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Learn What NOT To Do On Your Gap Year In Australia!

Want to fit in in the Land Down Under? Here’s some helpful hints on what NOT to do during your gap year in Australia, so people will think you’re a legitimate Aussie!

Don’t say “Put another shrimp on the barbie”

Whilst we foreigners think saying ‘put a shrimp on the barbie’ in Oz is extremely witty/funny/best thing we’ve ever said, Aussie locals not so much. Aussies actually call them ‘prawns’ so best just to avoid all together if you want to make Australian friends. Too easy mate!

Don’t be scared of Aussie sarcasm & swearing

Aussies are well known for their sarcasm, self-deprecating sense of humour and swearing. Aussies like to take the piss out of each other, so don’t be alarmed if a bit of banter comes your way or someone drops the C-bomb around you – most of the time it’s nothing personal and is actually used as a term of endearment in some cases! You’ll soon pick up the the local slang on your gap year in Australia so you can give as good as you get. Before you know it, you’ll be a “real” Aussie, with the sarcastic sense of humour to match – just remember to keep the profanities at bay when you’re back home in Grandma’s house!

via GIPHY

Don’t say NO

Australia has so much to offer and now is the time to enjoy it all. The outdoor activities are endless, with everything from skydiving to bungy jumping and swimming with whale sharks on offer. At the time you might put these things off ’cause you’ll ‘do them later’ or because you don’t want to spend your cash but I promise you won’t regret it. Luckily in Australia, there are so many activities and things you can do for free as well so you can balance out the spends. You’ll be leaving Oz with a lifetime of memories and stories to tell. Just. Say. Yes.

Don’t surf without knowing the etiquette

Australia has a big surfing culture and it’s the ULTIMATE place to give it a try. Those catching waves for the first time must be respectful of other surfers by following ‘The Surf Code’. For example; the person closest to the peak of the break has the right to ride the wave. You shouldn’t hang out on your board as a rough board can be very dangerous for other surfers. DO NOT drop into someone else’s wave and paddle outside of the zone where the lineup of surfers might be coming. Amongst many other things, give other people your turn – there’s nothing worse than a wave hog! 

Why not join our UltimateOz Surf Camp when you first get to Oz, where you’ll be taught all this as well as how to ride the waves like a pro and be saved the embarrassment of being ‘THAT surfer’ in front of your new Aussie mates? 😉

Learn to surf in Australia on the UltimateOz Surf camp

Don’t take beach safety signs lightly

I’m sure you will have heard that there are things in Australia that want to kill you….well whist that’s not technically true (don’t swim in the croc’s home and I promise it won’t eat you!) it’s actually beach safety that’s one of the most important things to learn when you get here. Australia has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, all with safety signs, so you can swim safely. Read them! Swim between the flags where the currents aren’t too strong, pay attention to beach signs and if it says don’t swim…don’t swim!

Don’t go to Fraser Island without knowing driving rules

One of the most famous travel destinations for backpackers in Australia is Fraser Island. It is PARADISE! There are plenty of tours you can go on that help coordinate you where to go. Fraser island is an amazing place you definitely don’t wanna miss out on during your gap year in Australia, but just make sure you’re on a good quality tour with an experienced 4WD driver who can handle any challenging conditions on the island. Get in touch with the Ultimate crew for information on recommended Fraser Island tours.

Drive around Fraser Island safely on a guided group tour

Don’t use the word “root”

As with many other words, the word ‘root’ has a different meaning down under than it does elsewhere. Be careful…just saying!   

Don’t just ask for “a beer”

There are ‘heaps’ of slang words you need to learn before you leave your home country for the land of the koalas and kangaroos. Some of the slang will just confuse you, but try to get familiar with some of the words and you’ll be speaking like an Aussie in no time.

Let’s start at the bar… A Brownie is a bottle, a Tallie is a long-necked bottle, a Stubby is a small-necked bottle, a Tinnie is a can and a slab is a case of 24 cans. When it’s your turn to buy a round, just say “my shout” and when it comes to the size of the glass choose to get your tipple in a pint, a schooner, a middy or pot!

Don’t underestimate distances

Australia is a huge country. When you compare countries like England with Australia for size and realise that you can fit England into Australia almost 60 times, you realise it may be time to re-think that ‘short drive’ through outback Australia.

When you’re planning a road trip, I recommend looking at the map and figuring out how long it will take you to drive. Give yourself lots of time to travel on the road from place to place, so you can take it all in and not rush your trip. For example, we recommend travelling the East Coast of Australia in 4 weeks to give you enough time to stop off at all the amazing places along the way! Driving through the Outback? You’ll need plenty of water, supplies and petrol! Got lots to fit in to a short amount of time – no wozzas – you can always save some time with a couple of flights in between! Want some advice on where to travel with the time you have? Just get in touch with the Ultimate crew for information and advice!

Don’t be afraid of change your plans

Life happens and plans change so be flexible! You will meet some amazing people during your gap year in Australia, so it would be a shame to have to leave them just because you have a schedule to follow. Whilst it’s good to have a plan just remember..the more flexible you are, the more you will enjoying your backpacking adventure around this lovely country.

Get in touch with the travel crew to talk about your options. With open dated and flexible options available, you’ll be able to plan your travels with a bit of flexibility.

Not sure where to start? Meet others travelling to Australia at the same time as you and check out our Facebook page & Instagram feed for travel inspiration!

