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Advice on international travel -- going west, not east

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by TrooperBari, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    If memory serves, at least a few of you have traveled abroad at some point. Do you have any tips or suggestions for a first-timer?

    I already have a passport, I know roughly when I'll be able to travel (mid July to early August) and I have the possible destinations down to two — Australia (preferably Melbourne) or Japan. How far in advance, and where, should I book the tickets? What else is on the "must do" list before leaving the country?

    Any and all advice, especially in the area of traveling on the cheap, is welcome. If you have any experience traveling in Australia or Japan, all the better. Thanks!
  2. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    Two things to do right now, check to see if you need any shots before you go and if you need travel visas. Start with the department of state web site.

    Secondly, with Positive Passenger Bag Match, every passenger has to prove they have the required documentation to travel to the destination country and receive a Boarding Control Number. What I'm getting at, is if you want your bags to arrive when you do, check in with the gate ASAP when you get to the airport so we can put your bags on the plane.

    Just my .02 from the airline industry
  3. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    BD77 has it nailed. Make sure the Passport and visa is up to snuff, and update your immunization records.

    As for the countries, not much I can add. My extent of Japan was a four-hour stopover in Tokyo Int'l. Okinawa, on the other hand ... :)
  4. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Many thanks to you both.

    Sam, I'm not sure American gaijin would be very welcome in Okinawa right about now. I'll stick to Honshu or Hokkaido for now.
  5. You need a visa to go to Australia. The airline does not handle this for you. You can get an electronic one through this site:


    No need to send in your passport or get it stamped ahead of time.

    No visa necessary for Japan, although I think they do the fingerprint-photo thing at immigration.

    I've been to both places. They're very different, obviously. If you've never been overseas before, Australia might be a better fit. The culture is similar to ours, and it helps when everybody speaks English. Melbourne is a delightful city.

    Tokyo is pretty crazy, as you'd expect for a city of 17-18 million or whatever. Parts of it look like it does in the pictures, but a lot of it looks like a big office park. (Well, they did have to rebuild a lot of it after World War II.) The people aren't bad, but gaijin aren't exactly welcomed with open arms, either.

    I probably wouldn't go back to Japan again, but I would go to Australia in a New York minute.

    I'll add this: Considering how the U.S. dollar is being pummeled right now, neither place is cheap. If you absolutely know which place you're going, check Priceline or Expedia for inexpensive lodging. The Name Your Own Price feature on Priceline is great, if you don't care about specific hotel brands, only levels of comfort/service.

    You can get good "pub meals" in Australia (essentially, sandwiches/salads served at the bar) for a reasonable price; many places run specials. Japan has its fair share of noodle bars that are cheap, and teppanyaki isn't too expensive, either.

    Alcohol in Japan, however, is pricey. Australia, not so much. The bar culture there is pretty cool.

    Although Japan does have baseball.

    Bear in mind July-August is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, so Melbourne might be a little cool (the farther south you go, the colder it gets). Probably a low in the 40s or 50s. Japan can get hot in the summer.
  6. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Went to Singapore, Australia and Malaysia on a singing tour a while back when I was in college, spending the most time in Australia (Brisbane/Sydney). Just a tremendous time in all three. The food in unbelievable in all three countries, and don't be afraid of trying everything. In Sydney, you can walk over the Bridge, absolutely amazing views from the top, and the Opera House and the surrounding area is just fantastic.

    If you do go to the Orient, make sure you check out the markets, eat the food from the stands because it is truly wonderful stuff, and haggle like hell over the fake watches, sunglasses and clothing. You will get some wonderful crap, and since you've haggled them down to your price, you will feel pride. Karaoke bars in both places are hilarious as well.

    Oh, and if you ever wanted to get your rugby/aussie rules fix down under, they'll both be in season over the summer.
  7. One word: Fiji. Unbelievable people and scenery.

    New Zealand South Island.

    Northern Thailand.

    Australia has been described as "a long way to go to see America." After two trips, I see why -- but if you go, not to be missed sites: Tasmania, the Barrier Reef and/or Uluru (Ayers Rock).

    If you end up in Melbourne, make sure you trek down to see the fairy penguins on Phillip Island.
  8. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Fiji does sound nice, but if I'm going to vacation on an island, I'd like it to be bigger than the one I'm on now. Australia is a draw because I have friends in Melbourne (one works at the Telstra Dome), I've been an Aussie Rules fan since elementary school and I'm just crass enough to put out feelers for a newspaper gig there.


    GB: Not much interest in knock-offs, but you'd better believe I'm hitting street vendors. Streetside ramen (the real thing) is definitely on the list, as is an okonomiyaki joint.


    Lyman: Part of Japan's draw is the different culture (that and my mom was stationed at Yokota AFB). I can also lean on some rudimentary knowledge of the language. Alcohol isn't a factor in either instance since I don't drink.

    Again, thanks for everyone's help. I'm going to hit a few travel agencies in town and see if they can beat what I've found so far.
  9. The Mornington Peninsula is a nice day trip from Melbourne, too.

    Japan isn't bad, I just liked the Aussies a lot more. Michelle's comment is not too far off base.

    Do see a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome (or wherever, depending on who's in town). It's a little different than what we're used to.
  10. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Worked out well for Columbus ...

    Seriously, though, I can only vouch for Southeast Asia, but as some have mentioned:

    Non-Bangkok Thailand is gorgeous and cheap. Phuket (a resort island along the Indian Ocean the southern peninsula) is a hidden gem, though I'm not sure how much it's recovered since the tsunami. Less than five years ago, you could get rooms at full-service hotels on the beach for something like $30 per night.

    Singapore is incredible, though it has been more than a decade since I've been there. As I recall, though, it's a little on the expensive side.
  11. A lot of people think Singapore is boring, but I thought it was great. The food was incredible. And the different cultures there are interesting.

    Just don't chew any gum. They might break out the cane for that.
  12. bostonbred

    bostonbred Guest

    Sorry to threadjack, but has anyone ever been to Portugal? I'm going this summer to visit some relatives.
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