For at least the past 25 years I’ve been terrified of flying. I’ve been on planes in that time but very infrequently and always absolutely rigid with fear, any movement due to turbulence had me practically weeping.
When my step-daughter, son-in-law and our 3 youngest grandchildren moved to Singapore last summer we felt that we should visit them in their new home.
Then I thought I could get help with this fear in the form of medication from my GP and at that point we decided if we were going to travel as far as Singapore then why not continue on and visit a few other places? Where to was the next decision.
I’ve had a bit of an interest in seeing a bit of Australia and Mr D has an interest in New Zealand, so it seemed that perhaps we could try to fit those in to the trip.
A visit to my GP to confirm he could prescribe medication to get me through the anxiety and at Christmas the research of routes and fares began.
Now I’m pretty damned good at looking for bargains, within a short time of moving to France I’d already sussed best (cheapest) places to buy petrol, best supermarkets and restaurants so I was confident in my abilities of scouring the internet for air fares.
First piece of research was best online travel companies. I chose Kayak initially as I liked their search engine, I could create ‘trips’ and save routes. I ended up creating at least nine different trips with various dates, cities and lengths of stays.
Second research was best way to get to New Zealand, was it via Singapore or Australia or was it best to ‘do’ NZ first? So many options. Then of course which part(s) of Australia to see.
My head hurt with all the possible configurations.
The final route we decided on was Singapore, Sydney, Christchurch, Melbourne, Singapore then home. Best prices for flights was the next headache. It may be the holiday of a lifetime but I had no intention of paying over the odds for flights. Daily monitoring of prices became the thing. I was driving everyone crazy and was persuaded to just go for it and book, there were no guarantees the prices were going to drop further so I went ahead and bought the return flights to Singapore for a very good price with Emirates, however only for a couple of days later a different airline was offering flights at £100 less per person. I wasn’t happy but our flight times were better and shorter in duration so I consoled myself with that. (The decision to go with Emirates actually was an excellent choice, they were amazing, we cannot fault them at all. Courteous staff, great food, comfortable seats and on our return flight they even took a photo of me and Mr D and presented it to us as a memento of our flight).
The flights from Singapore to Australia and New Zealand were far more complex, there were so many options and by this time I wanted to be able to do the entire booking process in one go. I found that Opodo offered multi-trip bookings, which meant I could choose the flights but essentially make one booking, it was also going to be easier to track and manage whilst we were en-route. After a couple of false starts I finally got the flights we wanted with the times that suited us and paid the money.
All good so far.
The headache really began then. Accommodation. Hotels in Australia ended up being the best option and we chose well, the delightful Simpsons Hotel in Sydney served up delicious breakfasts to set us up well on our days out exploring. Then in Melbourne we plumped for the ParkView Hotel another lovely hotel with those all important excellent breakfasts.
Accommodation in New Zealand involved us deciding on a route to drive around with accurate timings for lengths of stay in each area. Luckily a Christmas present from my daughter of the Lonely Planet guide for New Zealand was a godsend, they gave recommended routes plus full info on towns and attractions. Once we decided on route I then scoured Airbnb and BookaBach for suitable places that met certain important needs for us (wifi, own bathroom etc). Some places we stayed were amazing some not quite so but we had a great time (more on that in next blog).
Finally and most importantly a trip back to the GP who provided me with enough tranquilising medication to soothe an angry elephant and we were ready for the off, a month of travel which involved 9 flights.
Pics and more information on that holiday of a lifetime to follow.
Please note all recommendations are entirely my own and I have not been given anything for mentioning the companies within this article.