Virgin Atlantic launches jet-lag fighter app

Private jet (lag) fighter

New on iTunes is the Virgin Atlantic Jet Lag Fighter app, which provides sound scientific information, written and spoken, on the common travel problem and suggestions from the director of the Edinburgh Sleep Clinic, Dr Chris Idzikowski.

Set up your profile, detailing age, health and normal bedtime and wake-up times, then key in your destination and flight times. The app will tell you how best to synchronise with the new time zone, either by adjusting your sleep pattern or exposure to light.

For example, the best way to beat jet lag when travelling from Sydney to Vancouver, leaving in the morning and arriving 17 hours later, is controlled light exposure rather than adjusting your sleep patterns. The Virgin Atlantic Jet Lag Fighter app is $2.49 from iTunes.

On two wheels

London is introducing a public bicycle system similar to the successful Velib scheme in Paris. The bikes will be available from 400 docking stations around inner London from July 30. They will be available 24 hours a day, year round, with neither bookings nor helmets required.

Docking stations will be within 300 metres of each other and most will be within zone one of the London Underground.

Regular riders will be able to use a chip-enabled card to hire bikes, while casual riders will pay at terminals at the docking stations. There will be an access fee of £1 ($1.66) for 24 hours and £5 for seven days - as well as a timed hire fee ranging from £1 an hour to £50 for 24 hours. The first 30 minutes will be free.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, considers the scheme to be one of his top transport priorities. "This will provide a genuinely sustainable alternative to the car and encourage more Londoners to cycle," Johnson says.

See www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/12444.aspx.

Biometric hiccup

Biometric security measures introduced at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport have been scrapped.

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According to local media, it was taking up to four hours to fingerprint and photograph tourists wanting a short-stay visa. Such was the chaos that it took only one week for authorities, worried about the impact on tourism, to revert to the old screening system for international visitors.

It is believed the system will be reinstated after the glitches are fixed.

Ship's parties revived

The on-board bon-voyage party is being revived by Princess Cruises. From October, the line's passengers in Sydney and Melbourne will be able to invite friends and family on-board for farewells.

Unlike the old days, it's going to cost - $49 a person - though guests get a four-course lunch, a tour of the ship and a souvenir photo. Numbers will be limited to 50, so booking will be necessary.

Wild NSW

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has launched an easy-to-use website to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity.

The site provides loads of information as well as lists and tips about how best to enjoy the state's national parks.

See www.wildwildworld.com.au.

Lodging and language

A new online Chinese business called Tourboarding is matching travellers looking for cheap lodging with Chinese wanting to learn to speak English.

The one requirement for travellers is that they must be willing to speak English with their hosts for two hours a day.

The founder, Ken Chan, who quit his job at Nike Sports China to set up the company, says more than 5000 Chinese families have signed up in the past month.

Chan says the aim is not to make money but to provide opportunities for Chinese people to learn English. The cost of learning the language in China is prohibitive - up to $81 an hour, well beyond the means of most families.

Travellers also can ply their language skills for tour-guiding or lessons in traditional skills such as cooking, calligraphy and music.

See www.tourboarding.com.

Queensland beach trek

Recently opened on the Sunshine Coast is the 102-kilometre Cooloola Great Walk, which links Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach via the eastern high dunes, one of the largest coastal sand deposits along the Queensland coast.

Designed as a five-day walk, the trail has four camping areas for overnight breaks.

Scenery along the way is diverse, including eucalypt forest, coastal woodlands, heathland plains, rainforest and lakes.

Camp bookings are essential.

See www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/great-walks-cooloola/index.

Send news items to smarttraveller@fairfax.com.au.

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