There’s a new way to book travel online that can save you money
It’s one of life’s great ironies that if you need a holiday, the last thing you have the time to do is plan a holiday.
10 of the world’s most beautiful beaches and islands
Is there anything not tantalising about idyllic islands and beaches? Here are the tips to know before planning your next trip... Secret beaches, stunning islands you've never heard of. Let the travel industry experts guide you through the very best beach island holiday with their list of tips, tricks and hacks... 1. Seek solitude in Spain The best, least crowded beaches in Spain lie on the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona in Catalonia, with hardly a high-rise in sight. On scorching days, head to Tamariu, in the province of Girona, to fling yourself into the crystal sea from a springboard embedded into the rock. Heaven.   Sophie McComas, director of Buffet, a creative content studio specialising in food, drink and travel. 2. Journey along the Riviera Maya “The Riviera Maya along the south-east coast of Mexico is one of my favourite spots on the planet,” says Jennifer Vandekreeke, vice president of Carnival Cruise Line in Australia. “It’s the perfect combination of authentic cuisine and culture, beachy goodness and water adventure.   From Cozumel to Tulum, you’ll find delicious spiced pulled pork and authentic tacos, warm and friendly locals, extraordinary cultural experiences with the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum; plus amazing water-based adventures like swimming in cenotes and cliff jumping in Xel-Ha.” This stretch of Caribbean coastline also rates highly for Lisa Perkovic, travel expert at Expedia: “My favourite place to stay is the Viceroy Riviera Maya,” she says. “Not only is the Riviera Maya the perfect combination of lush jungle and pristine beaches, the hotel is situated right on the beachfront. The service is impeccable with a great staff-to-guest ratio, plus the personalised services and products they provide during your stay are second to none.” Travel journalist Sangeeta Kocharekar zones in on the region’s hub.   “Despite its steady stream of international tourists, Tulum still hasn’t lost much of the boho charm that put it on the map in the first place. Most of its hotels are eco-conscious and nearly all of its restaurants seem to be at one with their surroundings,” she says. “And though Tulum is beachside, it’s more than just a beach town. It’s got ancient ruins, stunning cenotes and award-winning dining. If you haven’t thought about heading here, do.” [caption id="attachment_16527" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Tulum beach, Mexico.[/caption] 3. The road to Hana This is an absolute must-do while on the island of Maui in Hawai‘i. Hire a car, download the ‘GyPSy Guide’ app (no wi-fi is needed!) and hit the road early so you have plenty of time to take it all in. The app will direct you and point out the best places to stop, tell you stories and facts, and give you advice – it makes the road trip seriously easy and really enjoyable.   This winding road has more than 600 turns and 59 bridges, passing waterfalls, rugged coasts, lush greenery, sleepy villages, beautiful beaches and swimming holes and an incredible hike through rainforest and bamboo forest to the 120-metre Waimoku Waterfall. A long, but really great day.   Megan Arkinstall, contributing editor, International Traveller 4. Explore California's sand dunes I’ve just returned from a fantastic road trip with my son to California. As soon as we landed we headed to Pismo Beach, an enormous area of sand dunes on the central Californian coast, and joined many other adrenalin seekers throwing ourselves around the dunes on all sorts of two and four-wheeled vehicles.   David Rousham, vice president international development, Cunard 5. Get active in volcanic Vanuatu We took a family holiday to Vanuatu last year, where we did a day trip to the island of Tanna. Apart from the beauty of the island itself and its people, climbing up to the top of the volcano was an absolutely awesome experience. The power and impact of standing on the edge of an active volcano is hard to describe.   Sture Myrmell, president, P&O Cruises and Carnival Australia [caption id="attachment_14444" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Tanna in Vanuatu.[/caption] 6. Bask in Balinese beachside opulence Last year I stayed at the Bulgari Resort Bali in Uluwatu and I didn’t want to leave. Guests stay in their own private villa with 180-degree views of the Indian Ocean and access to an exclusive beach. Sitting beside your own private pool you’ll be visited by the local monkeys while experiencing the amazing service of your personal butler.   Clare Wheatley, general manager Australia and New Zealand, Delta Air Lines 7. Travels in Thailand True paradise is never easy to get to. If you pick an island that requires a little extra effort to reach – meaning: no airports, multiple transits – you are guaranteed to lose the crowd along the way. In Thailand, bypass the resort-filled beaches of Phuket and Koh Samui, and try Koh Chang [pictured], Koh Phayam and Koh Tarutao instead.   