Luxury Travel on a Budget

Travel Upgrades

Don’t blow your travel budget paying full price when you don’t have to

There are major discounts to be found if you know where to look

1. Travel Off Peak (Shoulder Season)

You can seriously get great discounts on airfares and accommodation, some up to 60% off during off-season

Travel outside of School Holidays or right after major holidays

2. Staycations

If you want to travel and only have a few days off, consider a location closer to home

Domestic or even local hotels offer huge discounts for last minute getaways to fill up their bookings

If you look on Google Maps you can find places to travel to within a 3-4 hour radius of your home, you don’t want to spend a whole day getting there

If you do your travelling overnight the night before you are booked in to your hotel, you can get in an extra day of sightseeing / restaurants

3. Use Hotwire to get 4-Star Accommodation at 2 & 3-star prices

You can get $315 rooms for $128, that’s a huge savings, staying in much nicer rooms, what’s not to love?

4. Book ahead if you are planning to travel during holidays and peak travel

While you can snag great deals on last minute trips during off season, the same cannot be said for peak travel times

Public holidays, School Holidays, Summer are the busiest times to travel.  If you leave it to the last minute to book, you will pay a lot more for accommodation and not get the best deal for your money.  Popular festivals or hotels have people booking sometimes 12 months in advance, around Sydney Harbour or Times Square for New Years Eve for example

Some hotels will only allow bookings 3 months before, so make sure you get in early as soon as bookings are available

It used to be the rule to book international travel 12 months ahead and domestic travel 3-6 months ahead for the best rates

Often vacation packages have special ‘early bird’ rates to popular events like music festivals etc or around Christmas / New Years

5. Book Flights on Tuesday

It’s the cheapest day of the week to travel, and around 3pm Tuesdays is the cheapest time

Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday are your cheapest days for air tickets,  while Sunday is the most expensive

6. Ask for an upgrade, dress the part

If you dress like you belong in business or first class, you can sometimes get an upgrade by politely asking, it doesn’t hurt to try

The answer will be a firm ‘we don’t have anything available’ if you are in a singlet and flip flops or wearing your pj’s to the airport

7. Ask for a Water View

If you are travelling off peak, chances are the hotel isn’t even 2/3 full

Ask on arrival at your hotel if might be any water views available, sometimes they will upgrade you just because you asked

8. Bundle

If you book, car, accommodation & airfare all at once, you will save a lot more than booking them separately

Look for package deals or ‘vacation’ packages

9. Join Hotel rewards programs

They are usually free to join and you can earn free nights accommodation on future travel if you earn enough points

You can earn points from your fist stay and they also send you bonus offers during the year to earn points more quickly

You usually get free wifi, sometimes free breakfast and other discounts & perks for reward members only

Plus you have a better chance of room upgrades if you are a reward member, than if you are not

10.Stay on the outskirts

If you stay in popular ‘touristy’ locations like downtown or on the riverfront  in popular cities, you aren’t going to get as great a deal as if you stay 10-15 minutes outside of these areas

You can quite often get a much better room if you stay 10 minutes out of town and you will get to see a lot more of the city

Most hotels have shuttle services to the city and big tourist attractions for free


  • Ask the locals what to see, where to eat…we have had some of the best tips by asking people who live there if there are other places to see while we are there
  • Also if you visit museums etc late in the day, say an hour or two before they close, you may get in at a big discount, 1/2 price etc
  • Check the tourist guides and pamphlets at the hotel for discounts to museums and places of interest, they offer discount coupons

10 Sydney Lighthouses

Sydney Lighthouses.png

I love Lighthouses for several reasons, they are the beacon in the dead of night guiding shipping vessels, they offer some of the best water views and if they are open to the public, have the best aerial views for photography

Sydney is lucky to have several Bays and water-ways and numerous lighthouses, the most famous being the one at Kiama on the South Coast near Wollongong, however, it is not located in Sydney itself and may be difficult to get to for those visiting Sydney

Many tourists are short on time and bound by public transport so some of these may not be easy to get to, but I have found ten that are located in and around Sydney that should offer some pretty neat photographs

