The bags are packed, the newspaper delivery has been cancelled, the neighbours alerted... you’re on holiday!
In the weeks ahead many of you are going to be heading somewhere else, chasing the sun, kicking back, indulging in whatever takes your fancy. But how well prepared are you? Holidays don’t just make themselves; to make the most of that precious free time, you need information and sound advice. The Web has it all, and we’ve cobbled together a backpack full of sites that will help you to get the best out of the holiday season.
BEFORE YOU GO
If you’re off on an extended trip – maybe overseas, or to a bach or a favourite camping spot – you’re going to have lots of photo opportunities. See our December issue (page 60) for tips on how to take great summer snaps. But how about sharing those pictures with relatives and friends elsewhere, while you’re away? It’s much better than one of those ‘wish you were here’ postcards and takes little time to set up. If you already belong to a social network like Facebook or MySpace, then you’ve got a place to show people what fun you’re having. Otherwise, Flickr (www.flickr.com) is the place to go. Set up a free Flickr page and then mail the address details to those you want to share your holiday experience with. You can give them a login so only they can see your snaps. You can edit and organise your photos, and even create a map showing where they were taken. Those who view your photos can also post comments. If you’re already a Yahoo! Mail user, you can create a Flickr page straight away, and if you’re a Telecom Broadband customer, you can upload your images to Flickr for free till the end of January. And if you’ve got a video camera, you can upload videos to Flickr too.
Make sure your home is secure before you depart. There’s a checklist at tinyurl.com/yhckxke Alternatively, if you’d prefer to have someone living in, watering the plants, feeding the pets, etc. try www.happyhousesitters.co.nz, www.housesitters.org.nz , www.homesit.co.nz , www.housesitters.co.nz or www.petsonthenet.co.nz/petminding.htm
If you’re driving anywhere, you can check the road conditions where you’re going at www.transit.govt.nz/road/holiday.jsp The AA has safety tips for holiday driving at tinyurl.com/yfbuda4 and see also tinyurl.com/yjj22w9
To stop the kids getting bored on long car journeys, have a look at these sites for games to keep them amused: tinyurl.com/yhygqtq , tinyurl.com/yjwvq9u , tinyurl.com/yhste2p , tinyurl.com/ygpa5ut and www.liveandlearn.com/cargame.html
If you’re travelling with your pet (or leaving it behind), there’s a helpful checklist at tinyurl.com/yjomdpc and you’ll find a list of pet-friendly accommodation at www.petscancometoo.co.nz
Need a ride – or have you got space in your car? At www.carshare.co.nz you can look for rides with people who are going where you want to be, or offer rides to travellers who are prepared to share the costs. It’s free to search or post offers of rides, it saves money, and it’s ‘green’.
If watersports are going to figure large in your holiday plans, surf.co.nz has up-to-date information about conditions at all the popular North and South Island beaches, including Web cam images. See also www.surf2surf.com
Wherever you are, you’ll want to check out the local events. At www.eventfinder.co.nz you can search for what’s happening locally – especially on New Year’s Eve.
If you’re travelling overseas, advice is available at www.safetravel.govt.nz You can also register your travel plans here for emergency contacts. If you’re travelling with kids, and particularly if you’re going to a resort, you may find useful information about the place you’re going from other travelling families at www.travelwithkidsonline.com A video offering advice on how to avoid holiday disasters is at tinyurl.com/yfpj7uj
And finally, if you maxed out your credit card on holiday shopping and travel, Sorted has some advice on how to clear that debt at tinyurl.com/yjc8ycv