Friday, 31 December 2010

Suggested 1 week self drive tour from Melbourne

We've had many visitors join us in Australia and have now figured out a wonderful tour of approx 1 week taking in lots of wildlife in natural settings and different scenic spots.  If you are pushed for time you could do it in 4 days but a week is about perfect.

VICTORIA

Geelong - Waterfront bollards



  Barwon Heads - lookouts and the world famous Bells surf beach.

Discounted Air Asia in flight food and beverages on line



Having booked a budget flight we rarely take the offered meals.  However with Air Asia the prices are very reasonable.

You can order your Air Aisa in flight food and beverages on line and save up to 25%.

There are meals on offer at RM9 and RM12 and the price includes tea or coffee.

OK these prices are higher than what you would pay in Malaysia but compare this to the other low cost carriers who charge exorbitant rates for food on board.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Don't always believe what you are told - at least not the first time

We've just had a classic example of duff information.  We have friends from Melbourne hoping to come up and camp by the river near Mildura.  They phoned up Victoria Parks and Wildlife and were told the whole stretch of river is closed for camping due to the floods etc.

Yesterday we took a drive from Bruce's Bend to Psyche Pumps, the only bit of flooding was in very low ground and there were dozens of people enjoying the riverside bush camping in tents, caravans and motorhomes.  There are superb grassy spots with shade and privacy.

Mildura Murray River between Bruce's Bend and Psyche Pumps, great bush camping to be had either side of the marina

Moral of the tale, always try to check with a local rather than a distant information centre and if it is something you really want to do check with as many sources as possible before giving up.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Motorhome/Rv mishaps


Everyone makes mistakes…..

Toilet troubles

Parked at the edge of a small village we decided to visit the bar. It was in the winter and we were the only tourists so got involved in the local custom of drinking a raki (rough neat spirit) every time someone entered the bar. By the end of the evening we were both feeling rather merry as we staggered home. There are no

Sunday, 26 December 2010

How much do you need to retire early and travel ?




Many people are eager to know but embarrassed to ask us outright how we fund our lifestyle. They often begin by asking if we have won the lottery – no we didn't but we feel we live a millionaires lifestyle. 

Our life is funded by the income from a property that we have rented out in England, at the moment this is bringing in £840 (approx $1200) a month although we rarely spend more than £700 ($1000). We also have savings that we use for extra (non essential) things such as cruises. Not enough for us to travel and stay in top class hotels, go on campsites every night or fly first or business class but plenty to travel in a motorhome with lots of free camping or to back pack in less expensive countries.

GENERAL TRAVEL - Hospitality Clubs

Kevin & Ruths and our motorhome parked up in Mexico



When you travel for a number of years you may become slightly weary of all the tourist attractions and find yourself taking more interested in people culture.   On a number of occasions we have had chance meetings with local people who have invited us back to their place or offered to show us around, however you never know quite when or where this might happen.  If you join one of the hospitality clubs you may be able to pre arrange this kind of event

The groupls are based on travellers trying to help one another in any way they we can.  THEY ARE NOT GROUPS THAT YOU JOIN JUST TO GET FREE ACCOMMODATION. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

4 Aromatherapy oils I would not travel without

Having studied a little about aromatherapy massage I like to have a supply of ESSENTIAL oils with me.  Whilst travelling it is not practical to carry a full range but these are the ones I would not travel without plus their uses.  I carry 10ml of each and even on a 1-year trip have never run out.  Not only are they useful and light in the luggage they work out much cheaper than the many other products you would have to carry to cover all the functions these do.

Tea tree - this has great antisceptic and antibacterial properties.  Can be used neat on cuts etc but better diluted with a little water or carrier oil.  A few drops of tea tree and eucalyptus oil will get rid of odours in shoes.  Dilute with water to 5%, and use to disinfect surfaces or as a mouthwash. It can also get rid of head lice when used after shampoo or mixed in shampoo for dandruff treatment.  Many fungal infections can also be cured by regular treatment with tea tree oil.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Need inspiration to travel, check out our take on many common sayings

In order to inspire people we often quote well known sayings and then go on to explain our take on them.   

