Monday, 12 November 2012

trekking together....

A valued client/friend contacted TWAD earlier this year with the desire for her and her female friends to go on a trekking holiday in Asia.  They had trekked Tasmania and the Northern Territory several times and now were after something different. It was great talking with her to discover her desired requirements: it was to combine some trekking, stunning countryside, cooking class or sensational cuisine, as well as a bit of luxury along the way.  Nutting through the destinations, giving consideration to their time and seasonal climate constraints, North Vietnam was the chosen destination.
When visiting Hanoi, a cruise out on Halong Bay is a must, with the travelling time there, that added a couple of days to the itinerary.  The eight night / nine day itinerary was created.  It involved a night in Hanoi on arrival, four days trekking in a National Park with three nights in basic homestay accommodation and amenities, a night a Nihn Bihn - this was the capital city before Hanoi, a night cruising Halong Bay followed by two nights in a luxury hotel at the end in Hanoi along with a cooking class at K.O.T.O. - a local hospitality school giving children off the streets the opportunity for a change in life.
The journey invitation was for eight women, due to circumstance, it extended to ten with me becoming one of the group.  Not only was I keen on the itinerary, but it would be the first time I'd be travelling with a group on an organised itinerary and I've spent many years travelling. So, this was going to be interesting!!
Sapa is the most spoken of location when people say they're going trekking in Vietnam, but due the travelling time to get there and the request from our client for a location with a strong local and less tourists, we headed south west. Pictures below display the stunning scenery in which we were surrounded by daily as we trekked. The accommodation and hospitality on the luxurious Bhaya was a delight, after sleeping on bamboo floors with a thin mattress for three nights, plus the food sensational.  When we arrived in Hanoi, our journey had been elevated once again, by two nights in the beautiful and historical Hotel Metropole.
Do, enjoy my holiday photos below and if you have a group of friends or colleagues or if you wish to take your family on such a journey, simply phone us, we love to discuss, create and coordinate holiday with your requirements in mind...   
Travel With A Difference reservations: 03-5254 1279

A holiday with everything we had wished for ~ Lawes, QLD

And the journey goes on... Please visit our facebook page for further images. Enjoy, Karen

Monday, 11 June 2012

ever been tenting?

I must admit tenting has not been one of my passions over the years.  I don't mind sleeping out under the stars for night on a warm night, but camping for a few days or a week, always has me thinking of cold wet weather. Cringe factor.
Recently, I had some fun with Mum and Dad, testing their memories of our family holidays, which go back nearly forty years. It was interesting hearing their stories and banter, as they tried to piece the date and the location. I was taking them back to the early seventies!  Whether we were at Phillip Island or Portland, I was young and I am grateful for the experiences that our camping family holidays gave.  After all, I learnt to be a team player - you need a few hands to hold poles and pull ropes!  We played cricket with the other kids, precious behaviour was not tolerated. Dad loved to fish, so today, I can bait-up, cast and tie a hook on a line, if need be! Meals, I cannot remember those, I bet they were basic, I must ask about those. Dishes yes, I remember those, the trips to the laundry to get water to heat up, so we could wash them in a bucket.
Speed forward to the current day. Beyond the basic bush or outback tenting experience, you can today, camp in style and comfort.  By comfort I mean, your tent has a timber floor, veranda, private en-suite with a hot shower, chairs to relax and enjoy the view plus personalised extras for the added indulgence and fun, whilst still being amongst nature. Love it!  Here are few of my favourite.  Yes, Travel With A Difference can coordinate luxury tenting holidays in Australia, Africa and Asia...
1973 Dad and me

Mum catching some zzzzz's
Paperbark Camp, NSW
Sal Salis, WA

Sal Salis, WA
Nomadic living in Mongolia

Sunday, 13 May 2012

wanting to pack my bags...

I'm not sure why it is, but at this point in time, I'm considering destinations, as I'm wanting to pack my bag and go on a journey.  I think it might be triggered by the change in climate. The days have turned cool, wet and windy, the days are shorter and the regular daily updates I receive about stunning resort or intriguing destinations, whilst sitting at my desk either tapping on the keyboard or speaking on the phone, doesn't help.

Maybe it is because, I am going to Vietnam on an amazing journey with a group of female friends/clients later this year, where we will be hiking, cruising Halong Bay, participating in a cooking class at K.O.T.O and spending a night or two in a luxury hotel, after spending nights staying in local homestay accommodation. Maybe what has also got me pondering an escape, is that my future fellow travellers have started chatting about what to pack. Packing for me has never been an issue, I don't live a life of having an excessive wardrobe, so I don't need one when I'm holidays. I trust having lived mostly out of a backpack for three years, whilst travelling and living aboard hastened me to want what is useful and practical.

