We made it.
It’s 1320 on Thursday afternoon Australian Eastern Standard Time, exactly 48 hours after our alarm(s) went off on Tuesday morning back in the UK.
Not that we needed them mind you.
After months of careful preparation, and weeks of packing the emigration gods had a good go at making our last few hours in the UK as difficult as possible. With all our furniture somewhere in the North Atlantic by now, our last night at home was on a blow up bed.
Not just any blow up bed, but one with a slow puncture, that meant by around 2am we were sleeping on the floor.
It’s not like either of us were likely to get any sleep anyway, but camping in our bedroom was an interesting way to finish off seven years in the house.
After distributing some last minute rubbish around local bins (I was determined not to leave any for the tenants), we then had to take a half hour diversion through country roads as the local dual-carriageway was shut due to an accident. Thankfully I’ve inherited my dad’s need to arrive at any airport a minimum of five hours before a flight takes off, so we had more than enough of a buffer.
Emigrating is rather different to your standard holiday for many reasons, not least of which is the sheer amount of luggage that accompanies you on the trip. Freight shipping is great, but with anything up to a ten-week journey, there is a lot that needs to come with you.
We’d planned to just pay excess baggage at the airport, until a rather late realisation on Monday afternoon that the cost was $48 a kilo. On my initial calculations we were going to have a bill of around $1,200 at the airport, um, ouch. After ringing Singapore Airlines (who rather helpfully added another 10kg of ’emigration allowance’ per person as long as we showed our Australian visas at the desk) and some careful pruning of our belongings, we got down to (and I use that phrase loosely) 90kg plus 14kg of hand luggage.
For someone who’s used to travelling light, that is a lot of stuff.
Four large suitcases, two small suitcases and a rucksack to be exact. I’ve now added suitcase stacking and luggage trolley manoeuvring to the specialist skills section of my CV.
The flights were rather uneventful in the way flights really should be. Thanks to the generosity of my new company we flew premium economy, and the extra space was very welcome. The first flight was also almost completely empty, which was a huge bonus! We flew 13 hours to Singapore, had a quick layover before another 7 hours on to Melbourne. That’s over 23 hours of travel.
23 HOURS OF TRAVEL
There are actually creatures on this earth that have an average lifespan shorter than that.
Needless to say it’s a very long time to be on the move.
I slept a lot, read a bit, watched a movie I’d seen before, binge watched Bob’s Burgers, did some writing, flicked through all the travel documentaries and got cheated by the computer at Backgammon (ANOTHER FUCKING DOUBLE!?).
And, after a rather surreal semi-comatose awake-dream kind of day we arrived.
A plan that had been in the making for over a year was actually here.
Having looked at so many maps of the country, there was something quite odd about watching the live flight map. Seeing us work our way across the country, clip the edge of Adelaide and then creep up on Melbourne. It still didn’t feel quite real. Were we really on that plane, or was it just another image on Google Maps?
Despite doing my best to lose Becca at immigration (electronic passport gates and Becca have a long-standing bitter feud that only ever seems to go one way) we got to customs.
Having been scared into action by the repeated ‘don’t bring illegal shit into our bloody country mate’ video that played as we came in to land, we decided to head down the mysterious ‘items to declare’ section of customs.
“What you got mate? Sausages? seeds? Brought anything off the plane with you?”
“Um, these St John’s Wort tablets” I said “the video said something about herbal medicines. Oh, and my wife’s friend gave us this picture yesterday that’s in an untreated wooden frame, just wanted to check that it was ok”.
He fixed me with a stare similar to the one I give the cat when he pisses against the car. “I think you’ll be ok mate, just carry on through”.
His sarcasm was world class.
I think I’ll fit in well here.
After a cab ride with an enthusiastic Lebanese chap who could well have been an under cover PR agent for the Australian tourism board, we arrived at our home for the next four weeks, Quest Apartments in Williamstown.
We dropped our stuff off and headed out for a quick walk in the dark to find some food.
I got excited by possums, we ate Greek food, there were no snakes.
It was good fun, but things were starting to get a bit hazy.
After a very long day (or was it two?) we slept.
P.S. Did you sing the title to this article? 😂
Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical
I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets.
If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.
When booking accommodation I always start with Booking.com as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).
Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.
Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with JayRide.com. Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.