Saturday, 7 September 2013

accomodation: sydney australia, goldsbrough apartments

For stays of more than a few days, we have found that it can be more economical and 'liveable' to stay in hotel apartments.   We had a 3 night stay in Sydney staying at the Oaks Goldbrough Apartments in Darling Harbour.  We loved it!  Everything seemed to be close by or an easy commute.
The building from the light rail station.
Harbourside Shopping Centre just behind us.
We stayed in a two bedroom apartment that was fully self-contained including linen.  The rate at the time of our stay was around the same as an average hotel in a similar area. The apartment was on two levels. Not so good perhaps with a baby or toddler, but brilliant for children old enough to negotiate stairs.  There is a heated swimming pool and spa for year round use.  The building is joined to a covered walkway which takes you to the metro and light rail (3 mins walk max). Another few minutes of walking and you are at the Harbourside Shopping Complex (loads of restaurants) and Maritime Museum (great for kids).  Within (child) walking distance is parks, an Imax Cinema (with the worlds largest screen) and a ferry stop (every 15mins) that takes you under the Harbour Bridge, past Lunar Park, to the Opera House.
The kitchen was a decent size.
All you would need to cook for a family.
Comfy (according to our 7yo) single beds.
Loads of storage.
We appreciated being able to do laundry.
Who would have thought!
Spacious bathrooms (compared to hotels).
Not spottlesly clean and starting to age a bit,
but certainly very useable.
Two bathrooms upstairs and 1 downstairs.
The master bedroom.
Such a shame I waited until leaving to take photos!  
I think at least one of these was a sofa bed.  
Getting there:  We took a taxi from the airport as with a family of three it was only marginally more ($45AUD) than the train.   However, it is very straightforward to get a light train from central station and as mentioned only a few minutes to the apartments.

Extra costs: WiFi could be purchased as could movies.  Free to air tv plus some free Fox channels.  Breakfast obviously is not included.

Friday, 9 August 2013

travel tip: budget travel and family friendly airlines

We find that international flights consume a big chunk of our holiday budget, so, for the first time recently, my husband *pointing the finger firmly* purchased 'budget' airline tickets.  It was one of the worst flight experiences I have had over many, many years of travelling.  

Part of the problem was our fault, we made assumptions based on years of combined travel and didn't read the fine print. Big mistake.  There are added costs for just about everything that you need as a travelling family.   On this particular flight the added costs were for:
  • reserving your seats so that as a family we could ensure that we sat together
  • purchasing a seat with extra leg room
  • check-in baggage to be purchased in 20kg lots
  • entertainment
  • food
We were expecting the entertainment and food to be extra but didn't mind as it was a midnight flight.  We didn't expect our child's seat to be discounted as not all airlines offer this.  We did however, expect to be seated beside or near each other, so that for us was a compulsory extra charge as was purchasing check-in luggage allowance.  When you add these cost both ways, the 'cheap' fare starts to look a lot more like finding a good deal on a non-budget airline.  

We expected the seats to be a bit more cramped - they were.  The biggest problem for us as a family was the isle.  It was so narrow, people could not pass each other.  Everyone had at least 7kgs of carry on luggage +++ and so there was a huge delay in getting people seated and then of course not enough space so ours had to be put under our seats or in another area.  During the flight, many people were standing in the isle as the seating was cramped, or to chat to friends that they didn't get to sit next to.  And of course we have a child that doesn't need to go to the toilet until it's 'desperate'!  She got to the loo in time but it was stressful.  One of the passengers lit up a cigarette for a few puffs but because of the isle congestion the cabin crew were not able to get to the area and locate the exact offender, just the lingering smell of smoke!

Soooo, based on our only experience ('Fly Dubai'), it seems that budget flights are a better deal for solo travellers than for families.  After adding up the extras, we also felt that the saving was minimal and not worth the small difference in cost.  It would be interesting to hear the perspective of others travelling with families - are budget flights (as opposed to discounted regular tickets) worth looking at?