Wednesday, July 30, 2014

10 Things You Should Do Before You Travel Overseas

If you read here regularly, you will know I have been yearning to get back to France since we were last there in 2007. Well it's finally happening and as our departure date looms, it's about now that I turn my mind to all the things I have to do before taking an extended holiday.  Before I can sit back into my tiny seat in cattle class on the plane and order a cup of tea, or something a little stronger, it feels like there is a marathon of preparations to be completed.  Writing this list has really helped crystalise just what is involved and if I have excluded anything, please let me know in the comments.  I have already put this question out there on Facebook and some of those tips from you lovely readers, are credited here.  Some of the tips were more about what to pack and I will do a post about that, as our departure gets closer.

Here are some of the things I will be doing before we leave home:

1.Security Around the House

We have organised house sitters whilst we are away, but if you leave the house unattended:

Redirect mail to another address, or ask Australia Post to hold it for you.

Cancel the newspapers, or ask a neighbour to collect them and any junk mail, so as not to give burglars any indication you are not there.

Ask the neighbour to put out your bin and bring it in, the first week you are away, so you don't come back to a smelly cesspit of garbage in your bin upon your return.

Give details of your itinerary to a family member, trusted neighbour, or friend on    how you can be contacted in case of emergency.

Also tell the neighbour how your family can be contacted if they need to make any decisions about how to treat any emergency at your house, whilst you are away.

2. Luggage

We will be travelling by plane, car and train on our trip, so we will all need backpacks and suitcases with handles and wheels. I will also be getting luggage straps to put around the bags, if any of the zips fail. Those straps came in handy last time when we were staying in an apartment in Paris and our then 4 year old, would have easily slipped through the holes in the balcony balustrade, had we not tied them off with those luggage straps. Of course I freaked when I saw the balcony on the apartment, but by then, there was not much I could do about it, other than never open the windows, which in a Paris summer is not possible. As you can see it still wasn't great, but at least he could only get through if he tried with that strap in place and happily, he was never a climber.

FYI, suitcases larger then 85cm long, are not permitted on Eurostar trains.

We are renting a small 5 door car, so we cannot take too many large suitcases, as they will not fit in the boot.

I buy small padlocks for each suitcase and paint each lock and matching key with it's own individual nail polish colour.  This saves fumbling around for the right key, when you are in a hurry.

I have also bought a special hand bag for the trip.  Last time I bought the Hedgren brand.  This time it's Fib Australia.  They both have heaps of zip up compartments.  For this trip, I bought the Fib with the ipad compartment.

I also like the long sturdy strap on both brands of handbag, as I always cross the hand bag strap across my body, so it cannot easily be ripped from my shoulder.

I carry all the passports,  as the last time Mr Beach House had charge of his, he lost it, when it slipped out of his jacket pocket on the plane.  We spent a very stressful half an hour retracing our steps to find it.  Luckily the cleaners had it for him, when he returned to the plane.

3. Important Documents

Photocopy all the passports, credit cards, vaccination cards, travel insurance, visas, drivers licence and other important docs you need for all the people in your travelling party. Thanks for this tip from Michelle at Jungle Jarrah Blog

Last time Mr Beach House and I both got international drivers licences and they were never asked for in France.  They can be sourced via the NRMA in New South Wales, ($39 each) who seem to say you need them for driving in any foreign country, which was not our experience in France 2007, but thing may have changed, so I may get them again. Your advice would be very much appreciated here.  

We are also taking a copy of our marriage certificate, as I never changed my surname and some of the conservative European countries find that very odd.  That fact could particularly affect my ability to drive our hire car, as a spouse.

Leave a copy of all important documents with your trusted friend or family member and also take a copy of them with you overseas.  Some readers have said that they scan a copy of the important documents onto their computer and email them to themselves, or store them in The Cloud, so they can be retrieved on any device if needed.

Remember to put the documents in a different place in your luggage, to where you keep the original, so the chances of the lot being stolen together is minimized. Perhaps in a locked suitcase or another piece of hand luggage that is always well guarded.

Leave a key to your house with a trusted friend or neighbour, so if any documents required to replace passports etc they can be easily sourced.

If you have copies of passport photos left over, put them in your wallet, as they may come in handy.

I will also make sure my mum has a copy of our latest wills too.