New Zealand: A Backpackers Paradise

The land of the Kiwis is often hyped as one of the most well travelled and photogenic places in the world, and for all the right reasons.  Not only will the New Zealand photos rack up your Instagram likes, but it boasts some epic adventures to cross off your bucket list.  The laid-back, high-quality lifestyle has attracted more and more backpackers looking for one hell of a place to travel to, and New Zealand does not disappoint!

Seriously Friendly Kiwis!

This lovely bunch of people are friendly, welcoming and always up for a chat! When you’re travelling the locals you come across can really make a difference to how you much your enjoy your time so it helps to have locals who are excited for you to be travelling their country! They usually have a few local recommendations up their sleeves too! 😉 After briefly chatting with a local on the street while looking for some late afternoon grub in Queenstown, I was given some insider tips and told to head to the famous Fergberger burger joint. This place is AMAZING and as my new Kiwi friend had suggested I phone ahead to order, I didn’t even have to wait in line! #MakeKiwiFriends!

Adrenaline Activities

From bungy jumping, white water rafting and kayaking to glacier hiking and snowboarding, New Zealand is THE place to be if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie!

Not only does New Zealand offer some amazing activities, but you’ll also be doing them in some of the most stunning spots in the world. Try Skydiving over mountains, jet boating through crystal clear rivers and zorbing down ‘Hobbiton’ hills. Ask our travel team for recommendations!

New Zealand is a backpackers paradise
New Zealand is a backpackers paradise

Travel

One of the best things about travelling around NZ is how many different travelling options there are. You can join guided group tours (recommended for when you first arrive – check out Ultimate NZ), buy a hop-on, hop-off bus pass or road trip it in a camper or car. Whatever you decide, the adventures are endless!

Maori Culture

One of the most unique things about New Zealand is how true many of them have held onto the traditional Maori culture.  You must be on a tour to visit a Marae, which is a tribal meeting ground, but it is fascinating and truly special to be a part of.  The local people will hold speeches, sing traditional songs, and eat a hangi feast.  If you’ve ever seen a New Zealand’s All Blacks haka warrior dance, you know that the Maori ceremonies are something to behold!

New Zealand is a backpackers paradise
New Zealand is a backpackers paradise

North and South Islands

New Zealand is small yet mighty!  The North and South Islands are both stunning in different ways!  The North Island is rich in Maori culture, has tons of hot springs (and even a beach where you can dig your own jacuzzi!), scuba diving, and swimmable beaches.  In comparison, the South Island has more dramatic scenery, stunning lakes and mountains. You’ll find amazing beaches and breathtaking National parks in both the North and South Island of New Zealand!

New Zealand is a backpackers paradise
New Zealand is a backpackers paradise

New Zealand is crazy beautiful and packs a punch, full of spectacular mountains and beaches for your adventurous side while still being able to enjoy the backpacker life and have an epic night out on the town.  Pack your bags, buy your ticket, and check one more amazing country off your list!

Planning your gap year in New Zealand? Why not start your year with our awesome 8 day tour of the North Island. Check out Ultimate NZ and download your FREE brochure today! 

You’ll be missing out if you go to Thailand and don’t experience the best things Thailand has to offer…

The Street food

Street food in Thailand is uhhh-mazinnggg! Not only can you pick up some delicious Thai curries, Thailand’s traditional Pad Thai and meat skewers but you can also get your hands on some great sweet dishes – Southeast Asian crepes with nutella and bananas will always be a winner!

Fancy trying something a bit different? Get your gnashers around a scorpion, cricket or deep fried tarantula. Give it a try…after a few pints of Chang you won’t even taste it and whilst you might be dying inside, just think of all those Instagram likes you’ll get!

Eating a scorpion in Bangkok

A massage Thai style

One of the best things about Thailand? Thai massages! Thai massages are amazing and so cheap. Yes you might be shocked at how a tiny Thai lady can bend your body in half with so much force but you’ll also get one of the best massages you’ve ever had! When in Thailand make sure you get a couple…or twenty and don’t forget to get involved in a fish foot massage – one of the weirdest ‘sensations’ ever!

A bit of history

You can’t go Thailand and not take in a little culture and history. The temples in Bangkok give a great insight into Thailand’s main religion, Buddhism, and are not to be missed! My fave is Wat Pho, temple of the reclining buddha!

Beach parties

When it comes to beach parties, Thailand is THE place to go! There’s nothing like walking (or weaving your way through the crowds) onto Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan to see thousands of people dressed in fluro, dancing on the sand with music pumping for miles. Fire shows are also popular on a lot of the islands including Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi. Want to jump through a ‘ring of fire?’ Now’s your chance!

The infamous bucket!

Speaking of island fun..no beach party is complete without Thailand’s infamous bucket! You can get your hands on one of these bad boys for about 200Baht (about a fiver!) When you buy a bucket you’ll usually get a concoction of M-150 (concentrated redbull), a local spirit and a can of mixer. Just a word of warning – these buckets are STRONG. They give you 4 straws for a reason..sharing is caring! 😉

Local transport

In my opinion, the best way to see a country is by experiencing the local transport. Use local transport such as TukTuk’s in Bangkok, hop on an overnight train with Thai locals and cruise around in Thailand’s iconic longtail boats whenever you have the option!

Wildlife

If you’ve ever dreamed of feeding baby monkeys, volunteering in an elephant sanctuary or getting up close with exotic birds and wildlife such as monitor lizards, Thailand is for you!

Feed monkeys in Thailand

All things Bangkok

Bangkok is an overload for the senses and one of the most exciting cities I have ever been to. Head to the famous Khao San Rd to party with other travellers and to Patpong, Bangkok’s red light district to party with lady boys! Also, Bangkok’s famous floating markets aren’t to be missed! You could even catch a Muay Thai boxing match – no better place to experience it and anyway – Bangkok has you now..

