21 flights in 100 days!

By the time we got to Dubai, we had completed 14 flights in 58 days!

We knew the routine and were getting really good at airport security as well as customs and immigration! Only 7 more flights left on this adventure!

Tip-sometimes the rules on what to remove while going through security are in another language and all the airport security screens are slightly different so watch what the locals are doing.

Example: no need to remove liquids in Vietnam but we had to remove shoes. Shoes stay on in Singapore but liquids come out.

Also, Vietnam and Cambodia did not let us go through immigration together as a family, we needed to go up one at a time. Dubai made us go together and Switzerland chastised us for waiting to go up one at a time because they didn’t want to have to “repeat all the same questions”. Geez.

We also had to check our 21 inch bags on the regional flights and my suitcase suffered greatly and got 2 big tears. I see the appeal of hard sided luggage if you are constantly checking bags rather than our usual carryon. Lesson learned!

Since I’m wide awake at 5am (jet lag!) I decided to make a list of airline, airport, food and lounge bests and worsts.

Yes, we’ve traveled business class almost the entire trip- I don’t think we could have done all this travel in coach, in this short timespan, without completely freaking out!

Best Airlines:

Singapore

Air New Zealand

Thai Airlines

Worst Airlines:

Angkor Air

Vietnam Airlines

Runner up: Air Canada

Best Airports:

Brisbane International

Singapore

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Queenstown, New Zealand

Portland, Oregon

Worst Airports:

Honolulu, Hawaii

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Upon landing in Vietnam, we waited 45 minutes to get our passport back and approved. We had all of the proper paperwork completed and approved in advance so we aren’t sure what the hold up was.

That airport, and the Vietnam Airlines counter lady, also charged us a mysterious and inexplainable $60 fee that could only be paid in crisp American dollars.

We knew we got ripped off and the lady pocketed the cash but we just wanted out of the airport at that point so I guess it was money well spent.

Worth mentioning:

Los Angeles

New York

Not from this current trip but LAX and JFK are dirty and gross airports and we avoid flying through them whenever possible

Best preflight check-in:

Air New Zealand in Auckland-The business lounge is completely separate from the regular checkin. Really amazing!

Photo credit: CPRW Fischer

Runner up: Swiss Air whisked us through the airport and the lines through Dubai. We felt like VIPs!

Best Plane Landing:

Queenstown, New Zealand- breathtaking views and incredible huge mountains. You can only fly in to their airport during the day currently but you never know when that might change.

Runner up: Zurich- the Alps!

Worst Landing:

Siem Reap, Cambodia-Small, old plane. Lots of turbulence despite the pilot telling us what a smooth flight we would have! I nearly had to break out the barf bag, which would would have been an airplane first for me!

Best Food on the Plane:

Singapore

Thai Airlines

Best Wines:

Swiss Air

Worst Food on the plane:

Swiss

Lufthansa

Best Airline Lounge Food:

Singapore

Best Amenities Kit:

Swiss Air- La Prairie lip balm and hand cream are amazing!

Best Safety Video:

Air New Zealand – not only are their videos good and entertaining but one of the featured male flight attendants in the video was actually our flight attendant!

*Runner up-Vietnam Airlines for the unintended comedy factor. It shows 2 seat mates that are very excited to smoke a cigarette and vape. They practically “cheers” their smoking paraphernalia until the “no smoking light” comes on and they sadly put their stuff away. We saw it on 3 flights and laughed every time!

Best Business Class Seats and Configurations:

Singapore -huge seats, great in seat storage and a makeup mirror!

Thai -similar to Singapore just scaled down a tad

Worst Business Class Seats:

Angkor – didn’t have any!

Vietnam- old planes, non functioning leg rests and the seat in front of us reclined so far back that I couldn’t get out to use the bathroom

Air Canada-same issues as Vietnam but not quite as old and no leg rests.

