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Any holiday planners around?!

(19 Posts)
HiccupHaddockHorrendous Wed 29-Oct-14 23:07:02

I find myself spending hours looking at flights, dates, destinations but don't know what to book.

Ds and I are going to Australia next July/August, for 5-6 weeks. We're fairly flexible about where we go and what we see. I need some help!!

Would I be better off going into a travel agent to get an idea of costs?

We've got a few friends around NSW so won't have to find book too many hotels.

I have a rough budget in mind...I don't want to miss out because I've been stingy but equally, I want to get the most for my money I am very frugal

Doublethecuddles Thu 30-Oct-14 10:05:04

We have found Trail Finders very good.

specialsubject Thu 30-Oct-14 10:18:05

start with a decent guide book, the Rough Guide is good - ask at your library. Work out what you want to see and how insanely far apart it all is, factor in the time of year (non-ideal for southern Australia but still doable) and go from there.

msrisotto Fri 31-Oct-14 16:47:22

I really rate dialaflight - they undercut my own research by hundreds of pounds when I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 31-Oct-14 18:14:54

Thanks for the replies smile

Going to spend some time over the weekend trying to decide what we want to do/where we want to go.

bakingaddict Fri 31-Oct-14 18:32:18

We are going to S.E. Asia next year and my MIL had gone to one of the travel companies and by booking ourselves we saved over a grand from their quoted price. We used AirAsia for the internal flights as we'd be flying into Singapore crossing to S.Malaysia and then flying up to Langkawi for a week and then back to Singapore and then onto the UK. Once you know where you want to go you can compare between travel company and doing it yourself.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 31-Oct-14 19:33:50

That's good to know, thanks smile

I guess we just need to work out where we'd like to go.

I looked at the around the world trips but the amount of options is just so overwhelming!!!

bonhomme Wed 05-Nov-14 16:35:52

Agree with baking addict. Price up with Trailfinders or similar and then you will see how much you save by booking direct. I think we kept the flights with Trailfinders as we had several internal flights but saved a small fortune on booking accommodation direct.

longtallsally2 Wed 05-Nov-14 16:43:39

We've always done well with Travelbag - and one year, with Travelbug, via a typo. They were still fine.

We really like Sydney, but you know that NSW can be quite cool in July Aug don't you? Heading west to Perth or up north to the Byron Bay/ Great Barrier Reef area would find you some sunshine. (Check the "stingers" season - jellyfish - so that you can swim, but I am pretty sure that they are earlier in the year.)

V. envious - hope you have a wonderful trip.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Wed 05-Nov-14 21:56:15

Thanks, both.

Yes, I think it's only flights I'll need to book. We have a few friends to stay with, in various places, who are happy to put us up. Also, we have use of apartments in a few locations.

Longtallsally - Thank you. Ds and I are very excited.
I know I shouldn't say this out loud but I'm not a fan of hot weather so July and August are going to be perfect for us blushgrin
Thanks for the jellyfish warning smile

RudeBarbandCustard Fri 07-Nov-14 21:40:25

I love travel planning, I plan all my own trips.

If it's a country I've never been before, I usually start with looking at the packages out there to get an idea of the popular places / routes.

I then go to Tripadvisor and use it for pretty much all of my trip planning.

There is a wonderful travel forum on there, where you can ask any questions, but also where people post trip reports, so you can get an idea of what other people have done and what's do-able in your timeframe.

I then work up a rough itinerary, and post it on the tripadvisor forum to ask people's opinions - suggestions on stops en route, alternative route suggestions etc.

I LOVE trip planning, it's half the fun. Often thought I could happily do it as a career

I know the east coast of australia, so feel free to post your itinerary ideas here, would be happy to help

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 07-Nov-14 22:19:58

Doh!! Just lost my long post angry

Please can you plan my trip? grin I can't even operate mumsnet, competently, let alone book a holiday!!

We are planning to go to the East coast. Possibly Melbourne, Sydney and up to the Great Barrier Reef.