1. Barrenjoey Lighthouse

By Jeremy from Sydney, Australia (Barrenjoey Lighthouse) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Sydney’s most northern point – Panoramic Ocean views

Located in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Barrenjoey Head, Palm Beach New South Wales 2108

You can’t drive directly to the lighthouse, there is no vehicle access – You can drive to Governor Phillip parking area, in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, there is a park entrance fee, you would have to walk to the lighthouse on a walking trail

2. Hornby Lighthouse also known as South Head Lower Light

Wyp at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Cliff Street, Watsons Bay New South Wales 2030

Hornby Lighthouse is the third oldest lighthouse in New South Wales and is located at the Southern entrance to Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour at Watsons Bay

The site is open and accessible to the public, but the tower itself is closed

3. Macquarie Lighthouse also known as South Head Upper Light

By Sardaka (talk) 08:48, 18 March 2011 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Old South Head Road, VAUCLUSE New South Wales 2030

(Macquarie Road)

The best views of Sydney – if you only have time to see one, THIS is the one, the views are breathtaking!

Macquarie Lighthouse is Australia’s oldest lighthouse, boasting a 360 degree panoramic view of Sydney harbour and the sandstone coastline

The grounds are open year round, but the lighthouse itself is only open every couple of months by tour guide and well worth the cost of admission ($5 per adult and $3 per child) and stairclimbing trek to the top

4. Bradleys Head Light Tower


By Wade Homewood ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bradleys Head Light Tower is located within the Sydney Harbour National Park

The site is open and accessible to the public, but the tower itself is closed. Parking is available at the end of Bradleys Head Road

5. Robertson Point Light, also known as Cremorne Point Light

5667 Sydney Lighthouse.png

©2017 KDArtStudio

The site is open and accessible to the public, but the tower itself is closed. Parking is available at the end of Milson Road in Cremorne Point



6.Shark Island Lighthouse

By Wittylama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The lighthouse itself is only accessible by boat, and it is closed to the public. However, it is visible from Shark Island at close range. The island itself is open to the public


7. Cape Bailey Lighthouse

Maurice van Creij [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the south side at the entrance to Botany Bay in Sydney near Kurnell

Lighthouse is closed to the public and access to it takes 2 +1/2 hours to bushwalk/hike  to get to the lighthouse. You enter the national park via Solander Road in Kurnell

Trivia: In 1931, this lighthouse took 19 years 
to be approved to be built.  It wasn't built until 1950
It is completely solar powered today

8. Grotto Point Light also known as Port Jackson Entrance Range Front Light

Grotto Point Light

Brianegge at English Wikipedia [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Accessed via Manly Scenic Walkway, historic Grotto Point Light offers scenic views, birdwatching and walking options in Sydney Harbour National Park

The site is accessible by a short hike/walk  from the Castle Rock track. The grounds are open but the tower is closed to the public

9. Vaucluse Bay Range Front Light


By MorePix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on private property, it is not accessible to the public

Viewing the lighthouse from the street (80 Wentworth Road) is very difficult, so it’s best seen from the water

10.Eastern Channel Pile Light is also known as the East Wedding Cake

Maksym Kozlenko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Located off Laings Point in Vaucluse, Sydney, this lighthouse was originally gas powered but has been converted to solar power

It is accessible only by boat, and closed to the public



You might also like my other Sydney Posts:

28 of the Best Places to Photograph Sydney

10 Hidden Bars in Sydney

10 Fun Facts: Sydney Harbour Bridge

Mild Depression – Self Help

Mild Depression.png


Many of us face depression at some time or another

I have written about what depression is and the causes at great length here

What not to do:

The worst things you can do for depression is self-destructive behavior

  • do not punish yourself
  • do not eat a diet full of empty nutrients, fast food, snacks
  • do not engage in addictive behavior
  • Stay away from Alcohol, drugs, junk food

