The Best Australian Road Trips

In Australia, the grand tradition of the road trip is alive and thriving, and one of the most worthwhile road trips to experience is an epic trek from Sydney to Melbourne. However, there are plenty of other popular routes that appeal to everyone from foodies to Outback adventurers. Get hip to the best road trips in Australia with the guide below.

Coastal Journeys

The Sydney to Melbourne drive is truly a journey, generally taking a full week to complete – that is, if you stop to enjoy what each leg of the trip has to offer.

 Sydney to Nowra. Head south to Stanwell Tops for breathtaking cliff-top views, and surf, swim or have a picnic before crossing Sea Cliff Bridge to Kiama. Witness the famous Blowhole there as it shoots water up to 60 meters high. On the way to Nowra, cruise by Seven Mile Beach to Shoalhaven Heads for some beach fishing before stopping for evening refreshment at a local pub.

Nowra to Batemans Bays. Sink your toes into the world’s whitest sand at Hyams Beach before sea kayaking in Honeymoon Bay. Grab some fish and chips on the harbor at Ulladulla before taking the “One Track for All” walk and learning all about local Aboriginal history. When you get to Batemans Bay, fresh oysters await on the Clyde River cruise.

Batemans Bay to Eden. Explore a 19th century gold mining village in Mogo before watching traditional craftspeople at work in Central Tilba. Throw a boomerang at the Umbarra Cultural Centre, and then go snorkeling at Mimosa Rocks National Park. Arrive in Eden from May to November for whale watching.

Eden to Bairnsdale. Go canoeing down the Wallagaraugh River to Gypsy Point to feed sea eagles and picnic with kangaroos. Visit the largest known little penguin colony at Gabo Island before a stop at a World Biosphere Reserve in Croajingolong National Park. Sail Australia’s largest inland waterway, Gippsland Lakes, before turning in for the night at Bairnsdale.

Bairnsdale to Wilsons Promontory. Tidal River at Normal Bay offers a variety of nature walks through rainforests, heathlands and beaches. Admire panoramic views of Victoria from the vantage point of Mt. Oberon, or dive the granite cliffs of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.

Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island. Enjoy a cup of coffee and browse the bookstores and galleries in the township of Fish Creek. Once on Phillip Island, see koalas and waterfowl at Rhyll and fairy penguins at Summerland Beach. Seal Rocks is home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony, while Cape Woolami is home to thousands of short-tailed shearwaters. Cowes or Rhyll are both good locations to spend the night.

Phillip Island to Melbourne. In this lovely home stretch, cuddle with koalas in Cowes before swimming with dolphins at Sorrento. Go berry picking in Red Hill, and check out the beach town of Mornington before reaching the vibrant metropolis of Melbourne.

If you’re looking for a slightly shorter journey, there are plenty of prime coastal locations with something for everyone:

•    New age, nudism and surfing at Byron Bay, New South Wales.
•    The Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea and seclusion at Whitsundays, Queensland.
•    Beaches, rainforests and theme parks at Gold Coast, Queensland.
•    Historic villages, lighthouses and swimming with dolphins at Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
•    Wine tasting, caving and whale watching at Margaret River, Western Australia.
•    White sand beaches, scuba diving and kayaking at Wineglass Bay, Tasmania.
•    Shipwrecks, windsurfing and incredible headlands at Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.

Nature and Outback Journeys

The coast is just the beginning of the spectacular natural beauty of Australia. There are a myriad of inland itineraries for nature lovers as well. Some of the more popular driving journeys are:

The Rainforest Way. Choose from one of 7 different day drives throughout New South Wales and Queensland. These drives include wonders such as World Heritage rainforests at Richmond Range National Park, Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park and a 1,000-year-old red cedar on the Tweed Range Scenic Drive.

Red Centre Way. For the ultimate Outback driving journey, follow this 5-day route that begins and ends in Alice Springs. Along the way, listen to ghost hums in Simpsons Gap, climb the rim of Kings Canyon, witness the majesty of Uluru, swim in the Garden of Eden and marvel at the dozen meteor craters at Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve.

