Traveller Letters: What I'm prepared to do to be allowed to travel overseas

LET ME OUT

With some countries cautiously opening their borders to fully-vaccinated tourists, I'd like to leave Australia to travel. I would not qualify for an exemption under the current rules but I'm prepared to do the following: stay away for at least three months, pay a bond to cover quarantine costs on my return, and sign a waiver saying that I wouldn't expect the Australian government and its diplomats to help me get home. Is this a possible plan to get us travelling overseas again?

Lorraine Davies, Toormina, NSW

LETTER OF THE WEEK

ANCHORS AWEIGH

Under strict guidelines, and changes in on-board operation, cruising has been occurring out of Singapore for many months without incident. These cruises are for locals only and sail to "nowhere".

In the US, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now indicated that cruising may be able to re-commence out of the US, again under strict guidelines, which the cruise lines have accepted and adopted.

Based on the fact that Australia, aside from the occasional hotel quarantine leakage, has basically zero community-based infections and travel is now allowed anywhere in Australia and New Zealand, on aircraft with little social distancing, how is it that the cruise companies and the government are not actively pursuing the resumption of cruises to "nowhere", or to Australian and New Zealand ports? Crews can be vaccinated and quarantined prior to arriving in our waters.

Surely cruising can be restarted. I am sure there are thousands of Aussies who would love to get back on board.

Brian Siddles, Heathmont, VIC

VAN PLAN

With travel within Australia such poor value, we have stuck with our caravanning trips. I would like to suggest that Traveller has a regular feature on Australian caravan sites, both caravan parks and national parks and even free sites. There are now tens of thousands of caravanners on the road.

Ainslie Morris, South Durras, NSW

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EDITOR'S NOTE: While we haven't published weekly pieces on caravanning, we have recently published stories on some of the most unusual caravan spots in Australia, plus caravanning tips for beginners.

INSTANT RECALL

In what seems a throwback to the 1970s, I turned to the tea, coffee, sugar container near the jug in a major chain's fairly new property on the NSW Central Coast, only to find a dozen sachets of International Roast coffee.

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

DREAM DESTINATION

Can someone go back to the archives and count how many celebrities interviewed for Traveller's weekly "Dream On" feature select Japan as their "my dream travel bubble destination" section? It must be more than 90 per cent. Not having holidayed in Japan, I now have a serious case of FOMO. Open borders are the only known vaccine apparently.

Michael Angley, Moonee Ponds, VIC

EDITOR'S NOTE Even before the pandemic, Japan consistently rated, as the "most searched for" destination by readers of our website, traveller.com.au

COMPUTER SAYS NO

We booked our dream trip to Scandinavia, paid a $9500 deposit, and then due to COVID-19 the tour was cancelled. We wrote to the Inspiring Vacations' support team as we could not take the offer of a credit - being in an older age group we did not know if we would ever travel overseas again. They offered us a refund of less than $5000.

I thought this was unfair and they said it was because of third-party costs. I replied that we did not book flights with them and when I checked the hotels in Iceland and Sweden they told me no group booking had been made by Inspiring Vacations.

I asked what the third-party costs were and they said it was confidential. They then decided to refund us $7200. I am still trying to recover $2300 as one of us now has an illness and we will never travel overseas or in Australia again.

I wrote to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission who said in cases of illness or hardship, travel agents should show compassion.

But no, Inspiring Vacations said they did not want to enter into any more conversations. They have made their decision and that's it. This to us is a great deal of money and we would like "our" money refunded.

Jan & Ian Tucker, Wheelers Hill, VIC

COMPUTER SAYS YES

After reading about so many problems in rebooking holidays with credits I have just had to rebook my holiday to Cairns with Jetstar through Luxury Escapes, I thought I would have to do all the matching of hotel credit and airline. But one phone call was all it took. Thank you, Luxury Escapes.

Lisa Smith, Ringwood, VIC

DISTANCE EDUCATION

As much as I concur with Gary Gibbs regarding the state of trains in Australia (Traveller Letters, May 1) I feel obliged to point out that the rail distance from Sydney to Coffs Harbour is 608 kilometres, not 450 (the road distance is about 520 kilometres but the rail route isn't as direct).

Graham Meale, Bomabee, NSW

SHUTTLE COCK-UP

A recent short break in Launceston was marred by the city's airport shuttle service which advised me half an hour before my scheduled hotel pick-up that it would not pick me up after all and that I would have to find other transport to the airport. This after it had re-confirmed my booking less than an hour earlier. No explanation was given, but I suspect that I was the only passenger and they couldn't be bothered with honouring my booking. While I can somewhat understand their attitude, there is no excuse for not even apologising for this last-minute cancellation.

Kirsten Walla, Vaucluse, NSW

DRY IDEA

We've joined the tourist trail in our own country. It had been a long time since we drove the dusty roads of western NSW. This time following the route of the Darling from Brewarrina to Wentworth, where this mighty river joins the Murray. The Darling is in a dry flood upriver from the Menindee Lakes. Farmers were watching the river slowly creep up the dry earth banks. "Yeah, it may surround the homestead next week," said one. We traversed this bone dry landscape with the wide open road with kangaroos and emus for company.

Michael Copping, Oatley, NSW

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