4 Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas for the Traveller

Biplane flight over Seattle

Biplane flight over Seattle

Christmas is upon us, you still have not finished the gift buying and the shopping malls are turning into a haven for psychopathic Christmas excess. If you are shopping for the traveller, avoid the shops and get them a gift that tells them you know what matters to them.

  1. Buy them a ticket to a favourite destination or check out the sales page of your local airlines or railways to find a new adventure for them. (Check JetStar for cheap flights in Australia.)
  2. Book a weekend adventure, and enjoy their excitement on Christmas Day and share the adrenalin rush of a new adventure. (Try Adrenalin for Australian adventure packages.)
  3. Buy a travel ebook or audio guide for their next vacation destination.
  4. Enrol them in a frequent flyer program or buy an executive lounge membership with their favourite airline.

5 Tips for a Great Holiday Road Trip

Scenic stop between Vancouver BC and Seattle.

Stop and enjoy the view occasionally.

Next week many families will pack the car and take a long drive to visit relatives or their personal holiday retreat, and large number of those trips will become endurance trials with crying kids, and angry parents.

Do you want a peaceful road trip, arrive relaxed and ready for the holidays?

Well, here are my five tried and tested tips for a great holiday road trip:

  1. Pack tonight – Pack your bags and load the car the night before you leave to reduce the pre-departure stress.
  2. Early start – Leaving just before dawn you will avoid the early morning traffic, and your kids will probably go back to sleep for a few hours. That will make the trip shorter for them, and reduce the boredom.
  3. Bring entertainment – Audio books, travel games, music and videos will help keep bored young minds occupied and the grumbles to a minimum.
  4. Stop regularly – Every 2-3 hours pull over and take a break. Find a park or playground where the kids can run around for 10-20 minutes, we found this easier to do by packing a picnic rather than using roadside stops.
  5. Take a scenic detour – There is a lot of great places to see that our modern highways efficiently race us past to get us to other places quicker. Take the scenic route occasionally, and rediscover those places.

Remember your holiday started as you left the driveway, and no one wants a bad start to their vacation. Plan, take your time and enjoy the journey.


Qantas to Resume A380 Flights – Should You Avoid those Flights?

Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas today announced that it plans to resume initial Airbus A380 operations from Saturday, 27 November, commencing with a QF31 service from Sydney to London via Singapore

No doubt the engine explosion on Qantas Flight QF32 earlier this month caused many passengers to consider whether to fly on Qantas’, or other airline’s, A380 services. The Qantas decision to ground their fleet and undertake a rigorous engineering investigation to determine the cause before returning them to service is exactly what I would expect from one of the world’s safest airlines.

In their media release today, Qantas stated:

A380 engines remain subject to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness Directive issued on 11 November, mandating that all Trent 900s undergo certain inspections every 20 flying cycles. Qantas will comply fully with this directive both for A380s brought back into service and for new aircraft entering the Qantas fleet. (Note from Steve: A  flying cycle is one take-off and landing.)

This is a very rigorous inspection regime, and will help ensure the dangerous condition does not eventuate on other aircraft but does it make you feel comfortable flying on the A380?

As an aviation professional, I am satisfied that flying on an A380 poses no greater threat to my safety than any other aircraft. Why?

Firstly, Qantas and other A380 operators are experienced and reliable, I trust them.

Second, the various regulatory authorities like EASA maintain strong control of safety standards and an unsafe aircraft would be grounded by them.

Finally, Airbus and Rolls Royce make quality products and are rightly proud of their engineering prowess, and covet their safety record. Again I trust them.

So I am looking forward to flying direct to London on a Qantas A380 next year for our Great Britain and Ireland adventure.


Eurostar-High Speed Rail London to Paris

The Eurostar rail service between London and Paris (or Brussels) is finally a truly high speed service with the opening of the high speed rail line in England.

The London home of Eurostar has moved from Waterloo Station to St Pancreas providing better connections to other British destinations once you alight from your Eurostar train and cuts the journey time by at least 20 minutes. That means 2 hours and 15 minutes between London and Paris. I’ve spent that much time getting to the gate at Heathrow so it’s a no brainer for me, rail all the way.


Cheap Airfares in Australia

Australia is experiencing an unprecedented increase in airlines offering discounted airfares over the last couple of years and it does not look like abating with Tiger Airways joining the fray. Established carrier Qantas held a near monopoly after the collapse of Ansett until Virgin Blue was established to bring the fun and discounts back.

Qantas responded by launching Jetstar as their discount airline, offering fares as low as $49 currently on many popular routes. Tiger Airways is offering fares as low as $39.95 on its routes including Canberra to Melbourne, giving Canberra residents a much needed respite from consistently higher fares than other Australian cities enjoy.

Unlike low cost airlines in other countries (notably Europe), all these carriers operate out of the exact same airports as the major carriers making them an option for internal travel connections to your overseas flight and they may even service your international destination.

Australia is huge country and these discounts are giving travellers an option to get further afield on their visits Down Under without cutting to deeply into the budget.


Jetstar flies into Avalon not Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.