Prepare For Your Gap Year In Australia!
Travelling to the land Down Under? An absolute must. Getting to work and travel here for a whole year? Sign me up! Here are some tips to help you prepare for your gap year in Australia, AKA the best year of your life!
Apply for your visa
This is step one! To live and work in Australia as a foreigner, you’ll need to apply for a visa before you arrive. More specifically, a Working Holiday Visa. Leave enough time to apply, but once you’re approved, it’ll be hard not to hop on a plane straight away!
Applying for a visa for the first time can be a big task. Not to worry though! We’re here to offer you pre-departure support. Check out our Working Holiday Visa page full of all the info you need so you can spend less time applying and more time bragging about your gap year to your friends and fam. When you’re ready to apply, get in touch with the Ultimate crew to find out how to take this first step!
Work hard, travel hard – the perfect combo
Want to do something you’re truly passionate about? Want a job with amazing pay? Want more flexible hours so you have more freedom to explore the country? Australia is a backpacker’s dream with plenty of jobs for visitors – be it short-term/casual or long-term/full-time positions. No matter your preference, our in-house backpacker employment agency is a great source for finding what kind of job works for you (pun intended)!
Don’t sweat the basics
This includes everything beyond visa – flights, housing, medical/travel insurance, Australian bank account, tax file number, Australian phone number, etc. Luckily, Ultimate makes taking care of these travel logistics as easy as possible!
Discounted flights? Fill out this form to find out about great quotes.
Great, comfortable housing? Not only do we set you up with housing during your first week, but we’ll help you find a place to call home while you’re here.
Insurance? Check out some great provider options for backpackers here.
The other necessities? We’ll help you sort out the rest when you arrive so you can focus on the fun!
Packing for your gap year in Australia varies depending on the time of year you’ll be here, but the key is to pack lightly! You’ll be surprised to find that most of Australia is quite warm, even in the winter, so don’t go too crazy with winter coats and boots and add unnecessary weight to your bag. For those warmer months, which are opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, don’t forget to bring a bathing suit! Australia has plenty of beautiful beaches – some of the most beautiful in the world! And remember, anything you don’t need or have forgotten is very easy to find in Australia. While you’ll want to bring your can’t-live-without belongings, you can leave most of your toiletries at home and buy them here.
Sleep, eat, travel, repeat!
Australia is a huge country with loads to see and do. The key is to be flexible! You’ll find out about so much more to do once you’re here that your plans might change. Here at Ultimate we are experts in travel, and are more than happy to help you plan your adventures. Our UltimateOz and Ultimate East Coast trips show you all the amazing sites around Sydney and eastern Australia. As an added bonus, we offer Ultimate Family tour discounts to anyone who has travelled with us before!
Brush up on the local culture
Even if you’re coming from the U.S., England, or another English-speaking country, culture shock is a very real thing everywhere you go. As you prepare for your gap year in Australia, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the Australian ways of life so you’re more comfortable when you arrive. Of course, the best way to enjoy any culture is to embrace it, so start practicing your Aussie accent and slang (step one: AVOID “put another shrimp on the barbie”)!
Get ready to meet loads of amazing people
Worried about making new friends in Australia? We don’t blame you! It can be hard to adjust to a new environment. But the great thing about this country is there are so many others here for the same reasons you are: adventure, exploration, a change of scenery, a fresh start – the list goes on! Even though you’re in a new and unfamiliar place, jump right into activities you love and you’re bound to meet loads of people. Ultimate tours in Australia are a great way to meet like-minded travellers, form life-long bonds, and make unforgettable memories when you first arrive!
Most importantly, get excited!
You WILL have the time of your life in the land of Oz! It is an experience like no other, and there is so much to do and see! Ultimate is here to help you prepare for your gap year in Australia, welcome you to Oz and help you every step of the way!
Ultimate is happy to help you plan your dream Aussie experience before and after you arrive! Get in touch with our travel crew to talk about your options.
Why You Should Go To Surf Camp Australia
Is it just me or is “surfing” one of the first things that pops into your head when you think about Australia? Not that Australia is the only country where you can surf, not even close! But it just has that vibe, you know? Warm weather, tropical beaches, blue water, blonde-haired surf dudes and chicks, Rip Curl and Billabong… Surfing is just Australian culture. If you don’t go surfing once when you’re traveling in Australia, you’re definitely missing out!
1. The best way to learn how to surf
This wasn’t my first time trying to stand up on a surfboard, but I was probably one of the few people that had tried surfing before Surf Camp. I was super stoked that I was surrounded by people that all came to try surfing for the first time. You don’t feel like you’re better or worse than anyone. Everyone is on the same level, a.k.a. the beginner’s level and the only reason why you’re together at Surf Camp Australia is to learn how to surf, have a great time and make memories.
Since I only have weekends off, I did the Weekender / 2-day Surf Camp. Over the whole weekend, there were 3 full surf lessons, which is very intense..but amazing!
2. The itinerary: Sleep, eat, surf, eat, surf, eat, party, sleep and…Repeat!
Saturday you wake up early, have a big breakfast and head straight to the beach. After a super fun introductory surf lesson, you head back to camp and lunch is served. There is another surf lesson that same afternoon and then another one Sunday morning. In less than 2 days, everyone in my group was able to stand up on their surfboard and catch some kick ass waves. Surf Camp managed to turn us all into actual surf dudes and surf chicks in only 2 days! “Gnarly, dude!”
3. Amazing instructors
Every experienced surfer can make it look so easy, but it’s actually a very difficult sport. It can be quite exhausting and everything depends on what mother nature decides to do with the weather that day. There are 3 factors that determine whether you’ll have an easy or hard time surfing: waves, wind and tide. Luckily, there are plenty of professional surf instructors at Surf Camp to teach you how to surf in different weather conditions.
4. Group and individual help
That’s what I liked the most about Surf Camp! You’re at camp with a big group, but you still get individual help during the surf lessons. When I was at Surf Camp, my group consisted of 50 people! It was great to be able to meet so many people and I felt like I became part of a big family of beginner surfers. But 50 people is quite a big group to learn how to surf. So to make the surf lessons more productive, they put us into much smaller groups, of about 10 to 15 people.
For each small group, there were 2 surf instructors, which is why everyone at surf camp had the chance to receive some individual help each surf lesson. The surf instructors go into the water with the group without surfboards and help you pick the best wave and get onto your surfboard. Too bad I wasn’t able to do the 5-day Ultimate Surf Camp, because I definitely would have become a professional surf chick if I would have had more time to practice!
5. The real Aussie experience
When you arrive at Surf Camp Australia, it looks like you’re stranded in actual surfer’s paradise. Everything is colourful. There’s sand everywhere, palm trees, fun surf quotes in the cabins – an instant feeling of holiday and summer! But it’s mostly the instructors and people that work at Surf Camp that make you feel like you’re in paradise. They live and work at Surf Camp every day and the only thing they want is for you to have a good time. The atmosphere is great, peaceful and super laid-back. All of them use Aussie slang, make Aussie jokes and they make you do the shaka sign probably every 5 minutes! In other words, it’s the actual Aussie experience and it’s awesome!
6. The best food you’ll ever have
You know that feeling of terrible hunger you get after you go swimming? Well… imagine that feeling, but 10 times worse. Surfing takes up so much energy and you’re literally starving when you’re done with a surf session and you get out of the water. Luckily, the kitchen team at Surf Camp Australia are life savers (aka incredible chefs) and every time they manage to make the best food ever.
When I was at Surf Camp, they prepared the yummiest meals for us. Hamburgers, ham rolls, pasta bakes with delicious barbecue meats,… It was heavenly! Not only is it the best food you’ll ever have, it’s also the most food you’ll ever eat in a couple of days. The last thing they want is for you to starve, so they will make so much food, your plate will be overflowing and you won’t be able to carry it back to your seat!
7. Surfing in Spring, Summer and Autumn
It’s autumn in Australia right now and when I was at Surf Camp, which is 2 hours south of Sydney, the temperatures were quite low, around 20C degrees. You couldn’t really walk around in shorts and we had to turn on a heater in our cabin at night. Now you’re probably asking yourself, why would you go to Surf Camp in 20C degree weather? That’s way too cold!
But I can honestly tell you, the weather conditions were perfect. The sun was out and there wasn’t any wind. They actually made everyone put on sunscreen because even though it’s not the middle of summer, we would definitely get sunburned. Also don’t forget that if you go surfing, you have to wear a wetsuit. It protects your skin from scratches and rashes from your surfboard, and it also makes you stay super warm when you’re surfing in the Pacific.
In other words, if you’re thinking about doing Surf Camp Australia, I only have 2 tips for you:
- Don’t think about it, just do it! It has definitely been my best and most fun weekend in Australia so far. I loved it so much, I might actually go back next month.
- Two days is just way too short. If you have the time, do the 5-day Surf Camp. You’ll be able to have the full experience, make a lot more friends and for sure be a better surfer after 5 days than in only 2 days.
And just so you know, Surf Camp doesn’t only include return transfers from Sydney, your accommodation, all meals and surf gear. You’ll also get free photos and videos of you surfing & extra freebies such as an awesome Surf Camp t-Shirt, cap and a $20 Rip Curl voucher!
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!
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? 😉
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.
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.
Those Who Don’t Skydive Will Never Fly!
There are only so many times I can hear stories of other backpackers going skydiving before booking another one myself! I was lucky enough to do a skydive in Taupo, New Zealand a few years ago but couldn’t resist doing another one in Sydney. That amazing adrenaline rush is truly addictive and I’d heard about how good the Sydney skydive is, with amazing views of the coastline. Here’s why skydiving is one of the best things you’ll do on your gap year…
Skydiving over beautiful Wollongong is a memory that will last a lifetime. The views of the coastline were as breathtaking as I knew they would be, reaching as far south as Manly, and the feeling of jumping out of a plane at 4,000 meters was incredible. It all took my breath away!
It was Friday morning and time for me and my best friend to go skydiving. It was her first time skydiving and she was surprisingly calm. Maybe she’d heard from me how the feeling of flying takes over from being scared. We just couldn’t wait to jump! The bus picked us up from WakeUp hostel in Sydney and drove us to the site of the skydive, Wollongong, only one hour away from Sydney.
Once we arrived, we got assigned to one of the crew at Skydive Australia who gave us a safety briefing, and gave us our skydive overalls to wear…sexy! I was jumping with a Swedish skydive instructor who had been jumping for almost 23 years – what a job! He was great and made me even more excited to jump.
Up, up, and away
It doesn’t really hit you that you’ll be jumping out of a plane at 4,000 meters until you’re actually up in the air and the plane just keeps going higher and higher! After 15 minutes we looked out from the window and realised how high it was! It was time to open the door and start jumping! The door on the plane lifted and there was a light that turned from red…to amber….to green – AND JUMP!
Now I’m freeeee, free fallin’!
Since they’re such different feelings, it’s hard to tell people if the free fall or parachute part was best. When I first jumped I had that ‘OMG’ experience – I had no control and no time to think anything apart from ‘WOW..this is amazing!’ It is an absolutely breathtaking experience and one unlike any other! Most people think it feels like falling, but I would describe it more as flying. It really a unique and incredible moment.
Cruising back down
After around 45 seconds of free fall that literally flies by, the parachute opened and we started drifting through the sky. This part is more relaxing and I had more time to enjoy the beautiful views over the coastline. After taking a minute to relax from the free fall adrenaline rush, my instructor asked me if I wanted to take over the control, to which I of course said yes! He taught me how to pull left to spin left, right to spin right, and push hard down to slow down (which I did just once to try as the rest of the time I wanted to go as fast as possible)! I asked my instructor to take over the control again a couple of times – it’s intoxicating and just so good! Straight after landing, I just wanted to do the whole thing again!
An unforgettable experience
Knowing we were in good hands made the whole experience even more enjoyable. We both had really great instructors who had so much experience, not only in skydiving, but also in helping people prepare for what’s going to happen, what to expect when jumping and also what to avoid. In my case, I told him to make this jump as crazy as possible, which I never will regret!
The good news is that whilst it’s hard to remember a thing about the free fall, as it all happens so quickly, they film the whole thing. I bought the video and photo package so I can go back through the pictures and re-live my jump!
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing…Keep calm and go skydiving!
There’s only so much I can do to explain to you how amazing skydiving feels. So I guess the only way to truly understand the feeling is to do one!
Thinking of doing a skydive? You won’t regret it! Speak to the Ultimate Travel crew for recommendations and travel discounts.
Why is 2017 the year to travel?
Well the simple answer to this is “because you should travel now, no questions asked”, but that wouldn’t make very good reading now would it!
With it being the new year, yes it is still the beginning of the year, I’d like to think that many peoples resolutions were to travel more. If not to travel more then to be more spontaneous (aka to travel) or maybe to save money (aka to travel with) or perhaps to get out of your comfort zone (aka to travel). Incase you can’t tell I am no.1 supporter of travelling! So there is no time like the present to be thinking about leaving the grey colours of home, get off that sofa and see the world in technicolour.
“But I can’t afford to travel!”
