When planning out this Twelve Countries trip, it all seemed like a far-away dream. Even when we had several boxes of travel gear from Amazon.com dropped off at our door every week, it didn’t feel real. The first time we realized the trip wasn’t just a huge practical joke we were playing on ourselves was when we made the decision to purchase our first plane ticket.
This plane ticket wasn’t a huge commitment at all, and it probably seems silly that we got so excited about it. It was a flight from Croatia to the UK on Norwegian Air. It cost us a mere $36 per person, so we figured we could take the risk of buying the tickets knowing knowing full well that our plans may change.
Even though the ticket was very cheap and way far away time-wise, pushing the “Purchase” button was thrilling! We had committed to a flight on the other side of the planet, which meant that we had to get ourselves there at some point in order to use the flight. It was all very real after that.
A few days ago we decided that we’d be going to the Philippines instead of the originally-planned Thailand. This was a big decision for us that weighed on our minds and hearts for almost a week and it about drove Scott crazy. We both really wanted to go to Thailand for several reasons (the main one being food). When the military organized a coup last month, Scott and I were very hesitant. Our initial thought was that our plans were shot, but we wanted to look into it further just to make sure. After doing some research on the country, the history of the many past military coups, and talking with people who visit often, we felt comfortable enough to go to Thailand… it would even potentially be cheaper than usual because of the coup scaring off other tourists!
Something still just didn’t feel right, though. We decided to pray about it. When we did, we felt very strongly that we should not go to Thailand. This broke our hearts, but we knew that we needed to follow the spiritual prompting that we received and look forward to a different country. After that experience, we did a lot of research on the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries. The Philippines was the country that kept coming up in our minds, however, and despite the new challenges we would face, we knew it would be right for us. We booked a flight before we could talk ourselves out of it.
Two days ago, we tried to book an exiting flight out of the Philippines to our following country, Croatia. Unfortunately we were too late… we found out that there are absolutely no flights with available seats for airline mileage points rewards, and there was no way we could afford to purchase the regular-priced tickets there ourselves. We were on the phone with a customer service representative trying everything: Manila to Bangkok to Croatia, Manila to Singapore to Croatia, Manila to Singapore to Hong Kong to Croatia, Cebu to Singapore to Croatia, etc. We got a little nervous about that news and didn’t really know what to do from there.
After a day of Scott and I talking it over and being very flexible with our options, he called another customer service representative to try some different routes. Scott spent several hours on the phone with a person who seemed to be learning a lot about geography during the call! She had never heard of a couple of the places he was asking about flying to/from and was pretty impressed with Scott’s knowledge of cities in Asia and Europe. At this point he probably knows all the countries and their capitals.
After Scott said, “Okay, could I have you just check one more route for me?” for the 12th time, the representative started to get creative herself. She suggested flying from Manila to Hong Kong to UK to Croatia and at that point we’re like, “Wait, there’s flights to the UK??” That pretty much changed everything.
She found a couple different airlines that were going to fly that route with available seats, but the taxes that we would have to pay were quite hefty and definitely more than we were willing to spend. Scott suggested maybe flying into Paris instead of the UK and, lo and behold, there were available seats with taxes that added up to only $12 instead of the $1000+ if we were going to London directly. We were elated to finally find a flight that worked, despite the fact that our flight from Croatia to the UK that we purchased almost a year ago was now worthless. Plans change, and we’re willing to change with them.
The goal now is to be in the UK for August where Carter will turn 1, then head to Florence, Italy for September. We were worried about switching UK to August because we weren’t sure that the country for October, Morocco, was going to be easy to get to from Italy. Turns out it is… $40 a ticket kind of cheap. I think we can swallow that, especially since it’s about $150 cheaper than the flights we were originally looking at getting with the original travel plan.
We are so very excited about how the next few months are going to unfold, even though our plans are completely different than we began with. Now it’s time for me to convince my mom and dad to come visit us in Italy… I’m thinking that won’t be too hard. 🙂