Food and travel writer Eloise Basuki and photographer Leigh Griffiths, Strangertalk.co 8. A faraway fusion Providencia is a beautiful little island owned by Colombia in the Caribbean. It has incredible clear water, and a mixture of cultures resulting in Latin American and island Caribbean vibes! The beach bar Roland Roots is a great place for a dance to some fusion music. Rachel Crowther, director of creative media, experience, Burberry travels at least six times a year for work. 9. Japan's less-travelled in Okinawa I really do think that Okinawa is the ultimate undiscovered island retreat that everyone should be discovering. Of course it has beautiful beaches and a sultry sub-tropical climate, but what pushes it past just about every island I can think of for depth of offering is the completely unique culture, the insanely great food and the fascinating history.   One of the things that endlessly enthralls me about Japan is the diversity of traditions from region to region, and Okinawa stands alone from the rest of the country having been its own kingdom (Ryukyu) until the 19th century. My top tip for getting there is to book your flight into Japan with either JAL or ANA as both offer heavily discounted add-on explorer flights to anywhere in the country, including into Naha, the prefecture capital. From there you can island-hop by ferry and plane: there are countless islands stretching out towards Taiwan and China to the west and the Philippines to the south.   My five musts while there are:   • Shuri Castle in Naha, the seat of the Ryukyu kings. • Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, a sprawling memorial to the soldiers who fell here during the Battle of Okinawa, one of the last and bloodiest battles of the Second World War. •  Try taco rice, an amalgamation of Japanese and US cuisine, born in the post-war years (US troops have been present on Okinawa since the end of the war). • Go snorkelling off Ishigaki Island. •  Spend time on Taketomi Island, where bikes are the best way to navigate the narrow laneways of crushed coral and sand bordered by traditional Ryukyu houses hiding behind walls of stacked coral and covered in flowering bougainvillea.   Leigh-Ann Pow, editorial director, International Traveller [caption id="attachment_35212" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Traditional living in the sun on Okinawa Island (photo: Wataru Kohayakawa).[/caption] 10. Off-grid on the Greek Islands Bisti Beach on Hydra, Greece – to get to this incredible sheltered bay you have to take a boat from the main port. There’s no electricity but you can still get a drink, swim in the beautiful shallow sea and then snooze under pine trees.   Luke Edward Hall is a London-based artist and designer of interiors, fabrics and ceramics whose work combines Greco-Roman aesthetics and crumbling English country house style with a dash of 1970s Palm Springs. From painting murals in the South of France and California to designing fabrics and sets in Rajasthan, his commissions take him around the world.   Check out more of the best 100 tips, tricks and hacks from travel insiders by category   Europe | Beaches and islands | Classics | Hacks | Food and wine | No place like home | More for less | Off the beaten track | Asia
Travel insurance as we know it has changed FOREVER
If you’re one of the unlucky four in five Aussie travellers that’s had an issue claiming back on travel insurance, this news from TravelCard means you’ll never have to wait to be compensated ever again…
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Five of the most romantic travel experiences
Fall head over heels all over again with these partner-perfect experiences. 1. Sunset cruising Nā Pali Coast, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i It may be a cliché, but sailing away into the sunset with one’s true love is still at the top of many a bucket-list.   Especially somewhere as beautiful as Hawai‘i’s Nā Pali Coast, located on the north shore of Kaua‘i.   This natural wonderland is a unique landscape of rugged terrain and sheer cliffs that drop straight into the aqua-blue water of the Pacific Ocean.   It’s pretty remote, so if you want to discover it you need to hike the 18-kilometre trail or – more pleasantly – hop on a cruise (champagne and loved one in hand).   There are several operating in the area, particularly at sunset, when the afternoon light plays off the turquoise waters. 2. Romance on rails Rovos Rail, Africa A journey by train is surely one of the most evocative forms of travel, and Africa’s Rovos Rail exudes the luxury and charm of a bygone era.   Its fleet of trains carry an intimate 72 guests and boast wood-panelled, Edwardian-style carriages with spacious suites (plus comfortable double beds) and elegant lounge and observation cars.   The food is impeccable and impeccably served on fine china, silver and crisp white linen (read: dress to the nines for dinner).   