Maya Bay

If you watched ‘The Beach’ you’ve probably dreamed of visiting this stunning bay since you saw Leo swim around with millions of glowing plankton surrounding him! You can’t beat the crystal clear waters of Maya Bay, the beautiful white sand and great snorkelling in the area – just remember your camera!

Hair flick in Maya Bay

Stay in the Jungle

Thailand isn’t all about island life and partying on the beach! Your visit to Thailand won’t be complete without a little ‘off the beaten track’ action. Say hello to Khao Sok National Park! Stay in floating bungalows on the lake, explore caves, go tubing, feed baby monkeys and chill in paradise. This place is heaven on earth!

Khao-Sok

Is Thailand on your travel bucket list? Check out our 10 day tour of Thailand and get in touch for help planning!

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Australia: The land of stunning beaches, amazing wildlife, breathtaking national parks, cool cities and BBQ’s on the beach! All the things you must see in Australia.

Having lived in Australia for 5 years now, I can safely say that life is just better in the land down under! I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to travel Australia and see some of the amazing places this beautiful country has to offer. These Instagram pics have inspired me to pack my bags and head off on another Aussie adventure!

Whitehaven beach, Whitsunday Islands, QLD

The whitest sand in the world and clear blue waters = absolute paradise!

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Swimming with whale sharks is next on the bucket list for me! You can find them on the Ningaloo Reef along with turtles, dolphins, manta rays and heaps of other marine life.

Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park, NT

Gunlom Falls is one of my fave spots in Australia. Looking out at Kakadu National Park (which is the same size as Belgium!) from the plunge pool is incredible!

Byron Bay, NSW

Surf, sun, dolphins, and a chilled out hippie vibe..Byron is just amazing.

Double Shakas! #GoPro #LiveUnbound #Freedive #ByronBay #Shaka

A photo posted by KYLE TAYLOR (@kylextaylor) on

Sydney Harbour, NSW

I’ll never get enough of this view!

Lucky Bay, Esperance, NSW

Because there is nothing more Aussie than an amazing beach and the chance to get up close with kangaroos..all that’s missing is a good old Aussie BBQ!

Uluru, Red Centre, NT

Because where else can you sleep in a swag (tent like sleeping bag) in one of the oldest sacred aboriginal sites in the world and star gaze all night?!

Night of day…it’s a stunning photo opp!

A photo posted by Uluru Adventures (@uluru_adventures) on

Glasshouse Mountain, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Just look!

Litchfield National Park, NT

Home to some amazing plunge pools, waterfalls, historic sights and termite mounds, Litchfield National Park, Kakadu’s smaller next door neighbour is not to be missed!

What a lifeee! 🎥 @becnef

A photo posted by KYLE TAYLOR (@kylextaylor) on

Lake Hillier, WA

A pink lake? Say whaaaaat!? Whilst noone really knows for sure why Lake Hillier is pink, scientists believe that the colour comes from dye caused by bacteria in the salt crusts. Either way, how many people can say they’ve visited a beautiful pink lake?

Lake Hillier / Pink Lake –Western Australia, Australia

A photo posted by @weareplanetearth on

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC

The beautiful coastline between Melbourne and Adelaide AND the beautiful sunsets over the twelve apostles make for a popular tourist destination and an awesome road trip opportunity!

It is better to travel well than to arrive.

A photo posted by Sarah Girsang (@sar_gir) on

Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, QLD

<3

Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island, QLD

In the middle of the world’s largest sand island lies Lake Mckenzie with the clearest waters and some of the world’s whitest sand – swim, sunbake and explore the area before hopping back in your 4WD to cruise around the island. Fraser Island, one of my fave East coast Oz spots is a MUST VISIT backpacking friends!

Great Barrrier Reef, QLD

In Northern Queensland you’ll find the Great Barrier Reef, the only reef in the world visible from space! Go snorkelling, diving or take a helicopter ride to see some of the world’s most beautiful coral and diverse marine life!

Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park, NT

Visiting Kakadu’s waterfalls make’s you realise just how big this National park really is!

Have we missed any? What is your favourite place in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!

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Lights, Lanterns and Lotus Flowers

Thailand is well known for it’s epic Full Moon Parties, drinking buckets and fireshows on the beach but what about Thailand’s festivals? You may have heard of Songkran (AKA the biggest water fight in the world), a 4 day street party that involves throwing buckets of water and shooting water pistols at everyone you see. Then there’s Phi Ta Khon, ‘The Ghost festival’, the religious Ubon Ratchatani Candle festival and Thailand’s very own monkey buffet (It’s actually a thing – Google it!), however arguably Thailand’s most spectacular festival is Loi Krathong, Festival of Lights.

What is the Festival of the lights?

Loi Krathong (literally translated to Floating basket or Floating crown) is a festival believed to date back 8 centuries in Thailand. It involves placing lotus shaped rafts (Krathong) decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto water with the intention of bringing luck and fulfilling wishes. Traditionally the decorations are placed into rivers and canals but nowadays any water including lakes and ponds will do! A popular belief in Thailand is that if the candle on your Krathong stays lit until it disappears out of sight, you’re in for a year of good luck!

When does it take place?

Loi Krathong normally takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, normally in November, at the end of the rainy season. This year, it’ll take place on Wednesday 25th November. In Chiang Mai an extra ‘show’ is put on for tourists a week after the official free festival for the locals.

Where is it celebrated?