Best Airport Lounge:

Singapore

Auckland, New Zealand

Dubai

Worst Airport Lounge:

Bangkok, Thailand

Toronto-Air Canada – special mention- not only was the lounge fairly dirty but this was the only lounge where the check in lady was rude with a bad attitude.

Friendliest Customs and Immigration:

New Zealand

Australia

Singapore- the kids got candy

Most intimidating and unfriendly Customs and Immigration:

Vietnam

Switzerland

Odd Business Class Configurations:

Delta One Some rows in Business Class were facing backwards

Air New Zealand seats were angled in so you faced people across from you. Row A seats face the back of seats so these are more desirable.

Of course, you can look at the type of plane and seat configurations before you book. Sometimes though, the plane changes and you end up on something different.

There are lots of great websites that provide pics and reviews of seats and planes!

What airports do you enjoy or try to avoid?

Brisbane, Australia- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

We really enjoyed our 5 days in Brisbane!

It was jam packed with cuteness! I mean, just look at the adorable things I got to hold…

You probably won’t be as lucky as we were to find this cute little guy at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary…

Meet cousin Lincoln! He loves eyes, noses, he’s fascinated by elbows as well as busses and motorcycles! He also loves to say Helena’s name a lot! We got to hang out with him all day. Hurray for family! ❤️

There was even more cuteness to be had at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Yep, I’m actually holding a koala-and you know what, they are heavy! And they have sharp claws!

Koalas spend about 20 hours a day sleeping and they weigh between 10-30 pounds. They are actually pretty antisocial and bond with just their mothers and offspring. I’m holding Sargent and even though he just pooped, (but luckily not on me!) I still love him and his round head and spoon shaped nose! Aww!

Did you know the closest relative to the koala is the wombat?

Of course the girls loved it there too! And we also fed kangaroos. Wow! All in one day…pretty cool!

There are lots of kangaroos in the country-actually estimated to be over 40 million! That means they totally outnumber the Australians!

The largest of the Roos is the Red Kangaroo-it can be about 5 feet head to butt (not including their huge tails) and can weigh 200 pounds! Kangaroos can hop up to 15 feet per jump and get speeds to 25 even 30 miles per hour! When they move slowly, they use their tail as a fifth leg. We saw a lot of this as they approached for food. We also got to see a bunch (or rather a mob as they are called) hop away together as we were leaving.

Next up…riding the City Cat, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, Roma Street Parklands and Streets Beach

Traveling with kids

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We have been traveling with our kids since they were babies but we really started traveling with them once they were out of diapers and could carry their own backpacks! (woot woot!)

Our first really big trip with the girls was to the North Island of New Zealand in 2010. After that long flight, we decided we could travel with them anywhere!

We’ve gone on so many wonderful adventures together, as a family. It has really been amazing and we feel so lucky!

It’s never to early to take your kids with you on big trips! If you can find a way to swing it, just do it!

The earlier they experience long flights, time changes, hotel rooms, trains, boats, taxis, big cities, small towns, different foods, cultures and religions, the better! The easier it gets for them and for you and for your entire family.

As long as you try to maintain some kind of  routine, keep them full,  bring a favorite toy and stuffed animal, they will be OK.

The occasional bribery of ice cream helps as does a fun new activity for a long plane ride. Our girls used to love the Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing  books and as they got older they loved Thinking Putty !

International travel helps you become a citizen of the world. You learn to look beyond your house, your circle of friends, your school, your job, your neighborhood and your community. You grow, you learn and you change. This can happen if you are an adult or a kid!

Home and community are very important, but the world is so much bigger than that.

You can see first hand, the effects of war, traffic, pollution, poverty and the struggle for basic things that we take for granted like shelter and clean water. You can never get the same education from seeing these things on TV.

And you realize that there are so many things that we all have in common!

In my opinion, this early exposure helps you become more tolerant and open minded to different religions, political views and cultures and that is something that benefits us all. Peace!