Travel isn’t expensive and the myth that it is needs to piss off now, please. I could be super cringey here and say something like ‘the memories you will make will be priceless’ but I don’t want to take this down that philosophical route. But flights are super cheap at the moment, especially when you think about what you get, I mean those tasty meals and tiny drinks right! 😉 But seriously I read an article recently that said it takes longer to fly anywhere now than 30-40 years ago as airlines have worked out that if they fly a little slower it’ll save them on fuel and therefore be able to keep their costs down making, good news for you and me, the flights cheaper! Yea!
Countries have realised that tourism is an amazing way to get money in and budget travel, especially, is thriving as people want to travel for longer and for as little as possible. Some places we choose to travel to are a long way away from home and to make it worth your time of sitting in that cramped plane for 14 hours you will want to spend a decent amount of time there. Hence why long term budget travel is so popular. Travel has always been a competitive industry so a price can come lower if you’re prepared to do the research and put in the time and effort to find the best price. I cannot stress more though that this should be the best price for what you want. Don’t pay $10 for a hostel room expecting a lovely 6 bed dorm with an ensuite because the reality is that you’ll get a 20 bed dorm full of smelly backpackers who can’t afford to clean their clothes and steal your three-minute noodles as they can’t buy their own.
What can become expensive about travel is when you put it off for too long, because life just kind of passes you by. If you’re saving for that new car or want to get your hair done every week then the idea of travelling is going to be pretty distant and before you know it you’re married with a mortgage, 16 kids on the way and a stubborn house cat in tow. So that idea of travelling you had once ten years ago is gone and isn’t going to be an option till you become one of those super cool 70 year olds reliving their youth!
“Avoid adult life and travel like tomorrow may never come!”
2017 is right now, so I guess what I’m saying is TRAVEL NOW. 2016 has been and gone, it’s in the past and whether it was a good one or a bad one surely everyone wants their next year to be better! If that means swinging in to the pools of the Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand or watching the sun set in Halong Bay, Vietnam it could even be sipping on a cold beer while you sail past the Opera House in Sydney then do it! There’s no time like the present and the world is constantly changing and shaping so while you can see all that you can and do all that you can do, please just, do it! That so called “adult” life is going to hit you like a tonne of bricks when it comes, so in my true mantra: “Avoid adult life and travel like tomorrow may never come!”
Come at us 2017!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
Confessions of a Backpacker in Southeast Asia
So while backpacking many different countries, you’ll find yourself in some potentially sticky situations or making decisions that perhaps under normal circumstances at home you wouldn’t consider. Some of these decisions may be questionable to others but nevertheless end up being a funny story! So here a just a few “confessions of a backpacker” that I have come across while travelling, some of which may be personal experiences and some are stories that I have been told or have seen happen:
The Bum Gun!
When travelling through Southeast Asia, you’ll probably get ‘Bali belly’ at least once. It only takes one dodgy bit of street food mixed with non stop drinking and non-potable water to get you rushing to use the toilet! In this rush, you may forget to check if there is (or remember to take your own!) toilet paper in the cubicle. Upon finishing you may also realise there is none, and your only option is to use the bum gun, an amazing invention which as it’s name suggests allows you to spray yourself with a toilet hose after going. With no paper left to dry yourself, you may have to resort to using the t-shirt you’re wearing to dry yourself.
The Sniff Test!
One that every backpacker will come across! Adopting the ‘sniff test’ while travelling, ie smelling your clothes before putting them on to check if you can get another day’s wear out of them or if you will insult everyone you meet that day. The similar ‘turn your underwear inside out to get another days wear out of them’ trick is also something most backpackers will confess to! Oh the joys of backpacking! 😉
When your airline misplaces your bag and you wear the same clothes for 3 days (see above!) instead of buying a new top or borrowing from a new travel buddy. C’mon, we’re on a backpacking budget afterall!
Weeing in the wild!
When your overnight bus breaks down and you’re in the middle of nowhere desperate for the loo so you end up having to wee behind a bush on the roadside. You’ll never see those locals driving past on their mopeds again right?
When you take part in a topless limbo in order to get a free bucket on Koh Phi Phi. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
Money, money, money
It can be hard to get your head around the different currencies in Southeast Asia! With £1 converting to approximately 17,000 Indonesian Rupiah, the exchange could leave even the best mathematician a little confused. You may learn the hard way and end up paying the toilet attendant the equivalent of £10 to use the toilet, instead of the £0.10 they’d asked for!
When your friend says they want to draw you a travel tattoo and you naturally think it’s a fantastic idea and go along with it.. because you always wanted a stickman on a scooter tattoo!
Have you got any travel confessions? Share them with us!!
Thinking of heading to Southeast Asia on your travels? Check out our tours in Thailand and Vietnam!
Science says: Travelling can make you sexy!
After years of extensive research, social experiments and examining case studies scientists have recently had an exciting breakthrough in determining whether or not travelling can actually make you sexier. Turns out – it can! REYYYYY! **books flight to other side of the world and travels happily ever after**
Okay..so the science part isn’t exactly true – It hasn’t actually been proven by science…yet..but here’s how I think travelling can make you (even) sexier! Hint: It has nothing to do with your bronzed face, toned surfer arms & beach hair!
Travel Keeps You Young!
Ever wondered what the secret to eternal youth is? Happiness! (and lots & lots of suncream! 😉 ) And what makes most of us happy? Travelling! Not only will having a break from the stress of day to day life keep those frown lines at bay but you’ll also have that happy glow that only comes from true freedom, and loving life – sexy as bro!
Experience = Sexy
Chances are that as a traveller you’ll be dealing with situations you’re not used to from missing your connecting flight and overcoming language barriers to negotiating a price for that pair of knock-off RayBans at the market. Travelling for a year made me feel like I could handle anything that came my way. I’d learnt so much in that time that things I’d once worried about (or called mum for help!) seemed so trivial. Having experienced and tackled so much by yourself, you’ll become independent, fearless, confident and overall a sexy human being! Note: Yes, I still call my mum if there is a spider in the house – there are some things travelling will never prepare you for! 😉
You’ll Be Interesting
Have you ever met a traveller who doesn’t have an interesting or funny story to tell? Nope – me neither! Travelling broadens your horizons, allows you to meet people from all walks of life, experience different cultures and throws you into all sorts of situations you wouldn’t normally deal with in day to day life. Being able to share your own unique and personal travel experiences automatically turns you into a worldie!
The Chilled Traveller
Whilst it’s important when you’re travelling to make sure you experience everything you want to, you’ll also find you spend a lot of your time going where your travel mates want to go. You’ll become happy to go with the flow, knowing that wherever you end up, you’ll have the time of your life and that you might even discover somewhere you never even knew existed! Being flexible with your plans and spontaneous is a really attractive quality to have. Not sweating the small stuff = happy, chilled, sexy person!
You’ll Gain Confidence
Travelling for the first time is a daunting prospect for anyone and it would be impossible to travel and not feel like you’ve accomplished something amazing! You’ll gain confidence through meeting heaps of different people, travelling solo and experiencing situations out of your comfort zone! Whether you’re a shy introvert or a social butterfly, travelling will give you the confidence to be comfortable in your own skin – and there’s nothing sexier than that!
So there you have it…Just another excuse to pack your bags and travel the world!
Want to travel but not sure where to start? Get in touch for help and travel inspiration!
The East Coast of Australia; 4000km of goon-filled fun and frolics. I’ve compiled a guide for the Ultimate East Coast Experience to help you navigate your way through the coast!
How much time will I need?
There’s no right or wrong amount of time to travel the East Coast in. The most common amount of time is 4-6 weeks, as this gives you plenty of time to see all the main highlights without feeling rushed. I decided to slow mine down even more and spent about 2 and a half months doing the East Coast, as I thought this is probably a once in a lifetime trip, and probably isn’t something I’d get the chance to do again in full. (1.5 years down the line and I’ve revisited my favourite parts of the East Coast and still have more plans to see more of it!)
Ways to travel
There are many different ways to travel up the East Coast. The main three ways are Campervan, Guided Tour and Hop on Hop off Bus. I decided that hop on hop off bus was the way for me, as it meant I didn’t have to worry about the stress of driving, paying for petrol and finding places to park – parallel parking definitely isn’t my forte. I chose to travel by Greyhound, which meant I could just sit back and relax, and hop off whenever I wanted.
This has to be one of my favourite spots along the East Coast. This beach side town is the perfect spot for surfing, and if you time it right, you could be surfing with the dolphins if you head out early morning or early evening. It’s definitely a surreal experience. If surfing isn’t your thing, try kayaking with dolphins for chilled experience.
Another activity (which just so happens to be free!) to do in Byron Bay is the Cape Byron Walk to the lighthouse. I highly recommend doing this at sunrise or sunset (I chose sunset as I’m not an early riser) as its hell in the heat of the midday sun! You will also see possibly one of the best sunsets ever – definitely one of the best I’ve ever seen, the colours were incredible! You also get to the most Easterly Point of Australia which is pretty cool (and possibly another to tick off the bucket list if that’s your thing?).
Noosa & Fraser Island
Fraser Island (also known as K’gaari) is the largest sand island in the world, with the beach on the island being 90 miles long! There are some awesome trips that go out to Fraser Island. I myself did a camping trip – which I must admit I wasn’t so keen on the idea of camping at first (the princess in me did not like the sound of sleeping on the ground with the spiders…), however, it was so much fun! If I were to do it again, I’d like to try a tour with cabin accommodation instead of tents such as the Nomads Fraser tour – however fun camping is, a run in with a rogue Huntsman spider has put me off for the time being! Keep an eye out for Dingos whilst your there too as they are Fraser’s local inhabitants!
Noosa itself is a great little town too. Australia Zoo AKA home of the Crocodile Hunter (how Aussie!?) is roughly an hour away from Nossa so make sure to check it out – even if you just want to hold a Koala as they are ridiculously cute! I am not ashamed to say I have done this 3 times! You can also stand up paddle board here too which is super fun and you might even spot some cool wildlife whilst paddling around.
Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays
When you’re visiting the East Coast- this is a must see! The Whitsunday Islands is definitely my #1 favourite place and top experience along the East Coast. What could be better than sailing around a selection of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays on a boat whilst drinking a cold beer? I can honestly say I saw more fish here than I think I’ve ever seen and the colours are unbelievable, so definitely snorkel if you have a chance to here! Whitehaven beach is also out of this world!
Again, another one of my favourite places along the coast – I have a feeling I’ll be saying that about a lot of places! This island has such a chilled out vibe. I would definitely recommend heading out on the Forts Walk across the island, the view from the top is unreal, and you literally have a 360 degree view of the whole island! There are also loads of wild koalas that line the trees along the walk, so definitely keep your eye out for those. Also..where else can you drive around in a barbie car!? My life is complete.
Home to the thickest part of the Great Barrier Reef; a touristic hotspot for snorkelling and scuba diving, Cairns is also the party central and adventure activity capital of the East Coast. With backpacker bars aplenty, you’re definitely in for a cheap night out! If there’s just two things you do during your time in Cairns, make it snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and chasing waterfalls (sorry, couldn’t resist!) My personal favourite had to be Millaa Millaa falls in the Atherton Tablelands. Anyone remember Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl video? Well that was filmed right there during the Waterfall scenes, along with the herbal essences adverts. Make sure to get that perfect hair flick photo!
Last but by no means is least – the Grand Finale of most people’s East Coast Adventure, snorkelling or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Having snorkelled my way up most of the Coast, I decided to give scuba diving a try whilst in Cairns, and I can honestly say although terrifying, (picture me clinging onto the side of the boat trying to force myself to dive down) is amazing! From sharks and turtles to rays and rainbow fish, it’s definitely an experience I would recommend to everyone!
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!
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!
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! 😉
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!
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..
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!
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!
Is Thailand on your travel bucket list? Check out our 10 day tour of Thailand and get in touch for help planning!
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!
Awesome aerial shot by @bciss on a scenic flight over Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach – hands up who would rather be here than at work this week! #me #lovewhitsundays #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #fromwhereyoudratherbe
A photo posted by #lovewhitsundays (@whitsundaysqld) on Jan 6, 2016 at 9:16pm PST
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.
Scary…. Comment, have you ever seen a shark? #ningaloocoast #westernaustralia #shark #scary #upclose #andpersonal #camera #sea #blue #snorkelers Image from: http://www.australiascoralcoast.com/attractions-events/coral-coast-events/nature’s-extraordinary-calendar
A photo posted by Ningaloo Coast🐳 (@ningaloo_coast) on May 16, 2015 at 9:45pm PDT
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!
Gunlom Pool, Kakadu National Park 🌎⛰ @kakadutourism @ausoutbacknt #darwin #oz #Australia #wild #aussielife #kakadu #lifeiswild #peaceful #pool #gunlom #relaxing #roadtrip #topend #bestoftheday #blog #travel #travelblog #gooutside #voyage #photo #passion
A photo posted by @aldmblog on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:07am PST
Byron Bay, NSW
Surf, sun, dolphins, and a chilled out hippie vibe..Byron is just amazing.
A photo posted by KYLE TAYLOR (@kylextaylor) on Sep 29, 2015 at 2:44am PDT
Sydney Harbour, NSW
I’ll never get enough of this view!
A photo posted by Sydney Australia (@sydney) on Feb 4, 2016 at 9:58pm PST
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!
