Hi, can you pricebeat this for $1 please?


You’ve probably heard all about pricebeating. Heck, you’ve probably ‘pricebeat’ someone. What I mean is, with the hugely competitive market of booking things online, direct with a supplier or direct with a travel agent, even as an agent myself I can’t blame people for wanting to make sure you’re getting the absolute best deal.

So what does pricebeating mean, why do prices fluctuate and why should you hunt around?

Basically, imagine this – you’ve been in to see a travel agent and been given one price. Then, you find the same room type with the hotel directly for slightly cheaper. Then, you find another website that sells a bit of everything and find it even cheaper. Sometimes it happens in this order, and sometimes it’s the other way around.

When a hotel prices something, the generally make it one price. They then give it to the travel agents and websites – travel companies can then do what they want with them, but as far as I’ve seen as a rule of thumb the travel companies don’t mark them up as they’re already given to us with a level of commission built in. The reason the hotel might have it cheaper directly is because they put their own sale on, and don’t pass it onto the agents (thus, really making us look like are ripping people off, but hey it saves the hotel having to pay commission out!). Those other websites that sell a little bit of everything change their prices around willy nilly – I don’t presume to know how they work, but they often have huge credit card and service charges at the end, so I’ll take a stab and say this would certainly help account for making up some of their loss they might make on one nights accommodation in Bangkok they sell for 50% off the RRP.

Make sense?

So if you’ve managed to stay tuned until now, here’s some tips.

  • Shop around online, and even direct with the hotel.
  • Make sure all of the prices are on an Australian website.
  • Speak to your travel agent, because more often than not we also get rates that you can’t find anywhere else (hey, what else would we pay our head office for, if they didn’t negotiate the bestest ever deals!), and once you’ve collated the best prices, BOOK WITH THE AGENT.

Because even if their price was slightly higher (in my experience we usually do have the best price anyway, and NO we don’t add any service taxes like your online sites) we can pricebeat it for you. Yep, travel agents will still book you the absolute cheapest price for what you want AND you have the benefit of booking with a real human, who’ll be able to give you multiple payment options, give you itineraries, receipts and invoices on demand, liase with all suppliers on your behalf (you wouldn’t even KNOW the hassle of time changes the airlines give us to deal with), and send you your documents. Travel agents can also do any amendments for you, name changes, date changes and complete itinerary changes without you having to call an Asian call centre. BONUS. Also, who wants to deal with trying to organise their own holiday and guessing that they’re not getting ripped off, when they can have someone who is trained and paid to do that, at no extra cost?

‘Carrying’ money abroad


Heading to England anytime soon? No doubt you’ll have been crying into your socks about the exchange rate, because frankly it’s horrid. We’re basically halving our money, and how are we seriously supposed to afford all of the Guinness and Steak and Ale pies with that amount of money! (Hint- head north, its so much cheaper than London!). When you’re traveling abroad it can be one of the last things you think about organising, after the flights and things you’re going to do, so I’m here to give you the low down.

how I take money with me abroad

Easy – the same way I always have actually, and it’s using the Cash Passport Multi Currency Card. When I first started traveling, they had a different card for different currencies, but have now combined them all onto one card which is awesome – so if you’re traveling around the word, you can load pounds, euros and dollars onto one card in one go. Not only do you get the rate of the day (so make sure to follow the exchange rate and choose a good time to load on),  but it stays as this loaded rate, even if the currency falls tomorrow.

Another benefit is there are no charges to use the card as an eftpos card when you’re out, or at an ATM. The only ATM charges you’ll received are the ones that come from the particular ATM itself, which basically means you’ll always have some small charge but the difference in using this to your normal bank card, is your only being charged the one fee and not from your bank as well.

tips of the trade

  • Try loading a big sum at once – you get charged around a 1% loading fee so the more transactions you do, the more you’ll end up paying. You’ll also probably pay your travel agent a small commission if you load with them every time as well, so try to eliminate that.
  • Follow the exchange rate. You can use websites like Travelex to track them and received email updates.
  • Don’t take out a lot of small sums at ATM’s and get charged every time – take our larger sums, but obviously keep your money safe, whether it be in a safe in your hotel room or in a money wallet on your body.

where can I get one of these currency cards?

Any travel agent should be able to supply you with one, but you can also buy them online and have it posted out.

How do you take your money when you travel?

If you’re traveling, under 30 and want a budget – This product is for you.


An awesome new product has hit the market for anybody under 30 who is looking to travel and stay protected on a budget – It’s the Student Flights Black Market Travel Insurance, and dahm it looks fine! It’s exclusive to the brand, and is a world first in terms of inclusions and discounts.

Ever been living and working in England, or France, or Cambodia and got so sick you couldn’t work? Did your rent fall behind? Covermore heard you crying and have sent help – So if you’re deemed unfit to work for 5 or more days, you’ll be eligible to claim the amount you have to pay in rent until you get better. Jump back into bed, and sleep it off my friend.

