Great outdoors ... Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures.
I would love to take my two sons, seven and nine, to a dude ranch. Horse riding is the main attraction for me, but the kids will want a mix of riding and lots of other activities in a kids' club. I was thinking of going to Montana, perhaps via Disneyland, as that state has some great holiday ranches. Are there any horse-riding holiday options for families closer to home in Australia?
- N. Ritchie, East Killara.
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures (glenworth.com.au) might be just what you are looking for. In a valley surrounded by rugged country just off the Calga exit on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, this country resort comes with an array of adventure activities including river kayaking and abseiling plus trail rides for riders of all levels.
The minimum age for all these activities is seven years. Glenworth Valley also has a fishing park stocked with Australian native freshwater fish, although this is closed during the 2012 winter months. The only on-site accommodation is the campground, and the reviews of this facility on Tripadvisor are mixed. As an alternative, there are plenty of B&Bs, motels, country lodges and self-catering cottages within easy driving distance, all listed on the Glenworth Valley website.
Stone carvings at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Photo: Getty Images
Another option is Valhalla Horse Riding and Farm Holidays (valhallahorseriding.com.au), located at Falls Creek, just south of Nowra.
Valhalla offers canoeing, archery and swimming in Currambene Creek as well as trail rides and riding lessons. Valhalla has several accommodation options, but the best fit for you would probably be one of the two-bedroom, self-contained cabins.
Fully equipped ... Changi Airport, Singapore. Photo: Getty Images
Essentials covered for Cambodia and Vietnam
We intend to travel to Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong region in September. We always try to learn the basic phrases when we go to foreign countries. What phrase books should we buy? And what money should we take? And how do we go about getting visas?
- R. Plentinger, Eleebana.
Lonely Planet's Vietnamese phrase book is compact and it's easy to find what you want to say for most situations, whether it's changing your hotel room, ordering the local specialty in a restaurant or finding the nearest toilet. Vietnamese is a tonal language and it's difficult for foreigners to wrap their tongues around, but you can always point to the Vietnamese version of whatever you want to say in the phrase book.
ATMs are common throughout Vietnam and they are a convenient way to withdraw funds from your Australian account in local currency. You'll find English language instructions on the screen. Contact your bank to make sure you can use your cards overseas. It's a good idea to carry more than one card.
You'll need a visa before you arrive in Vietnam. You can download an application form from the embassy website (vietnamembassy.org.au) and either send it to the embassy in Canberra or apply in person at the Consulate General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Sydney, located in the Edgecliff Centre.
In the case of Cambodia you can obtain an e-visa online at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia (mfaic.gov.kh). You can also obtain a visa from the embassy in Canberra, but it is probably more convenient to use the visa-on-arrival service in Cambodia. Your travel agent should be able to assist with visas.
A good sleep in Singapore
I am travelling to Britain in September and I'm breaking the journey with a layover of almost 12 hours in Singapore, arriving at 9.40pm. I want to get some sleep before continuing my journey the following morning. What are my options?
- C. Simmons, Port Macquarie.
Your best bet is to stay at one of the transit hotels within the airport terminal. On two occasions over the past couple of years I have had a refreshing night in the Ambassador Transit Hotel (harilelahospitality.com) inside Changi Airport's Terminal 3.
The rooms are simple, clean, functional and quiet. Standard single rooms are $S76.51 ($60) for a six-hour block, plus $S16.48 for each additional hour. Ambassador Transit Hotels are located in all three terminals at Changi Airport.
While there are other hotels close to the airport, some within walking distance, there would be no point in leaving the airport while on an overnight stopover.
If you do, you have the additional inconvenience of queuing twice at the immigration desk.
Age an issue on exit row seats
I'm 65 years old and about to set off on a trekking holiday in Nepal. I'm fit and I exercise daily, yet when I tried to book an exit row seat aboard my flight to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia, I was shocked to discover that I am over the age limit, and therefore not eligible to purchase exit row seating. I have plenty of friends in the same age group who are strong, fit and exercise regularly. We love to travel, we appreciate the extra comfort of an exit row seat, and we're prepared to pay for it. Is this age restriction exclusive to Air Asia?
- E. Haydn, Leichhardt.
As well as offering extra leg room, those highly desirable exit row seats are slightly different from other economy class seating. In the event of an emergency, it is a requirement that passengers in exit row seats will be able to open, lift and throw out a door that can weigh as much as 27 kilograms and be willing to assist other passengers. Airlines vary in the qualifications they impose in passengers in these seats but it seems that Air Asia's blanket age restriction is at the severe end of the scale.
Among the various requirements for exit row seating on Qantas, for example, the passenger must "not be elderly". This is a fuzzy qualification, however as long as a passenger satisfies all of Qantas's other requirements, it seems that age is no impediment. Similarly, Singapore Airlines requires that passengers in emergency exit seating are "fully able-bodied and capable of opening the exit doors", however age in itself is not an issue provided the passenger is over 15 years old.
Most airlines do not impose an upper age limit on passengers who are allocated an exit row seat.
Paranoia is never a good travelling companion but there are times and places when you need to take care, especially if you travel solo. PanicGuard is a personal safety tracker that can send an alarm with your GPS location to contacts selected from your address book if you fail to check in at a pre-arranged time. There is also a panic button. £11.97 ($18.70) for three months. iPhone, iPad, Android.
If you have travel questions, we’d love to hear from you. Include the name of your suburb or town and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Personal correspondence cannot be entered into. Only questions appearing in print will be answered. One published letter each week will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.