Food and Wine Journeys

Food and wine lovers will not be disappointed with these delicious journeys:

Poacher’s Trail. This three day drive starts and ends in Canberra, passing by 140 vineyards and 33 wineries. Start your drive on a Sunday and have breakfast at Canberra’s Old Bus Depot Markets before exploring award-winning wineries in Hall. During Labour Day weekend in October, sample the Murrumbateman Moving Feast. On day two of this drive, go from Murrumbateman to Yass, and visit explorer Hamilton Hume’s home. Merino wool, glass blowing factories and Carey’s Caves all await on this leg of the journey. Finally, enjoy the drive over Old South Road loop and a meal at an award-winning restaurant in Yass before returning to Canberra.

South Australian Loop. Take anywhere from 8 to 14 days to travel from Adelaide to Flinders Ranges to Kangaroo Island and back to Adelaide on a gustatory odyssey. With this itinerary, not only can you taste wine made by Jesuit priests in Sevenhill; you can also explore the historic copper mining town of Burra, as well as enjoy up-close encounters with penguins and sea lions in Penneshaw and Kangaroo Island.

Australia has 50,000 kilometers of coastline, but you don’t have to try to see it all at once to appreciate it. Choose your favorite pastime, and one of these drives is sure to take you there.

This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid Australia traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia.  When traveling to Australia she enjoys staying at the Mercure Sydney hotel.

 

5 of the Best Nightclubs in Sydney

Whether you and your friends are celebrating a special event or simply going out at the end of a long week, there are many great nightclubs in Sydney to accommodate everything your heart desires.

With great music, good food and various vibes from the décor, everyone will find what they are searching for to have a great night. Here are a few of the best nightclubs in Sydney.

Chinese Laundry
111 Sussex Street
Sydney, NSW

Voted the number one nightclub in Sydney several years in a row, the Chinese Laundry is located under the Slip Inn, a hotel for both business and pleasure. If you are in the mood for music, one of the three bars, including the Tuscan-inspired outdoor garden, will help you party the night away in style. This happening club, recently ranked number 67 in the world, consistently brings in the best music in interstate, international, kings of house, Baltimore, progressive, tech, breaks and electro for club-goers musical pleasure.

The Argyle Hotel
18 Argyle Street
The Rocks, NSW

You won’t find The Argyle Hotel under any cheap hotel search because it is actually six venues of nightlife packed into one spectacular space. The premiere venue is the Argyle or the sandstone courtyard where visitors go back in time with a mixture of modern and original décor. There are the preserved cobblestone pathways and festive, colorful drapery, lights and extra-large tables and lamps plus dancers on special nights on the red carpet. At its heyday, the Argyle Hotel was one of the premiere Australian hotels and dining establishment in town. The building dates back to the 1820s and is one of the country’s oldest commercial buildings still welcoming guests. In addition to the courtyard party area, there is the Gallery and the Belvedere, the Aviary and the lush Reibey. The food is fabulous and the entertainment in each section is as varied as the décor. This is a great place to come after work, with a client or with friends for a celebration or just to kick back and relax.

The Gilmore Rooftop Hotel
96 Cumberland Street
The Rock, NSW

If you did a search for cheap hotels or wanted to find hotels in the Rock area of Sydney, you would come across one of the favorite watering holes of that area, The Gilmore Rooftop Hotel. No other nightclub offers the 180 degree view of the CBD or the Sydney Harbor. People come from miles around to enjoy a leisurely afternoon in the beautiful beer garden and sample some of the lands finest brews. Built in 1921, the beautiful Gilmore Hotel retains most of its colonial charm and character of the English settlement that first arrived on the Rock in 1788, but is equipped with modern conveniences.

