Top 10 Travel Destinations – 2019

10 up-and-coming travel destinations

Calling all trailblazers! Sometimes a week in the islands or an all-American road trip doesn’t satisfy the adventure cravings, so we’ve pulled together ten destinations that haven’t quite hit the tourist guidebooks yet. If your idea of a holiday is all about discovering hidden gems, getting off the beaten track and diving into authentic experiences, this list is for you.

If you want a culture hit- Italy

Much more than fresh pasta, flirty locals and famous buildings (although we love all of those too!), Italy’s got cities, towns and villages perfect for even the most well-travelled culture vulture. Stay at a Tuscan farmhouse in Siena, sun yourself on Sardinia’s rugged coast or treat your taste buds with a visit to the world’s first food theme park in Bologna. Looking for somewhere probably none of your friends have been? Pay a visit to Matera, one of 2019’s European Capitals of Culture (Plovdiv, Bulgaria is the other one). The town is carved into and built on top of limestone caves, and it looks like it’s straight out of a (very) old movie.

If you love the weird and wacky – Japan

Where else could you order food from a robot, take a spa with monkeys and channel your inner Mario with a go kart road trip through the city, complete with costumes? Japan tourism has been growing for years, but the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics will see visitor numbers fly through the roof. From the organised chaos of Tokyo and extraordinary temples of Kyoto to world-class ski fields and the bucket list cherry blossom festival, this country’s definitely proving its worthy of all the attention.

If you’re looking for bang for your buck – Bali

If you like the sound of $3 beer, $5 dinners and $50 private drivers (that’s for a whole day!) then you can’t go past Bali. The tourist traps of Kuta and Legian have long been associated with tipsy Aussies in Bintang singlets, but a bit of research and slightly extended travel time can open your eyes to the other wonders the island, and Indonesia as a whole, has to offer. Opt to venture further along the coast to super chill Canggu for beach clubs and breakfast bowls, head to the middle of the island for vegan heaven and yoga classes in tropical Ubud, or drive northwest to Pemuteran for underwater sights colourful enough to rival Great Barrier Reef.

Want to head further afield? Take a short boat trip to Nusa Lembongan for boutique hotels with a side of surfing, or go all out and fly an hour to Flores to see a truly untouched area of the country, complete with majestic manta rays and slightly terrifying Komodo Dragons. Top tip: Take a boat trip from Labuan Bajo around Komodo National Park, you’ll see an almost-dinosaur, a pink beach and alien-like islands all by midday.

If you’re all about endless good vibes – Mexico

Can’t get enough of Taco Tuesday and Tequila Thursday? Mexico is calling! Boasting golden beaches, ancient ruins and one of the world’s favourite cuisines, this country is packed with the friendliest of locals and booming fiestas all-year-round. Perhaps benefiting from an all-time high of media mentions (thanks to a certain President…), the USA’s southern neighbour seems to be jumping up wanderlists of travellers all over the globe. Water babies will love the magical underground cenotes (swimming holes), history buffs will get a kick out of Central America’s version of the pyramids and foodies will, well, probably never want to leave. The best thing is there are trips available for all types of explorers, from all-inclusive resorts or local homestays to small group adventure tours. Sign us up!

If you’re an animal lover – Namibia

National parks teeming with wildlife, deserts than look like another planet and beautifully rugged canyons have all thrown Namibia on the map for intrepid travellers, and for good reason. Etosha National Park is the most well-known safari destination, but Damaraland is absolutely worth a visit too, or look into conservation projects and wildlife sanctuaries to truly make your mark. If you’re a real pioneer, the aptly-named Skeleton Coast has got to be on your list – a harsh beach that washes up onto mountainous sand dunes.

If you prefer beanies over bikinis – Norway

From charming fishing villages and cosmopolitan cities to the stunning Northern Lights and Instagram’s most well-known hikes, this Scandinavian gem is ridiculously photogenic. The capital, Oslo, is bursting with culture, with endless museums and galleries alongside a growing culinary scene. Small-towners will love Bergen, a classic port city filled with colourful wooden houses side-by-side. If you’re looking for an adventure (and a view!) choose from the world-famous hikes to Trolltunga or Pulpit Rock, or fly to the Lofoten Islands for landscapes that will blow your mind. Heading there in winter? Don’t miss Tromso, where you’ll (hopefully) be able to catch a light show dancing across the sky.