This is the type of welcome you get when visiting Lucky Bay in #Esperance. @trex.photography captured this happy snap on a recent trip to the picturesque beach, located within Cape Le Grand National Park in @australiasgoldenoutback. Be sure to say hi to the resident kangaroos on your next visit to this beautiful part of #westernaustralia. #thisisWA #SeeAustralia #luckybay #australiasgoldenoutback
A photo posted by Western Australia (@westernaustralia) on Jan 30, 2016 at 7:16pm PST
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?!
A photo posted by Uluru Adventures (@uluru_adventures) on May 24, 2015 at 9:55pm PDT
Glasshouse Mountain, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Woah, now this is definitely postcard material! @anitaski witnessed this incredible scene over the #GlasshouseMountains in @queensland’s @visitsunshinecoast – and she admitted “I had to pinch myself a couple of times to remind myself this was real!”. The ‘Sunny Coast’ (as it’s affectionately known) isn’t just about stunning beaches – it’s also home to a spectacular hinterland region, where you’ll find the extinct volcanic Glasshouse Mountains which can be explored by car, bike, foot or even by rock climb.
A photo posted by Australia (@australia) on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:32am PST
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!
A photo posted by KYLE TAYLOR (@kylextaylor) on Jan 11, 2016 at 11:38pm PST
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?
A photo posted by @weareplanetearth on Feb 1, 2016 at 9:37am PST
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!
A photo posted by Sarah Girsang (@sar_gir) on Feb 15, 2016 at 12:58pm PST
Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, QLD
Happy Valentine’s Day! Spot the heart? 😉 Beaut snap from @thewelltravelledman #valentinesday #heartreef #greatbarrierreef #qld #australia #travelscavenger #thewelltravelledman #seeaustralia #traveler #lifeofadventure #findyouradventure #backpacking #travscav #natureporn
A photo posted by Travel Scavenger (@travelscavenger) on Feb 14, 2016 at 2:29pm PST
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!
A photo posted by Sarina (@sarin_ahhh) on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:05pm PST
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!
A photo posted by #lovewhitsundays (@whitsundaysqld) on Feb 5, 2016 at 10:01pm PST
Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park, NT
Visiting Kakadu’s waterfalls make’s you realise just how big this National park really is!
There’s more than a few ways to get wet and wild in #NTaustralia! Yes it’s the waterfall season, which means it is now one of the most spectacular times of the year to visit #Kakadu. Photo: @Explore_epic_earth
A photo posted by Northern Territory – Australia (@ausoutbacknt) on Feb 7, 2016 at 5:35pm PST
Have we missed any? What is your favourite place in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re anything like me, your travel wish list is full of amazing travel destinations, some of which might have to wait a few years (they don’t do commercial flights to the moon yet do they?!) but there are some things I believe every 20-something person should experience. Here are some (very achievable!) travel experiences to add to your bucket list!
1. Road Trip Baby!
Hire a car or camper, fill up the tank and hit the open road! There’s a reason so many people choose to road trip on their gap year, especially in Australia and New Zealand. Experience complete freedom to go exploring on your own time, off the beaten track with new mates. The East Coast of Australia, the journey from Sydney to Cairns which can be driven in 3-6 weeks, is a favourite for backpackers travelling to Oz & having done it myself, I can safely say it’s not to be missed!
2. Party Hard
No party girl/boy’s gap year will be complete without a visit to the famous full moon party on Thailand’s Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan. Find your best 90’s fluro gear, wack on some face paint, drink your body weight in alcohol & red bull from buckets & party the night away on the beach – tick this off in your 20’s whilst your body will still forgive you..kind of!
3. Do Some Good
Volunteering, whether it’s animal rehabiliation, teaching children abroad, working on conservation projects or in villages and small communities, is one of the best things you can do in your twenties. Not only will helping others out make you feel amazing (Phoebe in ‘Friends’ is right – there are no selfless good deeds!) but you’ll experience so much, have more stories to tell and be able to give a little back! Also any volunteer work you do will look great on your CV.
4. Dive Down Under
Head to the Great Barrier Reef to dive in the world’s largest coral reef with some amazing marine life including 1500 species of fish, turtles, sea snakes and of course, amazing coral reef. Diving isn’t for everyone but give it a go! There’s really no feeling like being able to breath under the sea and getting up close to some amazing marine life – chances are you’ll love it!
5. Travel in a Group
In my opinion, travelling with a group of people is the funnest way to travel and should be done at least once in your twenties. Experiencing things with a group of new mates all in the same boat as you is awesome and you’ll make lifelong friends. You could hire a couple of campers and road trip with your group or join an organised group tour.
6. Go It Alone
Travelling in a group is great but at least once during your travels, you should go it alone. I know this is a bit of a cliché but travelling alone really teaches you about yourself. It’s not often you’ll be in a place by yourself, with no friends and family around you, and whilst it can be daunting to begin with, the confidence you’ll gain travelling solo will be worth it. Check out our blog ‘5 Ways travelling made me more confident.’
7. Live and Work Abroad
If you want to experience living and working abroad, your twenties is by far the best time to do it. Before you have major responsibilities like kids to look after, partners to keep happy and a mortgage to pay off, there’s no reason you can’t live abroad during your gap year. If you love to travel, working in a different country is a great way to fund your travels whilst experiencing the country you’re in before heading off on the next adventure. You could apply for a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand or head to Southeast Asia to find some casual work. Just be prepared to never want to go home!
Our Thailand and Vietnam tour leaders are loving life in Southeast Asia. Read our blog ‘Paid to travel: The life of a tour leader’ to see what it’s like working as a tour leader.
8. Learn a Language
If you’re planning a gap year abroad and have always wanted to learn a new language, why not combine the two? Living in a foreign speaking country is the best way to learn the language and if that’s not a possibility, with the amount of different nationalities you’ll meet travelling, it’d be hard not to pick up a few phrases along the way! Do it in your twenties before you brain is fried from drinking too much goon during your Aussie gap year!
9. Try Something Different
Travelling in your twenties is the perfect time to try something new. If you can’t cook beans on toast without burning something, why not try a cooking class in Vietnam? If walking to the local shops feels like walking a marathon, hike up a mountain! Try out Muay Thai kickboxing, head to a yoga retreat, abseil down waterfalls in Da Lat, go fishing, learn how to sail…there are so many things you can do during your gap year and trying new things will make your time away – trust me!
10. Sleep on a Boat
There’s something really special about waking up on a boat in the middle of the ocean. One of my favourite travel memories is spending all night stargazing on deck on a sailing boat in the Whitsunday Islands. Spend a night on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat in Halong Bay with us on Ultimate Vietnam.
11. Stay in Paradise
I’m talking hammocks on the beach, the clearest water you’ve ever seen and swimming with glowing plankton at night. There are lots of amazingly beautiful paradise islands in the world that are affordable on a backpacker budget so there’s really no reason you can’t experience that ‘Castaway’ feeling! Head to Fiji, the Whitsunday islands in Oz or pretty much any island in Southeast Asia!
12. Push Yourself
Do something in your twenties that scares the sh*t out of you! If you’re scared of heights, try cliff jumping. Scared of the water? Try some snorkelling with a guide. Do a skydive (Uhh-mazing!!), go bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, caving…anything that gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping! It might sound mental to do something that at the time will make you feel uncomfortable and scared but by pushing yourself, you’ll feel like you can conquer anything that comes your way!
13. Make Memories
Take lots of photos & videos on your travels. Once your travels are over, you’ll be happy you have a way of remembering all of the places you visited and people you met. Also if/when you settle down you’ll have something to remember your crazy 20’s by…just maybe keep that pic of you skinny dipping locked away! 😉
14. Local Festivals
Get involved in Songkran, the world’s biggest water festival in Thailand, party with Aussies as they celebrate Australia day (‘Straya day mate!) and mingle with the locals as they celebrate Vietnamese New Year, ‘Tet’ in Feb! There are heaps of awesome local (usually free) festivals you can go to all over the world! Get in touch for info on events in Oz & Southeast Asia!
15. Take Some Time Out
Imagine a day without checking your Instagram feed or Snapchats. Scary thought? At some point during your travels head to a place where you can’t access wifi or charge your phone. Whilst you’re there appreciate where you are without feeling the need to post about it on Facebook and talk to actual people instead – cray cray!
16. Food Glorious Food
For me, trying different food is one of the best things about travelling. If you’re in a non-Western country try as many different local dishes as you can! Countries in SE Asia usually have a famous local dish such as Pho in Vietnam or Pad Thai in Thailand and I promise, you won’t eat it better anywhere else! If you’re feeling brave try a scorpion or cricket on Koh San Road in Thailand!
17. Get some Culture
In your twenties, travel to countries that interest you and make the most of your time there by learning about that countries history, religions and beliefs. In Asia, visit temples and sacred sights such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Wat Pho, temple of the reclining buddha in Bangkok!
18. Live like a local!
Get back to basics…there’s really no better way to gain an insight into the country you’re travelling in than to get recommendations from the people who already live there. Shop where the locals shop, eat where the locals eat, drink what the locals drink and really experience that countries culture.
19. Go Island hopping
20. Travel as much as you possibly can!
I really believe there’s no better way you can spend your twenties (and many many years after your twenties!) than travelling…So what are you waiting for?
I love travelling! I travel to meet people and experience new things in interesting and beautiful places I’ve never been to before. Every time I pack my bags and head off for an adventure, I also end up learning a few things along the way. Here’s a list of things travelling taught me this last year..
A year can make all the difference!
One of the things I love most about travelling is how much you can experience in such a short space of time. One day you could be checking out a temple in Bangkok and the next you could be lying on a paradise beach eating Pad Thai, ordering your next Chang beer and planning where you’ll go next. This is one of the things travelling taught me yes, life is short but if you make the most of it, you can fit A LOT into your time! If you’re at home now and planning your trip, just think where you could be in a year’s time! Get in touch for travel advice & help planning!
You might leave home with an idea of how your year is going to pan out but more likely than not, your plans will change during your travels and you won’t end up doing exactly what you’d imagined. You can’t plan every tiny bit of your trip by researching beforehand. Some of the most amazing things you’ll see will be in the places recommended to you by locals and other backpackers. Who knows who you’ll meet, what opportunities you’ll come across and how you’ll feel in certain places. For me, being spontaneous with my plans is one of the most exciting things about travelling. If your plans change mid travel, as long as you’re enjoying yourself, just go with it!
Do Something Different
Your gap year is the time in your life where nothing is out of bounds. There are no limits to where you can go and what you can do. Fancy volunteering with kids in Cambodia or at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand? Always wanted to experience living with a Vietnamese family in Sapa’s rice paddies? Been dreaming of getting your PADI diving license? There’s nothing stopping you! Doing something you wouldn’t normally do or something you’re passionate about during your time away will make your year.
Here at Ultimate Travel we don’t ride elephants on any of our tours (read why here) however we do work with certain elephant sanctuaries in Thailand who are dedicated to elephant rehabilitation and caring for these beautiful creatures. If you’d like advice on recommended elephant sanctuaries, get in touch!
No Worries Mate!
It’s completely normal to be nervous travelling somewhere new for the first time, especially if you’re travelling solo. The unknown is scary but trust me, there are thousands of friendly people out there for you to meet – who will probably be just as nervous as you! I know it’s easier said than done but worrying about your travels before you even leave home won’t allow you to enjoy the anticipation! To put your mind at ease why not join our group arrival packages in Australia, Thailand and Vietnam for when you first arrive?
Travelling to places like Southeast Asia is safer than your the news and your FB newsfeed might have you believe! Not everyone is out to rip you off and steal your belongings – in fact, the majority of locals you’ll come across are some of the most beautiful, friendly people you’ll meet.
Note: There won’t be any dangerous spiders, snakes or drop bears waiting for you at the airport when you first get to Australia as you may have been told – promise! 😉
Now is The Time!!
If you’re dreaming of paradise beaches, sandy toes and tanned skin but haven’t booked any of your travels yet, why not? This past year has taught me that there’s no better time than now to do what you want so if travelling is your dream, now is the time to turn it into reality. If you’re unsure of where to start, get in touch for advice and check out our Facebook page for travel inspiration. No one is going to make it happen for you -it’s up to you to make the most out of your life so start planning, get saving, book that flight and just go for it – you won’t regret it!
Travelling is addictive!
This one, I knew already! Once you’ve got the travel bug it’s hard to get rid of it so it’s okay if all you want to do in 2016 is travel – I won’t judge if you don’t! 😉
Got any travel advice from personal experience for first time travellers? Let us know in the comments below!
Money, money, money! Some people have lots of the stuff, others, including most of us in our early-mid 20’s, not so much! So what should we do with the money we do have? It’s easy – travel! You don’t have to be rich to travel, in fact anyone can do it – a bit of preparation, time and hard work is all you’ll need to save up enough to start your trip, so if you have the opportunity to travel, take it! Here are 6 reasons why I believe travel is priceless and the best thing you can spend your pennies on!
1. Experiences vs Things
When you’re older, you’ll look back on experiences not things. You’ll remember sitting and watching that beautiful sunset, how skydiving over the Great Barrier Reef was the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done and those friendly locals you met trekking through the rice terraces of Sapa. You’ll have stories to tell and experiences to share. In the future, noone will remember what car you had or how big your TV was but they will remember those stories you told.
