The Great Ocean Road

I’m surprised that many people I’ve talked to about Australia, has never heard about Great Ocean Road. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I always thought about it as a place to visit when I went to Australia. Somehow I didn’t manage to do it till after I’d lived in Australia for two and a half years, but better late then never hey?

edit: I’ve changed a little, due to the fact that my dad was so disappointed a whiskey bar wasn’t mentioned (which is now at the bottom – hope it’s good enough dad!), and the fact that I realised that we went to another place during the road as well. Woopsi.

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First of all, I’ll explain what the Great Ocean Road actually is for all those people who doesn’t actually know. It’s a natural wonder and one of the most famous and spectacular scenic (coastal) drives in the world. It’s located south in Australia, in the state of Victoria, and according to Wikipedia it’s listed as 243 kilometres long. It starts in Torquay and ends near Warrnambool. During the drive you’ll be in the middle of a rain forest, see cliffs on the side and a beautiful coast, and at the same time it’s the longest war memorial as the road made and dedicated to the soldiers killed during the great war. Most spectacular probably some of the limestone formations in the ocean, created by erosion, the most famous being the Twelve Apostles. During the drive along the coast from Twelve Apostles and towards the west), you’ll see several signs with tourist sights or attractions, and you should stop at them – it might definitely be worth the stop!

 

The twelve apostles & three sisters

The most visited of the formations during the road, is without doubt the Twelve Apostles. There’s actually just 8 apostles left, not 12 anymore. The ninth one collapsed in 2005, but, fun fact, it’s actually never been more than 9. Just next to it is also the Three Sisters, now just two, of the same reason as above. It is truly an amazing view, but from what everyone else had said, I definitely expected more. Don’t expect the greatest, there’s a few other spots that’s better and worth more of your time. It has a visitor centre (which explains the amount of people) with a huge parking lot for busses and cars, and the paths will most likely be packed with people (it was in the middle of winter…) and you might almost have to push your way through not to get a head in the bottom corner of your photos.

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Loch Ard Gorge

It’s named after a ship that ran aground just here, not surprisingly called Loch Ard, with only two survivors; a man called Tom and a woman called Eva. An arch close to the main ‘attraction’ collapsed, leaving it as two separate pillars, now known as Tom and Eva. I know it’s possible to walk down on the beach, but as you can see it wasn’t much of a beach due to the high tide when we were there. This was a place with not too many tourists, I think we actually walked around completely alone most of the time.

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The Arch

This is the place I missed in the original post. It wasn’t a big place or a huge attraction, but still the scenery was as amazing as the rest. Because of the tide the water came through the Arch, which is something I don’t believe always happens. We were lucky enough that it didn’t rain, so we could see out in the open ocean towards Tasmania (not that we saw it however).

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London Arch (London Bridge)

This was my second favourite, it was our first stop on the Great Ocean Road, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s quite obvious really, it looks like a bridge, although half the bridge has fallen down (as you can see on the bottom photo). Someone were actually on a hike on the bridge when it happened in 1990, but fortunately they were on the part that didn’t collapse and got picked up by a helicopter.

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The Grotto

This was definitely my favourite of all sights during the Great Ocean Road. As you can see on the map on the very bottom, it’s a 20 minute drive west from the Twelve Apostles (the red dot), but definitely worth the time it would take. The fact that we were there alone for most of the time, and got to stand down by the water for ages just starting at the fascinating grotto with the clear, blue ocean through it. I don’t think I’ve been so fascinated by anything but the northern lights (aurora borealis) before. We were probably standing there for a good half an hour before a few others came and we left them to enjoy it too, walking back up the stairs to the view. The waves were big, which meant we actually could feel the water raining over us standing there. We were also standing there looking at the view, watching the waves hit the rocks, creating massive showers of water. It is definitely a place that should be checked out, a place we came across by coincidence.

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timboon – railway shed dIstillery

This is the place I wrote about that my dad complained about me not mentioning. If you’ve read a bit on my blog you know he likes his whiskey (and beer), so obviously we had to take a small break at a whiskey distillery  – at an old train station – called Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. It is indeed a rather charming place, with heaps of its own whiskey and different types of liquors. My sister and I had some chocolate-y liquor, which was pretty good on a cold day at noon. Definitely a place to check out if you like the sort of small, hipstery places, or if you just enjoy your whiskey. Apparently the food was supposed to be pretty good, and the staff was definitely kind!