Ds has mentioned ayres rock but not sure how that would fit in. It's his trip as much as mine so I'd like to include it, if possible.

Not sure what to do about stop-overs. I'm not too bothered either way but we did miss out on 2 nights in Singapore when he was a baby so might be nice to stop somewhere on the way. I think on the way back, we'll just want to come straight, without any extra stop overs.

Wen I've looked, previously, there are just so many flight options, it blew my mind and I stopped looking.

RudeBarbandCustard Sat 08-Nov-14 11:18:57

Ooh can I live vicariously through you and help, yes please!

OK, first question - how long do you have, and is it flexible or set in stone?

Second question - what do you like - cities, scenery, wildlife?

THird question - Do you mind driving (they drive on the left in Oz, so much easier!) and if not, how much driving would you consider ok?

I've never been to Ayers rock, but it's probably worth it, looks amazing. I'd probably fly there though, unless you don't mind driving through the desert for a few days.

RudeBarbandCustard Sat 08-Nov-14 11:24:30

Couple of recommendations.

Cairns isn't very pretty, but it gives you access to the great barrier reef. Consider doing a trip through the Whitsunday Islands - gorgeous. If you can, stay on one of the islands, I think Hayman island, or Hamilton (??) or something like that is supposed to be nice. Others might know more.

North of Cairns - Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas are GORGEOUS. I'd definitely go there.

Further north, Kakadu nat park, also supposed to be amazing. I wish I'd gone there.

Byron Bay is nice, hippy surfer vibe, bit of fun.

Noosa is gorgeous, classy beach resort type place.

Brisbane is a great city, great for a few days.

Surfer's paradise and the gold coast is horrible. Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, but it depends what you're into.

Sydney - impressive. But the beach resorts around there are crap, not worth bothering, you'll see beaches a million times nicer up north.

Blue Mountains are lovely, near Sydney if I remember rightly.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Sat 08-Nov-14 12:14:26

Yay, great!!

We have up to 6 weeks. Was planning to take ds out of school a couple of days before term ends because the flights were approx £300 cheaper up to the Wednesday before end of term, as opposed to the Friday onwards. Thinking about returning around the August bank holiday so that we have a couple of days to get over the flight before school/work. So about 6 weeks? Definitely flexible but we do have to be back before the start of term. I'll check exact term dates.

We like a complete mix of everything!! Love cities but equally love scenery and wildlife (I'm hoping this makes it easier rather than making me sound like I can't make a decision grin).

I grew up by the seaside and we go often so would rather quality over quantity. I'd really love ds to have the opportunity to swim somewhere spectacular...although, not sure how keen he'd be grin.

Re driving - this was on my list of questions. I have only been driving a couple of years but am a pretty confident driver. I might have to look into this further before deciding whether it's something I could do. My BIL drove us around in Las Vegas and it was pretty scary (I'm generally a relaxed passenger!!). 3 hour blocks of driving are probably as much as I could do but would maybe do a couple of those in a day. Wouldn't really like to drive at night but quite good at early starts...infact, I prefer them because the roads are usually much quieter.

We will be staying with friends for a week or two, north of Sydney and they will drive us places. Maybe if that was at the start of the trip, I could ask for a couple of lessons to get me used to it or am I overthinking it?

The apartment that I can use and the one I prefer most is on Magnetic Island, Queensland. Nearest airport is Townsville. This is probably going to be the chill out part of the trip so wondering if this should be at the end of the trip before coming home to school/work.

I have a friend in Sydney who we could stay with but also stayed in a fab youth hostel, near Manly, when we went before so would be happy to look into that again.

Right, I'm just off to google Magnetic island to see where exactly it is grin

Ooh, getting excited and can see a plan forming...thank you!!

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Sat 08-Nov-14 12:31:30

There a two other apartments that I might be able to use (free of charge). The first is in Manly and the other in Bogangar, NSW. Not sure if the second one might be a useful one to use as a base for a week.