But the best bit is the view as you head through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania – the scenery is constantly evolving and endlessly breathtaking. 3. Hot air ballooning Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia The best way to escape the maddening crowds at the temples of Cambodia’s national treasure Angkor and have a quiet moment to yourself is by floating serenely above it all in your own love nest…or hot air balloon.   It’s incredible to see the vastness of the Angkor complex from an aerial perspective, its hundreds of temples spread over some 400 square-kilometres.   Sunrise is our favourite time of day for this amazing experience – the orange glow of the sun breaking on the horizon at the crack of dawn signifying the final moments of quiet before Siem Reap awakens and is alive and bustling again. 4. Walk the path of love Cinque Terre, Italy The Cinque Terre is one of the world’s most dramatic coastlines, consisting of five medieval-era fishing villages built into steep cliffs.   Until the end of the 19th century, when a railway was eventually built, the towns were extremely isolated from each other.   A pathway between Riomaggiore and Manarola was built for the use of railway workers during construction of the tunnel, which became a meeting point for lovers from the two towns. The pathway was coined the Via dell’Amore – the ‘Path of Love’.   Visitors can walk the route as part of the spectacular 12-kilometre clifftop journey between the five pretty villages. 5. Skinny dipping Turtle Island, Fiji This has to be the ultimate spot for cheeky love birds. Turtle Island’s 500-acre privately owned island was the idyllic location for the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon and is one of Fiji’s most beautiful resorts.   It accommodates just 14 couples in its exotic bures (AKA love shacks), each with its own private white, powdery beach with impossibly blue water.   Beach picnics of champagne and lobster, long private walks, and snorkelling excursions (there’s an abundant of colourful sea life) can all be arranged.   The ultimate romantic stay is in the Vonu Point villa, with panoramic views of the island’s pristine landscape.
The BIG mistake 55% of Aussie travellers make
There’s a one in two chance that you’ll have already made this mistake – or will do in time… Booking a holiday on your own can be a daunting thing, especially if it’s a destination-hopping, month-long escapade that sees you needing to marry up dates and flights and hotel bookings – oh my!   Honestly, you almost need to have a degree in nuclear science to work the spreadsheet necessary to pull something like this off – and then once you’ve booked, you need to have the patience and the willpower to check it all off, and ensure you haven’t made a mistake. Preferably before you board the plane. The one BIG mistake Aussie holidaymakers are… erm, making Skyscanner has just released important research that reveals when it comes to booking a holiday, 55 per cent of Aussies are guilty of one treacherous error. It’s not packing aerosols into their luggage either – it’s booking flights on the wrong day or at the wrong time.   Other than being really annoying, some airline sales are final, so your mistake could be potentially punishing you in the form of the full price of your ticket. Ouch.   You see, human error is inevitable, especially on a multi-leg journey – however the way around this blunder is to check, and double check. And that’s where Aussies are going wrong the most. Surprising, given how much we worry about making a mistake The fact that we’re failing to check our work and pick up these errors is surprising – given that the same research revealed that a whopping 70 per cent of Aussie travellers spend their time stressing over making a mistake during the booking phase.  Here are some tips on how to not mess up your booking When it comes to a tricky itinerary, it pays to look at the routes with clear eyes. Once you’ve booked – or are close to booking – give yourself a day, or at least a couple of hours to clear your head, go for a walk, or have a cup of tea. You may just pick up an obvious blunder that you previously missed. The other advice is to get someone else to look over your times and dates, to see if it makes sense to them. Draw out your journey on a map, creating a timeline with dates and times noted down, so that you begin to see your trip come to life, and subsequently make it easier to sniff out any slip-ups. It sounds simple, but remember, check-in dates should be the same as your flight arrival date – and check-out should be the same as your flight departure date. Speaking of travel blunders, here's how to avoid one of the six big travel scams...
Aubrey Daquinag from travel and fashion style blog The Love Assembly
Scared to travel solo? Take some tips from an Instagram pro
Aubrey Daquinag from travel and fashion style blog The Love Assembly and author of Wander Love – Lessons, Tips and Inspiration from a Solo Traveller on her journeys so far.