And my fellow USA travellers will hear me here – tried buying a policy for America only to be given a quote you could buy a small car with? In all fairness, America have a terrible medical system and without travel insurance, a trip to the ICU will set you back $5,000 USD per night, so the pricing for the insurance is understandable. But when you’re a poor Uni student (or just a poor 25 year old, I feel you), it can seem quite stiff. There’s always been excess options of $0 (the best but most expensive), $100 and $250 but this new policy has a $1,000 option. It means the price you pay for your insurance now is much lower than your smaller excess options which is grand (Vegas money!), however make sure you fully understand that if you need to make a claim, you’ll pay the first $1,000, before Covermore step in and take care of the rest. This means you really eliminate a lot of claims you might make, for example stolen luggage, phones etc as they’ll all generally be claims under a thousand dollars. But for the medical emergencies, even a simple Xray, this one will be a lifesaver.

Has your RyanAir, those trusty on time specialists, flight been delayed? Are you going to miss the first day of your pre paid Oktoberfest package because of this? Blackmarket cover will swoop in and help get you there on time with another, on time provider with cover of up to $2,000! This also covers 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries, weddings, funerals and pre paid conferences.

They’ve also added in bundles of extra covered activities, like quad biking, jet skiing, abseiling and scuba diving which are not covered on the other policies and is a great bonus for the adventurous.

It still covers all of the normal things like unlimited medical and dental (which is a huge plus that Covermore offer, many insurers will at least cap your dental at $500), $5,000 of luggage cover (now including Go Pros) and $3,000 for travel documents.

Some pricing examples are as follows:

24 year old Mary has booked a 20-day USA road trip and has selected a $100 excess:
• Options policy = $173 • Travelsure policy = $144
• New Student Flights Travel Insurance = $130
26 year old Jason has booked a 6 month working holiday in France and has selected a $100 excess:
• Options policy = $646 • Travelsure policy = $539
• New Student Flights Travel Insurance = $496
29 year old Sarah is volunteering in Cambodia for 10-days and has selected a $100 excess:
• Options policy = $87 • Travelsure policy = $73
• New Student Flights Travel Insurance = $67
18 year old Peter is travelling around the USA for 12 months and has selected a $100 excess:
• Options policy = $1653 • Travelsure policy = $1379
• New Student Flights Travel Insurance = $1,129 (or $799 with $1,000 excess)

blackmarket

Covermore has 24/7 emergency assist, will give you a free global sim card when you purchase the policy and you can make all claims online – The new best cover for under 30’s has arrived, and is here to stay!

You can purchase this cover through any Student Flights Travel Agent.

Do you have any horror insurance stories?

Bavaria? Austria? I need your help!


Every second year, we head back to the UK for Christmas as my partner is from there originally. This year, we’ll be taking back an 8 month old with us and so are going to extend from the normal 2 weeks, to 3, giving us all time to adjust a little easier.

As much as we love England, we also want to go somewhere we both haven’t been before, and the idea of a wood log chalet in the snow, somewhere with awesome Christmas markets and mulled wine sounds bloody heavenly, and so the search is on.

Chris suggested Bavaria, as he’s been briefly before when he was in the army, but Austria is also not too far – I fear Switzerland will be too pricey for living expenses for a week (after my few days experience there years ago), so I’ve tentatively ruled it out.

And so, we won’t be locking in something concrete until the baby in born in April, but I’m throwing the questions out to you –

Do you have any suggestions for a week in the snow in December 2015?

bavaria

My (current) top 3 honeymoon destinations.


As published in Forte Magazine

I’m fairly conflicted about where I want to spend my Honeymoon. And may I preface this with no, I am not engaged, however as a travel agent (and in a long term relationship) who regularly plans holidays and honeymoons I of course think about my own. It’s a complicated decision between beach haven, flop and drop to the action/adventure feeling accomplished kind of getaway – our honeymoon really shouldn’t be any different from any other holiday we’ve taken together (apart from those lovely perks like champagne and chocolates on arrival and maybe a free transfer!), but there always seems to be a lot of pressure to make it so. Here are my top 3 honeymoon destinations for myself at the moment, hopefully it will give some of you some inspiration as well!
  • BORNEO

Borneo has always been at the top of my list, for its one main attraction – the orangutans. It’s actually the third largest island in the world, the largest  island in Asia and has one of the oldest rain forests. It is also made up of 3 countries – Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, with 76% of it being classed Indonesian territory.
The rainforest is over 140 million years old, and this is where you can find the orang-utan in one of its only natural habitats left. There are also heaps of other amazing animals like the rhinoceros and sumatran elephant, and a ridiculous amount of fish species. You can take tours to see the Orangutans and places like Camp Leakey allow you to see them come in and eat everyday. One of the coolest things I found though was the sting less jelly fish lake – an incredible lake where millions of jelly fish who have lost their stingers migrate and move across eating algae everyday, and you can buy passes to go swimming.
orangutan
  • CANADA/ALASKA

