5 Apps to Make Business Travel a Breeze

5 Apps to Make Business Travel a Breeze

I’ve blogged about top 10 travel apps to download before you travel for leisure, but what about business travel? More often than not, it can often feel more stressful than enjoyable . From rescheduled flights and impossibly long taxi lines, to those frustrating ‘lost in translation’ moments in a foreign country – when you are on the move, there are many elements that can turn a simple business trip into a logistics or safety nightmare.

Whilst some elements will always be outside our control, planning can go a long way towards reducing the stress of travel logistics gone wrong. Here are five of the best business apps to arm you for a successful trip:

1. Tripit

tripit-screenshots

If you’ve ever found yourself searching through your handbag in a desperate attempt to find your flight details, then you’re probably one of those people who have also pleaded to the app gods for a better, more efficient system to organise your travel itinerary. Cue Tripit, riding in on a white horse.

Tripit stores all your flight details in the one app – hotels, flights, car rentals, restaurant confirmations – you name it. But it’s also so much more than a simple storage system. If there’s any changes to your flight, you get immediately notified. You can also share your entire itinerary with colleagues and friends so they can stay up to date with your travels, making coffee in a foreign city far easier. Plus, the app notifies you if your favourite seat becomes available, a sure winner for any flyer who loves a little extra legroom (who doesn’t!).

2. JESI

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As companies grow these days, so too does the number of travelling employees. It’s a pretty special thing to get paid to visit the Big Apple or the Eiffel Tower – but for those workers in the mining, energy, oil, and gas sectors – the destinations are usually much more remote and isolated, exposing them to higher risk. And JESI is the tool that keeps you safe.

In a nutshell, JESI is a journey management app that does one thing really well – and that’s alleviating stress. It’s a system where employees can share their travel status with their bosses. Travellers can create their own journeys, select their mode of transport, create checkpoints, and indicate the time of their journey, giving management some peace of mind with the knowledge that they will be alerted if anything has gone wrong. Equally, it gives employees the freedom to spend their days off enjoying the sites, not chasing up phone calls from their worried bosses. It’s a win-win scenario!

3. XE Currency

xe-currency-app

Say goodbye to attempting to do high school maths in your head in your endeavour to order a coffee. XE is your new bff when it comes to currency conversion. It has a bunch of business-oriented features, but where it really gives you an instant peace of mind is through the simple fact that it can convert every world currency, instantly. It also functions offline, which provides instant relief for those travellers in a place with limited connectivity.

For those unsure whether today is a good day to make the currency exchange, XE provides historic currency charts so you can gage whether the current rate is sitting at a high or low, making sure you stretch your work travel budget in the best way.

4. Gate Guru

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Gate Guru is the ultimate slashie, offering a bunch of features that are sure to help you stress less, especially in a foreign airport. It hosts your detailed itinerary and keeps you updated about flight changes or delays in real time. But the real winner with Gate Guru is how it provides a wealth of airport information – from amenity information, to weather forecasts, and even little airport tips like where the best place to eat is. You’ll know what you’re having for lunch before you’ve even landed.

You can also use the app to book discounted hire cars so the journey from airport to business locale is seamless, while the airport amenity list should help direct you to the nearest airport lounge or business centre should you have some urgent tasks to check off.

5. Google Trips

google-trips-app

Google Trips has just landed on our smartphones, giving other travel apps a run for their money. In addition to centralising and storing your travel itinerary (even in offline mode), it provides a list of the most popular sightseeing destinations, restaurants, and day plans. Your days off are about to get a whole lot easier.

Bonus app: Duolingo

duolingo_placement_test_screens

Bonjour! Hola! Guten Tag! Ciao! Ohayo! Prepare to look like a real local with Duolingo – your personal language teacher that fits right into your pocket. For those business travellers looking to build client relationships, or simply navigate from A to B, Duolingo is the perfect tool to help you communicate.

More like a game than a lesson at school, Duolingo teaches you to speak, read, listen, and write in a bunch of languages (specifically 23), including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and even Hungarian!

It’ll even teach you the phrases that you’ll actually use, such as “where are the croissants?” and “democracy is the dictatorship of the majority” (yes, these are actual phrases).

 

*This is a guest post.

