Australia and/or NZ and other tips

We returned from Australia and NZ on Dec 28. I will soon post some info from both those trips, including how we spent our free time. As for the visa questions in some older posts, Tauck will obtain it for you, at no extra cost, after you complete an information form. When you receive the visa in the mail a few weeks before you travel, it will not say VISA on it, but some other term I don't recall and doesn't even seem remotely connected. This is something Tauck should look at improving because others have questioned on this forum "Where is my Visa?"

Those thinking about booking Australia or New Zealand and who live on the east coast of the U.S. and have the 22 days for these tours, should think about doing both parts if the time is available. It is a long flight(s) and it is expensive to do twice from the east coast, with the problem of flying to L.A., and the problem of not being able to easily obtain non stop flights, then not departing L.A. (LAX airport) until 11:30 pm, then flying 15 hours to Melbourne for Australia or 11-12 hours to Aukland for New Zealand. We were in transit for 33 hours from departing our home in the Philadelphia suburbs to arriving in Melbourne.

Try to avoid flying through Chicago in our winter because of the danger of snow and delays--sometimes for days as I've noted in past newspaper reports.

December to March is the best time, if you have that time available, to visit those countries because of weather conditions. Check out a weather map site and you will see the temperatures. Australia is milder because it is closer to the equator.

Seasons are reversed from U.S.A.--and the farther one gets from the equator (especially the south part of New Zealand) the cooler the temperatures will be at the non summer parts of the year.

Another tip: If you book your own air and Tauck cancels the departure because not enough people have signed up, Tauck will make up the the additional cost to you if you decide to depart on a later trip, as they did for us and someone else on our tour who had the same problem.

We were originally scheduled to depart on November 25 for the November 28 trip. Keep in mind that you lose two days traveling because of flight and change plane time and crossing the International Date line and losing a day. You pick it up on the way home. We left one day earlier of the tour start date to take advantage of a pre day on our own.

As it worked out, we departed Dec 5, 10 days later, for the tour that began on Dec 8.
It seems that a November 25 departure may have been too close to Thanksgiving for some people to commit to flying.

In August, Tauck alerted us to the problem that there would be no tour on November 28 because of a lack of enough participants. So when you book, ask how many participants are signed up and what is the minimum number they need to do that tour.

If you do have this kind of problem a few months before your scheduled departure and can't go a week or so later or when the next trip is scheduled, and you have to re-book much later, it could become an issue because the airlines only allow one to re-use the plane tickets within one year of purchase. So, if like us, you book the maximum number of days out (331), or in January 2011 like I did, you would be forced to commit to a trip occurring within one year of buying the tickets.

Of course, it you pay Tauck to include your flights, it's not a problem. However, we saved $700 per person by booking ourselves directly with Quantas @329 days in advance when we caught a sale. Some people on our tpir used Virgin because of frequent flyer miles, but I don't know what their routing was. I am sure you will check it out and do what works best for you and your schedule.

It was a wonderful trip!
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