The Retro (Bristol Arms Hotel)
81 Sussex Street
Sydney, NSW

A Sydney hotels search will not find any other like this one because it is not a hotel at all but one of Sydney’s Premiere nightlife locations. The Retro is not one bar but five bars under one roof and then the roof is also a party haven with a spectacular view. There is also a great restaurant to enjoy a bite before or after partying.

There is the Retro Basement which offers the Retro Meal Deal. It is only $20 during the week, $32 on Fridays and $42 on Saturdays. This offer gets you a three course meal, karaoke in addition to the club entry.

Party Central is where sports fans want to be for anything and everything sports. It is located on the ground level and features four plasma screen televisions with various sports playing every day and night, all the time.

Pure Retro is where you want to dress in your best 80s attire. Footloose and legwarmers seem to be the way to go in this busy bar. It’s a fun blast from the past with all your favorite music and dance moves.

Old Skool is open on Saturday’s and will rock you or let you boogie down with the best of the partiers. And if you are wanting a more relaxed evening, try the Rooftop Terrace for a romantic evening, a birthday or other celebration with a spectacular view.

The Arthouse Hotel
275 Pitt Street
Sydney, NSW

Search for cheap hotels and you will find Australia hotels that are not really hotels at all. Take for example the Arthouse Hotel. It boasts four unique and distinct bars, each one more elegant than the one before. The Arthouse Hotel offers a fine dining and drinking experience in their Dome Restaurant and Bar with lounge and table seating, artist paintings on the wall, fabulous food and a private cocktail bar all located under a hand-painted dome ceiling.

The Gallery Bar at the Arthouse Hotel is located on the ground floor and offers table or lounge seating for your entire party. There is DJ facilities, a private and public cocktail bars and streaming music, just perfect for intimate parties and gatherings for the office or personal. The Verge Bar is a large open space, certified for aerial acts, theatre and chapel events. It is a dazzling space, perfect for dance parties or movie screenings with the large projector and 3m screen. The Attic Bar is the most casual of the three with a cozy atmosphere and a vibe of the art school days. It features a private entrance and built in projector and screen for world premieres of videos and short films.

It doesn’t matter if you and your mates have lived in Australia for many years or you and your friends are visiting from another country, the nightlife is something to experience. You can party the night away with a cocktail or two and dancing until dawn or you can find a cozy, secluded spot where people watching and conversation are more enjoyable. Try one or more of these exciting nightspots next time you find yourself in Sydney.

This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson, freelance writer, avid Australia traveler and online media consultant for Expedia.

Upcoming Concerts in Anaheim

Concerts in Anaheim
Concerts in Anaheim
Anaheim – home to Disneyland, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team and some of the best concerts in Southern California. If you’re going to be in Anaheim between January and March, get ready to rock. Below is a list of some of the best musical events of the season.

January

January 12
Fishbone and Maroon 5 at House of Blues – Los Angeles, tickets between $49.50 and $99.50. Upstairs VIP table $600 (parties of 6).

January 13
The B-52’s at City National Grove of Anaheim, tickets between $130 and $147. The B-52’s are touring in support of their first-ever official live album, With The Wild Crowd!–Live In Athens, GA.

January 15
Dionne Warwick at Smothers Theater – Pepperdine University, tickets between $107 and $124.

January 18
Wu-Tang Clan at City National Grove of Anaheim, tickets between $61 and $339.

January 20
Selena Gomez at House of Blues – Los Angeles, tickets between $143 and $529.

January 21
Dashboard Confessional (solo acoustic) at House of Blues – Los Angeles, tickets between $45 and $339.

Urban Dread and The Blue Nile X-Press at the Talking Stick – Venice, cost is $10 plus one purchase minimum. This is a night of reggae and funk performed by a pair of notable local bands.

January 22
Angels and Airwaves at House of Blues – Anaheim, tickets between $125 and $185.

Bernie Worrell Orchestra (originally of Parliament-Funkadelic/Talking Heads) and special guests Mike Watt, Money Mark, Jimmy Destri, Leo Nocentelli, Lili Hadyn and more at the Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, tickets $12.

