Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · New Zealand · South Pacific / Australasia · Travel

Cruising Holidays: Pro’s & Con’s

After all of these years, I refuse to be a travel-snob. I get no satisfaction in entering some tireless debate about whether 5✩ or backpacking is ‘real’ travel. Hostels v. hotels. Taxis or the local bus, so on and so forth. Travel is an incredibly personal experience, I just don’t think it is fair to compare your preferred travel with others.

What I do support and encourage however, is sharing knowledge! Let’s foster a community where we share what we know and support everyone in their own chosen method of travel, yeah? Great!

My first cruise was on 2010, I was excited because my brother had just turned 18 and we wanted to go on a trip together. So a couple of friends and my brother booked a 7-night cruise to the South Pacific. It was a great escape during the winter but here is why it was not so great:

sharing a quad room with four adults, none of whom are in a relationship with one another, gets…cramped.

having a quad room down in the bowels of the ship and not checking whether or not anyone gets sea-sick, can be problematic.

↑ being stuck on a boat without an escape and having the same places to drink / party every afternoon / night.

↑ Four people having the inability to decide what they do / do not want to do.

↑ having your room down on the party-level of the ship and not partying = sleep can be tricky.

Basically my clearest memory of my first cruise, was feeling like I was in a washing machine when we hit high swell and feeling rather violated (personally and financially) when I paid nearly $200 to cop a needle in the backside to stop my sea-sickness.

In 2016 my fiancé and I headed out on a new cruise and boy, it could not have been any more different to the first one! We had a balcony room on the beautiful Pacific Aria. We were on deck 10, near the coffee shops. We had pre-paid most of our activities and had scored a complimentary drinks package. We spent seven nights cruising up / down the beautiful Queensland coast. We visited Hamilton Island (a place close to both of our hearts), and Cairns. The cruise was amazing, the staff excellent and the experience itself turned me into a total cruise convert!

My top five reasons as to why I love cruising:

  • Everything can be pre-paid. Including sail-away inclusions. Want champagne and strawberries for your sail away party? You can have it.
  • The day of the Bain Marie’s where you self-serve eating areas are gone. Instead you line up and have pleasant and good-safety aware people serve you. There is nothing more repugnant than watching someone stand at the Thai beef salad / prawn salad area and pick all of the meat out, leave the place in a mess and sneeze all over the uncovered food. So for me, I think ta wonderful that P&O have changed the way they serve food.
  • Activities for days! Unless you are completely ignorant, you are able to fill your days with a variety of activities. Sure Bingo isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it for a bit of fun. If you aren’t playing yourself, get to the area early and watch the bingo die-shards go in for the kill! It’s amazing!
  • Tricia and game shows are also great. They also show movies up at the top deck with the pool.
  • You don’t need to pack and unpack at are such destination! You just grab what you need for the day and take off! Its amazing going to sleep somewhere out in the ocean, being gently rocked to sleep and waking up against the incredible backdrop which is Cairns!
  • If you’re after an adventure packed holiday, then a week at sea on an all-expenses paid cruise may not be for you. However if you need a break and you want to board a boat, unpack your stuff and then have everything organised and paid for ahead of time, then I cannot recommend a cruise highly enough for you.

Some tips:

  • Your travel insurance may not automatically cover cruises. Double check the fine print and know that there is cruise-specific travel insurance out there.
  • Drinks packages are worth it, if you are planning or drinking more than three or so beverages a day. Keep in mind they are normally capped at $12 or $15. If you purchase a drink above this amount, the total cost will go against your account. Keep that in mind.
  • The water package is worth it. Buy your six bottles, keep them in your room and I guarantee you will value it.
  • Tea and coffee from the barista is worth it.
  • Tip your stewards. We tend to go with around $5 a day for the cabin stewards and leave a rounded tip at the end of the trip. Don’t pinch your pennies.
  • Be friendly! Talk to your stewards. Get to know them. Know that anyone serving you spends up to eight months on these boats. Away from their friends and families. Kindness is free. Don’t be ignorant. I spent a good half hour shaming a guest on our last cruise, whose stance was “they don’t mind being away from home, it’s a great privilege to work on these boats”. Okay. Ignorant much?
  • The restaurants on board, aside from usually one or two are included in your fare! Try them at least once. Your out of pocket is usually drinks and a tip. Want a date night with table service? Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Have fun! Relax! Sleep in. Enjoy it and go with the relaxed vibe there is. Things take a little longer. Remember the other people on the ship also paid to be there. So just avoid unnecessary aggression and if the line is too long where you are, then move on to the next!

