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Good News for Travellers to Australia

Posted by Miss Maccy on Nov 13, 2012 in Australia, Planes, Travel with kids

With a bit of luck, the time spent in the queues to get through customs has just been dramatically shortened.

Airport Joy for Fed Up Australian Travellers

The new regulations mean that processed and prepackaged foods will not need to be declared on arrival. Biosecurity will now

“focus on looking for goods such as raw meats, live plants, seeds and fresh fruit and vegetables, which have a much greater potential to bring diseases and pests to Australia.”

A move which will no doubt be welcomed by homesick Kiwis wanting to bring home their favourite flavour of Hubbard’s Cereal!

 

 

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More Tips for Packing Carry On Luggage

Posted by Miss Maccy on Sep 10, 2012 in Clothing, Packing

Here’s a great article and photo slideshow showing how to pack all your clothes into one carry on bag.

Packing Tips From Travel Pros: NY Times

More and more airlines are offering far cheaper flights for no checked bags. I just wish we could have saved as much money when we travelled to Europe! However, still totally worth it!!!

 
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How to Avoid Melbourne Airport’s Dreadful Parking Fees

Posted by Miss Maccy on Mar 12, 2010 in Australia

Airport Exploiting Public on Parking Fees

The answer my friends, is simple: fly into Sydney.

You think I’m kidding, no?

Compare the last two times we flew internationally:

1. We flew direct to Melbourne. Then waited two hours in line to clear customs. Meanwhile, as we needed two cars, there were two family members with cars in the car park waiting to pick us up. Total amount of parking time paid for – over four hours worth. Total paid $48

2. SGM and Beckham flew to Sydney. They cleared customs in less than ten minutes. The bus transfer to the domestic terminal was included in the ticket price. They ate tea at one of the fast food places in the airport – apparently the food court is pretty good. They then flew domestically (ticket price included in international airfare) to Melbourne. We watched the arrival time on the airport website and simply drove up to the front door to collect them. Total paid – about $16 at Subway, but at least they felt like they got something for their money. Also, it was over $165 cheaper to fly via Sydney than direct to Melbourne.

So, Sydney = cheaper, faster and no parking required.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that at Melbourne you have ten minutes from paying for your ticket to exiting the car park, otherwise you go into the next price bracket. And that they only have machines to pay for your tickets at one end of the carpark. BAH!

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Congratulations Lonely Planet!

Posted by Miss Maccy on Mar 10, 2010 in Travel with kids

Lonely Planet Celebrates 100 Million Guidebooks

 
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500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up

Posted by Miss Maccy on Mar 6, 2010 in Travel Guides, Travel with kids, Uncategorized

Or, 500 Tacky Tourist Traps it might be better to avoid.

51Mmh2TNk7L. SL160  500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up

I guess you can tell from my sub title I’m a little underwhelmed with this book. It’s a disappointing offering from Frommer. I’ll cover what I think are the major flaws of the book.

First of all, it’s organised by themes. So chapter one is “awesome vistas’, chapter two is “exploring the scenery” right through “walk with animals” to “budding scientists” to “rides and thrills at the end”. Don’t get me wrong the themes sound great. The problem is that for each theme they then pick one or two highlights from each continent basically. This creates a kind of artificial selection, so that for theme parks we have Lunar Park in Sydney as the major offering (eh?) rather than focusing on the fact that the Gold Coast has a cluster of whizzie woo woo theme parks (and that maybe a park like Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World is more iconic of Australia). There are quite a few choices in the book that felt like this type of token gesture to me. I mean, really did someone pick Lunar Park of wikipedia?  I can’t think of any other plausible reason for it’s inclusion.

The other problem with themes is that it isn’t how you actually travel. You travel geographically. While there is a small  geographical index at the back, it was almost like an after thought. There were maps provided of all the major countries but while the main cities were marked, none of the actual attractions or destinations were. I’m not sure what purpose they thought these maps were going to serve but they certainly don’t help you to work out where to go.

Let’s take an example of a family visiting New Zealand. You want to know what things you must see. It’s a long way to get to NZ from anywhere, so you don’t want to miss out on anything, right? In the index fro NZ the attractions we have listed are: Fiordlands National Park, Mount Cook (ahem, correct name Aoraki or at the very least Aoraki/Mt Cook), Rotorua, Stewart Island and Wellington Cable Car. If you’ve never been to NZ before, you might well wonder where these things are. Well, don’t use the maps in this book, on NZ it has marked: The North Island, Wellington, The South Island, and Stewart Island. Now we have been to NZ several times. In fact Super Gizmo man had to take Beckham across the ditch just a couple of weeks ago. I did the planning and listed all the places they really should visit depending on where they got flights. In the end they flew in and out of Wellington. Not once, not once did it even cross my mind as a merest flicker that they ‘really should go on the cable car’. If you are in Wellington with kids, the places you should make a bee line for are Te Papa which is the fabulous national museum and the Karori Santuary. If you need a bit of public transport excitement, then Wellington has the only public trolley bus system in Australasia.

Another problematic aspect of the book is it’s US centric focus. Now I am sure that the US is an amazing place to visit but the mere fact that a whole chapter is devoted to “Settling America” is pretty telling. Especially when American places dominate the other categories as well. Maybe a better title would have been “Places American’s should consider taking their kids”.