Here are some of our favourites.

NEVER PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
you may enjoy it and have time to do it again.

DON'T STOP DOING THINGS BECAUSE YOU GET OLD, YOU GET OLD BECAUSE YOU STOP DOING THINGS
If you are physically capable of doing something why let age stop you.  For example we have friends who are now in their 70's who still go backpacking every year.  They say it gets easier as they get older as they are almost always offered a seat on a bus, get the best rooms at the hostels and quickly get offered a ride when hitching.

NEVER TRY TO GET ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW
Before setting off on a big trip you will probably have many things that you want to put in place and get right.  However we have learnt that it is rare to achieve that status and better to aim for a specific start date rather than wait.  We have often set off with a few straggling ducks and either pulled them into place once we have got moving or left them to drift until, it has never been the wrong decision.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Backpacking trip to India next year, our travel planning


Just to give you some idea how we make up a plan I will use our up and coming backpacking trip to India as an example.

Firstly we knew we wanted to leave Australia late January and had to be back in England mid May as that is when our 1-year travel insurance runs out.  We find Air Asia  take some beating on price so when they had their last sale on we got in quick.  I had already checked out the weather in India and realised we needed to start in the south and leave the north for the latter part of the trip.  We booked to fly into Cochin and out of Delhi.  We had no intention if trying to see the whole country but to discover a few selected areas.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

We like VALUE FOR MONEY



During our every day travels we try to live within the income from our rental property in England (£800 / $1200) month.  Also out of this we pay for annual travel insurance, flights etc.

We dip into savings for special one offs like cruises, expensive tourist attractions or having the family out to visit figuring that when the savings are gone we will not repeat these treats.  We also like to think that we all benefit more from having the kids on holiday with us at a stage in their lives when they can't afford such things and we all get to share the pleasure rather than us leaving them money when we die and they probably need it less. 

No longer do we check our budget each day, week or month but simply try to do what we want to do for the best price possible.  Yes we like value for money but do realise that sometimes you are only going to be in a place once and if there is a price to paid for a tourist attraction that you want to visit you might as well pay it.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Making phone calls abroad from Australia



When travelling we tend to use a number of methods for keeping in touch with people at home.  Our UK mobile is good for free incoming texts but expensive for everything else.

To get the best rates we use different methods.

Skype seems to be one of the cheapest for sending SMS messages or phoning mobiles and did you know that free phone number throughout the world are still free on skype?

To call landlines it may pay you to buy a phone card (actually now just a till receipt) where you call a number, key in your PIN then dial the number you require.  These are not really cheap it you use the 1800 or 1300

Monday, 13 December 2010

Ladies only



When travelling it can often be a problem buying tampons or on long trips to take enough with you.

An alternative is a Diva Cup which is a kind of plastic egg cup that you insert like a tampon but resuse. Yes it sounds horrible but comes in different sizes and with practice is no more difficult than using a regular tampon.

If out for the day it tends to last longer than a tampon without leaking or if you go to a toilet where there are no sinks to rinse it through then you can just remove it, empty and wipe with toilet paper or a baby waper before re-inserting.

They are small enough to keep in your handbag so especially handy if you have irregular periods.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Travelling light



More and more airlines are reducing the carry on luggage weight making it more of a challenge to fly without checking in baggage.

So how can you get around this problems.  

Have you noticed that no one ever checks the weight of the clothing you are wearing so this may be a loophole.

It makes sense to initially wear your heaviest clothing and footwear within reason but you can still save weight by filling your pockets with small heavy things like computer power packs.


Whilst someone has already designed a full blown jacket with numerous pockets to amost act as luggage this is very expensive and bulky.  There are also smaller travel vests but with a limited number of pockets.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

LIFESTYLE - How to retire at 40 and TRAVEL the world on a BUDGET (by MOTORHOME, BACK PACKING AND CRUSING )

After 14 years on the road we have gathered lots of travel tips and advice. So many times we are asked our "secret" so maybe now is the time to let the cat out of the bag.

