WE ARE FAMILY
Our family – six adults 25 to 60, plus a fiveyear old – would like to go on a holiday and it has to be over Christmas/New Year. Where could we go on a tight budget?
Consider a cruise – Carnival Cruise Lines (carnival.com.au) provides affordable itineraries to the South Pacific departing from Melbourne and Sydney. Their ships, Carnival Spirit and Legend, are superbly equipped for all ages and would make a lovely family break. There are plenty of onboard activities to keep everyone amused, such as water parks, comedy shows, kids’ clubs, fitness areas, games, an enormous range of dining and bars, plus the shore excursions in each destination.
Next have a look at Fiji, Bali or Vanuatu, all close to Australia and ideal for families. In Fiji, try the Wyndham Resort Denarau (wyndhamap.com). It’s close to the airport and features two- and threebedroom apartments. Within the resort there’s a kids’ club, direct beach access and a swim-up pool bar. Nearby there’s a golf course, marina and extended dining options.
Vanuatu has activities your family will love including snorkelling, beaches, fishing, waterfalls, zip-lining, markets and shopping. You could look at Poppy’s on the Lagoon for your accommodation (poppys.com.vu). The resort features self-contained apartments, babysitting and is an easy walk to the dining options in Port Vila.
If you’d prefer something livelier, then you can’t go past Bali. Again, it’s quick and easy to get to, the food is fantastic and the shopping is good. The Discovery Kartika Plaza (discoverykartikaplaza.com) is in a good location on a private beachfront, across the road from the Discovery Shopping Mall and a 10-minute walk to central Kuta. There’s a large range of accommodation including family rooms, family suites and villas to suit your group, a free kids’ club, seven restaurants and bars and a spa and fitness centre. The resort has plenty of daily activities including diving lessons, fruit carving, beach volley ball and cooking lessons.
Here at home, the Gold Coast in Queensland would be a good choice. The accommodation is extensive, ranging from caravan parks to five-star hotels and the activities are endless. There are the theme parks – Dreamworld, SeaWorld, Wet’n’Wild, Movieworld, White Water World, Outback Adventure and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – and there’s also the beach for surfing, bodyboarding or just sunbaking, the hinterland for day trips, a multitude of markets to explore, the glitz of Surfers Paradise and a huge array of dining options.
TIME TO ADJUST
Is two weeks enough time to trek to Mt Everest Base Camp? That is all I can allow but I have heard you need more.
Most tours plan their itineraries over a few weeks to allow maximum time for the traveller to acclimatise to the changes in altitude. Usually the climb up to the base camp is over 10 days and similar for the return.
Mt Everest base camp sits at more than 5000m. The human body does not function well over 1500m so the common approach is to climb about 300m a day, allowing your body time to adjust to the lack of oxygen.
But there are tour companies with shorter trips for those with a certain level of fitness. World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com.au) has a couple of tours to suit your time frame.
The Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek starts in Kathmandu with a flight to Lukla at 2800m. From here you will trek your way to the base of the mountain, Ama Dablam, at 4800m for an introduction to Mt Everest and the surrounding peaks. The tour includes time indulging in Sherpa culture, visits to Sir Edmund Hillary’s Schoolhouse in the Clouds, the famed Khunde hospital, and Thyangboche monastery.
Or the Trek Annapurna and Everest itinerary is perfect for first-time trekkers. Walk through the foothills of Mt Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest mountain, and at 3190m witness incredible views of this mountain plus Dhaulagiri and Mt Everest.
I WANT TO SEE LOURDES
I want to include a visit to Lourdes when I’m in France later this year. Do you know any tours?
France Tourism (francetourism .com.au) provides an array of day trips to Lourdes, departing daily from various locations within France.
It also has guided walking tours departing from the township of Lourdes. French Travel Connection (frenchtravel.com.au) offers a full-day private tour with pick-up from your hotel in Toulouse, or a guided walking tour with pick-up available from your hotel in Lourdes.
HAWAII: PART OF THE USA
Do I need a visa for Hawaii?
Yes you do require travel authorisation to visit Hawaii if you are travelling on an Australian passport.
Hawaii is a US state and governed by the same immigration laws as the rest of the US. You will need to apply for and be granted a visa waiver under the American ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) system.
The place to do this is at the official website of the Department of Homeland Security (esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ esta). It involves a simple process of providing the details they require, paying $US14 (about $18) and waiting 72 hours for their determination as to whether you meet the requirements of the waiver.
If you don’t receive an authorisedto-travel response, you can still apply to travel to the US through a visa with the Department of State (travel.state.gov).
PLANES FOR DISABLED
Our son is a quadriplegic and airline toilet facilities appear to us to be impossible to use. It requires room for our son, the aisle chair, me and my wife to lift him. Is there any international airline that caters to our needs?
Try to book your flights on an airline operating the A380 aircraft. These wide-bodied planes feature a wheelchair accessible lavatory where the doors fold outwards, allowing the area to be navigated a little easier.
The crew will be helpful and if possible will arrange for your son’s privacy when needed. It is imperative you discuss your son’s needs with the airline once you have booked, so they are prepared to help.
The Gold Coast (above) has endless options for families; Aussies need travel authorisation for Hawaii; and there are plenty of day trips to Lourdes as well as walking tours. SURFERS PARADISE