Our 3.5 Weeks in the South Pacific
Alex’s work contract with Samsung ended the first of April, and since we figured that a). he wouldn’t have another six week break between jobs (well, at least we hope not, unless it’s our choice!), b). we were closer than we’d ever be to New Zealand (only a 10-ish hour flight, as opposed to 24 hours!), c). it’s easier to travel with one kiddo rather than two, we decided to take a three and a half week vacation to New Zealand. Lots of our friends, who recently visited from Seoul, raved about the South Island of New Zealand. “You can’t take a bad picture,” or “You’ll be stopping every two minutes to marvel at the scenery,” or “There isn’t a more beautiful place on Earth!” were the things we heard.
It was an added perk that my mom had a conference in Auckland (on the North Island) around the same time, so she could join us for two weeks. Alex and I had a ton of Asiana frequent flyer miles, so we wanted to use those before we left Korea. The only place Asiana flies into, in the whole South Pacific region, is Sydney, Australia. We’d heard good things about Sydney, too, so we booked our Asiana tickets from Seoul to Sydney, roundtrip. Looking at where we wanted to go on the South Island, we decided to fly open jaw. We booked tickets from Sydney to Christchurch (the South Island’s biggest city) via Emirates (highly recommend — the service was excellent, as was the meal, and they hand out a ‘fun-pack’ to all the kids… this kept Baby M occupied for a while!). On the way back, we booked Air New Zealand from Queenstown to Sydney (this route, since it was short, was run more like a budget airline — you have to buy snacks/food/drinks).
So, that’s how we came to spend almost the entire month of April traveling around Sydney, and the South Island of New Zealand. I’ll be blogging about Sydney and New Zealand separately, so stay tuned!
Pro-Tip for traveling with a kiddo:
We only had enough miles to purchase two roundtrip economy tickets (Baby M traveled as a lap infant since she’s under two). But, as many of you know, traveling with a lap infant is really hard, especially when they are squirmy and can’t sit still (basically once the kid is over the age of nine months!!).
[Before we had Baby M, I always said, “I’m not going to buy a seat for my kid under the age of two! Parents who pay for a seat when they don’t have to are dumb! Why waste the money?!” Well, now that I have a kid, I’ve changed my mind. It’s almost worth it just for preserving your sanity!]
Since we were flexible, Alex and I tried to buy tickets for the middle of the week. We figured the flights wouldn’t be as busy, and maybe, we would luck out with an empty seat. When we reserved our Asiana seats, we chose an aisle and a window seat, hoping no one, in their right mind, would want to sit in a middle seat next to a lap infant (we were right). But, since we didn’t have a guarantee that Baby M was going to get her own seat, we couldn’t bring a carseat on board. How to restrain her? We purchased a CARES Harness — it loops through a normal airplane seatbelt, and is designed to hold in smaller children (but not babies), and it’s the only one that’s FAA approved. It comes in a small bag, and it’s lightweight, so we just tossed it in our diaper bag. It came in handy on both of our Asiana flights. (Although I’ll have to agree with other users that if your kid is particularly squirmy, like Baby M, s/he will slide down the seat. It’s not perfect in restraining your child, but it works well enough.)
[An aside: If you have a chance to use the Air New Zealand lounge at Sydney Airport (we’re Star Alliance Gold), do so. It is the best lounge we’ve ever visited. There’s a freakin’ pancake machine! ‘Press YES if you would like a pancake,’ says the sign. Um, yes! There are also a few super automatic espresso machines, and the water dispenser can dispense both still and sparkling! The best thing? There’s a play area for kids!]