Wednesday, 5 June 2013

6 Top Tips for a Mini Vacation

One of the many joys of being retired is the ability to be flexible with most travel arrangements you need to make

  • where you go
  • when you go
  • how you get there
  • how long you stay - all the while being mindful of your budget.

John and I love car travel, and regularly travel from Adelaide to Melbourne and back to visit our son and his family, spoil our youngest grandson for a few days, go to the AFL football and do a spot of shopping in Australia's fashion capital!

While we worked this trip was always rushed, so for our most recent trip we decided to turn the drive into a mini, budget friendly vacation - an overnight stay somewhere along the way. Of the many possibilities our chosen destination this time was beautiful Hall's Gap tucked away in the Grampians National Park, a favourite place we've visited a number of times before.

We took the road that winds through the picturesque Wartook Valley. In the late afternoon light photo opportunities abounded. Mountain views, mobs of kangaroos and old derelict buildings wreaking of history gave me, a learner photographer, scope for numerous great shots. Well, a few good shots and lots of snaps - like I said - I'm a novice at this photography business!

Tip 1

  • Take a camera and experience a whole new view of the world. You really do look differently at familiar landscapes when you have a camera in your hand. Through the lens even familiar things seem unique, interesting and photo worthy.

Using apps on my iPad I researched local accommodation choices. Fortunately the #1 rated motel matched our budget and cost only $99.00 for the night. For this we got a warm friendly country welcome from motel staff, a clean, comfortable room and ensuite, kangaroos bounding around the motel grounds and kookaburras to wake us up in the morning.

Tip 2

  • Use technology to get the best deals on accommodation. I make comparisons, checking ratings and reading reviews before making my decision, and have not been disappointed yet.

Once settled in a quick tour of the town eateries showed we were spoiled for choice for dinner. We finally chose a busy little cafe a short walk from our motel. The friendly staff, promising menu, interesting wine and beer list (comprising only local labels), and live entertainment provided by an open mike session influenced our choice! We knew we were on a winner when locals began arriving for food and entertainment, and were not disappointed. We had a fantastic night that cost us just over $100.00!

Tip 3

  • Choose a friendly, busy, happening place - especially one the locals patronise - for good value and an enjoyable night out.

Next day we were awakened to a glorious morning by those resident kookaburras cackling in the gum trees. We decided not to rush off to Melbourne, instead taking the time to explore some of the local attractions.

We had driven past a sign to the Wonderland car park on the way in the previous evening, and intrigued by the name, decided to start there. Oh my! We took the shorter of the walks on offer and after crossing Stoney Creek took the path that veered left and climbed through the impressive Grand Canyon. The scenery was magnificent and the bush walk a most wonderful way to spend a couple hours on a Friday morning.

This walk confirmed that making full use of our gym membership is a very good thing!

Tip 4

  • Look after your health! If you need to - get fit, keep fit, lose excess weight. Walking can take you to breath-taking places - and it's free!

Back in the car park we chatted to a friendly tour guide waiting for the last of his tour group to return. He told us that the Little Desert National Park - easily accessed from various spots along the highway we travel between Adelaide and Melbourne - was well worth a visit.

Now I must admit we have seen, and ignored, those signs for years - but with some time up our sleeve on the way home decided to make a quick visit, as the park is only ten kilometres out of Dimboola.

Wow! What a surprise was in store for us! The scenic Wimmera River bordered by massive River Red gums flows lazily through this section of the park, wildlife and birdlife abounds, with an appropriate licence you can fish, and yes, the park is sandy! Tracks leading off into the scrub would tempt four wheel drivers, and walks of various lengths beckon campers and bush walkers. Who knew!

We're planning to go back sometime soon to camp for a few days. I can smell the campfire now!

Tip 5

  • Talk to fellow travellers - they have stories to tell of places worth visiting!

We certainly packed a lot of little adventures into each memorable leg of our drive. We arrived home as invigorated as if we had been away for a week or two - but with a budget more intact!

Tip 6
You don't need a great deal of money or time to have a memorable mini vacation!

Had a wonderful mini vacation experience? What tips would you add!

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