These days with the power of internet and social media there are so many additional ways of finding information apart from the old tried and tested travel agent, who we might add are still a valuable source of information and advice for booking travel and the like. Remember though, your own research is free.
Tip 0010 Research is free.
For those who are looking for more than a quick fix trip and are looking more long term, please click on the header link "Reasons for travel."
Tip 0011 Research is the Key
There are some of us who love to travel and leave it all up to the so called "specialists" and that's cool by us. Each to their own and no one way is necessarily the best way. Also you may be "cash rich, time poor" and this is fine too.
Tip 0012 Get the Specialists in.
We would imagine though, unless you are happy to do one of the many surprise trip/vacation packages that are readily available, research is going to be on your agenda and here we commence the sometimes long drawn out process of ifs, buts and maybes or could've, would've, should've or just might's, might not and will dos.
Yes this is where you have to spend time and a key to enjoying this process is to open a very large bottle of vino. Seriously this should be as much fun as the holiday itself. If you're like us, sometimes it all gets just a bit too much. Just as you think you've found your dream travel time, you find out someone else has been there, done it, read the book you name it they've done it and it "aint no good"!!!
Tip 0013 Everyone's Different
Have you ever gone and watched a movie that everyone raves about and sit in disbelief that you sat three hours through that load of old rubbish? Or been to a restaurant that has been recommended, only to walk out after the horderves? Well trust us, "everyone's different" and what's good for the goose, isn't necessary good for the gander!
Tip 0014 What's good for the goose, isn't necessary good for the gander!
There is no difference to travel than anything else in the world, "it is what it is". Apart from the fact that some peoples expectations are anothers disappointments, with travel there are also a lot of variations that make one place so different every time you go there i.e. differing seasons.
Tip 0015 Differing Seasons
Somewhere that is hot, humid and arid in the dry season, could be lush and tropical during the wet season. Now this would be obvious to many but we use this as a typical example.
There are many examples of changes to one place. It could be that you've snorkelled on a reef for years and seen nothing but the odd sea cucumber, a few trigger fish and the odd parrot fish, then one year along comes a whopping great Manta Ray, gliding the oceans depths, that comes up to feed on the abundance of krill at the surface and starts to circle you time and time again and plays with you gently letting its giant wing slide over you as it appears to stroke your back with tenderness.
Tip 0016 Photos in sunlight
A lagoon in cloudy conditions is to us still beautiful but for some may be a little disappointing after all the brochures showing what it could be. Suddenly becoming a magical kaleidoscope of colours as the sun comes out to play and glistens from the ripples caused from the distant capturing reef, makes for an altogether different experience.
Story 3 Barron Falls washout
My first trip to the Barron Falls North East Qld, I was excited to see the beautiful falls I had been hearing about whilst in Cairns. Now it's hard to put into perspective but imagine a waterfall, in all its glory. The rumble in the distance before you even get there. You can feel the vibrations through the ground up through your body to your chest and as you turn the last corner, Wow! and words cannot begin to explain the beauty, expanse of water and sound that echo's around you.
Having experienced this, I wanted my children to have the same pleasure and experience. So off we set same time, same week and month the following year. Up we trekked along the approaching path. I remember I keep saying to my sons, wait untill you get around the next corner, you will start to hear the noise. Closer and closer we got and I'm thinking I was sure this path wasn't this long! When we happened across the exact same spot, a massive wall of boulders with not so much as a fingers width of water, trickling between the cracks and crevices.
Moral of this one! Everywhere can be different at any time depending on so many variables. So don't be put off by other peoples experiences.
Having said all this, obviously bear in mind everything that you find out. This is called research. If enough people tell you it's really not worth the visit, then there could be a reason why this is.
There are always some types of people that never seem to be happy wherever they go and sometimes these people find their enjoyment picking holes in everything.
Tip 0017 Is a glass half empty
Remember the glass is half full, not half empty. We believe you can find enjoyment out of most of your travels and have yet to have a really unmemorable travel experience and trust me we have been in some really sticky situations.
