Save Money on your 2016 Holiday


Contribution from Fast Cover Travel Insurance.

 

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Everyone wants the best deal when it comes to organising a holiday – whether you’re a backpacker traveling on a tight budget or you’re planning to splash out on a five star hotel with a view of the ocean. But with thousands of travel hacks articles online, it’s not always a simple task to find the quick and easy tips to avoid spending more than you have to overseas.

If you’re focussed on making every dollar count, make sure you keep these tips in mind!

Take the time to find cheap flights

Finding the best deal on flights can take time, but when it can mean saving a few hundred dollars it’s well worth it! Fast Cover travel insurance’s ‘2016 Genius Travel Hacks and Tips’ infographic suggests you’ll find the cheapest flights leaving on a Tuesday, Wednesday or on the weekend. Compare a few days to confirm. You can also compare the prices of different airlines for those days. Going to comparison websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak is a great way to start your research.

Get travel deal alerts

Websites including Airfare Watchdog and CheapAir.com can provide alerts for when prices drop. That way you never miss a cheap flight! Subscribe to travel alerts and see how much you can save.

Buy travel insurance directly

Travel insurance provides that all important cover for emergency situations, though you’ll often find prices can vary greatly for similar policies. When looking for travel insurance, go directly to a travel insurance company and you may find you get a better price. Take the time to compare policies and the benefits they offer to ensure you get this best deal.

Look to Airbnb or Housesitting websites to save on accommodation

Hotels can be expensive. Hostels can be cheap, though sometimes crowded. When you’re looking for accommodation, extend your search to Airbnb and housesitting websites. If you haven’t heard of housesitting, this is where people allow you to stay in their home while they’re away rent-free, though you will have to keep the house clean and tidy or maybe collect mail or feed a pet. Either of these options offer great deals on accommodation.

Suspend your membership at home

You’re not going to be using pay-TV, the gym or perhaps even your phone while you’re travelling, so suspend these memberships and payments! It’s an easy way to avoid wasting money.

Download free communication apps

Using mobile data overseas is often expensive. Instead, arm yourself with free apps that will allow you to stay in touch whenever you have WiFi. You can check out WhatsApp, Skype and WeChat as a start, but there’s plenty out there!

Use a credit or debit card with no ATM fees

Paying $3 each time you withdraw money from an ATM is not always necessary. Investigate banks that will allow you to withdraw money overseas at no extra cost. CitiBank and Charles Schwab are examples.

These are a few of the simplest ways you can save money on travelling. Make every dollar count and the money you save can be put towards future travels!

Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them


This post is a guest blog but fellow traveler Jess from Tripoli.

Thanks for Madelin for publishing this article. Her breadth of travel experience and skilled writing style makes her site an incredible place for inspiration and great travel trips and tricks. After reading this, be sure to check out her post on preparing for the worst abroad!  

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Tourism is a highly profitable industry all over the world, however this doesn’t just refer to above-ground transactions. The underworld is awash with countless travel scams and people whose lives are dedicated to taking money of unsuspecting travelers.

However, this doesn’t mean you should stop going on adventures. Often simply being aware of the scam and knowing how to avoid it can be all that’s required to prevent you from running into disaster. This list compiles five of the most common scams that all travelers are likely to fall victim to and shows how easily they can be overcome.

Rogue WiFi Hotspots

Internet access is becoming a more important part of going away than ever before, and the criminals know this. The reliance that all travelers have on public WiFi means that all of their personal details and information can be easily accessed whenever they’re connected.

Many scam artists have set up rogue hotspots that mimic the name of a trusted network. Once connected, all of your data, including bank details and passwords, is seized automatically and used for malicious purposes—usually monetary gain. Because of this, many travelers have taken to using Virtual Private Networks, which encrypt your data and allow you to browse securely. They can also unblock geo-restricted content, so they’re an extremely handy traveling tool for many reasons!

Deceitful Drivers 

Most people hop in a cab at least once on any trip away. Unfortunately, by doing this, you can fall victim to a plethora of potential scams. Drivers will often take longer routes to increase charges, lie about fares and even take you to specific attractions and souvenir shops from whom they receive commission.

