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The must-visit winter travel destinations

<p dir="ltr">As winter rolls around, many people are looking to flee the confines of their chilly homes and routines in search of sunshine and adventure. </p> <p dir="ltr">Aussies have been already planning their getaways to follow the sun, as <a href="about:blank">Booking.com</a>'s latest search data has revealed the top ten international holiday spots for this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">The results show that while many travellers are heading to tropical destinations this winter, others are searching for a different kind of holiday. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>10. Kuta, Bali</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While Bali has long been a popular tourist destination for Aussies, many chose to head to Indonesia to enjoy the sandy beaches and escape the winter chill. </p> <p dir="ltr">With winter temperatures hovering around 25°C each day, there's no better place to escape the cold.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>9. Paris, France</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">In 2024, Paris is on many people’s travel lists ahead of the Olympics in July. </p> <p dir="ltr">With charming restaurants, trendy boutiques, chic cafes, and amazing museums on offer, as well as warm temps, there’s no better time to head to Paris. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>8. Ubud, Bali</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Another Bali region to make the list, Ubud is an inland paradise amongst rice paddies and lush jungle.</p> <p dir="ltr">The food heaven destination is also known for its gorgeous climate, making it a perfect holiday spot. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>7. Queenstown, New Zealand</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">For those who don’t want to venture too far from home, Queenstown is an amazing spot for anyone seeking an active holiday.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the only spot on the list which isn't about escaping winter, Queenstown - and New Zealand in general - is often visited by keen skiers and those looking to amplify their winter travels. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>6. Canggu, Bali</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Another Bali spot making the list, Canggu is a beachside area surrounded by terraced rice paddies and known for good surf.</p> <p dir="ltr">Accommodation in the area ranges from beachside villas and gorgeous guesthouses, with something for everyone. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Singapore</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While Singapore has long been a default stopover city for travellers on their way to Europe, it's also a great destination in its own right.</p> <p dir="ltr">With a stunning mix of old town charm and modern skyscrapers, it's the perfect place for a mid-week getaway or long weekend.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Legian, Bali</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Legian Beach is right next to the popular spot Kuta, though is a bit more relaxed and laid-back, and perfect for travellers who want to chill out.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to booking.com, Legian has become increasingly popular with travellers in the last year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. London, England</strong> </p> <p dir="ltr">For anyone embarking on a Euro summer, London is a must-see destination for any keen traveller.</p> <p dir="ltr">There's something in London for everyone, from amazing museums and sprawling markets, to iconic landmarks and rich history.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Tokyo, Japan</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While tourism in Japan has surged in recent years, there’s a good reason why, as many travellers are flocking to the nation to experience its rich culture. </p> <p dir="ltr">On top of it being an affordable destination, the unique experience has Aussies heading to Japan in droves, with Tokyo seeing a 25 per cent search increase among Aussies in the last year. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Seminyak, Bali</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Unsurprisingly, a Bali destination has topped the list, as Seminyak offers luxury hotels and villas, high-end dining, and famous beach clubs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Located between Canggu and Kuta, Seminyak has long hosted thousands of tourists looking to escape the cold, with travellers and locals alike basking in the picturesque sunsets. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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The sad state of Aussie ski resorts ahead of winter holiday season

<p>Ski resorts in Australia have had to get creative ahead of the tourist-heavy ski season after a lack of snowfall, despite plunging temperatures. </p> <p>The ski season begins this year on the June long weekend, running alongside the King’s Birthday on June 8th. </p> <p>Despite expecting a huge influx of keen skiers, there has only been light flurries of snow so far, according to WeatherZone, which melt away quickly and don't settle on the ground for long. </p> <p>In order to accommodate the busy season, Thredbo has had to resort to using fake snow for people to ski on. </p> <p>Manufactured snow happens by combining pressurised air and water through a ‘snow gun’ that gets blasted out into the air.</p> <p>The most ideal time to create the fake snow is on clear nights with low humidity, as the higher the humidity the colder it needs to be to make the flurries.</p> <p>Several photos from ski.com.au's cameras have shown popular ski sites with a disappointing lack of snow, in scenes similar to last year's ski season. </p> <p>“No significant snowfalls are on the horizon for the mainland Australian ski resorts before the official King’s Birthday Long Weekend season opening,” Weatherzone reports.</p> <p>“Snow-making began on the weekend at several resorts and has continued into the working week in the cold dry, air in the wake of the cold front.”</p> <p>According to WeatherZone, high-pressure systems, which have brought constant rain to the east coast recently, have been blocking the snowfall.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Xinhua News Agency / Thredbo</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Everything you need to know about tipping in the US

<p>There are few social customs in the US more confusing to travellers than tipping.</p> <p>To most Americans, gratuities are normal, like adding sales tax at the register. To foreign visitors, though, the very idea can induce anxiety or panic.</p> <p>We're notoriously poor tippers. Partly this is accidental ignorance, but partly it is self-righteous rejection of an institution many of us see as unfair. I once had a meal in New York with a woman from Brisbane who refused to tip "on principle." I nodded in agreement ... and then tipped for both of us.</p> <p>The truth is, federal minimum wage for adults in the US is just US$7.25 an hour. In industries where tipping is routine, employers are legally allowed to pay wages as low as US$2.13 an hour.</p> <p>So while travellers may stage a quiet rebellion, refusing to tip, the bereaved party is never going to be the restaurant owners (who earns their profit through the itemised bill), but the poor waiters.</p> <p>Until the US government raises minimum wages to Australian levels (something that will probably never happen), tipping is here to stay. Which means travellers need to accept it, then learn the rules.</p> <p>First rule: After clearing immigration get your hands on a stack of "singles" (US$1 bills). You're going to need them.</p> <p><strong>Getting around</strong></p> <p>In theory, tips should only go to people who are helpful; the more helpful, the more bountiful their reward. In reality, tips are par for the course, and to "stiff" somebody is tantamount to slapping them in the face.</p> <p>If a airport porter helps you with your bags, give them US$1-2 per bag. If they meet you at the gate with a wheelchair, give them US$3-5. </p> <p>For most travellers, the first real test comes with transports away from the airport. If you're lucky enough to have a hotel worker collect you from Arrivals, give them US$10-15 for the effort.</p> <p>If you take a taxi, a little more thought will be required. Many taxis now have seat-back displays that offer "default tipping" amounts at the end of a journey: in New York, 20, 25, and 30 per cent. You should only really tip 30 per cent if the taxi turns out to be the Batmobile, getting you to your destination in record time. Even 20 per cent can sometimes feels a little high. Tipping is subjective: I often manually override the default, leaving 15-20 per cent, or a few extra dollars if I'm paying in cash.</p> <p>If you hire a car and take advantage of valet (all but mandatory in Los Angeles), be prepared to tip the worker US$3-5 upon pick-up, depending on how ritzy the establishment is. A quick rule of thumb: more ritz equals more tip. </p> <p><strong>Hotels</strong></p> <p>If you arrive at the hotel and somebody opens the door for you, that's on the house. If they carry your bags, that is not on the house. Give them US$2-3 a bag.</p> <p>If the hotel has a concierge, their friendliness isn't contingent on your generosity. But if they perform a service for you - book a trip, hire a car, charter a private jet to the Bahamas - acknowledge this effort with US$10-20 at the end of your stay, presented with a handshake.</p> <p>One case where tipping can have a direct impact on the quality of service you receive is housekeeping. Each morning, leave US$2-5 on your pillow with a thank you note. This ensures different cleaners get their due, and it also means cleaners will be extra diligent for the rest of your stay. If you think this is a little rich, keep in mind that these people are picking up your dirty towels, so spare change for a cup of coffee is the least you can do.  </p> <p>One point of confusion with hotel tipping is the in-room dining. Some hotels include a default tip on their dining bills; some include a "service charge," which goes to the hotel, and should not be treated as a tip. If there's no obvious tip included on the bill, slip the server 15-20 per cent when they knock on your door.</p> <p><strong>Dining and drinking</strong></p> <p>Nobody can force you to tip in a restaurant, though they can try to counteract your miserliness by stating on the menu that tips are automatically added to the final charge. This is increasingly common in areas catering to large numbers of foreign travellers; it's also pretty standard when your table has more than six people. </p> <p>If tips have been added by the time you come to hand over your card, no further gratuity is needed. If no tip has been included, you might need to leave some money on the table. How much exactly depends on what kind of table it is.</p> <p>If it is a fast food table, no tip. If it is a table at a restaurant ranging from modest diner to upmarket eatery, 15-20 per cent for the waiter is standard (err on the high side in major cities like New York and San Francisco). If you leave less than 15 per cent, staff will assume you weren't happy with their service.</p> <p>If you leave two pennies on top of the bill - a code - they will know you were very unhappy, and feel bad even as they silently loathe you for being a Scrooge. It is almost never okay to withhold a tip; if you're considering doing that, you should also be considering complaining to the manager.  </p> <p>If it is a very fancy restaurant, perhaps one with Michelin stars, prepare to hand over 25 per cent of the bill (before tax) to the waiter, who will divide it up among his or her support staff. You should also tip the sommelier if they suggest wine, and perhaps the maitre'd, if they gave you a fabulous table.     </p> <p>Always, without exception, tip a bartender a dollar for every drink; bigger tips can mean stronger second cocktails in my experience.</p> <p>As for coffee shops, despite the increasing prevalence of tip jars, and "suggested tips" when paying with a card, this is cheekiness and should only be taken seriously if the barista goes out of their way, like the man who once drew Darth Vader in my cappuccino crema.</p> <p><strong>Everything else</strong></p> <p>This guide covers the most common situations a traveller will have to contend when in the US, though the list is not exhaustive.</p> <p>For example, do you tip a massage therapist? Yes, 10-20 per cent. A hairdresser? Same. Tour guide or hiking leader? 15-20 per cent of the total charge, depending on their performance.</p> <p>That Elvis impersonator who officiated your wedding in a Las Vegas chapel? Same.</p> <p>Tip anyone, in fact, that provides you with a service: 15 per cent is a good default to keep in mind.</p> <p>Just remember, nobody is affronted by the offer of a gratuity, so you shouldn't feel bashful about giving one.</p> <p><em>Written by Lance Richardson. First appeared on <a href="http://Stuff.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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10 questions you must ask before booking a tour

