Planning my Trip – Flights

Step 1 – Getting There

So in my quest to visit America, I have not given myself any time to really save up. I also now have a full time job so I couldn’t take too much time off either. However, because I like a challenge I’m still planning to go to at least 2 American cities and Australia.  This trip will be like most of my others, I will be travelling by myself, but I will be meeting up with friends in both Orlando and Brisbane.

I am always looking for the best deals on flights. For this trip I am budgeting at most $2,000 on flights and around $5,000 in total.

Original budget:

$2,000 –  flights

$3,000 – accommodation, activities and spending money.

The process

I always start looking for flights on Expedia, they have a really great range of companies to search from and can definitely give you a starting point.

I try not to book on Expedia as I always have a terrible experience. You can never really change or get a refund, you can’t mix and match your flights, or specify what is important without compromising other aspects of your trip. Have a look at Kayak, Sky Scanner and Flight Centre.

I also try to price out individual flights versus round trip, especially in the planning stages while I’m trying to decide where I want to go and what I want /how I want to get there.

For example, while I was in the early stages of planning this trip I was going to go to New York and only spend 3 days in Orlando. I also looked at spending some time in California and Texas. though while researching what I wanted to do and where I would stay, nothing jumped out at me and made me decide on Texas or California as the place to visit on this trip. I have however always wanted to visit New Orleans. Something about the history and the culture there just really interests me.

I also am a member of the Qantas frequent flyer and I desperately want to get to silver membership!!!! I almost made it last year but my points expired before the end of my last contract so I missed out!

So the final flight plan I settled on:

  • June 4th – Auckland to Chicago
  • June 22nd – Orlando to Brisbane
  • July 3rd – Brisbane to Auckland

On Expedia the trip was looking around $2200.

To be honest I was kind of disappointed, I didn’t want to spend like half my budget on flights alone!

By chance I decided to search my full itinerary on the Qantas website as I had chosen the fully Qantas trip on Expedia and had decided to fly Qantas if possible so I can finally attain the coveted silver membership.

And buy was I happy I did! I found the Qantas website so useful! You can choose each individual flights to choose price or arrive or depart times. I managed to shave almost $500 off the total price. As I am always travelling on a budget, always looking to the next trip, this is always a bonus.

So my final flights are as follows

  • June 4th – 6:20am depart Auckland fly via Brisbane and LA a finally arrive in Chicago at 3pm on the same day
  • June 22nd – 7:30pm depart Orlando fly via LA and land Brisbane at 6am on the 24th June
  • July 3rd – depart 6:55pm and arrive in Auckland at 00:00.

All in all, I think I paid $1850 including the visa fee for booking and paying online.

These flights will add just over 300 points to my membership which will take me well and truly into silver level which will be amazing for my next adventure at the end of the year.

I’m really really happy with my flights. Now you may be thinking why are you going to Chicago, and how are you planning to get to Orlando???

I decided to book another flight from New Orleans to Orlando, I like to book southwest mostly because of the free luggage and the great prices. I probably could have booked either united or American airlines which would add points to my Qantas membership. However, I like the free 2 bags that southwest offers more.

This flight is June 9th 7:55pm arriving Orlando 10:35pm.

I was/am a little worried about how late I booked in regards to storing my luggage. I have emailed my hotel about storing my luggage for the day but I have yet to hear back.

My final thoughts on booking flights

Shop around! Look at sky scanner or kayak, southwest won’t show on any discount sites be sure to check their site separately.

I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to book like 6 months in advance or a week out. I booked my flights and then the next week air New Zealand and Qantas released cheap flights to LA, but my flights wouldn’t have been too much different as I have several legs of the trip.

The waiting game

So with everything I choose to do in my life I love to play the waiting game. This is not true. I am the most impatient person I know. However I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world and be paid for it. I want to live for the experiences and enjoy life to the fullest.

So I have constantly found ways to reach these goals and fulfil my wanderlust and lack of money.

So if you guys have been following me for a little while you’ll know that since I finished my Disney International College Program I have been trying to get on to the Disney Cruise Line. Last time we talked I was mid-way through my application process.

I have filled in the application, which was pretty straight forward … Upload resume….. Now type out resume in the following screens. I found having a reference from within Disney was really beneficial here, even an old manager.

I had a phone interview which lasted around an hour – hour and a half. In which my recruiter a lovely lady by the name of Jan talked to me about my job, my resume, my time at Disney, why I felt I was right for the team, working on a cruise ship and of course my next steps. Have a look at my post “applying for the DCL” for more hints on the interview and this process.

After the interview I had to get a medical check-up which consisted of lots of blood work and immunisation history as well as an eye test and a hearing test. To start with I did have some trouble with this as I was not provided the information for the medical tests until I had already had the meeting with my doctor. This was a very expensive part of the application. This cost me $25o for the first appointment and blood work. After I was provided the correct paperwork I had to get more blood tests done which was an extra $70. I then had to try and track down immunisation records and ended up having another blood test to see if I was immune to chicken pox. Turns out I am, I believe I was immunised as a child but there were no records of it. I also had to go for a hearing test which was slated to cost another $80. Luckily enough it was free in the end.

I also had more information to fill in online, passports, flight availability, marital status etc.

During all this run around I had also booked my visa appointment at the only consulate in New Zealand which is in Auckland. I did however go on the wrong day the first time and felt like a complete dick. So I went back on the right day. Dressed up all professionally I took;

  • Both my passports,
  • My receipts of the interview
  • Confirmation of the DS-160
  • Letter of employment
  • American Passport photo (5cmx5cm)

Once I waited in line and it was finally my turn I handed all the paper work and my New Zealand passport over and went to sit until they called me for my interview. When they called me up to the second window, they asked

  • What I was applying for? A c1/d visa
  • Why I was applying for this? Because I had a job with Disney on the cruise line
  • What had I done before? Worked as a concierge for Walt Disney world.

The interviewer then told me that I should know what I was doing and advised me that my visa had been accepted and that I would receive my passport by courier within the next week. I was over the moon!!! I did receive my passport 2 days later and I found that my visa was valid for 5 years!!!!

So I uploaded a copy of the visa to the documents website, I am now just waiting on the last of my medical records to be finalised.

So I spent the better part of a week going stir crazy waiting for that call to say they wanted me right now!! I even sent a message to one of the Disney reps to see what my hire status was, and she replied that they would do their best to get me a job by December. DECEMBER!!! Omg I was momentarily devastated. I didn’t want to wait that long. I was going crazy with nothing to do at home, I have had no luck in finding a part time job since I’ve been back.

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Finally on September 30th I received an email with the news id been waiting for!

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I of course accepted straight away.

I then received a second email.

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And now I’m just waiting on confirmation of flights.

23 days to go!