2. You’ll Make Lifelong Friends
Some of the friends you’ll meet travelling will end up being friends for life. You will have shared some of the best moments of your life with these friends during your travels and when your friends at home can’t stand hearing another word about how amazing your life is, your travel friends will be there to reminisce on the good times! Let’s face it- you can’t put a price on lifelong buds!
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Dec 9, 2015 at 6:36pm PST
3. Your Career
Some people put off travelling because they’re scared a gap or break in their careers will make it hard to find another job when they return but in most cases, it’ll actually help in your career. Not only can travelling help you figure out what you enjoy doing (you might discover you love to dive and want to train to be an instructor or you just NEED to work with animals) but the skills you’ll gain during your travels make you attractive to employers too – promise! Read our blog ‘How travel can help in your career’ to read why. Another bonus…travelling could help you figure out what you DON’T want to do with your life – better to find out early on right!?
4. You’ll Be A Better Person!
Need another excuse to pack up your bags and go travelling? How about the fact that you can spend a year exploring the world, chilling at the beach, meeting new people and you’ll most likely go home a better person?! Travelling requires patience, tolerance, decision making, organisational and social skills. You’ll become a more confident, interesting, stronger and well rounded person. No amount of money in the world can give you the experiences and life skills that travelling gives you.
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Aug 25, 2015 at 11:45pm PDT
5. You’ll Have More To Talk About
We’ve all met them..those people that have been travelling for a month and have a million stories to tell (‘That time, on my gap yaaar..”) and as much as we would like to hate them, there’s no denying that these people and their stories are actually really interesting! Why? Because when you’re travelling, you experience so much in such a short period of time. You can do more in one week travelling than you’d do in one year at home. One day you’ll be swinging through the jungle on a zip wire, swimming in waterfalls, partying on the beach at night and the next day you’ll be hopping on the overnight bus to your next destination, socialising with interesting people along the way. Your experiences and travel stories will mount up and before you know it you’ll be the one telling tales of your amazing ‘gap yaaar’.
6. See The Real World
Travelling opens your eyes to the real world, beyond the comforts of home and the things we take for granted every day without meaning to. Travelling through poor countries will remind you how lucky you are to even have a roof over your head for the night. When you see locals who have no food, clean water and some who are even missing limbs from war still smiling with their families it really helps set your priorities straight. You might not even realise at the time how important the comforts from home were to you until you don’t have them anymore: a family meal, a bubble bath, somewhere to unpack your belongings, a room to yourself…When you go home, you’ll appreciate what you have so much more.
It didn’t take me long to fall in love with travelling. I travelled from the UK to Australia through Southeast Asia. Little did I know that 4 years later, I’d be living in Sydney, working in my dream job and travelling at any opportunity: next stop, Cambodia! Travelling for me is the most exciting way I can spend my time, especially when it’s to new countries and although it may sound cliché, travelling has changed me. One of the biggest advantages I will take from my experiences travelling is how it has made me more confident in my day to day life. Here’s how..
1. In My Own Skin
One of the best things I’ve taken from my gap year is learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I learnt that everyone is different and to not care so much what people think of me. I think that confidence comes from a mix of meeting so many people, all with different personalities and from learning more about who you are as a person. Travel allows you to figure out how you enjoy spending your time, who you get on with, who you don’t and what’s important to you. As soon as you know and like yourself, it’s hard not to be yourself around others!
At home, we have family and friends that know and love us…warts and all. Your friends at home have probably held your hair up whilst you were being sick on the school field after downing a bottle of Cherry Lambrini and your parents have most definitely seen you at your worst! When you travel solo, away from the people who know you, and you’re surrounded by new people who don’t, it can be hard to fully let go and be yourself at first…what if these new people don’t get you? One of the beauties of travelling for me is that you can meet people one day and feel like you’ve known them for years a few days later. Noone is there to judge you – just to enjoy their time travelling for what it is: an opportunity to meet amazing people, see amazing things and experience amazing cultures in amazing countries, AKA the best time of your life!
2. When Sh*t Goes Down
Between the new friends, freedom and unforgettable memories the real travelling happens. You’ll miss your flight after a drunken night, lose your travel documents, forget to book a hostel for the night, run out of money, come across people you don’t like and you might even feel unsafe at times, but you’ll deal with the bad parts and move on. Travelling made me trust in my ability to make decisions. The more decisions I made by myself, the more I trusted my instincts and the more I became confident in my ability to handle anything thrown my way. At the time, you just get on with it but for me, it was when I’d finished my gap year and I looked back at how much I’d accomplished by myself that I realised how much more confident I’ve become.
3. In Social Situations
As someone who can’t stand small talk and awkward social gatherings I was a bit dubious about travelling, solo. Would I spend my gap year sitting in the corner pretending to be on my phone and avoiding eye contact with others? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sociable person and I love meeting people but unless you’re being introduced through a friend, that first ‘Hi, my name is…’ moment can be a bit awkward for me. If you’re anything like me, walking into a hostel seeing big groups of backpackers chatting and playing drinking games together can be a bit intimidating when you’re all on your tod but it doesn’t take long to realise that everyone is in the same boat! These people might seem like they’ve known each their whole lives but chances are they met the very same way a few days before and are just friends waiting to happen! The good news is when you’re travelling you’ll always have something in common with other backpackers: travel! Go over and ask where they’re heading to next. Next thing you know you’ll be telling them your life story after a few rounds of Kings cup!
4. In My Beliefs & Opinions
Growing up, our opinions and beliefs are usually based on what we’ve been told and what our parents and friends think. Travelling gave me the confidence to question those beliefs and think for myself. However much freedom you’re given growing up to form your own opinions your environment will always have an effect on what you believe so travelling enabled me to open my eyes and to create opinions based on my own experiences rather than what I’d been taught. I became more sure of myself, had more to talk about and probably most importantly, I became more tolerant of other people’s beliefs too. Meeting people from all walks of life when you’re travelling makes you realise that your little world at home isn’t the be all and end all and there are so many interesting people out there to meet!
5. In Knowing What I Want
One of the biggest advantages of my gap year abroad was having the time and the means to figure out what I want to gain out of life. Travelling changed my perspective, set my priorities straight and gave me the confidence to think about what I really wanted, without any external pressures, away from the ‘real world.’ I realised I didn’t have to plan my future based on ‘the norm’ or what I’d expected of myself – I had absolute freedom to create the life I wanted. Before I went travelling, I had a plan and my future mapped out: Go to uni, get a well paid job, save up for a house and drive around in a nice car. Without the experiences travelling gave me and without spending time with the amazing people I met along the way, I’m not sure I would have been able to take a step back and really question what’s important to me. Knowing what you want and having a goal to work towards is so important, and travelling made that happen for me.
I wanted to travel to Australia for such a long time, but never took the step to book a flight and come here. When I started studying Tourism Management in Belgium, I had the opportunity to apply for an internship at Ultimate Travel in Sydney.
I got excited immediately, because that was the incentive that I needed to start my travel experience ‘down under’! It took me a while to realize that I was going away for a year, but when I booked my flight and my visa got approved, it all sunk in. I kept thinking “What if the internship is not as fun as it sounds?” or “What if I don’t make friends?” But once I got over it, I couldn’t wait to leave!
“I started researching the travel side of my trip and changed my mind on where to go with every picture that I saw. All the beautiful beaches or the stars in the outback, I just added them to my bucket list. I bought a giant plastic map of Australia and hung it in my room. I started to draw circles around the places I wanted to see and soon, the map was almost black!”
“They’ve become my family here and I made friends for life!”
After a very long but comfortable flight, I arrived in Sydney. Everything was taken care of by Ultimate so I didn’t need to worry about accommodation or transport. When I finally met everyone from the company, they made me feel welcome immediately. Now, after almost 3 months, they have become my family here and I made friends for life! I never had a boring moment or felt alone since I arrived. I never experience the same day twice! That is one of the best feelings for a solo traveller. I enjoy working with everyone at Ultimate every day. I’m not just an intern here, I’m respected as a co-worker what makes it so enjoyable working here! I’m going to be really sad when I have to leave and I am terrible at saying goodbye but I know that they will support me with everything I do.
The only bad experience I have had since I arrived was my jetlag in the first few days. I was always tired and wanted to sleep, but I also wanted to explore the city! After overcoming that, I did some awesome trips.
During my internship, I also worked as a tour guide and went all over Sydney with the Ultimate groups. Doing the Sydney Harbour cruise and going to Port Stephens on a trip were some of the highlights during the week. I loved going to Basecamp there and petting a kangaroo, going sand boarding, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the beach when there was some free time! Finishing Basecamp on a dolphin cruise was just amazing as well.
“These are all memories I’ll keep forever.”
I still remember the first time I did the beach walk from Coogee to Bondi. The weather was really nice and the views were incredible. I was amazed by the entire scene. Just like the Blue Mountains trip that I did … from what I’ve seen so far, it’s such a beautiful and diverse country. There is something to do for everyone!
One of my favourite activities that I did during my time here was Surf Camp. When you are in Australia, you just have to learn how to surf! You feel like a local when surfing. It is a part of their lifestyle because they live so close to the beach.
But what are the travel options when you want to visit so many places on your own? My original plan was to look for a travel buddy and buy a van, but Ultimate Travel offers so many cool trips to the places I want to go. And the trips are in groups, so that would make it even easier to meet people! I didn’t book any travel plans in advance because I knew that I would have time to figure it all out when I arrived – it’s a good thing because I still change my mind about my travel plans every day … but that is what I love about travelling!
The places I really want to visit the most in Australia are the Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island and Ayer’s rock. I can’t wait to see the Outback and drive the Great Ocean Road! I would love to learn more about the Aboriginal community and about the Australian wildlife. Kayaking with dolphins, hugging a koala, doing a sky dive at mission beach and scuba diving in the barrier reef are also on my bucket list! Hopefully I will experience all of this, with awesome people that I know I will meet on the way!
The time that I have to leave Sydney is coming soon so I have to have some kind of a plan. Luckily, my awesome colleagues have travelled Australia so they can give me some great tips!
Cheers, Jana 🙂
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?
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!
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..
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)!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Once you start to travel it can be difficult to stop! If you’re one of those people that is always dreaming of the next adventure, read this to find out if you have the travel bug!
1. Whenever anyone starts a story, it reminds you of that time you were travelling
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Apr 26, 2015 at 5:08pm PDT
2. You can say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ in 5 different languages
t h a i l a n d Checking out some of Bangkok’s amazing temples! #myultimatemoment #ultimatefamily #ultimatethailand #10days #bangkok #travel #asia #thailand #temple #culture A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:58pm PDT
3. You’re jealous of anyone else who’s travelling when you’re not.
t h a i l a n d #regram @sar_rawrrr ‘Pick up that sunshine & carry it everywhere you go’ Ultimate Thailand tour leader Sarah took this photo last night in Koh Pha Ngan during our 10 day Ultimate Thailand tour! #sunset #Thailand #ultimatefamily #ultimatethailand #myultimatemoment #tourleader #beach #kophangan #sun
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Apr 9, 2015 at 5:08pm PDT
4. You have permanent flip flop tan marks on your feet
5. You’ve become a pro at packing
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:09pm PST
6. You’ve got long journeys nailed..a neck pillow, a good book, music and you’re good to go!
Spectacular view from scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef, Australia Seen on #myultimatemoment Taken by ULTIMATE traveller @karin_post A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Oct 20, 2014 at 3:30am PDT
7. You can drink everyone under the table.. drinking every day for 6 months has increased your tolerance level quite a bit!
T H A I L A N D Typical day chilling in Ko Phangan! Who wants to be here right now? #myultimatemoment #thailand #kophangan #chang #beer #relaxing #gapyear #adventure #regram @sar_rawrrr A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Jun 14, 2015 at 9:49pm PDT
8. You’ve set yourself a goal of places you want to visit in the next year and you’re determined to tick them all off your list!
What’s next on your bucketlist? #regram @mariagalsgaard #travel #NewZealand #adventure #tour #gapyear #kiwi #NZ A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Oct 18, 2015 at 5:46pm PDT
9. You’ve had a million casual jobs all over the world – You don’t care what you’re doing as long as you can save some $$ to travel!