<p>A tour can be a memorable experience, for the right and wrong reasons. Here are 10 questions you must ask yourself before booking one on your next holiday.</p> <p><strong>1. Are there minimum or maximum group sizes?</strong></p> <p>This applies for two reasons. Firstly, you need to decide how many people you’d like to travel with. Small group tours will have no more than a dozen or so while larger tours could be up to 50. The size will drastically impact your tour experience, affecting everything from the mode of transport to the type of meals. Secondly, you need to know if there’s a minimum group size needed for the tour to run. If you’re the only one who books you may find it cancelled.</p> <p><strong>2. What is your cancellation/refund policy?</strong></p> <p>As a rule of thumb, you should ask this question about any kind of travel you book before you hand over your cash. With a tour, make sure you find out their policies around inclement weather, too few passengers or if you need to cancel. And as always, travel insurance is your best friend.</p> <p><strong>3. Are you available for support throughout?</strong></p> <p>One of the good things about travelling with a tour is that you’ll have the services of at least one guide. It’s also good to know if the tour office itself is available for assistance when you’re on the road. This comes in handy if you have to make changes, get sick or are unhappy with the experience.</p> <p><strong>4. Do you have any reviews I can read?</strong></p> <p>If you can’t find the tour company on TripAdvisor or a similar review site, ask the company if they have any testimonials from previous customers. Before you make your final decision, it’s nice to know what other people have said about the tour and its style.</p> <p><strong>5. What experience/qualifications do the guides have?</strong></p> <p>Many tour companies now pride themselves on using locals or people who have lived in a country for many years to guide tours. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who just reads from a guidebook – you can do that yourself for half the price. Find out what they know before you go.</p> <p><strong>6. How active is it?</strong></p> <p>There is a huge spectrum when it comes to tours, ranging from coach journeys with very little walking to active treks where you cover hard ground every day. Make sure you find out exactly what will be involved and if that suits your abilities and fitness level. And be realistic – you and the tour group will suffer otherwise.</p> <p><strong>7. What is the demographic?</strong></p> <p>You don’t want to get stuck on a tour with a bunch of 25 year olds who are just looking for the pub. Most people prefer to travel with people around their own age and in similar demographics (such as solo travellers, seniors, families etc), so make sure you find out who is likely to be in your group before you book.</p> <p><strong>8. Is everything included or will I have to pay for extras?</strong></p> <p>You should be able to get a detailed break down of exactly what is – and what isn’t – included in the price. What looked like a good deal can quickly become very expensive if you have to pay for day excursions, admission fees, alcohol or other surprises.</p> <p><strong>9. How much time do you spend in each place?</strong></p> <p>Are you looking to tick many famous sites off your list or do you want to have the time to immerse yourself in a destination? When you’re looking at an itinerary, ask questions about how long you will actually be spending at each place to ensure that you get enough time to really enjoy it.</p> <p><strong>10. Will I get any free time on my own?</strong></p> <p>After many days as part of a group, it’s nice to have some time on your own. You can explore sites that aren’t on your itinerary, try a new restaurant or just have a well deserved nap. Find out how rigid the schedules are and if there will be some time to do your own thing.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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10 tips for a better night’s sleep in a hotel room

<p>From noisy neighbours to unbearable bedding, a good night’s sleep in a hotel room can be hard to come by. Here are 10 tips to help you get decent shut eye.</p> <p><strong>1. Book a room midway down a hallway</strong></p> <p>This is generally the quietest part of the floor, way from ice and wending machines, laundry facilities, exits, closets and any other places where sudden noises might occur.</p> <p><strong>2. Try to avoid rooms facing a pool</strong></p> <p>While the view is something to admire, pools can also be the sight of noise generating late-night gathering and any sounds generally echo loudly off the water.</p> <p><strong>3. Inquire at the front desk about pillow options</strong></p> <p>If the wrong pillow gives you back or neck pain have a chat to the front desk when checking in. Most hotels stock pillows of varying firmness, and can offer a better fit.</p> <p><strong>4. Pack earplugs and eyeshades</strong></p> <p>When you’re struggling to get to sleep the tiniest noise or ray of light can end up being a huge distraction. Nip this in the bud by packing earplugs and eyeshades.</p> <p><strong>5. Turn your mobile phone off</strong></p> <p>Mobile notifications can be a huge distraction (particularly when they’re coming from friends and family in different time zones). Turn your phone off, and enjoy the bliss. </p> <p><strong>6. Make use of your ‘do not disturb’ sign</strong></p> <p>If you’re planning to sleep in make sure you put your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside doorknob, otherwise you might get a rude awakening from a housekeeper.</p> <p><strong>7. Report any noises immediately</strong></p> <p>Sometimes a quick pound of the wall will quiet down a noisy neighbour, but this doesn’t always work. If the people in the room next to you won’t keep quiet, make sure you let the front desk know and they can take the necessary actions.</p> <p><strong>8. Adjust the room temperature</strong></p> <p>Most people sleep better in a cooler room, so make sure you adjust the temperature to whatever is the best fit for you to get sleep. Even just opening the window a tiny little crack can make a big difference in terms of your overall comfort levels.</p> <p><strong>9. Ask the front desk about blackout shades</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’re staying in a city that’s full of lights, noises and distractions, blackout shades can provide you with a level of peace and comfort that will help you sleep.</p> <p><strong>10. Consider bringing your own sheets</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’ve got skin sensitives, it’s generally a good idea to bring your own sheets (if you’ve got enough space). The familiar scent and feel will really help you sleep.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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3 common travel illnesses (and how to avoid them)

<p>Nobody wants to fall sick when they’re on holidays but it happens and is actually quite common. Not every travel illness is foreseeable, but the most prevalent ones usually can be managed if you’re prepared and know what to look out for. Here are three of the most common illnesses travellers experience and what you can do to avoid them.</p> <p><strong>Traveller’s diarrhoea</strong></p> <p>It may be an unpleasant topic of conversation, but as diarrhoeais the most common travel sickness, it’s important to be prepared. It is estimated diarrhoeais experienced by almost half of travellers at some point on their holiday, but mainly by those visiting developing countries. It’s contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food and water and in severe cases can last for days.</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">How to avoid it</span>:</em> Stick to bottled or purified water, freshly cooked meals and fruits and vegetables you can peel yourself. Talk to your doctor for antibiotics you can take in case you are struck with traveller’s diarrhoea.</p> <p><strong>Motion sickness</strong></p> <p>Whether it’s by boat, plane, or car, many travellers experience motion sickness. This occurs when your eyes see motion but your body doesn’t register it, leading to a conflict of the senses. It often results in nausea, vomiting, headaches, and sweating.</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">How to avoid it</span>:</em> If flying, try to sit near the wings of plane. If cruising, get an outside cabin in the middle of ship, and if in a car, sit up front. Don’t play with your devices, as looking at a small screens often exacerbates the problem; instead try to look far to the horizon. Have a light meal before travelling and avoid spicy, greasy or rich foods. You can talk to your doctor about over-the-counter medication that can help motion sickness as well.  </p> <p><strong>Bug bites</strong></p> <p>There are all sorts of infectious diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever you can pick up from bug bites, especially in developing nations. While you should always talk to your doctor about the types of vaccines you need to take for your travel destination, it is always advisable to protect against insect bites.</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">How to avoid it</span>:</em> Apply insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants where possible and try to avoid outside activity around dust and dawn when mosquitos are active. If sleeping outdoors, it is advisable to use curtain nettings.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Selfies and social media: how tourists indulge their influencer fantasies