4. Who to Tell When and Where you are Travelling

With all the potential problems that can occur internationally, registering your travel plans with the Australian Government agency Smart Traveller is a must. It allows you to gain more rapid access to consular assistance if you strike trouble, such as terrorism, arrest or God forbid, the need to repatriate the body of a loved one. They also provide travel advice on various hotspots.

Your registration form can be securely submitted and is sent to the relevant consulates where you are travelling, so you can be more quickly contacted in case of a crisis.

You can subscribe to emails from Smart Traveller, advising of changes to travel advice too. Thanks to Julie from Off to the Park Blog  for posting this tip Facebook page.

It is also advisable to let your credit card providers know where you are going, so they don't cancel your card as a security measure.

5. Organise a Small First Aide Kit 

Nail scissors, band aides, antiseptic cream, some chap sticks, tweezers, sterile wipes, a syringe and some Panadol can solve a myriad  of dramas very quickly, if only I remember to take them when I travel. Teresa from the Sellable Home kindly added to my Facebook page to take toilet paper and a packet of baby wipes for freshening up, when there is no easy access to fresh clean water.

6. Charging Your Devices

Get your power adapters sorted before you go, says Susan from Graphically Designing. Most major department stores have a good travel section, were you can buy power adapters.  Some people take a power board, so they can charge more than one device at once, but I am not sure if that's the way to go.

Overloading a power board is a fire risk and as many countries do not have laws making smoke alarms compulsory in commercial accommodation, I won't be doing that.  Also your accommodation provider would not be pleased if you blew out the power, by over loading the power board.

If you are travelling on a direct flight to the UK or the US (as of July 2014) you must be able to 'power on' your devices for security reasons, so they can be security checked.  Apparently there are now bombs that can be made to fit into mobile phones.  So make sure they are charged up and able to be turned on, or they will not be permitted on the plane.  This seems incredibly harsh and there is no information on what will happen to the devices if they are not permitted on the plane. This means if your flight to the UK starts in Dubai, don't use all the charge up on the plane between Sydney and Dubai. More info here.

I contacted the British embassy in Canberra for clarification on this matter  and here is their comprehensive response:

"Hi Carolyn

I’ve spoken to colleagues about this and I can confirm that the situation is indeed as described on the Smartraveller site and on your blog. I appreciate this is probably unwelcome news but I can assure you that such restrictions are not put in place lightly. You can find out more about why the current restrictions were put in place here.

On a more positive note, it is my understanding that when passing through security at UK airports there are chargers available for staff to check that electronic devices are functional. While the UK government is not responsible for security at hub airports such as Dubai, your airline might be able to advise you whether this is the case there too. They may also be able to tell you whether your children’s devices can be recharged onboard the aircraft or in the terminal building at Dubai.

If they are unable to provide any reassurance on that front then I’m afraid the best advice would be to not use the devices on the Sydney-Dubai leg to ensure that they have enough charge to be checked when passing through security in Dubai.

That said, the restrictions have been in place since early July and your enquiry is the first we have had regarding this issue, which – given the volume of travellers heading to the UK from Australia via that route – hopefully suggests that this has not proved to be an insurmountable problem for other families."

Here's an article from the Guardian, which discusses the issue and why this security measure has been put in place.

6. Mobile Phones and Email

Make sure your phone company has given you the codes to unlock your phone in the event that you want to use a local sim, when you get to your destination.  Apparently until you have a 'foreign' sim in the phone, it cannot be unlocked.  God knows why? But there you go.

Check with phone company what international data packs they offer.  I think I will do a whole post about using mobile OS, because from my research it can be a big pain in the ass and really the companies just have to try harder.  Basically even after some big changes to data roaming billing, they are still ripping us all off.

Also arrange for global access to email with your provider. Or work out how to access your emails via your providers website, which is a lot easier and cheaper.

7. Keeping Kids Happy on the Long Haul Plane Journey

We are the sort of family who doesn't do stop overs. I am not a big shopper and my husband loathes the whole exercise.  You would only need to glance through his wardrobe to see he rarely engages in that activity. So we do the whole trip to Europe in one hit.  Of course it is not that enjoyable, but we feel we just want to get there.  Also it's only once each way, that we have to collect baggage and do all the other horrible stuff involved with travelling through airports.

Get your devices loaded up with kiddo apps, so they can play them offline on the plane.  Make sure you have security software on your phone or ipad though, so no virus' get through to your device piggy backing on the back of the app.  But consider the advice in point 6 about being able to 'power on' your devices for direct flights into the UK and US.  

I also take earphones for the devices, in attempt not to have to listen to the sound of the games as well.