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From Sydney to Melbourne

Hello everyone out there!

If this is not called being a horrible blogger I’m not sure what is. However, hello I’m back! Probably won’t be much activity on this blog the rest of the year due to more work than travel, but as always I’ve got a few trips coming up soon enough.

Anyways, what I’m now gonna tell you a little about is Australia. And more specifically driving from Sydney down to the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne, or the other way obviously, on the inland route. A few tips to where you definitely should go and what to see on the way, and hopefully someone will find it helpful one day. Melbourne might, hopefully, show up in its own post one day. Crossing fingers for that one too.  You can also drive between Sydney and Melbourne down the coast, but as it’s something we’ve done a bit of before, we chose the inland route this time, also called the heritage route, with a lot of gold and English settlement history. Let me know if you want to know places to stop on the coastal route, and I’ll make a post for it too. Most of these towns listed doesn’t really have a beautiful town centre, and it might not be much to do just there, but the area just around it might be the highlight of your trip.

 

Wollongong, Nsw

Obviously. One of my favourite places in Australia, and my second home. A trip up Mt. Keira for sunrise or some resting at the beach would be my choice.

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Kiama, NSW

Kiama is on the coast quite close to Wollongong, the city where I studied, so this is a place I’ve been a few times. It takes about  1.5 hours to get there from Sydney, according to google maps. It’s easy to get there by train, and the train goes past/also stops in Wollongong, but trains in Australia tend to take way longer than driving so bear that in mind before you plan a train trip around Australia.

Kiama isn’t a big place, but in the centre there’s heaps of small and nice cafes, as well as some nice places to go for a swim and get a tan, sometimes together with whales or dolphins. Kiama is mostly known for its blow holes, that’s just next to a very nice lighthouse. If you drive around a little you’ll see that there’s heaps of huge fancy houses and apartments, as the ratio of elderly are quite high. They have markets every now and then, and other than that Kiama is just a great place to chill out, like Aussies are known for.

Around Kiama there’s heaps of nice waterfalls and national parks to see, as well as the seven mile beach (oooh yes) and the Jamberoo (water) Action Park.

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Goulburn, NSW

Goulburn is a small city inland, just under two hours from Sydney, inland. Only thing they really have in Goulburn is a giant merino (a huge tourist attraction) and an Australian-famous bakery. It’s the place where everyone stops when driving to and from Sydney and Canberra. They have heaps of pastries, savoury and sweet, as well as decent chai lattes and coffee. Best enjoyed by the fire place in winter. Just remember, the line is usually relatively long.

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Kangaroo valley, NSW

Kangaroo Valley is also about halfway between Sydney and Canberra, and is also a very small town, although it’s probably more famous for the surrounding green mountains and nature, and a few wineries for those interested. I would guess that spring/fall would be an amazing time to go, not in the winter as most of the nice places were closed, and I believe you might see a few more people around. There’s heaps of tracks for bush hiking, rivers to go kayaking and scenic drives, and also a few kangaroos if you’re lucky.

Not too far from Kangaroo Valley you find waterfalls called Fitzroy Falls, which are definitely to be visited. Just make sure you don’t end up going a day it’s foggy (yep we managed to do that). If you actually go on a clear day, you’ll see a magnificent view with an even more magnificent waterfall. Apparently you might also see platypuses, but our luck ran out there too.

The view on a bad day:

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On a good day:

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Corowa & Rutherglen NSW/VIC border

There’s only one category that Corowa is worth visiting for, and it’s the category food and drinks. Not any foods and drinks, but it’s famous for it’s wineries, and, hold on, the Corowa Chocolate and Whiskey Factory. The factory is great for breakfast, and you can walk around to look at the chocolate, taste and make some, and definitely buy even more. We got a small tour around the whiskey part because my dad couldn’t resist (of course).

After having had breakfast and chocolate, we went straight to some wine tasting in Rutherglen, which is quite famous for it, at a winery called All Saints Winery. I would recommend going this castle looking estate any other season than winter. It was still absolutely beautiful, but I believe the estate looks amazing with flowers that’s actually alive and maybe a bird or two. It was no one else there but us, which was great, because I imagine it’s quite full at it’s best hour. The wine tasted great (not that I’m that picky), and you can see the whole production and wander around the estate. They apparently have cheese tasting too if you don’t like your wine.