 

 

 

 

Explore the Great Barrier Reef  via Cairns in 4 Days

Explore the Great Barrier Reef via Cairns in 4 Days

Living in Australia, we are lucky enough to experience not only just incredible natural beauty and unique wildlife, but we live on a continent that is home to a UNESCO World heritage site and one of the most famous natural wonders in the world – the Great Barrier Reef. The largest reef on our planet, stretching 3,000 km, is home to more than 400 types of different coral and over 1,500 species of tropical fish, not to mention molluscs, sea turtles, sting rays, dolphins, clams and many more incredible birds and animals that claim this reef their home.
Although you’ll hear many opinions and facts about the reef and the effects of Climate Change on the reef, the situation at the moment is not as dire as it may seem in the media. The reef is still thriving and continues to exist, however we do need to be extra careful in coming up with a sustainability plan and reducing the man-made damage that is harming our natural habitats.
I’ve recently gotten into snorkelling and utilising the recent long weekend was the perfect opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef and experience the immersive marine world with my own eyes.
The experience was indeed unforgettable and here are the details of our trip:
 
Day1:
Evening Arrival

 

Friday night, fly out of Sydney, directly to Cairns International Airport (Virgin Australia and many other airlines fly direct from Sydney – Cairns). Cairns is quite a busy little airport that has an impressive array of international direct flights from key cities around the globe including Osaka, Auckland, Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore.
I pre-booked our hotel through Booking.com and this time we stayed at Rydges Esplanade. What appealed to me about this hotel is that it was approx 15 minutes walk to the Jetty where all the boats depart from to go out to the reef.
We subsequently found out that there are three Rydges hotels in Cairns, all within walking distance of one another!
rydges

 

It’s easier to get a cab from the airport to your hotel if you’re staying within 15-20min drive radius and the airport is really close to the city of Cairns.
I tried to explore options for shuttle service – you will see a Sun Palm Shuttle Service counter straight as you get out into the arrivals terminal. Stay away from them. The reviews on their Facebook page alone should be enough to scare anyone into travelling anywhere with them. The taxi into the city is only $1 more than their shuttle service but they will try to convince you otherwise. (If you see this sign – run away! lol just kidding, don’t run, but also don’t book them)
screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-4-18-07-pm
The Rydges hotel is basic but has everything you need in terms of amenities – we checked in with no issues and enjoyed going to bed to a thunderstorm in the night.

 

Day2:
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

 

reef-magic-cruise-boat

 

I pre-booked tickets (via email) with Reef Magic Cruises. A day tour costs $210 per person. Seems a bit pricey but when I googled around alternatives, they all had similar rates, average of $195 per day per person.
The reason we chose Reef Magic is because they have great reviews on TripAdvisor and also they claim to be the only pontoon on the outer reef with a covered area. A day trip lasts 5 hours at the reef, so if it had been a very hot sunny day, cover would be nice.
 
The boat departs at 9am  every day from the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal.
Check-in commences inside the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, at 08:00. Vessel departs Cairns Marlin Jetty at 09:00 arriving at the reef by 10:30, leaving the reef at 15:30 and arriving back in Cairns by 17:00.
What you get in the $210pp price (Adult):
  • Boat transfers and shuttle bus pick up and drop off at your hotel. (Boat takes 1.5 hours to get to the outer reef).
  • Before departure tea/coffee (no hot drinks are served while boat is moving).
  • Morning tea (cakes and biscuits)
  • Buffet lunch while on the pontoon.
  • All gear – snorkels, wetsuits, spring suits, flippers, floating noodles, life jackets.
  • A free glass bottom boat tour on the day (from the pontoon)
  • Access to a small under water area on the pontoon where you can see a bit of underwater action.
marine-world-platform-2440

 

Additional items for an extra cost:
  • Introductory diving
  • Guided snorkel tours with marine biologists (Adventure)
  • Guided snorkel tours around pontoon area
  • Helicopter flights
  • Massage
reef-magic-pontoon

 

There are many operators that take people to the outer reef and the reef is huge so each boat pretty much gets their own reef to explore.
Common questions:
Are there many people on the boat?
 
Yes, and most boats will over-fill their capacity. Reef Magic boat capacity is 300 people but they will only book a maximum of 200.
Is the pontoon overcrowded?
 
On the day we went, we had a few tour groups of elderly people from Germany and Spain(?) and they were not super keen on the snorkelling but chose the glass boat options so it felt less busy in the water. People tend to disperse around the pontoon, some snorkelling, some diving, others on the glass boat so it never feels over-crowded.
travel-blogger-great-barrier-reef
I got to meet “Wally” the Maori Wrasse

 

What’s for lunch?
The buffet lunch is served around 12.30pm and the staff help serve the hot dishes. You can help yourselves to salads etc. Overall the food was pretty healthy with options like sushi, pasta salad and green salad. The hot meals included chicken curry and lasagna.
Recommendation:
We paid $45 pp for a Guided Snorkel Safari (Adventure Tour) with a marine biologist. On the day it was only myself, my husband and one other guy. The tour was 1 hour and a small boat picks you up at the pontoon, and takes you even further away from all the snorkellers (there is a roped off area around the pontoon to snorkel at) where you can see some really big schools of fish and hear the marine biologist talk about the different species and take us through on a real adventure around the reef. It was incredible!
I had my life jacket on the whole time as I am not a strong swimmer, that way you can just keep cruising along and it’s truly amazing!
The Magic Reef Cruises staff are superb, very helpful, fun individuals who just want to make it a fun day out for you and your family and friends. I was really impressed with their service and care.

