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

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.


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 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.


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).


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



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