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-canavan-228682">Brendan Canavan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</a></em></p> <p>A town in the US state of Vermont <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/vermont-town-banning-influencers-tourists-visiting-fall-foliage-rcna117413">closed its roads to tourists</a> in September 2023 after a social media tag sparked a swarm of visitors that overwhelmed the rural destination.</p> <p>Videos on TikTok were seen by thousands and the hashtag #sleepyhollowfarm went viral, prompting a tourist rush to the pretty New England town of Pomfret, where visitors tried to take photos of themselves against the countryside backdrop. The town, famous for its fall foliage, criticised this as problematic and “influencer tourism”, part of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">a travel trend</a> where a social media phenomenon can spark an overwhelming and unexpected rise in visitor numbers.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002764292036002005?casa_token=gQo4-8jeYdIAAAAA:Oq3Nf5gTtAFK7N00D1NgPO7_zl9ONlOEnzFZnojX6fX1nKXQWJZ4ERn52MlV3abn4fDN4_C4hJjq">Traditionally</a>, we think of tourists as travelling to gain new experiences. They look at sites, take photographs and collect souvenirs. However, this relationship between the tourist and touring is changing.</p> <p>Driven by <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/how-instagram-changed-the-tourism-industry/a-65348690">24-hour access to social media</a>, some tourists now travel primarily to have an experience that <a href="https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/get-inspired/Global-Travel-Trends">looks good online</a>. Around 75% of people in a recent American Express survey said they had been inspired to visit somewhere by social media. Some tourists may be prompted to choose a destination by seeing a <a href="https://www.elle.com/culture/travel-food/a27561982/best-instagram-spots/">backdrop that is popular on social media or on television</a>, in order to create a high-status photo.</p> <p>The expansion of social media and ubiquity of smartphone cameras has had a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/13/7312">major impact on tourists’ behaviour</a>. This has also led to what’s been called a <a href="https://www.traveldailynews.com/column/articles/who-are-the-selfie-gaze-tourists/">selfie “tourist gaze”</a>, creating photos where the traveller is at the forefront of images rather than the destination.</p> <p>Indeed, according to my research, increasingly, some tourists go somewhere <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">to be spotted</a> – to be observed by others both online and in person at these destinations.</p> <h2>Looking for drama</h2> <p>Studies have highlighted how tourists <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517715300388?casa_token=W51WkDKJSK8AAAAA:DG99dEWkyYKWIe6hNcLXR4KRApXV24QksHIzrRNcjVY3FngukDgIv9HLHG4o3NV4rqNJtdet">head for</a> particularly dramatic or luxurious destinations because of their social media links. Dubai, for example, with its bling culture and high-end shopping, has become a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/17/in-this-world-social-media-is-everything-how-dubai-became-the-planets-influencer-capital">playground for influencers</a> looking for a luxury backdrop to add to their celebrity-style image.</p> <p>Some tourists aim to photograph themselves in prestigious locations, rather than taking shots of their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/13567667221113079?casa_token=xbdUjWECQvMAAAAA:mc4rqleOqgjazW9DAYduW7LaPTu4KEw1DIfbPbWF0vl0efwNPC_GQ0U-HjltguwsIsCoO4ycXgyW7Q">travel surroundings</a>. Others choose to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">act like mini-celebrities</a> and perform for the camera, expecting and wanting to be looked at by those they encounter – or even narrating their participation in extreme events.</p> <p>One of these is the <a href="https://www.theadventurists.com/rickshaw-run/">Rickshaw Run</a>, a 2,000km race across India. This adventure tourism event encourages participants to dress up, act eccentrically and get noticed. Driving tuk-tuks around India, from Kerala to Darjeeling, vehicles are personalised with eye-catching designs. Many participants film themselves and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p3wd0ii2oQ">upload the results</a> to social media, and the events tend to create a significant following. For instance, this YouTube video series created by Rickshaw Run participants drew 3.6m subscribers:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2p3wd0ii2oQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Taking part in the Rickshaw Run.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>However, some of these tourist “performances” can cause controversy. For instance, <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/mexico-tourist-beaten-with-stick-for-climbing-chichen-itza-pyramid/EL5KGLB4CNC5ZONNZCKAMX3LLE/">climbing over</a> fragile archaeological sites in search of social media content might damage them. <a href="https://www.unilad.com/news/russian-tourist-deported-nude-photo-bali-064402-20230330">Posing for laughs</a> in areas considered sacred can offend. The reducing of cultures to <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/selfie-tourists-get-up-easter-islanders-noses-sgfxdtkj7">backdrops for social media content</a> can suggest a lack of interest in or respect for hosts by tourists.</p> <p>My research points to a growth in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">narcissism in society</a>, and connects this with what tourists desire from travel and how they act when travelling. This may be reflected in increased sense of entitlement and exhibitionism by tourists who aim to take photos in more difficult to reach locations or off-limit areas, for instance.</p> <p>Selfie culture arguably promotes <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09528822.2015.1082339?casa_token=tbsXw1drBAEAAAAA:qfSfJBbHWi3x8MSVeoyHBIceP7W_8C55rVctylf-2zRBzx-aG_EeFwvTmHHsOdjQpMd8LVaUrjSo">self-involvement rather than social responsibility</a>. It is well established that tourists <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1368350050408668198?casa_token=K4p5aZCN8t4AAAAA:96p7f3qNu2WndpE-C-D0rs5mJaOlnJ5F6P4iXQlWQopseMGWuJ_5TiaFmRggxFsEjrMCoAr14Kn4">can be selfish</a>, putting their own comfort and entertainment ahead of concerns about local issues. This is especially true of the super-rich. Private jet users <a href="https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/private-jets-can-the-super-rich-supercharge-zero-emission-aviation/">are responsible for</a> half of global aviation emissions.</p> <p>However, the desire to promote the individual and their values could be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">harnessed to promote</a> more sustainable tourism. Those volunteering abroad might be motivated by the image enhancement opportunities of doing good, but they often offer something back to the social and natural environments of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669580903395030?casa_token=NvJorz8d1F4AAAAA:AXXTdW7ePimqFkWNg1W5w8umGCBwXIjus0WICRIoNZH_gsdr1hHomvMAQV21PYA2HkLwBGsO_Qus8g">their host destinations</a> in the process.</p> <p>There are signs that there’s another tourism trend, with travellers looking for deep and meaningful experiences, and ecotourism could help provide those. The act of travelling in a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669582.2020.1825458">more environmentally friendly way</a> could also be seen as a way to show off, and still provide selfie material.</p> <p>The environmental pros and cons of tourist self-obsession might be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">debatable</a>. However, self-fixation is arguably not good for tourists themselves. For example, the desire to “perform” on camera could affect people’s mental health, according to one <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10253866.2018.1467318?casa_token=wI7sETKEKJAAAAAA:ebds6fykbyHAGSXIk9iv6-tyziFSIvganp32S65hiX8KeWlaQDwhPxF_2tWEgkNqssqd-SCE-w_3Eg">study</a>.</p> <p>Research has shown that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616688.2012.762691?casa_token=Jb9SzAGXBD0AAAAA:L5Q-HhPs9jWtfm0Zq4nB0uFHrZ3W8N7o1Liq0KAIRqC4ivEhKyEexEZN-ACoz1qzm7CMqD96zXOm">unexpected encounters help tourists to gain self-insight</a>. In addition, getting out of your comfort zone can lead to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213078020300074?casa_token=MkMbkdyr_cMAAAAA:LLu44kUbbsP5e-iW-kDdI7iSEo3WkLgH5IvKqb2txZA504q74J4OAhTuXIx8m90oDMSvuiq4Mg">rewarding personal growth</a>.</p> <h2>A disconnect between self and place</h2> <p>Taking yet more selfies could cut people off from their surroundings. In doing so, they could be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016073831730097X?casa_token=tOaqrhfVQ-wAAAAA:uxb7djQMWjifvjjgPMZzbq2IQqlgoaGHzWoJkkGbQYQqkbZoeuOqLD91zqwBuWs1SfY7dcK4">less present in the travel experience itself</a>. Indeed, the <a href="https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-10-29/rise-of-selfie-deaths-leads-experts-to-talk-about-a-public-health-problem.html">growing number</a> of <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/15/asia/french-man-selfie-death-intl-scli/index.html">selfie-related tourist deaths</a> might attest to a disconnect between self and place. A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6131996/#:%7E:text=selfie-related%20deaths.-,From%20October%202011%20to%20November%202017%2C%20there%20have%20been%20259,respectively%2C%20in%202016%20and%202017">2018 report</a> estimated 259 deaths to have occurred while taking selfies between 2011-2017.</p> <p>Other research suggests that individuals who are motivated by the desire to present a particular online image may be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211973620301458?casa_token=-HkTUB7WC7cAAAAA:455BE0L2jP-CL1nD18__Ey3fj5GsLmYfKL_EB_P7IWa7lDddpJYIW3UIo5fUjg68e7Nvm7PUlTA#s0050">more likely to take risks</a> with their travel selfies, with potentially fatal consequences.</p> <p>Tourists have always been somewhat self-obsessed. The 18th-century <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160738385900027">Grand Tour</a>, a leisurely trip around Europe, allowed the wealthy to <a href="https://www.historyhit.com/what-was-the-grand-tour/">indulge themselves</a> in <a href="https://www.salon.com/2002/05/31/sultry/">ways</a> that might not have been socially acceptable back home. And at the beginning of the 21st century, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738301000305?casa_token=C5eb2NJQvGsAAAAA:YrdY-xjJwBrUE9RjwyOJ3kRBS4-o7e5Jni5sluTCuZOrgnCULybO8EgJtQqsuSL7B5nZJwiH3Q#BIB37">academics worried about</a> self-involved backpacker communities in southeast Asia having little interest in mixing with local people.</p> <p>What is different about smartphones and social media is that these allow some tourists to present such self-indulgent, and sometimes insensitive, tourism traits immediately. Wifi and mobile data mean that these tourists can travel with one eye on finding the perfect selfie backdrop – filtering and sharing their travel as it happens, responding to likes and comments.</p> <p>For better or worse, living this influencer fantasy may have become an integral part of tourism for some time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214681/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-canavan-228682"><em>Brendan Canavan</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/selfies-and-social-media-how-tourists-indulge-their-influencer-fantasies-214681">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Samantha Armytage lists lavish holiday home

<p>Samantha Armytage has listed her stunning holiday home in Hyams Beach for $3.2 million.</p> <p>The<em> Farmer Wants A Wife </em>host previously leased the lavish three-bedroom, two-bathroom property as a holiday rental for $1200 a night.</p> <p>Armytage bought property which sits on 658sqm of land in 2018 for $1.765 million, and she has extensively renovated the property since, which includes adding a new roof and redesigning the interiors. </p> <p>The property boasts plenty of natural light, and is just minutes away from Hyams Beach, which you can see from the balcony of the home. </p> <p>All the rooms feature plenty of natural light, with the master bedroom boasting ocean-views, which makes it perfect for families or couples looking for a holiday home. </p> <p>The home has a cottage aesthetic, with bright white walls and floorboards, that when combined with bamboo tables, woven storage baskets, and neutral-coloured furniture looks like the ideal beach retreat. </p> <p>It also features a large private backyard with an outdoor entertaining area and pergola. </p> <p>Armytage previously sold her $2.8 million Bondi home in 2020, the same year she got married to Richard Lavender. </p> <p>Her and Lavender have relocated to  the Southern Highlands and are currently living on a 40-hectare farm in Berrima, which Richard purchased in 2007 for $ 1.95 million.</p> <p><em>Images: realestate.com.au / Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Real Estate

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Robert Irwin's favourite Aussie holiday spot

<p>Robert Irwin is a Queenslander through and through, and despite all the attractions and things to do in his hometown, the young conservationist is surprisingly a huge fan of Tasmania.</p> <p>When asked what his favourite destination was, Irwin said that it was a "very tough question" but narrowed it down to two spots: North Queensland and Tasmania.</p> <p>“I know what you’re thinking – two of the most polar opposite places, but they both have such rugged and raw natural beauty,” Irwin told news.com.au.</p> <p>He added that Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania's most iconic sights is one of his favourite spots and that it is a must-see destination.</p> <p>“I also enjoy the Tasman Peninsula, Launceston, Swansea and the stunning Tarkine Wilderness just to name a few spots.”</p> <p>In North Queensland, he lives up to his role as the son of 'The Crocodile Hunter' as he loves exploring the mangroves and estuaries.</p> <p>“At a good distance away from the water’s edge of course,” he added.</p> <p>“Surprisingly, Cairns also has some top-notch mountain biking, so if you love an adrenaline hit, it has got you covered.”</p> <p>Irwin added that all Aussies need to explore the far north and far south at least once in their lives.</p> <p>“To sum it all up, Tasmania has Tassie devils, and North Queensland has crocs. What more do you need,” he said.</p> <p>The young conservationist will soon be heading to South Africa to film the newest season of <em>I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!</em> as he replaced Dr Chris Brown as a co-host for the show.</p> <p>He shared that he will definitely bring his own camera.</p> <p>“We have supported wildlife conservation efforts there for many years and have spent so much time photographing the unique wildlife of South Africa,” he said.</p> <p>“My new I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! hosting role will definitely give me the opportunity to further pursue my passion for photography.”</p> <p>Images: Instagram</p>

