a last-minute flight to perth…

The other night we received some sad news: we had a death in the family. This wasn’t unexpected but until it actually happens you never know how the news will hit you. This family member lives Perth (a three-hour flight from us) so we have booked some last-minute tickets to fly over on Sunday.

As sad as it is, it will also be a new experience: this will be Baby’s first time on a plane and with that comes our first time flying with an infant. There’s so much more to travelling with a bub than I ever imagined (checking in the pram, feeding him on take off so his ears don’t hurt, making sure the hire car has a car seat, booking a hotel room with a cot), but seeing his little name on the ticket puts a huge smile on my face.

This will be the only time we can get away together for a while and it’s obviously the first time the three of us are travelling together so, even though we’re flying over for a sad occasion, we’d like to have one day to do the touristy thing and have some family time.

So, dear readers, for those of you who have been to Perth, what are your must-do activities for someone who only has one day free? (hint: we’ve been before and are confident with the roads, but have never had the chance to properly explore) And for any one with kiddies, what hints or tips would you offer for a first-timer like me?

xx

layover: 24 hours in tokyo

From Australia, it’s a long way to Europe (or anywhere, really) so each time I travel I try to incorporate a stopover in a different city. Japan Airlines flies from Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Cairns to Tokyo and passengers can then connect through to Europe. It’s not the most common connection from Australia to Europe (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong or Dubai would probably be the most popular) but it’s a really interesting option for something different. Flights don’t connect efficiently though which usually means a mandatory stopover, but the plus side to this is that, if you book the quickest connection, JAL will usually provide you with accommodation for the night. If you’re up for an adventure though, bypass the airport accommodation and head into the city for a 24-hour Tokyo jaunt.

shinjuku at night

shinjuku at night

night life

Tokyo possesses some wonderful night life, whether it be hole in the wall bars, karaoke clubs or Ministry of Sound-style super clubs. Shinjuku is where I based myself since that’s where our hotel was, but Roppongi and Shibuya have a great atmosphere as well.

a view from the top

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku provides a wonderful view over the whole city. It’s worth it to gain an appreciation for Tokyo’s mix of old and new – this concrete jungle has beautiful green gardens scattered throughout. Unless you happen to be in Tokyo on a super clear day though, don’t expect amazing views of Mt Fuji – smog usually makes it pretty hard to see.

something fishy

Stay out late enough and you can head straight to the fish markets before dawn. “The Fish Markets?” you ask. Yes, the fish markets. I guarantee you will never see anything else like it. You need to be there early enough (say, about 4am) but it’s worth it to see the major players of the sushi world bidding tens of thousands of dollars for the best fish (especially tuna). It’s madness… like watching the finale of The Block, only better (and stinkier). So these are the three things I would do on a one-night layover. There’s so much to do in Tokyo if you have the time (Studio Ghibli, Disney, shrines galore, Harajuku etc etc) but for one night, immerse yourself in the crazy. Also, check out my friend’s page over at kittenishgirl, she’s a Tokyo fiend!

considering a babymoon? read this first.

There’s a trend these days for couples to enjoy a “babymoon” before their babies are born – that is, to have a little getaway, enjoy some quality time together and relax before that little bundle of joy arrives and sleepless nights set in.

It’s a cute idea for those who have the time and resources and let’s face it, what new mum or dad isn’t at least slightly anxious about impending parenthood?

I’m all for the idea in theory but there’s one really big thing to think about that a lot of people seem to be forgetting: their travel insurance.

Being an expectant mum myself, I’m seeing lots of women considering babymoons which is great, but what concerns me are two trends: travelling without insurance, or travelling with insurance and assuming baby is covered. Here’s a little newsflash that surprises a lot of people: baby won’t be covered if you travel overseas.

For Australians, travel interstate is fine because pregnancy will always be covered by Medicare (the joys of being a citizen of a country with such a scheme). If you travel on a cruise though (even if it’s a domestic cruise) or you fly out of the country this is where expectant parents really need to consider the risks far more thoroughly than they have been.

On a standard policy (bearing in mind this is a generalisation, however it is based on experience and in-depth conversations with several insurance companies) a woman with a single pregnancy would be covered up to about 26 weeks (depending on the policy) provided she has experienced absolutely no complications whatsoever. This 26-week limit means all travel must be completed by then, NOT that you must depart by then. It’s usually about 18 or 19 weeks for women pregnant with multiples.

But here’s the trick: while the mother is covered, the baby isn’t. This means that the mother could go to the hospital complaining of pains and be treated but the minute the decision is made that the baby is to be delivered, that’s it. Cough up the dough because the insurance company won’t be.

Consider the risks of this: what if a mother went to say, Fiji or Bali for a week at 25 weeks, fully intending to be home by the 26 week mark. While away, she goes into spontaneous labour and needs to deliver. At 25 weeks the foetus is viable and is born alive, but now needs three months of round-the-clock care in the NICU of the hospital. Sorry, but those parents will be paying. Not to mention having to stay in that country for the whole time, paying for food, accommodation etc and not going to work. Can you imagine?

Or, on the most awful end of the scale, consider the tragic case of the lady who this week delivered her baby at 24 weeks on board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane. The plane needed to be diverted to Denpasar and unfortunately the baby passed away. No post-natal care would be provided for this woman and the repatriation cost of her baby’s body wouldn’t be covered either.

As ridiculous as much of this may sound, I’m yet to come across a policy that works differently (but if you happen to come across one let me know!)

My advice: ALWAYS read your Product Disclosure Statement, ask as many questions as you can and really consider if a particular policy is right for you – or indeed, if the risk is worth it.

my dumbest obsession

Someone with an interest in pop-psychology, or hey, maybe someone actually qualified, needs to tell me RIGHT NOW why I have such an obsession with Air Crash Investigation.

Firstly, what is the appeal of hearing any kind of story where people die?

Secondly, why would I choose to watch a show about plane crashes when my job (read: livelihood!) kind of requires me to want to get on planes?

Maybe it’s so I can sound smart in the lunch room at work when I use words such as “aileron”.

Business Class pyjamas: Bob Carr says yes!

There’s no doubt flying Business Class, or hell, First Class, affords you a certain set of luxuries. For most of us, we’ll take what we can get because we know anything’s better than cattle class and indeed, many of us can only dream of turning left instead of right when boarding.
Not Bob Carr. Let’s call him an aficionado, shall we? He knows what he likes, and he likes only the best. If you run an airline that doesn’t offer pyjamas in Business Class, Bob Carr doesn’t like you.
For my non-Australian friends, Bob Carr is our former Foreign Minister and he has recently released his memoirs, Diaries of a Foreign Minister, to… well, country-wide mockery I guess. I’m yet to see anything other than that.
Rather than focus on Bob Carr though, I’m going to address one very specific gripe he has with life: that there are no pyjamas offered in Business Class. Ummm…. That’s not actually true.
For the Bob Carr’s of the world, I’m going to help you out. I’m nice like that. So here’s a little list of airlines who will give you a set of PJs for your trouble.
  •           Qantas
  •           American Airlines
  •           Qatar Airways
  •           All Nippon Airways
  •           Virgin Atlantic