Saturday, March 11, 2017

Trip planning

Work has a new computer programme for holidays. I now have to work out 2018 holidays by the end of March 2017. Given holidays were a right on the anniversary of your starting date, it will be a fairer system. If I requested Christmas holidays last year, which I had and was given them, I am unlikely to get them this year, but probably will next year. If you began your employment on the 15th of December, you were guaranteed Christmas Holidays as a right. This new system changes that. The only problem with the new system is that it's a very long way to plan ahead.

Holidays for this year are sorted. We have two nights in Dubai on the way, a few days in Lisbon, a few days in Porto, a few days in Barcelona where we will meet with R's sister and bro-in-law, and then along with them begin the 11 day cruise concluding in Rome.

We will fly to Barcelona from Porto, a short distance. After a few failed attempts and struggling with Portuguese, I have finally managed to book the ALFA Pendular train first class from Lisbon to Porto. We have our seats reserved and the advance purchase price was €51 for both of us. The best our travel agent could do was €108 and that was not with reserved seats. (AU$74 as against AU$150) ALFA Pendula is a tilt train, so it can go fast. I love speed. Faster Dad. Faster Pop.

We have booked and paid for flights, our accommodation in all places plus a tour in Dubai. The only thing to worry about now is whether to buy the drinks package for the cruise. The cost is AU$74 per day per person, which gives unlimited drinks up to $10 per drink, unlimited soft drink and unlimited flavoured coffees (yuk). We don't really drink soft drink. It is a hard call as to whether we would get our money's worth each day (you, that girl down the back. Can you stand and repeat what you just mumbled?)

During our last overseas holiday, we were slugged quite a bit by bank fees, so this time we are going to try a prepaid travel card. The rate is set when you buy the card and a load your currency(ies) onto the card, and there are no bank or transaction fees at all, aside from the initial $10 fee. On special at our bank is free top ups should you underestimate how much money you need. Normally it costs about 1.5% of the top up amount. You receive a back up card in case you lose the main one. The only question yet to ask is what happens to unused currency on the card. The banks push this card to travellers. What is in it for them aside from currency rate gambling?

Next year, I want to see a bit of Western Victoria and maybe go to Surfers again, or Sydney. That is two lots of two weeks. I am a bit short of leave, aside from long service leave.

The seldom content with local holidays R, replied with maybe we could find a cheap deal to Hong Kong for one of your two weeks off. Argh. But don't be surprised if that is what we do.

30 comments:

  1. Andrew I would like to see Dubai the city in a desert . My friend was last month there and he was so satisfied with cruise there, Great choice.

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    1. Gosia, it did not fit into our plans, but the desert dinner in the sand dunes at dusk sounded great.

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  2. I've never stepped out of Dubai airport. I think it will be an interesting cultural experience (remember to act straight though and no holding hands with R)!

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    1. Ad Rad, so long as I can still slap his face without being considered gay, we will be fine.

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  3. I am super impressed at how organised you are - and confident you will adapt. I suspect you will be going to Hong Kong.

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    1. EC, I am so different to my sister, who does not organise much in advance but does it at the time. They had to stand on a train in Spain for a long time with their last minute booking, but then got to interact with some great people. Us? We travel with similar. Don't talk to us, and I really don't want to be talked to.

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  4. On my latest trips I used a currency card where the money was loaded in Aussie dollars and I converted small amounts into other currencies as I travelled. What was left on the card when I returned home was still in Aussie dollars and was spent as a debit card. It works well.

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    1. Victor, that is a bit different to what we plan to do. Our dollar against the Euro was quite high three weeks ago when we thought we would get the card. By last weekend it had dropped so we have decided to wait to see if it goes up again. Your card would have given you the rate on the day, I guess.

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  5. It sounds like it will be a great holiday.
    You are so well organised what can go wrong.
    Merle................

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    1. Merle, plenty can wrong, but over many years, nothing has really gone wrong, apart from one night sleeping in a broom cupboard in London.