We are now getting to the nitty gritty of research and we would like to point out just a few things that might be of help in your research period.
Tip 0018 Get the most from travel
As previously mentioned the more you research the more you will enjoy your travels. There are many areas of research and all dependant on your specific set of circumstances. From finding location/s, booking transportation, accommodation, finding the best routes, or economical ways of going about travel, to name but a few and we start with, do it yourself.
Again we recommend going to our "Reasons for Travel" and "Planning" sections on our main menu header. (button)
Tip 0019 Do a bit of work yourself.
The more you do yourself, the more you save and learn.
Let's go to the obvious first.
It's okay to go seek the advice of the specialists or use companies for looking after your entire needs. This also helps to start you off if you intend doing research of your own. Go into your local travel agent, get as many brochures as you can carry, use the internet, literature and most of all network your friends for recommendations. Another excuse for another large vino!
We thoroughly recommend you use these mediums as part of your research, as the more info you acquire the more you will work out if this is for you.
Tip 0020 Services come with a cost
Be aware that going to anyone offering a service, may have an alterior motive.
Of course people want to sell you their product, sadly very few are unbiased.
If you want to go to say an average hotel, package, or resort in a well know area, then the chances are a company would have done a deal with the resort and prices will be fixed and probably even dearer if you try to book direct. These offer great deals and should not be disregarded. Fortunately each company needs to spread themselves far and wide and won't have the monopoly on all the hotels and quite often will try to put you off other hotels saying they are not as nice, unsuitable or just inferior to what they are promoting.
Often this is not the case and there might be an equally nice or even nicer place right next door. So look around and do a bit of work yourself. Not only could you find a better place but it could be a whole lot cheaper.
Story 4 Kho Chang Paradise for $1.40 a night
On my trip around Asia for three months, I came across the beautiful Island of Kho Chang, North east of the Gulf of Thailand. I thoroughly recommend the White Sand Beach area by the way. The local accommodation was fair in price but strolling round and popping in some of the smaller establishments, I managed to secure a beautiful beach hut right on the beach, with all the mod cons for approx $1.40 a night. Yes you saw correct $1.40 per night and I had a two course meal with drink for $0.40 cents. Now I'm not saying that's the norm when travelling but there are deals about that you can negotiate for yourself.
Main moral for this story is:- Do some work and reap the benefits.
Which leads me nicely to our next tip.
Tips 0021 Do a little work
This is a time issue and the more time you have, the more rewards you get. This is particularly true the longer you travel and we cover this in other sections of this website.
Tip 0022 Appearances can be deceiving
Tip 0023 Sales tricks
Trust me on this one guys, I've worked in direct sales and things are "NOT" what they appear.
Have you ever been to an estate agent and shown a wonderful house with a massive in ground pool and spacious living area, only to get there and find the pool is smaller than your bath at home and each room is a box? Well there's no difference in the travel industry.
Of course everyone wants to show you the best of everything and in fact some photos can make somewhere look better, even without photo shopping. Have you ever took a picture of your street and looked at it and think, wow this looks nicer than it actually is? And thats without clever photography.
When clients take photos of say swimming pools, they get on their knees, strategically point and click. Check out two pictures of the same pool and tell me what you think. Taken at the same time, same place.
Tip 0024 Photos can look better and worse than actual
This is not to say that all photos are taken this way but be sure that all is not what it appears all of the time.
Listening and reading what places are like, is a great way to determine if this is what you're looking for. We recommend using the usual mediums for this but this can also be all too confusing as you hear and read so many conflicting reviews.
Tip 0025 Actually read reviews in detail
As you read a review you will probably see the usual area of bad to fab section. Just because someone reviews bad, make sure you read these thoroughly. We've heard about many sudden changes of preference from not reading reviews carefully.