Book kids meals for the plane well in advance on both your forward and return journey. Also ask for any kids activity packs available from the airline, to be ordered for your journey.

Buy some activity books and small gifts for the kids to give them at intervals on the plane.  Don't give everything to them at once.  If you have time,  perhaps wrap them up, so it prolongs the excitement factor.
Take a few snacks too such as little sultana packs.  So that you can distract them if they are hungry and the in flight menu is not available at that time they decided the whole world must stop, so they can be fed.

Pack a basic change of clothes for all in your party in your hand luggage, in case your luggage goes missing, or there are major in flight spillages or up chucks. Also some plastic bags to carry any soiled clothing.

In terms of cribs on the plane. most planes have a limited number of those, so if you have a baby, make sure you book that well in advance.

8. Organising Foreign Currency

Unless you have a credit balance in your credit card, cash withdrawn will incur interest rates the minute your draw it out,  so organise some cash for each country you plan to travel in. Obviously there is a security risk with cash. If you are going to take some cash,  at least divide it between you, so it doesn't all get stolen, if one bag goes.

I find the banks give the best rates on foreign exchange, but if you are going to get it at the bank, order it well in advance as many suburban branches need to order foreign currency in.

Also load up a cash passport card, available at Australia Post and Flight Centre (the card costs $50 before you load any cash). Beware some cash passport type cards charge $2- $4 each time you make a cash withdrawal. You can just put $AUD on these cash passport type cards and then nominate the currencies you want to use.  Remember whatever you do, there are fees involved and the banks are usually well in front.

Here's a great grab from the ABCs "The Check Out" about travel cards. and the benefits and pitfalls.

9. Get A London Pass or City Equivalent

One way to overcome needing too much cash, is to get a London Pass or similar card for your city of choice.  It can represent great value and means you have already paid the entry fee to many of the monuments you want to visit before you travel.  The London Pass  allows access to 60 plus monuments, museums and palaces in London. There are also some queue jumping options, using the pass. There is an option to add all your public transport travel for London zones 1-6.  Remember kids under 11 years old travel FOC on all public transport in London.  The pass also comes with a comprehensive free travel guide, so if you get the pass sent out before leaving, (which takes 15 business days for international freight) you can start planning your trip, so can you hit the ground running, as soon as you get there.

10. Make Day Tour Bookings well in Advance if Travelling in High Season, even if you have a City Pass.

Some of the city monuments included in the London Pass/City Pass still require you to make tour booking even if you have the city pass.

One of the main reasons for our trip to France, is to look at the D day landing beaches.  I started looking to book a one day tour for September about 3 months ago, so we can get a good feel for the battlefields before we do our own thing and I really really struggled to find any availability.  To avoid disappointment book early.

I hope this list of tips has helped you in some small way.  I would be very pleased if you would add anything in the comments that I have forgotten.  It would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

For more travel stories go here.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Rest In Peace Millie

Seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my now almost 6 year old.  My mum saw an ad in the paper, looking for a good home for a schnauzer and a poodle.  My mum had  been looking for another dog for a while, so resolved to take the schnauzer.  She arranged to drive down and pick it up from the family, who were divorcing.  It was very very sad, as the parents were both separating into new homes, where dogs were not allowed.  As you may imagine, the children in the family were distraught at the prospect of their family breaking up and then to lose the dogs on top of that, must have been terrible for them.

When mum realised the situation, she offered that they could visit the dogs any time they liked.  Mum has never heard from them since that day, but the memory of those very sad kids is something she says was most distressing.

Mum had arranged to take the schnauzer, but as the new poodle owner never turned up, the owner told mum, if she didn't take both dogs, she couldn't have either of them.

She knew I was looking for a dog too, but we were uncontactable and away on holidays, so she made the snap decision to take both dogs. She also didn't know I was pregnant yet, as I had had so many miscarriages that we never told anyone, until the pregnancy was very well established.

When she told me what she had done.  I told her of my situation and that I was in no position to take a badly behaved dog, which they really were, especially Millie.

My mum is definitely a dog whisperer and a very kind lady and slowly the dogs have settled down and had a lovely life with mum for the last 7 years.

Millie is still much naughtier than the schnauzer, Billie, but she is much improved
and my kids absolutely love her.

So it was with great sadness that we found out yesterday that Millie has cancer.  We have resolved to get her put down today, as it is quite advanced and she is in quite a bit of distress.

