Saturday, October 1, 2011

Are We There Yet?

The longest flight I've ever been on to date is the Denver-London trip I took eleven years ago to be an au pair for the summer.  I settled in, wearing my travel socks, read deep, philosophical literature trashy celebrity magazines, and happily ate biscuits with clotted cream.  My upcoming flight to Australia will be slightly different.  How, you ask?  Well, I'm no geographer, but my son's talking plastic globe matter-of-factly states the distance between the United States and Australia is 4,028,477 miles.  I may be exaggerating a teensy bit, but it's a heck of a long way away.  The globe doesn't include this little piece of information, but it's basically the same distance of traveling to the moon, give or take a few miles. 

Also?  I'll have a husband and three children under the age of 9 on the flight with me.  You might be thinking, "Ahhh, her husband will be with her so they can help each other out with the kids."  Well, dear reader, what you don't know is that my husband has a heretofore undiagnosed medical condition called Airplane Narcolepsy.  Immediately upon sitting in an airplane seat and buckling his seatbelt, my husband's head tilts back, his lips part slightly, and he falls asleep.  Even the most concentrated poison dart looks coming from me are no match for this debilitating condition.

That being said, our tickets for the year abroad are booked--and despite the ungodly amount of time we'll be traveling, I'm PSYCHED.  Here's the plan...

After spending a few days with my husband's family a couple hours north of San Francisco, we'll fly from San Francisco down to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.  At 10pm, the adventure begins as we board a plane to......drumroll please......Fiji!!  As a family of five, international plane tickets add up quickly so unless a long-lost wealthy uncle passes away we get some screamin' deal, once we're there we won't be able to fly to other countries (or even within Australia, for that matter).  But--building in a 5-day stopover in Fiji only added $100 to each ticket, so it was a no-brainer to break up the traveling time and get in a few days in a new place. 

And get this--because we're doing an overnight flight and crossing the International Date Line, we leave the evening of Dec. 24 and we arrive in Fiji at 5am on Dec. 26th.  Christmas ceases to exist this year for our family--pure genius!  The boys, however, are very concerned about how Santa will manage to deliver their stocking gifts; theories abound, including Santa coming in through the emergency exit or that Santa will be disguised as one of the passengers on the plane.  Alex said he'll be keeping his stocking right on his lap during the flight, and expects to wake up because of its weight on him, laden with gifts.  I told them that Santa knows we'll be traveling, so I'm sure he'll work something out (and I'm trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to manage having their stockings filled with goodies and laid out all Santa-like upon our arrival at our condo in addition to the wee task of packing my family up for a year halfway around the world).  I know we'll have a lot of amazing distractions so we'll thankfully avoid a gift-heavy holiday, and besides, Jackson told me recently that his favorite part about Christmas stockings is getting PEZ.  If that's the highlight of his Christmas, I think I can swing that much.

Maybe it's because I don't get the opportunity to travel to new places very often, but I absolutely love scouring the internet for unique places to stay and great deals for experiencing what the area has to offer.  And no offense to those travelers who immediately scope out the nearest Burger King while abroad, but I love experiencing life differently when I'm in a new place.

We're traveling on Air Pacific, which has some fairly terrible reviews (yay for bargain travel!), so I figure we'll be more than ready for a little beach luxury after peeling our scraggly selves off the worn airplane seats.  I booked us a one-night stay in a beachfront bure where we will stretch our legs, lounge, and swim with this view.

Photos of Uprising Beach Resort, Pacific Harbour
This photo of Uprising Beach Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not. bad.

We'll fall asleep to the sound of the ocean in our bure, which looks like this--

and since we're living the island life, we'll shower under the stars in this open outdoor shower.

Photos of Uprising Beach Resort, Pacific Harbour

This photo of Uprising Beach Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor

And for $135 bucks for the night, it's a total bargain--I've paid more than $135 for a disgusting hotel with a dead rabbit in the parking lot and a condom wrapper stuck to the side of the building in Winnamucca, Nevada on one of our past Colorado-California road trips.

Tempting as it looks, I'm not interested in remaining at a typical resort for our entire stay in Fiji.  I'd like to get a sense of how people really live there, instead of seeing a resort's contrived Fire Walking Cultural performance or some such nonsense.  I'd like the boys to get a feel for a different culture as well.  So for the next few nights, we're doing a homestay--staying with a Fijian family in a village of about 400 inhabitants.  There, we can play with the village kids, tour the coastline by horseback, go spearfishing, hunt for octopus (there could not be an activity more appealing to my three boys than this very one)...

visit the local school...

and enjoy fresh local food.  The accommodations are much, much more simple than a typical resort, but I'm hoping the experience will in turn be much, much more memorable.  From there, we'll have a hop, skip and a jump of a 4 hour flight over to Sydney on New Year's Eve, starting the new year together and a year of adventure.

Oh, Fiji.  You are my dangling, juicy carrot as I muddle through The Preparations (and yes, I'm capitalizing it from here on out, to show its daunting, formidable nature.)


  1. I love it when I'm going on a trip and I finally have those plane tickets booked, because then it feels "real." Like this is really, really happening now! So excited for you, Annie.

  2. Well as you are one-foot-out-the-vacation-door'ing it, I'm relishing every second of you and your family! Oh my land am I going to MISS YOU! What an amazing adventure in store for you guys!
    (btw I'm still getting over the clotted cream comment. That just sounds so...wrong!)

  3. Summer--more wrong than pickled eggs from a northern Maine truck stop?? :)

  4. Even though school started a few months ago, it is still a good idea to stock up and buy classroom supply as stocking stuffers for Christmas. This ensures that your child never runs out of their school supply and gives you an idea of what to fill your child's stockings!