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Beechworth, VIC

Beechworth was one of those places every local person we asked told us to go. It’s quite famous for its bakery (Beechworth Bakery – don’t go for the pepper meat pie if you don’t absolutely love black pepper) which we definitely had to check out, a lolly shop with all the lollies you can imagine, its gold rush back in the 1800s, the prison where the Aussie Ned Kelly was first sentenced (a criminal hero, with his own movie – with Heath Ledger as Ned), and the town even has its own live bee garden where they make beers and everything imaginable out of honey. A nice place to stop for a couple of hours to buy yourself a nugget of gold or eat sweet stuff.

If you’re into history you might find it quite interesting with the different museums they have – for its gold, mining and the Chinese cultural centre – and of course the prison where Ned Kelly were.

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Bendigo, VIC

Bendigo was definitely the largest city we went to, not counting Sydney and Melbourne. We mostly just wandered around looking at some fancy, old looking buildings and through some parks that also would look a lot nicer when it’s a bit more alive. We went to a really nice café called Old Green Bean, which was totally my type of cafe – the sort of home made, organic type place. Coffee beans in bags on the floor, paintings by local artists on the wall, and a huge line of people wanting to get take-away. The food was great too, but the atmosphere was definitely my cup of tea.  Except for a nice cafe, Bendigo had a beautiful cathedral, a nice tram through the city and heaps of different types of museums and galleries, something we didn’t have time for but were told was worth a visit. So I’m passing the info on!

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Lorne & Torquay, VIC

You might’ve guessed that I like those cute, small towns by the coast, and you were right. Lorne and Torquay, Victoria, are two of those. Travelling this summer (Aussie winter) we didn’t stop in Torquay but I went there almost two years ago with some friends, and I loved it. My family and I stayed in Lorne one night, at the Grand Pacific Hotel. We walked in without a booking, asked if they had rooms, and they told us we could get an apartment style room. We checked it out; view over the ocean check, massive living room and kitchen check, paid heaps of money for it, nope. Because we came outside of season we paid close to nothing compared to what they charge during summer. One benefit of travelling during winter! We also got up early to watch the sunrise in the morning (which is later in winter than summer, also a benefit of winter travelling).

One place that is quite famous, actually by people outside of Australia too, is Bells Beach. RipCurl has a its prestigious Pro surf competition there every year (since 1960), the 2015 winner being Mick Fanning, who got attacked by a shark in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa at a surf comp a few months after.

Most of all, the drive around Lorne and Torquay – its worth the trip itself. It’s at the very end of the Great Ocean Road, but it’s amazingly blue and the beaches are super white. When my friends and I went to Torquay they had some markets on by the sea, so google that before you go! Not far away from Lorne, a place called Kennet River, theres a great chance of seeing koalas – we saw heaps of them, quite high up, but we saw them. We went quite late, so it ended up getting dark a bit too fast, but I’ve never heard of anyone who went there and didn’t see one. Maybe you’ll be the first one tho.

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Port Campbell, VIC

Yay Great Ocean Road! I’ll write an own post about Great Ocean Road, with a few tips of places you should check out where it wasn’t that many tourists, but more beautiful than the places with all the busses. Port Campbell itself isn’t really anything to check out, maybe the surf, but other than that it’s just a convenient place to stop when doing the Great Ocean Road.

There’s obviously heaps of routes to choose from, but these are the places we chose to stop by :-)

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What not to expect in Australia

Traveling around Australia with my family during winter made me realise quite a few things that you can’t expect when you travel (or live, for that sake) in Australia. I’ve written down a few things my sister and I realised and experienced in Australia, both the tings you can’t expect happening, especially during winter, as well as a couple of things you wouldn’t expect happening because Australia is pretty awesome in the end.

  1. Not wearing a coat inside

Australia hasn’t understood what insolation is, because it’s usually even colder inside than outside during winter. Coming from an almost arctic country people would think we are used to it, but f not, we at least have a nice temperature inside, and can pretty much just wear shorts and a t-shirt inside when theres a horrible -20 degrees and wind outside. In Australia? Nope. Restaurants and cafes are maybe the worst, often also because they leave the door open, and don’t have any form for heaters. There’s something sad about having a delicious meal with your family, all sitting there with big scarves, coats and blue frozen fingers.  WHY AUSTRALIA?!

