Travel SOS: planning your own dream holiday

Val needs some advice on planning her own dream holiday.

Travel SOS: planning your own dream holiday

Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has written about travel for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.

Val has just retired and wants to embark on her bucket-list holiday, but she needs some advice on how to start planning. In today’s Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan offers Val her top tips.

Q Val
I'm just retired and finally have the time to plan the trip of a lifetime. But there's so much information out there, I'm feeling overwhelmed. Should I just give up and go to travel agent with a bucket list?

A: No, definitely not. Don't give up. Part of the joy of a holiday is the anticipation and there's nothing like planning a trip for getting you excited about where you are going.

But the devil is in the detail, especially when it comes to travel. How do you make this go with that, and then that and that and that? It can be a nightmare, especially when you are planning a complicated trip involving difference continents, countries and cities.

Yes, you can use a travel professional – and I'm believer in them to help pull it all together or find deals for you - but even then you will get a better result if you know exactly what you want and where you want to go before you starting talking to one. That's where the research and the planning comes in and, of course, if you are doing it all yourself you definitely need to heed what I am about to say.

My advice to you is that the first step on your journey of a lifetime is to head straight to

The most prosaic description of rome2rio that it is a transport search engine, my description is that it’s magic. The site's tagline sums it up; discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile. And that's exactly what it does, as well as telling you how much it will cost, how long it will take, and directing you to the sites where you can book what you want.

Say, for instance, I wanted to go from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to St Petersburg in Russia. According to if I decided to fly, the entire journey from the centre of UB to the centre of St Peterburg would take 10 hours and two minutes and cost between $354–$806. Then rome2rio breaks the journey down into sectors: i.e. A taxi from Ulaanbaatar to the airport 15 minutes, cost $2–$4; flight 9.15 hours, cost $330–$800. In St Petersburg the train to the city from airport (line 39) takes 20 minutes, cost $1, frequency every 15 minutes, while the line 2 bus takes 13 minutes, cost $2, frequency every 5 minutes.

But if I want to train it all the way, rome2rio tells me I'll need to catch two trains and that journey will take six days and two hours and cost between $180–$220.

Then, of course, I could drive (as if) and it would take three days to cover the 6589.8 km between the two cities and cost me in the vicinity of $900–$1300 for fuel. Oh, yes, if I did go completely bonkers and decide to drive I could use Google maps which is integrated into the rome2rio app.

The site makes it super easy to book my choices via links to rental car companies, accommodation site, and platforms for trains, ferries and buses.

I'm also delighted to report that rome2rio comes to us via Melbourne. This amazing site and its simple-to-use App was developed by a Melbourne company founded by two whizz-bang entrepreneurs, Michael Cameron and Bernhard Tschirren. Both of these men worked at Microsoft and other power names in the tech world, while the CEO is one of Australia's most successful travel entrepreneurs, Rod Cuthbert, the founder of Viator, a world leader in online travel experiences.

No wonder it's the best site and App for travel planning that I've discovered. and the rome2rio app is available at the App Store.

Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to



    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th Nov 2016
    Great tip that rome2rio app
    5th Nov 2016
    Start planning early..everyone seems to be booking accommodation 6 months ahead. Use on line maps to see what is in relation to where you want to go and what comes next. Booking com - use their map option for locations of hotels THEN google street view so you are not next to a huge multi level roundabout (having just done such a search).
    5th Nov 2016
    10:34am An American site which, like all American sites, is expensive.
    Almost every major website offering accommodation and travel bookings is also American owned and they all burn travellers pretty badly.
    You may wish to think about using alternative websites like Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation By Owner), HomeExchange, etc. where you get much better value and more options plus do not feed the American monopolies.
    5th Nov 2016
    Unbelievable website Kaye. Why have I not found this one before. I am planning a south of France itinerary for next year and this is by far the best tool there is for viewing all the towns along the route and I will now be easily able to research each region and town much better than I could have done otherwise.
    Thanks Kaye.
    5th Nov 2016
    sorry Mick but i have used many times andhave always had a fair deal
    7th Nov 2016
    6590 KLM,s in 3 Days I think not, unless driving 20 plus hours per day.
    29th Dec 2018
    Sounds great. Can't access it. Is this for IPads only?

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