Story 5 Vanuatu as it is, warts and all
We wanted to go somewhere fairly secluded and rustic but a little more up market than some and found what we thought would be perfect, only to read a review saying they wouldn't recommend this place for all the tea in China. On reading further it was very apparent the reviewer had thought this place to be a 5 star complex and wasn't happy with cracks in the crazy paving pointing, that the alang alang roofing was not painted inside and that the outside toilet had a bug in the sink. All the things that actually authenticated the place. We booked and was pleasantly surprised how great it was.
Tip 0026 Definitely review accurately
Review as you go. A year later is not a fair review and please give a lot of thought to why your reviewing and circumstances of the review.
We go into detail about reviewing in this tip.
Be aware that deals are not necessarily deals!
Tip 0027 When is a deal not a deal?
How many times do you go into a supermarket/shop/retail outlet and see deals, deals, deals everywhere. Sales coming out of your ear holes and closing down sales galore.
Yes there are deals, sales and bargains to be found but just because someone say's it's a deal, doesn't necessarily mean it's a deal for you at this point in time.
Recommended retail is another great one and seriously I've never known anyone to sell at recommended retail and yet they all quote you it when they're telling you how much your saving if you buy now!
In travel there's no difference. We've had quotes done on many a travel itinerary and ended up either thinking we can't afford it or we won't be able to do that, only to sort it ourselves for a fraction of the cost.
Tip 0028 Compete with quotes
Often it is more economical to book your own travel yourself, especially if you're doing multi location travel. Having said that there are lots of companies that provide great ready made Itineraries.
The more you travel the more you find doing it yourself is not hard to do and not only more rewarding but you will find you get to wonderful places you would never find without researching.
Now the not so obvious
Tip 0029 Pick everyone's brains first then use your own.
I know it sounds silly but you'd be surprised at the amount of times people come back from somewhere only to hear, "I've been there" from their friends, who then go on to say "did you go here did you go there, my Aunt and Uncle lives there you could have stayed with them"! You could have missed a whole lot more. Go figure.
Tip 0030 Too expensive can't go?
If it sounds expensive there usually is another way to achieve the same result. There's nothing more satisfying knowing you got a good deal. Now don't try telling us you haven't asked how much your travelling friends paid for this same trip, flight or accommodation.
Tip 0031 Never too cheap!
Sometimes there's no such thing as too cheap. There are ways to find accommodation for free and we go into this later. Believe it or not there are some unbelievable deals out there. Some places, modes of travel and countries are doing major discounts to get bums on seats.
Tip 0032 Seasons are not guaranteed
Pick out of season months, go midweek, pick a non Olympic year, anniversary month, red eye flights, night trains/buses and return cruising to name but a few.
Tip 0033 Night travel
Keep research on the move. This is more for the long term traveller but works well in most situations. One of the most inexpensive ways to travel is slowly! This has many benefits. For a start you have more time to make your next move and get the right deal. It is cheaper to stay somewhere longer than a day or two. Weigh up the cost of a train against say a boat up the Mekong, or a cruise through the Panama Canal instead of a flight to Cuba. If you need to be in Paris in a months time from Lima, it may be cheaper to get there other ways than just fly on the day. So many more options are open to you when you have time.
Tip 0034 Travel slowly
Tip 0035 Stay for free
You can even find accommodation for free. More and more people are open to using their homes as either a good way to make money on their accommodation, or as a house swap or couch surf.
Tip 0036 Book online
It's often cheaper to book a hotel online than walking in off the street and in fact many a time we have got a price at reception and had to walk out in the street and book the same room online for a fraction of the cost.
Tip 0037 Try contacting direct to wherever you want to go.
With the internet it is so easy to find contact details online for practically anything.
Tip 0038 Booked your flight
See what deals your airline has for your destination. Many times the airline have specials for the area you are heading. I have stayed in a 5 star hotel in Cape town with breakfast included for $40Aud per night when it usually costs $325.
In a nut shell
We can go on forever here but we will never publish this site. So we will end here for the moment and update later.
We will expand each category and add loads more as we go, as we haven't even scratched the surface.