I had to go to Mauritius because Australia thought my wife was a criminal

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Quokkas.

My wife has had her heart set on visiting Rottnest Island off the coast of Australia for years in order to meet the cute, always smiling, little marsupials.

The opportunity to see them presented itself last year. United temporarily had amazing award availability to Australia, New Zealand, the Maldives and more. We jumped on flights to Perth, adding on a trip to South Africa afterwards to do a self-drive safari at Kruger National Park.

Fast forward a few months and Alaska Airlines had some great availability to Australia for only 55,000 Mileage Plan miles one-way. The routing was significantly better than we’d booked with United, so we booked with Alaska instead and cancelled our original flights.

We’ve been looking forward to this trip for the last 9 months or so and had everything organized.

Week-long stay at the Hyatt Regency Perth for only 8,000 points per night and a suite upgrade award applied? Check.

An overnight stay booked on Rottnest Island to spend even more time with the quokkas? Check.

A 4 day side trip up to the Ningaloo Coast to go snorkeling with all kinds of marine life? Check.

There was sadly something that hadn’t been done though. Something we didn’t realize until we got to the airport to check in.

Do You Have Your ETA?

When checking in at the Qantas counter, the very friendly agent asked if we had our ETAs. Not Estimated Time of Arrivals, but our Electronic Travel Authority confirmations – visas needed to visit Australia.

I searched my emails and couldn’t find anything. I thought I’d applied for our visas, but apparently I’d neglected to do that. The agent assured us it was quick and easy to get them. All we needed to do was download the Australia ETA app and apply for them through that. We should then get our email confirmations almost immediately.

She was 50% right.

Shae downloaded the app on her phone and started completing all the information. It was taking a little while because she had to get NFC activated on her phone so that she could wave her phone around her passport looking for the chip. Seeing as that was taking a few minutes, I downloaded the app to my phone to complete my details rather than doing both of ours on her phone.

We completed our applications about the same time. In less than a minute I received an email saying that I was approved. Shae received an email about the same time, but there was an issue – they needed more information.

OK, no panic. She followed the link in the email, then mild panic set in. They wanted a copy of our marriage certificate. We’ve been married almost 20 years and it’s not something we carry with us when traveling and sadly didn’t have a copy of it saved on Dropbox.

The form did have a box where you could provide details or a further explanation, so she explained that we didn’t have it with us. The form ended up being a hassle to complete on her phone, but she eventually got it done and uploaded. There wasn’t any indication as to how long it would take to be processed though and our flight was due to leave in about 2 hours by that stage.

Hoping she might be able to help, we went back to the check-in agent and explained the situation. How it was weird that Shae hadn’t been immediately approved seeing as we’ve visited Australia twice in the last decade and both times got our visas without any issues. The agent made a phone call to find out what was going on, at which point things got worse.

You Said You Have A Criminal Record

When filling out the form, there were three questions asking if you have a criminal record in one way or another. Apparently my wife had answered yes to one of them by accident.

That seemed weird, but she figured she might’ve accidentally knocked the ‘Yes’ radio button on the application when putting her phone case back on after scanning for the chip in her passport. The person on the other end of the phone said she should Google the phone number for Australia immigration officials and she could call and get them to look at her application and fix that answer.

That doesn’t seem to be true.

We searched for some kind of number to call and found something, but they advised they couldn’t help. We then found another form to complete to correct errors on Visa applications, so she completed that and uploaded it. The website said her form would be processed in anything from 0 to 85 days. Marvelous.

There was one outside chance of success though. We could apply for another visa for her, this time providing correct details – that she’s not on the Interpol wanted list.

How Australia sees us (well, Shae anyway)
How Australia sees us (well, Shae anyway)

We completed that form as quickly as we could while ensuring we selected ‘No’ to all the questions relating to if we’d fit in on an island where convicts used to be sent. Understandably, Australia must have safeguards in place for people reapplying and changing their answers because she got the same ‘We need more information’ reply.

Farewell Quokkas

At this point we had a decision to make. It was only 90 minutes or so until our flight was due to depart and it seemed almost certain we wouldn’t get an approval in time for our flight. We also had no clue how soon they’d process her uploaded forms and, even if they did process them quickly, finding award availability to Australia at the last minute would likely prove nigh-on impossible.

As a result, we had to make the sad decision to cancel our Australia flights. I managed to speak to a Mileage Plan representative about 30 minutes before our flight was due to depart and so was able to get our 110,000 Mileage Plan miles refunded. Small mercies.

What were we going to do next though? We still wanted to visit South Africa; not just for us, but because Shae’s mom and stepdad are joining us for that part of the trip. That gave a dilemma – where would we kill time for 2.5 weeks which would also allow us to get to Johannesburg airport near the end of January?

