Our trip to Australia and New Zealand was our best ever. We saw a lot of different sights in the company of people we love , the accommodations and the travel arrangements were first class and everything went off like clockwork . It was the sort of trip which leaves great memories to be dusted off and cherished for years to come .
There were also some lessons to be learned and which will be kept in mind for any future trips that we may make. These are some of them :
1. Travel light. Keep the luggage to a minimum. This is something we’ve always known and yet we keep making the same mistake over and over again. This time our excuse was that since it was such a long trip , we needed more clothes etc. , etc. It was a big mistake particularly since we had to take several domestic flights and the luggage allowances on those are less generous than on international flights. Next time I am going to take :
a) less clothes . Hotels all have laundry rooms and every hotel room has an ironing board and clothes iron. On a long trip , you cannot possibly take along enough clothes to last the entire trip . Might as well take along enough clothes for five days and plan on doing the laundry and ironing once or twice during the trip. In my opinion , five changes of clothes plus what you have on is just about right .
b) Fewer shoes . One pair of sneakers worn on the plane and one pair of shoes packed in the luggage ( if necessary, depending on the type of vacation ) is enough . Ladies will have a difficult time with this restriction but they have to be disciplined .
c) No guidebooks ,and few books of any sort. Books are heavy . They’re fine if you plan to spend a week at the beach but otherwise they’re unnecessary. There is no time to read guidebooks ; better to read them before you start your trip. Next time I’ll take along one crossword puzzle book and that’s it.
2. Leave yourself enough downtime. Don’t pack your days and nights with things to do and see. Firstly , no matter what you’ll never be able to see everything . Pick and chose the best things of the type you are interested in . If you are traveling in a group , don’t plan everything for everybody. Do some things in common but leave some free time in which people can explore their individual interests . Some may be interested in museums , others may be foodies who want to eat at an iconic restaurant. In this respect , our trip was perfectly planned.
3. A half-day city tour is the way to go if you are spending a limited amount of time in a city. Not only is it efficient but , if you have a good tour guide, he can provide you with insights which are not to be found in a guidebook. In the remaining time you can explore on your own the sights that interest you the most.
4. Beware the breakfast buffet. A breakfast buffet is good because it enables you to get an early start to your day . However , it is a mistake to load up on food thinking that you’ll cut back later. The first few days off our trip , I piled on the eggs , baked beans , grilled tomatoes , sausages/ bacon etc . and found myself having difficulty getting into my pants . I also felt heavy and lethargic the rest of the day. I therefore cut back on the carbs and the meats , instead focussing on the fresh fruit and cereal and as a result feeling more energetic . It took a little longer to better fit into my pants !
5. Eyewitness Travel books by Dorling Kindersley are excellent. The photos and the detailed street maps provide an accurate picture and are almost as good as being there . However , they have the drawback of making everything look great. If you look only at these , you’ll have a difficult time planning your trip and deciding which sights to see. Plan your trip first based on what your special interests are and Frommers/Fodors and then refer to the Eyewitness Travel books to get more details
Best wishes and may you enjoy your trip as much as we enjoyed ours.