P&O have a sale at the moment and seeing as you can book and pay off your holiday years in advance, you really have nothing to lose!

To check out their current offers click here. They currently have $1 deposit sales with free room upgrades. We have been on four of them and quite honestly, I cannot wait for the next one!

I have never bought a cruise holiday when it wasn’t on sale or didn’t have some amazing additional perks thrown in (on-board credit, drinks package, dinner credit etc.,). The beauty of this is they are on sale all the time!

Here are a few links to get you started!

P&O Cruises

Travel Insurance Saver

Trip.com

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Travel

Step by Step – How I budget for my travel

Budgeting for travel can be incredibly difficult, it takes dedication, a lot of thought process and also careful planning.

There really is no wrong or right way to plan for travel or to determine your budget for travel. There is however a right way for you.  I have many friends who can see a sale, book flights and be on the road within 48 hours. I on the other hand need time to plan.

woman on rock platform viewing cityI have had many of my friends ask me how I organise my travel, so I thought I would set it out, step-by-step. The below is not set in concrete, but is has always offered me a really good starting point.

  1. Choose where you want to go.
  2. Work out which time of year is when you ideally would like to travel to this destination.
  3. Research the price of flights.
  4. Pick 4-5 must-see or must-do activities/destinations – resarch the price of this.
  5. Plan how many days/weeks you will be spending in your destination.
  6. Plan your spending money (asides from specific activities). So what is your daily budget for accomodation, meals, transport and everyday walking expenses (tips, drinks).
  7. Once you have your budget, sort out your accomodation choices.
  8. Add up your budget for: international flights, specific activities you will book ahead of time, daily budget, daily accomodation budget. Now add 50% on top of this.

beach beautiful bridge carribeanWhat you now have is your base budget, keep in mind it is nearly impossible to stick to a bse budget so if you think you will be struggling to meet this, then you should either review the time of year you are going, where you are going, who you are flying with and how long you plan on staying.

Let me know if there are any other tips or tricks you are interested in and I will absolutely post more!

Just remember that there may be a few additonal expenses you may need to consider:

  • Travel insurance. If you cannot afford travel insurance, then you cannot afford to travel. Simple.
  • Last minute cancelletions or changes in plans (missed planes, accomodation which is not suitable, weather events etc.,).
  • Luggage costs. They can seriously add up, especially if you are on any flughts which did not include luggage.
  • Visas.
  • Currency exchange.

To get your travel planning started, an excellent resource is Trip.com. You can book flights, hotels, trains, cars and keep all of your bookings together.

Save 30% off your hotel bookings (up until 31 August 2018).

Let me know if there are any other tips + tricks you would like for me to share, I would love to share more posts like this if it something that you may be interested in?

beach blue car combiThank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

Australia · Contiki · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · North America · South America · Travel

On the hunt for the perfect day/backpack!

 

Yesterday I shared with you a post about my new backpack for my upcoming trip. Today I wanted to cover my daypack choice. I have laboured over this like it is my job. I currently have a very trusty and loved Blackwolf 25L Tempo pack which goes with me everywhere. I also have a gorgeous Manfrotto Windsor camera/laptop bag which I love.

Now is also a great time to make it clear that I love bags. Not handbags, but bags, backpacks, travel bags, camera bags. Bags. Totally nuts for them. My Husband would light up like a Christmas tree if I told him he could give most of them away (he cannot, by the way).

However, I need another in-between daypack. Something which is easy to grab and go and is weather-resistant and secure, without needing to pull out the backpack-raincoat.

