Know someone who’s caught the travel bug? With the holidays coming up, we decided to create a list of gift suggestions for the person in your life who plans on travelling in the new year!
- Polaroid Camera
Years ago I was given a polaroid camera as a birthday gift, not for any reason relating to travel, but it has become something I cannot travel without! These days most people come home from a trip with memory cards full of thousands of photos, usually including many, MANY multiples. But who has the time to actually look through all of them? I love my Polaroid because I don’t just snap pictures of anything, and my album becomes a collection of special highlights of the trip, with a short description and date right at the bottom of each photo! Ser loved it so much when we were in Aus, she ended up getting one too!
- Swell Bottle
You may have heard of Swell bottles before, but wondered what might make a water bottle so expensive? I wondered the same thing, but these bottles keep liquids cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours at a time, which can be incredibly useful while travelling! Plus, they are very durable, which is important to someone like me who tends to drop things.
- Turkish Towels
These towels are ideal for someone who needs to pack light, because with the cute designs and comfy cotton material they can double as a scarf, sarong, or blanket for plane/train/bus rides!
- Travel Journal/Planner
Although I am not always the most adamant about recording my travels and journaling along the way, I am always so thankful when I do! And I find that having a proper travel journal or planner really encourages me to do so. There are many great options out there, but here are a few of my favourites:
For the road-tripper: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/lifes-a-road-trip
For the creative: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/home-gift-i-was-here-a-travel-journal-for-the-curious-minded/22817797
For the momento-collector: https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/ticket-stub-diary
- Scratch-Off World Map
Let’s be honest, we all love talking about the places we have travelled to, and showing off a little bit. Scratch-Off World Maps are a fun way to keep track of all the countries that we have been to and to display it proudly!
I recently did a road trip from Melbourne to Cairns, which turned out to be a pretty typical thing to do for foreigners and Aussies alike. During my trip, I met many other travelers and discovered other ways of getting across the coast that I hadn’t considered when planning my trip. So here are some options to consider when planning your trip along the coast:
I have to admit, I loved the three weeks we spent living in a campervan. It was nice to have a consistent living space (rather than switching hostels or hotels every few days) where I could have things somewhat spread out, well, at least not crammed into a backpack. I went slightly overboard in the beginning to try to make it feel cozy and put up some decorations, but it really did start to feel like home. We found tons of great caravan parks along the coast, and Queensland has plenty of free campsite options.
There are many companies that you can rent camper vans from and multiple sizes/styles available. It is important to do some research to determine the size/style that is ideal for you, but in terms of choosing a company, well I personally just went with the cheapest available. For me, that was Wicked Campers, and although I have friends who chose not to rent with them based on poor reviews, I thought we had a great experience. There was an issue with the heating in a camper van so not only did they replace the car no questions asked, but they even gave us an upgrade. Other options to look into would be Jucy, Spaceships, and Hippie Campers.
There are tons of options to consider if you choose to travel the coast by car. You can choose to pack a tent and stay in campsites, find hotels/hostels with parking, or a combination of both. The bigger question is, renting or buying?! When we took a road trip with friends to Karijini National park, we rented a car and a camper van, and pitched a tent every night. But I met some people who actually purchased a used car. This might be more cost-efficient; the girls I met had spent the same amount of money purchasing their car as we did renting our van, but they were able to sell it at the end to make a lot of the money back. However, you have to consider the potential additional costs and inconvenience of buying a car. For example, setting up your insurance might be more complicated, if there are any issues with the car you will have to figure out how to deal with it and may incur huge costs, etc. If it’s smooth sailing, this can be incredibly cheap, but it is a bit of a gamble.
- Hop-on, Hop-off Busses
Greyhound offers the option of purchasing hop-on, hop-off passes which are more cost-effective than buying separate bus tickets for each trip. This is slightly more restrictive in the sense that you will only be able to travel along the routes offered, but very flexible in the sense that you can plan your own route and timeline.
Another option would be to plan a trip with flexible travel companies like Loka. They offer some guided tours and plan part of the trip for you, but also give you the ability to extend your time in any city along the route as long as you please, offering some additional freedom and flexibility. This will be a relatively pricey option, but it includes a ton of activities thereby saving you the time and headache of planning everything on your own, and is an easy way to meet fellow travelers if you’re doing the trip alone.
- Organized Trips
Many companies including Contiki and Life Before Work will do all the work for you, so that you can enjoy your trip without having to plan or organize anything on your own. This will likely be the most expensive of your options, but they do have sales so if your schedule is somewhat flexible, sign up for mailing lists and keep an eye out for their promotional e-mails!
No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong on the east coast of Aus. I hope that this information helps you with your travels!
Here are some of our favorite apps to help make traveling as pain-free as possible!
I know what you’re thinking, I have a gps app that I love and trust unconditionally. Maybe you usually use Waze, Google Maps, or Apple Maps. I have personally had issues with each of these apps while traveling. Sometimes it was as simple as losing service while I was trying to get directions, but there were also times when the directions I was given were wrong and I ended up lost on a man’s farm being told to drive off a cliff. Maps.me has been the most reliable in my travels, and every traveller I have discussed maps.me with along the way has raved about this app. The app allows you to download city maps before you get there, so that if you don’t have wifi or data you can still find your way!
When you’re traveling with someone, dividing up the costs can get tricky. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for you to split every individual charge, and keeping track of what everyone pays for can just be tedious and complicated. Splitwise allows you to input each cost as you go (if you don’t have Internet connection it will sit in the app and upload when you do), specify who paid and whether the cost should be split equally, and then the app does all the math for you. Splitwise will tell you what the final tally is when your trip is over, plus you will have a record of all your purchases, which is great when trying to keep track of expenses or stick to a budget!
Some form of Cloud
A few friends of mine have had phones or cameras stolen while traveling, or lost them to the bottom of the ocean. As terrible as it is losing an expensive piece of technology that you want to use for the rest of your trip, the worst part is always losing your photos – you can’t buy those back. This is why I suggest using any form of online drive to store these photos; be it iCloud, Onedrive, or whatever else you generally use. My personal favorite is Google Drive because I never seem to run out of space and it’s easy to use!
This one is necessary for those of you that are planning on camping or road-tripping in Australia or New Zealand. You can specify whether you’re interested in caravan parks, campsites, or all of the above and CamperMates map will show you all of your options. They include information about price, and allow you to search for strictly free sites if you choose, utilities, etc. but my favourite part was the reviews section. Other campers will tell you about cleanliness, what the utilities are really like (ie. the washing machine has been broken for ages), and anything else you could possibly want to know!