My kids are very sad and wanted me to write a blog post about her, so she will be remembered for ever. 

 Rest in Peace Millie
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stunning Beach House in North Narrabeen

This Beach House is perhaps one of my favourite on Sydney's Northern Beaches.  Beautifully finished and presented, with all the gorgeous coastal icons you would expect from the best. Louvre windows, black butt flooring, ceiling fans and plantation shutters, a stone clad fire place, window seating and smart stone kitchen bench tops including an island bench.  There is even a walk in pantry with work bench, for the discerning cook.  

The large north facing backyard featuring a pool, and extensive decking, all overlooked by a lovely balcony to the rear of the house, complete this home as a wonderful package, which would suit any sector of the market from families with kids, to retirees.  You have to see this one.  I promise you will find it hard to leave.  For all her details and a floor plan look here.

Hope your week is travelling well.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream

It's that time of the year again, when it's a race between us and the cockatoos to get to these little organic sun kissed orange bombs first.  The cockatoos got most of them, but we got more than enough to hand over many bags to the neighbours and have enough for ourselves, and not to know what to do with them all. It's reminiscent of the time mum used to fill up my dolls pram with lemons.  They came from our lemon tree, which is now sadly a shadow of its former self, due to 45 years of borer attack and just plain old age.  Mum and I would walk around the neighbourhood handing them out to anyone who was interested and in those days, interested they were.  They are the same streets and by and large the same neighbours, but I did it this year with my daughter and plastic bags, which are sadly more readily available than in the 1970's. 

To think the orange tree had its inception in a pip dropped by either bird or human many moons ago.  Consequently, the orange tree that resulted at my mother's back door by pure luck, has given us so much over the years in good old fashion food production.

The oranges are not as sweet as shop bought ones, but I love them, because they are completely guilt free in terms of additives.  I can happily grate the rind into an array of dishes, as they have never had a thing on them except rain water and sunlight.  So no chemicals what so ever.

But what to make?  I have been adding oranges to all manner of dishes at the moment.  This one turned out to be Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream.  Berries are not really in season at the moment, so I used frozen berries, which I think are great and very reasonably priced.  I am also love love loving rolled oats right now.  It's amazing how my winter palate demands them.  I am addicted to porridge at the moment and I will bring you my breakfast recipe soon.  It is to die for and  that is saying something, as I have never regarded myself as much of a porridge eater.  It sure is helping me loose weight too, because it is so filling.

Look at all that superb lusciousness.

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream
serves 6

700g or 4 cups frozen mixed berries
1/3 cup brown sugar
Juice of one orange.  
1/3 cup plain (all purpose flour)
60g or 3 tablespoons butter chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of pecans chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Rind of one orange finely grated.
Coconut cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180 C/350F
In a pan over a medium heat, place berries, orange juice and  1/3 cup sugar. Heat through to allow the sugar to melt and the fruit to defrost.
Decant into 6 x 1 cup ramekins, so they are 3/4 full of berries and juice. 

To make the crumble, combine the remaining ingredients except the coconut cream, in a bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the ingredients to form a mixture resembling bread crumbs.  Distribute the crumble mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
Place on a baking tray and cook for 25 minutes, or until crumble mixture has lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling through.

I served the crumbles with coconut cream with a few berries whizzed through it, which actually was not necessary.  Coconut cream on it own would be just as good.

This is quite a healthy, nutritious and filling dessert.  I hope you'll try it and let me know how it goes.

One of my friends is now referring to me as 'The Orange Fairy', I guess it's better than being known as the green one......... ha ha.. 

For more of my simple recipes have a look here and here.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

A Cute Beach Cottage in Avalon

A Cute Beach Cottage in Avalon

If I was a single girl or a DINK with around $1,000,000 to spend, this cute beach cottage would be it.  Beautifully presented, private and north facing, this open plan cottage ticks all my boxes.
Positioned in a sort after area in between Avalon and Whale Beach, this little beauty is worth a look.  Particularly if you were thinking about buying a unit.  Why do that, when you can have this gorgeous abode for about the same money?

Go here for her details plus a floor plan.

Have a great weekend Beach Dwellers.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tips on How to Have A More Affordable Ski Holiday in Australia

High Noon  Super Trail  Thredbo

Hello Beach Dwellers
A few of you who have never skied before, have asked for some tips 
 on how to have a more affordable ski holiday in Australia.  If you are purely here for those tips, scroll down.