January 25
Styx at City National Grove of Anaheim, tickets between $95 and $222.

Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour at Theater@The Honda Center — Anaheim. Cirque du Soleil performs to the music of Michael Jackson. Tickets range from $67.20 to $195. Limit 8 tickets per household. VIP package available at $271.70.

January 28
They Might Be Giants at Royce Hall – University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), tickets between $69 and $156. This anniversary concert celebrates 30 years together for They Might Be Giants.

February

February 2
Lisa Loeb, Jill Sobule and Whitney Steele Music at The Brixton – Redondo Beach, tickets are $25 plus applicable fees, 21 and over only.

February 3
Colbie Caillat at Riverside’s Performing Arts Center, tickets $149.

February 9
Joss Stone and Dave Stewart at the Troubadour – West Hollywood, tickets between $60 and $150.

Estelle at the Key Club – West Hollywood, tickets $88.

February 11
Roberta Flack at Orange County Performing Arts Center – Segerstrom Hall, tickets between $64 and $236.

February 15
Lenny Kravitz at the Nokia Theater LA LIVE – Los Angeles, tickets between $210 and $471.

February 16
Tony Bennett at Palomar Starlight Theater — Pala, tickets $250.

February 24
Gigantour, Megadeth, Motorhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil at Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Citywalk – Universal City, tickets between $33 and $266.

February 27
Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Staples Center – Los Angeles, tickets between $90 and $425. Janelle Monae is also performing.

March

March 2
Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel at Walt Disney Concert Hall, tickets between $121 and $233.

Bruce Hornsby at Pepperdine University, tickets between $155 and $208.

March 3
Cyprus Hill SmokeOut, Sublime with Rome, Wiz Khalifa, KORN, Dirty Heads and Café Tacuba at the National Orange Show Events Center — San Bernardino. Tickets are $86 for general admission, $210 for VIP and $461 for the “High Roller” VIP package, which includes access to the VIP pit in front of the Main Stage, access to Cabanas, artist Meet ‘n Greet, 2012 Festival T-shirt, backpack, poster, credential, two drink tickets (under 21 non-alcoholic), access to private full bar, catered food and VIP restroom facilities. The price also includes a $7 parking fee, $3 facility fee and $1 charity donation.

March 8
George Thorogood and the Destroyers at House of Blues – Anaheim, tickets between $57 and $335.

March 9
Peter Frampton at Pechanga Resort and Casino — Temecula, tickets between $113 and $295.

March 10
Live @ Lorimar Winery, free live music with $10 wine tasting and wine by the glass available. This intimate, acoustic venue overlooks Main Street, Lorimar and features live music every Saturday from 6-9 pm.

March 11
Larry Washington, Yve Evans, Brad Bobo, Michael Sims and Andrew Carney at the Laguna Beach Brewing Company, Laguna Live Gospel Brunch, 11 am.

March 17
Brandy Moss-Scott at Redondo Beach Pier/Veteran’s Park, ticket price information not currently available.

March 20
Nada Surf at the Music Box at the Henry Fonda Theater – Los Angeles, tickets between $48.94 and $177.

Boyce Avenue with Secondhand Serenade at House of Blues – Anaheim, tickets between $57 and $158.

March 25
The Pink Floyd Experience at Los Angeles Theater, tickets between $68 and $277.

March 27
Thompson Square, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker at the Staples Center – Los Angeles, tickets between $25 and $69.50.

No matter what type of music you’re into, Anaheim is sure to have great performances this year that you’ll never forget.

This guest post article was written and provided by Charles Watkins who is a music lover,  freelance writer, and consultant for various Anaheim hotels.

Tips for Planning a Trip to India

Traveling to India is a dream for many people, but a trip to India is not something that can happen on the spur of the moment. Not only is airfare expensive, but there are some important legal and health concerns to be addressed before you go. The weather and an abundance of festivals make October to February the best time of year to visit India, but whenever you choose to go, it’s bound to be a feast for the senses and an unforgettable journey.

