Tricky aspects of booking flights and cars…Favorite Fiji photos begin today…

Savusavu Bay and Nawi Island, a site atop a hill in the village.

Generally, we book flights using the Expedia link on our website. It doesn’t know us from anyone else and with prices no more or less than using Expedia through the web, it puts a few extra pennies in our coffers in the small amount of commissions we may earn on some bookings.

Many travelers use the various flight booking apps offered online many that bring up multiple web pages at a time with a wide array of quotes for the flights. After trying many of these over the past years, we’ve found the pricing we get through Expedia is no different than anywhere else. 

The hot springs where many locals cook their potatoes and root vegetables.

The airlines will charge the highest possible fares and although rates can change by the hour/day/month, with all the flights we booked we prefer not to spend days researching to save only a few dollars, if anything at all.  

Saving USD $10, FJD $21 for a flight is nowhere near as important to us as in savings the $1000’s we can often save on vacation home rentals or for cruises by spending hours on that type of research and subsequent negotiations.

The view from our veranda in Korovesi, Savusavu, Fiji.

It’s an entirely different scenario for the average traveler when booking hotels and airfare. Most hotels don’t negotiate and airfare is their only way of saving a few dollars, resulting in the fervent desire to save on the airfare.

Unless we’re staying for an extended period in a boutique hotel, we seldom ask for special pricing other than those offered via promotions, coupons, corporate discounts, and senior citizen pricing. 

The bay where many sailors moor their sailboats.

We’re thrifty but we don’t embarrass ourselves in asking and asking for special treatment and pricing when none is necessarily warranted.  Of course, when we write stories and do reviews about a particular property arranged in advance, we may ask for special room and meal rates or comps which are generally provided based on their desire for the additional publicity. 

In most cases, it’s happily provided once they have an opportunity to investigate our site to see how serious we are in documenting our experiences available to our vast numbers of readers worldwide (for which we’re very grateful).

The busy village hops with business most days.

When a few days ago, we were in a booking frenzy, not to be picked back up until we’re situated at our next location, we not only booked the hotels in Singapore and Hanoi but we also booked the flights from Singapore to Bali on April 30th after our cruise ship arrives. 

Then we booked the return back to Singapore from Bali on June 28th at which point we’ll be staying in Singapore for a week. This was not accomplished as easily as one may think with many airlines with poor ratings as indicated on this site which we check each time our flight options include airlines we don’t know as safe.

Tom, in front of a giant palm frond on the property.

In today’s world, no air travel is entirely safe. Choosing an airline with good ratings for maintenance and no recent disasters at least provides an added layer of peace of mind. Also, reading reviews from travelers on the more obscure airlines can add another layer of comfort.

Bail is an Indonesian island that has many fewer unregulated airlines prompting us to be especially careful. It’s easy to take for granted that most country’s airlines are managed and inspected regularly when this is not always the case. Of course, there are always exceptions.

View of the coral reef from the highest point in the neighborhood.

With the airline rating site opened as an additional page on our laptops, we both went to work with safety as the priority, as well as price. Non-stop flights are always a top criterion when possible. We’ve already spent endless hours waiting for connecting flights in less than ideal airports and prefer to minimize this necessity when possible.

If we had our way, we’d cruise everywhere. Unfortunately, geographically, this just isn’t possible. As a result, getting to and from Bali on two separate occasions is tricky. 

Badal joined us when we took photos from atop the highest point in Korovesi and continues to visit us each night during dinner.

We spent hours researching and finally, when we found a good airline, Jetstar Asia (with the highest rating of 7) at a reasonable price for the round trip fare (for our first of two visits to Bali) we quickly booked it. Prices can change on a dime. We’ve yet to book the second trip to Bali where we’ll return two months after we leave (visa restrictions).

As we booked the round trip, it took the first leg of the flight without issue (we paid each leg separately as required by that particular airline). Then, the Internet went “limited” and the return flight showed an error. Expedia took us directly to the airline’s website per their regulations as opposed to allowing us to complete the booking at Expedia.

Taken at the chicken lady’s home which proved to be too difficult to access regularly for eggs.  Subsequently, we purchased our eggs in flats of two and a half dozen at the Farmers Market.

We had trouble booking the return flight when the signal kept slipping in and out, resulting in the necessity of us calling the airline directly. To avoid long-distance charges, we used Hotspot Shield as our VPN with an US web address and Skype avoiding any long distance charges. Thus, being on hold for 10 minutes wasn’t as annoying as it could have been.

A competent rep came onto the line with a thick accent somewhat hard to hear and decipher on Skype but we managed to book the return flight plus pay for our reserved seats at USD $10, FJD $21.  No free seats were offered. The cost of the roundtrip flight Singapore to Bali was USD $586, FJD $1251 for both of us including the costs for our seats on both legs.

Two curious baby goats checking us out. 

The rep encouraged us to pay for our luggage, movies, and other perks but we declined. We have no idea what our luggage will weigh by next June when it’s changing as we restock supplies and clothing. We can do this later either online depending on the quality of the wifi signal at the time or by phone if necessary.

After that was resolved, we decided, while we were “on a roll” we’d go ahead and book the rental car for three months in New Zealand. In a little over one month on January 5, 2017, we’ll be boarding a cruise from Sydney to New Zealand, a perfect example of “using cruising” as a means of transportation as much as we can. 

Everyone in Savusavu works. These fishermen catch fish to resell and for their families.

We were able to book a suitable rental car for the 88 days in New Zealand for a total of $1836 with the best rates from, a site we frequently use. Oddly, the better-priced vehicles didn’t have air conditioning. 

In checking the weather in New Zealand during that period, it will be cool, not cold, mostly in the 60F’s, 15.6C’s and 70F’s, 21C’s. If we didn’t have a manual transmission with the car jerking around, I’d be OK without AC. 

The Blue Lagoon’s beautiful waters.

The constant jerking of a manual transmission makes me carsick and the AC helps tremendously. Thus, we opted for no AC and an automatic transmission with which I won’t get carsick.  Having not driven a manual transmission in 30 years and with the car rental company adding me as a driver at no extra charge, this works well for us. Tom won’t have to grocery shop with me each week.

Tomorrow, we’ll have another new booking to share as we work on it today. We prefer not to post information about a future booking until we’ve actually paid the deposit and wrapped up the pricing and details, thus avoiding confusion. 

The beach at the Blue Lagoon.

Of course, from time to time, we can’t help but share our “dreams” of locations for the distant future that are too far away to book. It’s nearly impossible to book anything further than two years out.

Soon, we’re heading on our final trip to the village without the necessity of a visit to the Farmers Market or the grocery store. We’ll pick up my prescriptions at the pharmacy, purchase a new phone SIM card and pick up our final two roasted chickens at Helen’s Fiji Meats. Over the next few days, we’ll continue to consume our remaining foods on hand, leaving anything new and unused for the staff.

The island with three trees.

Beginning today, we’ll be posting our favorite Fiji photos and on Sunday, our departure date, we’ll upload a short post with our expenses for the three months we’ve spent in Savusavu. Two days and counting.

Happy weekend to all wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2014:

It was at this point one year ago that we became even more worried about the lava flow on the Big Island as it moved closer to our area of Pahoa. Would we have to move to another location to accommodate our soon to be arriving 12 family members? For more details, please click here.

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