It Was Time To Pivot

We were both bummed out at this point – particularly Shae – and we didn’t have anywhere to stay that night. Thankfully we were at Dallas Fort-Worth airport and there’s a category 2 Hyatt Regency right there which we’d stayed at the night before. I booked us another stay there for 8,000 points and we made our way over. We needed to make some decisions, but Shae said she wasn’t going to do anything until she had pizza and wine in hand.

After room service arrived, we started going through options, but nothing sounded good. It’s a big wide world out there, but after having our hearts set on quokkas and snorkeling and beaches and sun, other options that would ordinarily sound great seemed kinda mediocre.

A Thai island could be a good option, but that would require multiple flights there and then multiple flights down to Johannesburg. My wife hates flying but sucks it up because she loves traveling and exploring, so minimizing how many flights we had to take – especially given the current situation – was a must.

We looked at the many new Hyatt all-inclusive options in places like Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but she couldn’t get excited about any of them.

I found Etihad business class availability to Abu Dhabi for the following day, but having spent 3 weeks in the Middle East a couple of years ago, we weren’t excited about going back there so soon, even if we were to tack on a trip to Oman to swim with whale sharks courtesy of inspiration from Nick.

Figuring that some rest might help, she went to bed.

Searching After Dark

While she slept, I tried finding some more inspiration. She loves Montego Bay, Jamaica; we stayed at the Hilton Rose Hall there several years ago and enjoyed it so much that she went back there for a girlie weekend a year or two later with a friend. American Airlines had nonstop flights from DFW to Montego Bay at 11:15am the next morning which sounded perfect.

Finding accommodation was tricky. The Hilton Rose Hall didn’t have award availability. Some of the Hyatt all-inclusives had a day here and there, but nothing in a block until I found a six day stretch of availability at the Zoetry. That looked awesome, but that stay wouldn’t start for four days.

Any time that I need to find award availability for four days, my first port of call is IHG thanks to their 4th night free benefit for IHG Premier and Traveler cardholders. Sure enough, there was an all-inclusive Holiday Inn Resort available for four nights; while the reviews of the property aren’t stellar, unlimited food, drink and sun would hopefully overcome any of the hotel’s shortcomings.

I was all ready to book this when I saw a notification on our internal Frequent Miler Slack channel.

Nick To The Rescue

There was just one word.

Mauritius?

He followed this up with more details:

No idea cost of accommodation or if it’s feasible to combo with something else to kill two weeks

But it’s a 4.5hr non-stop flight from JNB

And it’s beachy and 80°

And you can see the flying fox

Which isn’t quite a Quokka, but I’m no miracle worker

Something that I should mention at this point is that Shae absolutely adores animal experiences. One of our first vacations included hiking to see the Susa group of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda

Animal experiences are so important to her that she has pawprint tattoos on her leg for all the animals she’s had some kind of meaningful experience with.

Animal pawprint tattoos
Shae’s animal pawprint tattoos (apologies to anyone with a foot phobia!)

That’s why Nick mentioned the opportunity to see a flying fox. I wasn’t sure exactly what they looked like and it turns out they’re bats. That’s great, but the last experience she had with a bat was when we lived in England and one peed on her at a zoo.

After a bit of back and forth about possible flight options, Nick struck gold.

Hey on Instagram

Pull up Caroline Lupini

Check out her two most recent posts

The first of those posts was a short video of her flying over Mauritius. It was the second of those Mauritius posts that made my eyes bulge on Shae’s behalf.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Caroline Lupini (@caroline.lupini)

Scroll through to the third of those photos to see why I was so excited – for both of us! Swimming with whales that close would be an incredible experience.

Not wanting to get my hopes up too much, I pulled up Point.me to search for award availability to Mauritius. There were several options available in business class leaving the next day. When exploring those options even further, I noticed that I could book Dallas to Mauritius via Frankfurt, adding a stopover in Mauritius before continuing on to Johannesburg, getting us there when we needed to arrive based on our previous plans. The cost? 115,000 Aeroplan points per person one-way thanks to the ability to add the stopover for only 5,000 points.

Those were our potential flights sorted, but what about accommodation? These revised plans would have us staying in Mauritius for 15 nights. I was apprehensive when checking paid rates on Hotels.com and most options were several hundred bucks per night.

We’ve burned most of our Marriott points in anticipation of a bloodbath devaluation in March, so the JW Marriott, Westin and Le Meridien were out for any kind of extended stay. There was an SLH property bookable with Hyatt points, but pretty much no award availability for any days during our time there.

Luck was on our side though. There’s a Hilton Resort that had five nights of award availability at the start of our potential stay which meant we could take advantage of the 5th night free. That left 10 nights though.

