Twelve Hours Left in Orlando…

August 9, 2010


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Location:
Orlando, Florida, USA
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Sadly, after spending the last 13 months of my life in Orlando, Florida, it is time to depart.

Leaving for the airport at 5:30am and getting a flight out to Las Vegas at 7:55am where I will spend the next five days before flying back home to Australia.

The worst part; saying good bye to a friend I have become so close with at the airport in the morning.

Good bye, Orlando, I’ll forever cherish all the memories I’ve made here. You hold a special place in my heart ♥.

See you soon.

xo

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Traveling during an economic crisis…

January 16, 2009

Despite popular belief, traveling is still quite possible during this global economic crisis. While some countries have already hit recession, it is being predicted that Australia, fortunately, will surpass it. This does not mean everything is all well and good here, though;  just today it was announced that nearly 45,000 Australians lost their jobs in the month of December, 2008, a .1% rise on previous figures. This largest monthly decline of full-time jobs since March 2003 saw the job loss tally climb to 77,000 since August, 2008.

Although, for some, these figures represent gloom and despair, if you feel confident about the security of your position and your earnings, believe it or not, now is possibly the best time for you to get out there and see the world.

During an economic downturn and recession, travel is often the first cut people make in their budgets. Given that this crisis has struck on a global level, the whole world is adjusting to suit this changing economic climate. Just like the earths’ occupants, the world of travel is also having to alter its tactics to respond to the recognized decline that an unsteady economy brings with it. Airline companies right around the globe are slashing the prices of airfares to help enhance ticket sales. Their aim is to fill seats and they will do what ever it takes in order to ensure their aircraft’s are at full capacity. They realize that if they want people to travel during this time of uncertainty, they are going to have to make you an offer you can’t refuse and that is exactly what smart travel and airline companies like STA Travel and Qantas have been doing.

Launched in December of 2008, STA Travel Australia introduced online travel auctions to their website. Similar to that of eBay, you are able to bid on a huge selection of airfares, tours, package holidays and accommodation. The best part about all of this is that every single auction begins at a crazy $1 AU. That’s right folks, just $1! This puts you in control when deciding on a maximum amount to bid. If you’re after a bargain holiday, STA’s online travel auction is definitely worth the look.

Although by now, this offer has expired, just the other day STA Travel was promoting an insane sale fare of $999 AU including taxes for a return flight from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Los Angeles, USA. In a perfect economic climate, fares like this are just unheard of. Despite the current exchange rate of $0.66 AU to $1 US, an airfare this cheap can all but make up for the loss in exchange.

In November of 2008, Qantas released a too-good-to-refuse marketing scheme in hopes to amplify its dwindling 9.3% fall in September traffic. A two-for-one ticket sale was launched by Qantas to stimulate demand for international travel. This offering allowed for a second passenger to fly for the cost of only taxes and charges; an offer which received an extremely strong response by the public. Again, in a perfect economic climate, Qantas would never, not even for a second, dream of letting a passenger fly for free.

As mentioned above, the Australian dollar has plummeted severely within the last few months after reaching an all time high in July of 2008. The Aussie dollar has dropped from a whopping $0.98 AU to $0.66 AU to the U.S. dollar. The comparison between the Aussie and U.S. dollar always seems to be the one making the news here, and while some may view this conversion as extremely unfavorable, it should be remembered that there is a whole world out there to discover; your travel plans are not just restricted to the U.S.

Try vacationing in a country with a favorable conversion rate. While these countries may cost a little bit more airfare wise, once you arrive it is a case of more bang for your buck. The Lonely Planet suggests visiting the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Thailand, Laos, Syria, Ukraine and Uruguay. While some of these countries may seem out side of your comfort zone or perhaps not your ideal sense of vacation style, they can be a real adventure to discover. Everybody needs a little adventure in their lives; it’s good for you. Go on, surprise yourself.

