About 4 months ago, Kate and I started thinking about going on a holiday that was just for us. For the 9 years we’ve been together, and particularly since the kids turned up on the doorstep looking for somewhere to live, we’ve been heading back home to see my whanau, my family, in Aotearoa, New Zealand. We both love catching up with my family, and adore NZ, and so do the kids, but this time we decided it was time for an adventure, to go somewhere wild, exciting, maybe somewhere a bit scary. My 40th was coming up, which we thought was auspicious, or supicious, or some kind of ‘spicious anyway, and we’d been talking about it for years, so we decided that now it was time to take the plunge….
Our planning started with a brainstorming session, everything was on the table. We talked about doing Europe, catching up with Crispin and Steffi in Germany was an exciting prospect, maybe hire a car in France and drive across Europe. (Although this didnt actually end up as the plan, we did discover that you can hire a brand new Renault, or other French built car, in France, for a whole lot cheaper than standard rentals. Check out this site if you happen to be looking for a car rental in France). In the end the cost, and the fact that Crispin and Steffi had other stuff on at the time we were looking at being there, took this one off the table.
We discussed South America, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Thailand, a whirlwind trip through Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos, amongst many other destinations. Given that we’re travelling with a 6 year old and a 1, soon to be 2 year old, we decided that long distance wasn’t really a good plan.
So, after much deliberation, lots of to-ing and fro-ing, we settled on a fairly adventurous, somewhat scary, very exciting holiday. 6 weeks in Northern Vietnam with 2 small children. Holy schnitzel. Is that crazy? Can we really do that? Only one way to find out. Next day I asked my boss for the time off. We decided on September, because I assumed (boy was I wrong) that the huge changes coming to the disability sector, the NDIS, would be up and running by then. My boss gave the green light. Planning time…………….
We decided to spend decent chunks of time in each place, starting in Hanoi, visiting Ha Long Bay, up to Sapa in the mountains, a few quicker trips to Ban Gioc waterfall and Ninh Binh, then 10 days in a beachside villa in Hoi An before flyng back to Sydney.
Most of our accommodation was booked on AirBNB, with the exception of a couple of hotels, on Cat Ba Island, in Cao Bang, and at Ba Be Lake, which were all booked through Booking.com
All our trains, cars, and other transfers were arranged by AirBNB hosts
Because we have a 2 year old with us, we decided to go with hybrid wheeled backpacks, so if she wants to walk we can carry, and if she wants to be carried we can tow. We went with a couple of 85l backpacks.
I have no idea how the kids will take to Vietnamese food, but if theyre hungry enough……. 🙂
A colleague atwork gave me a great tip about a website called Optiontown, which provides options like extra seats, early check in, cheap upgrades etc. based on availability. The only option available for our flights was booking an extra seat each for the home flight, which I am hoping we get. Ive paid (about $60), and if its not available when we fly, will be refunded.