The Pool and Spa at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel

First up is my personal experience of the early 2014 ski season.  It sure is shaping up to be a memorable one and when it's like that, I want to be amongst it.

The  shot above and below by and large, define our fabulous 2014 ski holiday. There was me, trying to keep up with a kid who thinks he's bullet proof.  I also realised the mantle has passed to the next generation of skier in our family.  A faster one, who is currently short on style and big on guts. He was always ahead of  me on the slopes and one thing is for sure. I saw more of the back of this kid's head the whole holiday, than I ever have before.   Note the time on the clock.  Yes that would be 8am.  The first lift didn't open to the public until 8.30am, and we would be the ones waiting in the queue to get the first chair up each morning. We also skied to practically the last lift most days.  In consequence, I have been sleeping in the whole second week of the holidays, just to catch up.

  For my boy, the style will come, as it always does with mileage under your skis, but the confidence he gained on this latest trip was priceless.

In my efforts to ski as though I am still 25, I did this to my head. I apparently broke my neck skiing in 1991, although I didn't know until it had healed, so I guess that's an improvement and I should be thankful.  The cut being on my face though, was a bit of a bummer, as I don't need anymore scars or wrinkles on there than I already have.  The Strei Strips may have been an over kill type placebo, but I wasn't taking any chances and I now have more empathy for a little kid who needs a band aide for a cut, when it will clearly make no practical difference at all.

Although the fall that caused that cut, psyched me out for an hour or so, it wasn't as bad as it looks and has healed nicely.  I am hoping once it fades, I will forget it ever happened.  Both the Beach House Brat and the Ski Patrol guys were lovely and helped me get my shizz together on the mountain.

 Having skied since I was 4 years old, I practically never fall over, but kept doing so a lot these holidays.  It was out of character, so I went and changed my hire skis and that made little change.  I finally realised my skis were probably too short and I couldn't see the front of them over my goggles and kept crossing the tips.  I kept doing the full face plant and hitting my fore head.  Until that time, I had resisted the new trend towards adults wearing helmets.  My theory was that I have survived for 44 years without one, so why do I need one now, but as a result of three head hits, now I am a convert.  Also next time, I will be adding a few centimetres to my skis, in the hope that it will make a change for the better.

Up until the head injury, the Biggest Beach House Brat was hot on my heals.  After that I told him to go ahead and he just waited for me at the bottom.  Having your kids enjoy a sport which has defined so much of your life, is such a pleasure and the fact you can do it together, makes me very happy. Which brings me to my next point and why you are really here.  For tips on how to get your family into skiing in a more affordable way.

The truth is skiing is an expensive sport.  But don't let that put you off.  I can honestly say I have had some of the best times of my life engaging with the lifestyle, so it is definitely worth exploring, if you have the slightest inclination to do so.

There is no doubting the financial costs involved, but there are a few tips you can use to make it more affordable. 

1.  Choose to go in the shoulder season.  In Australia this is June or September.  As I said in my last post, June can be very unpredictable in terms of quantity and quality of snow (this year is unusual).  So try the first or second week of September.  The lift tickets and accommodation rates drop by about 30 % at that time and so do the crowds.  Yay.

2. Wait until the snow falls before you book.  Which ever way you look at it, even in the shoulder season, for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids), you will need to budget at least $1000 per day if staying on snow.  That will include lift tickets, lessons for the kids, accommodation, ski hire, park entry and food.  If you are going to be spending that much,  you want to be sure there is some reasonable snow in the resort before you even put your hand in your pocket. 

3.  Check out the last minute accommodation deals on wotif and search for hot deals in  resorts such as, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham (Victoria) Perisher or Thredbo (NSW).

The Winterhaus at Thredbo Fire Side
Mount Hotham has a Hot Deals page here.

There's also a good Spring skiing deal (from 31 August 2014) for Thredbo, where 1 kid stays and skis free per full paying adult (Maximum 2 adults per booking). It appears the adult ski lift passes are also included in the accommodation package.  The package starts from $354 per night (must stay 7 nights) and is slightly more expensive for the 3 and 5 night packages.  That is fantastic value and details are here.

If possible, opt for packages that include full board, as dining out in ski resorts can be very pricey and lately, a bit hit and miss. Much of the accommodation in Perisher and a lodge called Boali in Thredbo, offer breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your accommodation package.  We stay at Boali by choice, as the food component makes it very good value for money.

We also love the Lodge style accommodation, because there are usually other kids to play with yours and interesting people to talk to in the communal lounge area, fire side. 

