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I've been home a month now...time to plan next year's trip!

I've been home a month now...time to plan next year's trip!

Aug 31st, 2008, 05:51 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,701
I've been home a month now...time to plan next year's trip!

I usually travel solo and stay anywhere from $10 a night guesthouses to 5 star hotels...on the same trip. I use public transport where I can, like to walk and wander, and just generally do the things solo travelers can.

But, in planning my trip to Australia, things are a mite differetn. I'll be accompanied by at least one, maybe a lot more, of my friends; most of 'em haven't been out of the US. I don't really want to be responsible for their happiness, so I was looking into tour possibilities. OAT has an interesting looking one, albeit a bit rushed: http://www.oattravel.com/gcc/general...spx?oid=224162
It's also about (ulp) $5000 US, which is a fair amount of money for me.

I have traveled (once) with OAT before, and didn't have any issues with them; I like that their group size is limited to 16. I definitely don't want a big group thing, but I'd love your advice/points of view/etc. about this. Are there better and/or cheaper ways to get a "country overview"? (The time is limited, sadly; 17 days is actually stretching it a bit.)

Thanks for any thoughts...just dippin' my toe in right now, but I love the planning part.
Amy is online now  
Aug 31st, 2008, 05:55 PM
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Oops, I forgot an important point: this would be in June or July 2009.
Amy is online now  
Sep 1st, 2008, 02:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Hi Amy,

I hear what you're saying about not wanting to be responsible for other people's happiness - but if you are the one looking for an organised tour for you all, then you'll still be responsible.

Australia is a doddle to travel around. Just keep in mind the distances and don't try to cram too much in. The last thing you need to do is take an OAT (or any other all inclusive, fixed itinerary, whizzz around tour).

You don't say which areas of the country you want to visit (sort of important). But whatever they are my advice would be to pick 3 main focal points. You could arrange your own accommo in each of them and use public transport or local providers of tours/trips to get out and about (depends where we are talking about).

To get between the, as yet unknown, areas of interest, you can fly (book on line) or there are some fun trips you can take between, for example, Melbourne and Adelaide; Adelaide and Uluru; Alice Springs and Cairns.

I've omitted WA and the NT as it would be a rare first-timer who had those states in mind.

I could say more about the best regions to visit in our winter, but I'm more interested in why you are planning to travel with folk you feel wouldn't like to travel the way you yourself usually do.

What's the story there?
afterall is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 04:03 AM
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Ah, now that's a good question! Actually, I've worked with this person for 16 years now, and we get along well; she's adaptable, it's just that, well, what I'm doing after 24 years of traveling I wouldn't quite expect on someone's first trip. I've done this before, actually, traveling with newbies, and it's worked out fine as long as we all communicated thoroughly first. However, that was with Untours, (apartment/transport/ setup) in Switzerland and again in Austria--much smaller places to get around, of course, and we did it from a single base.

I realize the OAT trip is the equivalent of, "Oh, let's see NYC, Los Angeles, Disneyworld, and the Grand Canyon, with Mt. Rushmore thrown in", but it is tough to narrow down when it's likely to be one's only trip, at least for a long while.

I'd say the "musts" would be Sydney, Uluru, and somewhere along the Great Barrier Reef (hey, they're pretty much every tourist's musts, no?) but I'd also like to sneak in some less-touristed place if I could. (Reading "In a Sunburned Country" has NOT helped me to narrow anything down...it makes me want to stay for a year!)

Whoa, this has become lengthy, but I'm kinda sorting it out in my mind. I'd love to hear your winter suggestions. Oh, and a good train ride wouldn't go amiss!
Amy is online now  
Sep 1st, 2008, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,119
I looked at the OAT itinerary...seems crazy to me. I agree with "afterall" about picking three areas and keeping it to that, about the right balance between trying to see everything and trying to fully enjoy the places you do go.

June/July is an excellent time for the Red Center and the north (Queensland, Northern Territory, etc.). I wouldn't be so keen on a winter visit to Melbourne weather-wise. Besides, I don't see the point of visiting 3 major cities in a 2 week trip, when what makes Australia so special is its landscape, plants, wildlife, coastline, and country towns.

I read Bill Bryson's book some time ago. As I recall, one of his favorite (and coincidently, least touristy) cities was Adelaide. I spent 10 days in South Australia 2 years ago, and after that experience, I would tend to agree with him. We toured the wine valleys near Adelaide as well as venturing north into the outback (Flinders Ranges). It was a great experience. We were there in early Aug: cool, crisp weather mostly.

I also agree with "afterall"s suggestion about a ground trip. Touring the Great Ocean Rd between Adelaide and Melbourne would be a very good one. Or Adelaide-Alice Springs via the Flinders Ranges, Coober Pedy and Ayers Rock.
RalphR is offline  
Sep 4th, 2008, 02:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Hi Amy,

You've not been back but since you asked for suggestions re a winter trip, here are some thoughts.

A good train ride!! Yes!! But, trains are time consuming and really only work if you have more than those 17 days. They are also expensive. Sad but true.

You want an overview - so a bit of city, a bit of beach, and a chance to get out into the big back of beyond to appreciate the landscape; and check out the flora and fauna; and maybe learn something about Aboriginal culture.

I would like to recommend unforgettable trips I have taken but none can be made to fit with your limited time. Except perhaps MLB-ADL with Wayward Bus. But to be honest, as it's winter, you'd be better going North.

I would pick Sydney, Kakadu/Darwin/Litchfield area, and Cairns and surrounds.

No point to point road trip there - you'd have to fly between Sydney, Darwin and Cairns. But there are plenty of options for tours out of Darwin or Cairns that would allow to to get WELL away from the city.


afterall is offline  
Sep 4th, 2008, 03:01 AM
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Thanks to both of you for the excellent suggestions; I've got three books coming soon, so I know I'll be back with more questions. I wish I could take at least a month! (sigh) Ah, well, one of these days...

Amy is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
Hi Amy.
We took the OAT trip to Australia and thought that it was fantastic. We saw so much of the country in a relatively short time. It is a busy tour where you are sightseeing most of the time, but there was time for us to do things on our own. Our tour director was absolutely great (if you decide to go, send me an email and I will give you her email address so that you can find out which dates she is doing this tour). Our very favorite areas were Tasmania (optional), Sydney, Cape Tribulation, Uluru, Port Douglas, and Adelaide. The scenery was unbelievably gorgeous and the people were warm and friendly.
There were 15 people on our tour (max is 16) and everyone was fun to be with. The hotels ranged from adequate to superb and were central for the most part. We were able to walk almost everywhere.
You will love Australia.
If you have questions, feel free to email me at: [email protected]
sandys is offline  
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