In April, our Working Holiday Visas were accepted, and we booked a really cheap flight from Toronto to Sydney with two layovers: Vancouver for 2 hours, and Honolulu for 9 hours.
Australia was our very first topic of conversation when we met in 2013, and the plan to come here together on the WH visa has been 2 years in the making. After packing up our lives in the UK, and spending three months travelling across Canada, we officially left for Australia this morning.
Join me and my thoughts during our 34 hours of travel.
What I Learned // Moral of the Story: Do your research when booking flights, looking specifically at airlines and layovers. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more for a shorter overall journey, or perhaps break up the travel by spending a few days in your layover city. Don’t end up like us tonight; hungry and exhausted, not sure where to sleep during a layover and carrying bags around while lost!
The three months we spent at home has come and gone far more quickly than I thought possible. I woke up early this morning and cried over breakfast, cried in the car to the airport and cried when my mum dropped us off. Once my mum drove away, I shook off the tears and (probably looking like a blubbering idiot) headed into the airport to check-in. Thankfully our bags were under the 15 kilo limit and we were informed that WestJet would transfer the bags for us to Honolulu. One less thing to worry about!!
Feeling peckish, we had a farewell meal at Tim Horton’s which consisted of an everything bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese (personal favourite and recommendation) and a banana muffin. Somehow, I forgot to order Timbits (not sure what I was thinking).
I’ve sent the last of my farewell texts and it’s time to board the plane…
Au revior, Toronto!
The flight was uneventful, and I slept most of the way. During the descent, we had the most incredible view of the Rockies fading away into Vancouver city clouds. WOW! Having been here three times prior, I felt really confident with our short layover at this particular airport.
Upon landing in Vancouver, we had to go through American customs before finding our next departure gate. On our way through security, the female guards complimented my socks (Sven from Frozen). Next, we went through customs and received passport stamps for entry into America, but we’re still in Canada??
The sign we just walked under said “Welcome to America”. Well alright then!
Our flight was delayed to Honolulu by about 30 minutes. One of the flight attendants had a family emergency, and waited until a new crew member could be sent over. Despite the delay, we arrived 30 minutes early, adding more time to our layover in Hawaii!! No mountain or ocean views this time, it was too late at night to see anything.
I thought we were so lucky to have 9 hours in Honolulu! Unfortunately, I didn’t check the booking close enough and missed the part where it said our layover was overnight…
The Honolulu airport is closed overnight (SURPRISE) and we weren’t allowed to wait inside. We collected our backpacks, and were directed to a dark, quiet (maybe a little bit sketchy) area outside the airport doors, with security guards and a few other people present. The guards offered to watch over our belongings if we wanted to sleep until the airport reopened at 4am. Thinking this could be an easy way to save money, we put our bags down and grabbed a seat. Our choice for sleeping spots were either marble slabs on concrete blocks (so you can lie flat) OR airport lounge chairs.
We stayed roughly half an hour before deciding to leave. I would NOT recommend this option overnight. Despite the security, it did not feel safe and it was terribly cold outside. The cheapest hotel would cost close to $200 USD, so we asked for directions to the nearest 24 hour McDonalds. The thought of free wifi and hot food easily won me over, and thankfully, it was only a 10 minute walk from the airport.
McDonald’s was not busy! The restaurant somehow managed to make a Christmas playlist that featured a ukulele in every song. Impressive, but nonetheless still weird. Shoutout to the really lovely staff that served us, and didn’t kick us out as we took turns sleeping on their tables and sofa seats for 6 hours!
We had another flight delay. There was an electrical issue, which affected the air-conditioning and made the plane reallllllly hot. Unfortunately, engineers were called and unsure as to how long the issue would take to be resolved. We were on-board our Jetstar plane for nearly 2 hours before takeoff. Flight attendants came around with around with cold water, but it didn’t help much.
Unbeknownst to me, Jetstar is a budget airline. The only thing included on the flight was water, and everything else you must pay for: meals/snacks, alcoholic/soft drinks and entertainment. As we were already stuck on the plane, I paid for the in-flight entertainment ($10 for full access). Thankfully, the entertainment service was complimentary, to apologise for the heat and delay, and I will receive a full refund (in the next 5-10 working days). Having been awake most of the night in Hawaii, I slept for most of the 10 hour flight.
Finally, WE ARE HERE!! Excitement hit when we could see Australia from our window seat. Customs was smooth and we collected our bags quickly. We both received new stamps for our passports!
A 20 minute train/subway journey from the airport, and we’re finally here at the hostel. It’s not late, but I’m exhausted. The plan is to shower and sleep; we’ll explore the hostel in the morning!
Have you ever experienced a journey like this? Or do you have your own travel horror story to share? I’d love to hear all about it!
Sweet dreams, for now.