It is a given when I holiday, I pack my swimmers (bathers), at the moment I'm favouring my European style bikini from Raife. Sneakers are always packed, they'll get used whether it be a dawn walk around town exploring the street before the chaos of the day begins or a power walk on the treadmill.  The sun hat is a must for those lazy pool side days, my handy Mimco sun visor will be great for the hiking days. A sarong is a must, it is so light and versatile when on holiday, I never travel with a towel. Another mandatory item I pack is a shawl, it is great for cool evenings over your shoulders, I've used it as a skirt visiting temples, a pillow whilst travelling or simply when the airconditioning becomes intolerable.  
Of course there is more to packing, but these are my basic needs. I'll share more in the near future on other items and what toiletries to pack.  Enjoy and share your thoughts, on what you must have in your bag, if you wish?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nikole Ramsay...

I first came across Nikole and her captivating photography through Jane Webster who has the beautiful Chateau de Bosgouet in Normandy, France. In featuring Jane’s week long food tours to our clients, Travel With A Difference needed some images. The images we were delivered, were from Nikole in London, she had access to these stunning images, as she was the photographer for Jane’s cook book ‘At my French Table’.

Since, that time five years ago, I’ve had the pleasure to met with Nikole and share many a coffee or wine, as she has moved back to Australia and resides in the same beautiful coastal town, as I do. She is a vivacious woman with a great sense of humour and endearing love for her family and friends. I delight in viewing her photography and coordinating her travel arrangements, as her skill and passion for photography takes her on intriguing projects around the world.

Her recent blog, 'Morocco' is a must see, it had me day-dreaming of my travels abroad and time I spent in Morocco.  It was from here, I wanted to chat and share more of Nikole with you…

TWAD: when and where was your first holiday?
NR: The first holiday I can remember was a trip to Scotland to visit my mum’s family at the age of three or four! It was the first time I had seen snow so I think that’s why I remember it. The first proper family holiday I clearly remember is to Caloundra in Queensland as a child with my family. I am the youngest of four children and I have lots of lovely memories of family holidays in Queensland as a child.

TWAD: at what age did you discover your passion for photography? What were you photographing?
NR: My dad was a keen amateur photographer and I think he started my love of photography as he used to let me use his camera. I was fascinated by seeing the prints come back from the lab (or chemist in those days!). I then was lucky enough to have a very inspiring art teacher in later years at school who encouraged me to apply for the degree course at RMIT in Melbourne.

TWAD: now that you are a professional photographer, what area do you specialise in and/or love photographing?
NR: I specialise in weddings, capturing the celebrations and couples in love, both here and abroad. I also love to photograph food and travel photography as well and have been commissioned for some lovely books doing just that.

TWAD: do you have a desired destination you’d love to photograph?
NR: Montenegro on the Adriatic coast in Europe. Since I saw it in a Bond film a few years ago I have been yearning to go there! I love the look of the architecture and the coast line and the emerald green sea!

Nikole’s photos are a stream of inspiration, take a look, enjoy the journey… and let us hear your thoughts...

so, what does this inspire in you?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

"DREAM ON" and be groovy...

Hong Kong offers so much as a destination with many shopping precincts, a culture where you can participate in Tai Chi, take a tea appreciation class or explore the historical sites. The public transport makes for easy exploring and of course don't forget to pack your swimmers, remember it is summer!
Our "DREAM ON" deluxe package this week is the groovy Mira Hong Kong and not only do we have a fab package rate, but we are also offering an upgrade from the City View Room to the Courtyard Room*.

Oh, I forgot to mention the many cocktails and food experiences to be had!
INCLUSIONS: Return Qantas economy airfare including taxes ex Melbourne, Return private Mercedes transfers between HKG airport and The Mira, 4 Nights accommodation and daily breakfast.
COST: $1696.72 per person twin/double share
BOOK: today, as there are only limited "DREAM ON" deluxe holidays available.
DEPARTURE DATE:  Friday 08 June 2012
CONTACT:  Travel With A Difference now 03-5254 1279
* subject to availability

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"DREAM ON" in a by-gone-era...