In the beginning my husband Steve was aged 42 and I was aged 40 when we sold our Post Office and General Store in Yorkshire. Our accommodation was also there so we had previously bought a small house to live in but first wanted to take a couple of years out travelling.

We rented out the house, bought a second hand motorhome and set off on our big adventure.

                                                                   

To jump forward a number of years the 2 year trip grew as we found many ways to live off a small income, buying and selling motorhomes in different continents and backpacking.

You can search the blog for more information on how we manage on a low income and also read a bit about our on going trip.

                                                                     

You can find information on how to find and book cheap flights and cruises, backpacking tips, motorhome info (buying, selling, exchanging, kitting out, travel tips), interesting and useful web sites and pretty much anything that may be of help to people wanting to travel full time on a low budget.

TIP

When you travel full time you have more time than money so taking the time to check out lots of options can save you money.  On many things getting 3 quotes pays dividends

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Visiting big cities, getting lost and getting out of there

The following information we apply when in our motorhome but is also good for people self driving in anything.

First we try to avoid driving into big cities by checking out public transport and then finding a car park somewhere near the end of the line but on occasions you cannot do this. If you have a choice and want to drive into or through a big city then try and pick a Sunday morning.

To do this stay nearby on the Saturday night and check out a map to work out on which road we will want to leave.  Early on the Sunday morning head into the city, cross through then find the road you intend leaving on before looking for a parking spot.  Traffic is much lighter and parking spots so much easier to find and when you are ready to leave you have already done the hard part in finding the road out.

If you do get lost at any stage one option is to flag down a taxi, tell him where you want to go and explain that you will follow him there then pay him the usual fare on arrival.  That way he is sure to drive slowly enough for you to follow.

Another idea is to find a pizza delivery shop.  Go in and order and ask if you can have a pizza delivered to either your destination or at least to somewhere on the road that you want to get out of town on.  Explain that you want to follow the driver.  Cheaper than a taxi even after giving the deliverer a tip and you get a pizza to eat as well.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sharing a vehicle and spreading the cost

TIP - If negotiating for a trip it is often cheaper to bargain for the whole vehicle and get a few friends to join you.

On our recent South Pacific cruise we docked on the island of Lugainville.  On the dock locals were waiting with their vehicles, small cars, mini buses and trucks.  Most wanted to charge a fixed price per person depending where you wanted to go.  We tried a different tactic and negotiated for a truck to take us to the Blue Hole and Million Dollar Point for $100.

Soloman said he could take up to 10 people and were already 6 so asked a few other cruise passengers and soon made it up to 9.  A great deal at less than $12 a head.  Other people off the boat paid $50 per person for the same trip, Ok so they were in an air conditioned mini bus but I reckon we had more fun and by not having to wait for the bus to fill up we got to the places before the other people arrived.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Car hire abroad

We occasionally hire a car whilst abroad and learnt our lesson from Kevin when he had trouble returning a car in Mexico.  He had declined their insurance as he was covered on his credit card.  When collecting the car the rental agent went around and ticked on a sheet the areas with damage (pretty much all the car!).

On return the agent tried to say there was further damage to the rear bumper, this way he would be able to make a claim through Kevins credit card insurance and get all the bumper damage fixed.  Kevin had a hard time standing his ground to get them to agree it wasn't his damage but from this we have learnt a lesson.

TIP - When hiring a car not only go round with the rental person ticking the damaged parts on the rental agreement but also be seen to photograph them as well and if possible get the agent in one of the shots. This way if there are problems on return you have proof of how the car started out but having seen you do this they are less likely to try it on.  

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cheap meal deals at clubs in Australia

On our first trip around Australia we saw lots of clubs like RSL's but believed them to be all member only.  We now know different.

If you find a local club, RSL, bowls, golf, surf etc pop in to sign up as a temporary member (free) and enjoy their deals. 

