Canadian travel blogger Alannah McEwan is behind the website Itchy Feet Travel. She’s recently visited the Australian state of Tasmania. Her blog also offers advice for a range of travel situations and her basic message is to ‘be prepared.’
She learned that the hard way – after arriving for a trip in Vietnam, the driver of her cab from the airport to her accommodation literally took her for a ride. Alannah hadn’t found out how much the fare was and she was unfamiliar with the exchange rate. “I thought okay I am tired I just want to get to my hostel. When I got there, I converted what I had been charged into Canadian dollars and I realised that I had been ripped off. The next day, one of my friends arrived and she had researched ahead of time the taxi rates. When she got into the cab she knew how much it would cost and told the driver how far she was going. She ended up paying a lot less.”
Alannah told me that if you’re clearly a tourist, there’s always somebody who will try and take advantage of you. And she has some tips if you’re visiting a country where English is not widely spoken and you can’t speak the language. She put them to the test when she toured China.
“Knowing how to get to your hotel or where you are staying from the moment you land is useful. Printing out a map so you can point to it, if you cannot communicate otherwise, also helps. Having the name of the place you are staying written in the local alphabet or language is good too. I used a hotel business card. I suggest that you should carry a pen and paper so you can draw a picture if you can’t communicate through words.”
Alannah had no language difficulties in Australia’s island state of Tasmania. When people go to Australia they usually visit Melbourne, Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef but she wanted to go somewhere a little bit different. It’s just a one-hour flight from Melbourne.
“It has a more laid-back feeling and lifestyle than the main cities of Australia. There’s lots of natural beauty.” Alannah says that Tasmania was a little more rural and people were, “laid back and outdoorsy. It’s like the east coast of Canada because the British settlers were there at the same sort of time and the buildings are similar. Hobart, the capital, is on the water too.”
Alannah got a chance to see the island’s most famous wild inhabitant. “Growing up I never realised that the Tasmanian devil was real animal,” Alannah told me. “I went to a rehabilitation place because they’ve suffered from face tumours, which have been killing off a lot of the numbers. They’re now trying to increase the population. Sometimes they were too shy to come out and then other times you’d see them lying on the ground sunning themselves. They are little and black and they look cute but are apparently quite ferocious. If you give them meat they make a terrible and loud growling sound!”
You can learn more about Alana’s travel and pick up her tips and advice at itchyfeetravel.com.