Top tip – How to stay happy when Mother Earth's a b*tch

30 Apr

HOW TO STAY HAPPY WHEN MOTHER EARTH’S A B*TCH  The problem with coordinating holidays around events that involve nature is Mother Earth often gets in a bitch of a mood. I recently got really disappointed when the weather ruined my plans at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Firstly my dive was canceled for the Poor Knights Islands, which are reported to have some of the greatest dive sites in the world. The next day I was booked to swim with wild dolphins – something I have wanted to do since I was five or six years old – and that was canceled as well, because of rough seas.

I was especially annoyed because I usually keep my travel plans flexible, moving from town to town as I wish. But for this particular trip my accommodation was set in stone, which means I couldn’t stick around to go diving or dolphin swimming when conditions improved. The only reason I had a strict itinerary on this occasion was because it was Easter holidays and hotel availability was tight.

When I consider how most of my friends travel – with every single minute locked into a specific time or place as arranged by a neurotic travel agent – I realise most people become frustrated when things get canceled or postponed. And it’s heartbreaking when holiday dreams get swept away. So in effort to help my friends, family and random readers to avoid the heart-wrenching disappointment of a canceled event, these are my hot tips for making a holiday fun and flexible:

Don’t risk forfeiting huge accommodation costs.  Unlike most accommodation websites, such as wotif.com and lastminute.com, hostelworld.com does not require you to foot the whole bill up front, which means you can forfeit a booking at the last minute and only lose a few dollars. I once forfeited a hostelworld.com booking in Japan because I was exhausted after climbing Mt Fuji and just wanted to collapse in a bed at the foot of the mountain, rather than catch a train to Tokyo as planned. Hostelworld.com offers hostels, bed and breakfast arrangements and budget hotels. It’s a great site for booking accommodation when you’re already on the road.

Take advantage of cheap last minute offers.  Don’t book flights ten months in advance and risk cancellation from unforeseen events, such as volcano eruptions! You can grab cheap airfares as close as a month from your planned departure date. Sign up for monthly newsletter updates that feature great sales. Visit http://au.travelzoo.com, www.bestflights.com.au or go to the travel section of your favourite news website, for example The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller distributes special offers and discounts through its e-newsletter. Sign up at www.smh.com.au/travel.

Find a flexible tour operator.  If you’re not comfortable travelling alone or planning it as you’re on the road, there are tour operators that offer flexible arrangements. For example, Busabout offers hop-on hop-off deals on a series of networks. All you need to do is select the network, for example the North Loop of Europe, and then travel at your own pace, jumping on and off Busabout buses in certain cities until you complete the entire network.

Take your sweet time driving.  Hiring a car can be expensive but it allows you to take your sweet time getting from A to B and sometimes produces unexpected discoveries along the way. It also means you can easily access alternative sights to keep busy if events are canceled. If you’re on a tight budget, limit car hire to just a few days as required and don’t forget to claim frequent flyer points through your booking – they can go towards reducing the cost of your next flight.

By Marissa Toohey


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