While you plan the trip of a lifetime, keep the following points in mind.

Travel Documents

In addition to your valid passport, you will need a tourist visa to enter India. An Indian Tourist Visa allows you to stay in India for up to six months. To get a visa, you’ll need to submit an Indian Tourist Visa application along with a valid passport with at least two blank pages, a recent photo, details of your itinerary and the required fee, which is currently $70. An independent agency processes visa applications for the Indian Embassy, and this can take up to six weeks, so plan ahead.

Accommodations

While arriving at your destination without a set itinerary or hotel reservation can add a sense of freedom and adventure to your trip, it can be very inconvenient – or even dangerous—when traveling to India. If you’re flying in to a major city like Delhi or Mumbai (which is likely), then book a hotel room for at least the night of your arrival. After a long flight through several time zones, chances are you’re just going to want a hot shower and a comfortable bed to crash in for the night. Even if you want to be spontaneous for the rest of your trip, having a place to land for your first night in India will get you off to a good start.

Another benefit of having first night accommodations booked in advance is safety. It’s easy to become disoriented in Indian cities, and after a day of traveling, you might not be as in tune with your surroundings as you should be. Getting lost is certainly a possibility, as is the likelihood that thieves or other criminals could target you.

Once you are outside of the cities, though, it’s generally not difficult to find accommodations as you need them. Carry an up-to-date guidebook, and check the calendar before you travel. For example, in the coastal city of Goa during the Christmas season, crowds of holiday vacationers make finding a room at any of Goa’s many hotels last minute nearly impossible.

Travel within India

The best way to see India is by train, and many visitors opt not to book advance reservations in order to avoid being tied down by an itinerary. However, in recent years, the Indian Railway has become a popular and inexpensive alternative to domestic flights, and seats are often sold out weeks or months in advance. If you plan to travel within India by train, check the schedule and reserve tickets ahead of time.

If you plan to fly between Indian cities instead, the rates are higher, but regular departures make it much easier to find a seat. The airlines usually offer discounts for bookings 14 to 21 days out. Compare your options before choosing your mode of transportation; air travel is faster, but the train gives you a chance to view the beautiful landscape of India.

Immunizations

Since India is still a developing nation, the chance of becoming ill there is greater than when you visit, say, Orlando. Talk with your doctor before heading to India to ensure that you have all the vaccinations and preventive medications you need. For example, malaria and dengue fever, both transmitted by mosquitoes, are common but preventable diseases. Take anti-malaria medication before your trip, and use strong bug repellent to prevent dengue fever.

Hepatitis A, spread by contaminated food, and hepatitis B, spread by contact with blood and bodily fluids, are also common but preventable with vaccines. Ask your doctor to update your shots if necessary. Consider a tetanus booster as well, since this type of bacteria is common in the soil of developing countries like India. Typhoid, a bacterial disease spread by contaminated food and water, is also preventable with a vaccine.

The most common ailments among travelers to India, though, are diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, due mainly to the change in diet or contaminated food and water. Carry anti-diarrheal medications, drink bottled water only and eat freshly prepared food from reputable restaurants and vendors.

Packing

When packing for a trip to India, there are two schools of thought: pack everything you need since you may not be able to find certain things in Indian cities, or pack very little and buy what you need when you get there. Either approach works; it just depends on your personal preference.

When packing, check the weather and climate for your destination, and pack accordingly. Some parts of India are very hot and dry, while others are cold – and then there are the beaches. If you plan to travel around the country, pack lightly enough so that you can easily transport your belongings, preferably in a backpack, since the uneven streets make wheeled luggage impractical. Women should bring conservative clothing. Make sure to prepare for bugs and unreliable power – pack bug spray and flashlights, plus extra batteries.