Domestic Travel

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The cheapest places to travel in 2024

<p dir="ltr">With the cost of living continuing to rise, many people are looking for cost-friendly ways to travel the world in 2024. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some destinations are more economic than others, with these somewhat overlooked holiday hotspots showcasing the best of travelling without breaking the bank.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, these corners of the globe are the cheapest places to travel in 2024.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Philippines</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The underrated gem located only a few hours northeast of Australia is one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, it's a wonder why more tourists don’t visit. </p> <p dir="ltr">Not only is it home to over 7,500 picturesque islands, six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and an endless chain of pristine beaches, it's also very affordable with resort accommodation under $100 a night is not hard to find.</p> <p dir="ltr">On top of accommodation, day tours and activities (snorkelling, for example) will set you back around $30 to $40.</p> <p dir="ltr">Flights are also reasonable in cost, with return flights from Sydney to Manila coming in around $600 per person. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Turkey</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Travellers can get to Istanbul from Melbourne and back for approximately $1,300 per person, to visit some of the world’s most historical sites. </p> <p dir="ltr">Turkey is a paradise for those travelling on a budget, with mouthwatering meals can be found regularly for as little as $5, and even less for street food.</p> <p dir="ltr">To make it even better, striking accommodation in the historic Galata region can be as low as $50 a night. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hungary</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Hungary is regularly dubbed one of Europe’s cheapest tourist destinations, with  accommodation, dining and entertainment costs significantly lower than the neighbouring countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Expect to part with $60 to $100 a night for a pretty-as-a-picture hotel in the city centre, around $10 to $15 for meals in restaurants, and anywhere between $7 to $30 for activities. </p> <p dir="ltr">There are also tourist passes available that make these costs even cheaper. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Albania</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Located on the western part of the Balkan peninsula, this destination is often overlooked by tourists, making it an ideal budget-friendly destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">The stunning country is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites and turquoise beaches, all while keeping your budget in mind. </p> <p dir="ltr">Beachside accommodation can be found for as little as $70 a night, with prices comparable to Turkey for restaurant meals. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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The surprising reason you shouldn’t bring camouflage clothing on a cruise

<p><strong>Dress codes</strong></p> <p>If you’ve been on a cruise before, then you’re probably aware that dress codes are still a thing. In fact, clothing recommendations are quite common, as some of the best cruise lines have formal nights, dress-to-impress evenings and planned costume or themed cruise events. So rules about what you can and cannot wear aren’t abnormal.</p> <p>As such, packing for a cruise is no easy feat: You’ll need formalwear for nights, pool wear for the day, outfits for excursions and layers for inclement weather. I’m an avid cruise-goer, and there are a number of items I never board a cruise ship without, but there’s also one thing I absolutely never pack for a cruise headed for the Philippines or the Caribbean: camouflage clothing.</p> <p><strong>Why is camouflage clothing inadvisable?</strong></p> <p>It actually has nothing to do with the formality of your wardrobe. Camouflage clothing happens to be illegal to wear in many countries that are popular cruise destinations. According to cruise liner Royal Caribbean, the Philippines, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are among those that prohibit camouflage.</p> <p>And while camouflage print clothing and accessories, as well as military-style clothing, aren’t technically banned onboard cruises, most cruise companies will simply ask you not to pack them to curb any potential issues at ports.</p> <p><strong>Why is camouflage clothing banned in these countries?</strong></p> <p>In most countries that prohibit camouflage, it’s because the disguising clothing is reserved for military personnel only. And it’s important to be respectful of this camouflage-free rule, which I learned while travelling to Nevis about seven years ago. My friend was stopped by hotel staff who advised her to change out of her camouflaged pants if she planned to leave the property. Not understanding the seemingly odd request without any context or explanation, we asked what would happen if she didn’t comply. Their response? She could get fined or arrested. As you can imagine, those cute camo pants were then stuffed into her suitcase for the remainder of our stay.</p> <p>“It is a concern because of the affiliation with criminal gangs as well as armed forces,” says Lauren Doyle, a travel advisor and president of boutique travel agency The Travel Mechanic. She says that to avoid any confusion and help curb any potential issues in the future, cruise lines simply advise against bringing it onboard.</p> <p>Doyle, who has booked many cruises for customers, says this information is usually found on a cruise line’s website (which is why it’s important to brush up on cruise tips prior to setting sail), and that many cruise lines will include it in their daily newsletter or app if you’re going to any country that prohibits it.</p> <p><strong>What to do if you accidentally pack camouflage clothing</strong></p> <p>If you’ve packed a camo hat, bathing suit, cargo pants or the camouflage backpack you carry, just leave it on the ship, even if you’re unsure of restrictions on what to wear in certain ports of call.</p> <p>Generally, you can wear camo clothing while you’re onboard, just not during excursions or on land. So if you’ve packed it, go ahead and rock your camo print at the breakfast buffet or on the pool deck (as you ponder those big white balls on the cruise deck). And while you could probably technically wear your camo while chilling on your stateroom balcony, if it’s viewable to the country you’re visiting, it may still be considered disrespectful, so we don’t recommend it.</p> <p><strong>What else is prohibited on a cruise ship?</strong></p> <p>There are plenty of things you can’t do on a cruise, but what about things you shouldn’t bring to begin with? There are a few more surprising items Doyle recommends leaving at home. “Small appliances – like hot plates, steamers or irons – are also prohibited, along with electric blankets,” Doyle says. “Also, medical marijuana is not allowed on cruise ships. Drones are not allowed either.”</p> <p>Each cruise line lists prohibited items on their website, along with some exceptions, so be sure to consult their information before you start packing.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/the-surprising-reason-you-shouldnt-bring-camouflage-clothing-on-a-cruise" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Cruising

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14 best places to travel in 2024