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2. Coffee at 3 pm? Forget it.

Cafes and small restaurants isn’t for people who wants to have a cup of coffee and a lunch at 3 pm – definitely not the lunch part. The amount of times we wanted to sit down with some food and a coffee after having been shopping and sightseeing for hours, only to find closed cafes and people telling us that the kitchen is closed. All we wanted was just a stupid coffee and some food after a tiresome day… WHY AUSTRALIA?!

Oh and when it comes to it: if you want a normal, black coffee, don’t ask for a normal, black coffee – you’ll end up getting the strongest espresso in the tiniest cup, and . You’ll wake up at least, but if you wan’t that normal coffee cup ask for a long black. Or get a cappuccino, because that’s usually the same everywhere. Or tea. Easy.

3. Shopping after work? Forget that too.

It pretty much says itself, when you can’t even get lunch or coffee after work, don’t expect to go shopping for a new outfit after you’ve finished in the office. Pretty much all shops, except super markets of course, close before 6 pm during weekdays, maybe earlier, except Thursdays which is the insane day of staying open till maybe 9 pm. Like a kid staying up after bed time.. And Saturdays you can’t expect to see anything open after 4 pm. But seriously, you have to go shopping in your lunch break (just make sure you’re getting your lunch before that closes too..) unless you wait till Thursday and don’t have any other plans. A good thing however is that most shops and malls are open on Sundays too, something at least we in Norway don’t have.

4. Handsome guys on Tinder

There’s not many, sorry boys. Don’t expect to go to Australia to find a tinder date, I’d rather go to a beach and just stare at the life guards.

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5.  that you’ll see them later

If you’ve been to Australia you would’ve heard everyone say ‘See ya later’ every time you leave a place, and been a bit surprised because you don’t know them. But just so you know, it doesn’t really mean that you will see them later, unless you really want to of course.  You don’t really have to reply, I usually just go for a safe “see ya” or “adios” and walk away. So no Australians aren’t thaat creepy. At least not all.

6. Bins? Apparently not

My sister kept on complaining all the time about the lack of bins around public areas (I have to admit that I haven’t really thought much about it, but apparently this is also something you can’t expect). So, make sure your handbag is big enough for all those bottles of water you buy and remember that you might not be able to hide the fact that you ate a chocolate for too long.

7. Travel to Australia on a budget? Weeeell…

Well, unless you’re from Norway, traveling and living in Australia won’t be the cheapest thing you could’ve done. Noodles and pasta is relatively cheap however, so unless you want a proper diet you might survive. But seriously, Australia has similar prices as in Norway, just a little cheaper for most things, and alcohol is way cheaper over there than in the land that invented drunk Vikings. However, if you’re from another country (Americans have always been complaining at least), Australia will be super expensive, especially alcohol. Unless you make it in time for happy hour. That’s the one good thing about being Norwegian; no matter where you travel it will be cheaper than at home. Woha.

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8. Spiders, snakes and other deadly creatures

If you ask an Australian what their most deadly, scary or poisonous creature are, they would probably answer their beloved prime minister. Secondly maybe the spiders and snakes, but seriously: I’ve seen a total of two snakes over my total two and a half years down under, and only kind spiders (that I know of anyways), as well as one shark when I was snorkelling, but that one was kind too, and I’m still alive even though I chased after it. Don’t decide not to go to Australia because of the creatures you’ve heard horror stories about, the most dangerous creatures are probably in hiding or in the middle of no where anyways. So chill out.

9. To understand everything

Aussies have their own slang which would be hard to understand even for people with English as their first language; who would know what arvo, thongs, bogan, to be stoked and devo means?! And why do they use heaps ALL the time? Well, that’s the sort of things you should google before you go, so you don’t end up translating things the wrong way. Yes, everyone use thongs in Australia. The classic example of Aussie slang. But relax, you’ll get used to it, and then you’ll start using the same words heaps yourself.

It’s not just the slang in Australia that can be hard, including the fact that their accent is a little different from British and American, they tend to speak reaaally fast. My dad knows his English really well from studying abroad, but even he struggled a few times with people talking way too fast. I didn’t realise because I’m so used to it, but prepare yourself for a lot of nodding and smiling when what you thought was a few words was actually a long paragraph of a speech. Good luck.