To escape and retreat to the legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore is a wow factor experience. Relax in the nostalgia of your suite or spend sometime reading in the drawing room. Choose to dine in one of the restaurants or bars.
This remarkable hotel dates back to 1887 when the Sarkie Brothers, the proprietors of the Eastern & Oriental in Penang (hmmm..there's another getaway) announced they would open a hotel in the name of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. Oh, there is too much to tell and it can all be discovered as you chill out on the balcony pondering the thoughts....
BOOK this "DREAM ON" deluxe holiday now, as it is only available today.
INCLUDES: Return Singapore Airlines economy airfare ex Melbourne, 4 Nights accommodation with late check out until 6pm, Daily breakfast, Welcome Singapore Sling, 24 Hour butler service, SG$500 worth of discount vouchers per room per stay (to be used at participating shops within the Raffles Hotel Arcade), One afternoon tea for two people plus a dinner for two at Tiffin Room (beverages not included), Australian departure and airport taxes.
DEPARTING DATE:  Thursday 24 May
COST: per person  $2991  double/twin share
Simply, email TWAD reservations or phone 03-5254 1279 advise the two passenger names and they appear in their passport, contact phone number and you are booked.

Stop dreaming and booking your holiday now....

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"DREAM ON" escape to Bangkok

Destination:   Pathumwan Princess Bangkok, Thailand
Departure date:   Sunday 20 May     Return departure date: Thursday 24 May
Inclusions:  Return Thai Airways economy class airfare Ex Melbourne, Return private airport - hotel transfers, 4 Nights accommodation staying at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel in a Deluxe Room, Check out till 6pm, Daily breakfast, Australian departure and airport taxes
Cost per person: $1230.94

NOTE: these packages are limited for sale today only!

Additionals: upgrade to business class, travel insurance, credit card fees may apply.

BOOK NOW: "DREAM ON" reservations or 03-5254 1279 only on sale today or unless sold out!

Remember: at time of booking we need your name as it appears in your passport and a contact phone number!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

trekking, cooking class, charity, luxury... Nth Vietnam

Here we have an amazing eight night - nine day journey, where you and your friends can get together and share an amazing and memorable experience...

For an in-depth, active adventure in Vietnam this trip is a must! From Hanoi we transfer tothe remote north western region of Pu Luong Natural Reserve. This area is home to some of Vietnam’s 15 ethnic minority groups whose fascinating cultures and warm hospitality is experienced first hand as we trek through villages and stay as guests in their homes. Pretty scenes of lush prime rain forests, silver waterfalls, bamboo forests and tea and rice terraces complete our backdrop. From here we retreat to the serenity of Halong Bay where we spend the night aboard a traditional wooden ‘junk’ boat floating amongst its 3000 limestone islets and emerald waters.We return to Hanoi and experience a cooking class at the famous K.O.T.O not for profit restaurant. We then celebrate with a farewell dinner and some free time for last minute shopping!
Pu Luong National Park
Sofitel Metropole Hanoi

K.O.T.O. Hanoi by Justin Mott

K.O.T.O (Know One Teach One) is a non-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of streets and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. It’s a place where customers enjoy delicious Vietnamese and European cuisine and where the staff (mostly former street and disadvantaged youth) are so full of energy and enthusiasm that it’s contagious.

Contact: Travel With A Difference for further information and costing for your desired travel date. T: 03-5254 1279

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"DREAM ON" no longer...

Make your "DREAM ON" deluxe holiday a reality today....
Destination:  Bali Sentosa Private Villas, Seminyak - 1 bedroom villa
Departure date: Friday 18 May      Return date:  Tuesday 22 May
Inclusions: Return Garuda economy class airfare Ex Melbourne, Return private airport - villa transfers, 4 Nights accommodation staying in a 1 bedroom deluxe villa, Daily breakfast, Daily afternoon tea/coffee with snacks at Blossom Restaurant, Free Wi-Fi internet access through out the resort, 1 Wholesome dinner at Evo Restaurant, Daily spa treatment - 60 minute Traditional Massage: 90 minute Natural facial: 120 minute spa treatment choose of solar deity or finding balance, Australian departure and airport taxes
Cost per person: $1997.32

Additionals: late check out, upgrade to business class, travel insurance, credit card fees may apply.
BOOK NOW:   "DREAM ON" reservations  or 03-5254 1279    only on sale today or unless sold out!
Remember: at time of booking we need your name as it appears in your passport and a contact phone number!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

"DREAM ON" holidays to book...

