Tips to ensure your next group tour experience isn’t a massive dud.
I used to be stubbornly against group tours. Like most independent and often solo travellers, I’d research and plan everything myself and arrange most experiences under my parameters.
Scoffing at the idea of joining a throng of camera-toting, loud tourists, I would remark that it was “my personal idea of hell”. Ignorant? Yes. Judgemental? Definitely.
These stereotypes DO exist for a reason, though. Anyone who has travelled enough will have run into the drunken Contiki groups or experienced a mass of tour bus patrons cut a museum line on their express passes. It can be annoying and certainly not to everyone’s travel style, but there are certain circumstances where a tour may be the best bet.
The Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival is a pagan inspired event, held in the deepest darkest (and coldest) reaches of a gorgeous southern valley in Tasmania, every year in the dead middle of Winter.
A festival of feasting, fire and frivolity that pays homage to traditions old and even older. Essentially serving as a celebratory ritual to bless the apple orchards for a bountiful year to come and a release of any negative energy in the surrounds.
It’s also a massive, muddy party with a shite-load of delicious local food and local booze.
Oahu, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination for a reason…
The gorgeous island is home to the largest local population, plus the highest number of visitors per year of any of the Hawaiian islands. It is a place of long white beaches, pristine waters, deep green valleys, very high waterfalls, and white high-rise hotels.
Many tourists visit Oahu for a five-star resort style beach holiday, with rooftop sun baking, designer shopping and swim up bars (that I’ve always been concerned are too far away from the bathrooms). Though the 5-star experience can be expensive, being an adventurous and curious traveller can also hit the hip pocket. Hard.
There are plenty of creature comforts for those that come to simply laze on the white sands of Waikiki, Oahu. Including the food.
It would be easy to visit from mainland America (or Australia) and eat the same food as home. Want to dine at upmarket steak houses, swish burger joints and fancy Japanese restaurants every night? You can, that sounds amazing, delicious… and expensive.
Prefer to explore further than the sanitised tourist strips (and traps)? For those of us who wish to eat local and save money for activities, here are some places to get your munch on.
90s kids will likely remember the Simpsons episode where Homer orders the Fugu (or pufferfish) at the Japanese restaurant, only to be told he has 24 hours to live after consuming its incorrectly prepared flesh.
It’s been nearly 24 hours since I ate Fugu, so I’m unsure if I’m barrelling towards my imminent demise, or if my gut ache is just a touch of wind. Either way, I’m still living it up in Japan so if this is my last 24 hours then cest la vie!
A majestic animal, known as Reindeer in Europe and Caribou in the USA. Large males can weigh more than 300 kilograms with antlers spanning well over 1 meter. They are prized for their fur, milk and used for transportation.
Sex on bunks, nudity, and poop in unusual places …
I’ve been on the road for 8 weeks now, which means a lot of time in hostels. It’s quite different to the first time I did a big trip (at 21) though. Sites like booking.com and hostelworld didn’t exist. You rocked up, sometimes guided by your trusty lonely planet, and crossed everything they had a bed, that wasn’t dirty and packed with too many beds or idiots.