21 January 2014

Travel plans

With training progressing well and nothing sinister showing on my latest CT scans, we decided it was all systems go for furthering travel plans for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in May.

Until now the only financial commitment we had made was to get our entry in before the event sold out.

To gain some motivation for the task of sourcing flights and accommodation and to recap on the first time we did this race (back in 2008) I had a read of a race report written following that event.  As well as picking up the odd punctuation error here and there,  it also reminded me of just how beautiful but tough the course was and how exciting it was to be on the Big Island for the first time.  

Then I delved into the task of finding flights.  It's not easy to get from Darwin to Kona.  The main aim of my travel research was trying to avoid the necessity of having to book a hotel in Sydney (or Brisbane) on the way over and also on the return flights.

I looked at all possible routes - via Singapore, via KL, via Tokyo, via Manila and even checked out going through Melbourne in case something popped up there.

Then before booking anything, as we will be travelling with bike boxes, researching baggage allowances was priority.  That narrowed the search somewhat with Hawaiian Airlines charging an arm and a leg to transport bike boxes. 

A Qantas/Jetstar combo was looking good until a call to Qantas confirmed that the Jetstar portion was a starter fare ie no checked baggage and this would have to be purchased at the airport.  At $25 a kilo (international) that was ruled out immediately. 

So after more research, a couple of phone calls and then long discussions about whether we could change return dates we finally made our decision. 

It has been a long time since we have flown international with them, but in the end it was Qantas who got our bookings for Darwin to Honolulu via Sydney.  We aren't required to stay overnight in Sydney on the way over nor on the way back and bikes can be checked in as part of our baggage allowance ie no extra charges. 

I'll work on getting to and from the Big Island next.

Finding accommodation (in Honolulu and on the Island) has also stalled a little.  Our exchange rate has dropped considerably over the last few weeks making it necessary to delve deeper into hotel/resort charges.  My mind is whirling with GET (general excise tax), Transient Accommodation Tax and daily resort fees!  Who knows how much the rooms actually cost these days, it's extremely hard to come up with a final figure.

That all then reminded me of the whole tipping routine that happens when you travel to the USA.  

Tipping is not a common practice in Australia and we find it somewhat confusing.  Although understanding why it happens it's not something we instinctively do, which can lead to an awkward silence or cold stare if inadvertently overlooked. 

Who said making travel plans were easy?

The view from our last stay on the Big Island is going to be hard to beat

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