The best way to overcome any of these problems is to check the length and approximate time of any journey before you embark on it. It’s also wise to ask the driver to write down the price on a piece of paper before you set off so they can’t try and overcharge you on the grounds you misheard initially.

Cute Children 

As sad as it is, all over the world children are used as pawns in scams on unwitting tourists. Often they are used by pickpockets to cause a distraction, as no one will ignore a child. There are stories from Italian cities, such as Florence, of people having babies thrown at them, and when they dropped their bags to catch them, another child would hop in and quickly disappear with their belongings.

Similarly, the famous Cambodian milk powder ploy involves a child—hired by the mafia—asking you to purchase food from a local shop, which is then returned and the profits split. The best way to avoid these scams is to exercise caution. Once you know of specific ones, they’re easily avoided, but not falling victim to similar scams requires keeping your wits about you. 

Pickpockets With Initiative 

Pickpocketing is extremely common wherever you go; however, in some places, they are taken even further. In Southeast Asia, the distraction pickpocket is very common: a man will come up to you frantically asking something, and while your attention is distracted, someone else will dip into your bag from behind. Similarly, street performers will join up with local thieves who will pickpocket their audience while they entertain them. Falling victim can also result in more than just losing an item!

While in Barcelona—the pickpocket capital of the world—a friend of mine had his phone stolen. He later found out that in a few hours they’d racked up thousands of pounds charge calling a reverse call number in the Bahamas. You can avoid falling victim to this by ensuring you keep valuables secure in hidden pockets or deep inside backpacks.

Fraudulent Tour Guides

Finally, fraudulent tour guides are a prominent problem all over the world. However, falling victim to this scam can come in a wide range of forms. In many countries, asking directions from a seemingly helpful local, who decides to personally take you to the destination, can end in them aggressively trying to charge you for the information.

Elsewhere, unqualified guides can lead you on dangerous trails and mountain treks that, as they don’t have the right training, could end up being extremely risky. Sticking to tours arranged by hostels or tourism boards is a great way to combat this, and asking shopkeepers or police officials for directions will avoid unwanted charges.

Do you of any more travel scams? Or have you fallen victim to those already mentioned? Be sure to leave a comment below and share your experiences with fellow travelers.

TRAVELING WITH FAMILY


Traveling with family is an odd one. Sure, you’ll be obliged to travel with them when you’re younger – family trips to Mildura, a road trip to Traralgon. But when given the choice, would you choose to go on an adventure overseas with your nearest and dearest? Well I did. And it was, and wasn’t, exactly what I expected.

I chose to travel with both my mum and sister. As a travel agent, I had won a trip through sales, and my partner didn’t want to go (I know, loser right? Kidding. La ya). I decided to ask mum to come with me, since the only real travel she had done was when I was almost finished High School – She had never had the chance prior with being a single mum to 3 kids, and we’re pretty needy kids if I’m honest (I’ve already tried calling her twice this morning and no answer – rude).

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Mum and I being tourist dorks.

Asking Mum to come just with me was like trying to go on a quick morning coffee date with her – My sister almost always pops up just as we’re about to leave and BAM, it’s a family affair. Seriously though, I was excited when I asked my sister as well on a whim and she said yes – Girls trip! So on our way to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam we went!

The trip was a group tour with G Adventures – You can read the travel diaries of each country starting here.

I expected to fight with my sister, and we did. So badly at one point that I cried myself to sleep in mums bed in Cambodia after she slung some words my way. What I didn’t expect was to bond with her immensely as well – although I came off the trip vowing to never spend more than 2 days straight with her ever again, theres something comforting about having family on a trip. When you’re at your most tired, emotional and vulnerable, its nice to have someone who knows you above all else to sit and listen to music with, or take ‘candid’ selfies of in front of monuments without feeling like a dickhead.

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Thanks to mum for introducing me to Margaritas – how had I not had these before?

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My favourite travel partners.

I expected to run out of money and live frugally on a tight budget. It’s just a part of travel – for me anyway, who was at the time saving for a house and about to embark on two other trips almost immediately after this one had finished! I didn’t expect to be able to have nice cocktails in nice venues because Mum insisted on shouting. Without taking the piss and abusing the situation, it was great all round, as Mum loved being able to shout her girls something nice, and we certainly didn’t say no to a beer at the top of the Labua Hotel!

