The Clever Travel Companion Updates

Your guide to Australia for solo female travellers April 25 2018, 0 Comments

Life "down under" has proven exceptionally popular with single female travellers, due largely to Australia's travelling culture. Backpacking across Australia is guaranteed to offer memories that will last a lifetime, with a party-like atmosphere along the Gold Coast and friendly locals all around the country. If you’re a first-time solo traveller, it’s a great place to start given that everyone speaks English and the supply of hotels and hostels is unsurpassed by so many other travelling destinations around the world. So, whether you’re thinking of taking a gap year after university or a much needed sabbatical from work, here are some top tips for ladies upping sticks and backpacking solo to Australia.

Safe places to visit in Australia

The best place for female solo travellers to start in Australia is the Gold Coast. It’s full of like-minded solo travellers and surfer dudes and there’s a friendly, party atmosphere day in, day out. The Great Barrier Reef is situated close to Queensland’s Gold Coast too, and it is the largest living thing on Earth. Head further south to the state of Victoria and you’ll discover the city of Melbourne, with its fabulous fashion boutiques, sporting events and laid-back café culture ideal for dipping your toes into life in Australia. New South Wales has a great mix of culture and entertainment, with vibrant Sydney and the country’s understated capital, Canberra both located here. The state’s beaches are particularly popular too, with Bondi enjoying a great reputation among solo travellers and the surfing fraternity.

Transport around Australia

Ultimately, how you move from place to place in Australia depends on how long you’re planning on staying for. If you’re spending several months down under, the Greyhound bus network offers cost-effective connections by road. A great way to experience the variety of Australia’s landscape is to travel by train, with everything from contemporary tilt trains to The legendary Ghan covering much of the country by rail. There are sleeper trains you can take to move between cities overnight and enjoy your own privacy with a one-person cabin. Of course, there are plenty of internal flights between cities if your time here is rather more limited.

Cheap eats on the move

There is no longer any stigma attached to solo dining. Dining options for one are extremely commonplace now throughout the country. From Tasmania to Adelaide, there are plenty of restaurants that offer single-seat dining and concepts such as half serves, allowing you to enjoy more than one plate of food on your own. Of course, whether you want delicious fresh seafood, barbecued Aussie favourites, a wholesome plate of paella or a spicy offering of Mexican cuisine that’s currently growing in popularity throughout Australia, it’s possible to get orders delivered from restaurants to your accommodation, without having to leave the confines of your bedroom, by placing orders on your smartphone or tablet with specialised apps like Deliveroo.

Unique and reviewed accommodation

Speaking of accommodation, Australia boasts an unrivalled choice of places for solo female travellers to stay. is a good starting point for bog-standard hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that are importantly safe and reputable. However, Airbnb and Homestay gives solo travellers a unique opportunity to sample family life with reviewed and rated hosts in places such as beautiful beachfront townhouses to revamped tour buses in Byron Bay that you simply can’t put a price on.

On the whole, Australia is a fun, vibrant, safe and multi-faceted place to explore. Its comparatively low crime rate means it is no less safe than many other popular traveller pit-stops. With a little common sense and a bucketload of get-up-and-go, you’ll enjoy everything Australia has to throw at you.

20 Top Vacation Spots for Retirees March 21 2018, 0 Comments

Planning a vacation during retirement can be a daunting task. After all, you have 52 weeks a year to choose from instead of just two or three. But high prices in tourist hot spots will take a huge bite out of your vacation budget, limiting the time you can spend traveling.

Get off the beaten track and explore quaint destinations around the globe. Mild weather, fewer crowds and more value for your dollar are just a few reasons these places should take a top spot on your travel bucket list. Get ready to plan the ideal vacation for retirement that won't bust your budget.

1. San Jose, Costa Rica

Flight: $340

Hotel: $42

Things to do: San Jose makes an ideal hub to venture out for your Costa Rica vacation, and it's perfect for budget-friendly senior travel. Browse through rare pre-Columbian artifacts at the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and Jade Museum in downtown. Or explore niche shops, restaurants and nightlife just west of the city in Escazu. Venture outside the city on day trips leading to sparkling beaches, volcanoes, rain forests and nature reserves.

2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Flight: $838

Hotel: $35

Things to do: With a climate similar to that of San Diego, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is an ideal place to visit any time of year. Dolphins and whales seem to think so, too — 21 species of the mammals live near the island, including bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. Explore the island's Spanish architecture dating to the 1500s, relax on a sandy beach or head out to one of 43 protected nature areas. At night, gaze at a billion stars in a sky free from light and air pollution.

3. Faro, Portugal

Flight: $1,151

Hotel: $116

Things to do: Tucked along the southern shoreline of the Algarve region in Portugal, Faro has a distinct Portuguese flavor. Outdoor cafes, tidy parks and plazas, pedestrian pathways and well-maintained historic buildings make Faro perfect for senior travel. Take a bird-watching hike or paddle a kayak in the Ria Formosa Natural Park on the eastern side of the city. Or poke around town, visiting medieval structures, fascinating museums or relaxing spas.

