“We’re Going to a Land Down-under”!

Yeppers, another bucket list item.  Lessee…ummmmm….Panama Canal, check.  Monarch butterfly refuge in Michoacan, Mexico, check.  Key West, Florida, check.  Death Valley, California, check.  Yellowstone park, check.  Oregon coast, check.  Australia, gonna get checked this winter.

While I’m here, some others.  Machu Picchu.  Antarctica.  Cape Horn.  Alaska.  Kilimanjaro (not climbing, seeing in person).   Mauna Loa.  Greece.  Cruise across the Pacific.  Three Gorges dam/Great Wall of China.

Ambitious?  You bet.  I think I can do them all after I retire.  Maybe one or two before then.  Notice, all seven continents.

I was hedging about returning to the Philippines this year, at least to our friends there.  Aussie has been in the back of my mind since Praxy discovered a couple of friends living there.  [My use of “Aussie” is by no means disrespectful.  A good Australian friend in the Philippines lovingly calls Australia “Aussie” and I picked up on it.  If I’m in error, please contact me.]  The Philippines works every other year or so, at least at this time in our lives.  I figure when we get older and slower, an extended stay in a relaxing environment would be heavenish.  For now, let’s see the world.

Praxy ran into an old school friend on Facebook.  Seems this friend married an Australian and moved to South Australia, where she is now employed as a nurse.  After chatting a bit, this friend offered us a place to stay in her home near Adelaide.  We immediately took her up on it, but I delayed doing much about it for a bit.  Such an offer is generous to the extreme, and can sometimes, on reflection, can be a bit onerous.

When we travel a long distance, we tend to stay for several weeks.  It doesn’t make sense, at least to me, to spend $2500 on airfare to stay somewhere for a week.  That is, unless someone else is paying for it.

I looked at staying for 5 weeks, but airfares were horrendous.  I finally spotted a decent fare out of Pasco to Adelaide for $1179 per person!  I hemmed and hawed, stewed, delayed, procrastinated, whatever, and that fare went away 6 hours before I was going to purchase it.  CRAP!   But patient searching turned up $1257 Pasco to Melbourne on United Airlines.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, more on that further into this post.  I jumped on that fare yesterday with undignified alacrity.

I monitor fares regularly on googleflights.  I used to be a travel agent, and some of my friends now ask me for help on how to get good deals.  Once I saved a friend almost $1400 and word got out.

That involved that friend getting her parents from Cebu, Philippines to Calgary, Canada, one way.  The best fare ANYONE could find was $1550 per person, including travel agents.  That was purchased in the US and sent electronically to Cebu.  But, ever on the lookout for cheap transportation, I’d noticed while visiting the Philippines that…if you could physically purchase airline tickets in the Philippines, they were much much cheaper!  I told her to contact her relatives by Facebook and have them shop around travel agencies in Cebu.  Sure enough, same airline, same itinerary, purchased in Cebu, $829 per person.  Western Union or Moneygram the money to the Philippines for $25.  That little move ended up saving about $1400!  She did exactly that.

Not bad.

Typical fares from eastern Washington to Australia run from $1700-$2200 dollars.  $1500 is a sale.  $1250 is a bargain.  I suppose if I waited it out, I might see something in the $1100 range.  Not taking that chance after losing the $1179, by far the best price I’ve seen in twelve weeks of monitoring.

If $1000 shows up, so be it.  You pays your money, you takes your chances.

Why is Melbourne a better deal than Adelaide?  Train.

There is a ten hour train ride from Melbourne to Adelaide that runs $89 per person.  We could fly it for $79, but this is too good to pass up.  A comfortable 10 hour tour of the Australian countryside.  Praxy has been begging for a train ride for years.  Perfect.  It’s a done deal, planned into our arrival date in Melbourne.

The return to Melbourne is a little misty at this point.  I’m leaning towards a mini-bus tour of the South Coastal Highway.  Three days, two nights.  We’ll check that out when we get to Adelaide.   Prices are a little steep online.  Perhaps there is a “bargain” to be found locally if you have the time to shop around.  We can always fly or return on the train.  Or perhaps saddle up a kangaroo.

Looking for motels, checking out visa requirements, purchasing train tickets, talking about what we want to see and do.  A lot to plan.  But 7 months to do it.

Yeah!   I’m excited!

4/17/2016  12:15pm


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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