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Steve's Travel Info

Mainly info re off-season travel in Europe using apartments and travelling by car.
A week in each geographic area works really well as well as satisfying some booking conditions ( generally Saturday to Saturday ).
A week may give adequate time to explore and enjoy the local areas and cultures.
New info on GPS, Google Earth and Internet, see headings below.
Try to limit the distances in your holiday, avoid wasting your holiday time in airports and carefully consider the following :

HOLIDAY OPTIONS

Self drive, apartments and self catering : Holidaying at your pace discovering local attractions, privacy & low food/wine costs.
Self drive & Hotels : Hotels can be expensive, no real privacy, no room to relax, no self cater, restricted or pay parking.
Self drive & Motels : Highway Chain Motels are cheap, clean & modern but no room to relax and no self cater, parking OK.
Self drive & B&B / Pension : B&B mainly UK. Often not cheap or modern, usually share facilities with owners and no self cater.
Train travel : Accommodation generally restricted to expensive hotels near train stations. Costing is OK for single travellers.
. . . . . 4 day France / Italy Eurail from Aus$376 pp, 4 day Swiss Pass Aus$398 pp 2nd Class, self drive is much cheaper for 2 or more.
. . . . . 3 months prior internet purchase for TGV can be as low as 20 euros a trip. Consider collecting lease car remotely due tolls/time.
Back-packers : Usually group accommodations with a good support network aimed at younger travellers.
Coach packages : Safe, tight touring schedule of cities and main tourist attractions, tourist traps, tips usually expected
. . . . . Side trips and other add-on extras such as banquets, etc. are expensive.
. . . . . Some Hotels are well positioned for post tour walks, etc.... "Ah, it's Friday, this must be Salzburg ?"
Hitch-hike and stay with friends : Not recommended. Can be dangerous travelling & friends may become former friends.

OFF SEASON TRAVEL

From June to August most of Europe is on holiday and it is very hot, roads, accommodation, restaurants and attractions
are crowded and I advise going "off season" in March to May (Spring) or September to December (Autumn, but getting colder).
Shoulder air fares are cheaper and "Early Birds" better still if you are organised early enough. Consider joining Frequent Flyer.
BA has World Traveller Plus & Qantas has Premium Economy class between Business & Economy which can be very attractive.
Business is great but most seats do not lie flat, some A380 seats do. Ear plugs & noise cancelling headphones could be improved.
Business Lounges are an included luxury but code share lounges are generally disappointing, particularly for paid memberships.
2009 recessional climate provided flight "Specials" such as a child for free or half-price Business, but usually as last-minute options.
Specials keep appearing but as air-fares are a major outlay book through a good travel agent, not the internet, for back-up if things go wrong . . . . . . . Ever tried ringing some Help Line, especially from overseas ?
Clothes needed include layers, warm coat, gloves, scarf, hat and walking shoes. Take a small umbrella and small digital camera.
April 2007 hottest UK April since weather has been recorded (350 years). November 2009 floods. March 2013 still Winter.
Do not worry about language as your body language, and politely pointing to what you want works really well.
In France, especially, basic words like "bonjour" & "merci" really help heaps. The Euro has made most of Europe easy in transactions.

FRANCE : CAR LEASE

The item below is Apartments and the best way to use them is by self-drive as using train / bus / taxi can be very difficult.
Driving on the "wrong side" in Europe is not difficult and Europeans generally are very fast but have very good road manners.
Staying in the right lane, giving way to the right, driving fast but with due caution (so radar is rare), always giving way to pedestrians (who unfortunately flaunt this) are a constant source of amazement as Australian road manners are poor, lanes are not properly observed and not giving way, running red lights, erratic driving and road rage are prolific, there is preoccupation with radar being a speed deterent ? and pedestrians, cyclists & motor cyclists have to live dangerously. Experience it yourself !
For 2 or more driving is an adventure and quite affordable and yes, you will often get temporarily lost. Carefully consider buying a GPS but you will need European or USA, etc. maps available on SD card for some makes & models. Australian units only have Australian mapping installed and dirt roads may not be included.
Some GPS can help you when walking or enable you to find where you left the car and there are Google Earth possibilities !