The festival of lights is celebrated all over Thailand. In Chiang Mai in Thailand’s North it’s celebrated slightly differently with a religious festival, Yi Peng. Here lanterns are released into the sky rather than water to pay homage to Buddha. At night, the sky is lit up with thousands of lanterns creating a beautiful light display!

If you’re lucky enough to be in Thailand now, make sure to take part in the festival! Planning a trip to Thailand? You don’t have to wait until next November! Lanterns are sold year round in Thailand.

Check out our 11 day Ultimate Thailand tour and get in touch for help organising your trip! Check out our videos for Ultimate Thailand and Ultimate Vietnam to see for yourself how amazing SE Asia is!

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Vietnam is still Southeast Asia’s hidden gem; A beautiful country with heaps of culture, welcoming locals and so much to explore. Vietnam’s ancient traditions are still such an important part of the culture so when you travel to Vietnam means seeing ‘the real Vietnam’.

I know the title of this blog is a tad dramatic but there is reasoning behind the madness! Here are some reasons I think you should travel to Vietnam sooner rather than later:

The Road Less Travelled!

Vietnam is one of the only Southeast Asian countries that hasn’t been overly changed by tourism; It’s a country true to it’s roots and ancient traditions so despite welcoming backpackers and holidaymakers, tourism hasn’t affected Vietnam the same way it has other countries in Asia.

Vietnam is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination and it’s inevitable that some of it’s culture (from a visitor’s perspective) could get lost alongside the travel agencies, western food restaurants and pubs over the years. I believe now is the time to go if you want to experience Vietnam in all of it’s traditional glory!

Visiting a hill tribe in Sapa to explore the rice fields for example will allow you to experience Vietnamese family traditions without hoards of other tourists. You might have heard of Halong Bay. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and was featured in James Bond’s “Tomorrow Never Dies”. Halong is a magical place! Cruise around the limestone casts on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat, sipping on a cold one whilst watching one of the most amazing sunsets you’ll ever see! Most people only stay for one night, but if you have the time spend another night on one of the islands hidden in the maze of Halong. How often do you get a chance to wake up on a private island?

Halong bay sunsets are beautiful


Photo taken by ULTIMATE traveller Karin in Halong Bay

Because any time of year is a good time!

You can visit Vietnam any time of the year because the weather is mostly good throughout. This place is so big, there are 3 different weather zones and temperatures change throughout the country. Whilst the south is always hot and humid, the north can get a bit cooler (still approx 15-22 degrees around Hanoi, a little colder in the mountains) between November and February. Whichever month you choose to travel, you know you’ll be getting sunshine in some part of the country!


Photo taken by ULTIMATE traveller Dirk in Hoi An

The locals

Vietnamese tradition focuses on harmony and humanity and as the locals live their lives through these traditions it’s not surprising that they’re so welcoming and friendly. Vietnam hasn’t been spoilt by rowdy, pissed up tourists shouting at locals trying to be understood so locals are patient and are happy to have us there! You’ll be smiled at and left alone most of the time, unlike some other countries where you’ll be hassled into buying souvenirs, food, puppies..

Locals

Safe with a side of adventure!

Travelling in Vietnam is generally safe and backpacker friendly. You’ll be welcomed and helped by locals and you’ll bump into lots of other travellers along the way. Despite Vietnam becoming a more popular country for backpackers, when you’re there, you’ll still feel like you’re on an adventure in an exciting exotic place. Vietnamese is the main language here however lots of people speak English so making yourself understood is easy too (no more ordering random things of a menu you can’t read hoping you’ve just ordered something you can digest)!

Travelling around Vietnam is easy for backpackers


Leaving the Ultimate Vietnam private island stay in Halong Bay

Food is Fresh & Authentic

Wherever you travel in Vietnam, you’ll be able to try local beer and eat authentic and traditional Vietnamese food. Most families cook outside their house, so sometimes you might even find yourself crashing a family dinner! Ingredients are fresh off the fields and dishes are cooked in front of you. Grab a small plastic stool in the street and mingle with the locals – you know you’re onto a winner when the locals are eating the same dish as you!

Food is a big part of the culture here (and it should be – it’s amazing!) so get involved before they start building McDonalds on every corner!

Food in Vietnam is a big part of the culture


Eating lẩu (hot pot) in Da Lat

Because it’s still cheap

You can live like a King on next to nothing in Vietnam. A beer will set you back around $1 (their ‘fresh beer’ is about 30 cents!) and if you want to travel on the cheap you could easily budget $10 a day for all of your food. Accommodation is also mega cheap so you’ll be able to afford to travel for longer – result!

Beer in Vietnam is normally locally brewed


Mingling with the locals in the streets of Hanoi.

Because the reef is still beautiful

Unless you’ve been there, Vietnam isn’t normally the first place that springs to mind when you think about snorkelling however Hon Mun Marine Park, just off the East coast of Vietnam is home to some of the world’s most beautiful coral and varied marine life. Heaps of diving and snorkel day trips head out to the marine park daily from Nha Trang, Vietnam’s most popular beach town. The coral in this area hasn’t taken a beating quite like other reefs in Southeast Asia so you can still enjoy snorkelling in beautiful surroundings. Learning to dive is also cheap as chips in Vietnam!

See the rest of Southeast Asia!

Vietnam’s got some pretty cool neighbours including China in the North and Laos and Cambodia to the West so if you’re planning a Southeast Asia trip, Vietnam is a great starting point! You could travel overland to countries such as Thailand and Malaysia or hop on a flight over to Indonesia..Once you’re in Southeast Asia the choices are endless!

