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Reefs and Rainforests (start Sydney) - July 10th

25 May 2011 Kristen asked

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My friend and I just booked this trip (with sailing in Whitsundays) and we were hoping to connect with other people who will be going on the same tour. Or if you've ever been on this tour before and have any advice, tips, suggestions, etc., we'd really appreicate it!

Thanks :)

  • 30 May 2011 JennyJenny said

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    My boyfriend and I will be on this trip (until Cairns, we are doing Beaches and Reefs). We are both very excited – it’s our first trip to Australia!

  • 30 May 2011 Kristen said

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    That is awesome!!! I noticed in your other blog that you are from Calgary. My friend, Paula, and I are from Ottawa. I am pretty well travelled but this is my first time to Australia and I am soooo excited! Have you guys booked your flight yet? When are you flying into Sydney? Looking forward to meeting you in July. Cheers, Kristen

  • 30 May 2011 JennyJenny said

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    Yay – other Canadians, haha (I have a feeling there will be many of us) We are indeed from Calgary and both of us have traveled extensively (him in Asia and me in Europe) but this is our first time doing any kind of organized tour. We booked our flights in February and got a wicked deal. We arrive into Sydney on the 8th and have a couple of things planned before the tour starts. What about yourselves?

  • 30 May 2011 Kristen said

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    This is my first organized tour too…at least as a traveller instead of a supervisor. I’m a high school teacher and I’ve taken my students on European trips with tour companies. I’ve also done a lot of travelling on my own – Europe, Asia, and Africa. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia so I’m pumped for this tour!!!

    That is awesome that you guys found a wicked deal!!! Flights have been pretty pricey lately so we are waiting it out, hoping that there will be a good deal in the next week or so. Otherwise, we will have to suck it up and pay the $2000 – eek! Have you booked your flight from Cairns back to Sydney or are you going to deal with that when you get to Australia?

  • 30 May 2011 JennyJenny said

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    I’m a high school teacher too! I have also done an international trip as the supervisor and had a great time (if you can travel with 34 teenagers you can travel with anyone, haha). I teach senior core french, french language arts and etudes sociales – you?

    Yeah we did great on the flights. Because I’m off for the summer I’m actually flying in and out of Bellingham, Washington (my parents live in the lower mainland) and meeting Marc in LA (he’s got a “real” job, lol). We are flying home from Cairns (well back to LAX then he’s going to Calgary and I’m going to spend a few weeks in Vancouver / Kelowna) The best deals that we found were on Virgin out of LAX – it was 1275 tax in for return flights (lax – syd and cns – lax)

    Random question – what are your plans for a hair straightner? I’ve wrecked one CHI in Europe and am hesitant to take the one I currently have since it will be ruined when I get home. I plan to buy a blow dryer when I get there (I’ve got serious hair that needs to be tamed and hotel blow dryers are usually not good enough)

  • 30 May 2011 Kristen said

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    Too funny!! I teach grades 10-12 Hospitality & Tourism, Religion, Civics, and Career Studies. My school is considered to be an urban priority school, meaning that we have a lot of kids who come from low SES families and there are also a lot of ESL students (new immigrants). So I’ve also run a Focus Program for grade 10 kids who have high needs in terms of behaviour and/or academics. They definitely keep me on my toes but I love it!!! And of course, having summers off is also a big perk to the job! I think we will get along really well – lots to talk about :)

    That is awesome! I hope we can find decent prices on flights. We’re planning on leaving Canada on July 7th and returning from Sydney on the 27th. I’m hoping there will be a seat sale, given that our trip is in a month. But I also don’t want to wait too long and get burned!

    Good question. I know what you mean – I wrecked a blow dryer when I lived in Korea but I’ve been told that if you buy an adpater with the proper converter (you need to ask for one specific to Australia) then it should be fine. I’m planning to look into it a little more because I definitely need to pack a straightner too! And I have a really nice Paul Brown one that’s been discontinued so I would hate to ruin it! It makes me a little nervous so I may just decide to buy a cheap one to bring over.

