Sunday, April 30, 2017

Australia and New Zealand Trip: Part 16 (Reflection and Budget)

This is my last post about our trip to Australia and New Zealand. Tal and I really appreciate our moms taking care of Savannah and Hadley while we were gone and for making it possible for us to go on vacation for our 10th wedding anniversary. Tal and I loved spending 10 days alone. No cooking. No cleaning. No laundry. No diaper changes. No strollers. No sippy cups. It was a luxury to eat leisurely meals, have adult conversation, get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights, and have several hours of free time each day to read, watch TV, and listen to podcasts.

On our trip, Tal and I were on an airplane 7 out of 10 days. We flew on 9 flights. We spent approximately 55 hours in the air. We traveled by plane, car, bus, shuttle, boat, ferry, and taxi.

Tal and I also saw some beautiful sights, including the Outback, Ayers Rock, Sydney, and Auckland:

When Tal and I got home, Savannah and Hadley were excited to see us...

...and what we brought them from our trip:

During our stay in Sydney, Tal and I got a water bottle, multi-colored pen, mermaid wallet, and Australia magnet for our girls:

We also got T-shirts for Savannah and Tal...

...and some Australian board shorts for Tal:

Tal did an excellent job planning and organizing our trip. However, we will do a few things differently on our next international trip:
  • Don't plan a vacation before or after Easter. There were long lines at the airports, as well as many full and overbooked flights, which caused delays and cancellations.
  • Carry a carry-on. Yes, it would be a pain to pull our luggage around the airport. However, Tal and I spent valuable time (15-30 min) waiting for our baggage in-between flights that caused us to miss or almost miss some of our flights. 
  • Plan 3 or more hours for layovers. Tal and I discovered that flight delays are common when traveling internationally. We also spent 1-1.5 hours in-between flights picking up baggage, going through customs, going through security, and checking our bags before our next flight. In addition, many international flights started boarding one hour before take-off and closed the doors 30-minutes before take-off. 
  • Don't schedule activities the day that we arrive in case our flight is delayed or canceled. Tal and I nearly missed our 8-hour Outback tour because our flight from Cairns to Ayers Rock was delayed a few hours.
  • Use a well-known car rental service (Hertz, Budget, or Avis) that is located at the airport. In Sydney and Auckland, we had car reservations with lesser-known car rental companies (Europcar and Ezi) that were located off-site. As a result, we had to take a shuttle from the airport to the car rental place. In Auckland, we had to get a taxi to transport us from the car rental place to the airport because Ezi was not open at 4:30 A.M. We spent time and money riding shuttles and paying for taxis.
  • Get international cell phone coverage on BOTH of our phones. To save money, Tal and I paid $10 a day for international cell phone coverage on my phone. While we were in Australia and New Zealand, Tal could only use data when he was on Wi-fi. However, Tal still racked up $75 in overage fees. We would've have better off paying $160 for 8 days of international talk and data coverage on both of our phones.
Our 10-day trip to Australia and New Zealand cost $8,700. Tal and I used our tax refund to pay for the entire trip. We paid $7,000 for airfare, hotels, activities, and passports. We also spent $1,700 on the following items:
  • food
  • currency
  • travel insurance
  • international cell phone service
  • car rental 
  • gas
  • tolls
  • parking
  • souvenirs
  • food and activities for Savannah and Hadley while we were gone
Tal and I are already dreaming about our 15th anniversary trip. Maybe an Alaskan cruise? Or a trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland?

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