Central America Trip – Sydney to Cancun

Central America Trip – Sydney to Cancun

First time for us flying on the Qantas A380 for our first leg Sydney direct to Dallas, Texas where we had a few hours layover heading to Cancun, Mexico. The 15-hour flight went fairly quickly for all of us as we caught up on much-needed sleep after the last few hectic weeks with holiday preparations, work and social commitments leading up to the festive season. Having time to catch up on some movies from the past year was also enjoyable as we never seem to make it to the cinema to see any of the latest releases.

At Dallas airport we were able to get into the American Airlines lounge where we passed away the hour or so we had after eventually getting to the correct terminal via the sky train (Dallas is one huge airport!). The American Airlines Dallas to Cancun flight was just under two hours long and all went smoothly with the arrival into Cancun airport going without a hitch as well as no problem changing money as well as organising transport to our hotel.

We ended up booking a private shuttle which was a little more than a taxi but the same cost as a shared shuttle for the four of us and they gave us a 50% discount for the return journey the next day. We paid in full for this return journey and were taken direct to a van for the 20-minute drive to the hotel in downtown Cancun. As we were only staying for the one night, arriving after 8pm and departing at lunchtime the following day, we didn’t feel it was worth paying considerably more to stay at a beach resort as we would have no time to enjoy the water activities anyway.

Our hotel reservation was all ready for us, the hotel Xbalamque Spa & Resort looked appealing from the entrance with lots of traditional Mayan painting to make it look like one of the pyramid interiors. Our room was as many of the reviews had commented, fairly old, a bit dated and very simple. It was all clean and the two double beds were more than adequate for the one, short night stay. After a bit of toing and froing, we managed to get the air conditioner remote so we could control the temperature (it seemed to be missing from our room) and an extra two towels, we were all sorted.

The hotel reception recommended a good restaurant just two blocks away and the kids were very keen for some traditional Mexican food. The restaurant did not disappoint, we had a huge selection of Mexican fare covering our table with everyone enjoying them all. There was a lot of atmosphere with the Mariachi band coming around playing tunes, a guy dropping enormous sombreros on our heads for a photo opportunity (returning later for us to purchase the developed photos in a frame or stuck on a bottle of tequila) and just the whole cantina décor really made you feel like you were in Mexico.

With bellies full, it was time to head home for bed so we could get up and explore a little of the city centre before we departed the following day.

For details on travels to Cancun, Contact Us

 

Japan Travel Hints & Tips

Japan is everything you can imagine, and more – rich in culture, full of history, natural beauty, epic shopping, unforgettable cuisine, gracious hospitality. But, to experience its true grandeur, there are a few tips and customs to familiarise yourself with before you go:

Bowing: The polite greeting in Japan is the bow.  While you won’t be expected to know all the ins and outs of the bow (it can take decades to learn rules regarding the appropriate depth) there are a few things to remember.  Bow from the waist and keep your arms straight by your side.  Imitate the bows you receive – don’t over bow or ignore the greeting.  Smile and nod if nothing else, you don’t want to be perceived as rude.

Hygiene: While there are plenty of western-style restrooms in the larger department stores and restaurants, you might still encounter a Japanese-style toilet (of the squat variety).  It’s helpful to carry toilet tissues with you because not every restroom will have these!  If you forget to take some with you, hope you get lucky and run into a promo person handing out packs of tissues with ads on them (a current marketing trend). Also bear in mind that you should blow your nose in a restroom rather than in public, and into a tissue rather than a handkerchief.

Money: It’s considered rude to count your change after you’ve received it – the Japanese culture is one that prides itself on its honesty.  Plus you probably won’t be able to translate the currency quickly enough to avoid looking impolite…

Politeness: The Japanese are absolutely always polite.  One of the noticeable features of the Japanese languages is that there are many different words which are used to communicate the same meaning.  Some words are considered to be far more polite than others. Even if you don’t intend to speak much Japanese, this is an important concept to understand during your stay in Japan. At all times try your best to be VERY polite.

Shoes: When, where, why, and how shoes are worn in Japan can be confusing. Generally, shoes are not worn in Japanese homes, temples, ryokan, and various other public places (including some restaurants).  Follow the lead of locals and don’t panic!  Your shoes won’t be stolen while you’re off touring a temple.