I expected to find Asia different and possibly challenging. I’m a ‘Europe’ snob. I expected to be somewhat ‘travel superior’ to my family, being the one who travels constantly. I didn’t expect to be completely out of my depth with the third world countries we visited, and I did not expect to be laughed at by my family who took absolutely everything with a grain of salt!

10 hour bus trip? No dramas, mum’ll watched the scenery happily.

Drop toilets? No worries, they’ve brought tissues along with them.

Hotel rooms with no windows? They didn’t have any expectations, doesn’t bother them in the slightest!

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Who else can you wear matching outfits with on holidays? That’s right.

I certainly learnt a lot about myself, about my family, and about how little I knew about different cultures that weren’t considered first world.

Traveling with family was incredible – We went on a ‘youth trip’, and it was mum who kept us all out until 3am smoking shisha and drinking cocktails on the sidewalk in Siem Reap. She still keeps in contact with some of the guys on Facebook! I don’t think I’d like to spend a whole day on a bus with my sister ever again – and we did cancel our next trip together away because it was too much too soon to spend another 2 weeks on a bus around Europe, but when we met up for a few days afterwards, it was bloody lovely to see a familiar face, in a foreign country, and show her some of my favourite places.

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This crazy cat kept us out until 3am.

I started Evie a bank account this week – One day I hope she uses the money to go traveling instead of buying a car or something practical like that. And just maybe, she’ll want me to come with her.

GUEST POST: All You Need to Know About Whale Watching in Sydney


From Oz Whale Watching

A whale watching experience cannot be described in words easily, as you have to see it for yourself to believe it. The magnificent beauty of these enormous creatures will leave you in awe. For an exciting and out of the world whale watching experience, head to the striking coastline of Sydney and view the wonders of the ocean life with your own eyes.

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Best Spots

Sydney has some amazing locations from where you can easily spot whales and other marine life. Some of the best spots are:

Cape Solander

Located in Botany Bay National Park, Cape Solander tops the list of the best whale watching spots in Sydney. It has a viewing platform that offers stunning views of the gigantic mammals.

Bare Island Fort

The finest scuba diving and snorkelling points in New South Wales are around this area. Whale watching is one of the prime activities offered at this location along with bird watching, fishing, swimming and a lot more.

Shark Island

The popular picnic spot offers stunning 360 degree views of the area. You will surely spot a whale here as many whales swim near the harbour while on their migratory journey.

Cape Baily Coast Walk

This coastal walk is an amazing way to explore the diverse wildlife of Sydney. In addition to enjoying the natural beauty around the area, you will also be able to catch site of a whale or two between the migrating seasons. You may also spot sea eagles, kestrels and terns along the way.

Cruise

For a better and closer view of the massive creatures, head out into the ocean on one of the many cruises in Sydney. The whale watching cruises are easily accessible from many points in the city. Hop onboard a catamaran for an open air ride into the waters. You will be able to view whales up-close in their natural habitat along with live commentary from a marine biologist who will provide interesting facts to make your tour more enjoyable.

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Best Times

The best time for whale watching is during the migrating season, from May till December. The whales travel north to breed in the Coral Sea and then return South to the Antarctic during these months. The peak months to sight whales is June, July and October.

A Little about Whales

In your whale watching sightings, you may be able to spot whale species like Humpbacks, Southern Right whales, Minke, Orca and Pilot Whales. Moreover, you may also spot other marine life like green turtles, dolphins, seals and sharks.

After the breeding season, the young will be seen swimming along with their mothers. You will be able to see them being schooled by their mothers and putting up a show of amusing and adorable antics as well.

Useful Tips

It is important to follow some tips for an optimal whale watching experience:

  • For a whale sighting, look near the shore as well as in the horizon for any disturbance on the water’s surface. Many whales create a disturbance with their fins and tails.
  • Be very quiet while observing them.
  • Try not to attract their attention or interfere in their activity.
  • Wear warm clothes and take your sunglasses, binoculars, sun block, hat and camera with you.

Hope the information above helps you to have a wonderful whale watching experience. Tips and Images provided by http://www.ozwhalewatching.com.au

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)

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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?