<p>If you’ve been to an airport recently, what we’re about to tell you will come as no surprise: Travel is back in a BIG way. Travellers are hitting the skies – and the rails, roads and seas – in record numbers, looking for the best places to travel.</p> <p>So what does that mean for 2024? “We’re looking at a wave of excitement over travelling with family and friends,” according to Heather Heverling, managing director of Audley Travel. “One thing we’re seeing a lot of is ‘skip-gen’ travel,” when grandparents take their grandkids on holidays but leave the parents at home. (We say: Those are some lucky kids!)</p> <p>And while domestic travel will certainly be popular, people are also looking to expand their horizons. Interest in Japan is booming, says Heverling. And there’s a desire to leave the crowds behind and find hidden gems in spots like France, where many people will be headed to watch the Olympics this summer.</p> <p>We know – there are so many amazing places to go and cool things to see, and it’s hard to narrow things down! To help you pick the perfect spot, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in 2024, whether you’re looking for quick trips, beach getaways, cheap places to travel, city experiences or far-flung adventures. Read on to get a whole year’s worth of inspiration!</p> <p><strong>South Island, New Zealand</strong></p> <p>Wondering which hot spot to visit first? Our pick for 2024 is South Island, New Zealand. Christchurch is considered the base camp for South Island explorations. During the day, kayak in the emerald waters of Abel Tasman National Park, bike or hike to gorgeous hot springs, or sample New Zealand’s best pours at spots like Tussock Hill Vineyards (where you can also spend the night in new luxury suites nestled in the vineyard). When the sun goes down, it will be time for spectacular stargazing at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which recently became the first Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Find a hotel that puts you right in the heart of Christchurch and within walking distance of restaurants, shops and the Botanical Gardens.</p> <p><strong>Paris, France</strong></p> <p>Everyone is talking about visiting France this year, and for good reason. Paris will be hosting the Summer Olympics, with events held throughout the City of Lights and the surrounding area – including boating and swimming events on the Seine River and dressage events at Versailles. (According to France’s tourism office, 95 per cent of the Olympic and Paralympic events will be held in existing locations for a more sustainable world event.) The city is in full-throttle preparation mode, with new hotels opening, art exhibits launching and plenty of projects underway to make Paris shine even brighter than usual.</p> <p>And that’s not all France has going on. June 6, 2024, is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. To get the most context out of a visit, it helps to go with a guide who can take you through the area and bring the past to life through storytelling and interactive exhibits.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> If possible, base yourself in the ever-popular Left Bank neighbourhood in the 6tharrondissement of the city, where you’ll be able to enjoy views right across the river of the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral, which is set to reopen in late 2024 after its devastating 2019 fire. Like we said, it’s a big year!</p> <p><strong>Cambodia</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> More ways to explore and two new airports to reach the country</p> <p>Cambodia is a bucket-list destination for many travellers. “With the addition of luxury lodges and resorts, travellers can now enjoy a true luxury immersion in Cambodia – blending ancient ruins and culture, cuisine and handicrafts, rainforest and jungle, and ending with a sublime beach stay,” says Brady Binstadt, CEO of GeoEx, an adventure-travel company. In the little-visited Cardamom Forest Protected Area, options for hiking, mountain biking, boating and bird-watching abound, says Binstadt, who also recommends boating through lush forest to Tatai village, where visitors can walk by the river, kayak through mangroves and listen to the symphonic sounds of wildlife from a floating lodge.</p> <p>You’ll also want to visit Angkor Wat, famed for its glorious temples. Happily, reaching Angkor Wat just became a lot easier with the brand-new, $1 billion Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, which is just a short drive from the UNESCO Heritage Site temple complex. Later in 2024, the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, will also unveil a new $1.5 billion airport, providing even more ways to reach the country.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Shinta Mani Wild in the Cardamom Mountains is a luxury jungle retreat about three hours from Phnom Penh; it boasts its own zip line over the waterfalls and river where the remote lodge is located. Another unique option is Six Senses Krabey Island off the southern coast, where 40 glass-front villas are tucked into the dense foliage of this romantic resort. Indulge in a treatment at the luxe spa after exploring the nearby Kbal Chhay waterfalls and the waterways of Ream National Park.</p> <p><strong>Los Angeles, California </strong></p> <p>Yes, we know, you hear “LA” and think beach and sand. But for 2024, replace that with cool art and culture, since Los Angeles will be hosting two awesome openings. When it opens in February, Destination Crenshaw will be the largest Black art program in the US, with a two-kilometre stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard in South LA, containing 100 commissioned works by Black artists displayed within beautifully landscaped community spaces.</p> <p>And September will see the launch of Getty’s colossal PST ART: Art &amp; Science Collide. The latest edition of the initiative (previously known as Pacific Standard Time) will include more than 50 exhibitions across the Los Angeles area, including iconic spots like the Griffith Observatory, the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Center. The exhibits aren’t just paintings and sculptures. They are intersections of art, science and the natural world – including “Color in Motion: Chromatic Explorations of Cinema” at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; “From Fire We Are Born,” which explores Native American culture at the Fowler Museum at UCLA; and “Seeing the Unseeable: Data, Design, Art” at the ArtCenter College of Design.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> No matter which room or suite you book at the InterContinental Los Angeles, you’ll be greeted with what feels like a never-ending view. You’ll see everything from the Pacific Ocean to the Hollywood sign and downtown skyscrapers. And not only is it the tallest building west of Chicago, but the location puts you right in the middle of all the arts action.</p> <p><strong>Okavango Delta, Botswana </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Sustainable new safari camps deep in the Delta.</p> <p>Always dreamed of going on safari? Botswana should be at the top of your 2024 travel list. A decade after being designated the 1000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Botswana’s watery Okavango Delta remains a captivating marvel of nature that differentiates it from other safari destinations. The intricate network of waterways, lush greenery and diverse ecosystems presents amazing opportunities to observe animals like elephants, impala, kudu, zebra and more from a mokoro, or dugout boat, as you float silently through the area.</p> <p>For an intimate stay in the wilderness areas, try the new tented camps. If that’s not your thing, there are also fancy, all-inclusive hotels that wrap game drives into their included offerings.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> First, there’s the Natural Selection’s Tawana Camp, which is set to open in May 2024 in the Moremi Game Reserve. It will combine modern luxury (think: multi-bedroom, free-standing suites with private pools) with intimate safari experiences. Bonus: This corner of Botswana is known for its high population of lions and leopards.</p> <p>Atzaro Okavango from African Bush Camps opens in March 2024, offering sustainable luxury in the heart of the Delta. This eco-friendly property is made from recycled materials and powered entirely by solar energy. Guests stay in air-conditioned suites with their own plunge pools and will be treated to year-round sightings of elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, giraffes, hippos and other African wildlife.</p> <p><strong>Turks and Caicos </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Because kiteboarding will be the thing to do in 2024 – and Turks and Caicos is also heaven on earth.</p> <p>We’re calling it: When kiteboarding makes its official Olympic debut in 2024, the sport will surge in popularity. But don’t go to Paris to do it. Instead, head to Turks and Caicos, a fabulous warm-weather winter getaway that offers some of the best kiteboarding conditions in the world. “The island’s consistent trade winds, shallow warm waters and large areas of flat, uncrowded riding make it an ideal destination for this thrilling water sport,” says Vasco Borges, the owner of Beach Enclave Turks and Caicos and a passionate kiteboarder.</p> <p>Swimming and snorkelling are popular activities on the island as well, and avid divers love the mammoth undersea coral wall off Grand Turk. Plus, Turks and Caicos is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. In other words, it’s always one of the best places to travel!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> New for 2024, Beach Enclave will offer new beach houses with privacy, tranquility and an oceanfront private pool on the North Shore. The Grace Bay location of the multi-location resort is introducing contemporary villas with a blend of indoor and outdoor living, called the Reserve at Grace Bay. And finally, at the resort’s Long Bay location, which is known as a kiteboarder’s haven, you’ll find new beach houses along the pristine white-sand beachfront, ideal for families and water-sports enthusiasts.</p> <p><strong>Belize</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of the Great Barrier Reef? We thought so. How about Belize’s Barrier Reef? Not so much, right? We’re here to tell you that in 2024, it’s time to put this natural wonder on your must-visit list. The world’s second-largest barrier reef (behind Australia’s), it is actually the biggest reef in both the northern and western hemispheres. The snorkelling here is magnificent, and so is the diving – plus, it’s not as crowded as the better-known Australian alternative.</p> <p>If you’re looking for the perfect home base while visiting, consider Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye. The Belize Barrier Reef is just a 400-metres offshore, and you’ll definitely want to check out the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is just a 10-minute boat ride from the main town of San Pedro. When you’re not snorkelling or swimming, spend your days popping into Belizean art galleries and souvenir shops or just lounging on the white sand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Try the Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection hotel in the island’s historic town of San Pedro. This beachfront hotel is just 600 metres from the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve and has stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Plus, it has an on-site dive shop and three pools, including Belize’s first-ever suspended rooftop pool and a lounge with 360-degree views.</p> <p><strong>Paros, Greece</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of destination dupes? According to Expedia, these are “places that are a little unexpected, sometimes more affordable and every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations travellers love.” One of our favourites on Expedia’s list is this stunning Greek island that usually sails under the most travellers’ Mediterranean radars in uncrowded bliss while the hordes of tourists head to Mykonos and Santorini.</p> <p>Visiting the island, which is about a two-hour ferry ride south of well-known party island Mykonos and right next to Naxos, is one of the best things to do in Greece, since it means enjoying idyllic beaches framed by the azure waters of the Aegean Sea. While you’re here, explore the winding streets and charming villages of Naoussa and Lefkes, and sip whipped coffee frappes or ouzo at the picturesque port of Parikia (the island’s capital), home to whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant bougainvillea.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> You can’t go wrong at the newly opened Minois hotel, where the whitewashed walls hold luxurious touches, such as decadent dining at Olvo and pampering spa treatments. But the best part may be simply floating in the infinity pool with views of the sea spread out in front of you.</p> <p><strong>Kyoto, Japan</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An array of new luxury hotels and the opening of the first Nintendo Museum.</p> <p>“One thing we can say for sure is that interest in visiting Japan is not slowing down,” says Audley Travel’s Heverling. Japan finally welcomed visitors back in 2023, and the numbers are soaring. And for 2024, we’re seeing cool new openings and numerous developments that will make your trip even easier. Kyoto, especially, will be the city to watch in the new year, when the world’s first Nintendo Museum opens in spring 2024 in the former Nintendo Uji Kokura factory site in Kyoto. This will be a big draw for pop-culture lovers and gamers.</p> <p>Even if you don’t know a controller from a cruller, though, Kyoto will enthral you with ancient temples and beautiful architecture that make it look like a real-life fairy-tale town. Plus, there are four amazing new hotels opening in Kyoto in 2024, where you can happily rest, relax and enjoy.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Luxury brand Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto will feature a private onsen bath; elegant Six Senses Kyoto will have a spa and zen-like rooms situated around seasonal gardens; and the 313-room Hilton Kyoto will be the brand’s first flagship hotel in Kyoto. Finally, the new Regent Kyoto (an IHG property) is opening a resort-like property in a hundred-year-old garden complex that’s also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant.</p> <p><strong>Northern Territories, Canada </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An almost-guaranteed opportunity to see the northern lights during the “solar max”.</p> <p>There are two truths about seeing the northern lights: They’re beautiful, and they’re elusive. Unlike the solar eclipse, there’s no date or time that you’re guaranteed to see the night-time spectacular. You do need, however, to go north… in winter… and then wait. That’s why we’re so excited about the news from the Northern Territories of Canada, where a “solar max” cycle is going to make it possible to see the aurora borealis with new ease. According to the Canada Tourism Board, in the Northwest Territories, “travellers have a 98 per cent chance of witnessing the spectacle” during a three-night stay November through March, when longer hours of darkness each day and clear nights make it easier to spot the lights.</p> <p>The jewelled green, purple and gold lights can be seen due to the perfect combination of clear nights, flat landscape, low humidity and the location beneath the earth’s auroral oval. Even better, 2024 is the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, which means the light show will be even more dramatic than usual.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The main gateway to the area is Yellowknife, the location of Aurora Village, an entirely Indigenous-owned experience that leads guided night-time tours and where you can go dog sledding and snowshoeing. You can also spend the evening in a cosy teepee, complete with a wood stove, which makes it easy to pop out and see the aurora borealis when it lights up the sky.</p> <p><strong>Mexico City</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Tour tourism for live-music lovers – and Madonna fans!</p> <p>Expedia predicts that “tour tourism,” following a favourite artist on their headlining tour, will thrive in 2024. “In 2023, the cultural impact of the Eras and Renaissance tours was undeniable, driving ticket sales but also travel and tourism,” according to Expedia Brands travel expert Melanie Fish. Perhaps driven by ticket prices, 30 per cent of travellers told Expedia they would travel outside of their home city for a concert because tickets were cheaper elsewhere, with Mexico City coming out near the top of that list. We’re totally in on the trend, especially since Madonna will play four dates the Palacio de los Desportes in 2024, making Mexico City a live-music hot spot for the coming year.</p> <p>And as an extra bonus, Mexico City is an affordable warm-weather destination, not to mention a hub for art, culture and cuisine. Translation: There’s plenty to do and see when you’re not rocking out. Check out the Colonia Roma neighbourhood, called CDMX – often referred to as “the Williamsburg of Mexico City” for its hipster vibe and cool architecture, art galleries and restaurants.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The new boutique hotel Colima 71 features hundreds of authentic Mexican art pieces, a craft coffee bar with an on-site barista and plenty of communal spaces perfect for mingling with fellow travellers. Located in the heart of artsy CDMX, it’s also a super convenient and central location.</p> <p><strong>Washington, D.C.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To watch democracy at work during an election year… and visit some cool museums, too.</p> <p>Following a record year of tourism to the US capital, 2024 will likely see visits continue to rise, thanks to the upcoming presidential election in November. But even if you’re not a pollster, there are plenty of other attractions in the nation’s capital that make it one of the best places to travel year-round. First, travellers will be happy to hear that it’s easier to get into the heart of the city now that the Metro added service to Dulles International Airport with direct service on the Silver Line of the underground train system – and it’s never more than $6!</p> <p>While you’re in town, check out the newly renovated and reopened National Museum of Women in the Arts, which spotlights women artists from the 17th century to the present. And in 2024, the Smithsonian’s contemporary art museum, the Hirshhorn, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a collection of new exhibits. Also, remember: Nearly all D.C. museums are free, so the sightseeing part of your trip will be super affordable.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Book a room at The Dupont Circle, a hotel that successfully walks the line between feeling luxurious and homey. It’s steps away from dozens of art galleries and museums, and it boasts an impressive art collection of its own. Don’t miss brunch and dinner at the delicious new American on-site Pembroke restaurant.</p> <p><strong>The Pekoe Trail, Sri Lanka</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To check out amazing new hiking trails and old cultures.</p> <p>The newly opened Pekoe Trail in Sri Lanka is a fantastic way to explore the country’s varied landscapes. Ten years in the making, the Pekoe Trail is the first collection of destination-based walking trails that aims to support remote communities, promote cultural heritage and showcase Sri Lankan scenery. Most of the trails opened in the fall of 2023, with a few more opening at the beginning of 2024.</p> <p>The 300-kilometre route starts in the central city of Kandy, famous for the Temple of the Tooth, and meanders through to stunning mountain views of Ella. Audley Travel, says Heverling, can arrange treks to the most scenic parts of the Sri Lanka trail. Hikers will walk on the region’s famed tea trails, as well as through forests, jungle and remote towns and villages.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The experts at Audley recommend Mountain Heavens for its fantastic infinity pool that will make you feel like you’re literally floating over the valley. Big, comfy beds and modern amenities, not to mention a delicious included breakfast, all add up to a very luxurious end to a hike.</p> <p><strong>Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Seaside vibes in Dubai’s under-the-radar neighbour to the north.</p> <p>Dubai is always popular, and always full of flashy new attractions and frenetic energy. But if you want an Emirates vacation that’s a little more relaxing, head 40 minutes north of the city to this under-the-radar gem. Well, under the radar until 2024, that is, when the luxury Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort opens and more people realise that it’s one of the best places to travel. It’s set amid the area’s stunning mountains and mangroves in the seaside neighbourhood of Mina Al Arab, which is quickly becoming a trendy destination, with new openings and plenty of sunshine.</p> <p>Ras Al Khaimah is a great spot for outdoorsy types, who can snorkel or swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, then head off for a quad biking adventure in the desert or soar over the desert on the world’s longest zipline. And speaking of world records: If you get a chance to spend New Year’s Eve here, don’t miss it. The Emirate holds multiple Guinness World Records for its spectacular fireworks performances held during its New Year’s celebrations.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The Anantara Resort here is more than just a getaway from the bustling city. It also boasts Bali-style overwater bungalows for an over-the-top romantic getaway.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/14-best-places-to-travel-in-2024?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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4 strategies to keep you from overspending this holiday season