 

snorkel-great-barrier-reef
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef – unbelievable memories

 
 

Day 3:
Visiting Green Island
green-islan-travel-blogger-visit
Green Island Arrival

 

So impressed by the snorkelling on our day out at the reef, I wanted to jump into the water the next day. It does get a bit pricey to spend $400+ for 2 people for a day of snorkelling, so I looked for some alternatives. From Cairns there are a few islands you can explore, perhaps the closest one is Green Island. Only 45 minutes by boat, the island has a resort and beautiful beaches. You can snorkel off the beach or in the package we got, we opted in for a snorkelling trip by boat off the island ( 1 hr for $45 pp). This tour is not guided but a boat will take you out to a reef (not outer reef) close by and you can snorkel for 45 minutes.
I booked everything online (while on the 90 min boat back from Reef Magic pontoon :))
greenisland-travel-blogger-australia

 

Operator: Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises
Cost (pp): $90
What’s included:
Snorkel gear (you can hire stinger suits when recommended)
2 way ticket to Green Island from Cairns Marina
Departs 9am and 11 am from Cairns
Recommendation:
Do a Full-Day (if you can)
There are options to do full days or half days. I strongly recommend to do a full day. Jump on the boat at 9am and the last one leaves the island on the way back to Cairns at 4pm. With all the activities, or just laying on the beach, it’ll be a full day trip in the end.
 
Pre-book your activities either at the desk in the Marina (Cairns), online or on the boat. You can choose from snorkelling, glass bottom boat, diving, helmet diving. 
 
Where to eat:
You can grab some lunch on the island. There are a few eateries available – all really casual cafes, with a bit of a queue for anything (the island gets pretty busy!) Most options are the usual burgers, fish and chips and soft drinks.
For $25 pp extra for the boat ticket you can include a buffet lunch option on board the “Big Cat” ship.

 
 

Day 4:
Daintree River Cruise

 

This was our official last day on on holiday since we only had the long weekend +1 day.
We rented a car at the Cairns airport for 1 day and drove to Daintree.
Cruises run from 9.30 – 3.30pm. Most are 1 hour in duration.
I tried to book the sunset cruise but was told that those are no longer operational.
Cost: $28pp
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Baby Crocodiles in the Daintree River
crocodile-daintree-river-travel
Sunbathing on the sandbank

 

We slowly made our way up to Daintree through Palm Cove and Port Douglas. Both really beautiful places but I prefer Palm Cove. There are so many amazing eateries and an incredible vibe. Port Douglas is bigger and there are so many amazing villas and spas to stay at.
daintree-river-cruise-croc
Two metre crocodile hiding in the mangroves

 

The Daintree River Cruise was a great way to wind down a day of driving. 1 hour cruising along the Daintree river with a really experienced guide and trying to spot some crocs.
We say a total of 4, which apparently is very lucky. Around September/October it gets a bit too hot for the crocodiles to sun themselves on the sand banks, so in the murky water it was a bit hard to see them.
Still an amazing experience and we learnt a lot about the mangroves, croc animal behaviour and their habits.

 

Recommendation:

 

Bring your zoom lens for the trip. It’s really hard to spot the crocodiles with the naked eye and they are such camouflage masters that you’ll think the branches are them and vice versa.

 
 
 
 

 
Tips on Unexpected Things That Can Happen When You Travel

Tips on Unexpected Things That Can Happen When You Travel

Unexpected things that can happen when you travel and tips on dealing with those events

Travelling is one of the most exciting things you can do in life, but this travel blogger has learnt that a lot of things can go wrong and one can never be too prepared. Here are some of the common, unexpected things that can happen when travelling and how you can prevent them from turning your vacation into a nightmare.

 

1. Split luggage and/or shopping too much

I am usually guilty of over-packing and even if I know there will be lots of shopping at the new destination, my suitcases often are really hard to zip up. If your luggage has had enough, a zip may burst now and then. Usually in the worst possible moment i.e. when you’re in a hurry to get on a train or in the airport, certainly where there are many eyes that can see you turn bright red as all of your undies and trinkets get exposed.

There are also times when you may forget the code of the lock or lose the key and there is no way to open a bag but to have to break the zip. This happened to me while travelling in Peru, and we had to cut a carry bag open just because we lost a key and it was the middle of the night so no one could help us.

At those moments you will definitely need to be buying a new bag at your destination, and unfortunately if you’re at the airport and in a hurry, the premium you’ll pay on bags is high.