Peugeot and Renault have "lease" deals booked in Australia which are very good and can be much cheaper than renting more than 17 days. Leasing covers all costs except fuel whereas there are now many internet reports of unknown costs incurred in rentals until too late.
Your car is new and can be collected or dropped off outside France. There may be early bird reductions or free days on this price.
In 2003 we collected a Peugeot 206 diesel in Rome for AUS$200 delivery fee which was cheaper than our fuel cost back to Paris.
We rented a car in UK as it was much cheaper than using trains but note that the M1 and others can get grid locked for hours.
The DriveAway Holidays brochure is a good reference but your Travel Agent should be able to get a very good rental price or the internet is now becoming good for booking car hire.
Fuel is expensive (AUS$2 / litre) but choice of a suitable size diesel works well. The boot should take all your cases to not attract thieves.
Apartments booked at up to 300km intervals works well but use motorways to each, then enjoy local drives.
Pre-calculate your distances A to B, time, fuel costs & tolls using ViaMichelin and alternate routes are also provided.
Motorway tolls apply in France and Italy and some you pay only as you exit and credit cards are OK, a 10 day display Vignette purchased at garages as you cross the border or on the motorway is required in Austria & Czech, Swiss has a different duration, autobahns are free in Germany but the slow lane is usually about 100km/hr ! Czech require headlights on for daytime driving.
BEWARE : At 2011 some French toll-booths will only accept credit cards with a chip so you may need cash and I heard that some European toll-roads may be fitted with speed surveillance so exceeding a limit will incur an automatic fine to be paid before you exit.
It would be nice to hear of any incidents. You may need to carry a breathalyser in France, check...

ACCOMMODATION

Good standard are generally about AUS$70 / night ( 40 Euro ) in villages or on farms and bookings are usually Saturday to Saturday.
Most are an excellent standard and many supply linen and towels in the price, heating can be extra and very expensive so carefully
check the floor area size and facilities. WiFi is becoming more available but some charge extra for it. A cleaning fee may be extra.
"Search Engine" words are France / "Gite", Germany and Austria / "Ferienwohnungen", Italy / "Agriturismo".
Internet searches detail size, features, photos, prices and how to book. Search for your general interest geographic area.
Google Translate or other online translator makes communicating with other languages much easier.
If in doubt include both the English and the translation in the same email.
The owners are usually lovely house proud people and you have the luxury of your own privacy and space to do your own thing.

$$$.
Easiest, just withdraw cash from an airport ATM when you arrive but check your bank charges prior.
Foreign Currency can be bought before travelling for no commission using cash for the best result at Australia Post offices.
The Australian Bank BSB and Your Account system cannot be used for direct EFT so deposit and/or full payments can be expensive. Bank Drafts or Cheques are expensive and time consuming requiring visits to your bank to organise, then collect and post allowing at least 7 days for delivery. Some properties have credit facilities so your details sent in 2 separate emails works well or via a phone call plus using Skype makes this a cheap option if they speak English. Some properties use PayPal via the internet or Western Union works well providing cash to be collected at nominated WU agencies such as Post Offices and Travelex provides a bank transfer from your credit card to a nominated bank if you provide the required numbers. There are other agencies.
2012, Western Union now has a Send Money Direct to a Bank Account, require Account Name, Bank Name, Bank Location (City), Bank Branch Code, Account Number and it normally takes 2 days.
2014, World Remit to send money online, anytime, anywhere at low cost in the local currency and SMS confirmations.
You can use your Credit / Debit card widely in Europe but 4 numbers only are used for your "pin".
Try to limit your need to sell back foreign exchange cash as illustrated by this Australian $ to Japanese Yen to Australian $ example :
. . . . . $1000 * 83.77 = Y83770 / 94.07 = $890 - $20 Commission = $870, a loss of $130.

Some properties will purely trust you to be there at the appointed time and pay in cash, please do not disappoint them.
A good alternative to apartments/ferienhaus/gites/agriturismo/etc. but usually more expensive is Logis de France, categorised and generally comfortable privately run hotels often with meals available.
If travelling between apartments and you just need basic accommodation then look near major highways at major towns
for Formula 1, Villages, Premiere Classe, etc. Motels. These are self contained, basic, bed/s for 2-3, TV & shower/toilet.
Prices are very good and it is wise to find one before 5pm. Usually a credit card transaction and some premises are fully automatic, ie; no book-in staff. Separate showers may be self-cleaning. Eateries are usually quite close.
Breakfast is sometimes optional whilst large supermarkets usually will have your requirements.

