Your travel questions answered

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Question:

It’s a long time since travelled and previously used Travellers cheques. How do these new cards work when you need multiple currencies?

Sandra, Waipukurau

House of Travel suggests that you give plenty of thought to and work out a budget for the money you will need for your holiday. It is recommended that you do not carry large amounts of cash with you. There are options for your money needs including the MasterCard® Multi-currency Cash Passport™ which House of Travel recommends. It is secure, convenient, reloadable and can be used as a point of sale card.

The Multi-currency Cash Passport™ is a prepaid travel money card available in nine foreign currencies. By using a Multi-currency Cash Passport™ you have a choice of New Zealand dollars, Australian dollars, Euros, US dollars, British Pounds, Japanese Yen, Canadian dollars, Hong Kong dollars and Singapore dollars all loaded on ONE prepaid travel card.

Your Multi-currency Cash Passport™ is a convenient way for you to take multiple currencies in spending money overseas, enabling you to easily manage your money while away from home. You can use it online or pay directly for goods and services at millions of shops, restaurants, hotels that accept MasterCard® worldwide or withdraw local currency from any 1.9m ATMs displaying the MasterCard® acceptance mark.

Here’s how it works. Call into any House of Travel store and they can provide you with a Multi-currency Cash Passport™ card and help you load the card in New Zealand dollars. You determine the currencies and sum in each currency you require. Your New Zealand dollars are then converted into the selected foreign currencies at the foreign currency exchange rates applicable at the time of loading. This way you lock in the foreign currency exchange rate and know the exact amount of foreign currency you have to spend in that country.

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715.

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Question:

Is Papua New Guinea safe to travel in?

Margaret, Dunedin

Papua New Guinea has a long history of being a difficult country to travel in and would refer you to the New Zealand governments Safe Travel website for the complete details. However, there are ways of exploring this admittedly fascinating country in a more secure fashion by land and ship. While there are some larger cruise lines available, small cruise ships like the Coral Discoverer or Spirit of Enderby would provide the experience I believe you would enjoy visiting remote areas you will normally associate with Discovery Channel documentaries. The Spirit of Enderby’s ‘Papua New Guinea Discoverer’ next journeys from Madang in October next year finishing in Honiara. En route you will visit the fascinating Sepik River area, Mussau Island, snorkel off the coast of New Ireland, and visit the volcanoes of Rabaul. Nissan Island will be of interest to World War 2 history buffs as the New Zealand third Division landed here in 1944 in an attempt to isolate Japanese forces at Rabaul. Today you can take in the rich scenery and marine life associated with a Pacific atoll. Bougainville Island is the last stop in Papua New Guinea on the cruise before entering the Solomon Islands. If you are intrepid enough to spend your time on land then I strongly suggest you stick with a recognised tour operator which the team at House of Travel Dunedin will only be too happy to arrange for you.

Tony Boomer
Retail Manager, House of Travel Dunedin

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715.

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Question:

My husband and I are looking at visiting some of the Pacific Islands next year. Is it easy to Island hop by airlines or would taking a cruise be a better option?

Raewyn, Queenstown

A holiday exploring the warmth of the Pacific Islands sounds like a fantastic idea to escape our cold winter. Island hopping by air is limited by a lack of direct connections between islands and isn’t the most cost effective option. A cruise is a great value for money option as your accommodation, meals and transport are sorted. I would suggest taking a cruise around the islands, it is a relaxing way to see a variety of different destinations and is a floating hotel so you will only need to unpack once. They are great value and there are a number of cruise options to choose from varying in level of comfort, inclusions and itineraries. The optional sightseeing tours they offer will also enhance and enrich your holiday experiences. If you like the sound of an intimate, small ship cruise hugging the coastline there are some wonderful options to consider that will enable you to explore and get very close to small islands and bays that the larger ships do not have access to unless by tender. There are some really nice itineraries that can be experienced in Fiji and Tahiti. The larger cruise offer a range of on board facilities and entertainment combined with interesting itineraries. These are particularly popular with families in this region because they are such good value. There are a number of itineraries to choose from departing from either Auckland, Brisbane or Sydney and generally range between 7 – 15 nights. By taking a cruise, you really can relax, be pampered and enjoy the warm and welcoming local cultures that the Pacific Islands are known for.