One time while starting our trip around South America, we realised that we needed to send one of our bags home so we don’t have to lug it around the Amazon jungle. We went to the local post office in Buenos Aires and they asked us to get a quote from DHL. The total sum to send a bag would be around $500 US! Had to keep the bag :(

overpacking-travel-blog

(my overpacking – not a good look)

TIP:

Send your heaviest necessary items ahead, e.g. if you’re going to be travelling for a while and then ending your trip with a camp or a hike where you’ll need a lot of specialised equipment. Use companies that can safely and at reasonable cost deliver your items without you having to pay excess baggage airline fees. World Baggage is an Australian excess baggage company providing secure, excess baggage services at a lower cost than the airlines.

If your bag does happen to get damaged and you have to replace your luggage, you can always claim your warranty (if your suitcases have it) and send the damaged luggage to a brand’s service centre. You are responsible for getting the product over to the service centre and in this case you can also use the World Baggage service to courier the bag.

 2. Visa issues (especially in transit)

There are times when you’ll be travelling through a certain destination, staying only a few hours in a city or country to get to another location. During those transits it is usually not required that you obtain a visa, but it’s best to research and ask around just in case.

I was travelling from Sydney-Guangzhou and then Guangzhou-Hong Kong- via Beijing – Sydney. To travel to China, you need a tourist visa and I had it for 1x entry into China as I would be leaving the country through HK on the way home. No one said anything about the 3 hours I would spend in Beijing. On entry into Beijing, the passport control people had a real issue with my visa saying that I only obtained permit to enter the country one time. Luckily after some time they let me into the airport so I could get my Sydney flight.

TIP:

If you’re entering a certain country that requires visas on entry more than once, check if you require anything that lets you enter the ‘transit zone’ without any problems.

 3. Not having the right clothes 

While travelling for over 6 weeks around Europe in September, all weather forecasts pointed to warm, summer inspired days. We packed light jackets and autumn boots and did fine all the way through Italy. When we got to Paris, the next day, there was a sudden cold spell and we along with many Parisians had to rush to Galleries Lafayette to purchase emergency cashmere sweaters, woolen scarves and hats! Some mornings it was -2 degrees Celsius!

fashion-blog-australia

TIP:

Have lots of clothes that you can layer in case it gets too cold unexpectedly when you’re travelling. Also have some ‘budget’ for warm clothes that you might have to purchase when in a new destination, and in some countries good quality clothes for winter are not very cheap.

 4. You will get sick of some foods after a while (yes even Pizza!)

After travelling some time in Italy and seeing the most amazing sites and historical areas, we honestly got sick of pizza and pasta. It seemed that all restaurants, especially near to tourist locations had the ‘copy and paste’ menu. Pizza Pasta, Pasta Pizza and Calzone.

venice-travel-pizza

Look at the size of that pizza! (Venice)

One day we had to have pizza for brunch because most restaurants start serving pizza and espresso at 10am! I was craving Japanese food for about 3 weeks but we couldn’t find any good options to satisfy those cravings! We are quite lucky in Sydney to have lots of different food from so many cultural backgrounds and it will be really good, authentic stuff, not a token ‘exotic’ restaurant. So when travelling and seeking diverse foods, think when in Rome….

TIP:

If you really get sick of one type of food, google some local, authentic restaurants that have a high rating on wholesome foods, like locally grown vegetables and local seafood. Make a booking at those places and look for restaurants further away from the main tourist destinations. The staff might not speak any English (good sign by the way) but you will get some really great food!

 

 5. You might get scammed in the most unexpected ways

Before travelling, you’ll surely read a few blog posts or articles about scams while travelling. Some of them are very obvious – people creating diversions in a crowded space to get inside your bag, asking you to sponsor their ‘charity’ by buying a pen etc.

When in Paris, me and my husband got scammed royally and I had no idea that scam artists could be so well researched and unlike anything you’ll hear in the ‘beware pick pockets/scammers’ department.

We took a train into the Parisian CBD from the airport. This is the time when you have to be the most careful – lugging around suitcases and clearly looking like a tourist is bound to attract unwanted attention. We needed a taxi to get us to our hotel. In Paris it’s really hard to get a taxi on the street and we had a few unsuccessful attempts. A well-dressed man came over to us; he spoke fluent English and was very friendly. He told us about leaving his wallet at the hotel and how his girlfriend and her mother was in Disneyland and he had to get to them with some cash as they were also stuck….The story was very well rehearsed. He made polite conversation and told us he’d been to Sydney and named the most luxurious hotels, he said he was an investment banker and worked at UBS, that he lived in Switzerland and he just needs 100 Euro which he would pay us back. Then came the most shocking thing – my husband ended up giving him 100Euro and then the man helped us get a cab in exchange. While in a cab I was in awe that we just gave money away, as my husband is usually a skeptical person. Just goes to show you that when you’re tired and disoriented from travel and in a new location, you can easily fall victim to scam artists – really well rehearsed scam artists.

trevi-fountain-crowds

Incredibly crowded tourist areas with potential for pickpocketing (Photography: David Coleman https://havecamerawilltravel.com/)

TIP:

When after a long flight and carrying large luggage with you, try not to speak with anyone unless they are an official (information, police officer etc). Try not to believe any stories, yes you’ll want to help but think of why is this scenario happening only when they see you with big bags! Easy tourist target, coincidence – I think not!

