Tag Archives: travel

Planning a holiday? Here are some tips

With the summer holidays now behind us, it’s not too late to do your financial planning for the next holidays – or 2019. Here’s how to minimise your financial stress for a well-deserved break.

Plan ahead

OK, at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the earlier you start planning, the more money you can save. And when it comes to peak travelling times such as December, typically the earlier you book your flights and accommodation the better your account balance will be.

Create a budget

Whether you choose Bali, Barcelona, Brazil or the bush, create a budget. Account for expenses such as flights, petrol, food and activities, such as visiting museums or a spa. Research activities at your destination and see if you can book early – or if there’s some great free ones. The more you can book and pay for beforehand, the less you’ll need to worry about overspending. 

I’m counting down until my 25th Wedding Anniversary next year and we’ve always dreamed of a trip around the Greek Islands.  I’m already in overdrive looking at airfares and cruises… extensions and adventures.  And ok, it’s dearer than any trip we’ve ever done, but hey! how many make it to their 25th?  That’s got to be worth a splurge!

Start saving

When you’ve worked out how much you will need, start saving. Even putting a small amount aside each week can add up, so you could enjoy some amazing experiences you may not have thought you could afford. A good tip is to open a high-interest savings account and set up an automatic transfer on your payday.  Alternately, offset the funds against your mortgage to save interest on your loan and draw them back as needed.

I also use a travel money card that I transfer my spending money into each week as I’m preparing for a trip.  It means I average in to the account depending on what the dollar/euro/ringgit/pound/kwatcha is doing on the day and means I have funds available in the local currency when I travel.

Hunt for bargains

There are lots of useful websites that compare deals on everything from flights to tours. Sometimes, a package deal is more effective – make sure to research well.

Just make sure you turn on private browsing when researching online. Warning!! Some travel sites track users and raise prices on the things you are researching if you return repeatedly.  (The cheek!)  I’m a bit of a fan of Trip Advisor and have made a few bookings via booking.com for hotels and Viator for adventures.

And don’t worry if you have left things to the last minute – there’s a website for that too: lastminute.com.au.

While you’re on holiday…

It can be easy to splurge – you’re on holidays after all. But to avoid spending the rest of your life paying it off, keep track of your finances while you’re away.  And seriously, do you really need that Sombrero and yard glass?

Set yourself a daily spending limit – or use a travel app to help you stay on track.

But if that’s too much of a buzzkill, you can transfer the exact amount you’ll need into a bank account just for your holiday. This may help you stay out of your other accounts unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Talk to your adviser

Your adviser may help you create a financial plan tailored to help you achieve the holiday you want.

I’d love to help and as a travel junkie myself, may even have a few tips for you… so give me a call today to reach your financial goals for your holiday.

Is Travel Insurance really necessary?

Travel is a whole lot of fun!  And as we know, it can also be a little expensive!  Sometimes, travel insurance may seem like that one last item that tips we scales and we say no, it’s too much!

But firstly, what does it even cover?

Typically, you’ll be protected for:-

  • Loss of luggage and personal items, like cameras and phones
  • Disruptions to travel plans, like flight cancellations
  • Theft of your goods, and most importantly…
  • Medical expenses from injury or illness.

If you’ve never had the privelege of being sick in the USA, I hope you never are.  Medical teatment in some countries can cost a fortune if you don’t have travel insurance! According to the National Business Group, you may be out of pocket up to $1,000,000 for a heart attack!

But, it’s also Buyer Beware!  Usually, you won’t be covered for extreme sports, pre-existing medical conditions, acts of terrorism and some natural disasters, loss or theft of unattended baggage, travel to areas where there is an official travel warning issued, financial failure of a provider or pregnancy related issues after around 22 weeks.  If you’re likely to be affected by any of these, take care!

Top Tips!

Usually, you’ll find out the cost of the cover pretty quickly, but be sure to enquire about the excess applicable to any claims; what’s included and what’s not; dollar limits for your more expensivce items and total values covered; what proof you need at claim time and how to contact you’re provider if you’re overseas.

Be honest when completing the forms.  You don’t want your claim denied because you failed to mention a health condition!

