How to Make the Most of Your Long Australian Vacation

A view of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House at night

Have you decided to take the plunge and plan a long Australian vacation in this beautiful faraway country? Well, that’s excellent considering Australia is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. And while most tourists will say that it’s simply too far away, it’s definitely worth the time, cost and the long flights. However, if you’re considering going to Australia for a vacation you need to make a serious plan because it’s simply impossible to see all there is to see in a week. Two weeks is the least you should spend traveling across Australia and even then, good organization is the key. Read on to learn some tips on how to make the most of your long Australian vacation and this trip of a lifetime.

How to plan a longer trip

Koala bears sitting on a tree in Australia

The first thing you need to take into consideration once you start planning your nice long vacation in Australia is that the country is huge. This means that it’s basically impossible to see the whole country by simply driving from one end of the country to the other. A better way to spend your vacation in Australia is to focus on one type of vacation. So instead of lots of packing and unpacking, spending time in airports, bus terminals and long road trips simply decide whether you prefer an adventurous trip, a beach vacation, or maybe something else. While it’s difficult to accept the fact that you won’t be able to see everything, with time constraints and budget limits, it’s definitely better to start planning your trip with some focus in mind.

Places to visit

The skyline at night in Australia

As already mentioned, there are plenty of places to visit in Australia and this is why it’s important to prioritize the things you really want to see. If you don’t like going to the beach, skip Bondi beach in Sydney and visit all the museums you’re interested in. Before you start planning your trip, think about your vacation preferences. Do you enjoy finding a good place to relax or you are more interested in parties? Do you want to visit historical sites or  you prefer adventurous vacations? Would you like to see the cities or maybe the coastal or outback areas or do you just want to enjoy Australian food and wine? By defining what you want to see, it’ll be easier to plan your trip. And make the most of your Australian trip by doing the things you enjoy.

Types of travel experiences

When it comes to vacationing in Australia, there is something for everyone. From busy, vibrant cities, quaint and cute small towns, superb wine regions, to amazingly beautiful ancient rainforests, enchanting mountains, amazing reefs, gorgeous beaches, vast deserts and stunningly unique wildlife. One thing is for sure; you’ll never be bored in Australia.

Think about flights and accommodation

A man looking at sunset from a beach in Australia Once again, organization is the key to having a full experience once on a vacation. Some of the things you need to pay attention to are accommodation and how you’re going to get to Australia. It’s best to choose the destinations which are the closest to your origin in order to save time and not spend too much of it on commuting. Another important thing to think about is accommodation. If you’re staying longer, and you should stay as long as possible, avoid hotels and hostels if you can. Something that you should take into consideration is renting a place while you’re on your vacation. One of the frequently asked questions by travelers is “Can you pay rent with a credit card?” and not only is the answer YES but you might even get rewarded for it by earning points for future travel. So renting a place for yourself can be practical both money-wise and organization-wise.

The flag of Australia imposed on a brick wall

Stop just looking at the pictures of Australia! Instead book those airplane tickets, start planning and packing and go on the best vacation you’ll probably ever have in your life.

Best ways to experience San Francisco

Best ways to experience San Francisco, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is perhaps the most famous city in the world. There’s so much to see and do in the so-called City by the Bay that you might have no idea how to go about it. There are so many ways to experience San Francisco, after all, more than one can count.

And that kind of paralysis by analysis can – and will – ruin your time in this wonderful place. You’ll be stressed out without doing anything fun, and you’ll be going back home with sour memories. If you worry about this happening to you, fear not! This handy guide will show you all the best ways to experience San Francisco.

That said, you might not be a tourist sticking around for a short while. Maybe you’re moving to San Francisco from another city, and you’ll have all the time in the world to soak in the sights. If so, you’ll still want to read on. This city has so much going on that, eventually, it doesn’t become a matter of what you see, but how you see it.

So let’s get started.

Create a streamlined itinerary for sight-seeing in a hurry

Every trip has its complications, and these problems usually cost you time otherwise spent taking in your location. Whether it’s lost items or broken bags, it all eats up the hours. This is pretty much a constant truth, so you ought to prepare for it whenever you travel.

You can fix most of these problems – keep track of your things, have a quality traveling bag, and so on. However, you can’t take back lost time. In case you’re pressed for time, it’s a great idea to have a quick-and-dirty itinerary on hand for emergencies. The best way to make one is to write down everything you would love to see.

Poke around on the Internet to approximate how much time it would roughly take to visit each of those places. Put the ones that require a lot of time in a to-dump list. For extra effectiveness, see which sights are near one another and cluster them in a single day’s worth of sightseeing. Try separating some time for things like buying special gifts and souvenirs for your close ones, if possible.

Woman writing on notebook
Write down your top destinations that you have time for

This means you’ll, sadly, have to miss out on some experiences. For instance, visiting Alcatraz is basically a day-long process, from the ferry rides to the tour itself. And that’s if you call ahead to book a spot on this tour – doing it impromptu is even more complicated.  If you’re dead set on seeing Alcatraz, maybe consider taking an evening tour instead. You’ll still experience San Francisco, but you may need to make a few sacrifices.