 

 

Written by Julia Kim Murphy

Australia Lifestyle and Travel Blogger

 

 

 

 

A FLIGHT ATTENDANT’S TOP TIPS TO MAKE YOUR NEXT TRAVEL EXPERIENCE A BREEZE [INFOGRAPHIC]

A FLIGHT ATTENDANT’S TOP TIPS TO MAKE YOUR NEXT TRAVEL EXPERIENCE A BREEZE [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

There is no doubt that travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Holidays are meant to be exciting but often, the planning process, the long haul flight and subsequent jetlag can leave us feeling more exhausted than we’d like to be. To counteract these hurdles, it’s handy to have some travel hacks in mind.

So we spoke to Connie Ting, Flight Attendant at Cathay Pacific, to get her top tips on how to make your next travel experience a breeze.

  • Think Ahead

You won’t be going anywhere if you realise that your passport expires just before your travels. Check to see that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from departure date and for the duration of your trip. Some countries have different requirements so be sure to confirm ahead of time. Similarly, check the visa requirements for the destination/s you’re travelling to. Some countries allow you to purchase a visa on arrival and some require a preapproved visa which can take a few weeks (or months) to process. Vaccinations are another important requirement to think about.

  • Pack Smart

Minimise the chances of missing your luggage on the baggage carousel by opting for a colourful suitcase over a black one. Alternatively, tie ribbons or anything that will help identify your luggage when it’s on the carousel. A great space saving and organisational tip is to pack your items into labelled groups and in suction bags. That way you reduce the rate of unpacking and repacking with clearly marked bags for specific countries, weather or occasions.  This also makes it easier when you go through customs and you’re required to open up your luggage. The last thing you want is for everything to topple out of your suitcase.

  • Eat Smart

If you have any special dietary requirements, make sure you state your preference at least 24 hours ahead of the flight. It’s always best to eat a nourishing meal ahead of your flight so you’re less likely to be tempted by the less healthy options at the terminal. If you are trying to find something during a layover, look to see where the flight attendants are eating as a good reference. Make sure you drink enough water before you fly and keep hydrated during the flight. Try and avoid drinking coffee before the flight as this will add to dehydration and may also keep you awake when you’ll want to get some shut-eye.

  • Maximise In-Flight Comfort

Always wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothes when flying, especially if it’s long haul. If it gets too cold, you can request for a second blanket but always pack a scarf or cardigan in your carry-on for safe measure. If you normally wear contacts, avoid doing so on a flight as the cabin air will dry out your eyes in no time. Opt for your trusty glasses instead. You can always pack spare contacts in your carry on and change into them upon landing. Other essentials include eye masks (to block out light), a neck pillow and ear plugs.

 

  • Beat Jetlag

It’s hard to avoid jetlag after a long flight, but there are ways to negate the effects. If your flight arrives in the morning, try sleep throughout the second leg so you arrive fresh and therefore are more likely to fall asleep that night. If you have a layover, take advantage of any available airport facilities such as a showers, massages, gyms or nap rooms. Anything that gets the blood flowing is great for circulation, helps keep the body regular and can reduce jetlag.

P.S. Cathay Pacific surveyed Australian holidaymakers on their pre-flight and in-flight travel behaviour and preferences. They’ve captured an interesting snapshot of the findings via an infographic (see below).

Cathay Pacific_How Aussies Travel Infographic_Combined_FINAL APPROVED

 

TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 2

TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 2

The 2016 Traveller’s choice awards have revealed the top 25 destinations to travel in the world! That’s a big call for some of the landmarks because there is so much out there to do and see – I am an avid traveller and so far my list of places to visit is not getting any shorter.
In my previous post for Part 1 I gave a breakdown of the top half of the 25 posts and and added my commentary about the destinations revealed. I broke it down into two parts because the original post ended up containing so much information that I wanted to share and write about these beautiful destinations.
In this post, I again will share with you some secrets of my travels to those spots I’ve been to and also once more, I am adding destinations to my  “TO VISIT” column.
This is Part 2, starting from destination/landmark number 12.