Thredbo also has savings of up to 20% on Winter lift, lesson and rental products, if you purchase online, 7 or more days in advance.

This year we stayed at Winterhaus, which was good as well, and offers a full breakfast in the accommodation package.

At the Ice Bar at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel for some Apres Ski
4. You can also rent a self contained apartment and take all your own food.  There are small supermarkets on snow, but as you can imagine they are quite expensive.  So bring everything you need with you.  If we stay self contained, I always pre make all the food and freeze it, as the last thing you feel like doing after a day on the slopes, is feeding the family.

5.  Search for more affordable resorts such as Mount Selwyn or Charlotte Pass.  The skiing is not as advanced as the more popular resorts, but if there is good natural snow, these resorts can be a great place for a family skiing holiday. 

Mount Selwyn has a "New to the Snow?" page here.

6. Alternatively choose to stay in feeder towns, which require you to drive into the resort daily.  Towns such as Jindabyne ( NSW 25 minutes ), Cooma (NSW 1 Hour) or Bright (Vic 1 hr 20 mins) or Mount Beauty (40 mins Victoria).  They are a shortish drive into the snow, but the accommodation is more affordable.  Personally I think there is nothing better than staying on snow to get the full atmosphere of the alpine village and I have always regretted staying down the mountain when I have.  It's a classic case of "You get what you pay for."

The Station Resort in Jindabyne is aptly named.   The ski tube, which goes to Perisher from The Alpine Way was supposed to begin from this resort, hence the name.  In typical half hearted fashion, that part of the line was never constructed, but the budget resort is still there.  Check here for any good deals.  They currently have an accommodation package that allows kids to stay free in June and September if accompanied by two paying adults. And mid week rooms for $99 per night, subject to availability.

7. There are also camping options, such as the Jindabyne Holiday Park or tent and campervan style camping at Thredbo Diggings.  Remember that you will not have drying room facilities in a tent, which may mean climbing into wet ski gear the next morning. Also if you are in a tent, the weather may defeat you, so you have to retreat to the car to sleep.  A BYO camper van would be best in high Winter at the Thredbo Diggings.

8. Rent your skis in Cooma, Berridale or Mount Beauty rather than on snow.  The benefit is they are more affordable, but if you want to change your boots or any other part of the equipment, it can be a complete hassle.  There are plenty of places to rent in the feeder towns, just look out for the signs.  I also suggest renting your snow chains here.  In the Winter months they are required to be carried and produced on demand, in the Kosciousko National Park, by all non 4WD vehicles during the ski season, which runs from June to October.

9.  As for ski clothing, I don't think you can go past Aldi's May sale.  The gear is fantastic quality and incredibly affordable. I also noticed today, Woolworths has a good range of Thinsulate parkers and ski pants ($30) on sale at very reasonable prices as well.

 I have also bought kids' ski suits at charity stores and garage sales for around $25 for an entire ski suit.  It can be expensive to set yourself up at first, with goggles, ski gloves and thermals, but once you have it all, it can be used again and again.  At Thredbo they want you to use helmets, so they included them for free in your ski hire package.  Try to borrow what you can, if you are trying skiing for the first time.

10.  Instead of booking for a week, try for 5 nights and four days skiing. Mid week from Sunday night and departing Friday, is a good option and the midweek crowds can be lighter too. This is probably enough to give you a good taste and to determine whether you are going to continue with the sport.

11.  Divide and conquer:  That's what I did this year.  It is much more affordable for one parent to take one kid at a time.  This year it just worked out that way for us.   One child was staying at grandma's for the first week of the school holidays, attending an acting course.  Mr Beach House had to work and my eldest and I were at a loose end.  I thought what the hell, the snow is fantastic and it's only money.  I knew we'd have a fabulous time and I would worry about the details later.  I guess it's a matter of priorities and if you really want something, you just have to make it happen.  For me it's all about the experience, I would rather go without new clothes and all the other trappings of life to have a ski holiday and fantastic time with my kid.

12. A great tip is to accept that you are going to be spending serious money, but know that you are also going to have serious fun.  My dad always said that the difference between a good and a bad holiday was about $500.  He's been dead for 15 years, so it's a bit more than that now, but I say 'yes' to that and why not?  If you want it bad enough it's there for the taking.

The Black Bear in Bar is great for some Schnapps

A much needed pit stop

I hope these tips help you to get on snow as it is sooooooo worth it.
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