Choosing to stay in a hostel over a hotel can be one of the biggest money-saving decisions of your entire vacation. Many people are under the impression that hostels only offer shared, mixed-sex dorm rooms with public facilities. Quite the opposite, actually. Many, if not all, hostels offer private rooms with a private bathroom and sometimes, if you are lucky, even a television. I spent a few nights in a hostel while staying in London, England. My main justification for choosing a hostel over a hotel was the fact that I would be spending barely any time in my room. I really just required a bed and bathroom facilities to get ready in the mornings. I recall paying £15 per night ($33 AU). If the point of your vacation is to get out there and discover the world, your accommodation really just needs to be secure, clean and quiet enough to allow you to get some peaceful shut-eye each night. Another advantage of staying in hostels are the number of people you meet and quickly become friends with from right around the globe; this could prove to be another cost-cutter for when you require future accommodation.

Without realizing it, one of the biggest money-eaters while on vacation is food. The constant eating out at restaurants or snacking in between meals quickly accumulates. Food and beverages were easily my biggest cost concern when traveling, especially through Europe as everything seems to be rather pricey there. My suggestion is to purchase snacks from the supermarket to nibble on through out the day. Don’t go to the biggest major supermarket in town either, have a wander; walk a few blocks down and you will be sure to find smaller, family-run retailers (this is especially more so common in the back streets of Europe) that charge up to half the price that the larger, tourist-infested supermarkets are charging. While in France a few friends and I got lost amongst the back streets of Paris. We came across the most beautiful produce,  freshly baked baguettes and scrumptious pastries at small, independently run stores. We only had to chip in a few Euro each and we all enjoyed a glorious picnic dinner under the Eiffel Tower. There is no way eating at a restaurant could beat that experience, or that price.

Lastly, why waste your time stressing? Your concern is not going to mend the pitiful economy nor will it prevent your country from hitting recession. If you are in the position to, get out there and see the world. After all, traveling is a form of stress relief!

DON'T LET THE DWINDLING ECONOMY CAT YOUR TRAVEL PLANS


Dream job on Australian island of paradise – Apply Now!

January 13, 2009

Looking for the adventure of a lifetime? Has the decline in employment and the global economic crisis terminated your job or got you feeling blue? Maybe it’s time you started living life outside the box and applied for this once in a life time dream island job that Australia has up for grabs. Applications are being accepted on a global level, so no matter where you live in the world, you are welcome to apply.

The lucky person selected for this dream job will be immersed in the culture and beauty of Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef.  The six-month contract comes will flexible working hours and the successful applicant will have the key responsibilities of exploring the area to discover what is on offer and to report back weekly to Queensland Tourism and the world via blogs, photo diaries, video updates and media interviews.

Other duties will include cleaning the pool which comes with your free home, feeding ocean fish and mail collection and delivery. Swimming, snorkeling, making friends with the locals and enjoying Queensland’s climate and lifestyle are just some of the other duties on the list. Not bad for a six month salary package of $150,000AU!

On top of this six-figure salary, Queensland Tourism is offering return airfares from your nearest capital city, transport while on the island, travel insurance, camera and computer gear to stay in touch with the world and travel to other islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. They claim that no academic qualifications are necessary, however, you must be a confident swimmer, enjoy snorkeling and have good communication skills.

This ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign is an innovative, clever marketing ploy for Tourism Queensland and comes at a great time. Australia was in fear of losing out on tourism due to the falling Australian dollar and the global financial crisis but this $1.7 million global marketing strategy is expected to generate more that $70 million worth of publicity for Queensland.

Not only will people want to apply for this position, but it will stir up curiosity and generate interest in the sunny state. It will put Hamilton Island on peoples shopping lists and that is what destination marketing is all about. This campaign will help raise awareness in people’s minds so when they are trying to decide where they want to take that relaxing, white sand and crystal clear waters holiday, they know to Google words such as ‘Hamilton Island’ or the ‘Great Barrier Reef’.

To apply for the ‘Best Job in the World’, Tourism Australia is asking applicants to create a sixty second video explanation of why you think you would be great for the job. There is also an online application to be filled out at www.islandreefjob.com.

Applications close on February 22 and 11 short listed candidates will be flown to Hamilton Island in early May for the final selection process. The winner will be announced on May 6 with employment to commence on July 1, 2009.

