By KATE HUNTER
For all sorts of reasons, I’ve been travelling a bit over the last 2 years. With kids, without kids, with husb, with sisters and girlfriends, and solo. Sometimes I’ve travelled as a guest but mostly it’s been on our own dime.
I’ve done a family driving holiday through four Aussie states, lived it up in New York City, flopped on a Vanuatu beach, walked New Zealand’s Milford track, bumbled down the Victorian ski slopes and camped beside Queensland creeks.
It’s made me think a lot about how we choose where we travel and why.
Money’s a major deciding factor, together with time. Overseas travel has never been more popular thanks to a (still) strong Australian dollar and international airfares cheaper than a Sydney ferry ride. But I always feel kind of guilty when I choose to head offshore when there’s so much of Australia I haven’t seen.
I feel bad (not bad enough to not go) when I lap up the service provided by people I know are on a tiny wage. I know I should spend my dollars here and that our beaches are fab and our cities sparkle but why, when we have the choice, do so many Australians head offshore at the first opportunity?
And why is it so hard to sell Australia to ourselves and overseas?
Is it the distance, the exchange rate, our difficult-to-define culture? Some writers (I’m looking at you here, The Courier Mail) like to blame our congested airports. Seriously?
Has anyone ever, in the history of the world said, ‘Hmm, no, I won’t go to Paris because the Charles de Gaulle is CHAOTIC?’ No. No they haven’t.
I thought about it a lot when I was in the USA earlier this month. So many Americans I chatted with said how much they’d love to visit Australia but said it was ‘too far, too expensive and altogether too hard.’
They were confused about how they’d get around, what they’d do, who they’d meet and what they’d see.
But here’s what I found weird: they were ALL OVER New Zealand. They know all about it and and seemed much keener to get there. Australia was the optional side trip. HUH? New Zealand is almost as far away as we are, just as expensive and offers arguably less.