Taking the time to plan ahead before you set off for an adventure in India will make your trip far more pleasant. Instead of miserable memories of illness and discomfort, you’ll create enchanting memories of tiger treks, tropical beaches and bustling cities.

 

This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is a freelance writer, avid traveler to India and online media consultant for Expedia.  When visiting India she likes to stay at the Hotel Savera in Chennai.

 

 

Best Things to do in New York City

New York City, undeniably one of the most exciting places in the world, offers an immensely broad spectrum of entertainment for its visitors. Options available include widely divergent activities, such as sporting events, historical exhibitions in world-famous museums and glamorous fashion shows alongside some of the biggest names in the business.

Cultural entertainment involves art, music and theater choices to suit every taste and preference. When planning your trip, look for New York City hotels in close proximity to the events you are interested in. A conveniently located hotel can cut transportation costs and make your trip more enjoyable.

Tours
One of the first activities that visitors put on their itineraries are tours of the city. Most people are familiar with general tours that provide sightseers with an overview of popular attractions; however, very specific tours are also available for fascinating views of much smaller areas. Savor the sights related to different ethnic communities within this vast urban area along tours of Little Ireland, Chinatown and Little Italy. A stay in the hotels of these neighborhoods can add flavor and color to your visit. For example, a hotel in Little Italy will likely provide authentic Italian cuisine.

In addition to tours of ethnic regions, New York provides tours of areas showcasing different types of architecture. Admire the Victorian splendor of Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill neighborhoods or get a glimpse of the bygone era during a tour of historic pubs of Greenwich Village. If you want to concentrate on one of these areas, ask your travel agent to locate hotels in New York in the specific area you wish to fully explore.

Theater
Another entertainment area on most visitors’ must-see list is the theater district. A trip to NYC would be lacking without making time for an on or off-Broadway show. Selections are wide-ranging and include musicals and historical plays, as well as comedies and fun, kooky productions.

Music
Music lovers from all over have a ton of choices to pick from in New York City. Classical music enthusiasts can revel in symphony and orchestra concerts or attend performances featuring young musical prodigies. Some eateries offer music with a meal. Visitors who grew up in the 1960s can enjoy Beatles music while enjoying a Saturday afternoon brunch, and jazz lovers can catch a live concert while eating a steak dinner. With hundreds of venues throughout the city, you can also get a taste of Gospel music, as well as rock and rap.

Museums
Visitors interested in art and history have the opportunity to stroll through museums and art galleries placed all over the city. The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts two million works, representing every segment in history over a 5000-year span. Another notable spot is The American Museum of Natural History, a science and research institution. Frank Lloyd Wright is responsible for the unusual design of the Guggenheim Museum, which houses works of famous artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Van Gogh and Picasso. Expect to stay at least half a day in some of these museums to get the full benefit. If you are a museum buff, you can look for New York City hotels close to the museums you particularly want to see.

TV Show Tapings
A popular tourist interest in the Big Apple is to attend live tapings of television shows. Across America, many people start their daily routine by eating breakfast while watching one of the early morning network programs. Attending these productions is exciting and high-energy with the promise of getting up-close and personal with news anchors and celebrity guests. In addition to the early morning shows, you can also attend one of the late-night comedy program tapings.

Sports
Sports fans will be right in their element, having many events to select from in the city that never sleeps. No matter what time of the year you visit the city, you can catch a professional sports game, as New York has a team for every sport. You are sure to find New York hotels close to the famous sporting venues with no problem. Attending an event in a world-renowned sporting venue might even be the whole purpose behind your trip and many hotels provide concierge services to help you get tickets. Aside from the thrill of attending a game at Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden, you also have the opportunity to participate in sports here.

Entertainment in New York is extremely varied and seemingly unlimited. Whether you are a history buff, sports fanatic, enjoy culture and the arts or all of the above, there are plentiful offerings to enjoy. So next time you visit NYC, be sure to take full advantage of everything this wonderful city has to offer.