4. Mississippi Gulf Coast

Flight: $597

Hotel: $89

Things to do: Mississippi tops the list of U.S. places where your money goes the furthest, according to a survey released in 2016 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Relax on 26 miles of beach, play a round of golf or see how Lady Luck treats you at one of 12 casinos. Explore natural wonders like Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve or the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

5. Valletta, Malta

Flight: $962

Hotel: $92

Things to do: Valletta, Malta, is the official 2018 European Capital of Culture, a yearly title to highlight Europe's rich diversity. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was one of three cities in Malta built by the Knights of St. John in the 1500s. Its Old World bastions and forts blend seamlessly with the modern capital city, offering up culture and convenience.

6. Elefsina, Greece

Flight: $920

Hotel: $78

Things to do: Tucked between hills and the Mediterranean Sea, Elefsina is a not-to-be-missed hotbed of Greek culture. Just 30 minutes west of Athens, the city is the 2021 European Capital of Culture. Explore archaeological sites, sunbathe on the beach or head out into nature at nearby lakes, forests and mountains.

7. Kingsport, Tenn.

Flight: $538

Hotel: $103

Things to do: Tucked in the Appalachian Mountains, the small city of Kingsport rolls out big adventure. Howl with the wolves at Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium, or explore the past through living history at Exchange Place. Live your dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, and visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

8. Fort Wayne, Ind.

Flight: $357

Hotel: $107

Things to do: Research your family history at Fort Wayne's Genealogy Center, the nation's largest public ancestry facility, and explore its collection of over 961,726 items. Take a break to stop and smell the flowers at the indoor and outdoor gardens at the Botanical Conservatory. Delight your eyes at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, or put on your hiking shoes to explore 95 miles of trails in and around the city.

9. Santa Fe, N.M.

Flight: $333

Hotel: $175

Things to do: Santa Fe style applies to everything from architecture to food, but the city is famous for its art galleries set against a backdrop of mountain vistas. Meander through Sante Fe's 250 galleries and head out to 19 museums that include the Museum of International Folk Art and Palace of the Governors.

Immerse yourself in the Santa Fe cuisine, rich in chili peppers, meat, cheese and beans. Work off the rich fare with a trip outdoors. The Santa Fe National Forest rolls out places to hike, horseback ride, raft, fish and golf.

10. North Beach, Miami Beach, Fla.

Flight: $188

Hotel: $106

Things to do: Miami's South Beach might be the hot spot for college kids, but you'll enjoy more refined senior travel in North Beach. Check out a concert at the historic North Beach Bandshell, or go on a picnic and scenic hike at Open Space Park. North Beach is also the scene of New World Center, home to the New World Symphony. Miami Beach is a convenient place to begin and end your vacation if you're planning to go on a cruise in retirement.

11. Puno, Peru

Flight: $827

Hotel: $28

Things to do: Puno is nestled into the western shore of Lake Titicaca, South America's largest lake. But there's more than just beautiful scenery and boat rides. Puno is the folklore capital of Peru, and you can enjoy colorful folk festivals throughout the year.

Meet the Uros people, who live on floating islands crafted from the lake's reeds, and ride in a reed boat. Immerse yourself in the culture at the weekend farmers market, where you'll discover 3,000 potato varieties, crafts, veggies, fruits and grains.

12. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Flight: $853

Hotel: $27

Things to do: Immerse yourself in ancient culture in Plovdiv, one of the oldest living cities in the world. Peel back layers of history in the town, which dates back to 4,000 B.C. Visit an old Roman amphitheater on a cliff overlooking the city, or marvel at quirky asymmetrical homes that seem to defy both time and gravity.

Get lost in the Kapana neighborhood's maze of streets. The labyrinth of cobblestone streets literally translates to "the trap." Filled with colorful art galleries, street art, galleries and eateries, you might not care to find your way out.

13. Beaufort, S.C.

Flight: $620

Hotel: $170

Things to do: This charming town could be a great choice for a last-minute getaway. Stroll along the Intracoastal Waterway and Beaufort River at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort. The park is an ideal place to slow down your pace as you breathe in the sea breeze and relax under the canopy of shade trees.

Visit antebellum mansions in the downtown historic district, and browse through the John Mark Verdier House Museum to see relics from the early 1800s. Take a day trip to Hilton Head or Hunting Island for a relaxing beachside getaway.

14. Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Flight: $2,130

Hotel: $73

Things to do: Check out the colorful fish and other sea life at the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is the gateway to this underwater wonderland. If you're not up to snorkeling, don't worry. You can see the reef without ever getting wet. Submersible platforms and submarines let you enjoy underwater viewing without having to struggle into a wet suit.

There's more to see nearby: Check out the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, hike in Daintree National Park or encounter crocodiles and koalas at Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.

15. Havana, Cuba

Flight: $301

Hotel: $138

Things to do: You might feel like you stepped back in time when you visit Havana. Spanish colonial architecture dates to the 16th century, and 1950s American cars rumble along the streets. The city's culture is its heartbeat, however.

