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STA Travel Blog

Cruising the winding backwaters of Kerala, Southern India

Last week we introduced you to Alyce, one of our new India Tailor Made specialists, in her blog about her whirlwind tour of India’s Golden Triange and Rajasthan. She’s here to help you plan your perfect trip to India, based on exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it.

This week, Alyce is back, to take us through her favourite experience in India so far, cruising the backwaters of Kerala on a traditional Indian house boat.

Alyce, and our other India Tailor Made specialists Thomas and Nick, have been trained to create bespoke and personal trip itineraries in India, so we sent them on their own adventures there to make sure they are super clued up and ready for your call. Here’s Alyce’s favourite memory of her trip to India’s beautiful south…

Take a traditional Indian house boat for a relaxing cruise down the beautiful backwaters of Kerala, India.

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10 of the best places to park your campervan in Australia

For as long as I can remember, hiring a campervan and driving it round Australia has been on my travel wishlist. I’m not alone: last year, thousands of STA Travellers used a campervan to explore Oz. There’s a definite novelty factor about driving your entire house around, making beautiful National Parks your home for the night and living a basic kind of life for a while. On top of that, campervans are also a really practical and often budget friendly way to get around, especially if there’s a group of you to share costs.

Luckily for me, when I met my now husband a few years back, it turned out that an Australia road trip was pretty high on his bucket list too. So when set about planning our wedding, we decided enough was enough. We blagged a couple of months off work and set about booking a somewhat unconventional honeymoon that would see us driving up the east coast of Australia in a campervan on an epic drive from Sydney to Cairns. In 3 weeks.

Let me stress that Sydney to Cairns is really quite a long way. Over 2,400 kilometers if you go in a straight line (we clocked up over 4,000km in ours). But of course, when it comes to road trips, it’s all about the journey as much as it is the destination. We stayed at some simply incredibly spots on our trip, and as we spoke to other travellers we met along the way, were pretty gutted we couldn’t stay longer and drive that campervan all over Australia.

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Competition winners Alix and Lorena share the story of their epic road trip through Miami and the USA’s Deep South

Last year Alix Thepot from France won a spot for her an a friend on one of 3 epic road trips across America after entering, and winning, a global STA Travel competition to join this one and a life time travel experience.

The journey would see her, and her chosen ‘plus one’ Lorena Sorrentino from Italy, as well as winner number 2 Christian and his friend Max from Germany, 2 camera crew from New Zealand and an STA Travel staff member (which, on this occasion, was little old me) visit some of the USA’s most iconic travel spots and experience an authentic and exciting taste of this part of what is undoubtedly a diverse and fascinating country.

The journey took in the beaches of Miami and Florida Key West, cowboy country Dallas, Memphis, the birth place of rock and roll and the unique French influence of legendary New Orleans.

I caught up with Alix and Lorena to reflect on their time on the road in the USA and find out exactly what stood out for them to make their trip unforgettable.

L-R: Alix, Christian, Max and Lorena.

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How to Spend an Amazing Long Weekend from Sydney

To coincide with the launch of our new Bridge the World Australia brochure, we have spent the last few weeks on an online journey through Australia’s unique wilderness landscapes, wildlife adventures and hidden luxury retreats.

This week we are in New South Wales – a state whose reputation is understandably dominated by the iconic landmarks and stylish urban lifestyle of its world-famous capital Sydney.

At Bridge the World we are by no means immune to Sydney’s dazzling cosmopolitan charms, fully recognising that few cities in the world feature so highly on the average bucket list or are capable of sucking so many well-intentioned and once intrepid travellers into it’s magnetic vortex, never to return (we’ve lost a few good customers this way, they’re currently very happy, tanned and living in flipflops).

Expecting that visiting Sydney is a given, we are temporarily shunning the expected day trips out to the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains in favour of a few days self drive into the staggering natural splendour, gastronomic and grape-infused wiles of New South Wales. Perfect for a short Sydney stopover or one dreamy long weekend away, this self drive ventures into the soaring mist-cloaked peaks and plunging canyons of the Blue Mountains; vine-clad rolling countryside and rich earthy tones of the Hunter Valley; and sheltered white beaches and calm emerald waters of Port Stephens in just 4 days. Although, given what we already know about this intoxicating part of Australia, we would recommend longer – we of course refer here to intoxicating natural beauty as well as the wine.

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Wine, wildlife and boutique wilderness – a self drive discovery of Victoria’s best kept secrets

Continuing on Bridge the World’s journey through Australia, our second blog leads us to Victoria. For many, Australia’s smallest state is instantly recognised for its sophisticated, creative and sporty host capital of Melbourne; neighbours (a dedicated few perhaps); and as the start or finishing point to the Great Ocean Road – one of the most famous and breathtaking coastal drives in the world.

However, in following our theme of taking you to some of the places that we ourselves have re-discovered in researching our newly launched Australia brochure, this week takes an idyllic wilderness and epicurean self-drive instead through Victoria’s rolling vineyards, boutique B&Bs, gourmet dining, countryside bike trails and rugged coastal walks. So yes, essentially we’re combining a host of middle England’s favourite pastimes (you know who you are) but in one glorious and unspoilt playground just hours from Melbourne. And, we strongly suspect, with considerably better weather.

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