If you want out-of-this-world views – Patagonia

With jagged mountain ranges, colossal glaciers and lakes so blue you’d think they’re Photoshopped, Patagonia is an absolute must-see. It’ll require a high level of fitness, some decent hiking gear and enough time to explore the region properly, but we guarantee the travel admin is worth it. Take on multi-day hikes, sip pisco sours with the locals, search the skies for condors or explore the growing towns of El Calafate and El Chalten. Torres del Paine has become a popular destination for active adventurers, and for good reason, but the Huemel circuit in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is equally as stunning and definitely less busy.

If you’re intrigued by ancient history – Jordan

Historians, photographers and movie buffs alike are sure to fall in love with this Middle Eastern country. The Ancient City of Petra is the obvious hot spot, originally made famous in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 before being voted as one of the New Wonders of the World in 2007. A night time visit will give you an extra special experience, with hundreds of candles lighting up the 3000-year-old facade. Jerash’s Roman Ruins are another must-see, as is Wadi Rum desert, with its bright orange sand dunes and rocky canyons. The structures and landscapes are mind-blowing, but what really secures Jordan’s place in a traveller’s heart is the authentic Bedouin hospitality – the friendly faces will make you always want to come back.

If you’re a beach bum – Sri Lanka

This island nation is a true melting pot, where colonial villages, Buddhist temples and Indian eateries are found amongst incredible natural landscapes. Wander through emerald green tea plantations, search for elephants in Uda Walawe National Park, hit the waves for world-class surf and climb up the dramatic cliff-face of Sirigiya, an ancient rock fortress. Just want to chill out? There’s over 1300km of coastline, which means plenty of beaches to relax on.

If you want a next level adventure – Antarctica

We’ve saved the most intense for last! Not for the faint-hearted, nor for those on a budget or those who get seasick, the journey to Antarctica is surreal to say the least. You’ll need to fly to Argentina first as most trips leave from Ushuaia in Southern Patagonia, before embarking towards the least-visited continent. It’s about 1000km through the Drake Passage to kick off the trip, keeping an eye out for whales en route, before reaching the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Most trips include shore landings each day for you to step on the ice, and you might come across penguin rookeries, seals and albatross. There’s no place on earth that will make you feel so far from civilisation.

There you have it, ten up-and-coming destinations to add to your bucket list!

Did we miss one? Tell us in the comments below.

Things to do in Kyoto, Japan

We love Kyoto – and it seems the secret is out – as Kyoto was recently named the World’s Best City in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2014!

Check out our top five experiences we recommend for your visit to Kyoto, Japan.

 1. Take a day trip to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s easy to get there on the train, and you can spend hours walking up and around the hillsides through the never-ending torii gates and seeing the beautiful views over Kyoto from the top. You’ll recognise this one from the movies!

2. Make sure you sample the delicious ramen – ask the locals for a good restaurant and they will point you in the right direction. Let your dinner digest with a leisurely stroll around the streets and maybe even see a real geisha or two serving tea through some of the neighbourhood windows.

3. Take a walk up Iwatayama Monkey Park – make sure you hang on to your personal belongings! The monkeys all live freely on the top of one of the hills overlooking Kyoto, and there are a lot of them! As you start to climb up the stairs, you’ll see more and more until they are running rampant at the peak.

4. Check out some of the amazing temples. There are so many temples in Kyoto that it’s hard to pick which ones to visit. The Kiyomizu temple is beautiful and a fun visit – a good one to take to kids along to. The Kinkaku-ji temple (or Golden Pavilion) is definitely worth a visit. It’s great on a clear day when you can see the pavilion reflected in the water, and then take a wander through the gardens. Another great temple is Nanzen-ji – a beautiful zen paradise set amongst lush greenery.

5. Nijō Castle has some of the best gardens in Kyoto and has very different architecture and design than the many temples around the city. The detail that goes into the rooves and art in the buildings is amazing. It’s set on a large amount of land, so take your time strolling around to take it all in!

Even if you’re only going for a few days to Japan, we recommend you pack travel insurance on your holiday. Japan is a country that can be tricky with the language barrier, and our insurance provides you with translators so if anything medically goes wrong, you’ll have someone to consult with the doctors so you know exactly what is happening. Check pricing by doing an online quote and compare our Essentials and Premier policy information.

Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand isn’t all about beaches, bustling cities and badly tailored clothes! We love Chiang Mai as it’s the perfect destination for a bit of everything with a laid-back feeling.