 

What can you expect?

To fall in love

It might’ve been quite a few things about Australians that they can’t really do well, but there’s one thing Australians definitely know how to do well, much better than most countries I’ve been to; being friendly and helpful. They always call you ‘mate’ – men and women, or as a girl you’ll get used to strangers calling you sweetie, honey and all other nice things you can call a human being. Or the very typical: No worries love. And no they aren’t trying to hit on you; it’s just what they do. Australians are one of my  favourite groups of people on this planet, so no wonder I fell so much in love with that place. Also, everyone I’ve talked to who’s been in Australia for shorter or longer periods of time talk about how friendly Australians are, and how much they want to go back. Aussies always give you a hand, without expecting anything back, and even a stranger on the street might smile and say a friendly hello to you. Do you know what would happen if you did that to someone on the street in Norway? They would look at you as if you were crazy and probably be close to running as fast as they could away from you. And talking to strangers? Never. So well done Australia! Thank you for always being so nice and helpful, and I’m apologising on behalf of all my fellow Vikings – if we look at you as if you are crazy, it’s only because we have no idea how to deal with nice people and we’re simply just not used to it. May the planet be filled with more kind Aussies. Australia is awesome. The End.

Oh and you can also experience some amazing nature, wildlife you can’t see in other countries, slow trains, beautiful beaches and amazing food – but all of that should be experienced, not read about ;)

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What is winter like in Australia?

Well, believe it or not, winter in Australia is cold. You kinda think Australia is that tropical island with 30 degrees all year around, but well, you were wrong. I just got back to Australia and Sydney with my family a couple of days ago, and that’s supposedly the only days we’re supposed to have sun and alright temperatures.

We arrived super early on Thursday morning after a few 30 hours of flying and waiting at airports (thank god for lounges and sleeping pills), in jeans and cardigans, but we quickly realised that we needed our coats too. It’s about ten degrees, a bit of wind and sometimes a shine of sun too, so it was quite optimistic bringing dresses and a pair of shorts. But we’re not going to let the weather ruin our three week holiday in the land of the koalas.


  
  

The day we arrived we didn’t really do much. My sister and I went down to Circular Quay and the Opera house to be tourists for a little, before we went for lunch with my parents at the food court of the Westfield centre in the middle of Sydney. The food court has food from pretty much all corners of the world; Chinese, French, Italian, Indian, American.. You name it. The food in most places is pretty awesome too when you manage to decide what you actually want. It’s harder than you think! It’s definitely a place to check out after you’ve been shopping in the lower floors of the Westfield centre. It’s got all kinds of shops: the lower floors for normal people and the upper ones for people with a little more money in their wallet.
Obviously Sydney has the Opera House  and the bridge down at Circular Quay which everyone definitely need to check out at least once when they’re down under. The areas surrounding Circular Quay is pretty nice – on one side you have the botanical gardens which should be beautiful at least when it’s summer/spring, and on the other side it’s the area called The Rocks which has heaps of bars and places to see, as well as markets every now and then.




We went for a day trip out to Manly, a very nice and a bit hippie area half an hour away from Circular Quay by boat. On the way you get an awesome view over the city skyline, and if you return just after dark like we did you get to see the opera house all lid up pretty. On the way to Manly my mum also saw a few Dolphins, so that’s possible too. When we got to Manly we pretty much just wandered down the main street from the wharf to the beach, a walk with heaps of shops (surf clothing like billabong and rip curl especially) and a few restaurants. The beach itself was beautiful; we got there on a sunny day, but definitely too cold to be swimming. I recon it must be awesome during summer, and I get the impression that Manly has more locals than tourists than Bondi does, and it’s by far way nicer. And probably not so packed since there’s no Surf Rescue TV show happening there. Down at the beach there’s restaurants and cafes everywhere, so choosing somewhere to eat isn’t easy. We had lunch just across from the main ‘part’ of the beach (if you can even say that) not far from the corso, called Hemingway’s. The food was awesome, and not too pricy as I thought, and it had outdoor seating which is great when it’s a little sunny and warm. It’s a great option for vegetarians, like I believe a lot of cafes in Manly are. My sister and I also went for a bit of a walk to a vintage shop called Sammy & Sid, which is a good place to go if you want to look at designer clothes and accessories with a cheaper price tag. We absolutely loved the little shop, but unfortunately we left empty handed – not even the $22 000 Chanel bag came home with us.