 

12. Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya), Istanbul, Turkey
To Visit

 

One of the most memorable locations in a James Bond film and certainly impressive. It is said that this structure changed the history of architecture. In 1953 this building became a museum, but prior to that, it served as an immensely important construction holding many holy relics and changing with wars, conquests and tribulations. Started as an Orthodox Church in 537 AD and when Constantinople was conquered, it became a Mosque from 1453.
Hagia-Sophia-Museum Turkey

 

13. Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium

To Visit

 A key tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This square is measured 68 by 110 metres. Historically started as a popular market, owned by a Duke, that could continue its trade in all weather. The Town Hall served as a temporary hospital during WW2. The Grand Place continued to serve as a market until 1959 and is still called the Great Market. The neighbouring streets carry the historic existence of the market with names reflecting the sellers; butter, cheese, herring etc.

 

Grand-Palace, Brussels
Image via Booking.com
 If you’ve seen images of this giant flower carpet – it happens every couple of years (in August) on this square. All flowers are begonias, creating intricate colourful patterns on the giant carpet stretching a full 24 by 77 metres, a total of 1,800 square metres. This tradition started in 1971 and due to extreme popularity with tourists, has been carried on to this day, attracting millions every time. 
belgium-brussels-grand-place-flower-carpet

14. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

visited

 Who can miss the Eiffel tower when in Paris? Constructed for the World’s Fair in 1889, the tower is now more iconic than ever. If you’re visiting, you will no doubt have the temptation to climb to the top of Tour Eiffel but the lines can be very long. I remember waiting upwards of 3 hours in a queue to go up the tower in an elevator. Once you’ve finished at the top observation deck, you will be lining up again to come down. Such the experience! I loved observing the tower from all angles of the city and at night it’s lit up by a sparkling light show. In winter, the bottom floor of the tower turns into an ice skating rink and if you wish, you can also dine at one of the restaurants located on numerous floors.

 

Paris Eiffel Tower
Evening in Paris
paris travel live shop travel blogger
The streets of Paris
15.  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

visited

Who can forget the Hunchback of Notre Dame? The famous cathedral that’s downright spooky in some respects. In others, all romanticism and art. The scary gargoyles , were designed by sculptors and used their imagination and creativity to sculpt these  creatures. Their purpose is not only decorative, but they are used to help drain rain water off the roof to protect the walls from getting damaged. One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture, the Cathedral has been around since the 13th century.

cathedral_of_notre-dame_paris

16. Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing, China

To Visit

 

“The only construction visible from space.” or the myth, that’s now been broken, says. The wall is more than 2,300 years old and has been rebuilt and re-constructed in parts under different dynasties many times. Most times when we see tourist photos of the Great Wall, it is a section or two of the wall that’s been completely restored for the purpose of tourism. Currently there’s approximately 1/3 of the wall that’s been sited as ‘missing’ due to natural erosion, locals taking the bricks for home building and possibly other types of degradation which occur with age. If you’re interested in visiting there are many recommended parts of the wall to visit, most popular from Beijing. Depending on what type of expedition you’d like to do, all levels of fitness can be explored. More here.
The-Great-Wall-Of-China-
Image via http://www.unknownworld.co/

17. Acropolis, Athens, Greece

To Visit

 

 Another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps one of the oldest on the global list. The Acropolis is an ancient Citadel located on an extremely rocky site at the top of the city of Athens. This area contains a lot of ruins of ancient buildings, with the most famous one being the Parthenon (pictured below). The Parthenon served as a sacred ground and provides a monument of Greece’s Golden Age.
Acropolis Athens Greece
Image via http://www.keytours.gr/

18. Corcovado – Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To Visit

One of the most recognisable landmarks in the World and one of the 7 wonders, with the recent Olympic games 2016, anyone will recall this symbol of Rio De Janeiro. Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor is a gigantic statue (30 metres tall) of Jesus Christ by a French sculptor.  Mount Corcovado is located in central Rio De Janeiro and is called ‘hunchback’ mountain in Portugese. The submission to have Christ the Redeemer with arms wide open as a symbol of peace was approved in 1920. Now Christian believers can host weddings and baptisms at the chapel atop the Corcovado mountain.

Corcova Rio De Janeiro
Image via http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/

19. Big Ben, London, United Kingdom

To Visit

I remember drawing the Big Ben in art class when I was a kid. It’s a structure I studied in intricate details but have never ended up visiting London. I am sure if anyone is in London, then the Big Ben is kind of unmissable. Located at the North end of Palace Westminster and is now officially called Elizabeth Tower. The clock tower has become a symbol of the UK and is the most popular film location in London. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, presumably named after Sir Benjamin Hall, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg).  The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the clock faces are illuminated.