Things you can do to Help Yourself fight Mild Depression

  • Talk about it with someone you trust, a friend, family member, colleague, your family doctor
  • Get yourself up out of bed, every single day, even if it’s just for 1/2 hour or an hour, take a shower or run a hot bath, change your clothes, brush your hair and clean your teeth, if you need to, change the bedsheets, just get up and do something
  • Remember that nothing will change if you keep doing the same thing
when you keep repeating the same behavior, 
you will keep getting the same results
  • Give yourself time to heal

We don’t all of a sudden just get depressed in one day or in five minutes for no good reason, it is a gradual process caused by trauma, so it only makes sense that healing will take some time too

  • Stop beating yourself up internally, changing your internal dialogue is imperative to healing

You are not a loser, less than, worthless or stupid.  There is nothing wrong with you for having the feelings and thoughts you are having. Part of healing is acknowledging those feelings, thoughts & dialogue so you can do something about it

if you don't acknowledge the problem, you can't fix it
  • remember that you are not alone

15 million Americans will face depression each year

I have my own theories on why this may be. Americans are constantly experiencing tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding events, terrorist threats, sending troops off to war-torn corners of the world, mass shootings, carnage, pain and suffering on a large scale several times a year.

We hear about it on the news 24/7, we go through more severe weather events than for example somewhere like Australia or England, couple that together with poorer diets, lower wages, skyrocketing unemployment, those living below the poverty line & homelessness, you have a growing epidemic of people and a higher population, experiencing trauma on a regular basis and often on a large scale

What can be done about it?

Higher wages, more jobs, affordable housing, better health care, better mental health support, support for veteran’s to name a few…. but most of those are out of our reach and we have zero control over them

What can I personally do?

We need to stop worrying about things we don’t have any control over and fix the things we can control and can manage on a daily basis

  • Eat a Healthy, Nutritious Diet that includes foods that are high in folates, vitamin D
  • Serotonin-producing foods, foods high in Vitamin B12, omega 3 healthy fats, selenium, & beta-carotene

Where do I find these?

Green leafy salad vegetables, asparagus, milk, mushrooms, herring, tuna, salmon, clams, mussels, turkey, carrots, Brown rice, lean beef, sunflower seeds, fish, chicken, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe

I don’t know where to start

  • Start slow, one thing, one step at a time
  • Exercise: start walking, doing yoga or running, 30 min a day is optimal,

10 min is better than 0, start slow 10 min, (walk around the block, go to the park, a couple of laps around the shops), then work up to 15,20,30

Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done

  • Take care of your Personal Hygiene, make sure you bathe or shower every day
  • Get enough Sleep, 6-8 hours a day
  • Meditation or finding some way to self-comfort that doesn’t involve addictive behaviors (smoking, drugs, alcohol, overeating,  gambling etc), reading books, watching comedy are a good mood booster
  • Get enough sunlight, 30 min a day, direct or indirect, open the blinds, go for a walk, do not sit home in the dark all day and night, your body needs light to heal
  • Self-care (you can’t help others swim if you yourself are drowning), especially important for all the caregivers & parents out there, start taking care of yourself above the needs of others
  • Start doing things you used to enjoy
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, from friends, family, colleagues, health care workers
  • Each day do one more thing than you did yesterday
  • If all you can manage today is to have a shower, then tomorrow have a shower and go for a walk. The next day, shower, meditate and go sit outside in the sun for 1/2 hour
  • Go to a funny movie, laughter is sometimes the best medicine
  • allow yourself to laugh again, give yourself permission to feel happiness or enjoyment, sometimes if maybe a loved one has died, we feel guilty if we are laughing, or having a good time, it’s ok
  • walk around the shops if that is something you enjoy doing that you haven’t done in a while
  • Take yourself out for lunch, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, you can take a sandwich to the park, go have a cup of coffee
  • visit a friend or relative
  • phone someone and just chat with them
  • I often find just getting out of the house is the first step towards healing, puting the pieces back together and regaining control of your life again

If your depression is severe (has lasted more than two weeks a month) or doesn’t seem to get any better after you have tried these things, please see your local GP and tell him/her how you are feeling


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