Social Conventions

Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. A strict code of behaviour and politeness is recognised and followed by almost everyone. However, Japanese people do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but do expect them to behave formally and politely. A straightforward refusal traditionally does not form part of Japanese etiquette, and a vague ‘yes’ does not always mean ‘yes’. (The visitor may be comforted to know that confusion caused by non-committal replies occurs between the Japanese themselves.) When entering a Japanese home or restaurant, shoes must be removed. Bowing is the customary greeting but handshaking is becoming more common for business meetings with Westerners. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing all men and women; for instance Mr Yamada would be addressed as Yamada-san. Table manners are very important, although the Japanese host will be very tolerant towards a visitor. However, it is best if visitors familiarise themselves with basic table etiquette and use chopsticks. Exchange of gifts is also a common business practice and may take the form of souvenir items such as company pens, ties or high-quality spirits.

Need help planning your Japan travel? Contact Us for travel advice.

Using Shoulder Seasons to Book the Best-Priced Holiday

Using Shoulder Seasons to Book the Best-Priced Holiday

 

Perfect in shoulder season - less crowds!

Perfect in shoulder season – less crowds!

Like a delectable chocolate treat, shoulder season is so sweet. Sandwiched between the painfully high prices and overwhelming crowds of the high season, and the often miserable weather of low season. Shoulder season is the perfect time to travel. Typically, hotel rooms are cheap, crowds are thin, and the weather is mild. You’ll notice a warmer welcome, too, when you travel off-peak. Locals, who may grow weary of crowds in peak season, have time to relax in shoulder season. For instance, an afternoon in early May is an ideal time to linger at an outdoor café in Rome and people-watch, before the summer tourists descend.

No significant shoulder seasons fall within January, February, July, and August, but prices drop immediately after the holidays in January.

But shoulder season for Paris doesn’t fall on the same dates as shoulder season for Tokyo. So here’s a shoulder season calendar for some of our favourite destinations for easy reference:

January

Mid: North Africa. The Christmas travel crowds are gone and the weather is warm.

March

Early: Hawaii

The big waves have subsided, along with the winter beachgoers; resorts are also bringing down rates. Through May

Early: Rio de Janeiro

Carnival has come and gone, which means hotel rooms are easier to find and less expensive (by as much as 60 percent).

Mid: Ireland

It’s warming up and wildflowers are beginning to bloom; a perfect time for exploring the countryside. Through April

India: Hotel rooms and airfares are lower if you can locate these between celebrated holidays.

April

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

Late-season skiing is still excellent in high-altitude destinations like Whistler, British Columbia; Vail, Steamboat, and the Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado; and Tignes, France.

Early: Australian Outback

With average temperatures now cooling to between 80 and 86 degrees, you can visit Ayers Rock without risking heatstroke. Through May

Mid: European Cities

Western Europe. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, and London will still be cool and you’ll have your chance of rain, for sure, but the crowds are thin and prices go way down. Outdoor café culture is picking up, but the summer crowds won’t arrive until early June. Get here before they do.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Room prices fall as much as 30 percent after Easter, and hurricane season is still weeks away. Through early June

May

Early: Japan

Peak hotel rates have come down after last month’s cherry blossom celebrations, and the humidity has yet to kick in.

Mid: Mediterranean Cruising

The weather’s warming, but prices remain as much as 20 percent lower than in the summer high season.

Mid: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Airfares from the States are at their lowest, and in Australia’s north, days are full of sunshine. Through August

June

Early: Thailand

April and May are sweltering, but the rains cool things off in June. The tourist crowds won’t arrive until next month. Through June

Early

Baja California Temperatures have yet to soar, but resorts are offering bargains in anticipation of the hot months to come.

July

Early: Northern Caribbean. (But avoid hurricane areas.)

September

Early: Hawaii

Room rates and airfares drop after Labor Day. Through September

Early: Montana

Days continue to be sunny and dry, and dude ranches are offering discounted fall rates. Through September

Early: South Africa

It’s early spring in South Africa, and prices are low on game drives. You’ll also find foliage is less dense making it easier to spot the “Big Five”.

Prices at safari lodges are lower and the foliage less dense, making it easy to spot the Big Five. Through early October

October

Early: Mediterranean Resorts

Southern Europe. The weather has turned chilly up north, but around the Mediterranean, you’ll usually still find warm temperatures… and good travel deals.

Rates have started to drop, but you’ll still find ample sun on islands such as Crete, Ibiza, and Sicily.