Big Ben
Image via https://cdn.getyourguide.com

20. Chichen Itza, Chichen Itza, Mexico

To Visit

 

This is the largest of archeological cities of the pre-Colombian Mayan period, located in Mexico. It’s recommended to visit the site with 1-2 nights to spare and to rise early in the morning to experience the beauty of this city with sunrise and less tourists, similar to Macchu Picchu. Located about 125 km west of Cancun and is a rugged place full of massive pyramids, temples and columns. It is said that the Chichen Itza was the most powerful city in Yucatan.
Chichen Itza
Image via Grayline.com

21.Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Bangkok, Thailand

To Visit

The temple is one of the largest in Bangkok and is famous for the giant reclining Buddha (46 metres long) that’s covered in gold leaf.  The Buddha’s feet alone are 5 metres long and are decorated in mother of pearl illustrations. Tourist sites say it is worth walking around the rest of the temple and seeing more golden statues, four chapels and the beautiful courtyard. Wat Pho was the first public university in Thailand and is now a centre for medicine and traditional massage. You can even get a relaxing foot or head and shoulder massage at the end of your visit and it is recommended to book ahead.

Buda-reclinado-Bangkok-Tailandia
Image via en.vietnamitsaenmadrid.com  

22. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

visited

This is officially the tallest building in the World. The Burj Khalifa lights up in beautiful lights at night and is located next to Dubai Mall. If you’re planning to visit, it’s best to purchase your tickets online as the queues to get tickets can be long and there is also a capped limit on the number of passes they issue per day. You don’t have to go up to the top of the tower to appreciate the height. Just try and crank your neck to see the tip of the building, you won’t believe how far you have to tilt your head back just to see where the tower ends.

Burj-Khalifa
Image via http://travelchannel.sndimg.com/

23. Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia

To Visit

This is what happens when you live in a certain place long enough, you don’t visit the touristy places around where you are. I have been to Canberra but never visited the War Memorial, which made the top 25 landmarks to visit this year. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is now regarded as one of the most significant memorials in the world. There is an extensive military museum. Every year on April 25th it is Anzac Day in Australia and on this day we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. Dawn Service, National Ceremony and Last Post Ceremony take place on this day at the Australian War Memorial. 

Australian_War_Memorial
Image via australia.dfns.net

24. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

visited

I used to work at Sydney Opera House, although our office was located nearby, I still had frequent meetings and saw many shows at the Opera House itself. This structure continues to attract tourists from all over the world and its always interesting to just observe the unique structure from the outside. In all weather, the Opera House looks stunning and if you’re lucky enough to visit Sydney during winter, you’ll see the sails light up in a myriad of colours and media projections as a part of the annual VIVID festival. There are daily tours for the Sydney Opera House – you can explore the insights from all the resident companies, including Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and go behind the scenes to view the Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland theatre from the performers perspective.

Sydney Opera House
Image via https://www.homeaway.com.au

25. Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

visited

 

We visited Kyoto after spending a few days in Tokyo and it was quite a change of pace. Kyoto has more historic origins and there are many temples and shrines to visit to learn about Japanese culture. The Fushimi Inari- Taisha Shrine is probably the most famous, identified by the large orange Romon gate and the torii gate covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii (“thousands of torii gates”). The hike to the summit of the mountain takes 2-3 hours but you’re free to turn back any time you want.  Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers so you will see many statues of foxes in the shrine grounds. Many visit the Shrine to explore the mountain trails around the area, but when we visited, this was not something that we wanted to do.  It’s funny because I took a photo of the station called JR Inari Station, which is where you get off to go to the Shrine. Inari restaurants and Fox Udon are popular dishes at the nearby restaurants and have fried tofu (said to be foxes’ favourite food).

Fushimi-Inari-Shrine

Image via http://lukezeme.com/

Have you been to visit all of these landmarks? I certainly haven’t but just researching the places I haven’t been to gave me so many new ideas on where to travel next. I hope this article gave you some more information on these Global landmarks. Happy travels!

Go back to part 1 of the 25 Top Landmarks to visit in 2016 to see all 25 landmarks to visit.

 

 

 

 

Best Getaway Places in Australia this Winter

Best Getaway Places in Australia this Winter

Winter gets us Aussies less motivated, needing more sleep, leading less healthy days and sometimes downright blue altogether.
In a recent study by Accor hotels,  1,500 Australians were surveyed on winter habits.
77% reported feeling tired and having trouble waking up, 70% binge watch TV, 59% do less exercise and 56% overeat.

 

While it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit less energetic in winter, if you find yourself neglecting your exercise and healthy eating habbits, you’re probably doing yourself more harm than good in the long run.

 

The best solution to maintaining your physical and mental health this winter is to become more consious of eating habbits and being more vigilant with exercise. Join a gym that has fun classes so you don’t have to run outside in the cold. Classes will motivate you to participate more and if you are attending with a friend you can hold each other accountable.

 

An additional feel good is taking a short trip somewhere warmer than where you already are!
There is nothing like breaking up the winter cycle with a little bit of sunshine.
After all out of the Aussies living in warmer areas like Queensland only 38% reported feeling blue compared to their Canberra residing counterparts out of whom 58% reported mood downturns in winter.

