How to fit an extra city into your trip… for FREE!

I am one of those few and far between people that actually enjoys plane rides. Call me strange, but the feeling of take off, landing and even turbulence is exhilarating, and I can spend hours on end to watch movies, read, and sleeping without feeling like I am wasting time! I even enjoy the airplane food… most of the time.

When you live in New Zealand and Australia, getting to Europe is a REALLY long journey. From New Zealand your looking at two 12/13 hour flights with a layover in between of anything from 1.5-20+ hours. Obviously the same problem for anyone in UK/Europe heading down under, or even an American living on the West Coast getting to Europe!

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Luckily for us, having to catch at least two flights to get anywhere far away means we get the opportunity to tick a brand new city off our bucket list- often for free! It is also a perfect way to break up the journey and can help beat jet lag- win/win! It can be kind of tricky with some airlines to do this online, so this is when a travel agent comes in handy!

Some of the most popular airlines/stopovers I used to book as a travel agent are the following:

Air New Zealand- Stopovers in Tokyo/Hong Kong/Shanghai/Vancouver/Los Angeles/San Francisco. You can even do one stop in one city in Asia on the way there, then the USA/Canada on the way back and Voila! Super cheap round the world trip! They even have the option of paying a bit extra to include Rarotonga or Fiji as an extra stopover.

Qantas/Emirates- Stopovers in Melbourne/Brisbane/Sydney (although Australia has a stopover tax of around $100AUD), Bangkok, Dubai. Ever since Qantas and Emirates started code-sharing it has opened up more flight times as well!

Etihad- Abu Dhabi, which is also only a 40 minute bus ride to Dubai!

Singapore Airlines- Singapore (also have a great option called Asian Add-ons, where you can add on return flights from Singapore to other Asian cities for a really inexpensive price! Opens up a lot more stopover options- Delhi, Koh Samui, Borneo…)

Lufthansa/Swiss Airlines/Austrian Airways- these three are also great for Round the World options! They codeshare with a bunch of airlines from America/Asia back to New Zealand/Australia- so say hello to stopovers in Vancouver/Los Angeles/San Francisco/Bangkok/Kuala Lumpur/Tokyo/Osaka/Singapore/Shanghai… just to name a few!

There are MANY more options out there as well- these are just a few! Although this is more aimed towards Kiwis/Aussies heading to the UK and vice versa, it gives an idea to everyone what opportunities are out there. If your traveling to London from Vancouver- how about Japan as a stopover? For the West Coasters, Iceland Air do REALLY cheap flights to Europe via Reykjavik. Or how about if your heading from L.A to Australia, flying Air Tahiti Nui and break up the flight in style in Bora Bora? The options are endless!

Check out some stopover inspiration below from some of my favorite stopover cities!

Sydney, Australia- on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge!

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Singapore, Marina Bay Sands during the nightly Wonder Full – Light & Water Spectacular.

Vancouver, Canada. Easy to get around and heaps to see so perfect no matter how long you have!

Throwback Thursday: The Walled Goodness of San Gimignano

Happy Thursday/Wednesday night!

Today’s throwback is dedicated to one of the most surprisingly beautiful cities I have ever visited. I had never heard of this town before I got here, it was on our Contiki itinerary but I had overlooked it and just saw it as a pit stop from Rome to Florence. The night before we visited, I had a huge night out at a club in Rome and was not feeling very flash at all. I almost even missed the bus- probably the only downside to getting my own hotel room through out the tour was no roomie to make sure I was awake! Luckily I had my friends knocking down my door for ten minutes and helping me pack my suitcase in record timing!San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

I would LOVE to go back here and be in a better frame of mind to truly experience it. The walled medieval town has so much amazing history- according to legend, this town dates back to 64B.C when two brothers escaped from Rome after their involvement in  conspiracy. They built two castles, Castle of Mucchio and the Castle of Silvia, and these later developed into the town of San Gimignano.

It really does feel like your stepping back in time when you enter through the walls- and it is home to literally the World’s Best Gelato! Although it did take us a while (and a whole lot of Gelato) to actually taste Gelato from this shop as so many other shops had signs up claiming they were also the Worlds Best Gelato!