  
  
  
 I also spent a day in Wollongong, the city where I studied, while my family just did some sightseeing in Sydney. Wollongong is about an hour and half south of Sydney by train, a slow but nice train ride by the coast. I can’t brag about Wollongong being a big, exciting city, but it’s awesome for students, and it has some even more amazing beaches. I just went to catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while, as well as just wandering in town a little. The Gong (as we call it) is starting to grow, and the expanding of the mall has enabled even more restaurants and bars to appear, as well as shops but there’s not that many of them to brag about. One of my favourite cafes is called Lee & Me, and is known for being the hipster cafe of Wollongong. It’s small and cosy, and has great food. There’s also a lot of nice bars and not so nice but fun night clubs, but I didn’t have time to go there this time; but give me a few days and I might’ve seen a few from the inside.


  
Next on the itinerary is a road trip down south to the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne, so stay tuned for some awesome views and good shopping! And of course even colder weather……. (Yes we’ve seen frost on cars in the morning and the highway was closed the day after we drove because of too much snow. Hurray for summer holidays)

How to travel on a budget

One of my favourite months have now ended, the usually amazing month of May. It’s usually sunny and starting to get really warm, it’s got several public holidays, including our national day the 17. May and of course my birthday! 17. May at home was really strange, I haven’t been home for three years, and then I was a Russ, but it was nice celebrating it in Norway for once. Here pretty much everyone is outside walking in or watching the parades.

My sister is done with high school this year so this time it was her time to be a Russ. Simply just being drunk for 17ish days doing heaps of pranks like walking to the liquor shop with skis, walking around town with a couple of fishes in a leach or giving someone random a vegetable. Celebrating the national day in Sydney has been awesome,  It’s also fun showing how we celebrate to our friends from down under and other places, everyone tends to have heaps of fun on that day! Norwegians occupying the streets of Sydney. Who’s complaining?! None. I like to think.

 

My birthday was nice, but also different from being in Australia. Living on campus you usually have heaps of people around all the time, and last year my roomies even surprised me in the morning with pancakes for breakfast, cupcakes and the loveliest decoration of all. This year, I worked till 4am on my birthday and then slept for ages, which wasn’t really the start of the day as I wanted it to be like. However, the rest of the day was super nice, and  got a lot of attention from all sides of the globe. THANK YOU :)


  

Other than this I’ve just been catching up with people, working quite a bit and had a drink or two, and just chilled at home in the very depressing weather. Now it’s only a month till I head out in the world again; back to Australia! I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through the year already. Here’s some tips on how you can travel on a budget, mostly because of the lack of writing anything exciting. Let me know if there’s something you want me to write about, or anything really. Cheeerio.

Oh and I cut my hair short and coloured it dark. Just because.

how to spend less when travelling

1. Research

That’s definitely the most important thing when you travel – do your research beforehand! In this way, you can find cheaper flights, accommodation, how to get around, what to do and where to eat. Yes it takes time, but it can also save you a LOT of money. When it comes to the flights, I usually use search engines such as http://www.momondo.com as they compare a lot of flights – but I’ve realised that many times you can get the cheapest option on momondo even cheaper at the airline’s own page, so double check with the airline’s homepage before you book anything. Remember that the cheapest airlines may seem the best, but if you’re bringing luggage or you want food, it might get more expensive in the end. So again; do your research before you book.

Research also means stay alert for sales. Heaps of airlines has sales and discounts quite frequently, as well as hotel-booking pages. Also

 2. avoid the typical travel days

Maybe the most important of them all. Don’t travel when everyone else does! This is usually in the middle of summer, just around Christmas and Easter. If you travel in for instance fall or early spring/late winter you can get heaps cheaper tickets, as well as accommodation. Many charge more during holidays, also when it comes to guided tours and sightseeing. Simply, you can save a lot by taking your week off later or earlier than everyone else. Also, there’s less tourists around then, making it more comfortable wandering around.

Remember, big cities tend t have heaps of tourists every weekend, so if you can do your long weekend during the weekdays instead you might also save heaps compared to the actual weekend.