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-peetz-1494248">Johanna Peetz</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/carleton-university-900">Carleton University</a></em></p> <p>The urge to spend money is present all year round, but during the gift-giving season, the temptation to splurge on loved ones can be particularly strong. For many, the desire to be generous during the holidays clashes with the need to conserve funds for essential expenses.</p> <p>This year, money is tighter than ever, with <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/231121/dq231121a-eng.htm?indid=3665-1&amp;indgeo=0">high prices for groceries, housing and entertainment</a> leaving shoppers with reduced funds as the holiday season descends upon us.</p> <p>A growing number of individuals are feeling the financial squeeze, with 40 per cent of Canadians <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/financial-stress-is-impacting-the-mental-health-of-canadians-survey-1.1933491">citing money as their main source of stress</a>. <a href="https://newsroom.bmo.com/2023-11-08-78-Per-Cent-of-Canadians-Plan-to-Cut-Back-on-Holiday-Spending,-but-a-Third-Will-Still-Give-Back-to-Charitable-Causes-BMO-Survey">Seventy-eight per cent of Canadians</a> plan on buying fewer gifts this holiday season and 37 per cent are worried they won’t be able to afford all the items on their holiday shopping lists.</p> <p>Given that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.790434">pricier gifts are not necessarily more appreciated by the person receiving the gift</a>, what are some ways shoppers can resist the temptation of appealing, yet expensive, gift options that might strain their finances?</p> <p>As a social psychologist who studies personal spending, I think it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of self-control strategies that can help us manage financial decisions during the holiday season.</p> <h2>Strategies for resisting temptation</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691615623">Self-control is not just suppressing temptation</a>; it also involves setting yourself up for success by creating situations that make resisting temptations easier.</p> <p><strong>1. Avoid temptations</strong></p> <p>Perhaps the most obvious strategy is to avoid shopping temptations. This may include steering clear of places — both physical and online — that are out of your budget range. While this is easier said than done during gift shopping, it’s an effective way to manage temptations: People who report having an easier time with self-control <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.09.031">tend to avoid rather than resist temptations</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Make a budget</strong></p> <p>If you haven’t sat down to make a holiday budget yet, it’s never too late to make one. Considering one-quarter of Canadians are <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/10087745/canadian-holiday-spending-debt/">still paying off last year’s holiday debts</a>, being as fiscally responsible as possible is a wise choice this year.</p> <p>Setting spending limits ahead of time makes your financial goals clear and explicit. When setting budgets for gifts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucad011">people tend to spend the entirety of the estimated amount (unlike budgets for personal purchases where they try to come in under the budget)</a>. It’s good to be realistic, rather than optimistic, when setting budgets.</p> <p><strong>3. Implementation intentions</strong></p> <p>Anticipate any potential shopping temptations you are likely to encounter so you can develop strategies to resist them. One effective approach is <a href="https://kops.uni-konstanz.de/server/api/core/bitstreams/14cc2a36-5f01-4dc1-b9ca-f2d0ca0c8930/content">forming intentions</a> about how you will act once you encounter a temptation.</p> <p>For example, you might consider what you will do when you see a gadget your friend would enjoy when you have already bought them something and have reached the limit of your budget. Instead of purchasing it and exceeding your budget, you could write down the gadget for next year’s gift.</p> <p><strong>4. Write a list</strong></p> <p>Finally, thinking ahead to the gifts you plan to buy and writing a shopping list rather than relying on being inspired in the store might help with sticking to a budget. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11747-019-00670-w">Consumers spend thousands each year on impulse purchases</a>. Writing shopping lists, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cb.1812">even for online shopping</a>, can reduce overall spending and shopping regret.</p> <h2>The best strategy is the one that works</h2> <p>The holidays should be about joy, not financial stress. Maintaining self-control allows you to celebrate without compromising your financial well-being.</p> <p>There are of course many strategies beyond the four strategies listed here that can help create situations where resisting temptations is easier. The most effective strategies for maintaining financial self-control <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104189">are the ones you are already using</a>, and the ones <em>you</em> find most effective. If you want to avoid giving in to shopping temptations, take a moment to think about the financial strategies you are already using and think about how you might use them in your holiday shopping.</p> <p>If you haven’t yet found a strategy that works for you, now is a great opportunity for you to try some out and see which ones are effective. Using strategies to manage the cost of holiday spending can prevent gift-giving from becoming a financial stressor in an already stressful time.</p> <p>Finally, while adhering to a budget is important, it shouldn’t be the sole or primary focus during holiday shopping. Keep in mind that the true spirit of the season is spending quality time with loved ones. The joy of the holidays doesn’t come from extravagant gifts, but from shared moments and meaningful connections.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219380/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-peetz-1494248"><em>Johanna Peetz</em></a><em>, Professor in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/carleton-university-900">Carleton University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/4-strategies-to-keep-you-from-overspending-this-holiday-season-219380">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Qantas' big move ahead of record-breaking holiday season

<p>As the festive season approaches, Qantas is gearing up for its busiest Christmas holiday period in years. The airline has taken proactive measures to handle the anticipated surge in passenger numbers, with an additional boost to its international cabin crew.</p> <p>More than 8.5 million passengers are expected to fly on Qantas and Jetstar services in December and January, marking a significant increase from the previous year – and the most passengers since the 2019-20 festive season.</p> <p>To meet the demands of the busy holiday season, Qantas has expanded its international cabin crew team with the addition of 16 new faces. These recruits, having completed an eight-week intensive training program, are set to embark on their first flights just in time for the peak travel period. The new recruits will be contributing to flights destined for key international locations such as Japan (Narita), Hong Kong, and Singapore.</p> <p>Phil Capps, Qantas executive manager for product and service, emphasised the airline's commitment to investing in staff training across all departments, including ground staff and cabin crew. The significant recruitment efforts in 2023, with 991 new international cabin crew and 394 new domestic cabin crew, reflect Qantas's dedication to providing exceptional service during the holiday season and beyond.</p> <p>To ensure operational readiness, Qantas has brought forward maintenance on its aircraft, and up to 13 planes will be on standby as operational spares. The airline has also made a substantial boost to reserve staff to address unexpected sick leave situations. Over the past 12 months, almost 3,300 additional operational employees, including cabin crew, pilots, engineers, and airport customer service staff, have been recruited to enhance overall efficiency.</p> <p>As part of the preparations for the busy travel period, Qantas and Jetstar are urging travellers to check-in online for domestic flights, arrive ahead of schedule, and adhere to baggage limits. The airlines emphasised that bringing excess carry-on baggage could lead to delays and urged passengers to be respectful and patient during the holiday rush. Additionally, Qantas warned about potential delays and cancellations due to bad weather and air traffic control issues.</p> <p><em>Image: Qantas</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Hopefully it's permanent": Karl's surprise holiday replacement announced

<p>Karl Stefanovic's Christmas leave replacement on the Today show was announced on Monday, when it was revealed that Dr Nick Coatsworth, Australia's former deputy chief medical officer, would be filling Stefanovic's hosting shoes from December 26, granting the veteran host a well-deserved New Year's rendezvous with his family.</p> <p>However, the digital realm erupted with mixed emotions following the news, with some online users not just celebrating Stefanovic's temporary absence but actively calling for the replacement to be made permanent.</p> <p>Social media platforms buzzed with comments like, 'Please make it a permanent break', and 'Complete overhaul needed', suggesting a desire for a fresh face at the helm of the popular morning show. One disgruntled user even quipped, 'Hopefully it is permanent; the only one who thinks he is funny is him. Poor co-hosts with their fake laughs.'</p> <p>As the summer breeze of change swept through the <em>Today</em> show, co-host Sarah Abo found herself replaced for the holiday season by regular <em>Today</em> show reporter Mia Glover, adding an extra layer of anticipation to the show's temporary makeover.</p> <p>The real thunderstorm, however, came with the surprising decision to appoint Dr Coatsworth as the temporary host. A prominent figure in the medical field, Coatsworth had been a regular contributor to Channel Nine, particularly on matters of medicine.</p> <p>Reports surfaced of disquiet among viewers, claiming 'plenty of noses are out of joint' over this unconventional choice. This sentiment likely stems from the fact that Dr Coatsworth, despite his frequent appearances as the show's medical expert during the pandemic, has never before taken on the role of the show's host.</p> <p>Dr Coatsworth also has a new show in the pipeline titled <em>Do You Want to Live Forever?</em>, set to be broadcast on Nine next year. This unexpected move only adds to the intrigue surrounding the doctor's stint as a morning show host.</p> <p>This shakeup comes at a critical juncture for the <em>Today</em> show, as its arch-rival, <em>Sunrise</em>, gears up for its 20th year of dominating the breakfast ratings war. According to the 2022 OzTam survey, Sunrise boasted an average national daily audience of 397,000 viewers, proudly claiming to be '31 per cent bigger than its nearest competitor.' <em>Today</em>, on the other hand, has struggled in recent years to close the gap with <em>Sunrise</em>, facing challenges exacerbated by a revolving door of presenters on the Nine show.</p> <p><em>Images: Nine</em></p>