There is plenty to do in Chiang-Mai but we have short-listed our top five recommendations for you below:

 1. Elephant Nature Park – elephant riding is not everyone’s cup of tea as not all places look after the animals very well. A great day trip from Chiang Mai is to head to the Elephant Nature Park. You can feed elephants and bathe them in the river and get a really personal experience with these fascinating creatures.

2. Flight of the Gibbon – This is one for all adrenaline junkies, but it’s also a really fun day out away from the city. Soar through the tree tops on zipline after zipline and experience the jungles of Thailand from a whole new perspective.

3. Night markets – these are some of the best markets in Thailand, where you can buy loads of fantastic souvenirs and sample the local food. They have everything you could think of, so set a night aside to wander around the markets and fill your suitcase with some authentic local crafts and some not-so-authentic branded sunglasses.

4. Doi Suthep-Pui National Park – this is another great day trip from Chiang Mai. Head out to the “temple in the clouds” and enjoy the magical scenery. Take a walk up to the reservoir at the top and check out the incredible views (or take the funicular if you’re not feeling like a climb). The location is worth the visit alone.

5. Bamboo rafting – there are lots of different tour operators that will take you out to try bamboo rafting. Cruise down the river on your raft and have a swim along the way (sometimes involuntarily).

The great news is our travel insurance covers you free of charge for a wide range of adventure activities including rafting and even bungee jumping! Search your travel dates online to compare our Essentials and Premier policy to make sure you’ve got the right cover for your Thailand holiday.

Travelling with high value items

It’s so easy to lose or damage your luggage while you’re travelling – you can be as careful as you can be, but sometimes it just comes down to bad luck and the fact you’re unpacking and packing your suitcase all the time!

Here are a few hints for travelling with high value items:

  1. Wearing your jewellery is often the safest place to keep it, but only if it fits firmly and can’t easily fall – or be pulled – off.
  2. Take photos or scan your passport, any visas and your driver’s licence and keep these in your email account. That way if they get lost or stolen you can provide copies if needed.
  3. Don’t put your laptop or tablet in your checked luggage as the chances of your screen being damaged are much higher. Carry it with you on the plane, bus or train and make sure it’s safely stowed away.
  4. Don’t put your phone in your back pocket or somewhere easy to grab while you’re our sightseeing. That goes for your wallet too! Make sure it’s safely tucked away inside your bag or money belt – and always try to carry bags in front of you.
  5. Always, always, always get a police report if your items are stolen.

Finally, don’t forget to make sure your travel insurance policy covers a good level of luggage just in case. Our Premier policy has a luggage limit of up to $10,000 with an item limit within this of $1,500 per regular item, or $2,500 for electronic equipment. You easily can add on items worth more than this for an additional cost as part of the online quote process. Grab a quote online now to check what it will cost to cover your special items.

Things to do in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Whether you’re looking to have a quick stopover or longer holiday in Brunei, we’re sure you’ll find it an energetic, yet peaceful place.

Get off the beaten track with our top five must-do experiences:

 1. Take a river safari out to see to proboscis monkeys. You will usually also spot crocodiles, monitors, snakes and other monkeys along the way. Plus it’s a beautiful journey along the rivers lined by thick jungle.

2. Head up to the Temburong National Park and take a walk through the cloud forest canopy walk. See the jungle from new heights as you spot birds and other wildlife while enjoying a nice walk among the swing bridges and towers that overlook the National Park. Most hotels can help you book trips up to Temburong. The beautiful boat journey is also a bonus!

3. Hire a water taxi and head over to explore Kampong Ayer (the water village). They have schools, hospitals, petrol stations (for boats only), homes and shops all built on stilts over the water. Take a cruise around and check out how the locals live their lives on the river.

4. Visit the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture and looks amazing reflected against the water. This is definitely worth a visit and makes for some good holiday snaps!

5. Grab a cheap lunch from Tamu Kianggeh – the local markets. Pick up some delicious fresh fruit and sample some of the Bruneian cuisine without breaking the bank.

While Asia is an exciting and adventurous destination… it also is a region you cannot afford to not have travel insurance in. Check out our Essentials and Premier policies that can cover you from just over $1 a day! Get a quote for your trip online today.

Things to do in Hawaii

Hawaii has the best of both worlds; you get gorgeous beaches and tropical weather alongside fantastic shopping, restaurants and accommodation! There is a huge range of things to do in Hawaii depending on what island (or islands) you choose to stay on and how much time you have – but for a quick summary, we have put together our top five must-do Hawaii experiences for you.

