Jennifer Tice's Blog

Archive for the ‘Tips and Advice’ Category

New Website

New Website

You may have noticed that I have been absent on my blog for several days now, but it is all with good cause! I have decided to take the plunge and move from a WordPress blog to my very own website at www.jennifertice.com Thanks to WordPress and countless others who post great tips and advice on the web for free, I will now be blogging from this new location in order to have greater control and flexibility over the look and feel of the site.

I am still working out some of the kinks in terms of formatting, so you may notice lots of changes over the next few weeks. It is fully up and running and I will continue to post about my travels as I nail down the exact look and feel of the site.  Any and all comments regarding the site look and feel are appreciated.  Thank you in advance!

Jen

We are almost at the halfway point of our journey with 7 months now spent away from Canada, and 8 more months to go.  And although I have overall truly enjoyed the experience of travelling, there are moments when I miss the familiarities of home.  Australia has a lot to offer, but there are some things that it can’t replace.  So, in no particular, here are the top 4 things I miss about being in Canada:

  1. Family and Friends:  This one is an obvious one, probably at the top of everyone’s list who travels for long periods of time.  Sometimes it can be exhausting to have to introduce myself to dozens of new people every day and recount my story, trying to describe who I am and what I’m about in a few sentences or less.  While meeting and connecting with new friends here is great, having a cup of tea with a friend who already knows everything about you and doesn’t have to ask can’t compare.
  2. Snow: I am definitely more of a summer person, and I love spending days lazing around at the beach, but I can’t imagine not ever having a white Christmas. There is something about the first snowfall that feels magical and always makes me feel like a kid again.  The last two winters I have taken up snowboarding, and I definitely felt the absence of riding the slopes this year.
  3. Fast Internet: I never would have suspected Australia to be so far behind in technology, but most 3rd world countries have better internet than Australia.  It’s slow and very expensive when compared with Canadian standards.  Wi-fi hot spots are almost non-existent, and when you do finally get a connection, don’t even attempt to load more than one page at a time.
  4. Food: For the most part, Australia cuisine is similar to Canada’s but there are a few things missing.  Kraft dinner – why do they not have it here? I can’t remember how many nights in University I ate this stuff without getting sick of it.  I will admit it’s a weird food craving, but it definitely reminds me of home.  Also, I haven’t found any sushi here that even compares to our Vancouver standards

Sometimes you really can’t appreciate the small niceties of home, until you have been away for a while. It’s usually the things we take for granted that we end up missing the most.  For now, I will just have to suffer through the slow internet – and if anyone finds a box of real KD here, let me know!

 

So you’re travelling around Australia and decide you want to spend a few months on the Gold Coast.  You have two options: 1. Spend two months showering with flip-flops and sharing a dorm room with 7 other flatmates, or 2. Look for an apartment to share.  Getting an apartment is generally cheaper than a hostel, more secure and means you can stock up on groceries and shower without those flip-flops (hopefully!).  Start early and be aggressive, getting an apartment can take several weeks depending on when the previous roommates are moving out so don’t wait until the last minute.  Here are a few tips on landing a great place on the Gold Coast:

  1. Gumtree.com.au – this is by far the best online resource for getting a place.  Call whenever you can for a faster response and always send an email to follow up. You can also find roommates and jobs here, but I found the job section to be quite limited for the Gold Coast.
  2. Hit up the universities – both Bond and Griffith University have accommodation posting boards on their campus and online at http://www.bond.edu.au/accom/offcampus.htm and  http://www.gugcstudentguild.com.au/
  3. Hostels – you are likely already staying at one, there are dozens in Surfers Paradise most of which of posting boards and other people looking for roommates
  4. Gold Coast Accommodation Service – Located on Beach road right across from the main strip, they have postings of people looking to let a room in their apartment and they can help you find an apartment for longer stays of 3-6 months for those looking for their own place all free of charge
  5. Gold Coast Bulletin – Wednesday and Saturday edition of the paper has a classified section for housing and jobs, if you miss it the news agency on Surfers Parade usually keeps copies around for a few days
  6. Other websites for rental accommodations that were helpful include www.domain.com.au and www.realestate.com.au click the “Share” tab to find people looking for roommates

Good luck hunting! Don’t get discouraged as you will likely end up seeing a dozen places before you find one you like.  Keep your head up and don’t settle and before you know it you will be saying good-bye to dorm rooms and hello to peace and quiet!