Once you’ve purchased cover you’re happy with and stashed the details, pack light and enjoy the flight!  And if you’re a frequent traveller, ask about a coporate or annual travel insurance plan

I’d never leave home without it!

Holiday Tips Time!

So, you’ve waited all year and finally it’s here! Your time off is sorted, bags are packed, and you’re ready to go! It’s holiday time!

Most people love their vacations and look forward to them for a long time. But instead of coming back to a maxed credit card, what are some ways you can ensure things run smoothly – and return home debt free, with great memories?

Usually, you’ve got a fair idea of when you can travel, where you’d like to go and how long for. With the internet now, it’s easy to work out how much everything will cost, far in advance.  Sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com amongst many others mean you know what you’re getting, and just how much you’ll be paying.

It’s always a good idea if you can pay off all your travel, flights and accommodation prior to heading off to take advantage of lengthy booking time discounts, and also work out how much you’d like to have as a daily budget. If I’m heading to the USA, I like to average around $250 per day spending money, if it’s Asia, I’ll likely need a lot less. (This is to cover meals, transfers, sight-seeing and day-to-day activities outside of travel and accommodation costs.)

It’s then easier to work out your total spend based on your research. As an example, you might allow for the following if heading to Asia:
Flights $1,500
Accommodation $2,000
Spending Money $2,000
Total trip cost: $5,500

If you have a year to plan, this means you’ll need to set aside $106 per week. Break it down into how often you’re paid. If it’s fortnightly, that’ll be $212 per pay period.

This is also a great way to work out whether or not what you’d like to do is affordable. If you can’t take the appropriate amount each pay period out to cover costs, and still make ends meet, it’s time to rethink. Can you wait for happy hour or a sale on flights? Do you need to rethink your accommodation options or planned experiences? Should you go for a shorter amount of time? Or find somewhere else to head to altogether?

Also, if you’re going overseas, send your spending money to a Travel Money card where it can store your funds in the appropriate currency. Most banks offer this service, as do Virgin and other providers. Make sure the card is chipped too, so it’s accepted in more places and that you can take cash withdrawals of your funds at ATM’s when you’re on the move.

It’s also a great way to average out the ups and downs of currency fluctuations instead of waiting for ‘the right time’ to buy. Even if you’re travelling domestically, this is still a great way to keep funds segregated just for your holidays.

And if you’re someone who has to buy gifts and ‘stuff’ and often need to grab an extra suitcase before you head back, my top travel tip is to throw in a large vacuum storage bag. This way you can suck the air out of all your clothes, and leave room for those extra items, without the last minute cost of excess luggage or another new suitcase!  Most hotels are happy to supply the vacuum!

And never, ever leave home without your travel insurance! I hope you’ll never need it, but for the peace of mind, it’s totally worth it.

A visit to Champiti

Our travels today took us to an Epicentre of The Hunger Project (THP) called Champiti, which has been awarded the status of self-reliance, a huge effort by the local community!

Our bus trip took a couple of hours to head North-West of Blantyre and we passed much barren territory, a lasting effect of the past three years of El Nino which has devastated the country.

Our first stop was the home and shop of the inspirational Sarah Dzenza and the local women greeted us with song, dance and some serious ululating (which we later practiced in the bus!)  Sarah embraced the philosophy of The Hunger Project early and has had 6 loans from the rural bank to expand and grow her businesses (selling supplies and sarongs) and improve her home, now a burnt brick dwelling with rendered walls and an iron roof – quite an achievement!

It was a little overwhelming for me to walk up to her home with memories flooding back of my previous visit to Uganda, being surrounded by children whose folks are doing everything they can to give them a better life, the incredible heat and noise and sunlight that is Africa.

We then headed to briefly meet the first chairman of the Epicentre, Mr Hiwa and his lovely wife of 50 years who explained what life was like for the villages prior to THP and how their lives and that of the community has improved.  Next stop the Epicentre!!

Another amazing traditional dance from both the men and women greeted us on arrival and it felt like we were walking into a National Geographic spread.  We were proudly shown around the maize mill, food bank, medical facilities and rural bank with the local team on hand to answer questions about how they’d managed to achieve the status of self-reliance.