3. become a frequent flyer

Registering to the frequent flyer programs of different airlines doesn’t usually cost anything, and even though you might think you don’t get anything back from it yet – you might get great advantages later when you’ve travelled a little. I’ve got several frequent flyer accounts, with KLM/Airfrance, Qantas, SAS, Norwegian and so on. The deal with frequent flyer accounts is that every time you travel with a certain airline or their partners, you’ll get points. When you’ve travelled a few times and gathered enough points, you can use them to get cheaper or even free flights, and many of these airlines have online shops/partner shops where you can use your points instead of money on different products. Most airlines also have credit cards, which gives you a certain amount of points for each time you use your card.

As I said, it might feel like it takes forever to gather points, but its not only points you can get. Last year I had so many flights with the FlyingBlue partnership (KLM, AirFrance, AeroMexico, Delta etc) that I got upgraded on my KLM/AirFrance account from the basic Ivory two stages up, to GOLD. This means that I can now, for a year, bring an extra suitcase, get cheaper upgrades, walk in the priority lanes at check in and boarding (which is the best thing ever) and most importantly: I get free access for me and a friend at lounges – where they have free food, drinks and comfy chairs away from the noise. I’ve also gathered enough points that I can book a flight for free almost anywhere in the world (except Australia of course, since it’s so far away……). In the long run, being a frequent flyer is definitely worth the two minutes it takes to sign up! Who say no to free flights and lounge access!?!

4. hostels or home stays

Friends are probably the best and cheapest way of staying somewhere, but if you don’t have nice enough friends the place you’re going, I would definitely recommend staying at hostels or even home stays/couch surfing. There’s a few couch surfing pages online, I haven’t tried it before so I can’t actually recommend one, but I’m sure there’s good reviews pages online. If you have friends living in that country/city, that would obviously be the best option. You get to see someone you most likely haven’t seen in a while and they might let you stay for free. However, you should remember to give them something for their hospitality (that goes for home stays too). When staying private like this, you can also get to see the city from a local, and you’ll save money on going on guided trips.

If you’re a few people, say a family or a group of friends, renting an apartment might be the best idea. We always do that in my family, no matter where we go – but especially in big cities (our last booking has been made for Melbourne) you’ll save heaps on renting apartments rather than booking hotels. It’s also more private than a hostel, which is nice if you’re a family travelling.


5. public transport/walk

I think this one explains itself pretty well – instead of getting taxis, get the public transport. Or even better: WALK. Some places have cheap week-passes for public transport that includes everything, other places it’s simply quite expensive. I try to walk as much as I can, but also remember that it might sometimes be more expensive with a couple of single or return trips than getting a week pass. When walking you can also get to see more than if you just catch a bus or underground – you’ll  go from A to B, and not see everything between.

6. make your own food

Especially making your own breakfast can save you a lot of money. If you live in a place with a fridge, it’s heaps of stuff you can make on your own in the morning. Breakfasts tend to be almost the same all over the world, yes some restaurants might have different varieties, but I would rather save those moneys, and then go out for lunch and dinner instead. If you’re staying at a hotel, make sure they have breakfast included so you won’t have to worry about that. Also, by bringing some light snacks with you bought at a grocery store, you can save heaps on not buying things from stalls. If you’re staying for a while, I would definitely recommend making at least one meal a day at home, even if you’re travelling alone. However, remember that the culture is also food, so if theres traditional foods you want to try, do it!

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7. luggage

This goes together with saving money on airfare – if you travel with companies that charges money for luggage, you’ll, not so surprisingly, save money if you bring nothing but your hand luggage. It’s quite easy really: find a light weight bag (don’t bring that heavy one, then your allowance is gone already..) and pack only the few things you need. If it’s a little heavy, just wear a little more clothes. If you’re going in spring/summer you won’t need much clothes, mostly you’ll get towels where you’re staying (or you can buy one there, or bring a light weight one) and usually you won’t need a litre of shampoo and conditioner – the travel sized bottles are more than enough. However, remember that if it’s too heavy, it might get more expensive than if you paid for extra luggage beforehand.

 

 

Questions? Just ask!

 

Happy birthday to me!

23.05.92 – this stranger was born. Aka. Me. Hurray for 23 years on this planet!! The celebration will be in front of the TV watching the clichés of Eurovision. Aussie Aussie Aussie! 🎂🇳🇴🇦🇺