The grim news is that there is going to be another recession (goody, but when exactly did the last one finish?) which means that there will be even fiercer competition for jobs.

So it is little wonder that people have started to go to extreme measures to stand out from the crowd like this guy who made a video to appeal to Google to give him a job:

Over the last two years, I haven’t resorted to such tactics. Perhaps I should have, but just adjusting to the concept of having to sell myself was enough.

Continue reading “Redundant in London: hi, would you like to network with me?”

Travel hacking

Sep 29, 2011


I’m lucky that I sleep well on planes. Give me a window seat, a pair of headphones (god I wish I had the dough to buy a pair of noise-cancelling ones, but just I don’t fly regularly enough to justify it), my blow-up neck pillow and my padded eye mask — both of which I carry in a special ‘travel bag’ and use on all long-distance flights — and I’m snoozing soundly for at least half the flight. But insomniac suffering boyfriend doesn’t have it as easy.

This great New York Times article interviews different sleep doctors about their best tips for catching a few zzzzs while sitting in economy.

“David F. Dinges, a psychologist and the chief of the division of sleep and chronobiology (essentially the study of our internal clocks) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told me that the angle of the seat matters.

Continue reading “The best way to sleep on a plane when slumming in economy”

Troy Wilkinson writes: I couldn’t let the recent Back in a Bit piece “I travel therefore iPhone: why only idiots travel without a smart phone” pass without comment. Though in fairness to Ben Oliver it has nothing to do with the contents of his article and everything to do with the editor’s rather mischievous choice of title.

I don’t normally get riled about being labelled an idiot, as it tends to happen often enough. For a start, there’s my questionable dress sense. And being a Tasmanian doesn’t help. But for some reason, as someone who doesn’t own a smart phone at all, I took umbrage this time.

Continue reading “Only fools stay connected while travelling: the luddites fight back”

Very tempting deal to Norway currently available through STA Travel. From STA’s Facebook page:

“How does $999 return, inclusive (taxes, too) to Europe sound? Yep, fly into Oslo, Norway on Qatar – only Skytrax 2011 Airline of the Year!”

Only for travel between October 6-20 (and yes, that includes return flights to Oz by October 20). Head to STA if you’re interested.

Yes, it’s rare for us to point out super/interesting cheap travel deals. But that’s one of the things we’re wanting to do with travel hacking tips… what do you reckon? Interested?

Julie Zhou writes: I looked anxiously up at the sky — dark clouds hung ominously low, the air smelled like wet laundry. These were not ideal conditions for tennis, but there I was, standing in front of the gate at Flushing Meadows, getting ready for a night of grand slam tennis featuring Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The first thing you should know about me is that I am a die-hard tennis fan and a die-harder Federer fan. One of my bucket list goals in life is to visit all four grand slams, preferably while Federer was still playing. Being a Melbournian and having seen Federer play at Wimbledon just the previous year, the US Open was about to become my third “Roger slam”.

Continue reading “Roger that, it’s a grand slam win for all”


Sep 20, 2011


I was sitting in a hostel in Munich two years ago, laptop open and writing emails to a long list of neglected family members, when I paused to peer over the lid of my battered machine; I’d been in Europe for several months by that stage in early August, and the once pristine, silver facade of my Toshiba was now showing signs of serious neglect.

Milling around reception was a group of increasingly frustrated travellers waiting for a computer to become available. I didn’t envy them. Most hostels only have a handful of machines, most of which usually pre-date Windows 98. To a younger generation who don’t remember 33.6k, writing an email on a hostel computer feels like you’ve been teleported back to the Stone Age. Frustrating doesn’t come close.

Continue reading “I travel therefore iPhone: why only idiots travel without a smart phone”

So where should you be planning your next overseas holiday? According to the Daily Examiner:

“The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show overseas departures at near-record highs – increasing more than 10% in the seven months to July, compared with the same period last year…

…The Expedia NAB Travellers’ Foreign Currency Rankings compares the performance of the Australian dollar, against the world’s currencies over a 12-month period, to reveal the top 10 best-value destinations for Australian travellers.”