Paul Reid
Travel Consultant, House of Travel Dunedin

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715.

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Question:

Best way to plan a trip to see Niagara Falls?

Debra, Auckland

Niagara Falls is a must-see and amazing natural wonder! There is a saying that in Canada you can see the falls but in New York you can feel the falls, referring to the ‘Cave of the Winds’. Both sides have pluses and minuses but either side provides a great experience. Do keep in mind that when you travel to Niagara Falls, you might need a visa to cross the border to USA from Canada or vice versa.

It is possible to have accommodation overlooking Niagara Falls, which is spectacular and provides a very nice view during firework displays on Friday and Saturday evenings during summer. A great thing to experience is to take a boat ride to get up close and feel the water. Niagara Falls site is open all year round, however, the busiest months are during summer – from May/June until September. I would recommend going either side of the season to avoid the huge crowds either during early May or September, it is also an exquisite destination in winter, but freezing.

Come by House of Travel Ponsonby and we can help you plan a wonderful Niagara Falls itinerary.

Ophelie Daireaux
Travel Consultant, House of Travel Ponsonby

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715.

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Question:

We are contemplating a UK campervan holiday next year (June). Can you recommend any particular rental companies or travel companies which specialise in co-ordinating these? 

Eileen, Takapuna

House of Travel works closely with three camper companies that we can highly recommend, Just Go, Bunk and Anyway Campers. It is important to note that campers in the UK are really limited on the pick-up and drop-off locations, the two main places are London and Edinburgh so we could work with you to design your trip around these points.

We’d love for you to come in-store to House of Travel Takapuna so we have a chat about the places you really want to see and the length of time you want to travel, that way we can craft the best UK campervan trip with you.

Andy Thompson
Owner Operator, House of Travel Takapuna

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715.

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Question:

“I’d like to know more about a volunteer holiday in Vietnam”

Signe, Wellington

More and more people are wanting to make travel meaningful by giving back to local communities and supporting responsible tourism. An overseas volunteer experience is the perfect option for those wishing to head away but not as a tourist, instead they want to be part of a project that provides real opportunities to embrace the culture and work alongside locals. It is a great feeling to be part of a project that is making a real difference in communities that very much need your help

In Vietnam there are volunteer programmes available through a number of different organisations.  Most volunteer programmes are open to all ages and where you choose to volunteer depends on the projects available and the location that feels right for you. There are certain programmes that are tailored to suit specific age groups and specific skills that volunteers may have.

An option in Vietnam is VOLUNTOURS which combines travel and volunteering.  This is a great option for those wanting to give back to the community and discover an amazing destination. A VOLUNTOUR holiday in Vietnam could consist of staying in Ho Chi Minh city where you will immerse yourself in their vibrant culture working with locals and helping communities in need. You will get to see the mysterious Mekong Delta and the Sand Dunes of Mui Ne and experience a home-cooked meal with a local family.

Catherine Plimmer
Destination Experience Specialist, House of Travel on Hunter Street (Wellington CBD)

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715

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Question:

“I am interested in going to Sri Lanka and want to know more about the best places to stay, eat, and see?”
Jennifer, Auckland  

Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination all year round, I’d recommend visiting the South West Coast region between October – April and the East Coast from May – September. Sri Lanka offers amazing culture, history, nature, wildlife, cuisine and beaches.

Stay at the Geoffrey Bawa properties spread throughout Sri Lanka to get a unique experience which combines the islands architectural heritage with natural landscapes – Heritance Kandalama,  Kandy House, Lighthouse Hotel, The Villa Bentota , Lunuganga just to name a few. The 98 Acres Resort in Nuwara Eliya is another
hidden gem surrounded by a tea estate up in the hillside.

