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Choose your own adventure…

Tenele Conway

Qatar Airways have started the war with the battle cry of the century.

Daily international flights from Canberra to a network of over 151 cities across the world. Not one to be outdone Singapore airlines have responded in kind with an increase in services also now touching down in Canberra daily and servicing 136 destinations worldwide.

If you like facts and figures, Singapore Airlines offer you four classes of travel on it’s Boeing 777, economy, premium economy, business and first class as well as the addition of economy exit row seating at a reasonable additional charge. This is the first time both first and premium have been offered in the Canberra market.

Qatar can offer you two classes of travel on it’s Boeing 777, economy and it’s Skytrax award-winning “World’s Best Business Class”. Singapore Airlines have been flying to Australia since 1967 with an impeccable record and impressive reputation. Qatar has been expanding its worldwide network at a rate one new destination every 28 days making it the world’s fastest-growing airline.

Technicalities aside, Canberra is currently serviced by two of the world’s best airlines. The winner here is the Canberran consumer and the game changer is choice. Choice of destinations with over 280 on offer. Choice of comfort levels with all classes of travel in the game. Choice of pricing which is kept low due to the current competition in the market and choice of flying times, Singapore Airlines offer an overnight service from Canberra with their late evening departure and Qatar have wheels up at lunchtime.

With all this choice there is only one question left. What type of holiday are you taking?

The Budget Buster

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The key to a budget holiday without having to slum it is to choose a destination where your tourist dollar goes a long way. For Australians, you can’t go past South East Asia but not to fall into a tourist trap I would recommend hopping a Singapore Airlines flight to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

This laid back destination offers the perfect blend of history with it’s French colonial architecture and culture with its Buddhist temples and a daily procession of monks receiving offerings from the local population. Flights will set you back between $600 and $1200 per person return depending on seasonality and availability and accommodation ranges from $40 a night for a locally owned Inn or up to $200 a night for a five-star establishment.

Once on the ground you can hire a bike for cheap transport, the city is flat and the traffic is tame enough to venture into. A full day guided city tour is a great way to get take in all the city has to offer and the knowledge of a local can be invaluable, an experience like this with a professional tour company will set you back around $80 or you could try your hand at haggling with a tuk-tuk driver who could show you their city in a less formal setting.

Honeymoon Heaven

If there is one time in your life you should forget the budget and go all out for the holiday of a lifetime it is on your honeymoon. The world is full of exotic hideouts for newlyweds and one of those that ticks all the boxes of stunning beaches, luxurious resorts and new experiences is the Seychelles.

Located in the Indian Ocean the Seychelles is a chain of 115 mostly uninhabited islands that can offer some of the world’s whitest sand, untouched nature and unique and stunning resorts. You can base your stay on the main island of Mahe where a five-star hotel such as the Hilton Seychelles Northolm will set you back around $500 for a night in a hillside villa or why not splurge and go full oceanfront with beach access for around $800 a night.

If you like to be active then why not turn your honeymoon into an island-hopping adventure? Small sailing boats with 8-12 passengers and your own skipper are an amazing way to see the more isolated islands in the Seychelles, think pristine deserted beaches and balmy nights on deck on route to your next port of call.
 Qatar Airways can take you from Canberra to the Seychelles for around $2600 return.

Family Fun

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When travelling with children I think the key word has to be easy. Pick a destination that is one flight away, forget long layovers and nightmare flights across different time zones. This way you can minimise jet lag, connection hassles and ratty kids. Just off the coast of Singapore is a family haven called Sentosa. You can get the direct flight from Canberra to Singapore and a short shuttle from the airport and you have arrived. Sentosa’s motto is “The state of fun” which pretty much says it all. Choose from a vast range of sprawling resorts bearing your big brand names like Hard Rock, Shangri La and Sofitel.

Avoid the peak travel times such as Christmas and January and you will pay around $300 per night which will get you access to huge pools, restaurants, bars and family fun 24/7.
 With everything Sentosa has to offer families it will be unlikely you will be spending too much time in your hotel room. Head to the aquarium, the animal park, the butterfly park, Madame Tussauds, Adventureland, the waterpark pirate ship or try out activities such as Segway tours, mega zip lining, the iFly parachute experience, luge rides and the big kicker here is, of course, Universal Studios. You might just need a holiday after your holiday with this destination but the kids will certainly be happy. Flights with Singapore airlines range from $600 to $1200 return and be sure to book early to bag a bargain.

Foodie Fiesta

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There is only one place to go if you want to immerse yourself in a food culture so delicious that you will surely come home needing one of Qatar’s large business class seats and that is Tuscany. Qatar Airways can jet you from Canberra to Florence where you can immediately delve into the wonders of Italian cuisine.

Base yourself here for a few days, be sure to eat copious amounts a creamy gelato whilst wandering the cobbled streets and stopping in for regular espressos. The food markets here are something to behold. The hanging cured meats, cheeses, fresh pasta, whole game, homemade sauces, chutneys and fresh seafood are displayed in abundance and the love of food can be seen everywhere. Once you have experienced Florence grab a hire car and head out into the Roman villages scattered through the Tuscan countryside. A lazy lunch in Montepulciano is a must and a candlelit dinner on the streets of Siena will stay with you for a lifetime.

For really cheap fares, around $1100 return with Qatar Airways head over during Europe’s winter. The pro being the lack of tourists the con being the cold weather but if you rug up it is quite the magical experience. Why not extend your trip heading north to Milan where you can see snow covered alps from the roof of the cities stunning cathedral, Qatar Airways will also happily fly you home from here.

Be sure to see your local travel agent for your best deals and always plan in advance to secure your best pricing.

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Tenele Conway

Tenele Conway is a veteran of the Canberra Travel industry having worked in retail travel stores around the city for well over decade. Taking full advantage of the perks of the job she has travelled the world primarily at the expense of others and when she isn’t zip lining in Guatemala or cruising the Nile she is bringing together her two passions of world cuisines and travel on her blog www.hungryplanetblog.com. With a cookbook collection worthy of an episode of 'Hoarders' she sees a future as a travelling cookbook author, look out Rick Stein. More about the Author