A deeper dive into the various works that committees arrange, such as Women’s Empowerment, Nutrition, Health, HIV & AIDS, Water & Sanitation, Food Security, Micro-finance, Education and Literacy were all covered.  No handouts here, just education across all that’s necessary and massive mindset changes required to move past the resignation and into a place of hope.

Spending time with Everton, the young bank manager and learning about his family and job was lovely.  He tells me women are educated before taking out the loans and strict warnings are given not to pass on the funds to their husbands as they are still responsible for the loan and any associated interest (around 2%) even if their husband’s spend the money!  A warning that women the world over would be wise to follow!

Sex Ed was also fascinating with the mindset changes required for communities to embrace male and female condoms and HIV testing and increasing health and sanitation practices.

After hours of learning and inspiration from the local Malawians we were all invited to join in final songs and dance.  We all need so much more spontaneous song and dance in our lives!  An uplifting and beautiful way to finish our visit.  Then time for selfies, hugs, goodbyes with the kids, more pictures and long waves…

On the way home, a brilliant sunset occurred to our west, as the supermoon rose from the east in epic African skies.  A fitting end to a fabulous day of learning and laughter.

 

I won a trip to the Bangkok Slums!

Well, there’s a blog title I never thought I’d write… or even be a little excited about, but as it turns out, in 9 more sleeps, I’m off to Thailand.

And as much I’d love to be sipping Mai Tai’s by the pool at a stunning resort… that’s NOT what this trip is all about.

I recently attended the Future of Leadership forum in Brisbane which has a fabulous number of brilliant speakers donating their time and resources to raise funds for the amazing charity, Hands Across the Water (aka Hands or HATW.)

One of the prizes on the day, which I was fortunate enough to take out, was a trip for the Hands “Social Venture Program.”  This 6 day program will take me from the Khlong Toei Slums in Bangkok to the community Projects and orphanages in Yasothon, Northern Thailand.

The people I’ll be meeting aren’t famous for the attention they garner, they aren’t social media stars and they don’t drop quotable quips, but they are possibly the most amazing people for the impact they have on their local communities and the lives they live.

It will be my privilege to spend time in their homes, learning and changing myself.  I feel so blessed to lead the life that I do, and cherish the moments where I can learn and grow as a human from these remarkable people who do so much, not because they want to be famous, but because they can.

We’ll be relocating a very deserving family from the slums into temporary accommodation, then demolishing their home for locals to be able to come in and build a new, habitable dwelling for the family.

Then we’re off to Northern Thailand to work with the Home Hug orphanage, be involved in the community project in Surin and make a difference however we can before returning to Bangkok.

So far, I’ve been able to raise $2,000 for this fantastic cause and I’d love if you’d like to contribute too: Donate Here

If you’d like to know more about the amazing work that Hands does in their Social Venture Program, or have your corporate or colleagues involved, you can check them out here: HATW Social Venture Program

I look forward to sharing my adventures as I go and will keep you posted on this amazing trip.

A Magical Trip to Uluru

Like most Aussies, I had the amazing Uluru (once known as Ayres Rock) as a place on my bucket list.  But realise too, that few have had the opportunity to visit.  And it is in the middle of our really big country, that’s sometimes a bit tricky, expensive and time consuming to navigate.

When the opportunity arose for me to attend a conference in the amazing spiritual heart of Australia (and hosted by the amazing Business Chicks) I jumped at the chance to go.  For I knew both the content and the location could only be brilliant.

Our first glimpse of both Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluru was granted on the plane ride in to Uluru airport, and it’s pretty special.  I’m not sure the size was ever really quite abundantly clear to me, until I saw it rising up from vast flat lands dotted with mulga.  And it’s actually the Olgas site that holds a deeper spiritual significance for the traditional owners, the Anangu people.

For some idea of scale, it’s twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and three times that of the Statue of Liberty – that’s 348 metres high!.  It’s 9.6 kilometres around to walk the base.  Yes, it is a really big rock!

My stay was at the Accor run, Sails in the Desert resort and it’s not far to any of the viewing areas available for sunrise and sunset picture opportunities.  The resort is great for singles, couples or families and has a pool onsite, along with a restaurant, bar and conference facilities.