FOOD, LIQUOR & INCIDENTALS

Check COTA for excellent Travel Insurance savings and optional Membership as the backup can be quite important with claims.
An Annual Frequent Traveller Policy may be worth considering dollar-wise as it covers other holidays in the year to 6 weeks durations.
Restaurants are expensive and sometimes disappointing so apartments enable self catering and generally food prices are the same or better than Australia except meat and fish. Liquor prices are excellent and a huge range. Some clothing bargains.
Make sandwiches for lunch to maximise quality sight-seeing time and cut costs.
Toilets require tipping or charge except McDonalds ( not always ) who have the cheapest (and OK) coffee, always carry some 50c coins.
Most attractions charge 7 to 10 Euros but some things you just 'gotta see' and off-season at least you can get in !
Car parking has become a necessary evil, drive to the attraction, then look for the closest park, off season and Sundays sometimes are free but be careful, read and interpret the signs carefully. On season, be prepared to walk.
Paris street parking was 2 Euro/hr and difficult whereas parking stations were 3 Euro. We parked opposite the Louvre with no hassles !
A monthly bus/metro pass in Paris requires a passport photo, well worth the cost, easy to navigate and interesting changing scenes by bus. A "carnet" of 10 tickets is the easiest option by cash or credit card in Metro stations. One ticket covers a trip by Metro which can involve various line changes, by bus there is a transfers limit of 90 minutes and the ticket must be re-validated at each bus boarding.
Supermarkets are found at the outskirts of larger towns and generally open Mon -Fri about 12 hours plus Sat mornings, closed Sundays and smaller ones may close 12-2pm daily but these restrictions are rapidly lifting. Many only accepted local currency but Visa, etc. cards are now more prevalent but sometimes a minimum spend is required, typically 10 Euros. It pays to ask before purchasing as there are often no signs and the same applies to fuel. You must remember these limitations when moving from one apartment to another so buy your necessary food and wine on Friday before your Saturday move.

APARTMENT LINKS

GERMANY

        Bad Windsheim, vicinity Rothenburg on Tauber. Kur & Golf Apartment. Ute Wattenbach
        Impeccable apartments in easy walking distance to the interesting old town through spa clinic (Kur) gardens, wow !

        Chieming, Lake Chiemsee, vicinity Salzburg. Ferienwohnungen. Anneliese Wennesz
        Spacious, comfortable apartments about 5 minutes easy walk to Lake Chiemsee and village. Close to Austrian alps.

        Trauchgau, vicinity Fussen. Ferienwohnungen Rositzke or Homeaway / Fewo-direct
        Comfortable apartment close to Austrian alps. Also apartments at Costa Brava, Lago Maggiore & Nordsee

        Halblech / Buching / Trauchgau Guest Information. Halblech
        Helpful Tourist information, apartments & hotels listing close to Austrian alps, vicinity Fussen.

        Altenau, vicinity Harz. Ferienwohnung Bergblick
        2 comfortable apartments in an ideal part of the Harz Mountains.

        Bad Schandau, vicinity Czech Bohemian Switzerland. Ferienwohnung auf dem Bauernhof
        2 comfortable apartments in a farm.

        Feriendorf Eichwald, by Gossersweiler-Stein in the Rhineland-Palatinate. Holiday apartment. Kurt Schneider
        Great apartment in a forest setting, central location for sight-seeing, accommodates up to 7, 3 bedrooms

        "Dreiburgen" Apartment. #46494. St.Goar-Biebernheim, above Rhein Valley, Germany. 4 persons.

        Rosendahl Apartment. #2029231. Rosendahl in Munsterland, Germany. 5 persons.

        Ferienhaus-Portal. Various holiday apartments in Europe. Wolfgang Roesler web-site

NETHERLANDS

        Utrechtse Heuvelrug Villa & Garden Chalet. #1038437. Amerongen, near Utrecht, Netherlands.

AUSTRIA

        Oberloiben, Wachau, vicinity Vienna. Ferienwohnungen. Karl Brustbauer
        Charming apartments next to the River Danube in the Wachau UNESCO heritage premium wine area with a great winemaker host.

        Poysdorf, between Vienna & Czech republic. Das Veltlinerhaus 3 Ferienwohnungen & 1 Zimmer, great hosts
        Poysdorf has unique attractions and also scheduled entertainment in the Gstetten.
ITALY

        Casadicleo apartment at Stezzano, near Bergamo, Lombardy. 2-3 persons. 56m2. Renovated 2009. WiFi. Testimonials.
        Centre of Northern Italy, ideal location to visit lakes Garda, Como, Iseo.. & cities of Bergamo, Milan, Verona, Mantova, Cremona

        Il Salignano. Hilltop apartment with views near Canalicchio, Umbria. 6-7 persons. 95m2. Renovated 2005. ADSL. Testimonials.
        Convenient to medieval Assisi, Perugia, Todi, Spello, Foligno, Montefalco, Bevagna, Gubbio and Orvieto.

        Castelli Romani area 50 minutes south of Rome and 8 km from Velletri, Agriturismo Croce del Tufo. Valerio Dellorco
        100sq m 3 bedroom house for 6 people handy to Cori, Sermoneta, Frascati, Nemi, Castel Gandolfo, Tivoli, beaches, etc.

        Volta Mantovana, vicinity Lake Garda. Agriturismo Gardenali. Maria Carasi
        Spacious apartments in a vineyard with Venice or Lake Garda for day trips. Venice day parking was 20 Euros in 2007.

        Vicinity Ferrara, Rovigo, Padova. Nel cuore del Delta del Po. Agriturismo Forzello Maura Rocchi.
        Spacious apartments with Venice or Lake Garda for day trips.

