Tripologist: in the footsteps of the Diggers

I am travelling solo to Paris and looking for a suitable one- to two-night trip, from September 29 to October 1, to the Western Front areas where Australians fought in World War I. Are there any tours you could suggest please? - J. Locke, Mooroopna, Vic.

Boronia Travel Centre ( is the battlefield tour specialist and the official travel agent for the Australian War Memorial. It operates extensive tours of Gallipoli as well as the battlefields in which Australian troops fought on the Western Front, guided by battlefield historians from the Australian War Memorial. It also operates a number of Western Front day tours run by an Australian couple. Options include the Somme, Fromelles and Fromelles plus Ypres. All battlefield trips commence at 9am in Arras, just a 50-minute TGV trip from Paris Nord station. You can contact Boronia Travel Centre on 1800 035 350.

Linger over a delightful part of south-east Asia

My partner and I (both in our early 20s) are planning a trip to south-east Asia at the end of the year. We would love to explore Vietnam from north to south and possibly spend some time in one or two of the bordering countries. We love food, enjoy the outdoors and are on a bit of a budget. How long should we go for and how do you recommend we best explore this part of the world? - D. Creek, Windsor.

How long you can stay in Vietnam depends on your own interests, your budget and how long you can spare from work/studies. Anything between three weeks and a month is about right for a lingering look at this delightful part of south-east Asia. If you decide to include Cambodia, allow another seven-10 days at least, and about the same for Laos.

You will probably want to make plenty of stops in your journey. Bus travel is going to be the best way to join the dots and it's a cheap way to get around. Throughout the region you can find plenty of local tour operators keen to show you the sights in places such as Ha Long Bay and Hue. Prices are competitive but you get what you pay for and you can't expect a high-quality experience from a rock-bottom price.

Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum ( is a great resource for budget travellers and you might want to invest in their travel guides to the region, either Vietnam or the recently updated Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, both available as a paperback or in individual chapters as a PDF e-book.

Where to find the treasures of Ireland in winter

I'm planning my first solo overseas trip to Britain in January 2013 for a month or so. I'm in the 18-35 age bracket and I'm looking into a 9- to 12-day Contiki tour around England and Scotland. I'd love to include Ireland and Northern Ireland in my trip, however the tour doesn't include these two countries during winter. What would you suggest to be the best mode of transport around Ireland at this time of year? Also, what are some places that I could include in my travels, both on the English mainland and in the Republic and Northern Irelands, that wouldn't necessarily be included in the main, "hot spot-focused" Contiki tour? I'm interested in visiting smaller towns as well as cities. - A. Dickinson, Warrnambool.

In January, you won't be seeing Ireland at its finest. Days are short, the wind howls and there are good reasons Contiki does not offer a tour of Ireland in the deep-freeze of winter. However, Ireland in winter does have its appeal - including the lack of tourists and lower accommodation prices. The weather will also require you to spend time in pubs, and an Irish country pub is a font of miracles.

Ireland's west coast holds the greatest appeal for most visitors. From Dublin, you could head for Cork and then plot a meandering journey that includes the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, the picture-book village of Adare in County Limerick and then counties Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and all the way up to Donegal.

High on the not-to-be-missed list are the otherworldly landscape of The Burren, the savage beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, Achill and the precise, poignant geometry of the stone-walled fields of Connemara.

The website of the Frommer's guide to Ireland ( has heaps of information to help you plan your journey.

The best way to get around in the west of Ireland is a combination of Irish Rail ( and bus (

In England, I'd be planning a trip along Britain's south-west toe in January, which is warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream, with Devon and Cornwall as the target zone.

Here too, consult the online version of Frommer's guide to England and Visit Britain (, the official travel guide for Britain.

Canadian Christmas

I am planning a white Christmas with my son this year to either Canada or the US. I am tossing up between Whistler, Vail or Squaw Valley. My preference is Squaw Valley because it is accessible from San Francisco, hopefully making the airfare cheaper. My concern is that it is four hours to Squaw Valley from San Francisco and only two hours to Whistler from Vancouver or Vail from Denver. Which resort do you think might be the best, or do you have a better suggestion? - C. Steele, Arncliffe.

These are all outstanding choices but if easy access is a key requirement, the selection process is simpler. You might take the Bay Area Ski Bus ( to Squaw Valley, which departs San Francisco early in the morning and takes a little over three hours to reach the ski area. The price is $US69 ($71). Whistler is about a two-hour trip from Vancouver, and the Whistler Blackcomb website ( has several transport options, including Pacific Coach Lines (, Snowbus ( and Greyhound (

Vail/Eagle County Airport has direct flights from Los Angeles, and the trip from airport to the ski area takes just 30 minutes.

Yet another option is Aspen (, which is also a beautiful resort with direct flights from Los Angeles to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. However, flying to Aspen is going to be more expensive than the bus services to either Whistler or Squaw Valley.

In terms of the quality of the skiing, these resorts all deliver a five-star experience.


ATM Hunter is a handy app that points out the closest ATMs, lists them by proximity, tells you how far they are, gives you the address and sticks a pin in the map. It also highlights the route on the map to get you to the selected ATM. Network access is required, so either use wi-fi or beware the dreaded data roaming charges. Available free for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android.

If you have travel questions, we'd love to hear from you. Write to and include the name of your suburb or town in your letter. Personal correspondence cannot be entered into. Only questions appearing in print will be answered. One published letter each week will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.