TV

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Ultimate holiday hack to turn just 17 days of leave into 45 days of leisure

<p>As we bid a fond farewell to 2023, it's time to embark on a journey to the land of strategic annual leave planning!</p> <p>If you've ever dreamed of turning 17 days into a mind-blowing 45 days of leisure, all while maintaining the illusion that you're a dedicated worker, you're in for a treat. Let's delve into the art of time manipulation, the Australian way!</p> <p><strong>1. The Great Christmas/New Year Escape: 10 Days of Holiday Magic</strong></p> <p>Picture this: You, sipping a cocktail on a beach, far, far away from workplace shenanigans. To achieve this utopia, sacrifice a mere three workdays from December 27–29, and voila! You've magically transformed a three-day leave into a decadent ten-day escapade. Christmas and New Year's resolutions? More like "Avoiding Office Drama and Perfecting My Tan".</p> <p><strong>2. Australia Day 2024: Because One Long Weekend Isn't Enough</strong></p> <p>To those who believe in the power of the long weekend, rejoice! By judiciously taking a single day off on January 29, you can extend the Australia Day break into a glorious four-day affair. This means more time for BBQs, cricket, and pretending to understand the rules of cricket.</p> <p><strong>3. The Great Easter Egg Hunt (for Extra Leave Days): 10 Days of Bunny Bliss</strong></p> <p>Hop into Easter with a bang by utilising four days of leave (April 2–5). This cunning plan transforms a regular four-day weekend into a lavish ten-day extravaganza. You'll have so much time; you might even consider crafting an intricate Easter egg treasure map for your colleagues. After all, sharing is caring.</p> <p><strong>4. ANZAC Day 2024: A Gallant Nine-Day Journey</strong></p> <p>For those who appreciate a good remembrance day, why not remember to take four days off? By strategically choosing your leave days around ANZAC Day, you can turn a regular nine-to-five existence into a leisurely nine-day bliss. It's the perfect opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the past while contemplating your sacrifice of precious annual leave for maximum leisure.</p> <p><strong>5. The Grand Finale: Christmas and New Year 2024/25</strong></p> <p>Looking to dominate the festive season and secure a 12-day break? Fear not! By cunningly using five days of leave (December 23–31), you can transform a modest two-day weekend into a 12-day holiday bonanza. It's like taking a break in 2025 while still clinging desperately to the end of 2024. Time travel, anyone?</p> <p>In conclusion, dear Aussie worker bees, remember that strategic annual leave planning is an art, a dance between days off and public holidays. While others are stuck in the mundane, you'll be sipping piña coladas in your time-warped holiday paradise.</p> <p>So go forth, plan wisely, and may your leave days be as abundant as your laughter during this comedic time-travel adventure!</p> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p>

Travel Tips

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A guide to overcoming loneliness during the holidays

<div title="Page 1"> <div> <p>Navigating the holiday season during adulthood isn’t always smooth sailing. Often, the arrival of the festive period can bring with it a sense of loneliness. Whether it’s being away from family or missing out on celebrations, the holiday blues can be hard to shake and for many, the significance of togetherness during the holidays can accentuate feelings of isolation or detachment.</p> </div> <div> <p>Offering her insight on how to overcome these emotions, Jacqui Manning, resident psychologist at Connected Women, an organisation that facilitates friendships for women over 50 shares her top tips to help you enjoy a more connected and fulfilling holiday season.</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>Acknowledge Your Feelings</strong></p> <p>“It’s ok to admit that you feel lonely. In fact, it’s the first step to overcoming and accepting these feelings,” explains Jacqui.</p> <p>“Christmas is traditionally a time that is associated with togetherness and so recognising your emotions is the foundation for developing effective coping strategies. Reach out to the friends you do have, family or support groups and let them know you might need extra support during this time. You should also invest in your mental wellbeing, either by incorporating mindfulness techniques to help break any negative thoughts or creating a mindset of gratitude by reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. Both these techniques can shift your focus towards positivity.”</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>Invest in Yourself</strong></p> <p>If you’re feeling down, Jacqui suggests prioritising self-care.</p> <p>“Investing in yourself is an act of self-love and resilience. It shifts the focus from external pressures to internal fulfilment, fostering a deep sense of empowerment. This approach is particularly valuable during the holidays, as it allows you to create a positive and nurturing environment for yourself.”</p> <p><strong>Find New Connections</strong></p> <p>Prevention plays an essential role in mitigating the risks of social isolation before they take hold. When it comes to combating loneliness, it’s all about identifying the connections you might be missing and actively seeking ways to build them.</p> <p>Jacqui explains, “In the modern-day era that we are in, recognising the potential of technology is vital. If you don’t have anyone nearby, dive into the online world to explore nearby community meetups or virtual events; I assure you, you’ll discover something that aligns with your interests, and you'll find others who are in a similar situation to you,” Jacqui concludes.</p> </div> <div> <p>“Whether you want to relax in a bubble bath, use the holiday season as an opportunity to discover a new hobby or simply spend more time outdoors to connect with nature, remember that these intentional acts of self-investment are gifts to your own well-being. Taking time for yourself is not only a deserved treat but a crucial element of maintaining balance and happiness.”</p> <div title="Page 2"> <p>As the festivities draw near, it’s essential to tune in to your own needs, invest in self-care and actively seek connection, whether with new or pre-existing relations. These steps will not only contribute to your well-being but also serve to enrich and elevate your experience throughout the festive season.</p> <p><strong><em>About Connected Women</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Phoebe Adams is the co-founder of Connected Women, an organisation providing a community for women over 50 to connect and build meaningful friendships. With a rapidly growing community in Perth, Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne and Geelong, Connected Women provides a safe and welcoming space for women to come together and share experiences. To learn more about the organisation and how you can get involved, visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> </div> </div>

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Going home for the holidays? How to navigate conflict and deal with difficult people

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-robles-617248">Jessica Robles</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/loughborough-university-1336">Loughborough University</a></em></p> <p>The holiday season is upon us and for many that means all the tension that comes with it. This time of year can be a minefield of uncomfortable moments, disagreement and outright conflict. It’s no wonder <a href="https://fortune.com/well/2022/12/03/home-for-holidays-family-gatherings-mental-health/">many young people</a> are apprehensive about returning home for the holidays after living far away.</p> <p>There are many reasons interpersonal difficulties can arise over the holidays. Perhaps your aunt doesn’t like what you did with her pie recipe, or your friend’s new partner has unsettling political beliefs. Maybe you haven’t lived at home in a while, but your family still talks to you like you’re the same person you were in school. Maybe you’re bringing your partner to meet your family for the first time, and aren’t sure whether everyone will get along.</p> <p>People have socialised less with friends and family <a href="https://triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/1167">since the pandemic</a>, and may be feeling out of practice. This can be compounded by all the things people can disagree about.</p> <p>Some topics are higher risk for blowups, and best <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781444354119#page=122">avoided</a> in such settings (religion and politics, for starters). Whether it’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-018-9476-2">true or not</a>, there’s a popular perception that tricky subjects are more numerous and divisive than ever. Dare one bring up anything adjacent to Brexit, vaccinations or the cost of living? Even bringing your mobile phone to the dining table could get you in trouble.</p> <p>So what happens if your uncle has too much mulled wine and something slips out that annoys or even horrifies you? Family arguments are a common theme in holiday films, but their scripted resolutions are rarely realistic and not based on <a href="https://repository.lboro.ac.uk/articles/book/Talk_the_science_of_conversation/9476291">empirical research</a>. By considering how these things work in the context of real interactions, we can move from what sounds good in theory to what we can put into practice.</p> <h2>Think before you speak</h2> <p>In real-world situations, <a href="http://pstorage-loughborough-53465.s3.amazonaws.com/21189843/Thesis2019Joyce.pdf">interactions can escalate</a> before you’re even fully aware that they’re happening. You might be able to anticipate why and how an interaction might become a problem. Does alcohol generally lead to arguments in your family? Are your parents usually hypercritical of your new partners? Consider how to avoid problems before they start.</p> <figure>In the moment, you can often spot “clues” that something is about to go awry. Trouble doesn’t usually emerge solely because of one person, but through <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429058011-13/conflict-interaction-phillip-glenn">the back-and-forth between people</a>. Assuming too much about who might be “the difficult one” and why won’t be helpful on its own.</figure> <p>You have to learn to recognise the conversational moves people are making (including your own) and see how <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780126235500500082">other people respond to them</a>. Some facial expressions can express doubt or distrust, and contemptuous expressions (such as <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08351813.2021.1936858">eye-rolling</a>) can signal that a conversation might take a turn toward insult rather than discussion. A response that starts with the word <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216615002465?casa_token=gyu3pjfpGrEAAAAA:VwEe8rVBXvsbF9V_aeYylN42IpKYeZ1BGqp85VoP_rkBQZtEI5AbuqBloiPxgTKfsJjj5VTSvcY">“well”</a> can be warning of incoming disagreement.</p> <p>As you notice what ways of speaking get what kinds of responses, you can be more thoughtful about what you choose to say. Even <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-99094-1_2">changing a single word</a> can shift the direction of a conversation. A common sign that a conversation is starting to escalate unhelpfully is that people begin <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08351813.2020.1826765?casa_token=AIU2DQgEJQUAAAAA%3AGoBBF8SPSXcDmiKBAwaIihjFngE1ck8QiVj0HFZO7VGxi8TtkOf7PB0j5NMV9ufgMN4BwF-dMFA1Gw">commenting on the conversation itself and accusing</a> one another of unreasonable behaviour. Once you learn to be more conscious of that, it can help you reflect on how to respond in ways that might deescalate… if that’s what you want to do.</p> <h2>Why we fight</h2> <p>There is a dilemma here: sometimes backing down from a conflict challenges our values of authenticity and commitment to our beliefs. If someone says something insulting, whether mild or <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216622002120">egregious</a>, it feels disingenuous and morally irresponsible to smooth things over. Some conflict is worth engaging, especially with someone you care about who is willing to listen and think about things. The complication is, that’s not always the case.</p> <p>Often when people argue about something they care about, they end up <a href="https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/handle/2346/16661">misaligned</a> or “talking at cross purposes”, where they’re not really even discussing the same thing anymore. Every conversation has a trajectory, but it’s entirely possible for a conversation to have <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2786745#metadata_info_tab_contents">parallel or divergent trajectories</a>. In such cases, it’s unlikely that any amount of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08351813.2019.1631044">good-faith discussion</a> is actually going to be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216618304302?casa_token=y7CoCCptr6AAAAAA:LCHuB6-BRaH4HPIothLVX_ENhSPlfshapdyvxzk9LjlQa24WJyRM4sXF2_bFp6oiWAfWnsVIoK8">productive</a>.</p> <p>At the end of the day, it’s also worth considering what makes a person or conversation “difficult”. Assigning that word to someone <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2001.tb00234.x?casa_token=g5XfR-FKNLEAAAAA:GFvy6M4CY9IHrE51_NTEJDNgf6bdPqJZPX2Q2KZStBesgv8UIJDj7YTBnVMOSpRCDRWbX-DsmkQFaWQ">is not a neutral or objective</a> statement. Maybe you, in fact, are the “difficult person”. Maybe, for some kinds of conflict, you should want to be difficult. And maybe, sometimes, it’s alright to go outside and let off steam with a snowball fight.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196751/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-robles-617248">Jessica Robles</a>, Lecturer in Social Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/loughborough-university-1336">Loughborough University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/going-home-for-the-holidays-how-to-navigate-conflict-and-deal-with-difficult-people-196751">original article</a>.</em></p>