        Vicinity Vicenza, close to Bassano di Grappa, heart of the Veneto. Cas predemaule die Sotto. Choice of 2 apartments or a house

        Greve-in-Chianti, Tuscany, vicinity Florence. Agriturismo Falciani.         Patrizia Falciani
        Individual apartments in a vineyard with views in Tuscany, between Florence and Sienna, who could ask for more ?

        Pietrasanta, Tuscany, vicinity beaches & Pisa, Viareggio, Alpi Apuane.         Fabrizio Cattani. 6 persons, was € 500 / week

        Rome : Hotel Rimini. Walk to Termini railway station, good standard, spacious quiet rooms, low price internet bookings

FRANCE         ( Note that Paris apartments are invariably small, on upper floors with no elevator or views, hopefully not a deterrent )

        Paris Apartments Actually offers a hand-picked portfolio of boutique apartments in Paris

        Paris Apartments Selection of 2 to 8 person short term apartments in Paris.

        Paris Montorgueil apartment. Sleeps 3.

        Paris Luxury Apartment. Near Eiffel Tower & Champs Elysées with garage. Sleeps 2 (+1).

        Paris Heaven. Australian owners, John Hempton & Jo Kalowski. Book & pay in Australia.

        Paris, Marais at St Paul. SA owner, sleeps 6.

        Paris Upscale Condominium. Marais apartment, sleeps 4, 40sqm, 1st floor window street views.

        Paris inner city near Bastille charming 2 bedroom apt, suits 1 - 4 persons, airport pickup. Ph 08. 8431 9584 after 7pm

        Paris Apartments Web : Rental France. Agent Pascal has a good reputation on several travel forums

        Paris Apartments Web : Paris Attitude. Apartment rentals

        Paris. Hotel Dieu Hospitel Paris. In a hospital opposite Notre Dame. 126€ /night for 2 in 2009. Good Trip Advisor references

        Paris Hotel near Gare du Nord & East. Appia Lafayette Hotel, book via HotelTravel. Good 3 star & value.

        All of Paris at your feet near Bastille. 50sqm 17th floor studio for 2 persons. SquareBreak

        Bordeaux, Ste Eulalie. Gite 3139, Garden Passion. 2 persons. Central location for Bordeaux wineries, St Emilion, etc.

        Viellesegure (Endrimons), Pyrenees Atlantiques, vicinity Pau, 6km to medieval Navarrenx. Gite G122082. 4 persons

        Draguignan, Provence, vicinity St Tropez. Gite #1360. Daniel Del-Pia. Phone 0494684770. Gites de France, Var area
        Character and comfortable Gite in a vineyard, lots of day-trips, Monaco, etc. Patio lunches ? You bet !

        Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nice Area, Cote d'Azur - Riviera. 42sqm studio, excellent views, terrace, 2 persons. Details

        Montferrier (Barthale), near Carcassone, Mirepoix, Foix. Gite #SR0088. Delightful comfortable 2 storey Gite in the fascinating
        Cathar region near Chateau Montsegur and ski area. Lourdes, Andorra, Toulouse day trips. Gites de France

        Perpignan. Bright apartment at an easy walk from the city centre for 4 persons and includes a car park. Good reviews

        Talloires ( Balmette ), Lake Annecy, vicinity Geneva. Gite Rural #275003. Richard Mazille, in Haute Savoie.
        Not only a lovely apartment but what a view of Lake Annecy, 100m away, and close by alps drives, unbelievable !

        Ferrette, vicinity Basel, Germany & Switzerland. Gite #5800. Fabienne Blauel, in Haut-Rhin.
        Well appointed, comfy, just outside town, view of the castle, day trips to Rhein Falls, Lucerne, Basel, Colmar, etc

        2 Gites. Sennevoy-le-Bas, Yonne. Near Troyes, Bourgogne. 2-3 & 4 persons.

        2 Gites. A Sierck les Bains, near Moselle River and borders of France, Luxembourg, Germany. 6 persons. Heating extra

        Gite de la Chapelette. #2358. Frelinghien, near Lille, France. 6 persons.

        Gite Les Pierres Qui Vivent. à Toulis-et-Attencourt, Aisne. 20km from Laon & between Reims & St Quentin, Picardie. Sleeps 4

        Loire Valley, near Blois, Cour-Cheverny-Loir et Cher. Gite G434. 2 persons.

        Loire Valley, near Blois, Cour-Cheverny-Loir et Cher. Gite G462 at Ch.Tessier winery. 4 persons. 92m2.

        Midi-Pyrenees. a Gignac-Lot. Gite GR1432V. 6 persons.