Check out cabaret at the Tropicana or watch ballet and theater at the Gran Teatro. Stroll through the luxurious former presidential palace when you visit the Museo de la Revolucion. The museum documents the revolution chronologically from its top floor down.

16. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Flight: $2,267

Hotel: $75

Things to do: Tucked in the Tuul River valley against the Bogd Khan Uul National Park, Ulaanbaatar's meld of culture will pack your vacation with plenty to see and do. Spend your days browsing through monasteries and palaces turned into museums, or marvel at panoramic views from Zaisan Hill. Hike into Gorkhi Terelj National Park, or take a horse or camel trek. You can even visit a ger encampment to see how people survive on the windswept steppes.

17. Rijeka, Croatia

Flight: $1,554

Hotel: $96

Things to do: Rich in culture, Rijeka is much more than just a gateway to the Croatian islands. Explore centuries-old castles and cathedrals, or meander through the 19th-century Governor's Palace to browse through the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral. Wander the seaside promenade connecting beaches along the city's western edge, or take a hike in the green hills that back the city.

18. Cebu City, Philippines

Flight: $1,034

Hotel: $23

Things to do: Tucked between mountains and sea, Cebu City rolls out a smorgasbord of vacation adventures without busting your budget. Head for its white beaches, or hike to panoramic vistas in the mountains. Visit the Temple of Leah — what appears to be an ancient Roman temple was actually constructed in 2012 as a testament of love. You'll find a 16th-century cathedral, Taoist temple and shrines testifying to the rich, diverse culture of the city.

19. La Paz, Bolivia

Flight: $651

Hotel: $50

Things to do: Cradled in a mountain valley at 10,500 to 13,500 feet in elevation, La Paz rolls out rugged beauty and cosmopolitan flair. Get around the city on the highest urban cable car system in the world, and catch breathtaking views on a ride down to Zona Sur, a city steeped in European flair. Shop for potions and talismans at the Witches' Market, or marvel at clay and sandstone spires at Valley de la Luna

20. Mandalay, Myanmar

Flight: $1,059

Hotel: $141

Things to do: Visit the royal city of Mandalay and discover rich Bamar culture among the city's hustle and bustle. Teak monasteries, pagodas, tea houses and street food add to its charm. Shop for local crafts and fresh food in Zegyo Market, which dates to the city's beginnings. Ascend a covered stairway to get a 360-degree view from the top of Mandalay Hill, and visit the enormous palace presides over the city.

The following prices are based on round-trip travel from New York City, from July 1 through July 7, 2017, using rates through GoSeek and JustFly.

10 More Retirement Travel Tips March 05 2018, 0 Comments

1. Consider Timeshares

Some timeshare companies will offer prospective buyers a free stay at their property in exchange for sitting through a sales pitch presentation. Beware of this option, though. Even people with nerves of steel sometimes have a tough time walking away without signing up.

2. Rent an RV

After the initial investment, a recreational vehicle (RV) offers an excellent way to travel to scenic mountain, beach and other outdoor destinations without airfare, hotel costs or big restaurant bills. If buying an RV isn't in your budget, consider renting one through a local RV outfit or a national site such as Cruise America.

3. Downsize Your Belongings

One way to raise cash for travel is to thoroughly downsize your belongings. Now that you have time, go through everything you own and consider how many possessions you actually need. Put the rejects on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or hold a good, old-fashioned garage sale or yard sale at your home. Put the cash you raise toward future travel.

4. Use Rewards Credit Cards

It can be tough to keep track of which credit cards to use to maximize points that can be redeemed toward travel, but with more free time in retirement, you can research ways to maximize your cards for travel rewards such as free hotel stays and flights. A caution: Since travel credit cards tend to have above-average interest rates on purchases, carrying a balance could cost you more than any travel rewards you earn.

5. Consider a Home Swap

Now that you're the boss of your schedule, you can be flexible around the schedule of people who might want to swap homes in areas you'd like to visit. Check out home-swap websites such as Home Exchange, where you can begin the conversation with someone who might like to stay in your home and you stay in theirs.

6. Take Advantage of Free Days

Many museums and other cultural institutions have select days of the week or month when they're open to the public for free. Call and ask if they have retirement discounts, too. 

7. Be Flexible With Flight Dates

Since you don't have to be back home by any certain date, always search for flexible flight dates. You might be able to save hundreds on the same route by being willing to stay an extra night or two or to leave home a few days earlier. By being flexible, you can save a lot of money and stay immune to travel mistakes.

8. Travel Spontaneously

It probably was difficult to get time off work at the last minute, but without that as a consideration, retirees can save significant money on travel by being on the lookout for last-minute travel deals and specials through airline websites or discount travel sites. A number of apps, such as HotelTonight, make it easy to find such specials.

9. Use Coupons

You might not have had time to search for coupons and online deals when you were working, but now that you have more free time, you can properly look for coupons and discounts for any destination you're thinking of booking. You can use a site such as Groupon to find discounts and ideas for activities you're interested in once you've reached your destination.

10. Do Some Research

Spend a few hours or even a day at home planning your trip and your daily activities online. If you're headed toward a tourist area, the tourism board there will have a website that lists popular attractions and discounts.