A new company, Livingstone Brand based in Calgary, Alberta (think Bannf, Lake Louise and Watertons) have recently confirmed that their new bags will soon become available on the market and have offered several bloggers the opportunity to purchase one with a discount to share our findings of the bag and its ability. I have been in contact with Livingstone Brand and have found out that they have a dedicated focus on ‘giving back’ to the National Parks across the globe. With the launch of their back pack they have in turn  launched the Packs for Parks Campaign.

Through this campaign a portion of all sales of each and every backpack, will be dedicated to your favourite National Park. I had to know more about this and honestly, I am blown away by such a unique and dedicated idea.

So in addition to my heart exploding with all of the good-feels (who doesn’t love National Parks?!), it was important to know that the bag was in-fact functional.

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The Livingstone Alberta Pack (25L) is the perfect daypack sixe. It comes in at less than half a pound and only 7 inches long – for those of us playing along in Australia it weighs less than 300grams and under 18cm long when reduced.

It is durable, made with both tear/water-resistant nylon, YKK zippers and is for all weather conditions. The zipper lining is also water resistant. It comes with breathable mesh straps, to relieve any shoulder/back stress and stays at a comfortable temperature.

Aside from this, this amazing daypack comes with a lifetime warranty against all manufacture defects.

I hope to get this bag by mid-late August 2018 and will trial it hopefully before we head off on our next adventure and if possible, will take it along with us as we head off on our five week adventure!

I’ve ordered the above bag and am beyond excited to get a hold of it and test it out, watch this space!

Is there a day pack you swear-by? Does it give you the warm and fuzzy feeling to purchase items that have a cause behind them?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · Travel

Will I break my back(pack) on my next trip?

Have you ever travelled over 36 hours internationally, only to reach your destination and realise you have packed a bag of rubbish (tags and receipts from your pre-vacay purchases), into your suitcase instead of a bag of undergarments? NO? Just me. Weird.

My first solo international trip I had a bag which may as well have been the same size as me. Which was an absolute hoot to drag up and down old European hotels which did NOT have elevators (now is a good time to let you know I was absolutely not prepared for international travel in 2009).

Let me show you the monstrosity I thought was suitable, for those playing at home – a bag this size is never appropriate. Ever. If you notice, there are additional bags because releasing two Aussie girls and a Kiwi girl into America was quite literally, letting loose in a candy store. Yep. Those bags are mostly filled with snacks. #noshame (okay, maybe a little shame).

giant pink bagI’ve tried soft bags, hard bags, bags with internal ribbing, bags with locks, bags without locks, bags wrapped in plastic (thanks to Mum who was not at all okay with me going to Thailand in 2012). I have tried the vacuum packs, the packing cubes and also separating clothes and accessories into their own situation. Guess what? It changed nothing. I am a mess of a person when it comes to contained, constrained and appropriate packing.

Fondly known as a ‘Court-nado’ (thanks Jem), my ability to take a beautiful new space and absolutely cover it in the remnants from my exploded bag within thirty seconds would be (if not hideously annoying), a marketable skill. bag explosionG and I are heading on a different trip this time, we are not guaranteed footpaths or lifts or even paved ground. So it was time to succumb to the backpack. I’ve often put it off because I am not overly sure I have the skills to lug a backpack around let alone pack it correctly. G was pretty excited to get his as it matches his smaller daypack I bought him for his birthday. So I ummed and ahhhed and then in a typical copycat-Wife fashion, bought the exact backpack (but in pink, obviously).

So far it has sat in the cupboard, staring aggressively at me. I think it knows I have no idea how to bond with it. This poor backpack could have been the property of an equipped backpacker and yet it has me. I’m sorry. I am going to try my very best to not ruin you, also I don’t want to ruin my back because then G will have to carry both of our bags and me and I think we all know how that is going to end (G will raid my bag for anything he wants, put it into his bag and leave me and my pink bag on the side of the road somewhere).img_2930So, my question to you all (and please feel free to give me all of the help and all of the advice) is, WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED WITH MY BACKPACK?

Is there some kind of packing separators? How do you pack it? Are they good or are they bad? Are there any recommended accessories you can recommend? We have 73 days to get this show on the road and I don’t want to appear as obviously out of my depth with a backpack as I probably look now….