HAMILTON ISLAND, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA


A positive step forward in life…

October 17, 2008

Me in my graduation gear, just before my graduation ceremonyTonight was the night I have spent the last 4.5 years of my academic life waiting for. It was also the reason I could not extend my stay in the USA. After 4.5 years of university, sleepless nights of study, research assignments that at times seemed endless, the stress and panic of examination periods, switching from three different university courses and finally finding something I enjoyed learning and could see myself developing a career in, it was my time to graduate from La Trobe University.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Management. I have hopes to pursue the marketing side of my degree more so over the management side; but who knows, a few years from now, I may need to put my management studies to good use. For now, though, I will concentrate on finding a full-time job with relevance to my degree.

Since I was graduating mid-year, the graduating class was not as large compared to that of the end of year graduating class. The ceremony was held on campus. It was located in a hall I had sat several final examinations at. Instead of the long, nerve-wracking rows of tables and seats that I was use to seeing in there for exams set-up, the hall had been transformed to a more formal gathering place. The stage looked great.

My parents accompanied me to my graduation ceremony. Looking at them, I could tell they were so happy to be there. At that one moment, I knew they were extremely proud of me. I was proud of me too. I mean, I had worked hard and put in the effort, so this was the perfect culmination of the last 4.5 years of my academic life.

Me looking extremely happy with my degree after graduating


Back to reality :-(

October 15, 2008

It was nice seeing mum and dad eagerly hanging from the barrier behind the inbound flight gates at Melbourne Airport. Nice. I did miss them, I really did, but I was not ready to be back home yet. I felt some what depressed to be going back to our house, back to my lousy part-time job and now, the added need to look for full-time employment (which seemed bleak amidst a global economic crisis and employment downturn).

They ran to me, hugged and kissed me and told me how happy they were to have me home. I stood there and forced a smile. I felt guilty, though. I really was happy to see them, but somewhere deep down inside of me, I longed to be back in the USA. I would have stayed there longer had I not needed to come back in time for graduation. Had I had it my way, I would have skipped out on what I assume will be a long, boring ceremony, but I did not have it my way. The parental unit and the grandparents wanted that photo of me in my graduation gown and hat hanging proudly from their lounge room wall. I told them I could Photoshop them the image, but some how I am not too sure they appreciated the humor behind my sarcastic comment.

When family and friends asked how it felt to be home, I was honest with them. There was no point in lying. I told them I hated it and I wished I had spent more time in the USA. The looks on their faces were pretty amusing to me, not so much to my mother.

I had to start back at my part-time job today. I am pretty sure I was still jet lagged, but I was in dire need of earning money again. Back to the same crappy job that I had despised for the last eight years. The only positive to it was that they paid me well and annual leave was easily granted for when ever I wanted to jet off and experience the world. I cringe every time I need to step foot into this place. It was great seeing all my work mates again and sharing my adventures with them, but it did not stop me from cringing and crying on the inside.

This job is a dead-end one. There is no such thing as employee motivation here. Sometimes a thank you or a comment as simple as good work seems to be asking them for too much. Communication between management and staff is severely lacking and sometimes I wish I could just speak my mind to a few people here. Some of our employees are extremely slack; so much so that they just do not bother showing up for their shifts without any prior warning. This causes all sorts of chaos to those of us there at the time and, being such short notice, we are usually not able to replace the shift. This leads to us being short staffed and generates all sorts of unappreciated verbal abuse from our customers. I often bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying something I will regret.

Having studied business and management at university I often compare my working environment to that of what I learned; extreme difference, let me tell you. I sometimes wish I could offer suggestions or solutions to so many of the problems experienced here, but most would just take it as insult; a low-end worker telling them how to do their jobs correctly, so I don’t even bother. Despite all these downfalls, I consider myself to have always remained a loyal and excellent employee to the company. I may despise the job, but there is no reason for me to perform poorly because of it. A job is a job, and in this economic climate, I should be appreciative to be earning money.

I revert back to memories of my summer in Europe and my fondness of the USA to get me through times like this. I decide to take initiative and begin what I can only imagine to be a long and difficult process of trying to secure myself an internship or entry-level position in the USA. I hope it works.