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It’s beginning to look a lot like burnout. How to take care of yourself before the holidays start

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sophie-scott-1462197">Sophie Scott</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gordon-parker-94386">Gordon Parker</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>It’s getting towards the time of the year when you might feel more overwhelmed than usual. There are work projects to finish and perhaps exams in the family. Not to mention the pressures of organising holidays or gifts. Burnout is a real possibility.</p> <p>Burnout is defined by the <a href="https://www.who.int/standards/classifications/frequently-asked-questions/burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon#:%7E:text=Burn%2Dout%20is%20defined%20in,has%20not%20been%20successfully%20managed.">World Health Organization</a> (WHO) as having three main symptoms – exhaustion, loss of empathy and reduced performance at work.</p> <p>Australian <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34052460/">research</a> argues for a broader model, particularly as the WHO’s third symptom may simply be a consequence of the first two.</p> <p>So what is burnout really? And how can you avoid it before the holidays hit?</p> <h2>More than being really tired</h2> <p>The Australian research model endorsed exhaustion as the primary burnout symptom but emphasised burnout should not be simply equated with exhaustion.</p> <p>The second symptom is loss of empathy (or “compassion fatigue”), which can also be experienced as uncharacteristic cynicism or a general loss of feeling. Nothing much provides pleasure and <em>joie de vivre</em> is only a memory.</p> <p>The third symptom (cognitive impairment) means sufferers find it <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-13/gordon-parker-says-the-burnout-definition-needs-to-broaden/101920366">difficult to focus</a> and retain information when reading. They tend to scan material – with some women reporting it as akin to “baby brain”.</p> <p>Research <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34052460/">suggests</a> a fourth symptom: insularity. When someone is burnt out, they tend to keep to themselves, not only socialising less but also obtaining little pleasure from interactions.</p> <p>A potential fifth key feature is an unsettled mood.</p> <p>And despite feeling exhausted, most individuals report insomnia when they’re burnt out. In severe cases, immune functioning can be compromised (so that the person may report an increase in infections), blood pressure may drop and it may be difficult or impossible to get out of bed.</p> <p>Predictably, such features (especially exhaustion and cognitive impairment) do lead to compromised work performance.</p> <p>Defining burnout is important, as rates have <a href="https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/420608/Burnout_Fatigue_Exhaustion.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">increased</a> in the last few decades.</p> <h2>‘Tis the season</h2> <p>For many, the demands of the holidays cause exhaustion and risk burnout. People might feel compelled to shop, cook, entertain and socialise more than at other times of year. While burnout was initially defined in those in formal employment, we now recognise the same pattern can be experienced by those meeting the needs of children and/or elderly parents – with such needs typically increasing over Christmas.</p> <p>Burnout is generally viewed according to a simple stress-response model. Excessive demands lead to burnout, without the individual bringing anything of themselves to its onset and development. But the Australian <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34052460/">research</a> has identified a richer model and emphasised how much personality contributes.</p> <p>Formal carers, be they health workers, teachers, veterinarians and clergy or parents – are <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003333722/burnout-gordon-parker-gabriela-tavella-kerrie-eyers">more likely</a> to experience burnout. But some other professional groups – such as lawyers – are also at high risk.</p> <p>In essence, “good” people - who are dutiful, diligent, reliable, conscientious and perfectionistic (either by nature or work nurture) – are at the <a href="https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Abstract/2020/06000/A_Qualitative_Reexamination_of_the_Key_Features_of.4.aspx">greatest risk</a> of burnout.</p> <h2>6 tips for avoiding seasonal burnout</h2> <p>You may not be able to change your personality, but you can change the way you allow it to “shape” activities. Prioritising, avoiding procrastination, decluttering and focusing on the “big picture” are all good things to keep in mind.</p> <p>Managing your time helps you regain a sense of control, enhances your efficiency, and reduces the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities.</p> <p><strong>1. Prioritise tasks</strong></p> <p>Rank tasks based on urgency and importance. The Eisenhower Matrix, <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/7-Habits-Highly-Effective-People/dp/0743269519">popularised</a> by author Stephen R Covey, puts jobs into one of four categories:</p> <ul> <li> <p>urgent and important</p> </li> <li> <p>important but not urgent</p> </li> <li> <p>urgent but not important</p> </li> <li> <p>neither urgent nor important.</p> </li> </ul> <p>This helps you see what needs to be top priority and helps overcome the illusion that everything is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10159458/">urgent</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Set realistic goals</strong></p> <p>Break down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks to be achieved each day, week, or month – to prevent feeling overwhelmed. This could mean writing a gift list in a day or shopping for a festive meal over a week. Use tools such as calendars, planners or digital apps to schedule tasks, deadlines and appointments.</p> <p><strong>3. Manage distractions</strong></p> <p>Minimise <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2023-66900-001">distractions</a> that hinder productivity and time management. <a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/691462">Research</a> finds people complete cognitive tasks better with their phones in another room rather than in their pockets. People with phones on their desks performed the worst.</p> <p>Setting specific work hours and website blockers can limit distractions.</p> <p><strong>4. Chunk your time</strong></p> <p>Group similar tasks together and allocate specific time blocks to focus on them. For example, respond to all outstanding emails in one stint, rather than writing one, then task-switching to making a phone call.</p> <p>This approach <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075496/">increases efficiency</a> and reduces the time spent transitioning between different activities.</p> <p><strong>5. Take breaks</strong></p> <p>A <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2022-90592-001">2022 systematic review</a> of workplace breaks found taking breaks throughout the day improves focus, wellbeing and helps get more work done.</p> <p><strong>6. Delegate</strong></p> <p>Whether at home or work, you don’t have to do it all! Identify tasks that can be effectively delegated to others or automated.</p> <p>To finish the year feeling good, try putting one or more of these techniques into practice and prepare for a restful break.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216175/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sophie-scott-1462197"><em>Sophie Scott</em></a><em>, Associate Professor (Adjunct), Science Communication, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gordon-parker-94386">Gordon Parker</a>, Scientia Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-burnout-how-to-take-care-of-yourself-before-the-holidays-start-216175">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Sir Richard Branson shocks 150 Virgin passengers with free $7000 cruises

<p>Sir Richard Branson has shocked passengers onboard a domestic flight by gifting all travellers a free cruise. </p> <p>There were 150 passengers onboard a flight from Melbourne to Hobart when the Virgin Group founder dialled in via FaceTime to share the exciting news. </p> <p>Speaking over the PA system, Branson told travellers of the arrival of Virgin Voyages' in Australia, with those onboard making the same trip as the upcoming maiden voyage from Melbourne to Hobart on December 11th. </p> <p>“We’re counting down to Virgin Voyages’ arrival Down Under – setting sail the Virgin way with adults-only itineraries across Australia and New Zealand. Sorry kids, you’ll have to sit this one out,” Branson told passengers.</p> <p>“Well, today, you happen to be travelling on the same route as our Aussie Mermaiden Voyage."</p> <p>Branson then shared the exciting news that those onboard the flight would be receiving an incredible gift. </p> <p>“To celebrate this milestone, I’m pleased to gift each adult on board a free Virgin Voyages cruise,” he said.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CzspCI4LyMA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CzspCI4LyMA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Virgin Australia (@virginaustralia)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Each person was gifted a $7,000 cruise voucher to claim on a Virgin Voyages trip anywhere around Australia. </p> <p>Branson continued speaking to those onboard the flight, saying, “The foundations of Virgin Australia were about keeping the air fair and we’re proud to be taking that same mantra to the sea with Virgin Voyages.”</p> <p>He said he wanted to give Aussies the opportunity to have an “affordable, stress-free holiday” where they could take a well-earned break, have fun and get a dose of vitamin sea.</p> <p>A Virgin Australia spokesperson told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/flights/richard-branson-gifts-virgin-passengers-on-a-domestic-flight-a-free-cruise/news-story/57421f325fcffd5634d554c75aedaf5f" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a> the feeling on-board was “electric” with passengers left stunned.</p> <p>“We are committed to creating wonderful moments on-board so it was a real pleasure to see so many surprised faces when Sir Richard finally made the announcement all guests had won a free cruise,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“The operating crew were in on the secret and stayed tight-lipped until Sir Richard’s call came through.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Courtesy of Virgin Australia</em></p>

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