The Adventurer’s Checklist For A Visit To Australia

There are many, many reasons why tourists flock to the land down under from all over the world. They get scorching hot summers while most of us are getting ready for winter. They have the friendliest locals and the coolest cities. They have delicious food and incredible wine. They have one of the most spectacular and diverse ecosystems on the planet. They have some of the world’s most incredible creatures (I dare you to spend 5 minutes with a quokka and not fall in love). They have numerous thriving centres of art, music and culture, yet, one thing that characterises an Australian holiday perhaps more than any other is the enormous sense of adventure. Australia is a great place for relaxing by the beach with a cocktail and a good book, but it’s also quite possibly the adventure capital of the world.

The Adventurer's Checklist For a Visit to Australia

Image by Alex Healing via Flickr

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still for a moment while on holiday, make your way through this adventurer’s checklist of Australia…

Walk in the wilderness of Fraser Island

Before European settlers arrived in Australia, the country was an ecologically diverse (and spectacularly dangerous) wilderness that only the canny indigenous peoples could navigate safely. Perhaps that’s why so many of the country’s cities hug the coast. Yet, if you want to get off the beaten track and explore the “real” Australia, heading on over to Adventure Free tours and booking a trip to Fraser island is a good place to start. In this UNESCO World Heritage site in Queensland you’ll get to enjoy long hikes and swimming in crystal clear waters surrounded by some of Australia’s stunning native wildlife including dingos, echidnas, flying foxes and all manner of exotic birds.

Climb Uluru… while you still can

There are some who can’t pass a rocky outcrop without wanting to climb it, and if you want to visit the sandstone monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock with the intention of climbing it, you’d better get your skates on. The site’s cultural significance to the indigenous population and the inherent risk factors of the climb have led to the decision for climbing trips to be banned in October 2019. Of course, even if you should choose to visit after this date, there’s still lots to see and do around this seminal landmark.

Snorkel with white sharks

Australia has no shortage of stunning wildlife on land, but perhaps its most spectacular sights are seen beneath the sea. Australia has a plethora of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling but for a truly memorable experience head on over to the Ningaloo Reef where you can swim side by side with 10 metre long white sharks. Of course these graceful giants aren’t the only natives to these fair waters. You’ll also encounter dugongs, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and whales.

Go kayaking in Nitmiluk National Park

Finally, those who are most at home in the water won’t want to miss the opportunity to go on a kayaking adventure down the the Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park. You’ll be able to go off the track most beaten by tourists and dive deep into the outback, mixing it up with freshwater crocodiles and paddle your way past hoards of screeching cockatoos.

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Six Ways To Spice Up Your Travel Plans

Six Ways To Spice Up Your Travel Plans

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

As much as travel should be fun and exciting and enjoying, it can get a little monotonous over time. If you tend to find yourself heading out on the same kinds of trips, to the same kinds of places, you may find that your trips and vacations all start to look the same. And this can get very boring. So instead of travel being a source of rest and enjoyment, it can become a little stale. When this is the case, you need to make sure that you spice up your travel plans. And, one of the best ways for you to do that is to shake up the way you travel. Here are six different ideas to help you do precisely that.

1. Stay Home

The very first thing that you could look to do to spice up your travel plans, is to actually stay home! Well, not stay in your house, per se – but to enjoy a staycation rather than traveling further afield. Ask yourself – have you actually explored your local area? Or enjoyed a night away in a hotel in the UK? If not, then this could be the change of pace you need.

2. Go Somewhere New

And then, you should think about going somewhere new. Always go to Greece? Try Italy instead. Tent to do beach vacation in the summer? Try a city break in the spring. Spice things up by doing things differently.

3. Try An Experience

Sometimes, it’s not so much the travel that you get excited about, as the experience that you will have. So why not focus on that? There are lots of different custom small group tours that you could go on. From wellness to sporting to foodie focused experiences, there will be something out there to suit your needs. So rather than focusing on the location, focus on what you want to do while you travel.

4. Save Up

Or maybe you know that you want to have a more luxury experience with your next source of travel? When this is the case, you are going to want to think about what that might be, and when, and then save up for it. Treating yourself to a stay in one of the most luxurious hotels in the world could be just what you need. So start planning and saving today!

5. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

And sometimes, you may find that you tend to stick to your creature comforts and just trying something new won’t do! So why not step completely out of your comfort zone and go to a location or on a kind of trip that you wouldn’t normally do, but that excites you?

6. Backpack Instead

And finally, if you’ve really got itchy feet and you’re desperate to explore the world, then why not think about backpacking for a few months? Maybe you want to explore Asia? Or you want to tour around Europe? Then do it. Work out a budget, save up, plan your route, and just head out. If you really want to spice up your travel experiences, this is certainly the way to do it.

The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in 2 weeks. So what do you see? And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit and wines to drink. We are looking for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most wineries will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road leading to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion. The area covers approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400 year old winery is right next door to the well known Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Villa San Andrea’s Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit in Tuscany are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is pretty hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible coastal views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?