        Lauzerte, Quercy Region, 1 hr North of Toulouse. Renovated cottage : Les Chouettes. Up to 4 persons.
        Views, quiet, great area, medieval towns. J & G McDonald, Victoria, Australia 03.98777513

        SW unspoilt market town. Norma Carter refurbished stone house in wine region. Australia 08.82232707.

        Logis de France. http://www.logis-de-france.fr (select required Department/area)
        Comfortable, friendly Hotels all over France, categories reflect in the prices.

        Gites de France. http://www.gites-de-france.fr (select required Department/area)
        Gites (apartments or houses) all over France, the choices on the web-site will wet your appetite.

        Paris Travel etc., Information : Paris In Sites. Linda Thalman's Paris In Sites All sorts of travel goodies

SPAIN

        Haro, la Rioja. Central apartment with views. Near Theatre. 4 persons.

        San Blas, Madrid. Cosy flat with terrace near metro Ciudad Lineal. 3 persons. Parking available

        A lot of the top of Spain accommodation is geared to the Camino, pilgrim walk to Santiago de Compostela so apartments are few.

CZECH REPUBLIC

        Hlasna Treban, adjacent Karlstejn Castle, 28km to Prague Via Interhome
        Up to 7 persons, comfortable, good base for touring and handy to Prague. Currency generally Krona but can use some Euro.

GREEK ISLANDS

        Santorini. http://www.thea-apartments.gr/. 60 Euros / night in October, a good time to visit, ocean views, ferries no problem.

RUSSIA

        St Petersburg. Petersburg Lodging
        Good apartment locations, selection, details, prices. Larisa is very helpful, also visa invitations, airport transfers and testimonials.

        St Petersburg Private Guide. Alisa, licensed private guide, custom tours for small groups, etc. Trip Advisor Reviews.

        Cruise Ship Visa. Forum comments. At 2013 a visa is required for independent excursions and obtained from your Embassy prior.
        If staying on the ship overnight and duration in St Petersburg is less than 72 hours, cruise ship excursions OR licensed private guides
        can provide a voucher required for immigration and then must accompany you for the duration of those excursions.
        You will find various tour companies and licensed private guides by internet searching plus their guests comments.

FINLAND

         Lomarengas Agency. Cottage, farm, b&b selection, details, prices, festivals info, car hire.

USA / NEW YORK

        New York Large apartment in newly refurbished house "Smeralda" at Valley Stream, 10km JFK, 20km New York City,
        train and shops close, huge saving in rent compared to New York so rent a car at JFK for general use but use the train
        to Penn Station in New York, 35 minutes and US$17 return (US$8-50 for Seniors), great hosts.

HONG KONG

        Hoi Ming Mansion . 3 bedroom, quiet, refurnished apartment in Tsuen Wan with a view, bus terminal, supermarkets,
        Cafe de Coral restaurant & other dining in the complex, huge saving in rent compared to hotels and other apartments plus
        away from tourist areas, ideal location between Airport & Tsim Sha Tsui with easily accessable airport train.

SHANGHAI

        John & Jenny's Shanghai Condo. 1 bedroom, fully furnished luxury apartment, centrally located with all amenities & internet
        in an exclusive condominium complex with spectacular balcony views of old hutong and new high rise.
        Convenient to Peoples Square, Shanghai Museum, Huai Hai Zhong Lu, Nanjing Lu shopping and the Bund.
        Supermarket opposite, subway a short walk, taxis & buses outside but buses use destination numbers only which can be difficult.

GUILIN, CHINA

        Guilin or with photos. Penthouse 4br/10 persons with misty mountains view, Daisy's excellent tours service & car available.

         Do include Li River cruise & Sanjie Liu show. 3am bus from Sentral for early AirAsia flights, seats cramped.

JAPAN

        Shibuya. 2br, sleeps 6, apartment. 5 min to train, 20 min easy walk to popular Shibuya and JR Circle Line

NEW ZEALAND

        Rainbow's End Cottage. North Island, Taupo, Waitahanui. Up to 4 persons in a peaceful native bush setting near river & lake

        Holiday Houses.co.nz. New Zealand Holiday Houses

Other World-wide Accommodation :

        Homelidays Organisation for access to private Holiday Rentals. 34000 rentals in 95 countries, self-catering & B&B

        HomeAway Organisation for access to private Holiday Rentals. 325000 rentals Worldwide

        Vacation Rental By Owner Quick loading, easy to use, indicates capacity & prices

        Holiday Rentals 45,000 self-catering holidays & villa holiday rentals across Europe & USA

        InterHome 30,000 holiday rentals across 21 Countries

        Owners Direct 27,000 holiday rentals worldwide

        AirBnB Holiday rentals worldwide

        Guardian Cottages Holiday rentals Europe

        IStopOver Holiday rentals worldwide

        FlipKey Vacation rentals with real reviews ( TripAdvisor ), over 100,000 listings

        http://www.eurapart.com/budget.html European cheap hotels, budget chains & prices, air, car, etc info & links

        http://www.expatriates.com A clear listing of apartments available around the World with features and contact details.
                        Did you know there are about 750,000 Australians living overseas ?

