Journey from Canberra to Alice Springs

If you are planning a trip to the heart of Australia, you’ve come to the right place! We are going to tell you everything you need to know for this 2500 km long journey. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a better idea about which form of travel suits you best.

Flights

There are two things you need to be aware of. First, only Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia (best connections to New Zealand as well) fly to Alice Springs. Second, there are no flights to Alice Springs in Canberra. In other words, you will have to go to the Sydney Airport if you want to get there by plane. The average one-way adult ticket costs about 240$ and the flight lasts around three hours.

Airport tips

If you opt for travel by air, you should know that the Alice Springs airport is 15 km south of Alice Springs. To put it simply, you can’t see the town from the airport. The airport is very small and has two sets of toilets. We will tell you one secret: instead of going to the first lot of toilets, go through the security area and turn left. There you will find the toilets that the locals always use, and they never have a queue in front of them (you’re welcome).

You can book a shuttle drive at the airport’s shuttle desk (at the front of the airport near the baggage carousel area) that will transport you directly to Alice Springs. If you are a backpacker, many backpacker hostels offer free shuttle drives from the airport. There are also plenty of private car hires and taxis. But if you want to hire a car, it will be much cheaper to hire it in town rather than at the airport.

Driving

This is probably the best way to get to Alice Springs. You will have an a great time and see amazing scenery, such as Stuart Highway , Port Augusta, Uluru, Coober Pedy, etc. In other words, you are going to live and experience the full size and beauty of Australia (and it will be cheaper than flying).

But driving also has its downsides. The travel itself is going to be a bit more exhausting because you will need to add 3 extra days of travel time, and the fuel costs are going to be big. Along the Stuart Highway fuel costs from $1.80 – $2.30 per liter.

Train

If you are an Aussie you probably already know about the legendary Ghan train service. With the train, you will experience the pleasure of meeting new and different people, and enjoy the cheerful service and comfort of the train itself.

Bus

There are many different options for buses, but if you are in a group, you should check charter bus rental in Canberra. Just imagine you and your family and friends traveling alone in a spacious and fully equipped bus, relaxing and enjoying the view. Grab some playing cards, beer and food and you will experience the best possible road trip.

If there are only a couple of you, or you are travelling alone, there is actually a regular Greyhound bus that goes up and down the Stuart Highway directly to Alice Springs. Consider getting a kilometer pass since they last for a year and you can hop on and off the bus whenever you want until you run out of kilometers.

Rental Car

This is definitely the cheapest option for those that just need to get to Alice Springs, or get out of Alice Springs. Basically, you rent a car at one location and your rental finishes at your final destination. In other words, you don’t have to worry about returning your car to the original rental office. The cost can be as cheap as 1$ per day hire plus fuel. The downside is that sometimes the rental company can give you a really short time limit between the two locations so you won’t have time to look around. They book very fast and if you are travelling alone, you have a lot of driving to do in a very short period of time.

That would be it for Alice Springs tips. We would love to hear about your Alice Springs experience, so feel free to share it with us in the comment section. You can never get too much information and advice.

Travel Tips – Internet Travel Safety

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2017 is the year for top travel tips on Mark’s Travel Journal. My goal is to provide countless tips for making the most out of your travelling in 2017 and beyond. So here is the first in the series – Internet Travel Safety.

There really is no such thing as total internet security while travelling (or not travelling for that matter). When you are travelling, and your connectivity options are limited to public networks, you are at even more risk. Smart travellers know that the small investment in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is the best way to keep their identities and private information protected, not to mention the added benefits of accessing blocked sites (U.S. NetFlix, etc.) and online shopping with minimal risk.

Not all VPNs are created equal! The team at reviews.com has looked into over 100 service optins for the fastest, most reliable, affordable and compatible across multiple devices. Check out their complete study and findings here: http://www.reviews.com/vpn/

Happy travels!

How to Visit Cuba on a Budget

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 12, 2016 by The Hipmunk.

Editor’s note: As of Aug 31, 2016, direct flights from the US to Cuba are taking off for the first time since 1961.

Now that Cuba’s tourism industry is up and running, we’re doing everything we can to educate our readers about how to make the most of their Cuban vacations. From knowing which cities to visit to learning how the country has changed and prepping for your trip, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re ready to visit but worried about finances, we’ve still got your back. Simply implement the following strategies in order to enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Cuba.

It helps to know Spanish.

Overwhelmingly, travelers to Cuba report that you’ll be more accepted if you speak Spanish—and that means you’re more likely to be offered lower prices and to haggle successfully. Even if you don’t have time to become fluent before your visit, learning a few key Spanish phrases will surely make the trip a little easier.

Don’t withdraw or exchange cash in Cuba.

Cuba currently uses two types of currency: the CUC, which is designated primarily for tourists, and the CUP (the peso national), which is civilians’ primary currency. (The government has announced plans to eliminate the dual currency system, but has yet to do so.) For the most part, tourists will be dealing in CUCs, but budget-friendly travelers may want to keep a few CUPs on hand (more on that later). In either case, it’s smart to exchange your money before arriving in Cuba—otherwise you’ll incur a10% penalty to exchange dollars to CUCs. Similarly, avoid using credit cards whenever possible, as fees are quite steep.

Plan for exit and entry.

You’ll be charged $25 CUC to enter Cuba, and another $25 CUC when you fly out of the airport. Go ahead and set aside $50 CUC before your trip so you aren’t caught by surprise on the way in or out of the country. While you’re at it, set aside another $20-$25 CUC for the taxi ride from the airport.

Take advantage of cheap eats.

Want to save money on food? Then seek out local establishments that operate on pesos (namely, street food vendors and peso restaurants). This can be a serious money saver—think the difference between paying $0.80 or $8.00 for a sandwich. If you’re staying in a casa particular (aka a private homestay), this is also a good place to eat cheaply—meals tend to be huge (meaning you can split one dish between two people) and less expensive than meals at touristy restaurants. Or hit up hotel buffets for a meal that will fill you up for around $8 CUC.

Pack your own snacks and toiletries.

Basic toiletries and medical supplies—think sunscreen, Aspirin, and contact lens solution—are either very expensive or totally unavailable in Cuba, so don’t assume that you can pick up supplies once you’ve arrived. Instead, bring along any toiletries that you can’t go without. Same goes for your favorite snack foods.

Get mobile like a local.

Cuba has designated tourist buses, and (not surprisingly) they can  be a bit of a money trap. You’ll save on transportation by taking public buses, camiones (i.e open-backed trucks), or shared taxis. As an added bonus, local transportation tends to operate on a more flexible timetable than the tourist buses.

Entertain thyself.

Cuba has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can drink for change if you stick to local establishments. (A good rule of thumb: Avoid any club that charges an entrance fee.) If you’re not sure where to go, ask your casa hosts or local street vendors for suggestions. If the club scene isn’t your thing, you can still find cheap entertainment in the form of museums, which typically charge only $1-2 CUC for entry. Just be aware that many museums charge an additional fee for anyone who wants to take photos.

While Cuba may not be the cheapest destination around, there are plenty of deals to be had for the frugal traveler. Just remember: When in doubt, act like a local.