  • 30 May 2011 JennyJenny said

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    I’m sure the flights will work out – but I wouldn’t wait too long. We found our flights on www.kayak.com

    I randomly bought a straightner on Ebay this morning (I’m about to get engaged and have at least 2 meltdowns a day and then impulse buy something ) It’s an Avanti AST2 with dual voltage so it should work just fine. If yours doesn’t work I’m happy to share mine.

    I’m am so excited — this last month of school is going to a challenge!

  • 30 May 2011 Kristen said

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    I’ve been getting daily price alerts from Kayak so hopefully, a deal will pop up soon!

    That’s too funny that you randomly bought a flat iron off ebay – so smart, though!!! And thanks for offering to share it, if need be. Very sweet!

    I hear ya about the long month ahead – but there are only 14 school days until exams so it should fly by. I can’t wait to book our flight and start packing! Woohoo!!! BTW – If you have facebook, you should add me; Kristen Smith from Ottawa.

  • 31 May 2011 cluzak said

    cluzak

    i just got back from this tour – it was amazing. buy a straightener there, thats what I did and I am so happy i did !! I didn’t buy a hair dryer, I made do with the hotels. However, some places don’t have any, so I had to let my hair air dry as much as possible then straighten what I could.

  • 31 May 2011 ~*Tasha *~ :-D said

    ~*Tasha *~ :-D

    looks like i found the blog to go to. it also looks like im th only auzzie going on an auzzie tour. lol wll atleast its a start. SOOOO CANT WAIT!!!!!!!

  • 31 May 2011 Kristen said

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    Cluzak – Hearing from people who have already been on this trip makes me even more excited to go!!!! Any advice, tips, suggestions for those of us travelling in July?
    Tasha – Looks like we’ve got a good mix of Canucks, Yanks, and Aussies. Should be a good time! :)

  • 31 May 2011 Paula said

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    Hey Guys! I just wanted to introduce myself – I am from Ottawa and am travelling with Kristen (who has already been posting on here!) . It will be my first time to Australia and I am super excited!! I’m looking forward to meeting you all……

  • 31 May 2011 JennyJenny said

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    I started a facebook group for people going on tours that depart from Sydney on July 10. I figure it will be easier to chat in there. Seach Contiki Tours July 10 (departing Sydney) on Facebook!