I need to get a map and maybe a new book and sparkly pen to make lots of notes and a proper plan grin

RudeBarbandCustard Sat 08-Nov-14 19:46:38

Exciting!! 6 weeks is loads of time to really get stuck in and do it some justice

The driving is no scarier than here - in fact, probably easier, depending on where you live. I'm a country girl, so I freak out driving in cities. But out of the cities, the roads are wide, and easy. No different to here.

How old is DS? Would you consider learning to Dive? You can do a course in 3-4 days, and dive the Great barrier reef! Alternatively, you can go on a snorkelling trip - would be well worth it - or sail around the whitsundays for a few days - gorgeous.

I've been here a couple of times Cape Tribulation and it's fab - jungle adventure, stunning beaches, Cassowaries, and crocodiles!

Not far from Townsville - with maybe a stopover in Port Douglas. It's gorgeous there - Port Douglas

And definitely check out here Tripadvisor forum to get an idea of what other people are doing. THere's a good list of FAQs on the right hand side. I can't recommend it highly enough - I literally planned my entire USA road trip using that forum, it's great. You can come up with a draft itinerary and ask people to look at it and suggest places to go etc. Really useful

I'm a big fan of the tropical north of Oz, less keen on the southern bits, but it's a long time since I went there, and I'm sure there are fab places all over. Never been to Melbourne so I can't help you there.

Another thought - given the amount of time you have, I'd definitely do a stopover in SE Asia somewhere... soooo many good options there, and defo worth a few days.


longtallsally2 Mon 10-Nov-14 18:24:54

EXCITED EMOTICON - just realised that - I think (I'll check) you should be able to go and watch the whales migrating past Nelson Bay - lovely holiday resort which will be very quiet in July/August as you drive up, because it will be far too chilly for most Australians then. They have humpacks and everything!!! They aren't there when we go in March/April, but they pass really close to the coast. You can go out on a sailing boat/catamaran (we recommend 'Imagine' and have dolphins, turtles and whales swimming past you.

We have been to the East coast several times and like Rhubarb would definitely head up north asap. August in Sydney can really be chilly - you could ski in the blue mountains, of course, if that's your thing, but it will bump up your luggage. Sydney Opera house and the harbour bridge, Manley Beach etc will all be windy and chilly. The zoo is good and we had a good visit to a Botany Bay re-enactment museum but most of the attractions are very outdoorsy. (We love the reptile park, which you will pass about an hour north of Sydney if you are heading up the coast. It's small and family friendly - off the main tourist trail, but you can stroke kangaroos and there are good talks for the kids on snakes and spiders).

Ooh, but if you are into Zoos while you are up north do go to Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin's place.

I would love to see Ularu (Ayers Rock) but have never had long enough to take 3 days out of our trip. We had friends go and she hates hates hates flying, but said it was worth it to fly out and stay over for a couple of nights. There is nothing there but desert and the rock, and you do have to be prepared to make a very early start to stumble around for a couple of hours in the dark climb it to see the sun rise, but she loved it.

In terms of stopovers we loved Singapore, and Hong Kong. I know you were thinking of stopping on the way out but we would recommend stopping over on the way home though. On the way out, you are so excited that 21 odd hours just flies by. On the way back you get on the plane and have an 8 hour flight to Singapore, or HK, or KL. If you have a couple of days holiday then, you then only have a 13 hour overnighter to do and you are home - worked for us anyway. We did it once without a stopover coming back and it seemed to last an eternity

Singapore has a great aquarium and zoo (though you will probably visit Sydney aquarium and zoo too) and interesting shopping, though it is hot. Hong Kong is also fascinating and you can travel out of the city if you want to - the bus over the mountains to Repulse Bay and the pretty market at Stanley there is fun.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Sat 31-Jan-15 15:16:58

Just paid a visit to trail finders and have a better idea now of where, when and how much!!!

Any opinions on whether I should just book the whole lot through a travel agent or will I really save a lot if I book it myself? I'm kinda drawn to the convenience of having someone else do it and that i haven't messed it up and know that the majority of the costs have been paid before we go (ie accommodation, day trips etc).

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