  1. Hawaii Island – known more commonly as the ‘Big Island’, you can’t visit the Hawaiian Islands without a side trip to this geological wonder. It’s home of the very active Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes where you can view and hike amongst steaming volcanic craters, rainforest lava tubes and even see lava flowing into the sea! Big Island isn’t all about volcanoes;  there are also desert plains, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, golf courses and stunning coastline to witness too!
  2. Hanauma Bay, Oahu – only a half an hour from Waikiki this gorgeous marine reserve is worth a visit to learn a little about the history of the island as well as see first-hand reefs full of coral and sea life. While it can be pretty crowded, the clear blue waters do offer some of the best snorkelling on the island.
  3. Wailea, Maui – this luxury resort community is set in one of Hawaii’s most gorgeous and extravagant locations. Beautiful beaches, world class golf courses and opulent resorts abound, as well as some of the best snorkelling you can imagine where you can get up close with Green Sea turtles only metres from the shore. Worth a few nights even though accommodation is expensive!
  4. Waikiki, Oahu – while it’s not a hidden gem, it is worth a few nights to enjoy the atmosphere of Waikiki Beach. White sand beaches with crystal clear water alongside the world’s biggest open air shopping mall and a huge range of restaurants and bars. You won’t ever need to leave!
  5. Molokai Island – if you’re looking for one of the best places to whale watch, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Lanai and Molokai is one of the best spots in the world. You can take tours from both islands and even spot whales on the ferry between Kaunakakai Harbour and Lahaina Harbour during the whale season (December to May).

While it’s not the most exciting thing to think about, travel insurance also has to be on your to-do list when planning any holiday to the USA. Putting personal liability and the huge cost of medical bills in the USA aside, simply having cover for cancellation costs or travel delays will make your Hawaiian holiday even more relaxing. 38% of claims are made before travellers have even left New Zealand, so get a quote online today – and remember the earlier you buy travel insurance, the earlier you are covered.

Things to do in Samoa

Samoa offers beautiful beaches, hot tropical weather and an experience of a lifetime.

Car hire (pre-book before you arrive) is the best option to get around the two islands, Savai’i and Upolu, of Samoa. Although catching a bus in Samoa is a fun experience with their bright coloured vehicles, wooden seating and loud blasting music, it’s not the most reliable. Bus drivers tend to run at their own schedule, so if they want to finish earlier they will! Hiring a car means you can travel when and where you want, and at a relatively low cost.

Our top three must-do Samoa experiences are:

  1. The Tosua Ocean Trench in Upolu is a definite must-see in Samoa. This 30 metre deep natural swimming hole features a long ladder, a dock for diving and plenty of greenery.
  2. Visit the Taga Blowholes (also known as the Alofaaga Blowholes) to see the series of tubes that have been created from lava flows. When the waves break, the water is sent through the tubes at high pressure and cause big fountains that burst into the sky – it’s an amazing sight!
  3. Take a trip to Pilua cave pool in Falefa, a remarkable fresh water pool in a cave right by the sea, go all out and swim with the turtles in Satoalepai or hike up Mt Vaea.

No matter how short your trip to Samoa is, we recommend you pack travel insurance on your holiday. Check pricing by doing an online quote and compare our Essentials and Premier policy information.

How to keep your money safe when you’re travelling

How often have you seen a wallet (likely cash and card filled) peeking out of a back pocket or hanging out of a handbag? We all do it, but while you’re travelling you need to be a lot more careful. Have a look at our tips below to keep your money safe while travelling.

First and foremost, keep your cards separate. Losing your wallet at home is one thing, but losing your wallet in another country can be very frustrating and time consuming. It can be difficult getting replacement cards while you’re out and about travelling, and it’s no fun when you’re without money! Keep one card on you and your other one in your suitcase or hotel room safe; this will help to prevent an unwanted situation.

Another suggestion we have is to carry your wallet in a visible handbag (not an easy to open backpack) or tuck it into an inside pocket of your clothing. Pickpockets target travellers, so make sure you’re always aware of what you are carrying and keep your wallet safe and sound. We also suggest staying away from money belts or bum bags/fanny packs – a better alternative is the more discreet neck bag which is slim and can be worn under your clothing.

Last but not least, try to scan all your documents such as passports, travel insurance and visa documents and even your itinerary and save it to your emails. It’s easy to lose sheets of paper so at least you can have a scanned copy on your digital device to print again when needed.

