Two weeks till our first couple roadtrip together! And the last roadtrip with my friend and her spouse was 10 years ago!
I mean we did drive to JB, Melaka and KL, but I won’t say they are “serious” roadtrips because we can drive in the comfort of our own car and the drive was just hours away from home. The weather was similar to that of our homeland and there were many rest stops along the way. Culture was similar from home too, though not as safe.
Whereas, we are not familiar with Australia, the culture, the people, the cold weather or even the food. We had to drive in rented cars, stay in airbnb and maybe be discriminated because we have different skin colours. We don’t speak fluent English.
However, other than feeling “anxious” because I am not sure what to expect since I had done little homework so far, I am just too EXCITED about this upcoming roadtrip!
We have only two weeks left, so I am going to start my thinking and planning (and shopping), a little everyday!
1. Plan the Route
We had done last month before we booked our airbnb. As Laogong’s colleague is going to Melbourne during the same period, we kinda of adapt from his itinerary. But we are not that “lazy” lah, coz we did do some readup on the places we will be going. But of coz we still need to go into the details eg how to get to each attraction, the toilets, the eateries along the way and at each attraction.
Hmmm.. Laogong said we should play by ear, but I think it is good to find out more, so we know what are our options. Whenever or not which options to take, we can play by ear. Afterall, we are not familiar with Melbourne.
But don’t worry, at least we had plotted out the driving route and brief itineary.
Our itinerary in short:
3 days – Mornington Penisula
– Phillip Island (Penguin March & Koalas)
– Hot Spring & Bath House
3 days – Apollo Bay
– 12 apostles
– Otway Ranges (eg Waterfalls, Zipline, Treetop Walk and Lighthouse)
– Port Campbell
3 days – Melbourne City
– Queen Victoria Winter Market
– Yarra Valley and Wineries
– City Tour (eg Musesums, South Wharf Warehouse shopping, Tram Ride and Flinder Streets etc)
2. Book Lodging
It is going to be “extra” exciting because unlike many who read tens and hundreds of reviews before deciding on their airbnb, we only read “some” reviews and had narrowed down our choices based on our budget.
We had booked our airbnbs last month. There was some “foul play” when one of the airbnb motels were sold to another operator and the new operator cancelled our booking. It was a nice studio room with some inhouse facilities to let go, but we managed to find an even bettee alternative airbnb with a great ocean view. Our airbnb in Melbourne City was rejected but we managed to find a nicer unit too! So sometimes losing a good option may welcome an even better option.
How to Choose An Airbnb? Hmmm.. like said we aren’t like many who did a lot of research and read thousands of reviews before deciding on our Airbnbs, so we might not be the best to recommend how you can choose an Airbnb. But I can share how we did it anyway:
a. Entire House or A Room
If you are travelling in a family, will be good to book the entire house. If you are travelling with friend(s) or spouse, you can book an entire house or a room. We chose the former for privacy. But if you love company and meeting people around the world, book a room but be prepared to share toilets and bear with noises.
b. Set a Budget and Narrow down your options based on your budget
So you won’t regret paying more than you planned to. I don’t have a number in mind but I think for a room in the outskirts, can be as low as AUD50-60 a night and an entire house you can get from AUD 90-150 a night. Airbnb in Melbourne City is more expensive at about AUD90-100 a night for a room and AUD150-200 a night for an entire house.
We got our entire houses at about AUD130-150 a night in the outskirts and AUD170-180 a night in the city centre. Will take photos!
c. Look for Reviews by Asians or Travellers who are similar to you (eg. Travel with Spouse or Family or Friends)
Though we did not read thousands of reviews, we did look out for Revies by Asians or Travellers similar to us. Eg whether they travelled with their families or spouse or with younger children/elderly etc. This will give you a better idea if this place is suitable for you and your travel mates. Eg there may be reviews on windows on upper levels with no grilles. So you will know you may have safety concerns if you are travelling with young active children.
Perceptions of distances from nearest amentities or eateries will be subjective from travellers to travellers. A young group of travellers may need only 5 min to walk 0.5 km but a group with young children or/and elderlys will definitely need more time to reach their destination.
Why read reviews by Asians or even better still from Singaporeans? Well, I guess Asians have different travel expectations from Westerners. Furthermore, Singaporeans are unique in the sense that they are particular about service quality and customer service standards. So if they are not happy with the service standards, they will not keep quiet. So generally, I kinda of “trust” my fellow Singaporeans when they sang praises of certain airbnbs.
d. Chitchat with your Host to feel the vibes, prior the trips and find out about the neighbourhood
Who knows your travel destinations more than your Airbnb Hosts? Get travel maps and recommendations on where to visit during your stay from your Host.
Take the opportunities to feel the vibes. If your gut feeling tells you the Host does not like you or Asians in general, then don’t hesistate to change to another Airbnb. But usually when you choose an Airbnb recommended by Asians, it should be okay.
3. Book Rented Car
We booked our rented car last month too. It took us a while to decide which car model to choose but since we are travelling in winter and in varying terrains, a four wheeler SUV should be quite safe.
However, we did not book from the usual “H” car rental company but decided to place our bet on a local company which charge 50% cheaper than the “H” company. The reviews vary so we really are not sure what to expect. So just pray for us that we will get our car (on time) and the car is safe and functioning well.
As a bonus, I hope the car comes with a good integrated GPS, a big torchlight and a big umbrella etc. Heehee…
4. Shop for/Borrow Winter Wear
We do have some winter wear because we visited Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong during their winters too. I personally experienced 3-5 degrees in Japan, Shanghai, Beijing and Taiwan before. However, people are telling me 3-5 degrees in cold wind was much colder than in the valleys, mountains or among the buildings.
To save costs, I tried to borrow whatever I can from a well-travelled friend, especially outer wear and winter boots. However, I feel it is better buy my own inner wear such as heattec.
I had some heattec from Uniqlo Online Shops because they cannot be found in the stores in May. Something new I learnt. Will be going through my list before deciding what else to buy.
5. Pack Luggage
I just did some research on what to bring for a roadtrip and created a list to work around in. Will be taking out my existing winter wear to wash and pack this week.
The list I came up with so far is:
-ipad/smart phones to be act as GPS
-data plan for GPS and communication
-museli bars, read to eat items, chips and finger food for travel
-thermo flask – warm drinks
-handy bags with things we may need eg change of clothes, winter jackets, shoes/slippers, toiletries, hand cream, face masks, water mist
-AA and AAA batteries
-blankets/scarfs to keep warm
These are on top of all the clothes and toiletries etc which I will be packing in. Seems that I may need more than 1 luggage? But at least I know some things I need not bring them back on the last day.
Will share more once my luggage list is confirmed! Stay Tune!