This guest post article was written and provided by Charles Watkins who is a freelance writer, full time father and enjoys writing about his travel experiences.

Warnings for Traveling to Fiji

Traveling to Fiji can be an exciting prospect, but also a potentially dangerous one. With an unstable political situation, high crime rates, and a variety of local hazards, travelers who are not careful can end up having an extremely un-enjoyable experience or even find themselves in jail. However, learning from other travelers’ mistakes and taking a few simple precautions before booking any flights to Fiji can make your trip as perfect as you’ve always dreamed it would be.

 

Horror Stories and Lessons Learned

 

  • Surprise Taxi Fare. One recent traveler in Fiji met a seemingly affable, helpful taxi driver who suggested a set price for a specific location. The driver suggested an additional itinerary to which the traveler agreed – without agreeing on an additional cost, beforehand. At the end of the day, the driver demanded an exorbitant amount which was only reduced after a long argument and with the assistance of some helpful locals.
    • Lesson Learned: Agree on the price and itinerary before your taxi ride. Additionally, taxi fare can vary depending on where you hail the driver. Fees in front of hotel reception areas are several times what they are just a short walk away at a local taxi stand.
  • Sneaky Salesman. While sightseeing, an unsuspecting tourist was approached by a local who seemed friendly. The local asked what the tourist’s name was and immediately carved the name into a wooden sword then demanded payment for it.
    • Lesson Learned: Be careful when approached by a local, especially if you are browsing at a market. Additionally, be wary of purchasing exotic shells. Some varieties are endangered or rare and may cost you considerable fines when you try to take them back to your home country.
  • Unintended Tour Guides. A pair of travelers found themselves being followed by a sweet and helpful little local boy. The little boy followed the pair everywhere making suggestions along the way. At the end of the day, the boy held out his hand expecting to be paid.
    • Lesson Learned: Be wary of locals acting as unofficial tour guides. These guides can be men, women, or children and will be extremely persistent – especially when demanding money for their “services.”
  • Dangers for Women. Two women who were planning a horseback ride received a warning from a hostel staff member about rapes occurring during horseback rides through the forest trails. The ladies went ahead with their ride and luckily were safe. However, the male tour guide insisted on sharing a horse with one of the women and insisted on leading the ride through the forest instead of along the beach as the women had requested, which made for an extremely uncomfortable and scary experience.
    • Lesson Learned: Female travelers should exercise extreme caution when traveling in Fiji. Travel with a man or in groups if at all possible, and heed all warnings about crime in the area.
  • Deadly Snakes. One traveler encountered dozens of black and white snakes while hiking near the water.
    • Lesson Learned: When snorkeling or hiking around rocks at low tide, watch out for the snake known as the sea krait. These snakes are extremely deadly, but luckily, are also extremely timid and do not attack unless provoked.

 

Additional Tips and Precautions

 

There are several additional things to keep in mind regarding health and safety while visiting Fiji.

 

  • Food and Drink.
    • Make sure the foods you eat are fresh, and take extra care with chicken. Storage facilities may not be able to keep chicken at safe temperatures before and after cooking so when in doubt, skip it. Also, chicken dishes are often served in bite-size pieces but the bones have not been removed and present a choking hazard.
    • Foodborne, waterborne, and infectious diseases such as measles and mumps, hepatitis, typhoid, tuberculosis, and leptospirosis are common in Fiji. Drink bottled water or boil all drinking water and be sure to avoid ice cubes and all undercooked or raw food. Kava, a popular local drink is sometimes made with local water so take caution when drinking it.
  • Travel insurance. Medical facilities are not comprehensive in Fiji and are practically non-existent outside of urban areas. In cases of serious injury or illnesses travelers are usually evacuated to Australia or New Zealand. Consequently, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises travelers, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” Be sure to have comprehensive travel insurance to cover potential medical expenses.
  • Health Precautions.
    • Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and filariasis are common, so protect yourself by using mosquito-repellant and wearing long-sleeved, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use mosquito netting around sleeping areas if necessary.
    • Sunburns can occur in a short period of time, so be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen to any exposed parts of the body including ears, tops of feet, and any exposed parts of your scalp.