The memories will last forever..and that’s priceless!! #travel #whatareyouwaitingfor #explore #ultimate #adventure #gapyear #backpacker A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:56pm PDT
10. Your address book is full of friends all over the world to visit
a u s t r a l i a Fun in the waves! 🌊 Love this pic of our #ultimatefamily and Ultimate tour leader @eviivde at Basecamp last week!! #myultimatemoment #ultimateoz #7days #basecamp #australia #surf #waves #beach #beachlife #fun #friends #sydney #travel #summersnotoveryet A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:39pm PDT
11. Your room is full of your travel photos from all over the world
a u s t r a l i a The East Coast of Australia has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world! Where was your favourite sunset? Send us your pics! Photo taken by Ultimate traveller @siansisley #myultimatemoment #ultimatetravel #sunset #eastcoastaustralia #ultimatetraveller #queensland #stunning
A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Nov 9, 2014 at 8:02pm PST
12. You’ve stopped caring if anyone will travel with you – you know you’ll meet people along the way
T H A I L A N D Love this pic!! Last week’s Ultimate Thailand group having fun at ‘The Beach’, Maya Bay #myultimatemoment #thailand #ultimate #mayabay #ultimate #asia #travel #SEAsia #beach #thebeach #islandlife #kophiphi A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Jun 16, 2015 at 5:00pm PDT
13. Being late no longer bothers you..you’re still on Fiji time baby!
Amazing pic of @xxxbettyxxx horse riding on the beach in Bali! #travel #MyUltimateMoment #GapYear #UltimateAdventure #Bali #Indonesia #SEAsia #TravelSoutheastAsia #SoutheastAsia #adventure A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Oct 29, 2015 at 9:26pm PDT
14. You don’t enjoy buying material things anymore – you know nothing can bring you more happiness than travel!
Without a doubt!! Do you agree? #ultimate #travel #adventure #gapyear #backpacker #explore #discover #somuchtosee #whatareyouwaitingfor #nobettertimethannow A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Aug 24, 2015 at 8:40pm PDT
15. You’ve started cooking dishes you ate on your travels at home.
16. When you go home, you don’t bother buying a car or getting a steady job because you already know you’ll be on the next adventure soon!
Jump in!! Cliff jumping in Sydney Harbour! Photo by Ultimate travellers @erycadpope and @darcieec #cliffjump #liveyourlife #myultimatemoment #sydney #UltimateOz #jump #cliff #fun A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Nov 20, 2014 at 3:28pm PST
17. You can sleep anywhere
t h a i l a n d Island Life…Not a bad way to spend a few hours between activities during Ultimate Thailand! Photo by Ultimate traveller @21gav in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand #UltimateThailand #10days #hammock #phiphi #myultimatemoment #travel #travelasia #islandlife A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Jan 27, 2015 at 5:50pm PST
18. Your passport is filling up with stamps & you can’t wait to fill the rest of the pages up!
v i e t n a m Who fancies cruising along the Mekong Delta? #UltimateVietnam #myultimatemoment #travelasia #vietnam #hat #river #cruise #discover #realasia A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Dec 9, 2014 at 5:22pm PST
19. Every time you look back on your travels you feel happy
Khao Sok National Park 😍 #regram #MyUltimateMoment #UltimateThailand #Thailand #travel #GapYear #adventure A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on Nov 3, 2015 at 3:47pm PST
20. and you’re already planning the next trip!
Who agrees? #myultimatemoment #ultimate #adventure #gapyear #travel A photo posted by Ultimate Travel (@ultimate.travel) on May 31, 2015 at 4:58pm PDT
Check out our other blogs for travel tips, advice and inspiration!
From the vast areas of bushland, swimming holes, amazing waterfalls and Aboriginal history in the National parks to the beaches and tropical city of Darwin, NT’s capital city, it’s safe to say that travelling to Australia’s Northern Territory will give you an insight into the ‘real’ Australia!
ULTIMATE travel legend, Max flew up to Darwin last week with Topdeck to discover the Northern Territory. We caught up with him to see what he thought of the trip!
Tell me about your trip up to Australia’s Northern Territory…
I flew into Darwin then started a 5 day tour around Katherine, Litchfield and Kakadu National park. I got to see some incredible sights and it was overall an awesome trip! Our first stop was Katherine Gorge and later that day, Edith falls. We canoed through Katherine gorge which was amazing! There are high cliffs either side of you and the scenery is beautiful. The weather was amazing too – about 36 degrees most days! We also did a bit of cliff jumping into the gorge – crazy fun! It was a great start to my trip at Australia’s Northern Territory and a great way to get to know everyone on the tour too!
What do you recommend about Darwin? Would you recommend it to other backpackers?
Before I got to Darwin I didn’t think it would be as good as it was! I’d heard it was quite small so I just assumed there wasn’t much to do and that it would just be ‘the gateway’ to the National Parks in the NT. It was small but what was there was really cool and I loved it! Darwin is a proper little backpacker town! There’s a long strip with a load of bars and backpacker hostels where we spent most of our time. I liked that everything was in one location so it was so easy to get to everything and get out to the bars in the evening! I stayed at Melaleuca backpackers which was right in the centre of Mitchell Street (the strip.) It’s such a cool hostel with a rooftop pool and bar – the perfect place to chill in the heat!
Luckily, I was in Darwin on a Thursday evening so I got to check out Mindil beach sunset markets. There are hundreds of stalls selling clothes, jewellery and other bits set up right on the beach but the best part for me was all the food! Paella, Chinese, Thai, Pizza, Seafood..you name it, the markets have got it! We sat on the beach eating our food and watching the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen! If you haven’t been to Darwin, just go!
You mentioned seeing crocodiles in the wild…What was that like?
I was lucky enough to take part of a tour at Crocosaurus cove in Darwin where we got to feed crocs and hold pythons, both of which were pretty scary but a cool experience! Seeing the crocs in the wild was something different all together though! We did a crocodile cruise where I saw a croc feeding on a barramundi. It was insane to watch! The crocs jumped up so quickly, the barramundi had no chance! It was pretty scary seeing them in their own environment. It’s coming to the end of the dry season so all the crocs live in the East Alligator river (named by a confused Englishman who thought they were alligators!) in Kakadu waiting for the wet season to arrive where they will migrate to other watering holes. Definitely an experience I won’t forget!
Do you think it’s a good time of year to travel to the Northern Territory?
100%. The weather was warm and humid but it never felt uncomfortable and with all the swimming we were doing, it was perfect! Also, because it’s coming to the end of the dry season, we got to see the crocodiles! During the wet season some water holes are closed off so the tour itineraries change but with so much to see in the area, I’d say it’s actually good to go any time of the year! Experiencing the Northern territory mid wet season would actually be quite an experience I think!
What kind of tour would you recommend to backpackers planning a trip?
I’d definitely recommend Topdeck to other backpackers. If you want to travel with like-minded people of the same age with an awesome tour guide thats really experienced at what he does, it’s the perfect tour. Also, the perks of staying in amazing accommodation whilst still getting to see all of the unique sights was a big plus for me.
Australia: The land of kangaroos, the outback and ‘G’day mate’! Whilst some of the clichés are true, (yes, people do actually say ‘G’day’ here!) there is so much more to this amazing country than stereotypes and funny accents. If you’re on your gap year and Australia isn’t on your list, you’re missing out big time! Here are some of the many, many reasons we love Australia! (We could have gone on forever!)
1. Australia is home to some of the best beaches in the world!
2. Australia has some pretty beautiful neighbours like New Zealand, Fiji and Southeast Asia.
3. Because where else can you kiss a kangaroo?!
4. In Australia, Christmas day is usually spent on the beach!
5. You’ll meet loads of other backpackers..
6. And some of the world’s cutest wildlife!
7. including the happiest animal in the world: The Quokka..
8. You’ll get to witness the best firework display in the world on New year’s eve!
9. As a backpacker, the wages are high and the job opportunities plentiful..
10. and you might even get to work somewhere with a view like this!
11. The sunsets you’ll find here are stunning.
12. The cities are beautiful..
13. and the national parks aren’t bad either!
14. Travelling to Oz is the perfect excuse for a roadtrip..
15. and if you want to, you can get away from it all….for days!
16. You can experience the oldest known culture on Earth.
17. and one of the world’s oldest rainforests.
18. You’ll also find some of the most beautiful reef in the world..
19. And you’ll get to swim with some friendly marine life including turtles and maori wrasse. You might even find Nemo!
20. Because drinking and socialising in the sun is a big part of Aussie life..
21. and who doesn’t love a BBQ on the beach?! Put another shrimp on the barbie!
22. There’s no better place to learn how to surf..
23. And if you fancy a change from the beach you’ll find man made swimming lagoons everywhere!
24. Because Aussies take their food seriously. If you like breakfast, good coffee & seafood, you’re in the right place!
25. Aussies don’t sweat the small stuff!
26. Because life is just better down under!
What is it about Australia that you love? What are you most looking forward to seeing in Oz? Tell us in the comments below!
Planning a trip to Oz and not sure where to start? Download our brochure for info on our gap year adventure package and to chat to others travelling to sunny Australia.
The Ultimate question every backpacker asks themselves before they go travelling… “Should I take a suitcase or a backpack?”
It used to be a given that backpackers would take a backpack travelling with them but, as Bob Dylan said, the times they are a-changin’ and backpacking no longer means packing all of your stuff into a backpack. Lots of backpackers are now opting for a suitcase instead.
So which option is right for you? There are a few things to take into account when deciding:
- Will you be travelling around a lot?
- Are you planning on settling in one place for the majority of your time to live and work?
- Are you heading to Southeast Asia or other not so developped destinations?
It can be a tricky decision to make, as the majority of people don’t know exactly what they’ll be doing during their gap year: that’s the whole idea right!? So to help you make your decision, here’s a list of options and pros & cons so you can decide for yourself:
The ‘Trusty’ Suitcase:
The ‘I’m going to Australia/New Zealand to live & work for a year’ backpacker; The ‘I’ll be travelling around but to mainly tourist destinations’ backpacker and ‘The flashpacker’.
Wheels – Who would have thought such a simple invention could bring you so much happiness!? As you’ll be rolling your things around, you won’t suffer from the dreaded backpacker back aches or back sweats. You can access your clothes and belongings easily and quickly and relax happy in the knowledge that your padlock is keeping your stuff safe and secure! If that’s not enough to sell it.. your suitcase will double up as a handy seat!
Stairs will be your enemy. Those ‘backpack’ w*nkers you were laughing at earlier won’t seem so silly after you’ve dragged your suitcase up to the 5th floor of your hostel. Suitcases aren’t ideal for travelling to places such as the Red Centre, Northern Territory or Western Australia either. Also, as suitcases are normally heavier, you may find yourself having to monitor your flight allowances more!
Opt for 4 wheels if you can – that way you can push your suitcase along instead of dragging it. Also, go for a good quality hard case as it will probably take a bit of a beating during your gap year!
The ‘Modern’ Backpack (front loader)
The ‘I’m travelling around Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Southeast Asia and everywhere in between’ backpacker.
The front opening backpack gives you easy to access to your clothes and belongings. Backpacks are normally durable and can be thrown around a bit – perfect for boat trips through Southeast Asian islands and other ‘off the beaten track’ tours. Backpacks fit a lot in, can be squashed into small spaces and lets not forget..backpacks make a great pillow for those nights you’ll spend sleeping at the airport!
If you pack too much, backpacks can be really heavy. I struggled to carry my oversized, heavy backpack for a year which meant carrying it for longer than 5 minutes at a time gave me back ache. These front opening backpacks are also generally more bulky than the top loader packs.
Get your backpack fitted properly to your body. 80% off the weight should be carried by your hips, not your shoulders to avoid back pain. Lots of these backpacks also come with a mini backpack zipped onto the front – useful for day trips when you want to take a smaller bag.
The ‘Old School’ Backpack (top loader)
The ‘I’m travelling everywhere and I’m not that fussed about getting to my belongings very often’ backpacker.
These backpacks are generally less bulky than other backpackers and are easier to carry around. Most have sections you can open at the top and the bottom and smaller pockets on the back to find things easily.
Be prepared to pack & unpack, pack & unpack and pack & unpack your bag. Safety can also be an issue with these backpack. As there two different sections to open along with separate pockets, you’ll have to padlock each section to keep your valuables safe.
Get your backpack fitted and try on a few different sizes before you buy!
The Wheely ‘Wheely Uncool’ Backpack
The ‘I’m doing a bit of everything and I want convenience over style’ backpacker.
Wheels? Tick. Problems with stairs? Nope. A backpack with wheels = genius! This backpack has it all..You can roll it around, wear it on your back, open it from the front, throw it around, lock it up…the list of backpack benefits goes on.
This backpack doesn’t look as sexy as other backpacks. It’s normally quite bulky and can be heavier than other backpacks too, so it’s best used for rolling rather than carrying a lot.
If you’re travelling to Southeast Asia, this is a great option!
What else do I need to think about?
Getting a good quality, durable case or backpack is essential for your gapyear. It will most likely take quite a beating throughout your travels and you don’t want it breaking half way through your trip!
Along with your suitcase or backpack you’ll probably want to bring a smaller, day pack with you. Small holdalls are great for hand luggage on flights but can be tricky to carry around with you after if you’re doing a lot of travelling. If you decide to go for the front opening backpack, choose one with a small day pack zipped to the front. Some days when you’re feeling extra cool, you may even find yourself wearing the extra backpack on your front! Girls, a side bag can be used as a small handbag for the day and for nights out!
The most important packing tip you’ll ever get!
Don’t pack too much! If you can’t walk around comfortably for 5-10 minutes at home with all of your luggage, you won’t be able carry it all whilst you’re travelling. Remember, what you bring with you is yours to carry for the duration of your trip so don’t overpack. Not being able to pick up your backpack without someone else’s help is not a good look! 😉
So are you team backpack or team suitcase? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Check out our other blogs for more travel tips, advice and inspiration!
1. “Don’t worry, I’ll get the drinks in tonight! Who likes champagne?”
2. “I can’t come out tonight. I’m catching up on sleep.”