So will an increase in tourism change Vietnam for the worse? Vietnam is a beautiful country with ancient traditions and customs that are valued by the Vietnamese people. In my opinion, Vietnam will adapt to an increase in tourism but the important traditions that set Vietnam apart from other Southeast Asian countries will live on for a long time yet! Still, if you’ve got the choice to visit Vietnam and see this amazing country now, at it’s best, then why not?

Want to know more about Vietnam? Check out our Infographic!

The ULTIMATE Vietnam Infographic

Planning a trip? Check out our 13 day Ultimate Vietnam tour and get in touch for help organising your trip! Check out our videos for Ultimate Thailand and Ultimate Vietnam to see for yourself how amazing SE Asia is!

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It’s that time of year again! Here in Sydney we’re putting our scarfs and coats away and getting the bikinis and swimmers out ready for another beaut summer by the beach! With the temperatures rising there’s no better time to learn how to surf ready for the warmer months! If you’re looking for a week of fun, meeting new people and beers on the beach, all whilst learning to surf, the aussie way (& making your mates at home jealous with your surfing pics!) Surf Camp is the place to go! ULTIMATE ledge Craig went to Surf Camp for the weekend. Here’s what he thought of the 2 day weekend Surf Camp:

So why Surf Camp?

I’d always wanted to learn how to surf and thought what better place to do it than Australia! A few of my mates had done the 5 day Surf Camp and recommended it so I thought why not!? I work during the week so I decided to book onto the weekend Surf Camp and get out of Sydney for a couple of days!

Surfcamp is back for the summer!

How did the weekend kick off?

So we all got picked up outside of Wake Up on Friday night.. it couldn’t have been easier. We popped into Side Bar for a quick beer then hopped on the bus down to Surf Camp. Great way to start the weekend. Met so many people from all over the world including some local Aussies who are a bunch of legends!

You'll meet lots of people at Surfcamp

What was the highlight of the weekend?

Being my first ever surfing experience, standing up on the second attempt was definitely a highlight! Such a great feeling!  From there it was plain sailing and eventually turned pro by the end of the weekend. 😉 Without the lessons I don’t think this would have been possible. Top marks to our instructors – they were so helpful, always there if you needed them and a right laugh!

learning to surf, the aussie way

What advice would you give to others going to Surfcamp?

Make sure you visit the local pub and join in on some limbo! You might be tired after a day of surfing but it’s well worth it – it’s a great place to get to know other backpackers!

The camp was awesome!

Was it long enough?

Personally I don’t think it was long enough. I did the weekend Surfcamp as I had work commitments but if I was to recommend it to friends, I’d say go on the 5 day trip for sure! The weekend was plenty of time to learn how to surf however it was such a great time I wanted to stay longer. Also, I think if I’d stayed a bit longer, I would have had time to learn some more tricks!

The beginners beach at Surfcamp

What was the camp like?

Such an amazing place! The camp is just a short walk away from the beach (7 mile beach.) It’s a beginners beach so the waves aren’t too big which was perfect for me as a first timer! You can still ride the waves without getting taken out! Some of the instructors mentioned that in the summer, they often see dolphins just off the beach and some people get to surf with them! The food was amazing too. They always kept us fed and full with meals 3 times a day and there was never a shortage which is great!  All of the staff we’re very friendly, helpful and a little crazy (in a good way!) The staff make the trip even better. Even if you’re travelling there alone, the staff will make sure you’re involved and have a great time!

Learning to surf, the aussie way

What did you do in the evening?

 After dinner on the Saturday we had such a funny night playing drinking games with new faces and the instructors! Luckily we woke up on Sunday with no hangover to catch some serious waves -we went further out to catch the big guns…awesome!!

Did you think it was value for money?

Yes, I really did. All of the accommodation, surf lessons, equipment and travel is covered so the only thing I spent money on was a couple of beers! We also got a Free T Shirt, Trucker hat,  & a $20 Rip Curl Voucher. Also, throughout the weekend there were photographers taking shots of us surfing which were then played on a TV during dinner and uploaded to Facebook. It was a laugh seeing the best ‘wipeouts’ from the day!  I’ll definitely be recommending Surfcamp to my mates!

Surfcamp freebies!

Surf Camp includes return transfers from Sydney, your accommodation, food, surf gear, photos, videos & extra freebies!
Want to learn how to surf? Get in touch to for discounts! ‘Like’ us on FB for travel inspiration, photos, videos and more blogs and follow us on Instagram (ultimate.travel) for travel pics!

Having just written a blog on why it’s better to travel single, I’ve done a full 360 and thought why not think about the pros for travelling as a couple too! Having experienced both, I know that there are definitely pros to travelling with a partner, not including the obvious reasons like having a shoulder to sleep on during long journeys and having someone to take photos of you! Here are some reasons (in my opinion), it’s better to travel as a couple rather than going it solo:

1. Give your brain a bit of time out

Travelling solo can take quite a bit of organising and self motivation. You have to be on the ball all of the time knowing that if you don’t plan something for yourself to do, it’s not going to happen! You have full responsibility for the places you visit and the things you do during your travels so travelling with a partner can take the pressure off you a bit! Being told what you’re doing for the day can be nice when you’re all planned out. You may also be talked in to doing something you would never have considered before. Too scared to do a skydive but know it’s at the top of your partners bucket list?! Chances are, you’ll be jumping out of that plane before you know it and loving it! Sometimes it’s good to go along with what other people want to do for a while and as long as you also make sure you’re doing what you want to do, you’ll probably end up experiencing more!