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  6. You want the Citibank visa debit card, plus there was the 28 degrees mastercard I paired with it. That is how I avoided fees in Hawaii. Whirlpool forums have a couple of good threads on those cards and how best to avoid fees. :)

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    1. Snoskred, I have a Visa debit card, but that is my own money. It is much easier to dispute a credit card scam or overcharge or any other issue. Whirlpool is quite brilliant for almost anything.

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    2. The reason you want the Citibank one is no foreign transaction fees or other fees, and you can withdraw at international ATMs for the most part fee free, though some banks will charge for using their atm.

      https://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/citibank_plus_transaction_account

      When I came home from Hawaii after using my NAB there, I found pages and pages of international transaction fees. Unknown to me, they were charging 3% on every single transaction! :(

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    3. Thanks. That is exactly how our card will work, limited to how much is on the card.

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  7. Fantastic trip!!!! Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and then the 11 day cruise concluding in Rome. I did that EXACT trip in reverse and loved every minute of it.

    Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona are three of my favourite places to visit but you will be forced to drink alcohol. Sorry :(

    Just one word of advice. The days in port on the ship do not give passengers enough time to see all they want. So be the first passenger OFF the ship at 8 AM and be the last passenger back ON the ship at 4.30 PM (or whatever times they tell you).



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    1. Hels, thanks for the gee up. I can cope with a wee dram or two.

      Ten years ago your advice about onshore time would have been very helpful. Now it is all about stamina and slowing down, especially R. R has said that we must see the leaning tower of Pisa. I have little in mind aside from soaking up ambience. Reminds me, we better look at the tours on offer. The most popular ones get booked out. Sometimes less popular can be good.

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  8. I never said a word, I was just working out the booze, $4 a day for R, $70 for you, finest single malt with the smell of the Highlands wafting towards you. Or 7 fancy shmancy little umbrella decorated cocktails. Or the whole lot for the drinks waiter later.

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    1. Jah Teh, we will make sure we get our money's worth. The cost of margaritas and martinis normally stops me, but it won't on the cruise. I might even have a tequila slammer. I love the way your legs collapse under you when you stand up, still thinking you are quite sober. The Scottish Doctor always administers a good night's sleep, albeit with rather a lot of snoring. I will have earplugs and nothing wakes R.

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  9. Wow! I can hardly imagine, as someone who rarely leaves a small icky town in Oregon.

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    1. Strayer, different lives. Such holidays cost a lot, but nothing tells me we need to leave anything to anyone.

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    2. Yes Andrew, if you have it, spend it! Do what makes you happy!

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  10. Speak to your bank about unused currencies on the card. You should be able to get that refunded to your account. Probably minus any exchange fees.
    The drinks per day thing now--if you don't use the full $74 each day, does the balance roll over to the next day so you can really party it up if you want? Because THAT would be a good deal.

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    1. River, I will ask that question. I expect a refund from the card will be at the current AU dollar as against the Euro.

      As long as the the drink does not cost more than $10, we can have as many drinks as we want. I could have Tia Maria and a short black coffee, then another Tia Maria and another short black coffee. You have got me planning.

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  11. I wouldn't know what to do about the 'drink' either. Some drinks can add up quickly for just one night alone.
    Seems you are organized for the holiday and bet you are both looking forward to it.
    My husband won't fly, so this leaves me at home as I wouldn't like to go without him - he says, go, but getting too old now to travel all those hours in a plane.

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    1. Margaret, that is really the worst part about travel. This morning in town we met a Brisbane couple who are doing an around Australia cruise, with a stop in PNG too. They stop at many smaller towns as well as the capital cities. She was in a wheelchair.

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    2. Sounds great for the lady in the wheelchair that services are provided for her.

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  12. You are so super organized Andrew.. I wish we were the same, we're going to Sydney in a few weeks and we've only just organised it now ☺ Sounds like a brilliant trip you have planned, does R know you plan to slap him in Dubai, or are you going to surprise him 😀😀😀😀

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    1. Grace, I don't really come with surprises. It doesn't matter so much for local travel but for overseas travel, you can usually save money by booking things early.

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  13. aah Lisbon, I so loved that town. I could quite happily live there I think.

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    1. Fen, I cannot find anyone who does not like Portugal. I expect to like it.

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