by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Lifestyle : Travel Essentials 2011
1HERSA1 0003 offers unrivalled authentic experiences for discerning travellers in the worlds most vibrant and exciting destinations including South and Central America, Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean and Antarctica. With us you will travel in a less intrusive, more sensitive way in order to connect with people and places on an intimate scale. Up to $750 off on selected departures CONTOURSCollection The www.thecontourscollection.com 1300 135 391 CONTOURSCollection The Over 35 years specialising in the Americas CONTOURS TRAVEL essentials special report THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, JULY 3, 2011 3 reload fee. You will also pay an ATM fee every time you use the card. When you top up the card via Bpay, the reload fee is 1 per cent. The Cash Passport is available in seven major currencies but if you use it to withdraw money in another currency -- Argentine pesos, for example -- you pay a currency conversion margin of between 5.95 per cent and 8.45 per cent. Another option is the 28 Degrees MasterCard (28degreescard .com.au), which has no annual fees, no reload fees and no international transaction fees. If you transfer funds to the card, which you then use to withdraw money from ATMs, you avoid the card's interest fees of more than 20 per cent a year on cash advances. See the Travel Money Buying Guide at Choice (choice.com.au). The high price of staying in touch The world might be a global village but use your mobile phone the way you do at home and your next bill might contain a nasty surprise. Worse still, if you use data services to upload images to Facebook, check emails and bank statements and maybe download city guides, you could end up with a $1000-plus bill. But if you're smart, you can pay next to nothing for the same services. When you want to talk to the wider world without breaking the bank, the winner by a country mile is Skype (skype.com). Skype is free to download to your laptop or smartphone and you need only an internet connection to talk to anyone with Skype installed on their computer, free of charge. Sign up for a prepaid account with Skype and you can call landlines or mobile phones and send messages anywhere for just a few cents. If you are not travelling with a laptop or smartphone, just about every internet cafe has Skype installed. GO-SIM (gosim.com) is a great way to stay in touch using your mobile phone. This prepaid service gives you a new SIM card that allows you to make low-cost calls in 175 countries and receive calls free in 75 of those. You can also receive SMS messages for free everywhere and you get GPRS data services in 75 countries. GO-SIM also has micro SIM cards for an iPad or iPhone 4. If you call Australia from Britain using GO- SIM, it will cost you 37¢ a minute, incoming calls are free and GPRS data costs 34¢ per 100Kb. By contrast, Telstra would charge you $2.95 a minute for that same call, 70¢ a minute to receive a call and $1.50 for that same 100Kb of GPRS data, plus a 50¢ flag fall for each data session. OneSimCard (onesimcard.com) and TravelSIM (travelsim.net.au) offer a similar service. Since these are all prepaid, there's no chance of coming home to a mammoth bill from your service provider. You'll be replacing your usual SIM card and you need to contact your service provider to make sure your phone is unlocked. The dutiful shopper Jane E. Fraser answers the taxing question: how much do I owe customs? WITH the dollar so strong Australians are heading overseas for shopping bargains, particularly to the US. But there are limits on how much can be brought back to Australia and exceeding them can be expensive. The limits When returning to Australia, there is a combined $900 limit on ''general goods'' you can bring in tax free (in addition to duty-free alcohol and tobacco). There is no limit per item, so if you want to bring $900 worth of perfume, you can do so. Families travelling together can pool their allowances but if you exceed your limit, you can be charged tax on all your purchases, not just the items that exceed the limit. It is not a case of whether you get asked, either, because all travellers must make a declaration on their incoming passenger card. The exemptions Clothes and footwear are exempt from the $900 limit, so baggage allowances are your only consideration if you want to restock your wardrobe. Australian traveller Kirk Muddle returned home from a recent trip to the US with ''a ludicrous amount of clothing'', saying it is a great time to be shopping there. ''When you can buy Calvin Klein jeans at $29 a pair; of course, you buy three pairs,'' Muddle says. ''I left home with one bag and came home with three.'' He says another bargain he found was a brand-name suit on sale in Australia for $395 (down from $595) and selling in the US for $US140, or about $132. Things that count Jewellery, watches and leather goods are included in the $900 limit. Beauty products are generally exempt but perfume concentrates are counted as general goods. Also be aware the $900 limit includes any goods you bought tax- free on your way out of Australia, or on which you made a Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) claim for a tax component. So, if you bought an $800 duty-free camera on your way out, you can spend only another $100 on general goods while away. At the border How strictly are duty-free concessions policed? A Customs and Border Protection Service spokesman says there is ''no discretion applied'' and anyone with more than $900 worth of goods is required to pay the applicable tax. However, I once declared a camera that was more than the duty-free limit and the customs officer just smiled and sent me on my way. There is also the question of how a customs officer can know that the Prada handbag tucked under your arm is something you bought overseas and not something you already owned. Customs says if passengers claim their goods were bought in Australia before travel, ''officers may request to see receipts or other proof of purchase''. While customs officers do not routinely check TRS claims, they can undertake checks on passengers if suspicious. ''Passengers are selected for questioning and examination based on a number of factors,'' the spokesman says. ''At any stage in the assessment process, a passenger may be subject to further scrutiny.'' The penalties The incoming passenger card is a legal document and making a false claim or failing to declare goods is a serious problem. Where a passenger has deliberately tried to evade duty and tax, financial penalties can be applied and goods can be impounded until the penalties are paid. In more serious cases, the passenger might be prosecuted.
Taste of Seafood 2011
The Ultimate Flooring Guide 2011