Meals are usually cheap and drinks are often at lower prices than local bars.

We recently visited Wentworth services and sporting club 



The location by the river is excellent and on Sundays the carvery incluidng choice of soups, salad and dessert bar at $9.50 is excellent value.  

Many clubs also offer free entertainment.

TIP Visit the local tourist office where they often supply a list of nearby clubs and the deals on offer.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

House sitting hitches!

We've had an expensive and hectic year so combatting both of these issues we are catching up with ourselves by house-sitting for friends in Mildura, Australia. As is often the case part of house-sitting duties are to look after pets or animals. Here we have 2 dogs, 5 ducks and 8 chickens to take care off.

The problem comes with the ducks in particular Denis the drake. He has a nasty habbit of attacking you by pecking at your feet and ankles. I did research on the Internet to find a solution and also posted a help entry on Facebook. Of course Facebook friends responded with the usual funnies the obvious one being to try Peking instead of pecking duck! In amongst this was a suggestion that Steve should challenge the duck by reaching up high and flapping his arms whilst hissing.

Today he went into the pen to let the ducks out and tried this tactic on Denis. As usual Denis kept coming at him so Steve stepped back but didn't realise there was a wheelbarrow behind. Now not only does he have pecked ankles but a cut arm and grazed bum where he fell over.

New tactic, leave the ducks locked up until we have finished in the garden then lock ourselves in the pool enclosure until it is time to put them away leaving Steve just one quick challenge with Denis.

TIP - When house-sitting you sometimes take things from a cupboard then can't remember exactly where to put them back. A quick and easy solution is to take a digital photo of the inside of any cupboards you are likely to use. You will be surprised how clearly you can see the contents when you bring the image up on a computer and often this helps to know where to put things back.

Free drinks on a cruise

Having just returned from a RCI cruise we found a couple of ways to get yourself a nice smoothie or milk shake for free.

Most evenings there was a cold soup on offer such as strawberry and mint.  Many people pass these over but if you take one and put it into a glass it makes a superb drink.

Fancy a milkshake, grab a glass and first fill it from the soft ice cream machine, then top up the glass with coffee or hot water and stir, just like the MacDonalds thick shakes.  You can make a few combinations depending which ice cream you use, try the mixed chocolate and vanilla with hot coffee for a mochachino, choclate ice cream and water for chocolate shake and vanilla and water for a vanilla shake.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Buying a motorhome

What to look for when buying a motorhome.  These are our thoughts as budget concious full time travellers.

Whenever we buy and sell a motorhome we are more concerned with the difference between buying and selling price than the actual cost.  Of course this assumes you have the money to invest in the first place!

I always reckon you get the best buys if the item is being sold due to one of the 3 D's.  Divorce, Death or De Bank wanting the money.

Our new Rimor Koala 48 RV/Motorhome


This time I think we fall into the latter catergory having just bought a brand new (our first new vehicle purchase ever) Rimor Koala 48 motorhome as an end of season clearance.  The Rimor factory in Italy wanted them paid for and out of the way to make space for the 2011 models and through their agents Cordoba Leisure we felt we got a good price.  Sid at Cordoba was brilliant dealing with questions and organising the deal for us whilst we were in Australia.

Just need to source a discount on an awning, LPG tank system, solar panels and alarms now - the downsides of buying new!

After buying and selling numerous motorhomes we now have it down to a fine art as to what we need rather than think we want and I will soon be posting our list for that.

On the plus side of buying new we have up to 3 years before needing to return to England for the annual MOT inspection, have warranties on the vehicle and get to pick the layout and with luck will get a good price when we sell.  Also everything will be clean and tidy when we move in, can't wait until May when we get to meet Eddie. 

Rimor Koala motorhome 48 layouts by day and night

In terms of motorhome size, as full timers we always find it best to go for a 4 or up to 6 berth vehicle not only enabling us to have visitors but also giving us a little more living and storage space although this time I doubt we will use even a quarter of the garage space but I suppose we could put the grandkids in there if they play up!