There are so many things to see and do while in Sri Lanka, a few top picks include: Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Anuradhapura Ancient Capital, Sacred Tooth Relic a Buddhist temple in Kandy, tea plucking and blending in Nuwara Eliya, Yala National Park and a river safari in Bentota.

You can’t go past delicious, local Sri Lankan cuisine! Ministry of Crab at the Dutch Hospital shopping precinct in Colombo is well-known for seafood – make sure you try a fish curry. Kottu, isso vadai and hoppers are popular street eats and traditional samosas, fish rolls and vegetable roti will have your taste buds tingling.

 Vanessa Noronha
Travel Consultant, House of Travel New Lynn

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715

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Question:

“We are interested in doing a Canada/Alaska trip but don’t want to do it on a large cruise boat. We want to do day trips out to see whales, wildlife and glaciers or maybe a shorter trip on a smaller cruise boat. We would like to include the rail trip through the mountains. We would be looking at a trip of around 2 weeks and would rather keep the costs down and stay in a bit lower rated accommodation. There will be either two or four people but not couples – friends.”
Brenda, Wellington

If you’re looking for a cruise experience where you can get up close and personal with glaciers and wildlife – look no further than Uncruise. They have some lovely 7-day itineraries around Alaska that can get right up into the Inside Passage where larger ships cannot get to. On Uncruise you’ll be rewarded with the intimate experience of a smaller ship – and you can even kayak off the back of the boat!

The most iconic train journey through the Rockies is on the Rocky Mountaineer but another popular option is to pick up a car in Vancouver and self-drive, this gives you flexibility to stop where you want and take in the sights at your own pace. You can also choose your own accommodation which can be anything from 3-star motels to rustic log cabins.

If you’ve got your heart set on a train journey and getting behind the wheel isn’t your idea of a relaxing holiday, another recommendation is Via Rail from Vancouver, then picking up a car for the last leg – as there are limited options for public transport in the Rockies.

Another great stress-free idea is an organised coach tour which is fantastic for seeing the dramatic wilderness and alpine lakes from a comfortable seat.

Rebecca Keegan
Manager, House of Travel Featherston Street (Wellington)

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715

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Question:

I’ve just retired and am thinking of going overseas in the next couple of years. Because I’ll be travelling alone I’m thinking of an over 50’s-type escorted tour, perhaps around Europe or America but with my own room. Most prices are for twin share – single accommodation is a lot more expensive, but I don’t wish to share sleeping arrangements with someone else. Is there such a thing as a tour for singles with their own accommodation?
Sue, Christchurch

 

Congratulations on your retirement! Now is the time to kick back and enjoy planning your travel adventures. Many touring companies offer deals for single travellers which reduces the surcharge so it pays to ask the question when you are in store and keep your eye out for HOT deals. Below are some amazing tour options to help with your planning.

An Avalon river cruise is a highly recommended guided holiday and a trip from Budapest to Prague is a must-do. A river cruise is ideal for a slow paced holiday where you’ll cruise along and see how the locals live. After spending the night onboard, you’ll dock early in the morning and spend the day visiting the local attractions. A guide is with you all times so you won’t get lost, but there is also lots of free time to stroll around at your own pace. All your meals and most sightseeing activities are included in the total cost which means one less thing for you to think about while on holiday.

Another great option is a Globus Tour. These tours are very well organised and allow you to experience the best of Europe via a deluxe coach – with extra legroom! Italy is a fantastic destination to visit and should be at the top of your list. The Italian way of life is fabulous with lots of wine, pasta and pizza – all set within lovely little villages.

A cruise through Alaska is another option worth considering. There are so many stunning tours from Vancouver up to Fairbanks where you’ll get to see the wildlife of this amazing country.

Sandy Connolly
Senior Travel Consultant, House of Travel Merivale

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more or call 0800 713 715

Our HOT “travel nuts” want to hear from you!
Do you have a travel-related query or question that you’d like answered? Simply fill out the form below for free expert travel advice from HOT (answers will be published over the coming weeks on GrownUps):

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