Travel With A Difference will release a "DREAM ON" deluxe holiday or unique holiday experience weekly via FaceBook, the package will be for two persons to travel on a set date to Asia or the Pacific.
"You don't need to dream on any longer, you can make your deserving deluxe holiday a reality, with a simple click.   We love to make this easy for you!"
Your "DREAM ON" holiday package will include return airfares, private transfers, stylish accommodation and daily breakfast.  If a "DREAM ON" holiday package is any different it will be advised at time of the package being released on FaceBook.  "DREAM ON" packages are limited, so respond promptly to confirm your your holiday.

reservations & conditions for a "DREAM ON" package:
1.   will be released via FaceBook weekly featuring a set departure date from a capital city within Australia to a destination within Asia or Pacific.
2.   will include return airfares, transfers, accommodation and daily breakfast based on two guests travelling.
3.   departures exclude school holidays.
4.   are available at time of release, but offers are limited.
5.   requires an email to be sent to Travel With A Difference advising the guests names as it appear in their passports, along with a contact phone number. Guests must be 18 years of age or over.
6.   confirmation will be based on a "first in best dressed" response.
7.   once confirmed a deposit is required within 5 days.
8.   final payment is due one month prior to departure, unless otherwise advised.
9.   may require payment for airfare to be paid prior to final payment.
10. travel insurance is highly recommended, as packages are non-refundable and conditions apply.
11. is only available to Australian passport holders.
Travel With A Difference license number: 32425
RESERVATIONS and further information phone 03-5254 179

Thursday, 22 March 2012

festive celebrations....

The idea of Christmas or New Year in Europe was recently put in front of me and I thought, what an amazing holiday experience that would be.  I've experienced a Christmas in London, where it lightly snowed, the novelty of being away from family and in a winters environment, as opposed to sunny Barwon Heads was exciting. I've spent a New Years Eve in Edinburgh, where Hogmanay is a celebration that is very festive and friendly.  Another festive season abroad was for Easter in Austria due to a skiing holiday.  All memorable and unique, but the highlight was probably St Anton in Austria; where we went to church, we were all rugged up trooping to and from our hotel in the snow and sharing that moment with friends was special.
So, when this idea of spending Christmas or New Year in Europe, I thought I best share it with you.
The tours we have available range from 7 to 12 days visiting destinations Switzerland, Italy, Austria, may stay in an 800 year old Coaching Inn deep in the heart of the snow covered mountains of Austria or for a German Fairytale Christmas, stay in a village beneath Neuschwanstein Fairytale Castle.
These are escorted group tours and prices start from $1,999 per person twin/double share.
Call us today for reservations or to discuss your European holiday further.  T: 03-5254 1279
Spaces are filling fast, due to the success of previous years!

Central Europe Inn

Chapel Austria

Vienna Townhall Christmas Market

Neuschwanstein Fairytale Castle, Germany

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

a deserving luxury getaway...

We have an annual holiday a year, sometimes we go overseas, sometimes we stay locally within our country.  Then sometimes you need that wow factor, extraordinary, that different kind of getaway. That could be travelling the Trans-Siberian from China to Russia, trekking the Himalayas or working on a volunteer holiday. Here at Travel With A Difference, we can assist in coordinating of that.  But what about the ultimate luxury holiday.  We read about it and we dream about it. 
Well, make it a reality.  Travel With A Difference can coordinate for you an amazing stay in a riad in Morocco, a private villa where a chef will cook dinner for you and your friends with views of the ocean or maybe its a luxury city hotel with a roof top restaurant or pool to laze by.
For travel before 30 June 2012, Travel With A Difference can offer you a saving on your luxury holiday.
Call us today, to discuss your options T: 03-5254 1279

Thursday, 19 January 2012

craving a bit of asia...

Singapore Airlines has just released a great OFFER with Companion Airfares available to Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.  On Sale until 23 Feb or until sold out!  Valid for departs from 06 Feb to 31 Mar 2012....
This could be a girls getaway for a bit of shopping, a romancing getaway for the two of you, an adventure journey with a mate or simply an escape to a luxurious hideaway..... of course there is much more to do, that's just a few TWAD ideas!
Contact us for reservations: 03-5254 1279

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

bucket list...

Wanting to give suggestion to an array of awesome holiday experiences, to which some of us may refer to as a Bucket List, but I wanted to clarify when and where the Bucket List come from?
Well, if you've clicked on the Bucket List link, you'd have read it was based on a movie released in 2007 that featured Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman - with those two actors, this movie is now on my DVD rental list.
The Bucket List is a personal thing, your desires and wishes of things you wish to do.  What's fun about the bucket list, is it is something that you'll enjoy doing, remember for a lifetime and maybe never do again.  So, here a few bucket list suggestions, but I'm sure you've got your own...
1. staying in a hotel where your favourite movie actor/actress once stayed.
2. swim with a whale shark - slow moving filter feeding shark, can be 12m in length.
3. go to India and help build a village.
4. with friends rent a riad in Morocco.
5. relax on a beach in the Cook Island.

It is whatever you want it to be....