3. “Free food? No thanks, I’m not hungry.”
4. “This bed is the comfiest”
5. “That sunset last night was rubbish”
6. “I think I’ve travelled everywhere I want to..maybe I’ll just go home!”
7. “No goon for me thanks, I’m on the cocktails tonight.”
8. “This wifi connection is better than at home!”
9. “I’ll take the top bunk..it’s my fave!”
10. “I’m so bored of going to the beach”
11. “Here, I have a spare power socket for your phone if you like?!”
12. “I’ve never been so pale in my life!”
13. “That bucket at the full moon party didn’t even touch the sides!”
14. “I wish this bus journey was longer!”
15. “Have you got anything more expensive?”
16. “I’ve decided to go alcohol free for 3 months.”
17. “Here, take my camera..I don’t take any photos anyway!”
18. “This beach party is pretty tame compared to a night out in (insert your hometown)”
19. “I should have packed more..my backpack is pretty light”
20. “I’m just going to unpack first, then I’ll meet you at the bar”
21. “What’s a dropbear?”
22. “I can’t wait to go home”
Can you think of any more? Comment below!!
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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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
First stop in Southeast Asia: Hanoi, Vietnam. Population: 7 million. Motorbikes: 1.5 million. Girl from Albuquerque, New Mexico: 1. My first time to Southeast Asia, I couldn’t have chosen a better country to begin my journey. Vietnam is beautiful, historic and eye-opening. Tropical paradise, mountainous terrain, eat and drink like a king, buzzing night life, the list goes on and on! Here’s why I love Vietnam..
Vietnam’s hidden wonder and absolute paradise. This World Heritage site is a must-see on every backpackers’ list. It’s a personal fave! Begin your trip on an authentic Vietnamese “junk boat” (nothing junk about it!) exploring the turquiose waters and viewing the never ending rock formations. Here you can kayak, rock climb, cliff jump, perfect for the adventure seeker. After one night spent on the boat, you arrive to your very own private island. Yes. That’s right, a private island for just you and your friends! Where else can you say you did that?! Play beach volleyball, drink cheap beer, watch the sun go down and karaoke the night away.
Want to see the real Vietnam? Venture to Sapa and hike through the endless rice fields. Meet our guide, Vu and her daughter Sho Sho, the giggliest child of them all. We spent two days exploring Sapa by foot and it wouldn’t have been the same without these two. Sapa is truly majestic. The people are colourful in both their attire and spirit, the views are breathtaking and it’s off the beaten path!
“Same Same But Different”
Anyone who has travelled Southeast Asia knows this common saying. If so – you probably still use the saying today. You may even own a vest with the same writing! Often used when purchasing, this phrase with no doubt will bring you confusion, understanding and most often laughter.
Example: “Are these real Ray Bans? Is this chicken? Is this the correct bus?”… “Same same but different.” All different questions, very same answer. Sometimes a good response, other times not so much.
Regardless, hearing this phrase post your travels will always remind you of your times spent in SE Asia and will most likely bring a smile to your face.
My favourite place in all of Vietnam! Beach. Culture. Shopping. Food. You name it, this place has it! Ride a bicycle to the beach to watch the sunrise, get tailor-made clothing, see the beautiful lanterns at dark, join a cooking class and party the night away.
Some people take photos of the scenery. Others take photos of people or their adventures. My best friend/ co-traveller takes photos of me eating… So the secret is out, I like to eat. In fact “like” is a large understatement. If you’re a foodie like me, you will love Vietnam! A must-eat, the BBQ in Hanoi – we ate here not once, not twice but three times in one day. Also on the list: pho (noodle soup), banh mi (baguette) and fresh spring rolls!
Ride Like A Local
As the highest motorbike per capita country in the world, what better way to explore a new city than on your own set of wheels? But fair warning: if you’re brave enough to get on the back of a motorbike, let alone drive one yourself – I suggest you invest in some good travellers insurance. Nothing’s worse than letting a small accident spoil your trip. So if you have the guts, hop on board. Otherwise, master the art of crossing street traffic, a challenge in itself!
A true necessity when travelling. Everyone enjoys a good party, but often the cost of drinking can add up. But when a large beer only costs you 50 cents, the round’s on me! Saigon, Tiger, 333 – all common labels. Try them each and see what tickles your fancy. Personal tip: Pull up a baby stool outside a restaurant, purchase a beverage, pair with sunflower seeds and mingle with new friends.
Never a Dull Moment
Just an average Wednesday morning. Meet Susie – my new best friend. Deathly afraid of snakes, this is not my ideal moment, but travelling pushes you to step outside your comfort zone. Hold a python, eat a scorpion, feed a crazy monkey – all part of the Southeast Asia fun!
Beach Bum in Nha Trang
Want to enjoy the sun and get your tan on? Visit the seaside town of Nha Trang. Known for its blue waters and Russian influence – this town has everything to offer. Partake in one of its numerous water sports such as kite surfing or snorkelling followed by a wild night out on the town. Personal recommendation: Why Not Bar, because why not?!
You can’t travel to Vietnam and not learn about the country’s history – it’s inevitable. But that’s what travelling is all about, learning about other cultures and what has happened in the past to shape a country. Travel to Ho Chi Minh and visit the Cu Chi tunnels to learn more about the war. I promise you’ll learn more here than you ever did from a textbook!
Travel the Long Way
Travelling onward? How about to Laos or Cambodia? Don’t take the boring route! We did a 3 day journey from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia via the Mekong Delta and it couldn’t have been better. Explore the canals, shop the floating markets and see more of Southeast Asia along the way.
Australia has it all! Sunshine, amazing beaches, bustling cities, wildlife, beautiful national parks…the list goes on! So how can you make sure you’ve got enough money to see it all? If you hadn’t already heard, Oz can be pretty pricey for backpackers but don’t let that stop you! If you’re travelling on a budget, there are ways to save money along the way..
1. Two words: Happy hour!
Even if you’re not a big drinker the price of alcohol in Australia can be a bit of a shocker when you first get here! Finding out which of your local pubs and bars do happy hour prices on drinks will save you lots! Look out for hostel bar meal deals where you’ll get a drink free along with your meal! On a night out? Keep it cheap by pre drinking before you go out (take it easy, you do want to make it out!) or if you’re in a city, book onto a bar crawl with drink specials. Party nights such as Ultimate Party organise your entry into 3 bars, 1 nightclub and give you 3 free drinks..all for $15 – bargain! Get in touch for info!
Top tip: Ask for a local tap beer in a bar instead of buying bottled or imported beers to keep the price down!
Eating out in another sure-fire way to dissolve your daily budget. Instead of eating out, pop to supermarkets such as Woolworths, Coles or Aldi to pick up dinner with your new mates. Make use of your hostel kitchen and group up to share dinner (& the costs!) with others to keep it cheap. As a backpacker you’ll soon discover there are hundreds of great different pasta combos you can eat if you get bored of beans on toast & pot noodles! Australia also has heaps of food courts that offer half price meals after a certain time to avoid waste so get in there early evening for a cheap bite to eat!
Top tip: Get to know your local specials on food! Most pubs have discounts on meals certain days of the week…anyone fancy a $10 steak?
3. Booking your travel
To get the best deal, it’s best to book in bulk! If you know for example that you’re going to be travelling the East coast, it’s worth sitting down and talking through the tours & trips available to you at your budget with a travel agent. Booking your trips as a package, allows the travel agents to give you the biggest discounts possible. There are heaps of different options to suit every budget so choosing the best quality trips for the cheapest price can be tricky without help. It’s important to talk to a travel agent you trust, who will focus on what you want rather than just trying to sell you everything and anything! Need help organising your travel? Get in touch for help and support!
Top tip: Make sure there are no sneaky local fees added to your trip that you don’t know about! The package you see advertised in the window may seem like a great deal but with lots of local fees to pay and poor quality trips with no food inclusions, you could end up out of pocket!
If you’re in Australia on a working holiday visa, you can legally work for your entire stay in Oz…but where’s the fun in that!? Picking up casual work between travelling is great for those on a budget as it means you can fund your travels as you go. Just finished your East coast road trip? Go and work on a farm near Darwin for a couple of months then move on to the next bit! The wages in Oz are pretty good so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to save quite a bit whilst you work. If you’re doing regional or au pair work you may even be offered free accommodation & food in exchange for your work- great if you’re on your last pennies!
The bigger the dorm, the cheaper it will cost you. Save yourself a couple of dollars per night and book into a bigger dorm. Try a 16 bed dorm in Noosa or a teepee in Byron Bay to get more for your money! If you’re staying anywhere for longer than a couple of months, it’s worth looking for an apartment to rent. If you share a room with others, you’ll pay much less than booking into a hostel and you’ll get the added bonus of being able to unpack your backpack for a while – the ULTIMATE backpacker comfort!
6. Make the most of Oz!
Not everything in Australia costs money. There are thousands of beaches, awesome national parks and walks you can do (The Bondi to Coogee walk in Sydney is one of my faves!) and best of all…they’re FREE! If you’re low on money, make the most of this beautiful country and do some exploring! Chat to locals for ideas and directions to make the most of the free activities on offer!
Top tip: Keep an eye out for transport specials. In Sydney for example you can travel anywhere on a Sunday for $2.50! Take the ferry over to Manly or hop on the train to the Blue Mountains!
Check out our blogs for tips on travelling to Australia and share your budgeting tips with us in the comments below!
Planning a trip to SE Asia? Check out our ‘How to Travel SE Asia on a budget’ blog!
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!
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!
There’s no doubt that Cairns is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers in Australia and I can see why! Cairns has got a bit of everything: The world’s oldest rainforest, great nightlife, stunning beaches, heaps of adventure activities (it’s the adventure capital of Oz!) and a tropical climate to enjoy it all in! Cairns is also the gateway to the world’s largest reef (so large it’s visible from space!), the Great Barrier Reef!
Ultimate Travel legend Max has spent the last 10 days visiting Cairns to find out more about this cool little city up in Northern Queensland. Here’s what he has to say:
What was the highlight of your trip?
I would say the highlight of my trip was swimming with turtles on the Mackay & Udine reefs. I’d never seen turtles up close like that before and being able to swim with them was amazing! The reef I went to on the snorkel trip had so much marine life – it was awesome!
What do you think of Cairns as a city?
I love that cairns isn’t too big or too small. Everything is in walking distance and you have all the main shops, restaurants, bars and clubs right in the centre so you don’t miss out on anything. It’s got a real tropical feel to it too. The weather was amazing when I went which was such a nice change from the winter temps in Sydney! Also, at night hundreds of fruit bats fly over the city which was amazing to see. I’ve never seen anything like it so it was definitely memorable!
How long did you spend in Cairns? Where did you stay?
In total I spent 7 days in Cairns. I stayed at Nomads Serpents which was great. It has a proper chilled out but sociable vibe to it. I spent my time at the hostel relaxing by the pool getting a tan and playing volley ball and table tennis. They have a bar right near the pool with amazing food so you can grab a beer and chat to the other backpackers too which was great.
Did you go anywhere else?
Yeah..I went on a 2 night trip to Cape tribulation which is about 2 hours drive from Cairns in the Daintree Rainforest. I love Cairns but it was great to get out of the city and see another part of Northern QLD. In Cape Trib, I stayed at Cape Trib Beach house which was incredible. It’s right on the beach (literally a 30 second walk!) and you have the option to stay in dorm rooms or private rooms. I was lucky enough to stay in their St Crispin accommodation – well worth the upgrade! The bar/restaurant at Beach House does amazing food too. It’s safe to say I ate well during my stay!!
Did you do any activities in the Rainforest?
During the days I did Jungle Surfing (zip lining through the jungle!), horse riding on the beach and kayaking. I also went on a snorkel trip with Ocean Safaris which is when I got to swim with the turtle – that was such a great tour! I spent the evening in the Beach house restaurant eating calamari, steak and having a few drinks! After dinner the staff at Cape Trib beach house got a small fire going on the beach so I sat round chatting to other people on the tour. The view of the stars from the beach was incredible cause the sky was so clear!
Did you see any wildlife?
I spotted a few crocs on the Active Tropics Cape Trib tour! One of the biggest crocs, Scar face is around 85 years old!
What else did you get up to in Cairns?
I did white water rafting, did a day trip to the Atherton Tablelands, went diving, chilled by the lagoon, went fishing and explored Cairns – it was an action packed, fun holiday!
Your diving pics looks amazing. What was it like?
I did a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef with Deep Sea Divers. I booked on to do an Introductory dive as I had never dived before and I’d heard how amazing it is! All of the staff were really great and made everyone feel so comfortable. They ran through all of the safety aspects with us then showed us what to do before putting our gear on. We went down in groups of 3 or 4 with an instructor so I felt safe the whole time. Being underwater with all that wildlife was amazing. I met Wally, a massive Maori Wrasse, found Nemo and saw a reef shark! It was amazing – I can’t wait to go diving again!
What is the nightlife like in Cairns for backpackers?
The nightlife in Cairns is as crazy as Sydney! The main bars I went to were Woolshed and Gilligans. I think Woolshed is a great bar to start out at then head to Gilligans which is more of a club. They had loads of drink specials too (between $5-$8) so it was a great night!