  • 1 Jun 2011 cluzak said

    cluzak

    Yes, the facebook is a good idea :) thats what I did and there was a little group of us that got really close and had tons of fun on the trip, but just remember to make friends with everyone else too!! your group literally becomes your family. you get so comfortable and everyone just wants a good time. as far as advice… i over packed! i tried SOO hard not to, but i over packed anyway.
    - i took two pairs of heels, and i ended up wearing each pair once…. so i would say if you normally dont wear heels, only take one pair. other than that, cute dressy flip flops / flats work!
    - some places in sydney have dress code, so ask the hotel about bars and dress codes and what not. if youre staying at the holiday inn potts point, dont stay there to party, go to The Rocks – cheaper drinks and more casual. potts point (kings cross) is still the red district, and although they are rebuilding it to get it back up to par, its slightly sketch but still super okay to walk around at night. just dont go alone – obvi :)
    - (still sydney) go to places before 10. thats when the cover charge starts. if you go before, you dont have to pay, which is always good! DONT do the blue mountain tour if its offered as an optional. it was fun but i wish i didnt waste my money on it, and i wish i explored sydney more. the market on the weekends in the rocks are SO cool, authentic aussie souvenirs, so get them here, instead of the touristy shops. they are good prices too! hopefully youll be there during the weekend?
    - byron bay; i wasnt impressed. it was alright but i had my makeup bag stolen by house keeping (nomads hostel) because i missed the 10:00am check out memo (we werent leaving until 12). so when you take your bags to the bus, take all your belongings. that makeup was really expensive :( haha
    - surfers paradise; LOVED sin city (club) the second night we were there it was ladies night and ladies got free drinks all night, as long as you had your empty glass from your previous drink, that was your free ticket! it was awesome. the draculas show was cool, but the food sucked and i didnt get a lot of the jokes =/ haha so you make your mind up on that one…
    ***WHITSUNDAYS!!!; if youre not already booked, BOOK NOW! you can book on the trip too, but DEF go for the 2 night sailing option. totally worth it, it was absolutely amazing. words cannot describe how awesome it was. take tons of pictures at whitehaven beach. i totally didnt take enough. i was just taking in its beauty. i also too small ziplock baggies and put sand in it from whitehaven beach. makes perfect souvenirs (just have to buy little vials when you get home and put a label on it) Sailing was by far my favorite. CONDOOORRRR!! (you’ll understand that after your trip ;) )
    - day dream island, explore before you start drinking. i started drinking way early and was slightly drunk when we went on the fish feeding tour. it was fun, but i wish i explored a little before i started drinking.
    - fraser island; really good pizza at the one bar. then at the other bar really good drinks and super cheap too. (jugs for $10). do the FWD excursion, its soo worth it. totally not what i was expecting at all, but still really cool! they take you to some really neat spots, like lake Mackenzie.
    -Noosa; free laundry! thats about the only good thing about noosa. nothing too exciting there, but thats good because youll need a night to stay in and just crash. so bee sure to throw your laundry in BEFORE you go to dinner, so that way youre not up all night doing laundry.
    - CAIRNSSSS!!! SO MUCH FUN!!! next to whitsunday, Cairns was def a favorite. so much fun. thats an understatement. we did a pub crawl the second night and it was amazing! each pub you go you, you get a free drink. contiki really hooks you up with that kinda stuff. a free drink at almost every place really does help lol. pregame hard (drink at the hotel before going out; we would go to the bottle shop and just buy a bottle of for each of us and drink that while we were getting ready), then get your free drink at each pub and you end up not spending much money on alcohol. if you can, add extra days in cairns! we did the reverse, start cairns; end sydney and we added 2 extra nights in sydney. I really wish we did it the other way around! you guys will absolutely love cairns.
    GO SKYDIVING!!! it was awesome. best experience ever.
    - cape tribulation; go in with an open mind. it was really awesome! i miss the jungle and the jungle crazies (thats what i call the jungle locals haha) get in good with the bartenders, if they like ya, they’ll just give free drinks to the group lol.

    sorry this is like a book. im just still on a high from this trip, it was absolutely amazing and I would do it all over again if i could! you guys are about to have the best time of your life, no matter what happens. honestly, everything that could go wrong, went wrong for me and i still had the best time of my life. (my luggage was lost PACK EXTRAS! PLUS YOUR BATHING SUIT!!!! i did have enough extras, but i didnt have my bathing suit so i had to go in the swimming holes and beaches in my bra and underwear when we were in cape tribulation –remember, we did reverse tour. and when i finally did get it back, the handle was all busted so it was hard to lift. my flip video camera broke, i only used it once. my underwater digital camera actually got water in it. and my make up was stolen at a hostel but thats a whole other story haha. all i can say is; THANK GOODNESS for travel insurance. although its a pain in the ass to claim everything, im really glad i had it! if you buy things for the trip, keep your receipts, you never know if youll need them to make a claim!

    if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

  • 3 Jun 2011 Kristen said

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    Wow! Thanks for taking the time to write that post – very helpful!!! And reading it just made me that much more excited about my trip!!!!! It’s going to be an amazing adventure! One question: What’s the best way (cheapest for 2 people) to get from the airport to Kings Cross – train, cab, bus???? Thanks :0

  • 3 Jun 2011 TravelCrazy said

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    Hey Cluzak…. thanks so much for writing that post, it was very helpful. I’m doing Reefs and Rainforests July 21 from Cairns, so I will definitely take a lot of what you mentioned into consideration. After reading what you said about Sailing Whitsundays, I’m so glad I booked that! Ok quick question about shoes: what shoes did you where most while on the tour? I’m assuming that a good pair of running shoes are a must.
    Again thanks for your post, and I’m sure there are going to be others with some questions for you. It’s just so nice to have someone who recently went on the tour to bounce ideas off of.