        Hotel Travel Websites such as HotelTravel, Expedia, etc. can provide good prices for hotel rooms but
                        the booking is confirmed after payment so have a 2nd or 3rd choice ready if your 1st choice is not available.

        Trip Advisor. Get an idea of hotel guest comments before booking.

GENERAL LINKS

GLOBAL :
Camscape. Global Webcams
Visa Link Global visa & passport info
Get Up and Go,  Seniors Card practical travel info
Lonely Planet,  World Travel
Smart Traveller  Travel problems, tips, advice
World Expeditions  Travel
Car Rental World Wide
Russian Visas. An "invitation / podtverzdeniye" is needed
Russia, St Petersburg, Ballet & Opera tickets
Tom Galvin's Travelogues. 300 articles & 2,500 photos for various Countries taken 2001-2005
Karen Brown's World of Travel. Helping travellers plan perfect trips
The following links kindly submitted by Brandon, a student at EducatorLabs in 2014.
Doctor Search by Language. Find a Doctor Who Speaks Your Language
International Travel - Resource Library
Travel Kit Itinerary
Learn About Your Destination. Country specific Travel Information
Medicare for Travellers outside the USA

AUSTRALIA :
Stayz. 25,994 Holiday Rentals in 1,200+ Australian Holiday Destinations
Adelaide Airport : Flight times, web cam, etc.
Australia Travel Specials : Flights . Accommodation . Travel Auctions
Adelaide Coachlines. 82932107
Banksia Tours : 83805687
Eureka Coach Tours : 82655911
National Harvest Labour Info Service Fruit & veg picking. 1800062332
Dereks 4WD Tours 86484006 Based in Flinders Ranges
Grey Nomads

Destination NSW - Sydney
Destination NSW - NSW

Melbourne : Apartments from $150. 1300 301 630

Tourism Australia. Travel & holiday planning
Tourism Australia. Facts & figures about Australia
Tourism Australia. Visa requirements, Dept Immigration & Citizenship
Tourism Australia. Video footage of Australia
Tourism Australia. Video footage of Australia
Tourism Australia. Tourism research
Tourism Australia. Info on key international markets
Tourism Australia. Student Enquiries
Tourism Australia. Student Volunteer Program
Tourism Australia. Employment Opportunities, worldwide
Tourism Australia. Positions in Australia
Tourism Australia. Trade events

ASIA :
Asia  Hotel Deals
Asia Travelnotes  Asia info
Bali Hotels, resorts, villas
China Travel Service (Aust)
Circle of Friends  Asia info
Hong Kong  Kayak & Hike
Hong Kong Guide  for budget travellers, heaps of good links & info
Indochina  Travel
Japan Japan National Tourist Org. Sydney
Japan Tokyo tours by volunteers
Japan Kanagawa Prefecture
Japan Saitama Prefecture
Japan Chiba Prefecture
Korea Tourism Sydney. Free 2011 Korea Guidebook
Malaysia  Tourism
New Asia Pacific travel  China, Vietnam tours
Peregrine Adventures  SE Asia Travel
Taiwan Tourism Judly Int. train tour, etc. 1800880062
Travman Tours  China, India tours
Global Tours  China tours

INDIA :
HomeAway Organisation for access to private Holiday Rentals. 325000 rentals Worldwide, 100 in India
India Travel Packages, a complete guide to travel in India including tour packages & hotel booking
India  Travel
India  Passport Travel 1800337031
India  Ram World Travel
India Travel by motorbike & coach 02.49751828
Kerala Ayurveda India. Ayurveda, Yoga Holidays & Medical Packages in Kerala.

MONGOLIA : ( kindly submitted by Brandon, a student at EducatorLabs in 2014 )
Mongolia, Let's Develop Responsible Tourism in Mongolia. Destinations, events, news, photos & more..
Mongolia. Lonely Planet info

UK :
Scotland 2007  Year of the Highlands events
Britain  Info
Cornwall  World's largest geodesic biomes
UK  Personal touring
Frixo UK live road traffic information, updated every 3 minutes

EUROPE :
Cheap Airfares : Europe  Ryan Air
Cheap Airfares : Pisa Airport  Usually no more than € 70 for a return ticket to Amsterdam, Glasgow, Paris, etc.
Germany,  Official Tourism site
Germany,  Castles
Germany,  Oktoberfest
Germany,  Berlin
Holland,  Amsterdam
Finland
MyPlanet Travel Agent : Baltic, etc.
Paris Apartments from$140
Rome Bed & Breakfast Assoc of Rome. B&B's + Apartments. Info on Rome & Italy

