Australia: The Journey to the Land Down Under

By Melanie Nayer

Sydney Harbour Opera HouseAmelia Earhart once said, “Anticipation, I suppose, sometimes exceeds realization.” There are some destinations around the world that inspire and intrigue single women travelers; they invite adventures of the unknown. Australia is one of those destinations.

My travels have taken me throughout the United States and most of Europe, including recent trips to Rome and Paris, but Australia is the virgin destination on my list of cities to explore. It’s time to cuddle up down under and see what all the hype is about.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous city-icons in the world, but what does it really look like up close? Are fears really conquered when one climbs the Harbour Bridge? Are Koala Bears as cute and cuddly as they seem? Do Tasmanian devils really exist? Where, exactly, is the outback? What is a zorb? Who eats lillie-pillies and tinnies? Does water really flow in the other direction when you’re on the other side of the world?

Here’s how it all went down:

I’ve been touting cheap flights and travel deals for months now but when a recent travel deal crossed my crowded desk, I couldn’t pass it up.

Date of travel: Feb 2010, Australia’s summer and peak-travel season

VA-inflightmoodFlights: Flights ranged from $1,000-$1,400 round-trip to Sydney. (Comparison: Flights to Australia a year ago during Australia’s summer months went for $2,500-$4,000 round-trip). I opted to book with the Virgin family: Virgin America and V Australia. It seemed logical that my virgin trip to Australia came courtesy of Virgin Airlines, and truth be told, the price was perfect. For $1,147, I’ll be sitting 35,000-feet up over the Pacific and completely wired in to the rest of the world, thanks to Virgin’s in-flight Internet access.

pic_stacysmallHotels: I enlisted my good friend and travel agent extraordinaire Stacy Small, president of Elite Travel International, to find me the perfect Sydney hotel.

Important lesson for single women travelers: If you’re traveling to a new destination, it’s good practice to talk with someone who has visited the city/country to help plan your travel. Travel writers and professionals will always offer you insider information and best ways to find the the hidden gems in new places. Working with travel agents can help ‘fit’ you to your vacation – from price to personality.

As a single woman on her first trip to Australia, I tasked Stacy (who has visited Sydney before) to find me a hotel that meets my interests and requirements: woman-friendly, close to attractions, fun and funky. Stacy booked me at the Orient-Express Hotel The Observatory, a renovated mansion on the rocks that caters to the single minded woman.

Things to do: The list is still being developed.

I receive questions daily from women travelers who are hesitant to try out new places for fear of the unknown, and from those veteran travelers who are just looking for tips to making the most of their upcoming trip. This trip to Australia will help everyone.

If you’ve been to Australia before, send me your must-dos and must-sees. If you’ve never been and always wanted to go, bookmark this page and check back weekly. I’ll be posting about everything from new luggage to in-flight food to my first impressions of Sydney after the 20-hour flight around the world.

Thanks to the great minds at Virgin, come February I’ll be bringing you scenes from the airport, broadcasting live from the plane and interviewing flight attendants and personnel on the ground. I’ll be posting live video and commentary from the flight and from Sydney. Come along for the trip… from flight to finish…

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