  • 8 Jun 2011 cluzak said

    cluzak

    from the air port to kings cross, im not exactly sure. i was going from kings cross to the airport and there was a shuttle that was super cheap! try contacting the hotel and ask them if this shuttle can pick up from the airport? thats my only suggestion. if not, then i would try taxi. but ask the hotel if you can get ahold of them. train is too confusing (well, for me anyway) to try to figure it out with all your luggage. but once youre in kings cross, train is def the cheapest way to go, and its not so bad once you get the hang of where you need to get off and transfer and all that jazz. but since youre splitting it with 2 people, cab wont break your bank. just remember that a huge tip isnt necessary! their minimum wage is $20-25 an hr in Oz, so get used to not tipping since its totally different from north america. i tipped my cab driver (from airport to cairns) $10 and i was really regretting it after lol.

    shoes!! i wore my rainbows (really good flip flops)——> http://islandsurf.com/islandsurf/page/product/sku/301UF000LOGO_%7CD%7C_LADY/p/Womens-Single-Layer-University-of-Florida-Sandals.html?Brand=Rainbow-Sandals&pageSize=40%3Faf_id%3D105&gclid=CPeisJb1pakCFR975QodP3y-vw
    honestly, i would take a pair of crappy sneakers. i had my nice pair of nike shox and they got all muddy because we went for a hike through the rainforest and we got super muddy. i mean they can be washed, but i wish i took an old crappy pair to just ditch at the end of the trip, that way i could have had more room in my suitcase / wore my flipflops on the plane home… i ended up wearing sneakers on the plane to and from because i thought it would be smart to save room and weight in my luggage. well yes, this was true going over, but coming back i had gotten a tattoo my last night in sydney, on the inside of my right ankle so wearing my sneakers on the way home wasnt the greatest thing. so, my advice; crappy sneakers you can ditch before coming home.

    and of course, ditch everything you can coming home. all shampoo bottles, extra detergent (i strongly advise the tide liquid travel packets, just throw them in a plastic baggie though, in case of explosion) etc.

    have fun. keep in mind, no one knows you on this trip, so you’re allowed to be your true self and no one will judge you! being from a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone, it was really nice to get away from people iv went to school with the past 12 years and just be me. i know it sounds corny but if you’re not outgoing, youll truly miss out on meeting every single person on your tour. be crazy! its what contiki is all about!

    ask away! i feel like its my duty to report! haha i didnt have anyone to bounce off of so i felt just slightly unprepared, but i was in contact with a group through contiki and we would talk about packing and what not all the time. we even skyped a few times, all 5 of us at once, it was so fun haha. so yes, feel free to ask questions! it may take me a while to get back, but ill try my hardest to reply asap!

  • 8 Jun 2011 TravelCrazy said

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    Thanks Cluzak, that was all very helpful. I am definitely going to get a good pair of flip flops before I go. My situation is a little different, because I’m not coming home after the tour. I have a year visa to stay there, so I will actually need stuff sent to me once I find an apartment. But anyways, thanks again for your post, if I have anymore questions I will be sure to ask. Appreciate it.

  • 9 Jun 2011 cluzak said

    cluzak

    Lucky you!! I am so jealous! I cant wait to go back and stay for a while :) it’ll happen soon!! good luck in your adventures and safe travels! Always here to help!

  • 9 Jun 2011 ~*Tasha *~ :-D said

    ~*Tasha *~ :-D

    hey guys! well now my countdon can REALLY begin… i got all my paperwork. im getting really excited.

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