I have a big birthday coming up in October & I always wanted to spend it in America, take the kids to Disneyland & visit Las Vegas & New York. As the date was getting closer I came to the conclusion that with the kids ages at the moment & the fact that they are exceptionally small for their ages (eg. 7 year old is the size of a 4 year old!) I decided this was not going to be the best option for us. We went to Queensland for the theme parks at Christmas & the kids were not tall enough to go on most of the rides which left me standing around holding bags & watching 1 or 2 of the kids most of the time while Dad & the eldest went on the rides. That wasn’t much fun for all of us.
So with much thought I have decided to delay the big US trip until the kids are teenagers, another 5 years. This will mean that we will all get the maximum out of the trip which is what I had envisioned. Then come the questions ‘What to do for this big birthday that I have always wanted to spend overseas?’ I decided the best option was to go to Disneyland Hong Kong. This means the kids will get the wow factor that I really wanted to achieve & as this park is aimed for the younger kids they will be able to go on most rides & get the most out of it.
I am really excited about taking the kids to S.E.Asia & of course a little apprehensive also. The itinerary is: 6 nights in Hong Kong, 2 nights in Kuala Lumpur & 6 nights in Kota Kinabula with a day trip to Sandikan to visit the orang-utans. As we have a family of 5 the usual options of flying Qantas & staying in nice hotels was not an option. Flights are very expensive going anywhere from Australia but that’s something we are all use to & there are a number of budget airlines coming into the market.
A few years ago budget carrier Air Asia began operating from Australia. I have had many friends travel with them & I have not heard that many bad reports. The resounding advice is its a budget carrier expect budget. I’m good with budget, I can do budget for 8 hours if it saves me $2000 to put towards my holiday. Air Asia have ridiculously cheap flights from Australia compared with all the other mainstream carriers. We booked our flights approximately 12 months in advance (a long time to look forward to something!), we got return flights from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur for all 5 of us for under $1,600! Yes that’s correct, not a typo, under $1,600, I had the main flights booked & paid for. We hadn’t really decided exactly where we wanted to go so we were checking out different places & were happy to be flexible & go with cheap flights. I was looking at Penang, flights from Kuala Lumpur to Penang were $27 return, I was pretty happy with that. Then I thought Borneo, wonder how much those flights are? I looked at flights with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo & to my utter amazement, the flights were $19 return…. No kidding, all 5 of us return with luggage for under $200, now I had my second leg booked.
I had been to Hong Kong last year & thought that Disneyland Hong Kong would be much more suitable for my kids due to their age & size. So back on the Air Asia site & start checking flights from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong. I was able to book flights from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur for $440, that’s less than $100 per person with luggage. At the time of booking the flights from Kuala Lumpur were expensive so I thought I would hold off booking those until another time, hey I had 12 months to book & surely some cheaper flights would become available. At this stage, I still have not booked those flights but at worst they are going to be $800 for the 5 of us but I still have some time & am happy to wait until last minute.
The total of all flights booked so far for all 5 of us is just under $2,200. Now I think that’s exceptional value for money. Everyone I have spoken to have said they are a budget airline, so are Jetstar & I have flown with them a dozen times & been very happy. I will pre-order meals for the kids as its the cheapest way, meals are dirt cheap, around a few dollars each (I am yet to do that) & we will take the kids iPods & iPad’s for entertainment. This is what I usually do on flights anyway as they are much happier playing with their own things. We will download a few movies & take a few packets of lollipops for the ears & they will be fine. I also booked day flights as my experience so far is that my kids don’t sleep well in cars & I would much prefer to lose a day then keep the whole plane up with them screaming out in their sleep.
Sarah from Fit_Travels recently blogged about Air Asia, her blog discusses the option of pre-purchasing an extra seat for $30. The seat is not guaranteed & if you do not get a spare seat your money is returned minus $1. I’m going to do this for both legs to & from Kuala Lumpur as the extra space will be so handy for us. You can see more about it on the Air Asia website.
I will revisit this post on our return & see if my special birthday trip unfolded as I have envisioned it. I’m really excited & a little bit nervous about our trip. Most of all I am hopeful that our kids will return with knowledge that not everyone is as lucky to live in a country like Australia. Hopefully it will open their eyes to that fact that they are very lucky to have all the things that they have, how better to learn that than to travel to Asia were people are a lot less fortunate than us.
Until next time, happy travels.