Early: Dubai

Days are cooler, and camel-racing season has begun. Hotels, meanwhile, are enticing travelers with bargains. Early September through October

Mid: Vancouver Island, Canada

Room prices have dropped by nearly half, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy wine-tasting at the island’s many vineyards. Through November

November

Early: Tahiti, Fiji, and the South Pacific

The water is crystal clear before cyclone season, making it a great time for diving and snorkelling. Christmas is high season in these warm destinations. Try to get your beach time in before the rush.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Before the holiday rush, beaches are empty and it’s easy to find hotel deals. Through mid-December

December

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

The snow has returned, but the winter season is just beginning. Late November through mid-December

Early: Costa Rica

After months of rain, the clouds are thinning. Through mid-December

Let us know your shoulder season travel tips?

Happy Travels

Julie


 


 

 

 

Travelling with Medication

Issues surrounding taking prescription medicines overseas can cause a great deal of stress for travellers, especially elderly travellers, who often have pre-existing health conditions and increased health concerns. This should not be a barrier to travel if you follow a few simple rules:

1. Talk to your doctor or a travel medicine specialist and discuss both the prescription and over the counter medicines that you will need to take with you; take only those for personal use.

2. Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there.

3. Carry a letter from your prescriber with your prescription medicines. The letter should include the name of the medicine, how much you are taking or sending, and state that the medicine is for your personal use.

4. All medicines should be kept in their original container displaying your name and dosage requirements and carried in hand luggage to prevent their loss.

Because a prescription from your doctor here cannot be filled overseas, and familiar over the counter medicines may not be available in foreign countries, it is also important to carry an adequate supply for the entire trip plus some extra in case of travel disruption or delay.

However, carrying or sending PBS medicines that are not for your own personal use or for the use of someone travelling from Australia with you is illegal and can attract a penalty of up to $5000 and/or 2 years imprisonment. Customs authorities have the power to detain any medication which they suspect is being illegally exported. For more information, you may phone Medicare Australia’s Travelling with PBS Medicine enquiry line 1800 500 147 or visit the website www.medicareaustralia.gov.au

Some medications, particularly those classified as S8 medications or medications of addiction (such as medications containing Codeine 30mg or strong painkillers prescribed from a Pain Unit) even when obtained on a legal prescription in Australia, should not be transported across international boundaries unless they are accompanied by a customs clearance from the country concerned. You must apply to the appropriate Consulate or Embassy for this.

Seek specialist travel health information to make sure you are properly advised, understand the rules and follow the simple steps listed above and travelling with prescription medications should be hassle-free and enjoyable.

It is always better to err on the side of caution with medication and best to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure you have all the correct information to make your trip hassle-free and keep you healthy whilst away.

For general travel advice when planning your trips, Contact Us.

 

 

 

 

 

Julie

 

 

Packing food and drinks for your car trip

When I was single and carefree going on road trips, I would say “I’ll just grab something to eat on the road”. But those days are well and truly over, as all parents now know! This is a must when travelling with kids… it can save us from a potential crisis, as hungry kids are meltdown kids! Here are some food and drink travel tips:

1) Keep food and drinks up front with you or at least in reaching distance. There is nothing worse on a car trip than screaming hungry kids when you cannot pull over to grab something from the boot!

2) I tend to pack special boxes of little nibbles for each child. They love having their own boxes of goodies and it keeps them quiet for quite some time! A win-win situation for everyone! I love kids’ lunch boxes with different sections in them, which I can then “top up” with other food items I keep in my zip lock bags. These lunch boxes also come in handy when we are at our holiday destination for taking on day trips etc.

3) If however, you are not a fan of taking containers – snacks in small ziplock bags are useful.

4) Remember not to take food that can stink out the car!! This can potentially cause motion sickness in kids (and us!).

5) Store food in a cooler bag with an ice pack to keep things nice and chilled. This is essential to keep food from going bad – especially in summer!

6) Use Stubby Coolers to keep milk for babies cold or hot (whichever the case may be) for a short time. This is perfect when you expect to feed your baby in the next hour or so and your bottle carrier is full with other full bottles for your car trip.

7) Bring plenty of fluids! I tend to bring lots of water bottles instead of soft drinks etc, as they can get sticky and can add to the sugar intake of the kids!

8) I am a bit more relaxed with my usual “not too much junk food” attitude. My thinking is one day of eating this kind of food is not going to harm them. I just watch their sugar intake … so they do not get too hyper!

9) Great snacks to take with you that are not too messy are:

  • sultanas
  • pieces of fruit
  • pieces of cheese (stored in a cool bag)
  • crackers/biscuits
  • mini muffins
  • muesli/fruit bars
  • carrot and celery sticks
  • little treats – chocolate, sweets, chips, lollipops (great as it takes them ages to suck on them which will ensure you peace and quiet for at least 5 mins!) Treats can also be used as prizes for your car games.

For more Road Trip Tips Contact Us Now