Notorious holiday scrimpster Tiana Templeman, AT contributor and author of the budget travel book Absolutely Faking It, imparts her valuable knowledge on how to avoid a holiday from hell.
Have you taken a holiday that was so bad you got excited about coming home? Ever snuck away for a long weekend and found yourself wishing it was a short weekend instead?
Going on holidays can be a real treat but sometimes a much needed getaway can turn into a “holiday from hell”. Read on to discover how to avoid a trip that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.
When to go
When to take your well-earned break deserves careful consideration. Long weekends are a great way to stretch annual leave but it’s wise to find out when public holidays fall at your destination while you’re planning a trip, not when you get there.
Don’t make the mistake of letting your guard down because you’re in Australia rather than overseas as every city has a “bad part of town”.
Friends were delighted when they scored cheap flights to Melbourne – until they arrived to discover the trip coincided with a Victorian long weekend. Their Yarra Valley getaway still went ahead but, as most accommodation was already fully booked, it cost them a fortune.
Major sporting matches, rock concerts, writers’ festivals and similar events also affect room availability.
School holidays fall at different times in each state, so check dates before you book as accommodation prices can soar. Going away for a fortnight and paying almost double for the second week remains one of my least favourite holiday memories.
Office workers can’t escape the perils of peak hour but travellers should avoid it at all costs. Catching a cab in rush hour won’t get your holiday off to a great start and can be an expensive and frustrating experience. Unless you’re visiting Canberra – then it’s just frustrating. Our national capital has virtually no traffic but there are also virtually no taxis at peak hour as they’re taking out-of-towners to and from the office. The wait for a taxi can take up to four times longer than the actual trip in Canberra, so it pays to travel outside peak hour and arrive relaxed (and on schedule).
You can discover far more than you ever wanted to know about someone by sharing accommodation. Like the fact they leave the TV on 24/7 for background noise
Of course, catching public transport is a great way to save money and avoid traffic but isn’t recommended after dark unless you’re familiar with your destination. Even a bustling CBD can turn into a very different place when night falls. Don’t make the mistake of letting your guard down because you’re in Australia rather than overseas as every city has a “bad part of town” and it’s one local attraction you don’t want to experience (especially not when you’re carrying luggage).
How to stay friends when you travel with them
It can be fun holidaying with friends as there’s much to share (including the cost of accommodation), however, your best buddy may not be the perfect travelling companion. When an early bird and a night owl share a room there are sure to be ruffled feathers, for example, so have a chat about practicalities such as these before booking a twin single room.
You can discover far more than you ever wanted to know about someone by sharing accommodation. Like the fact they leave the TV on 24/7 for background noise. Or blow their nose with gusto in the shower. Some of my best trips have been with friends but I’ve discovered the secret of success comes down to communication. If something is bothering you, speak up before it’s too late or, better still, sit down together and agree on basic ground rules before you leave home.
If you’re flying with someone, consider spreading your packing between two bags, as it’s unlikely both will be lost. (You hope!) And carry a spare set of clothes in your carry-on, even for short trips. Turning up to a posh interstate wedding in your “best t-shirt” because the airline lost your luggage makes for an amusing story once you get home but the bride’s mother may not see the humour on the day.
When booking connecting flights, always allow more time than you think you’ll need. How many times does a flight arrive early? Not often. How many times do flights arrive late? Trust me, you’ll be happy to have that extra hour up your sleeve.
Australia is a big, beautiful country and exploring it often involves travelling vast distances. Consider checking into a cheap hotel overnight rather than flying straight through to your destination after a long drive as anything over ten hours in transit can knock you around for days afterwards. If you’ve ever driven from Esperance to Perth then flown to the east coast, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Tired and emotional travellers are a shoo-in for botched arrangements and heated arguments. Especially when you get lost on the way to the airport after a nine-hour drive and almost miss your flight.
My husband and I laugh about this now but, like most holidays from hell, it wasn’t much fun at the time.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think? Have you ever been in a Holiday Hell situation? What tips can you offer to avoid disappointment? Sign up free to the AT Website and have your say by posting a comment below.