Ride/rent out bikes to experience San Francisco healthily

There’s nothing quite like riding a bike in San Fran on a sunny spring day. Not only is it a healthy alternative to driving or taking the bus/trolly, but it also saves you loads of time otherwise spent walking. You have the speed of a vehicle tour combined with the autonomy to go and stop wherever you like. As long as you’ve brought your essentials for traveling, you’ll be enjoying the best of both worlds.

If you don’t have your own bike to ride, don’t worry. Being such a large city and tourist attraction, San Francisco has its fair share of bike rental agencies. They’re very professional for the most part: they provide well-functioning bikes, helmets, and escorts that know the city well. San Francisco sights are a delight to marvel at this way, believe me.

San Francsico cable car
Cable care are neat, but bikes are healthier

Categorize types of activities

It’s an understatement to say that this city is packed with things to do. You definitely won’t get too far trying to pack everything into your schedule. To properly experience San Francisco, you need to organize your sight-seeing by categories.

What does that mean? Well, if you’re a bit of a gourmand, you can research great places to eat in San Francisco. Or, if you’re more of a nightlife kind of person, look up the best clubs. You can classify these into neat categories that let you quickly organize your day to your liking.

Not sure what this is all about? Don’t worry, you’ll see below.

Awesome bars and restaurants in San Francisco

Here’s an example of a list of what to see in San Francisco. It’s about great places for eating and drinking (with an emphasis on cheesy goodies).

–           Hog Island Oyster Company: great oysters, grilled cheese;

–           Daily Driver: organic bagels, cream cheese;

–           Cowgirl Creamery: European-style cheese;

–           Gott’s Roadside: burgers and milkshake;

–           Vive La Tarte: “tacros” (taco-croissants);

–           Slanted Door: whiskey cocktails, Vietnamese fare;

–           Humphry Slocombe: fun, strange ice cream flavors

–           Fort Point Beer Company: local beer

Experience San Francisco at night
The nightlife in San Francisco is indescribable

This kind of organization is especially useful for tourists that visit San Francisco. It allows them to see the best of San Francisco by preparing ahead of time. See the best sights, get some quality wine and dine in there, and include other activities you wouldn’t normally have time for.

Meet the locals

Wherever you’re staying, one fact rings true: the locals know the place best. This applies whether you’re a tourist or you’ve recently moved to SF. People that have been living there their whole lives tend to know exactly where to go to get the authentic experience. That’s why you should try to make a few “native“ friends while there that can show you cool things to do in San Francisco.

Not only that, but the locals can teach you how to save money while in the city (though not every local is that way). San Francisco isn’t exactly the cheapest of cities, and your cash can quickly fizzle out if you aren’t careful.

Since SF is such a tourist hotspot, the locals there are quite used to new people from other places. That makes them very friendly in general, so don’t worry about annoying them with your attempts to make a connection. And even if they do get peeved, there are tons of people in SF, so you’ll find someone else to show you the best ways to see San Francisco.

Wrapup

San Francisco is a big slice of wonder – much more than anyone can handle at once. Luckily, this guide will let you take out one strategic bite at a time. And that’s one of the best ways to experience San Francisco. Savor it like the splendid treat that it is.

The Charm of Old Quebec City

Looking up at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City

The charm of Old Quebec City never gets old. I’ve been to Quebec City a number of times. The first time as a youngster on a driving vacation with the family. The first overnight stop from Toronto was Quebec City. I remember walking through the gates of the old city and feeling like I had stepped back in time. Thankfully the old city is still there today. And it’s a real treat.

Quebec City – History

The old city walls in Quebec City, Canada
The old cobbled streets in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec is the only walled city in Canada or the U.S. and is designated as a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO. It’s a mix of history, architecture, heritage, art, and culture and is widely viewed as the home of French civilization in North America.

Early Canadian and French history abounds with numerous historic buildings and museums including the Musée de la civilisation. There are many art galleries and boutiques with a French flair. Restaurants and pubs have a warm and intimate feel and most feature Quebec fare including rabbit, deer, and duck confit poutine.

An old hanging store sign in Old Quebec City

Quebec City – My Favourite Hotel

In room historic artifacts with written descriptions in each room at the Auberge Saint-Antoine

While there’s a variety of hotels to choose from within Old Quebec and Quebec City itself, my favorite is the Auberge Saint-Antoine. Located in the heart of Old Quebec, the Auberge sits on an historic site dating back to the 16oos. As a member of Relais and Cheataux, the hotel has a strong focus on service and luxury. There are only 60 rooms with no 2 rooms alike, and each contains artifacts that were found on site. Their Panache Restaurant is incredible with Michelin star chef and a very imaginative menu.

Hotel room at the Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City
Bathroom and amenities at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City
In room amenities at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City

Quebec City – Winter or Summer?

Quebec City is like 2 different destinations in the winter and the summer. In the winter, it can hit -30c. So cold it’s painful but beyond beautiful especially during the Carnaval de Québec (the annual Winter Carnival runs from late January to the middle of February).

In the summer, there’s the Festival d’été de Québec in July, Canada’s biggest outdoor music event. Quebec City is warm and inviting with quaint streets to wonder down and walking trails to explore along the St.Lawrence River. Outdoor cafes abound and you’ll find yourself stepping back in time… and thinking about your next visit.