I cannot wait to go and do the Rocky Mountaineer across Canada, but I would love to do it in the Gold Leaf class cabin, so waiting until the honeymoon is probably the only time i’ll be able to justify spending that kind of money! The Rocky Mountaineer is a stunning train ride you can take through Canada, with many different routes and pricing levels. You get 360 views in glass domed cabins, stay some nights on board and some nights in hotel accommodation across the road, and have chefs of board to cook you all of your 5* meals (think eggs scrambled with smoked salmon, topped with kelp caviar and lemon chive crème fraîche for breakfast).
We’d then be able to go on and explore Alaska some more, which has always interested me with their natives, customs and cultures.
Rocky-Mountains-7-672x372
  • WORLD TOURING

My third option would be a bit of a ‘Jennifer Hawkins’ style honeymoon, with a little bit of everything included. She started with the actual wedding in Bali (which I would skip), but went on to do Paris and the Maldives on the way home. I would love to go and explore a new European country i’d never been to (maybe some sailing around Greece, or take a trip to Finland), and then come home by some beautiful exotic ‘over water cabins’ kind of island for some relaxing and treating. The Maldives are incredibly stunning, as is Bora Bora.
igloo island
Igloo Island (Finland)
3 very different honeymoon destinations, all of which I think I’ll eventually get to do – but with a baby on the way, I have a feeling child friendly is going to be a key element to every holiday, so being able to do something on our honeymoon that we wouldn’t be able to with baby in tow will be high on the priority list!
How about you? What’s your favourite dream honeymoon destination, or one that you’ve actually been on?
 
*All photos courtesy of google images.

2014 in highlights


Every year I have a think back about my favourite trip of the year. This year is a little more difficult as I had so many other life changes happening – in between changing careers from full time working in retail travel sales, to helping start up a news and lifestyle magazine, to moving house and getting pregnant, and spending almost 2 months away from home traveling around to new exciting places, its been a big one!

In May and June this year I spend more time out of Australia than in, with a combination of work and personal trips.

The first one was a trip I had won through work, but could take in personal time, so I went to South East Asia with my mum and sister. We did the G Adventures Cambodia on a Shoestring, and not only was the whole trip a complete new kettle of fish for me, but it was probably a new point in my writing career, as my diary blogs of this trip have received more hits than anything else I’ve ever written! It was challenging – traveling with family, going to third world countries, and participating in a group tour; bloody rewarding – meeting a fantastic bunch of people, not one who we didn’t get along with, rare for such a small group and exhilarating – travelling by bus was new for me, drop toilets was something I hope never to have to get used to, and the cost of living was a nice change to Europe! I seriously loved it, although I’m not sure whether I would choose to travel by bus again. I felt I lost a lot of time, but this was an express tour, seeing 3 countries in 10 days, so the knowledge and insight I gained can never be forgotten and I certainly wouldn’t go back and change it.

eating bugs

Next up was a work trip to Croatia. This one was a work trip in that I won a spot of a famil with a bunch of other travel agents from across Australia to travel with Topdeck and sail around Croatia for 10 days. It was the most challenging trip I’ve ever been on, where you can either gel with people automatically, or you can feel a bit like a fish out of water. Where everyone on this trip was only traveling once, I was in the middle of 3 trips back to back, and saving for a house so my budget was much lower than normal and I hardly participated in all of the social activities, and spending so long away from home and my boyfriend was starting to be a little harder. I thought Croatia was absolutely stunning, and I so super blessed to be taken on such a brilliant tour and spend my days sailing around on an incredible boat however, and would definitely love to go back with family and friends and experience it in a different way.

IMG_0471

After this, I literally flew home for 36 hours and was back on a plane to Europe with my sister. After our first trip to Asia together, I decided that it might be best for us to have a little more time apart (as awesome as she is!), and so after a few days in Paris and Rome together, I flew to my in laws in the UK and she went on a Topdeck trip around Europe for 16 days. I had a great time relaxing, seeing more of my partners home town, hanging out with family and getting over a terrible chesty cold I got from all of the flying. I went down to Great Missenden to stay with my Aunty and friends after 10 days up North in Wakefield, and enjoyed the local public walks around the area again. I love England, and it was nice to be able to take a deep breath, and stop running from city to city.

IMG_1217

This year I’ve also been camping in Rye, was chosen by Student Flights to go and film in Bali (and got so sick from fish poisoning I haven’t been able to eat Shell fish since) and we’re already planning our next trip back to England for Christmas next year with hopefully a week in Bavaria – This time however, we’ll have a small baby with us, so everything is going to be a whole lot different! So I guess (in a super long winded summary – are you still there? hello?), I don’t really have a favourite trip, but every single one was different and awesome in it’s own way and I learnt a lot about myself, and new cultures along the way – I’m pretty lucky!