So it’s night 2 and not only have we already had a blast and made some lasting memories but we have also learnt some important lessons too…….
1.Don’t even slightly smile for a passport photo.
Ok, so yes, we left it until the eleventh hour to renew and apply for the kids passports. This was not because we like to live on the edge and get a kick out of becoming extremely stressed when they don’t arrive on time, but because we didn’t leave much of a gap between making the decision that we were actually doing this and the date of our first international flight. Besides, we never have been ones to waste time planning (we dreamed up, planned, booked and took off on our USA road trip over a period of just 10 days!).
Our passport applications seemed to go smoothly enough. The kids all behaved (somewhat) for their photos and the Post Office accepted the applications without any drama. Then only 4 out of 5 arrived…….. We waited, hoping the other was just caught up in transit, but after a few days, made a slightly panicked call to the passport office. That’s when they told us – Elyssa’s photo was deemed unacceptable as she had an ever so slight smile in the corners of her mouth!
This was last Friday, and we were leaving 3 days later. So, we did a little crazy dance, then calmed down and thought up a plan of action. We had her photo re-taken the next day and on the way to the airport delivered it to the passport office. Thank goodness we have 2 weeks in Queensland before we need it!
2. However much time you think you need, at least double it when kids are involved.
After an absolutely manic week of sorting, moving, storing and packing, all of which took us so much longer than we had anticipated, we set our alarms to leave early on the morning of our 1pm flight. We wanted to allow plenty of time at the passport office and to allow for traffic, parking, queues etc. Here’s how it went.
- We left 47 minutes later than we had planned.
- We drove around the passport office for quite a while before finding a car park.
- We spent almost as long looking for a working pay station once we were ready to leave the car park.
- The kids needed the toilet.
- There was an accident on the freeway and traffic was at a standstill. We managed to avoid this but had to take a painfully long detour.
- Peter dropped myself, the children and our luggage at the drop off point at the airport and parked the car. We waited for him for what felt like an extremely long time.
And all of this led to us arriving at check-in with 7 minutes to spare before our flight would close!!!
3.’Check’ your oversize luggage before you ‘check’ it!
Checking in for our flight to the Gold Coast was crazy! How had we managed to arrive with 7 minutes left until check-in closed on our flight? We definitely need to work on our time management (see lesson number 1 & 2, and probably many future posts too…). We were very flustered. Ben was hungry and crying, Korey and Lucy were over-excited and what we thought was a modest amount of luggage to travel with suddenly felt like enough for a small army (ha ha, yes, I guess we are one!). In all the mayhem, I put Anna and Elyssa’s purses full of spending money they had been saving, under the loose cover of one of the pram seats. I then completely forgot about it. The pram was taken apart and sent off on the conveyor belt…….
I didn’t think about it again. Then, about half an hour into the flight Anna asked me something about her money. I instantly felt sick. The girls had saved up birthday money, pocket money and money they had made themselves at a trash and treasure market. There was quite a bit of cash in each of them and they were just loose under a flap of material. I could just picture them falling out as they were loaded onto the plane. As Peter attempted to convince me they’d still be there I tried to hide my concern and anger at myself from Anna. As we disembarked the plane I watched as the baggage handlers placed our other pram seat upside down on top of a trolley full of suitcases.
We hot-footed it straight to the baggage carousel and Peter stood waiting at the very start of the conveyor belt. As things started coming through I watched, in what felt like slow motion, as he picked up the pram seat, reached under the cover and pulled out the two purses! To say I was relieved would be a massive understatement!
We look back at these little things now, which while somewhat stressful at the time, are all part of what makes this adventure the exciting, unpredictable journey that it is!
We have had a great couple of days. Anna especially is so thrilled to be at the Gold Coast, the place she claims to be her favourite in the world and where she says she will live when she grows up. We are already making the most of being by the beach and are loving the warmer weather. Even winter in Queensland is warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt and a splash in the water! We are staying in a fantastic, very affordable 2 bedroom apartment, fully equipped and only a minute’s walk to the beach. It is actually the same apartment we stayed in 2 years ago at the beginning of our Australian caravan trip. We love this apartment and I will write a much more detailed post about it at the end of our stay.
The kids are super excited to be going back to Dreamworld and White Water World later this week. After some rain today and more forecast for tomorrow, the rest of the week is looking warm and sunny!