So the top 10 rated spots based on currency AUD percentage gain (ie. the best value destinations for Aussie tourists) are:

Continue reading “The top 10 best value overseas destinations for Aussie tourists”

Naomi Shimoda writes: Few people can imagine a place where it’s totally normal to walk down the street with a teenage boy decked out in brooding gothic gear on your left and a young girl donning a dainty French maid costume embellished with lace on your right. On Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo’s centre of fashion and people-watching, this is fairly commonplace.

A demure, pastel coloured arch with the name of the street printed modestly on it marks the beginning of the famous strip, but is in no way an indication of the wacky street fashions to be witnessed up ahead. The usually quiet shopping strip transforms into a miniature catwalk for teenagers to show off their wackiest attire on weekends, most often conforming to particular subcultures.

Continue reading “Sequinned cowboy suits and cutesy candy dresses: people watching in Harajuku”

You might have noticed that in the last few months Back in a Bit has undergone a bit of a facelift. New categories, new faces, some design tweaks here and there. I’ve also had an increase in people emailing me wanting to contribute to Back in a Bit — which I love and always want more of — so figured it might be easier for me to explain some of our changes so if you want to write for us, you know exactly what we’re looking for.

Back in a Bit — as always — emphasises the quirky travel tales. Not so much luxurious hotels on a tropical island, more struggling to survive the dodgy plane ride to a remote island. Not a list of the obvious tourist traps in a city, more searching out secret swimming holes or uncovering a long-abandoned cemetery with a turbulent past.

And if you were wondering just exactly what those swish little buttons in the top left corner of every post actually meant, then please let me explain…

Continue reading “So you want to be a travel writer? A Back in a Bit guide”

Ashley Davis writes: The culture that built the temples of Malta disappeared over four millennia ago, around the time the ancient Egyptians began building pyramids in Giza. The Maltese builders had been at it for two thousand years longer, assembling walls from limestone megaliths. All we know of these ancient builders are the ruins that still dot the Maltese archipelago today.

The oldest of the temples is called Ġgantija, the Giant’s Tower. Built on a hill in Gozo (the smaller of Malta’s two inhabited islands), it is the oldest free-standing structure built by human hands, or so archaeologists believe.

Continue reading “Spring equinox at one of humanity’s oldest structures”

Amsterdam. The very name stirs sexy and forbidden images from deep within the cerebral cortex of every young traveller. It’s the basement of every 15-year-old boy’s imagination come to life, sans the bolt on the door and the open window to allow ventilation.

The Playboy magazines of our youth, or some of the saucier National Geographic editions, are live and in living colour in the “Damage”, a place where prostitutes with barely a leather strap covering their modesty co-mingle with Bob Marley-wannabes, Rastas drug ringers and a heavy contingent of dark Eastern European types.

Continue reading “Amsterdam: not just strippers and ass-less lederhosen”

“We could go to Wylatowo,” I say to Yvette. “What’s there?” she asks. “Alien crop circles, apparently,” I reply.

I look at her, doubtful anyone will find this as interesting as I do. Yvette bounces up and down with excitement. I know why I am friends with this person, I think. Not for the first time.

Yvette answered an ad we put in the paper for a house mate in 1999. A dozen years later, she’s on my couch in Warsaw, and we’re trying to decide where to go on a road trip. I’ve ruled out Gdansk and Krakow, having been to each of them a dozen times already. Unluckily, that’s pretty much put paid to the standard tourist itinerary of Poland with one fell swoop.

Luckily, Wylatowo is still left in the mix, since it’s not on the standard Polish tourist itinerary. Mainly because there is nothing there. The odd stray alien excepted, of course.

Continue reading “Close encounters of the rural Polish kind”

An Expat Opinion

Sep 2, 2011


Dictionaries should define ‘breathtaking’ as ‘Oregon rivers’, an obvious double entendre for the initiated.

And if it’s not the rivers that make you gasp, there are the mountains — either steep or rolling bristling with acres upon acres of deep-green conifers.

Unlike Colorado or Utah’s eye-popping grandeur though, Oregon’s beauty is exquisitely banal — it’s perfectly inescapable, joyfully simple, and utterly lovely.

Continue reading “Breathless in Oregon rivers”