I guess a half the point in doing a Contiki is to get a taste of places you want to go back to and explore more- but it really was a tease just spending about 2 hours here! I am definitely keen to head back next time I visit Italy and experience some of the local delicacies such as the wines, the cheeses, the olive oils… there were so many picturesque restaurants around that were calling my name!

My photo’s can’t even come close to capturing how magical this place feels, but I hope it gives you a small taste!

San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy  San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

Why hello there, 2014…

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an amazing NYE. I always try to plan amazing New Years Eve’s and try have them live up to the hype, although almost every year is a little underwhelming. Being in Whistler this year I thought it would be the best ever- my friend had won tickets to a NYE party for which tickets cost $115 (pretty much every club in Whistler was charging $75-150New Years Eve for tickets). They had made it sound pretty cool- circus performers, burlesque dancers, champagne and Hors D’Oeuvres, however by the time we got there around 10pm the Hors D’Oeuvre were almost gone, the circus acts had finished, every 20 minutes or so a dancer would come out and the only champagne was at midnight. I felt pretty bad for the people who paid for their tickets!

Even though NYE is never the most incredible night of the year like it’s always made out to me, New Years are always the perfect time to re-evaluate and take time to see where you want to be at the end of the year. As someone who LOVES to goal set, I love this time to reflect and to plan ahead.

I have always had a problem with trying to set my goals to be very specific with not much room for leeway, especially when it comes to travel. When I was a teenager, I always said I was going to visit 21 countries by the time I was 21. When I turned 21, I was a little bit disappointed as I had far from reached that goal. Which is silly, as I had already achieved so much for my age- I had traveled to Australia a few times, a couple of Pacific Islands, Singapore, Malaysia and part of Europe all with my own money before my 21st Birthday.

I also thought I would have a career I loved by now and settled down – and now I am living in Canada doing a season at a ski resort still having no idea what I want to do when I get home! If I hadn’t taken this risk though I would have missed out on this awesome experience.

So this year, instead of freaking out because I am getting older and still don’t really know what I am going to do with my life, I am going to make my resolutions a little more achievable, and character growing instead.

1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff-

This has been a bit of a struggle for me while living in Whistler. Living with 3 other girls, 2 of whom I never knew before I got here, is definitely a learning curve. There has been a lot of times where one of the girls hasn’t cleaned her bowl sitting on the bench for 3 days, or when they leave shoes right in the doorway making it so easy to trip over. My job as well can be really frustrating when I get customers call complaining about the most ridiculous things or when it is so busy I can’t even catch a break. Some days, little things like this put me in such a foul mood the whole day which makes me miss home and miss my own space! I need to learn to not let it keep me down the whole day – I’m living and working at one of the best ski resorts, I have great friends here as well as enough money to survive on as well as the opportunity to snowboard on my days off. I definitely have it good, and I need to remind myself of that!

2. Don’t get sucked into the Whistler Party culture-

I’m not saying I need to stop going out altogether while I am here (like that would happen!) but I do admit I need to tone it down a little. The problem with there being something on every night of the week does not help someone who suffers from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) like myself! Instead of going out at least 3 times a week, I need to restrict myself to 1 or 2 nights. It was fun at first, but the more I go out the more I realize it’s exactly the same as every week so if I don’t go one night I am not missing out on much. I need to get myself back into shape and the extra calories from drinking don’t help! My bank account doesn’t like it either. I would much rather save that money to go towards a holiday!

3. Have more “Me” time-

Sharing a room in Whistler, working with my friends, something being on most nights of the week – it can be really hard to find time alone and when I do it’s usually stuck behind my laptop! I am going to dedicate one morning a week where I can just leave my laptop at home, go grab a coffee and breakfast and enjoy the place that I live in.

Quotes to Live by- You are never too old to set another goal, or dream a new dream. - C.S Lewis

Hopefully these goals are a bit more attainable that the goals made in my previous years, and I will try my hardest to make it the first year I have actually stuck to my resolutions.

I would love to hear your thoughts/goals/resolutions!

Ciao for now!