 

Alternatively, challenge yourself in trying something new e.g. If you’ve never skiid before, opt in for a weekend getaway at a ski resort and get a couple of lessons. New experiences and fun physical activity like skiing and snowboarding in winter are bound to kick in some positive vibes into your routine.

 

If you don’t have much leave, it’s best to stay around Australia. We are lucky to have so many options to travel around, most great destinations are only a few of hours away!

 

Queensland is my top pick for getting away in winter because the further north you go, the more it feels tropical and warm.

 

Great Barrier Reef
 Butterflyfishes and turtle

 

Stretching over 2,000 km, the Great Barrier reef is indeed a incredible natural wonder. If anything, it’s better to visit Cairns in winter, because the temperatures a cooler (ranging between 26-27 degrees celsius, vs low to mid 30s in the summer) and the water is meant to be clearer so when it comes to snorkelling and diving, the two most popular activities at the reef, you’ll surely get your money’s worth. There are more than 1,500 fish species, 134 species of sharks and sting rays and more than 30 species of marine mammals – the reef is always full of life.
It’s important to remember that theReef is very fragile so its important to educate yourself on some practices while you are there.
Protecting the reef tips:
- Wear a wetsuit rather than putting on sunscreen that damages the reef
- Take all rubbish with you
- Never rest on coral or disturb marine life
 
Hamilton Island

 

scenery-hamilton-island-qualia

 

The largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands ( There are 74 islands in total) which has it’s own airport making it easier to fly directly onto the island and start enjoying the warm temperatures as soon as you get off the plane.
There is a vast range of accomodation on the island, including the very luxurious Qualia resort. Read the Daily Telegraph review here.
Hamilton Island is the perfect getaway destination. The island is big enough to cater to all your holidaying needs, you can engage in popular water sports, and activity as well as shopping, tours and of course choose from a range of incredible dining options.

 

Daydream Island
 daydream island living reef

 

Daydream Island is located an hour’s ferry ride from Hamilton Island and is the only living reef resort in the World. Here you can get up close and personal with sting rays and bamboo sharks. You’ll be accompanied by lots of marine life as you’re having breakfasts and dinners in the main restaurants – the reef runs all the way around the dining and living facilities making it incredibly interesting to observe fish and other creatures moving through their daily cycle. There are 3 main restaurants on the island offering decent dining options. There are also many free activities such as open air movies and fish feeding. There is also a mini golf park, a spa and a a marine biology education centre on the island. So if you’re keen to learn more about Nemo, Dory and baby stingrays, this is definitely a fun place to visit.
Lizard Island

 

lizard island australia
Lizard Island is a bit of a luxurious experience and is located in the most northern part of Queensland directly on the Great Barrier Reef. There are 24 powdery white sand beaches, a luxurious spa which I reviewed here 

 

You can snorkel and dive right off the beaches and enjoy the exclusivity of this resort with a private villa.
This kind of getaway would not be cheap but could be saved for a special occasion, or if you really wanted to spoil yourself.

 

Airley beach 

 

Airlie beach QLD

 

Traditionally a backpacker’s good time town, Airley beach is fast becoming a more upmarket destination – its still a very beautiful and incredibly affordable destination however. There are myriads of accomodation options from hotels to Air BNB. The beauty of staying in Airlie beach is that you’re not paying for the exclusivity of island resorts but you are still super close to all the Whitsundays action. Options here are to take day trips to the islands, go sailing and explore all the local eateries, bars and boutique shops. If you need to you can always zip back to Brisbane.

 

Noosa
 Noosa Australia

 

Noosa is located a bit north of the gold coast and in winter, it won’t be as warm as Airley beach or Hamilton island. With temperateures ranging from 20-25 degrees during the day, it’s still warm enough to swim but in the evenings you’ll have to get a little rugged up. There is plenty to do and see in Noosa. Apart from the beautiful beaches, you can enjoy the town and explore nature walks, Australia Zoo and the many shopping destinations .

 

Gold Coast

 

Gold Coast High Rises and Beach

 

The Gold Coast is a popular schoolies destination for all Australian school kids. In winter, you are not risking running into hoards of graduating teens and so your trip is guaratneed to be more relaxing! The Gold Coast boasts beautiful beaches, lots of entertaining venues including bars, pubs, casinos and nightclubs. If you’re into all of that, it’s good to stay in Surfer’s paradise as there are my options for apartments and hotels really close to the main esplanade and the beach. The casino (Jupiter’s) can be entertaining during the night with lots of shows and dining options. If you wanted a more quiet day/evening, rent a car and head to Broadbeach which is only 10-15 minutes away. There are more upmarket dining options available and it’s also a quieter more relaxing space.

 
 

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