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

 

Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · Lifestyle · New Zealand · North America · South America · South Pacific / Australasia

Dear Captain Planet Generation…we are failing

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Captain Planet….if you grew up in the 90’s you would remember him and the Planeteers (Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi & Ma-Ti anybody?). These guys were the reason six year old me understood environmental disasters & devastating destruction long before I ever learnt it in school! We were the generation they were after, they were talking to us – we were going to be the ones to turn it all around.

Except…Did you know that since 1993, we have lost an area of ‘unspoilt’ places twice the size of Alaska? Or that humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s remaining wilderness in the last 25 years?

With ecosystems being lost there is no ability to reverse the damage and although there is still approximately 30m sq. km of wilderness across the globe, that only equates to 23% of the world’s land mass. In saying that a large portion of this is Australia’s deserts and western woodlands.

For those of us in Australia, our environmental movement really hit its peak in the eighties and the Australian Labor Party began capitalising on national conservation and soil conservation.

We are incredibly fortunate in that Australia has over 6000 Landcare and Coastcare groups nationwide. We are respectful of climate change, sustainability, animal protection and of course environmental care as a whole.

As we continue to experience the effects of the damage we have caused to our beautiful planet, a sustainable economy is more important than ever. We need to live within our means and try to use natural assets rather than depleting them and work to bring pollution to a level that our environment can actually handle, rather than damage it beyond repair.

Sadly, Australia is surprisingly one of the lease sustainable countries in the world. The AEGN confirmed that we as a nation have an ecological footprint which is 2.8 times the work average & our carbon emissions are four times the world average.

So how do we, as Generation Y try to give back to the environment which is home? How do we respect and care for all of the beautiful places which has given us land, rain, clean water, incredible ecosystems, animals, fresh air and healthy oceans (AEGN, 2018)?

Our oceans have the highest marine biodiversity in the world and our native plants and animals are found only here, in Australia. Along without carbon footprint and carbon emissions we have the highest rate of animal extinction and our extreme and dangerous weather events are increasing each year. Whilst there is natural attrition, we humans are responsible for almost all of the damage.

The AEGN is working hard to provide marine sanctuaries, to stop large-scale land clearing, to set up wind and solar farms and provide education around climate change, to protect biodiversity and restore land and to advocate for the proper use and protection of our fresh water supplies. We rely on grants and groups to get this done. So how can you help? Well, have a look at the following tips which I either follow or will begin following and see how you go. I would also love to hear what you do, let’s be the generation Captain Planet thought we would be and step up to the challenge of protecting Earth for the next generation.

  • Walk & bike to local destinations, rather than taking your car
  • Use a refillable water bottle and avoid buying/using plastic water bottles. Did you know that there are 370 million bottles going to waste every year & that these will take over 400 years to break down (ProAcqua, 2014). Australia’s use of bottled water generates 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year!
  • Dry your clothes using a clothes-horse or clothesline instead of using your dryer (these bad boys are one of the biggest energy-sucking appliances in your home).
  • Use a keep-cup for your coffee (it is estimated that Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s 2.7 million paper cups thrown out every day! (University of Melbourne, 2018).
  • Use reusable bags when you do your groceries (Greenpeace found that Australians use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually) (Greenpeace, 2017).
  • Use cold water for your washing machine
  • Unplug your electronics at night to stop them using electricity
  • Use digital documents and avoid print-outs
  • RECYCLE, recycle, recycle (the average Australian produces 1.5 tonnes of waste per year and much of this is avoidable!) (Greenpeace, 2014).
  • Buy products with the Energy Rating which is high, this is a mandatory scheme for most appliances and the higher the star-rating the better the appliance (Australian Government, 2013).
  • Adopt a water conservation strategy (fix your taps, use a water-saving shower head, keep your tap water in a bottle in the fridge, use your washing machine when you have a full load and on cold, install a water tank, don’t overwater your lawn etc.,) (Nature Australia, 2018).

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow OURSEQld on Instagram click here – Our SE Qld

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x