Some said they felt Uluru to be a truly spiritual area and being there affected them deeply.  I was awed by these majestic mounds of sandstone that make up both landmarks, oxidising before our eyes.  Incredibly, both extend for kilometres further underground.

It’s hard to tear your eyes away, and long after we swapped our cameras for champagne glasses, we were dragging them out again as the light and colours constantly changed before our eyes.

A few of us treated ourselves to a sunrise tour with Ayres Rock Helicopters, and it was worth every cent.  Our wonderful Venetian pilot Julio was a fabulous tour guide and took us on a 36 minute extended tour for fabulous photo opportunities and filled us in on fun facts throughout the flight.

Funnily enough, Aboriginal art also made a whole lot more sense from above.  I can’t say I’ve been a huge fan of the traditional dots and stripes style of art, but from above, it’s clear that this is exactly what you see.  The dunes of a former inland sea snaked across the landscape and shrubs and bushes literally dotted the remaining space.

On our return from our flight, we headed to the watering hole area at the base of the rock that is a holding pond for water that pours down the sides of the rock during the rains and gathers at its base.  Depending on the heat and the seasons, it can quickly dry out.  Further up exists another collection hole that we couldn’t see, but is said to be up to 10 metres deep.

There’s a painting cave to visit, and a few signs along the clearly marked paths around the base of this amazing landmark.  Getting up close and personal was a fabulous experience that will leave a lasting memory.  It was only when standing at its base and staring up that it’s sheer amazing height and presence was truly felt.

If you ever get the chance to head out please do, or if not, make the opportunity happen.  It shouldn’t be left to just the hordes of European and Asian tourists to make the effort to visit this amazing natural treasure and take home the pics.  You owe it to yourself to see first hand just how spectacular this place really is.

My Top Travel Tip!

Travelling is a huge passion of mine, and each year, I try to add new places to my list of “Must See  Before I Die!!”   I’m so thankful to have been to over 20 incredible countries to date and continue to look for opportunities to visit new and amazing places.

I’m grateful to last year have been able to add South Africa, Indonesia and China, and this year include Uganda and Dubai.  Even a visit to our Red Centre at Uluru is planned and a quick trip across ditch will add New Zealand for the first time this year as well.

Travel experiences for me have traditionally been the usual “transactional” experience: visit, eat well, drink better, take the photos, buy a shot glass and head home with great memories.  This year, I had my first “transformational travel” experience with a visit to Uganda with The Hunger Project.  Wow!  Life changing stuff!

I’m blessed that my assistant is a complete home body, never likes to venture far from her comfortable home and can keep my business running and home fires burning, while I’m off exploring.

I am no fashionista and do like to travel in comfort, but definitely never want to look like Super Dag when I turn up anywhere either.  And I much prefer to collect experiences than souvenirs, so don’t usually come back with bulging extra suitcases of “stuff.”

Unfortunately, Australia is an incredibly expensive country to live in, so I do like to pick up a couple of additional clothing items when I’m away too.  It’s great to say ‘Oh, this dress?  I got it in South Africa.”  “You like my scarf?  Found it in a little place in Shanghai.”  Such great memories!  If just a little pretentious! 😉

So, trying to travel with just one (reasonably sized) suitcase and a carry-on, can sometimes present a challenge.

My favourite tried and true travel tip when heading overseas now, is to always take with me an empty jumbo vacuum seal bag.  You know the ones – those late night, direct buy space saving miracles advertised at 3am?

Thankfully, I’ve never had a hotel yet deprive me of a vacuum cleaner so am able to pack all my clothing into this, suck the life out of it, and leave space for those extra items or gifts I like to bring home.

And as someone so cleverly pointed out to me – no, it doesn’t save on weight, but the extra space is a lifesaver!  It means you don’t need to buy an extra suitcase every time you go somewhere, or pack an extra case into your large luggage, braving excess baggage charges.

Why don’t you try it sometime and see how you fare!

This post is part of a brand-led competition and entry to the Virgin Australia comp for Pro-Blogger attendees.