USA & CANADA :
Las Vegas  Visitor info
Spectrum Holidays  Alaska Marine Ferryliners trips
Seattle  Boeing Tours
Seattle
New York Village Guest House. Colleen Goujjane. No Smoking
Trip Advisor Web site for user's reviews of accommodations World Wide, this one for Village Guest House above

NEW ZEALAND :
HomeAway Organisation for access to private Holiday Rentals. 325000 rentals Worldwide
New Zealand  Ski Deals
New Zealand  Seniors Card

CHILE :
LAN Chile Flies Sydney to Santiago, then domestic flight to :
Ice fields of Chilean Patagonia. Travel Oct - Mar.

GLOBAL FESTIVALS :
Semana Santa. Guatemala - March
Chariot Festival. Puri, Orissa, India - July
Day of the Dead. Oaxaca, Mexico - October
Shandur Polo Tournament. Pakistan - July
Naadam Festival. Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia - June
Losar Tibetan New Year. Tibet - February
Kyoto Geisha Festival. Kamogawa River banks - May
Pushkar Camel Fair. India - November
Inti Raymi. Festival of the Sun, Peru - June
Burning Man Festival Black Rock Desert, Nevada
2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi
2010 World Expo, Shanghai 1/5 - 31/10

USA TRAVEL

I have little knowledge of USA apartments but we extensively used ExitInfo, now known as Travel Coupon Guide free voucher books available from Denny's Restaurants which list Motels in that part of the States with special discount prices which are usually not disputed but on a walk up availability basis. These vouchers also have directions to find the Motels which make it real easy. Off season is easier.
Another listing is Room Saver and the free booklet is available along the Interstates or try Super 8 Motels, generally a good standard.
Outback USA away from the cities is great such as Grand Canyon and the National Parks, Yellowstone is a bit remote.
Las Vegas is great and you do not have to gamble but do not go Friday or Saturday as accommodation prices are high.
Sam's Town, Las Vegas, is good but off the Strip, room rates are good, quiet & spacious, check internet specials but best to hire a car at the airport prior via the internet even though there are shuttles available.
Dollar rental is OK and also fine for New York as car can be returned to Manhattan handy to cruise ship terminal.
GPS can be cheap at USA Walmart & Target, etc. and include USA & Canada mapping being cheaper than buying your map in Australia.

CRUISES


Cruises have dropped considerably in price and there is a good selection with frequent internet specials for many cruises such as :
Vacations To Go, Senior Cruise Offers, Cruise Offers 1800616434, Cayole Cruises offers future cruise price predictions.
The Inside Passage 7 day Cruise with Holland America Line ex Vancouver to Skagway, etc. can be excellent value,
scenery, food and shows are great and they even had a no-tipping policy which Aussies prefer. Ferries may be a cheaper alternative.
Round off this Cruise by using a rent car plus GPS ( refer GPS below ) to drive the Icefield Parkway from Banff to Jasper, and back again !
This allows plenty of time to stop and view the sights rather than zip through a part of it in the train.
Some cruises have severely lacking procedures for initial boarding, port by port and final disembarkations which can really mar the cruise experience plus virtually compulsory tipping. Advise upgrading to an outside cabin and the lowest levels of the ships are fine, mid-ship is smoother if possible to request. In port excursions are generally over-priced so just go for a walk and meet the locals.
Cruising Excursions and similar web-sites may have prices lower than the cruise lines.
Tip : Water & alcohol cannot be taken on board many cruises. Ask Security as some permit wine and it is scanned.
Tip : Cool your wine purchase in the available ice bucket for your cabin happy hour. Dining corkage can be expensive (HAL $20).
Tip : A bottle of wine with your meal can be expensive so drink 1/2 and get the waiter to return it the next evening.
Tip : Cruise internet is really over-priced so use on shore backpacker or internet cafes.
Tip : Select a cruise with minimal days at sea unless the on board activities suit you.