Sign Post

Where to?

So you’ve packed up your bags and are moving overseas for a year. It might be a work contract, school, or just the desire to travel that has brought you to this new place. On the plane ride over you promise yourself you will see the sights, learn a foreign language, and embrace the new culture. However, after a month you find the novelty wearing off and you are back to your old ways, whatever they might be. While having a sense of stability and routine can be comforting while away from home for extended periods of time, you don’t want to miss out on the local culture and attractions around you.  Here are some tips for remaining a tourist, even while living as an expat:

  1. Make a to-do list: While this may seem obvious, it really helps you focus on the things that are really important to you while you are residing in your new country. Rank them in order of importance, and then try to check off one a week – this will give you something to look forward to regularly and help you shake off your routine a bit.
  2. Always have your camera with you and more importantly remember to take pictures with it! Even if you walk by the same cathedral/parliament/fountain etc. on the way to work each day, it is still an attraction, and something you’ll want pictures of while you’re gone.  Make sure to get pictures of all the people you meet along the way, so years down the road you have something to remember them by.  Memory cards are fairly cheap these days so get snapping!
  3. Blog – writing down the exciting things you are doing (or not doing), will give you a reason to get out there and make some memories. After all, you are going to want to share your experiences with everyone back home and this will help you to keep track of them all.  You can also connect with other travel writers to get ideas of things to see and do where you living.
  4. Talk to the locals – whether it’s a train ride home or waiting for the bus, introduce yourself to the locals and ask them  where to go to grab a bit to eat.  Guide books and websites are great resources, but word of mouth from someone who actually lives there is better.  Who knows what great places you will stumble across this way.
  5. Lastly – remember to have fun! After all you may not be able to return so get out and see it now while you can.  If you just want to work and save money, you likely could have done that back in your native country.  So get out there and enjoy the experience before heading back home!

Being a backpacker, I am always looking for ways to save money while travelling.  Since spending the last four months travelling around Australia here are some of the tips I have found on saving my hard earned cash:

YHA Card

YHA Discount Card

1.  YHA/Backpacker cards – these can be purchased at most tourist information booths in Australia or New Zealand.  For the cost of $40, you get one night free accommodations in a YHA hostel, and 10-20% off most tourist attractions.  It pays for itself within a few uses.

2. Hostels – there are a few ways to save money at hostels.  Before you book, ring a few up to see if they have any jobs available in the hostel.  Lots of places, especially during busy season, offer free or reduced cost stay for help cleaning the hostel.  Many hostels also have weekly discounted rates if you’re planning on staying in the area for a while.

3.  Markets – looking for a new funky shirt, souvenirs or jewelery at a cheap price? Find your local market.  In Sydney, Paddy’s Market has two locations and offers a ton of cheap souvenirs and fresh produce.  Melbourne’s Victoria market offers much of the same.

4. Local transit – find out the scoop on local transit as soon as you arrive in a new destination.  Many cities offer discounts for purchasing tickets in bulk or all day passes if you are planning on covering a lot of the city in one day.

5. Getting to and away from – depending on how you want to do your travelling check out these sites to save money. http://www.standbyrelocs.com/ If camper van is your style, this site offers cheap if not free rentals for taking the van from one city to the next. Perfect if you are moving up or down the east coast. If flying is more your pace, checkout http://iwantthatflight.com.au/ for a comparison of all the discount local airlines. Being flexible on dates for both flying and driving is key to getting the best deal.


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