If you are someone who loses their wallet once a week or plays the ‘where are my keys’ game most mornings, then we recommend you consider our Premier Travel Insurance policy. It covers you for up to $2000 of costs for replacing your travel documents, plus cash cover and generous electronic equipment cover.

Family holiday destination of the month: FIJI

It’s literally raining and blowing a gale as I write this month’s family destination blog post, so it makes my decision to choose Fiji an easy one! Sunshine, the beach and cocktails… need I say more?

Fiji is well known as a great destination for families. The fact that it’s on the same time zone as New Zealand is a definite plus, as is the huge range of child-friendly resorts and package options. To help you navigate your way through all the accommodation deals I’ve put together my resort suggestions based on what sort of Fiji family holiday you are after.

  1. Don’t have much time? If it’s a quick break in Fiji you’re after, then Denarau could be your best option. It’s only a short transfer from Nadi airport and there are a great range of hotels that have multi-room apartments. The Sheraton is definitely worth a look as is the Radisson Blu Resort. Both have suites/villas that boast fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities, as well as separate bedrooms so you don’t have to go to bed when the kids do! Whatever hotel you choose on Denerau we recommend you choose one that has a kids club, pool and menu, as well as a babysitter service (plenty do).
  2. Looking for maximum bang for your buck? If you’re looking for value then Coral Coast is a great option. It’s a little further away from Nadi airport (approx. 90 min bus ride depending on the resort), but it’s a simple connection to make. Many resorts on the Coral Coast have great all-inclusive packages including meals and drinks so there are no huge extra costs once you get there – essential for that all important glass of wine once the kids have gone to bed! I love Outrigger on the Lagoon and Fiji Hideaway Resort and Spa.
  3. Want an island experience? If you’re looking to get off the ‘mainland’ and stay on a smaller island the Mamanucas are the closest island group to Viti Levu. One of the most popular is Plantation Island for an action packed holiday, for both yourself and the kids. Treasure Island is also another great value option and perfect if you have older kids that you want in a separate (but interconnecting) Bure.
  4. Eco-tourism your thing? Then you can’t go past Nakia Resort and Dive on Taveuni Island. A fantastic resort with excellent service and food – you won’t be compromising on comfort and style to have a sustainable holiday. Plus there are beautiful natural attractions for the kids to check out as well as loads of energy burning activities such as fishing, kayaking and horse riding.
  5. Ditching the kids? If you’ve decided to leave the kids behind and want a romantic holiday for two, then you have to check out Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Outrageously expensive, but worth every cent! Picture over-water Bures, spectacular meals and the option to helicopter in on arrival! Bliss. If the budget won’t quite stretch then the Royal Davui Island Resort and Matamanoa Island Resort are also amazing options for couples.

Don’t let not having travel insurance ruin your holiday in paradise. You want to make sure you at least have generous medical cover as well as cancellation and baggage benefits. Both our Essentials and Premier policies include these benefits and better yet children under 21 are covered free with an adult policy.

Top 5 things to pack on your next holiday

We know fitting everything in your suitcase is tough – and that’s before you’ve been shopping – but we thought we’d share our five most important things to pack based on our travel experience.

Ok, so you’ve got your essentials… passport, wallet, phone (and charger) but what else do you need to make sure your holiday, and more importantly the journey getting there, is stress-free?

  1. iPad or Tablet. This thing solves a multitude of problems. It’s your alarm clock, tells you the time back home, your book for the plane (or entertainment system for the kids), navigator, travel guide, camera and of course lifeline to posting your holiday snaps on Facebook.
  2. Ear plugs. A simple wee invention but these things will help you sleep on the plane, block out your partner’s jetlag snoring and even tone down foreign cartoons the kids are blasting at 5am.
  3. Sunscreen. If you’re heading somewhere with sun, don’t rely on buying quality sunscreen overseas, particularly if English is not the first language of your tropical paradise. Buy sunscreen from home that you’ve used before to avoid any nasty skin surprises.
  4. Plug adaptor. Murphy’s Law is everything will go flat while you’re travelling so buy a good quality plug adaptor in advance, ready to plug in as soon as you get to your hotel. Also bring the USB charger for anything that has one – many flights will now allow you to charge devices at your seat.
  5. Travel insurance. OK you know we are going to say it but seriously, you’ll feel a whole lot more relaxed knowing you’ve packed a one of our travel insurance policies in your suitcase. You’re covered for the unexpected and you know help is simply a phone call away if anything happens.