Handling excess baggage fees…Unable to prepay…Packing remains time consuming and tricky…Four days until departure!

A sunny day makes all the difference in taking good photos.

With the complicated upcoming five flights necessary over the next many months and the slow Internet connection, a few months ago we decided to book all five flights with a local travel agency after we’d verified pricing online.
Travel agencies generally charge the same prices for their services that we’d receive on our own other than the voracious online searching we may perform from time to time for the best possible fares. 

In the case of these upcoming flights, we could search day and night and the prices remained within a few dollars either way.  Rather than using $100 in data searching online, a trip to the travel agency made sense, especially when its located in the same mall where we’ve shopped each week.

Visitors spending time at the beach in the shade.  We did the same sitting on beach towels we placed on the grass.

When we booked the five flights, we didn’t prepay baggage fees at the time. Knowing we had to further lighten our load to stay within the 23 kilo, 50 pounds, maximum weight for checked baggage, we had some work to do. 

We’d purchased a few items of clothing while here, received in a shipment from the US and had to reduce the weight to compensate for the new items, easily done with many items becoming old and worn from frequent wearing and washing.

With one checked bag allowed per person at or under this weight, our only excess baggage is our third bag which also now weighs within the 23 kilo range. 

People, young and old, walk along the esplanade.

For those who may have missed why we need five flights, here they are:

1.  Cairns to Sydney, Australia:  stay overnight in hotel
2.  Sydney to Nadi, Fiji:  two hour layover
3.  Nadi, Fiji to Savusavu, Fiji  (first smaller island we’ll live on for almost three months):  landlord picking us up at airport to take us to new home. 
4.  Savusavu, Fiji to Suva, Fiji (main island we’ll live on for one month): on our own, rental car from airport to house. 
5.  Suva back to Sydney, Australia: to stay overnight for one night, board a cruise on January 5, 2016 which will disembark 14 days later in Auckland, New Zealand, where we’ll rent a car to drive to our new home near New Plymouth, New Zealand for the next 89 days.

With the confusion of booking all of these flights individually online it certainly made sense to see a travel agent to book all of these flights on one ticket, all the way through to Sydney in January.

Unfortunately, it appears prepaying for our extra bag for all five flights is trickier than one would think.  We’d planned to return to the agency a few days before departure and have the agent set up the prepayment of the extra bag.

There are numerous resorts, hotels and vacation rentals overlooking the sea in Trinity Beach.

With all of our bags filled, we weighed them on the our portable travel scale, happily discovering they all were within the weight restrictions for individual bags. 

The only issue is the third checked bag, one we cannot live without no matter how we’ve tried to trim its contents:  all of our shoes (six pairs each), a few small boxes of our business cards, a portable scanner, bottles of vitamins a few sandwich sized ziplock bags of cosmetics, teeth care supplies (fluoride free toothpaste), emergency medical/first aid supplies, insect repellent, power adapters and cords including HDMI and a small stash of other toiletries, such as organic antiperspirant and shaving supplies. All of these items are included in the lowest amounts possible. 

Walking along the beach is enjoyed by visitors to the many beaches.  Of course, keeping an eye out for crocs, sharks and stingers is vital at most beaches in Australia.

Having checked for types of store available in each location, we determine the necessity of bringing more or less toiletries.  Fiji is not going to carry fluoride free toothpaste or organic antiperspirant.  We’re bringing enough to last 89 days.  We’re always monitoring the amounts of products we use in order to avoid packing any more than the minimum.

In that bag, I only have one small plastic jar of face cream with no other lotions, potions, perfumes or sunscreens.  We use coconut oil as a lotion if needed, purchased new in each location and left behind when we move on.  We purchase hair products as needed at each new location.

The top level of this condo complex has great ocean views.

On Tuesday, when we stopped in at the travel agency to hopefully pay for the extra bag, the rep explained that once she entered our confirmation numbers, a message appeared stating the excess bags can only be paid at the airport at the time of checking in.

This is odd to us.  But, we too saw this notation online.  Since we preferred to pay the excess all the way through, it appears the flight with Fiji Airways are tripping up the process.  Smaller planes may dictate actual allowable weight once other passengers check in.  This is the only reason we can determine as to why we can’t do this in advance.  The excess bag may have to be shipped on a different flight.

The shaded walkway, the esplanade, is an ideal path for walking.

As a result, we have no choice but to wait until we’re at the airport in Cairns on Monday, arriving in plenty of time to handle this and pay for the excess.  Of course, we’d have preferred to have it handled up front but undert these circumstances, have no other option.

We’re expecting to pay no less than AUD $800, USD $562.  Anything less will be a pleasant surprise. 

Tomorrow, we’ll head to the post office to ship the box of food supplies in Vanua Levu, most of which is only purchased in the health food sections of a large grocery store or in a health food shop.  None of these types of stores exist  in Vanua Levu. 

With the intense sun in Australia, many former sunbathers spend only short stints in the sun, as we do on occasion.  On the date we took these photos, we spent all of the time in the shade except during the walk in the sand along the beach.

None of this planning is easy.  Those who may believe that living a life of traveling the world is free of responsibilities with little planning are kidding themselves, especially if they have any types of special needs that requires certain products, foods and equipment.

As time marches on, we’ve accepted the reality of shipping certain products to ourselves in advance and paying for excess baggage fees.  If we were 25 years old without any medical or health needs driving us to purchase and use specific products and, we were able to carry an even a smaller amount of clothing in  backpack, it could be an entirely different scenario.

A palm tree casting a shadow in the sand, a perfect spot for a beach chair.  We wished we had the two chairs we’d purchased at Costco in Kauai which we gave to Elaine and Richard before departing.

But, we’re not 25 years old.  We’re grateful that we’ve figured out a way that makes this life work for us ultimately reducing stress of feverishly scrambling to find the items we need once we arrive in a new location.  

Once we unpack our bags and the shipped box we can sit back and relax as we settle into a new life in a new country knowing we have the supplies we’ll need for the best possible experience.

We’ll be back soon as we fast approach our departure from Trinity Beach, Australia to head to a new and different country where we’ll live for the next four months.


Photo from one year ago today, September 3, 2014:

No photo was posted one year ago today when we had a very early morning departure from the ship to visit Stonehenge, although we posted a short blurb. Please click here for details.

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