Top tips for a tricky adventure
My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Durham, New York, Barcelona, Paris, Malta, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Athens, Santorini and Manila. All within 6-7 weeks. How should we go about it and we would like to hear your ideas/suggestions to make the trip cost-effective but enjoyable.
- S. McCubben, Parramatta.
First step is to construct an itinerary. Work out how long you want to spend in each of these places. For that you need to know what is there that might interest you. It's important to get this foundation right, so be prepared to invest some time. The web has a wealth of information and you could start with Frommers and Lonely Planet.
Next, book your flights. You'll need a round-the-world ticket and you could book your stops using various search engines on the web, but since yours is a complicated trip with many stops you would be better off with a travel agent. They can track down the best fare, tell you what visas you might need and explore options that might save you time and money.
You need to book accommodation. Use TripAdvisor to help you find hotels that offer comfort, convenience and good value based on reviews. Once you've chosen your hotels, use a hotel search engine such as Venere or lastminute for the best rate.
You'll need travel insurance. Check prices on Compare Travel Insurance.
ATMs are readily available at your trip locations, and are the most convenient way to withdraw funds in local currency. The best idea is to get a travel card. The one that scores high ratings is the 28 Degrees MasterCard - no annual fees, no reload fees and no international transaction fees.
Don't be a dodo, book now for Mauritian reunion
We are an extended family of six, ages six to 82, looking to celebrate a 50th in Mauritius, where my parents met many years ago, in September/October 2013. Can you recommended airlines, places to stay and things to do? We are looking for something with a little luxury without totally breaking the bank. When would be the best time to book?
- H. O'Rourke, Wamberal.
Sugar Beach Resort is a popular choice for families and it offers a good choice of watersports. Trou aux Biches Resort & Spa is set in tropical gardens beside a white sand beach. The sea here is ideal for snorkelling, kayaking and water-skiing, and the calm, shallow water is perfect for small children. Lower down the glamour scale, another good choice at Trou aux Biches could be Sakoa Boutik Hotel. You can find more choices on tripadvisor. Note that hotel rates on the island usually jump at the end of September, from off-peak to peak-season prices.
Aquatic sports dominate the island's activities menu. The Botanical Gardens near Pamplemousses are interesting but most visitors find little reason to leave their resort.
Airlines generally release seats 11 months in advance and this is the time to look around for a good deal. With this many people involved, and considering the special nature of the journey, there is nothing to be gained by waiting until the last minute in the hope of cheap fares.
Stay flexible and surrender to the spell of Spain
We fly into Malaga on January 1 and out on January 11. We're hiring a car and plan to visit Granada, Cordova, Seville and Ronda. Can you suggest how many days we should spend in each and where else we should visit?
- J. Russell, Wantirna.
Ten days is a reasonable allocation of time for this wonderful part of Spain, although if you fall under the spell of the region's flamenco clubs, gypsy guitars or tapas bars, it won' be.
You could safely dispense with an itinerary altogether. In January, you should have no difficulty finding accommodation in Andalusia, even if you show up on the day.
Therefore, my recommendation is that you keep your itinerary flexible. Stay as long as you like and move on when you are in the mood for a change of scenery. As well as these four cities, you could also plot a leisurely drive through the Pueblos Blancos, Andalusia's web of bone-white villages. Prepare to be dazzled.
Both Eyewitness and Lonely Planet have excellent guidebooks devoted to Andalusia, which are available from booksellers or from Amazon.
A scenic American road trip
We are planning a trip in April to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Could you suggest the most scenic driving route? If possible, we would like to include Yosemite but wonder whether road conditions will allow this.
- L. Wallace, Panania.
In April, it is almost a certainty that the Tioga Pass Road, the main east-west road across Yosemite, will be closed because of snow. From San Francisco, you could still visit the western region of the park, but unless you can cross the park on the Tioga Pass Road, the drive to Las Vegas involves a tedious 800-kilometre journey, most of it on interstate highways with not much scenery.
If you still want to visit Yosemite, I suggest you drive there from San Francisco, then backtrack as far as Interstate 680 and turn south through San Jose and head for the coast to pick up California Highway 1.
The journey to Los Angeles via Highway 1 is one of the world's great drives. Highlights along the way include Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Point Lobos, Carmel and the circuit of the Monterey Peninsula. Try to fit in a night at the Madonna Inn and be prepared to LOL. You need at least two days to drive the 885 kilometres between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
There is no scenic route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas without a huge detour through Death Valley National Park. I would recommend you take the most direct route, on Interstate 15. The 500-kilometre drive should take about six hours.
If you need a hire car in a hurry, the Car Rental Republic app can save your skin. Key in your pick-up address and dates and this handy app enables you to compare rates and book a hire car from locations around the globe, including most major airports. Available free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
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