Compounding the disappointing nature of the places selected is the fact that the selections seem to focus on major cities and traditional tourist destinations. I confirmed this with my flick through of their choices fro France and Italy. D’uh oh! We neglected to go to almost all of the places they mentioned. Give me Pienza any day over Rome for an amazing cultural experience for kids. Famous Bridges selected were the historic choices of the Tower Bridge, London and Le Pont Neuf, Paris. Where is the hair raising Millau Viaduct (France) the tallest vehicular bridge in the world? Or the Forth Railway bridge in Glasgow, the first bridge and major structure in the UK to be built of steel ? Instead the choices are those found in any travel agents brochures. There are no hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Instead this book follows a very paint by numbers approach to exploring the planet. Hard to believe this is published by the same company as the brilliant “with your family” travel series. Save your money for those or the much glossier Travel with Kids by William Gray.

512e%2B47E9WL. SL160  500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up

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The Wrong Side of the Planet Tax

Posted by Miss Maccy on Jan 29, 2010 in Australia, Planes

ausieupsidedown The Wrong Side of the Planet Tax

One of the things that is hugely annoying about living in the Southern hemisphere is the huge mark up we seem to pay on almost everything just for living on the wrong side of the planet.

This is especially clear in things like airfares. As the Age reported today, Australians pay  twice the price to fly from Australia to the UK as the British do to fly to Australia (this is taking into account the exchange rate, comparing $Au to $Au).

Qantas’ spokeswoman yesterday said the difference between UK and Australian pricing on the route was a result of factors including seasonality, exchange rates and passenger demand.

Britons were still recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis and special discounts were needed to stimulate UK demand to travel to Australia, the spokeswoman said.

It’s hard to think of when I’ve heard a bigger load of tosh. The airfares were priced like this before the recession, despite the exchange rates or seasons. It is absolutely clear that Australians and NZers are simply being ripped off by the airline. I hardly think Australians should be made to subsidise the travel arrangements of Brits. The fact is that airlines might say it depends on the exchange rates but they never lower the prices for Australians when the Aussie dollar is high (as it is now). And um, excuse me airlines, but if twice as many Aussies flew to the UK and back, then surely you wouldn’t need any British bottoms on the seats at all??

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When Good Gadgets Go Bad

Posted by Miss Maccy on Jan 29, 2010 in Gadget Love

This month we have replaced our:

  • Toaster
  • Kettle
  • Phone & Answering Machine
  • DVD player
  • Printer (ok, the old one isn’t strictly dead, just inhaling ink)
  • Alarm Clock

And added to our collection:

  • A mini food processor
  • A Wii battery remote charging pad thingie

All I can say is that I’m really glad we have two recycling bins to deal with all that packaging and it’s another good thing that we went really light on the Christmas presents this year *sigh*.

Hopefully they won’t all collectively expire in 12 months time.

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We Wants One

Posted by Miss Maccy on Jan 28, 2010 in Gadget Love, Gizmos

Or actually more than one. We loves it.

Of course my first tactical mistake was to view the video showing it off in all it’s glory. Up till the point I saw it in action I had been quite convinced I didn’t really neeeeeeeeeed one. By the time they got to the calendar with the pages that flip over, I was gone. Interestingly, it was the calendar that started us down the whole slippery slope of Apple gizmos. I found I preferred to use iCal over paper and then it just became inconvenient not having that with me when I was out and about and forever having to get back to people. Which lead to getting an iPod Touch. Which lead to getting and iPhone. Which may lead into getting an iPad.

The second MAJOR tactical mistake was having a 10 year old son looking over my shoulder while I watched the iPad informercial. “Oh!” he says, “I could get that instead of a laptop”. Why, so you could my dear son. In fact in the whole “will it kick Kindle’s butt” debate (of course it will, don’t be ridiculous) and the “oh my goodness it’s not really a full tablet” debate have completely overlooked a whole market segment out there. Kids and Education. Our poor iMacs which are *gasp* ten years old sadly now have less capacity than the kid’s iPods, which is a slight technical problem when it comes to syncing. It’s much more realistic for us to consider replacing those computers with iPads than whole works-burger laptops and just having one mother ship to sync them with.

And of course, I can see the wonderful possibilities with the iPad for travel with kids – it’s a DVD player without the hassles of DVD’s, it has games, it has books and wonder of wonders it has ten hour battery life (at least initially). I can see the enormous potential too for a whole new level of interactive board games. For the adult traveller it will be absolutely brilliant for maps, guidebooks and having a full sized key board has to be better than the tiny iPhone one (sorry iPhone, great for notes but not so much for writing).

If you want the full run down, check out Mashable’s post here.

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Dear Mrs. Hilgendorf

Posted by Miss Maccy on Jan 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Dear Mrs Hilgendorf My beloved blog readers,

please excuse Miss Maccy Pants from class, for being tardy, for not updating her blog in like, a million years.
Her dog ate her homework, Her dog ate her computer, Her computer ate itself and her homeschooling forum was attacked by mongrels who need an injection of sql themselves in the patootie. Plus with the general lack of internet in the whole of Europe and the unexpected arrival of Christmas yet again everything pretty much went pear shaped.

Hopefully things have settled down now and we can resume your regularly scheduled program.

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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One more sleep to go!!!

Posted by Miss Maccy on Aug 17, 2009 in Travel with kids

We’ve already checked in online – God Bless Singapore Air. The bags are mostly packed – just a few things to squish down in our special zip lock roll bags (they have one way air valves). Italy has turned on some beautiful weather – our togs / bathers / swimsuits are ready for action! Being a geek family we had a few other important preparations – charging several million different types of batteries, syncing ipods and last minute app store purchases, and not to forget checking the Neo-pets into cyber hotels.

The boys have watched every David Macaulay DVD we could find, Cityhall has watched “Shae by Air” several times. I’ve entered all of our important details and activities into Tripit. And now we are as ready as we’re ever going to be! So Europe, ready or not, here we come!!!

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