Is Cairns good for backpackers on budget?
Yes, definitely! It’s a lot cheaper than Sydney. You can book a week in a dorm room at Nomads Cairns for $120! Food prices are about the same as other cities but everywhere had drink specials on so it all balanced out in the end.
Would you recommend other people to visit Cairns? How long do you think you would need?
I personally love Cairns and with there being so much you can do in the town it’s hard to get bored. Saying that, for me the highlights are on the trips outside of Cairns like the rainforest and the Atherton Tablelands. I’d say you’d need at least a week if you want to do Cairns properly and see other parts of Northern Queensland whilst you’re up there.If you can stay for longer than a week, you’ll definitely still find things to do..even if that just means chilling by the lagoon on the esplanade!
Where is next on your bucket list?
I’ve got a trip to the Northern territory with Topdeck booked later this year. I’m doing a trip to Kakadu and Litchfield national park and will get to spend some time in Darwin too. I went to Uluru last year and had a wicked time so I’m looking forward to seeing another part of the Northern Territory. I’ve heard amazing things about Kakadu NP and doing the tour with Topdeck will be awesome!
A massive thank you to Deep Sea Divers Den, Foaming Fury, Active Tropics, Waterfall Wanderers, Ocean Safari and Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours for having me on your tours (I had an awesome time!) & to Nomads Cairns and Cape Trib Beach House for giving me a place to rest my head after a fun day of activities!
Fancy a trip to Cairns? Get in touch with Max for suggestions and to book your trip/accommodation!
Whether you’re a first time backpacker or a seasoned traveller, there’s always some handy travel hacks you can learn. We asked our awesome customers for their ultimate travel tips and put together a list of our faves..
1. Say Yes!
Now is the time to experience everything. Do things that you wouldn’t usually do and be a ‘Yes Man’ (within reason of course!) to make the most of your trip!
2.Try the local food
3. Travel first
If you’re planning on staying somewhere for a while, don’t settle in the first place you visit. Travel, figure out where you love & go back when you’ve travelled!
4. Try not to overthink things too much
Go with the flow, bro!
5. Pack light
6. Do what YOU want to do
Even if it means travelling solo for a while. You’ll regret it if you miss something out just because noone else wanted to go with you!
7. Multi purpose clothes
Take clothes that can be used for different purposes. A pashmina for example can be used as a pillow, an eye mask, to cover up in temples and a sarong!
8. Wake up early
Seize the day! Make the most of your time travelling! You can sleep when you’re dead… Unless of course, you have a horrendous hangover.. Then and only then are you allowed to sleep in!
9. Email yourself a copy of your passport and drivers license
If you lose your ID you’ll need to be able to find a copy quickly.
10. Wear dark clothes
Light & white clothes won’t last very long as a backpacker! Also, you can get away with wearing darker clothes for longer if you can’t get to a washer!
11. Pre book a package..
It’s the best way to meet people when you first arrive! Check out our packages for deets!
12. ..But try not to plan too much
It’s good to have a rough plan but planning too much leaves no room for spontaneity which is all part of the fun!
13. Stash extra emergency cash
..or bring a credit card with you. Try not to eat your cash though – however hungry you are!
14. Chat to the locals
They know their shit. You’ll learn more about a country from the locals than from any guidebook.
15. Roll your clothes
To save space in your backpack and to avoid creases in your clothes!
16. Take an extra SD card
Back up your photos in case you lose your memory card!
17. Splurge a bit
Sometimes it’s okay to treat yourself. Make the most of being where you are, especially if it’s likely to be a once in a lifetime experience!
18. Buy a pack of cards
Playing cards are a great way to pass the time on long journeys, to use in drinking games or even for the odd magic trick! You never know when you’ll need a pack of cards on your travels!
19. Get off the beaten track
Explore more of the country you’re in by avoiding the overly ‘touristy’ places as much as possible!
20. Write a travel journal
Even if you don’t want to write in it all the time. It’s a great way to look back and remember your travels!
21. Take an underwater camera
For all those epic underwater selfies you’ll be taking!
22. Get the right backpack
It needs to fit you properly and be the right size to avoid back ache. Front loaders with compartments also make it way easier to find stuff!
23. Brush up on your sewing skills
You’ll be surprised how often you use a sewing kit during your travels!
24. Baby wipes will be your best friend
25. In foreign speaking countries, learn some useful phrases in their language
Even if it’s just how to say ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’ and how to order a beer!
26. Separate your clothes
Organise your clothes into separate bags inside your backpack so you can find stuff easily!
27. Carry tissues
Some countries you visit won’t have toilet roll in the toilets so tissues will be your saviour!
28. Pack a good hoodie
29. Tiger balm
Tiger balm is great for sore muscles. It can also be used as an insect repellent and on itchy mozzie bites!
Keep things in perspective, enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the small stuff! You’ll probably experience a few bumps in the road at some point so relax, try not to worry and remember it’s all part of the adventure!
Have you got any travel tips you can share with us? Comment below and tell us what you think!
Want some help and advice on booking your travels? Get in touch!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Study or Gap Year…
The Ultimate question, those finishing the study year have been asking themselves recently..
It’s that time of the year when you’re coming to the end of your study year and you may be wondering..what’s next? Will you start full time work? Will you carry on studying and apply for uni? Or do you need some time out to think about what you really want? You may be pretty sure of your long term goals and be well on your way to the career of your dreams (lucky you!) or like most people, you may be confused about which direction to head in and wondering what to do with your life!
We’ve been there and it’s a tough decision to make. Most of the time you’re expected to decide what you want to do in a matter of months and without having worked in a full time job it can be difficult to know what will make you happy in your career and how you can use your skills to your advantage. If you’re indecisive like I am, you’ve probably sat there with a big pros and cons list trying to figure out what’s right! You may also be feeling pressured by parents, teachers or by your toughest critic (yourself!) to choose the career path that’s right for you. My advice? Keep calm and take some time to figure out what works for you! A gap year abroad between studies or starting your working career is the perfect way to spend your time out.
Why take a Gap Year?
There are so many advantages to taking a gap year: you’ll have some more time to reflect, find out what makes you happy, gain confidence, experience different cultures and discover skills you never knew you had (who knew you could make a bracelet from a coconut shell in Fiji!?) You’ll figure out how you enjoy spending your time and just as importantly how you don’t! Are you an outdoorsy nature lover? Do you enjoy having a set routine? Are you always the one getting the party going or are you maybe a little more reserved? People say travelling changes you, and it may sound cliché but it’s true! Be prepared to go home a different person, with different values, opinions and ideas. You’ll figure a lot out about yourself during your gap year which could help you decide which kind of industry you want to work in.
Unless you’ve been saving for a few years, chances are you’ll end up working at some point during the year to fund your travels. Taking a Gap Year is a massive turn-on to prospective employers because not only will you gain work experience, you’ll also be gaining valuable life experiences. You’ll be opening up doors for the future without even knowing it, ready for when you start looking for a job. Check out our blog ‘How travel can help you land your dream career.‘
More and more people are taking a gap year so it’s easier than ever to take some well deserved time off from studying to travel the world. If you choose to go to uni, Universities are usually happy to defer your entry for a year so if you have an idea of what you’d like to study after your year out you can apply and get everything sorted before you even get on that flight! You’ll be able to enjoy a year of no applications and chill outs knowing you’ve got your spot to study after! If you’re a little less set on what you want to do (like I was!) you can still apply for uni during your travels too and with all your travel experiences to talk about in your uni applications and personal statement you’ll be a more attractive candidate too..win win!
Wondering whether to finish your studies, then travel? If you have the option to travel now, do it – you never know what the next few years may bring! I know lots of people who travelled after uni who wish they had done it before starting their degree. Your circumstances may change after uni – you might have added, unexpected responsibilities and travelling might not be an option straight away. You’re young, have probably spent most of your life studying and now is the time to be free, experience the world & have some fun, safe in the knowledge that it’s actually going to improve your future career rather than hinder it! You have nothing to lose! 😉
Get in touch with us to discuss your Gap Year options!
Share your experiences and stories with us in the comments below!
1. You can’t remember the last time you shared a room with less than 4 other people.
2. You’ve tried all of the different Goon bags and have decided on your fave (Fruity Lexia -obvs!)
3. Eating Subway (footlong) for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the norm.
4. Finding half a bottle of shampoo in the hostel shower excites you way more than it should!
5. Long journeys no longer faze you.
6. You know all of the best drinking games..
7. ..and have become and absolute pro at the limbo.
8. You don’t know how you ever lived without your sunnies permanently attached to your face.
9. You know the happy hour of all the local pubs and wouldn’t dream of spending your booze money on a fully priced meal.
10. You’ve got used to dressing in the dark and tip toeing into your dorm room at 4am to avoid waking your dorm buddies up!
11. You’ve mended your flip flops more than once.
12. You never thought you would become a ‘roller’ but you’ve started rolling all of your clothes to avoid creases..or..
13. ..you’ve completely given up on worrying about creases in your clothes and have started shoving your stuff back into your backpack.
14. You’ve been wearing the same anklet for the last 11 months & you can’t count how many bracelets you’re wearing.
15. You’ve accumulated so much stuff along the way, you have to have a ‘backpack spring clean’ at least once during your travels!
16. You get excited about small things. Having a clean towel brings you so much comfort & happiness.
17. You’ve got a million new friends on FB..
18. ..and added a million new travel photos to your account.
19. You’ve lived off Pot Noodles, beans on toast and some simple yet effective pasta combos (tuna & pasta, tomato & pasta..the list goes on)..
20. ..so walking past someone handing out free food/drink samples without stopping becomes an epic fail. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
21. You’ve learnt to get changed anywhere & in front of people whilst maintaining your modesty…most of the time!
22. You’ve sat inside McDonalds or outside the Apple store for hours using their WIFI.
23. You can sleep anywhere. Your mates floor, the airport, in a bar..backpacking can be tiring, people!
24. You’ve tried sneaking into clubs by rubbing your mates stamp on your wrist. Do people actually pay $30 entry to get into clubs these days?!
25. You started a blog/journal but have forgotten to post/write for a few weeks now- you’re just having too much fun!
26. Clean toilets & hot showers become a luxury and you can’t even remember what a hot bath feels like!
27. You’ve been carrying around the same water bottle for 3 months and refilling it at any opportunity.
28. It’s strange to you when people don’t wait for their change at the bar. That could buy you half a schooner of beer!
29. You’ve got used to the heat and now anywhere with air con feels like the Antarctic.
30. You’ve heard someone having sex no more than 3 feet away from you. Oh the joys of hostel living!
31. You’re constantly battling your room mates for the free plug to charge up your phone.
32. You have constant tan lines even though you haven’t been sunbathing in a while.
33. You’ve got $9.70 in your account but still go out on the piss – where there’s a will there’s a way!
34. Your backpack is so heavy, you’ve started dragging it as much as you can and are seriously contemplating fashioning some backpack wheels.
35. When you aren’t going bare foot your, flip flops are your best friend.
36. Luxuries such as perfume & aftershave are a distant memory.
37. You memorised your passport number a long time ago but..
38. ..You still feel guilty walking through customs at the airport no matter how many times you’ve done it. Did someone plant something in my bag!?
39. Sleep is no longer a necessity. You’ve learnt to survive on 4 hours a night. You can sleep when you’re dead right?
40. You agree with most of these!!
Can you think of any more? We want to hear from you. Comment below!
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!
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!
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
Winter is coming. In fact as of 3 days ago, winter is officially here! It’s that time of year again where we dig out our coats, gloves and scarfs from the bottom of our cupboards. BBQ’s by the beach become a distant memory and we start swapping cold beer for mulled wine and hot chocolate. Luckily for us, Sydney has got heaps of activities to offer to keep us busy in the colder months.
1. Christmas in July
If you’re from the northern hemisphere and you’ve spent Christmas in Sydney you’ll know that Christmas just isn’t the same here. Spending the day on the beach in the heat enjoying an Aussie BBQ just doesn’t feel like Christmas should: spending the day at home with family, in the cold, drinking too much wine and lying on the sofa in a food coma. This is where Christmas in July comes in to it! Sydney will turn into a real winter wonderland during the coldest months this year so we can enjoy the festivities, in the cold, the way it should be! Wrap up, hire some ice skates and workout on one of the ice rinks at Bondi Beach or Sydney’s winter garden in Darling Harbour. Can’t get enough of that Christmas feeling? Market stalls will be set up around the ice rinks to guarantee the ultimate cosy Christmas atmosphere. Nothing better than celebrating Christmas twice in one year with a hot cup of mulled wine! You could also take the train to the Blue Mountains where the famous Yulefest was born twenty years ago. Join one of the many fundraising events or organise a roast dinner with your friends!
2. Eat & Drink
It’s the perfect time of the year to indulge in hot, comforting meals. Eat your way through Saturday night’s hangover with one of Sydney’s amazing Sunday roast dinners. My personal favourites include the Anchor in Bondi and The Riverview hotel in Balmain – great meat, veg, yorkshire puds and gravy- yum! The Taphouse in Darlinghurst is also running Smokin’ Sundays winter warmer, the last Sunday of every month. Head down to enjoy spiced cider, mulled wine and beer by an open log fire!
