I opened my eyes on the first morning waking up in Sydney to the sound of Erik’s regular 6 a.m. alarm, helpfully changed to 6 a.m. Sydney time by his phone. Through the screenlike window shades, I could see silhouettes of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Soon the kids and my mom were up as well — everyone had slept 10 hours or more — and I fed them and packed a lunch for all of us.
I opened one the shades to discover a city transforming from gray dawn to a brilliant blue day. This was to be one of those golden, sunny days that made the long journey feel worthwhile. We were out on the street before 9 a.m., feeling full of energy and ready for adventure.
This begins my account of our most epic family trip ever, the two-week trip to Australia undertaken by my husband, myself, our three kids, and my mom. Our story will be told in many parts. This is the first. Continue reading →
Erik and the family and I just got back from our epic Australia trip, the one I paid for with miles and points. I have many things to share about this trip, but today I’m going to focus on what we did for communications because I want to get out a timely thanks to Tep Wireless, which provided me with their product free of charge to try out. Although I did promise to share my experience here in exchange for this benefit, all opinions are my own.
On past overseas trips, Erik and I didn’t plan ahead for how we would communicate while on the go. We made sure to rent places with wi-fi, and figured we would catch up with folks via email and Facebook at the end of the day. But we didn’t get cellular data plans to use while out and about on our trips to England, Denmark and France, because 1) our phone carriers didn’t offer international plans and 2) although we looked around at buying SIM cards or cheap-o phones once we arrived at our destinations, we were confused by the options and didn’t want to spend too much of our precious vacation time shopping around. On both trips, after briefly looking around, we gave up and just went on with no working phones.
While having wi-fi at our accommodations worked fine for keeping in touch with folks back home, we really found ourselves missing that data connection when it came to looking up information on the fly, especially getting directions. We nearly got lost in the countryside in the dark in France one evening when I realized that I hadn’t mapped out full directions to our friends’ farmhouse before setting out. And we couldn’t call them to let them know we’d be late.
So we promised ourselves that next time, we would plan ahead to have some kind of on-the-go connectivity. And then we actually did it. We planned ahead, guys! High five. Continue reading →