HOW TO BE A BET­TER TRAV­ELLER

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT - KIM CULYER

When Qan­tas in­au­gu­rated the Kan­ga­roo Route in 1947, the Syd­ney-to-Lon­don flight had six tran­sit/re­fu­elling stops, two overnights and took an ex­haust­ing four days – some­times more. And, for the priv­i­lege of tak­ing this ar­du­ous and at times un­pre­dictable flight, trav­ellers forked out the equiv­a­lent of 130 weeks’ pay. Imag­ine a long stopover in Cal­cutta with­out the prepa­ra­tion and knowl­edge we have access to now?

But how times have changed. In 2018, Qan­tas launches di­rect Perth-Lon­don flights, and by the time this year is over, an es­ti­mated 10 mil­lion Aus­tralians will have trav­elled over­seas. If you’re look­ing to join them next year, check these tips to en­sure you have the best hol­i­day.

RE­SEARCH

This is your No.1 tool.

Look up your des­ti­na­tion, and get an idea of its lay­out.

If it’s an is­land, is there one side that’s des­o­late, full of night­clubs or maybe even nud­ists? Are some of the beaches more suited to surfers than young chil­dren, and what trans­port op­tions will you have?

If it’s a large city, do you re­ally want your ac­com­mo­da­tion down­town? You may be closer to the cen­tre, but you may also be in a bor­ing com­mer­cial district. In some cities it’s more de­sir­able to be based in a sub­urb or out­ly­ing vil­lage for a more au­then­tic en­counter.

A train trip through Europe might be on your bucket list. Get out a map, mark the places you want to in­clude, then have a look at some of the in­be­tween vil­lages. Do a lit­tle in­ves­ti­gat­ing and you will come up with some amaz­ing at­trac­tions and gen­uine ex­pe­ri­ences in lit­tle town­ships of­ten over­looked.

Or it could be a cruise. That is­land in the Caribbean looks amaz­ing in the brochure, you can pic­ture your­self sip­ping Cos­mopoli­tans on the white sand and frol­ick­ing in the turquoise waters. A few min­utes will con­firm if the ship ac­tu­ally stops there and, most im­por­tantly, for how long.

TRAVEL IN­SUR­ANCE

I’ve said it be­fore and I’m say­ing it again – don’t travel with­out it. I agree, it is an ex­tra ex­pense and hol­i­day­ing is ex­pen­sive, but go­ing with­out it is a gam­ble not worth tak­ing.

For ex­am­ple, last year in­sur­ance com­pany Cover­more pro­vided emer­gency as­sis­tance to more than 42,000 Aus­tralians. One claim amounted to $97,000 af­ter a lady was knocked off her bike in Viet­nam; an­other more than $52,000 af­ter a heart at­tack on a cruise through Fiji; and, had the fam­ily of a 12-year-old boy not been cov­ered while they were in Bali, they would’ve been up for more than $35,000 af­ter an un­ex­pected med­i­cal emer­gency.

LEAVE YOUR COM­FORT ZONE BE­HIND

Trav­el­ling is all about try­ing new things and see­ing things we never thought imag­in­able by en­joy­ing new cul­tures. Don’t be afraid to try the lo­cal cui­sine, be flex­i­ble with your plans and open to dif­fer­ent cus­toms.

TRAVEL AGENTS

When you’re look­ing for an elec­tri­cian, a house­keeper or even the best school for your kids, you ask your friends for their opin­ion. Do the same when look­ing for a travel agent. You will no doubt have “those” friends who are con­stantly trav­el­ling and I bet they al­ways re­turn to the same agency. They have built a rap­port with the con­sul­tant who now knows their pref­er­ences, bud­get and the styles of hol­i­days that suit them.

Armed with a re­fer­ral from one of their ex­ist­ing clients you will be com­fort­able know­ing the con­sul­tant will do their ut­most to as­sist you and it could even re­sult in a dis­count. Oth­er­wise, pop into your lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre. You will usu­ally find an agent there and prob­a­bly one that has been help­ing lo­cals plan their trav­els for many years. Make sure they are ATAS ac­cred­ited (there should be a sticker on their front win­dow). The AFTA Travel Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Scheme is an in­dus­try stan­dard with strict cri­te­ria.

TRAVEL SMART

Cre­ate an ac­count and reg­is­ter your travel plans at the Aus­tralian Govern­ment Smart Trav­eller web­site, smar­trav­eller.gov.au. Reg­is­ter­ing in­forms the depart­ment of your in­tended plans, keep­ing them up to date in case of a sit­u­a­tion. You’ll also find facts on each coun­try’s cur­rent cir­cum­stances, visa re­quire­ments and other help­ful in­for­ma­tion.

PUT MORE INTO TRAN­SIT TIME

Air­ports in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, Doha, Tokyo, Am­s­ter­dam and Salt Lake City of­fer free city tours for their tran­sit pas­sen­gers. This is a fan­tas­tic way to check out some of the sites if you have a tran­sit time of five or more hours. Also, most air­ports have pub­lic lounges avail­able at an hourly rate. Here you can shower, eat and re­lax.

JOIN A FRE­QUENT FLYER PRO­GRAM

Link your shop­ping card and as you travel, gather enough points for an up­grade on your next trip.

VAC­CI­NA­TIONS

Some coun­tries re­quire you have spe­cific vac­ci­na­tions be­fore en­ter­ing and in oth­ers, they are highly rec­om­mended. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion rec­om­mends them for a rea­son. A quick visit to a Travel Health pro­fes­sional could po­ten­tially pre­vent a nasty ill­ness.

BE A TRAV­ELLER, NOT A TOURIST

Ex­plor­ing, in­dulging, learn­ing and for­get­ting our stresses are why we travel, so to get the most from your trip, slow down. Twenty cities in 20 days ends with pho­tos you can’t re­mem­ber tak­ing and a whirl­wind of mem­o­ries.

Make time to re­lax in a park or, one of my favourites, sit in an out­side cafe peo­ple-watch­ing. Take it all in, em­brace the cul­ture, the di­ver­si­ties, com­mu­ni­cate ei­ther ver­bally or non, make new friends and broaden your mind. For­get the norm and, as Bill Bryson once said, “To my mind, the great­est re­ward and lux­ury of travel is to be able to ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery­day things as if for the first time, to be in a po­si­tion in which al­most noth­ing is so fa­mil­iar it is taken for granted.”

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK

Sin­ga­pore Air­port of­fers a free city tour for tran­sit pas­sen­gers (main); re­search will un­cover fac­tors such as the amount of shore time on cruises.

LUX­URY OF TIME

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