3. Beach Walks
It might be a bit colder, but it will never be too cold for a beach walk! The Coogee to Bondi walk is one of Sydney’s most famous coastal walks and is well worth doing. A six kilometre long stroll along five picturesque beaches with the possibility to spot whales, what more could you want? On a sunny day you could even have an Aussie barbie using one of the public barbecues at Tamarama, Bronte or Coogee beach! Just catch a bus to Bondi or Coogee and walk all the way back, it’s as easy as that!
4. Vivid Sydney
Head down to circular quay to check out Sydney’s annual light festival. See the opera house, Museum of contemporary art and Circular Quay office blocks lit up with light installations and don’t miss BBC Earth’s light installation narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Hurry though- Vivid ends on the 8th June!
5. Imax Cinema
One thing you definitely have to do during winter is pay a visit to the IMAX! It’s the biggest screen in the whole world; you won’t know where to look! They show the world’s best movies here and even though it is quite expensive (approx $33) it’s well worth the visit! There are places like the information centre around the corner and Grill’d (a hamburger restaurant in Darling Harbour) which offer some good discounts. Don’t forget to check out Groupon too – they offer cheap tickets every now and then!
6. Sydney Attractions
If you haven’t already been to Sydney’s main inside attractions, winter is the perfect time to do it! Check out the attractions in Darling Harbour: admire some beautiful sea creatures at Sydney Sea Life, meet one of your favourite celebs at Madame Tussauds or check out some Aussie animals in Wild Life Sydney Zoo. You could also hop on the ferry over to Manly to check out the Sea Life centre over there or head up to Sydney’s tower eye at Westfield for panoramic views of the city (perfect on a clear winter’s day!) Our travel team can help you book Sydney’s best attractions at discounted rates so get in touch for info! If you’re feeling lucky, go and put some money in one of the slot machines at The Star, Sydney’s casino! It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and serves you all entertainment you could ever wish for. When all bars have closed, this is the place to be! You don’t necessarily have to gamble all your travel money; just enjoy a drink watching a sports game on one of the TVs. Want to do some shopping? Try out Westfield in the middle of the city or in Bondi Junction, World Square or Broadway Shopping Centre.
7. Sydney Day Trips
Winter is the perfect time to head a bit further afield and go on day trips. You could spend the day in NSW’s wine region, The Hunter Valley, tasting the local wines, chocolates & cheeses and explore the Hunter Valley village. You could even head to the wildlife park to see some of Australia’s wildlife including koalas, kangaroos & emus. Another day, wrap up warm and visit the famous Blue Mountains. Take a bush walk through the national park to keep warm and explore the local village, Katoomba. Get in touch with the ULTIMATE travel team for day trips this winter!
Did you come to Oz to get to know this beautiful country better? Expand your background in one of the numerous museums all around the city. History buffs should wander around in the Australia Museum or Nicholson Museum. If you’re an art lover don’t miss out on the Museum of Contemporary Art. More into small and cosy museums? Give Sydney Jewish Museum or Hyde Park Barracks Museum a try! Oh and don’t forget the Museum of Sydney itself of course!
Hope this gives you some inspiration & ideas on what to do in Sydney this winter. If you’ve got any other suggestions for fun winter activities in Sydney, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our Ultimate Travel Facebook for blogs, travel inspiration and photos and follow us on Instagram for travel pics! Tag #myultimatemoment to your Instagram pics – we will repost our faves.
– Freya, ULTIMATE intern 🙂
Whether you’re planning a gap year between studying, a career break or just an extended holiday away, there’s no doubt that your travel experiences will boost your career opportunities. Travel broadens the mind, and gives you a whole load of good personality traits that employers look for when hiring. Read on to hear some of the many valuable lessons you can learn from travelling:
1. Social and Communication Skills
Travelling is a great way to become more social and improve your ‘people skills.’ If you’re usually the one avoiding social interactions, especially with strangers, travelling will probably change that! Most people you meet whilst travelling will have similar interests to you (or at least one common interest: travel) and will be happy to chat and get to know you. You may also bump into people along the way that you don’t really ‘click’ with. Hopefully you won’t have to spend that much time with these people (you’re travelling, be freeeeee!) but if you are stuck with someone you don’t really like, you’ll soon figure out ways to make it work and how to communicate your feelings with them. You can use these skills to your advantage at work when meeting new people, interacting with your work buddies and expressing your ideas and opinions to other colleagues.
Travelling takes planning and unless you’re one of those ‘Into the wild’ type of travellers who plan for nothing, just goes with the flow and grows a crazy beard, chances are you’ll be working on your organisational skills every day when travelling! You’ll be booking flights, hostels, trips and tours and looking after important documents along the way! Travelling also helps you deal with and gain perspective on unplanned events such as flight delays and finding somewhere to sleep at the last minute so not only will you work on your organisational skills, you’ll also learn to deal with any unplanned situations without panicking and stressing out!
Ever had to wait 10 hours in an airport because your flight was delayed? Or take the overnight train in Thailand? Travelling takes patience which you can then put into practise in your job. What you want in your career might not happen straight away. You may have to wait for that moment to prove yourself or get a promotion so sit tight, be patient and enjoy the journey!
4. Flexibility/Adapt to change
Plans change all the time when you’re travelling so you’ll be thrown into situations where you have to think on your feet and create a new solution. The ability to be flexible and easily adapt to change is important in any career. Your employer will want to know that you can handle being in sometimes difficult situations and ‘go’ with changes within the company. If you can not only adapt to all situations thrown at you at work but also thrive on the challenge, you’ll be a winner in your employers eyes!
Working well in a team is, in most jobs, one of the most important qualities employers look for when hiring. You might fit the bill in all other aspects but if you can’t work with others, bounce off your colleagues ideas and share your opinions within a team there’s no room for creativity and to grow in your work position. Sure, some people work better solo but in every job there will still be an element of teamwork needed to do the job properly. When you’re travelling you’ll usually be surrounded by other people so working in a team will crop up every now and then. It might be something simple like working with your fellow travellers to dig your 4WD out of the sand on Fraser Island or deciding in a group where you’d like to travel next (ahh- it’s a tough life isn’t it!?) but teamwork it is all the same!
6. Self Belief
Believing in yourself can put you at the top of your game in the working world. If you believe in yourself, others will too, so at work if you’re confident in your ability to do the job in hand well, your boss will believe in you and will pass on new projects and challenges to help you learn more and grow within the company. Self belief usually goes hand in hand with gaining confidence in dealing with any challenges you’ve been faced with. The more challenges you overcome during your travels, the more you’ll believe in your ability to handle them and anything else thrown your way!
If you’re planning a Gap Year chances are you’ve put a lot of thought into where you’d like to travel and what you’d like to experience. Here are a few pointers to think about before you start your trip to ensure you make the most of your time away!
Why are you travelling?
Think about your reasons for travelling and what you’d like to get out of your year abroad before you start your trip. Are you travelling to experience living in a foreign country? Do you want to learn a language? Have you got a bucket list of countries you’d like to tick off the list? You never know what will happen along the way, your reasons for travelling in the first place might even change, but if your travel has a purpose and you have a goal in mind before you leave home, you’re much more likely to make the most of your time away.
This might seem like a no brainer.. You want to travel to see the world, experience new things and meet people right?! Sometimes making friends when you’re travelling takes a little effort, especially if you’re bit shy and wouldn’t normally start chatting to strangers. It might be easier to sit by yourself listening to music but you could be missing out on great friendships, funny travel stories and other travellers advice! Spark up a conversation with a fellow backpacker: you never know where it will take you! Remember, if you’re already travelling with someone, don’t let them become your safety net. Keep making new friends – the more the merrier! 🙂
If you’re travelling with someone/a group of people don’t feel like you have to stick with them for the entire time. You might want different things out of your travel experience and have different ideas of what’s fun, exciting and what will make your trip memorable. Embrace travelling solo and go your separate ways for a while. Parting ways doesn’t have to the end of the friendship- you could always meet up later on or visit each other in your home countries. Being free to travel where you want to is so important. Be a little bit selfish and do what you want to do – it’s your Gap year and probably one of the only opportunities you’ll get in life to do EXACTLY as you want to and not have to take what others want to do into account.
Try not to miss home too much
As a big family person I know it’s easier said than done, but spending lots of your valuable travel time thinking about home is a waste. If you’re travelling for a year, thats a long time to be away from family and friends so of course you’ll miss them but just try not to let it get in the way of all the fun you could be having! More often than not, when we return home everything is exactly as it was when we left. Your good friends and family will be waiting for you when you get home so don’t miss out on making the most of your travel experiences because you miss them. When you’ve returned home and the dust has settled you’ll be itching to hop on the next plane abroad again so just make the most of it.
Travelling is one of the only times in your life you’ll be able to be truly spontaneous. You’ve left your responsibilities at home and now you’re free to go wherever you want, whenever you want! When you’re travelling plans can change as quickly as they were made so when new friends ask you to join them on a road trip but you’ve already got plans.. change them. It’s your travel experience so do what makes you happy!
Plan & be prepared
As fun as it is to go with the flow and not worry about the ‘real’ world for a while, planning a little in advance can save you money, keep you safe and help you make the most of your travels. Try to get the balance right between planning and going with the flow. A good balance when booking travel is to leave your travel tickets open dated so you can save money booking your travel in a package but you don’t have to decide straight away when you’d like to do the trip. If you’re travelling in Australia and want to do your 2nd year visa it’s best to get in there early on to avoid not having enough time to complete your regional work later in the year! Prepare for bumps in the road with hidden cash or a credit card for emergencies and having credit on your phone at all times. You’ll feel better knowing you can look after yourself if needed so you can fully relax and enjoy the experience of travelling! Need help with planning travel or regional work? Get in touch for help.
Make the most of every minute
It’s cliche but it’s true. Your Gap year will undoubtably be one of the best times of your life and it will fly by! Make the most of each and every moment and experience because if you’re anything like us, when it’s over you’ll be wanting to do it all over again!
Travelling right now and got some advice of your own? We’d love to hear it! Comment below to share your experiences with us!
1. Get Prepared!
Sort out what you’re going to do with all your belongings! If you’re lucky, you may have wonderful parents, or friends, that can store your stuff for a while. If you do, that’s awesome! If not, you need to search for an alternative. You can find a good storage option for a reasonable price these days, you just need to look around!
Make sure your bank knows that you are off your travels! Set up payments for any bills that you still have, so that they come out automatically. That way, you won’t need to be worrying about is your card being blocked or being charged for late payments when you should be enjoying your adventure … not to mention that that money has far better uses!!
Get all your documents together before you go travelling. Is all your visa information, itineraries, flight details etc in an easy to find spot? Take a photocopy of these documents and any other important ones and leave them with someone at home too, in case you lose anything important along the way. It sounds boring but the last thing you want to be doing after a 26 hour flight to Sydney is having to unpack everything because you left all your documents at the bottom of your backpack!
Don’t leave it until the last minute to pack – packing the only belongings you are going to have for a long period of time into a backpack can be stressful – it is almost guaranteed that you will need to pack and unpack a few times before everything fits, and you’re bound to forget something! Do a practice run … or five – you won’t regret it later on!
2. Get your phone unlocked!
Phones are so handy when you’re on your travels! If you have a smart phone, even better! It is your map, your camera, your translator, your local tour guide … not to mention that if you don’t keep in touch with your mum while you’re gallivanting around the world, you will never hear the end of it! All things considered, making sure you can use your phone when you’re away is important. If you get your phone unlocked, you will be able to get a PAYG sim card from the country you are travelling in … shop around for the best deal – if you find one that has a good rate for international calls, you could save you a lot of money!
3. Sell sell sell!
You need all the money you can get and while you’re clearing out all your stuff is a great time to see what you can make money on. As much as it’s a pain, start listing your things on Ebay, go to car boot sales and, as a last resort, because you don’t get as much money, bag your things up and take them to a Clothes For Cash joint where they pay you by the kilo. It may take up some of your time, but it’ll be worth it! Especially when you raise enough money to pay for one of your internal flights in Thailand, that awesome trek in Vietnam, or your skydive during your East Coast trip in Oz! Plus, the more stuff you sell, the less you have to store!
4. Soak it in!
We bet you can’t imagine that when you start your adventure, and you’re finally doing all the things that you have been daydreaming about for months, you’ll miss ‘the little things’ from back home … but it’s almost definitely going to happen. It could be something small like your favourite takeaway or bar, or it could be that you will wish you have gone somewhere more often before you left … make sure that you take the time to make the most of your surroundings. Don’t stop making memories at home because you’re so busy planning for the new memories you’re about to make elsewhere!
If you have lots of friends and family to get round and say goodbye to before you leave, it’s going to take you a while and you’re already short on time! A personal goodbye one on one with everyone you know is not really feasible, so get all your favourite people together at the same time. Meet everyone at your favourite bar, go for a meal or have a house party. Because you’re (obviously) their favourite person, they’ll probably shout you a few drinks on the night – awesome! Whatever you do, it’ll be a blast, a night that keeps you smiling long after you’ve said goodbye at the airport!
There’s plenty more to add to this list … what’s the best tip you’ve been given while preparing for your trip? Let Ultimate Travel, and your fellow backpackers, in on the secret!