 

By utilizing the above tips and precautions – as well as a generous helping of common sense – an excursion to Fiji can be a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

 

This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia.

Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

Headed to the Emerald Isle? The best way to explore all that Ireland has to offer is by renting a car and heading out on the roads. Before you book your rental though, following some of these helpful tips.

Yellow
Renting a Car in IrelandMartin Gommel / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

General Tips

  1. Check the rental company’s policies before you book your reservation, as some companies will not rent to anyone under 25. Also, confirm whether you need an International Driving Permit –if your driver’s license is written in English, you don’t need one,
  2. Reserve your car before leaving home–you don’t want to arrive in Ireland to find that the only cars available can barely accommodate you and your luggage.
  3. Pick the car up at the airport, particularly if you’re arriving in Dublin. Some rental car agencies have locations outside of the airport, but getting there takes time and it can be tricky to navigate around the city if you’re unfamiliar with the area. There’s usually an extra fee for airport pickups, but the reduced hassle is worth it.
  4. Read the agency fuel – known as petrol in Ireland –policy before driving off. In most cases, the gas tank will be full when you pick up the car, and you pay for it up front. When you return the car, you generally have the option of re-filling the tank and getting that money back, or just leaving it empty. Double-check before you return the car though, to avoid an unpleasant surprise or extra charge.
  5. Ask about paying the M50 toll before you head out. The M50 is a section of highway near Dublin – and chances are you’ll travel on the toll portion at some point if you fly in or out of Dublin. There is no toll gate, so you might not even know you are on a toll road! Some agencies will cover the charge for you, but you might have to pay it yourself – if you don’t, you’ll get hit with a fine when you return the car. Stop at a shop that displays a “PayZone” logo to pay the charge.
  6. Driving in Ireland is not like driving in the U.S. or in major cities around the world. First, you have to drive on the left—pay extra for an automatic transmission vehicle if you’re not comfortable shifting with your left hand. Many of the side and back roads are narrow, twisty, unpaved, and your chances of running into a flock of sheep are pretty good. Pay attention to the conditions, take your time, and let the sheep have the right of way. Invest in a road map book of Ireland – the Ordnance Survey Ireland is a good choice—since many places are not listed on GPS, and it’s easy to get turned around.

Booking Your Car

Most of the familiar car rental agencies operate within Ireland, including Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, and Enterprise. The best rates can usually be found online—shop around and compare all before booking your car. Read the fine print, and get the car you want!

Be prepared to pay taxes and fees in addition to daily rates. Ireland charges a fee for an extra driver, road and VAT taxes (some companies include the VAT in the daily rate) and in some cases, a fee if you plan to travel into Northern Ireland. If you are under 25, and the agency will rent to you, expect to pay an extra fee and higher insurance rates.

Insurance

When you rent a car in Ireland, get the extra car insurance. Driving along twisting rural roads can be hazardous, and an unfortunate encounter with an untrimmed hedge or wayward sheep can cost you a chunk of change.

When you rent your car, you’ll probably be given choice between Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that pays a deductible of up to 1000 Euros,  and Super (or Super CDW). With the Super CDW coverage, which usually runs between $10-14 U.S. per day, you’re fully covered with no deductible.  Keep in mind again, with the rural nature of Ireland’s roads, it’s easy to get a dent, scrape or ding on the rental car – and you will have to pay for it.

All rental car agencies will charge you for third-party liability coverage, meaning that you’re covered for damage to property or injuries to people outside the car. It’s mandatory coverage.

If you’re thinking that your credit card will cover you in the event something happens to the rental car, read the terms of your credit card coverage carefully – some plans specifically exclude car rentals in Ireland, among other countries.

Once you arrive in Ireland, the process of renting a car is the same as anywhere else. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!