EUROPE COSTS GUIDE

OFF-SEASON AUST-EUROPE CHECK GUIDE : APARTMENTS, SELF DRIVE & SELF CATER
ItemComments & AUS $
Passport, Visas, Airline Tickets, Car lease, Credit Cards use 4 digit pinCarry securely always, copy passport.
Travel Insurance, check COTA rates, membership is not requiredInternational Cover
Air-Fares p.p. Business Class inc. TaxesFrom $7000, specials from $5700.
Air-Fares p.p. BA World Traveller Plus inc. Taxes$3900. Good alternative to economy.
Air-Fares p.p. Economy inc. Taxes. Remember Early-Bird Specials.$2200. 24 hours travelling is a long time.
Extra Air-Fares p.p. Rationalise your need for these.Don't spend your holiday in air-ports.
French Car Leases. New car as specified & can be much cheaper than renting.3 weeks min. 6 months max.
Apartment usually Saturday-Saturday. France : Gite$40 - $110 / day. Linen, heating extra ?
Apartment usually Saturday-Saturday. Germany & Austria : Ferienwohnungen$40 - $110 / day. Linen, heating extra ?
Apartment usually Saturday-Saturday. Italy : Agriturismo$40 - $110 / day. Linen, heating extra ?
Fuel, use Diesel. Try to plan minimum distances between accommodations.15km / litre @ $2 / litre
Motorway Tolls &/or Vignettes. Travel 100km each hour at about $10.Minor roads are scenic & good but slow.
Parking. A necessary evil in Europe.Expect from $2 minimum. Venice $36.
Public Transport in Cities is generally efficient & easy to use.Weekly or Daily. A must in Paris, etc.
Dining out. Some Pub meals are OK in UK.Expensive, tips, quality often poor.
Supermarket & Wine. They often close by 5.30pm Saturdays.Very reasonable, similar to Australia
Admissions, usually minimum $10Louvre, etc. a must.
Camera, spare SD card & battery, gifts, duty free, etc.Don't forget these.
Case/s. Do try to travel light, pack & then leave half of it home applies.Warm coat & scarf.
Before leaving prepay Bills due, redirect mail, arrange house security, CentreLink.Garden watering system.
Approx. cost for 4 weeks, 2 persons using BA. WTP air-fares.Note "Accommodation" above re currency.
Insure $600, Air $7800,Car $1400, Diesel $600, Tolls $200, Park $80,.
Apartments $2400, Public Transport $150, Food $800, Admissions $200.Total = $14230. (or fly Economy = $9600)


DISTANCE GUIDE

Paris - Rome 1428kms, Paris - Frankfurt 600kms, Paris - Marseille 787kms, Calais - Paris 291kms, Madrid - Lisbon 623kms, Lisbon - Porto 305kms, Barcelona - Paris 1097kms, Milan - Paris 850kms, Munich - Paris 855kms, Munich - Rome 1319kms, Venice - Rome 531kms, Berlin - Paris 1057kms, Berlin - Munich 290kms, Zurich - Paris 668kms. Minor roads are scenic but can take a long time.

GOOGLE EARTH

Download Google Earth free to your PC makes planning your trip so much easier plus it is very interesting to view anywhere in the World.
You may be able to view buildings such as your house from photos taken at street level, this is excellent for pre-checking
accommodation globally and ensuring the location is correct in your GPS.
Search areas have lots of tourist info & photos plus you can measure the approximate distances.
Google Maps are good & help find correct road and town names for the GPS to recognise.
Mappy or ViaMichelin can produce strip maps including tolls, distances, times and other useful info but just using a GPS is fine.
ViaMichelin provides alternate routes so you can choose lower or no tolls versus time and distance.
You can email ( mouse right click ) a location that you have placemarked & titled in Google Earth.

GPS


At 2014 a GPS is almost essential for drivers from overseas to negotiate motorways, etc.
Buy a GPS before you go ( refer above for USA but having it earlier allows the facilities to be understood and desired locations to be saved to save any fuss later ) with good maps and an SD card slot for other maps plus spoken street names, Garmin is brilliant with 1 map for most of Europe and an extensive library of petrol stations, hotels, supermarkets, attractions, etc. so you can search the GPS using "near to" and get a listing in Km order from where you are ( or used "near to" ). You will still need basic printed maps for orientation as new roadworks create some chaos and the Czech Republic at 2008 had minor errors such as trying to cross rivers on foot-bridges. In Czech, drive with headlights on, A to B can be slow, speed limits are observed, some roads sub-standard.
Use the Quickest Route plus No Toll Roads GPS settings unless in a hurry as tolls mount up quickly (refer Google Earth above).
Remove GPS & bracket from your windscreen when leaving the car unattended and clean the windscreen evidence off.
If you use your mobile as a GPS it could cost you heaps in download data charges.

INTERNET

At 2008 Europe had little ADSL "Free" access, it is painfully slow and you register on line so use Internet Cafes in large cities. McDonalds may provide free WiFi, again just register on-line but be patient.... Starbucks provide access in USA and Libraries may also. Luxembourg is a "hot" city with access anywhere after you register. Some access may only be in the current language so difficult to interpret.
Mobile SMS is still a good and cheap way to communicate but does not work in USA or Japan. About 22 cents from Aus & 60 cents or more from Europe per SMS. Use Skype if available, generally free.
CAUTION : If you receive a call on your mobile when O/S you may be charged a fee, this can easily be $5 or more. Best to just use SMS.

FEEDBACK

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