The internet is an incredible free source of destination information, but it can’t quite match the thrill of receiving a whole envelope full of free glossy brochures of beautiful people streched out before vistas of azure oceans. Here are two great sources of free travel information delivered to your door; one defintely useful, the perhaps somewhat other less so.
Let’s start with the best. Tourism authorities are a fantastic and often-overlooked source of travel information – particularly for decent free maps and basic info with lots of glossy pictures. ANTOR’s* represents 48 official tourism authorities (including the Australian State authorities) and the destination info page provides (along side some basic travel info) the URL, email address and contact details for all of them. If you’re interested in any major destination for Australian travellers it will be listed. Simply email the relevant authority with your address, rough dates of travel and as far as possible the specific regions or cities you’re interested in and wait for the postie everyday for a week or so! No substitute for a good guidebook or your own research but generally there will be at least a couple of genuinely useful items in the material sent.
TravelBrochures.com.au and TravelBrochures.SMH.com.au are another clearing house for free travel information, although arguably of a must less useful nature. These sites allow to order free tour company brochures, some of which are available in digital (tree-saving) format. All the majors are available as well as a few smaller operators – useful if you wish to compare tours from a number of companies or can’t get to a travel agent. Of course some major operators now send out (often unintenionally comical) DVDs as as a bonus! Be warned, however, apart from ending up on a tour (which may or may not be a bad thing in itself…), you are likely to end up on a mailing list of the tour companies from which it may be difficult to extract yourself!
*(Association of National Tourist Office Representatives in Australasia)
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The Sunday Telegraph had an article worth reading about the ramifactions of EU enlargement for Australian travellers to Europe. The accession of nine Eastern European countries to the EU, and to the Schengen Agreement makes it much easier for Australians to travel to those countries as a 90 day Schengen visa will be issued on arrival. However, the sting in the tail is this – because Australian travellers are still only allowed to stay in the area covered by the convention (which also includes most of Western Europe, coloured blue in the map) for ninety days in a six month period. these nine new countries are included in the same ninety days as France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, etc, the likelihood of Australian travellers wishing to exceed the total 90 days is greatly increased.
The article also observes that
An emerging problem arises from travellers booking flights themselves over the internet, and therefore being unaware of visa requirements.
Then, when they’re checking in at the airport, they discover the airline won’t carry them because their paperwork isn’t in order.
“That can obviously be a pretty big problem for the traveller, yet it happens quite frequently; it’s a pretty common occurrence,” Mr Derbyshire says.
A sage reminded to be extra careful if you’re travelling through a number of countries.
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Tagged Czech Republic, eastern europe, Estonia, europe, finland, france, germany, Hungary, italy, Latvia, lithuania, Malta, norway, Poland, portugal, scandinavia, schengen, Slovakia, Slovenia, spain, sweden, travel, vacation, visa