2. Your home away from home

Travelling by yourself can get lonely. It’s a strange feeling arriving in a country where nobody knows you and having that someone by your side can bring a lot of comfort, especially if it’s your first proper time away from home. However amazing travelling is, there are highs and lows, and there will probably come a time at some point when you just need a few reassuring words from a familiar face, someone to make you laugh and a shoulder to cry on. Just having someone there will bring you more comfort than you imagined.

If you’re travelling solo and want to meet people when you first get here, why not book onto an arrival package in Sydney, Thailand or Vietnam?

3. It will make you a better person!

Travelling with someone takes patience and compromise. You’ll both be faced with stressful situations at some point during your trip and chances are, you’ll take it out on the person closest to you: each other (we are human after all)! You’ll learn to bite your tongue and realise that most of the time, the petty arguments just aren’t worth it. It’s not like you can just hop in your car and drive to a mates house for a rant after all! You’ll be spending A LOT of time together so you’ll soon figure out how to handle your disagreements as adults (most of the time!)

4. Travelling = the ULTIMATE relationship test

If you can travel with your boyfriend or girlfriend and come out the other side smiling, with a stronger relationship, you’re onto a winner! Not only will you learn things about yourself and figure out how you deal with stressful situations but you’ll also see how your partner reacts and how well you work together to come to solutions. Do you communicate with each other when you’re faced with a sticky situation, do you shut down and ignore each other or do you have a massive shouting match? You’re bound to have a few disagreements along the way but it’s how you deal with them as a couple that will determine how strong your relationship is..and isn’t it better to find out whether you’re a good match sooner rather than later?

5. Two minds are better than one!

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so having that extra brain there will be a massive advantage when you’re travelling. At some point during your trip, decisions will have to be made (some not as important as others…beach or rainforest today!?) and 2 minds working together will take the pressure off you a bit. Having an off day? Your partner can take one for the team and take control of your plans for the day! Travelling together allows you to buzz off each other and help each other out when needed.

6. Save money

Having someone there to share some of your travel costs can save you heaps during your travels. You can share the cost of food, accommodation, taxis and other travel such as campervan or car rentals. Also if you’re haggling in SE Asia, you’re more likely to get a better deal if you’re buying two of everything!

Haggling with a partner could get you a great deal!

7. Safety in numbers

Nowadays travelling is generally safe, even for solo travellers. As long as you’re vigilant, have your wits about you and do your research beforehand, you’ll be able to travel around relatively safely wherever you go. Saying that, having someone there to look out for you is a big comfort and there’s no denying that you’ll be safer travelling with a partner that going travelling alone.

8. Some memories are better shared.

Some of the things you’ll experience travelling are better off shared with someone. Most of the time the photos just don’t do it justice and whilst you’ll always have the memory of that beautiful sunset or that amazing beach party , it’s great having someone there who has experienced it all with you. Once your trip is over you’ll be able to reminisce about your travel memories together.

So there it is…there are arguments for and against travelling solo & with a partner! So which way is better? In my opinion, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to travel. Think about what you want to experience from your travels, figure out what works for you and most importantly of all, go for what makes you happy!

What do you think? Comment below!

Travelling solo? check out our blog to read about the pros to travelling as a single agent!

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Southeast Asia is awesome! With friendly locals, great food, beautiful beaches, bustling cities, an exciting culture and so much to see any do, no wonder it’s high on the bucket list for so many of us! Luckily for us, Southeast Asian countries are generally cheap to travel in so your travel budget will stretch a lot further than most other gap year destinations! Despite Southeast Asia already being cheap, it’s always nice to nab a bargain so read on for tips on how to save your hard earned cash and travel through Southeast Asia on a budget..

 1. Don’t be scared to haggle!

In most countries in Southeast Asia, bartering is not just expected, it’s all part of the fun! Don’t be scared to haggle for your goods to get a cheaper price. Most of the time, the good sold at markets in Thailand and Malaysia have such a high margin to begin with, you can usually start off by offering less than half price for what you want! You can haggle pretty much anything in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam including travel on Tuk Tuks, boats and taxis! Be firm yet respectful and friendly and remember to have the price you’re happy to pay in your head!

Top tip: Be careful not to go overboard. The most important thing to remember is that both parties should be able to come to a mutually happy agreement. There’s no point arguing over a couple of quid just to come out on top. That money will probably mean a lot more to your seller than to you!

Haggling the price of goods and travel in Thailand is normal

2. Try the local food

Eating street food and local dishes & delicacies is all part of travelling and is a great way to cut down on your spends! If you want to eat ‘western food’ like pizza, burgers and chips, be prepared to pay ‘western prices’ (around 5 times more than local dishes found on street stalls and food courts!)

It’s not all about the price though. Local dishes are usually amazing, and prepared with natural homegrown ingredients. Vietnam has some of the best dishes in the world including Pho (a popular rice noodle dish) and once you’ve tried a Thai green curry or pad Thai in Thailand, there’s no going back! Just take it easy eating fresh fruit and meats from the street stalls that have been left out when you first arrive – give your stomach time to adjust to the new food to avoid getting ill and wherever possible eat from the stalls where it can be cooked in front of you.

Top tip: If it’s good enough for the locals, it’ll be good enough for you! Follow the crowd as the locals know where will be good to eat and where isn’t!

3. Drink beer

Drinking local beer such as ‘Singha’ or ‘Chang’ in Thailand and ‘ Bia Hoi’ in Vietnam will cost you a lot less than drinking imported beers, alcopops and wine in South East Asia. If you’re a fan of spirits, go for the local spirits as much as possible if you want to save money but go easy…local spirits usually have a much higher alcohol % so have one and see how you go!

