Our next family adventure is in the works. This week I finalized our tickets to Australia and New Zealand. This started out as a two week trip to New Zealand…and then I thought about it and realized how much I would regret not seeing some of Australia while we are in that part of the world. It is so far for us to fly too, so I figured we might as well make the most of it and try to see both places.
The plan is to fly into Sydney. My husband will have to work when we are in Australia as he can’t take off the extent of time that I plan to take off. Right now, I tentatively want to see Sydney, Tasmania, and Melbourne. Other places I thought about but ruled out are the Whitsundays and Cairns. They could make it back into the itinerary, but it is doubtful. Those places are farther to fly to in Australia. Sydney, Tasmania, and Melbourne are relatively close to each other and easy to get to. I will limit the Australia portion of our trip to no more than three destinations.
For the New Zealand portion of the trip, I’ll primarily let my husband design that itinerary. I know I would like to see Queensland, the Franz Josef glacier, perhaps the Abel Tasman National Park, Rotorua, and Auckland. But I’m pretty flexible on everything we do in New Zealand.
In regards to our tickets – we used frequent flier miles to fly all four of us to Australia and home. I’m somewhat relieved to finally have the tickets purchased. The four tickets ended up costing us only around $300. I expect that we may have to pay up to $800 additional in change fees before we finally go….for instance – I was not able to book our segment from our hometown to SFO. As of right now we are flying United to Auckland and then connecting to Sydney. I’m hoping eventually a flight opens up for award tickets from our hometown to SFO, and when that happens I’ll have to pay a $100 per person change fee to add it on. Still – it would be cheaper than booking a one way flight there. If I also see award availability open up on the direct flight from LAX or SFO to Sydney I may switch to that as well so we don’t have to connect in AKL.
I had to lengthen our trip slightly due to award availability…originally I wanted to plan a Saturday to Saturday trip. This is because when we fly out there it essentially takes two days and I didn’t want my husband to be missing any work on the flights. This past weekend though United changed the award availability…they had been showing Wednesday and Saturday availability for the flight I wanted and now the availability is for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. So we come back on a Monday now. Ideally if we came back on a Saturday we would have time to adjust before heading back to work.
I also bought segments as two one way tickets. This is because when you are trying to fly four people on award tickets to that part of the world, you book the tickets when they are available and don’t take a chance that they won’t be there when the return portion is available. With both of the “big” flights, right after I booked our tickets the award seats were no longer available on each of those flights…so I guess United may only allocate four seats at first. Eventually I’ll write a post at how we were able to accumulate so many miles when we only fly about once a year.
So – now the fun begins – the planning and the dreaming 🙂