutter and stylishly furnished with reclaimed furniture and artifacts picked up during my travels. It will have polished timber floors and large windows which allow plenty of light and warmth into the home. The walls are white and covered in photographs I’ve taken around the world. There are outdoor living areas which flow seamlessly from the house. I imagine a deck surrounded by Australian natives which attracts plenty of local bird life.
  • I will have a large block to allow us to have fruit trees and a vegetable garden in addition to workspaces for hubby and I (a decent sized shed and perhaps a photography studio). I’d love to be able to keep chickens as well (but definately no rooster!)
  • I will be able to walk to the local park or nature reserve and cycle to a local grocery store and coffee shop.
  • I will be working part-time for my current employer and part-time on a number of business ideas I have.
  • I will have time to volunteer or be involved in community activities. I may even be studying a topic of interest.
  • I will be living as green/sustainably as possible.
  • I will have at least one child who will be cared for by hubby and I the majority of the time. I want my child to be raised with our values.
  • I will have a few close friends in the area and will ensure I visit family or have them visit us regularly.
  • I will go hiking regularly and live a fit and active life.
  • I will have the opportunity to travel overseas once per year and to take mini-breaks with the family a couple of times per year.

That’s about all I can think of. Are there any others areas of life which I’ve failed to address?

What about you? Do you have a dream that you constantly refer to to make sure you are heading in the right direction?

Photo by: {Erik}

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In September I am flying home to Australia for my sisters wedding. I had planned to book my flights in about April, but this morning I found out about a sale on Qantas flights from the US to Australia. I managed to get two return flights from LA to Brisbane for $799 each! That’s less than half the price they usually are. I love getting a bargain in the morning.

If anyone else is interested in cheap flights to Australia, this sale ends tomorrow 13 Jan 09.

[UPDATE: Good news. The sale has been extended to 26 Jan 09. That’s Australia Day!]

Photo by: pbo31

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I’m back from Central America

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I arrived back yesterday afternoon after only just making our connecting flight in Houston. The aircraft doors literally closed behind us. My luggage wasn’t quite so lucky, but it arrived last night. I was so bone weary that I slept for 12 hours last night. 

I feel mentally refreshed after three weeks in Central America and I have so many ideas for the year ahead. As usual I learnt so many new things about the world and myself while I was away and I will share those on this blog once I’ve given myself some time to reflect. 

In the meantime, I am excited to launch into 2009 and I can’t wait to catch up on my favourite blogs. 

Photo by: Hugo!

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When I travel overseas I tend to travel light. I make sure I can carry everything I need on my back. Here’s what I take.

Luggage

In the day pack

  • passport, visas, extra passport photos
  • copies of important documents
  • travel insurance information
  • travel tickets
  • charge & ATM cards, cash
  • maps, guidebooks, phrase books
  • reading material
  • inflatable travel pillow
  • earplugs and eye mask

Specialty Items

Clothes

  • 2 pairs of hiking pants
  • 1 pair of well loved jeans (lightweight)
  • 1 pair of quick-dry shorts (double as swim trunks)
  • 2-4 shirts/blouses/tops
  • 1 quick-dry tank top (for swimming/showering in communal areas)
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 gortex rainwear jacket
  • 3+ pairs socks
  • 3+ pairs undergarments
  • long T-shirt or sarong [cover-up]
  • sun hat
  • 1 pair hiking boots
  • 1 pair of sandals suitable for walking
  • flip-flops for showers
  • long (lightweight) underwear (cold weather trips)
  • gloves / mittens (cold weather trips)
  • beanie (cold weather trips)

Personal

  • antibacterial wipes
  • (chemical or mechanical) water purifier
  • analgesic of choice
  • diarrhea treatment of choice
  • infection treatment of choice
  • insect repellent, mosquito net
  • sunscreen, lip balm
  • tweezers
  • small first aid kit
  • contraceptive supplies
  • necessary medications
  • toothbrush, tooth cleaner, floss
  • razor, blades, shaving oil/cream
  • comb and/or hairbrush
  • shampoo, bar soap & container
  • deodorant
  • nail clippers
  • [unbreakable] mirror
  • toilet paper

Other

  •  water bottle or bladder
  • detergent, spot remover
  • pen(s), small notebook
  • flashlight, headstrap
  • multipurpose tool, scissors
  • spoon (fork? chopsticks? spork?),
  • safety pins, rubber bands, cord
  • sewing kit, including large needle
  • (Ziploc®) plastic bags, garbage bags
  • viscose towel (washcloth?)
  • dark glasses, retainer, case
  • lens cleaning cloth/supplies

Usually all this weighs less than 20 pounds (9 kg) when I’m travelling on my own. This time I’m travelling with hubby, so we’ve been able to consolidate some of these items and he is carrying them 🙂

Photo by: Olivia

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