Top tip: Be prepared. Booze prices on small islands in SE Asia are a lot higher than other parts of the country as they’re ‘imported’ from the mainland. If you’re a fan of spirits, take a bottle or two with you to avoid paying lots for alcohol!

4. Do your research

Most locals you’ll encounter in SE Asia are friendly, helpful and kind however do be prepared to be ripped off every now and then! If you don’t know how much things cost in advance, you could end up paying heaps more than you need to! I’ve been told before that ‘there are no ATM’s on that Island’, ‘you must withdraw/change up your money here with me’ only to find out that there are heaps of ATM’s on the island and that person just wanted the extra commission!
Top tip: Don’t believe everything you hear from the locals and do your research beforehand to be in the know!

 5. Travel like a local

SE Asia is pretty big so it can be tempting to hop on a plane over to the next country on your bucket list but if you want to save money, wherever possible travel with the locals. In Bali, I decided to take the cheapest boat possible over the Gilli islands and ended up in a tiny boat with 30 other people, about 20 chickens flapping around and what seemed like the islands entire food supply for the next 6 months! I always find it’s those experiences you remember the most anyway! Most SE Asian countries have some great bus and train options too such as the overnight sleeper train in Thailand and overnight buses. You can even bus it over the borders with a mini passport control break in the middle!
Top tip: Travelling overnight means you won’t have to fork out for accommodation that night – score!

 6. Give yourself a daily budget

This might seem like an obvious one but it’s easy to spend in Asia. Yes, everything is mega cheap but if you’re anything like me, that’ll just make you spend more because you don’t feel like you have to budget! Having a strict budget will ensure you’ve got enough to last your whole trip without worrying. Spend a bit more on drinks one day? Check into a cheaper hostel the next night!
Top tip: Budget between AUD$20-$40 per day to travel comfortably.

 7. Accommodation

Accommodation in Asia is cheap! On a budget, you could find somewhere to stay for less than $5 per night! Okay your toilet might be a hole in the floor and you may be sharing with a few lizards and insects but it’s a bargain all the same! If you’re prepared to stay in basic accommodation you’ll save yourself a lot of money. If you’re not, you could stay in a beautiful little private poolside villa with free breakfast for around $20-$30!
Top tip: Planning ahead with accommodation is another way to save money. Accommodation prices in Koh Phangan go up for the Full Moon Party so get in there early for the best prices and before all the accommodation is fully booked!

Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park where we stay during our 10 day Ultimate Thailand tour!

Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park during the 10 day Ultimate Thailand tour!

8. Buy before you go!

Pretty much everything is cheaper in South East Asia and most things can be bought when you get there however there are a few things that are worth taking with you. Imported cosmetics, suncream & makeup can be more expensive so to avoid paying out for your favourite makeup brands abroad, bring them with you!

Top tip: In most SE Asian countries, anti malaria tablets A LOT cheaper when you get there.

 9. Get off the beaten track!

If you want to save money, avoid ‘touristy’ destinations as much as you can. Anywhere packed with tourists will be more expensive than other parts of the country as you’ll be paying tourist prices rather than backpacker prices.

Instead, chat to locals and get recommendations on where to go (take a mate with you!) or get a map and do some exploring! I remember hiring a moped on Koh Phangan and going to visit some of the waterfalls in the middle of the island. It was great to see another part of the island away from the crowds and saved me the money I would have spent in Koh Phangan that day!

Top tip: Having a local guide show you around is a great way to experience ‘off the beaten track’ safely. Our 3 day Sapa tour in Vietnam gives you the chance to stay in a remote village and experience how the hill tribes live! Check it out here.

Get off the beaten track in Vietnam

10. Know what your money is worth!

Checking the current exchange rate is well worth doing before you start your travels. Knowing what your money is worth will avoid you getting ripped off at the airport when you get there! Click here to check current currency rates.

Top tip: Change up some money before you fly so you have some local money to use when you first land. It’ll give you a little time to shop around for the best rate so you won’t be forced into changing up your money in the first place you come across!

Know what your money is worth

Interested in travelling to Thailand or Vietnam? Get in touch for help and advice!

Check out our blogs for tips on travelling in South East Asia and share your budgeting tips with us in the comments below!

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Travelling onwards after your trip to Asia? Keep an eye out for top tips on budgeting in Australia and New Zealand.

7 Reasons it’s better to travel single!

Travelling with a boyfriend or girlfriend has got it’s pros for sure! You’ll always have that person to chat to, you won’t feel lonely and you’ll have someone to share all of the amazing places you visit with. However, having experienced travelling with a boyfriend in the past, it does have it’s cons too! Here are 7 reasons why, (in my opinion!) it’s better to travel single:

1. Freedom

Let’s face it, our daily lives are full of doing things with other people in mind. Whether that’s planning and celebrating a friend’s birthday, picking up dinner and cooking for your flatmate or thinking about that thing someone asked you to do for them at work. Whilst most of these commitments are fun and make us happy, wouldn’t it be great not to have to answer to anyone but yourself for a while? Go travelling solo! Travelling as a single person = absolute freedom! You can go wherever you want, whenever you want, do whatever you want!

2. Experience everything!

With noone to answer to, you can experience so much more of what YOU want to do. You don’t have to feel guilty about dragging your travel buddy along to something they’re not interested in and you don’t have to waste any valuable travel time doing what you don’t want to do! With no travel partner to think about you’ll also be able to travel more spontaneously which will lead to new, fun and exciting experiences!

