It's just a matter of a few short weeks before we head down under for a four week extravaganza. It's a trip filled with beautiful hotels and resorts, top rated restaurants and crazy adventures. We start in Sydney, Australia then head to Cairns/Port Douglas where we will be attending a wedding for one of my husband's cousins. It's a bit of a family reunion, bringing together Colin's family from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand - all of which I've never met before, so there will be a lot of catching up to do! From there, we head to New Zealand's North Island where we road trip from the Auckland (at the top) all the way to Wellington (at the bottom), before flying back home to California. Here is a sneak peak of our itinerary and all of the nitty gritty details behind this crazy adventure.
On a side note, I've just recently discovered an awesome new tool called Tripcipe - it's basically Google Maps marries Pinterest and births a beautiful Trip Planning baby. I love it because I can grab all of those pretty images of places I want to go to or visit on a trip, it will pin it with a description and info on a map and then allows me to pull those spots into a customized daily itinerary - whoa! You can create new trips online and in the app and take them with you wherever you go and you can even grab pieces of other people's trips to add to yours or copy their entire trip altogether. I've quickly become obsessed and started updating all of my previous Travel Guides with Tripcipe; it makes them so much easier to look at than just using Google Maps. Finally, a cool travel mapping tool for the organized planners out there! It's a new company with some awesomely smart people behind the scenes, so I expect it to continue to evolve and get even better with time. Check it out at www.tripcipe.com.
Check back for more updates and full reviews of all the places we visit. If you have any additional recommendations that I should keep in mind for the trip, please let me know! Cheers!
I absolutely pride myself on getting great deals on fabulous trips, it's kind of my thing. But I'm not perfect and I was recently so kindly reminded of that both by Air New Zealand and my husband. So here's what happened...
In August my husband and I will be traveling to Australia and New Zealand for almost 4 weeks. Exciting, I know. But what's not exciting is the cost of flights; they can be upwards of $2,000 each from Los Angeles. So I set my focus on finding a deal - diligently tracking flight costs on a weekly basis and constantly checking sites for any changes. In December I found an amazing deal that allowed for a stopover in either Fiji or Cook Islands for practically nothing.
For $1,200 per ticket on Air New Zealand we were traveling from:
Los Angeles to Sydney / Cairns to Auckland / Auckland to Rarotonga, Cook Islands / Rarotonga to Los Angeles
Woo hoo! Not only did I get a deal, but I've got us going to Rarotonga for 4 nights for some island relaxation. Here was my thought process: Rarotonga is a fairly unknown island compared to places like Fiji and Bora Bora and everything I was reading said that it was just as beautiful, less expensive and way less crowded. Score!
Now here's where the problem occurred. I started to really plan the trip a few weeks ago - creating a detailed budget, researching places to stay and what to do, etc. When it came to Rarotonga... my island dreams of laying on white sand beaches in front of my five star hotel for next to nothing was very quickly fading into the sunset. I discovered that while it's off season in New Zealand, it's high season for the Cook Islands because all of the cold Kiwis travel to the island to escape winter! On top of that, it is the island's centennial making it extra busy and there are only a handful of high-end, luxury accommodations available making them even more expensive. What did this mean? Let me break it down for you...
5 Star Hotel Average Cost Per Night: $600
Cost of Food for 2 Per Day: $100
Excursions Per Day: $75
Rental Car cost: $200
Total Cost for 4 Days = $3,300!!!!
Well, spending over three grand on four days was not what I was thinking when I booked a stopover in Rarotonga and I was devastated. After all of my planning and research and convincing my husband that this was a good idea, I had screwed up. Feeling like an idiot and in a panic of losing a small fortune I needed to figure out a plan B. Here were my options...
A) Of course, I could always go with a cheaper, boring option for a hotel... but that wasn't so appealing (and to be honest, the accommodation options were pretty mediocre in general).
B) We could just swallow the money and go (and risk for the next five years hearing from my husband that I spent more in a couple days than he paid for his last car).
C) We could pay the cost to change our plane tickets and stay a couple more days in New Zealand instead (literally take a handful of hundreds and throw them into oblivion).
Being a numbers gal, I busted open a new Excel sheet and a white board and started crunching numbers. I won't bore you with all of the dirty details (unless you like that sort of thing), but long story short I figured out that changing our tickets and painfully paying the penalty of $250 per ticket to stay extra days in New Zealand (taking into account the cost of food, activities and a super nice hotel) would still ultimately save us nearly $1,000 instead of going to Rarotonga. We both agreed that this was the best option for us and the opportunity of spending more time in Hobbitville sounded pretty awesome.
So in the end, I lost us more money than I saved, but sometimes that's the price you pay for traveling. Type A or not, planning trips is hard and at times frustrating, but worth it in the end.