3. Enjoy the single life!

Travelling is the perfect time to have some fun and figure out what you want from your life and all of the relationships in it!  You’ll be meeting lots of people, all with different personalities, from all over the globe so why not use your gap year as a chance to flirt, have fun and enjoy new people’s company!? Remember your time abroad is about you and what you want. As a single person you can meet all of these great people without the worry of upsetting anyone!

4. No drama!

Remember those late night drunken arguments with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you’ve both had a few too many!? They’ll be a thing of the past when you travel as a singleton! Instead your drunken nights will be spent playing drinking games with new mates, dancing on the bar and skinny dipping – no drama, just fun!

5. Meet more people

As a single backpacker, you’re more likely to chat and mingle with other people. Not only are single people way more approachable when it comes to travelling but also as you won’t have the ‘safety blanket’ of your boyfriend/girlfriend to fall back on, you’ll be forced into situations where you start chatting to strangers. You never know who you’ll meet along the way!

 

Meet new people as a solo traveller

6. Live the backpacker life

Travelling by yourself will push you into experiencing the backpacker life rather than living like a couple on holiday. You won’t be tempted to book a double room with your travel partner for the night;instead you’ll be in a dorm room with about 8 other backpackers, getting to know each other, sharing travel stories and having fun!

As a single traveller you'll meet more people.

7. Get to know yourself

The phrase ‘Travelling to find yourself’ is a bit of a cliche but there’s no denying that you’ll learn things about yourself along the way! Travelling single allows you to really figure out what you enjoy and how you handle situations..not with your boyfriend or girlfriend by your side..but as YOU. There may be times that, as a single traveller, you feel lonely but that will only make you more independent in the long run! You won’t have that person to turn to when things get tricky and you’ll learn to rely on yourself and trust your own instincts. Your achievements will be fully down to you!

Travelling solo can be daunting but I guarantee you won’t be alone! So many people pack their bags and go travelling solo so you’ll meet lots of people in the same boat as you! If you’re planning a trip and want a little help meeting people when you first get here, why not book onto an arrival package? UltimateOz, Ultimate Thailand and Ultimate Vietnam are a great way to meet people when you first arrive! Check out our tours here!

If you’re in a relationship and planning a trip together rest assured, travelling with someone else can be just as much fun in different ways! Check out our blog on why travelling with a partner is better than going it solo!

Got any advice for travelling as a single person or any points you want to add? Comment below!

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Being an Ultimate Intern described in one word: AMAZING!

When I came to Australia on my own I was a bit nervous and worried that I might not be able to handle everything, including the foreign language, the new people and the new city in general. There was no need to at all! Already after the first week I knew I was having the time of my life! And I still do!

How to describe the internship at UltimateOz? Well, first of all, get rid of the boring image of interning in an office, where everyone is wearing a suit and is sitting next to each other in a small room focused on his computer. As an intern at UltimateOz you’ve got your own desk right behind the travel agents and get in contact with the customers every day!

The UltimateOz office is fun!

Usual tasks are for example applying for Tax File Numbers and bank accounts, managing all the mail of our customers and working on our facebook page. Furthermore we have to do various bookings for the UltimateOz programme in Sydney, the Outback Range, Surfcamp or other tours and trips for our customers all over Australia. What I was afraid of the most in the beginning was answering phone calls. 😮 Especially when talking to other companies, where the people had a hard (Australian) accent or when it was pretty noisy in the office, I struggled to understand them. However, so far I feel at least much more confident than in the first weeks and I even did bookings via the phone or Skype! (proud of myself!)

Furthermore you can try yourself out in group leading! Going along with our customers having the time of their lives is just awesome! We start with a city walk checking out the best places in Sydney, followed by a pretty cool harbour cruise with a real Aussie barbie.  Then we’re heading off to basecamp, including fun activities like sandboarding and a dolphin cruise. There’s just one rule: What happens at basecamp stays at basecamp! 😉 Saturday means party time, but before the great pub crawl, we do the Coogee to Bondi beach walk to catch some breathtaking views!

The UltimateOz staff are always playing pranks on others.

 

You really take part in the daily business work with everyone else of the awesome crew and help them out with special tasks – instead of making coffee (we’ve got the coffee run for that!). From time to time you might end up tethered at your chair with cling wrap and a cardboard box over your head, but it could definitely be worse!

Every couple of weeks you get the chance to check out new trips and tours like OzSnow, Surf Camp or a part of an East Coast Trip! Can you think of better team building session spots?

Due to the location of our office right at Central and Railway Square, there’s a lot happening every day. Last week there was a film set in front of our door; Hollywood is calling! Moreover we often see people promoting new stuff, which usually means free food! Now we’ve got breakfast cookies for the rest of the year!

Overall my experience as an intern for UltimateOz was definitely the best way to spend my semester abroad, which is part of my tourism management studies back home in Germany. It has been 4 month full of fun, new experiences, new things to learn and loads of awesome people and friends for life!

After my internship, first I will travel to Cairns; do the skydive and go snorkelling. (already so excited! :)). Then I’ll fly to Alice Springs to start a tour through the outback via e.g. the Ayers Rock, Coober Pedy, Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne!

Then it’s time to say goodbye to Australia, but one thing is for sure: I’ll come back! 🙂

Nadine – ULTIMATE intern

 

Southeast Asia is on many a backpacker’s bucket list and it’s easy for our Ultimate Travel crew to understand why! Whether it be Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, etc, as soon as you arrive, you’re welcomed by a burst of culture that you don’t find in areas that have been ‘westernised’. That can be a…