I then checked IHG’s website. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that they not only had two properties with award availability on the island, but the Holiday Inn was bookable for fewer than 20,000 points per night! Granted, that takes into account the 4th night free benefit, but still – that’s an incredibly low price considering we bought the points for 0.5cpp and so each night would effectively only cost $90.63. In fact, it would be even less than that as I also have the IHG Select card which gives a 10% points rebate on award stays. That makes the net points cost 16,313 per night or only $81.56 per night.

Holiday Inn Mauritius pricing
Holiday Inn Mauritius award pricing

The InterContinental was also bookable for a reasonable number of points. While it was too expensive for us to stay the entire time there, a couple of nights would be nice, especially seeing as we had a couple of free night certificates to use up and the number of top-up points needed in excess of the 40,000 from the certificates were minimal thanks to the 20% award sale running at the time.

Those were our original plans – 5 nights at the Hilton (booked with points with 5th night free), 2 nights at the InterContinental (certificates and topped up with points & 10% points rebate) and then 8 nights at the Holiday Inn (booked with points with 4th & 8th nights free & 10% points rebate). That’s not what we ultimately ended up with though.

When taking a taxi from the airport to the Hilton, the driver mentioned that the Holiday Inn was more of a business hotel, plus we knew it wasn’t walkable to the beach which wasn’t ideal. I later remembered that we had a handful of Marriott free night certificates sitting on our accounts, so I rechecked the award pricing for the three Marriott properties on the island and got lucky. The Le Meridien was available for only 34,000 or 35,000 points per night depending on our dates which was perfect as it meant we wouldn’t need to top up our certificates with points. I therefore cancelled our 8 night stay at the Holiday Inn and rebooked it as a four night stay at the end of our trip; that way we’ll be right by the airport plus we can rent a car during those few days to explore other parts of the island. That gave us one more night to cover, so we decided to extend our Hilton stay by redeeming a free night certificate rather than using 70,000 points.

That means our final accommodation bookings were 6 nights at the Hilton (5 nights using points & 1 night with a certificate), 5 nights at the Le Meridien (booked with 4x 35k & 1x 40k certificates) and 4 nights at the Holiday Inn (booked with points with 4th night free & 10% points rebate).

Decision Time

It was 2am by that point and we had two great options that we’d both enjoy – Montego Bay and Mauritius. Knowing we’d need to book them ASAP seeing as the flights would leave the next day, I woke up Shae to find out what she’d prefer to do.

As much as she loves Jamaica, her preference was Mauritius which was my first choice too. Decision made. I got our flights and hotels booked, finally getting to bed at 3am but which felt even later after the stress of the day.

Thankfully the next day went without any issues. We flew Lufthansa business class to Frankfurt, relaxed in a couple of lounges there for several hours and then boarded our Eurowings Discover flight to Mauritius where we landed the next morning. Mauritius has a surprising amount of rush hour traffic in the morning, so we didn’t get to the Hilton until 10am. They gave us a lovely welcome and checked us in immediately despite arriving much earlier than the official check-in time.

The Hilton even had two of Nick's hats waiting for us ;)
The Hilton even had two of Nick’s hats waiting for us 😉

Despite being disappointed about missing out on the quokkas in Australia, we’re really fortunate that the points and miles game enabled us to change plans so quickly, easily and cheaply. It wasn’t without stress, but it sure beats what would’ve happened if we paid for all our travel with cash.

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Sir pantless

I have been a long time FM reader and I perked up when I saw Mauritius being mentioned here!

I am in the US now but I was born and raised on the island. When I go back home, it’s for family and for food (not necessarily in that order :D). I am unsure if you’re still there, but these are food you’ll unlikely find in hotels:

– dhall purri
– roti / farata
– gato pima (if you can swing it, try with hot bread and butter. Aka “dipain diberre gato pima”)
– halim
– dipain kebab (shawarma sandwiches). If you’re around Victoria bus station, there’s a good shop there.

In Chinese restaurants (if you’re in Chinatown in port Louis, just ask in retail shops where you can find those):
– bol renversé
– Sui kiow / moon kiow

I am biased, but I think the Mauritian style biryani (we call it “briani”) is the best biryani!

Would love to read how many of the above you were able to try out 🙂

Happy to answer Qs if you have any.

Last edited 21 days ago by Sir pantless
vino

For sure, briani is so much better! I’ll throw in samoussas (samosas) in that category of better versions – and if getting gato pima, samoussa, I’d get some gato arouille (taro fritters) as well. If in Chinatown, I might as well order some mine frit (stirfried noodles) too 🙂

Peter

Awesome story. All’s well that ends well. Ninja points and miles skills to the rescue.

My wife and I just spent 3 days at Kruger NP this week. Wonderful, eye opening experience. Skukuza airport-best small airport ever. Listening to the waves crash here on a Cape Town bay, as I write this.

How were you originally planning to fly from Perth to JNB?

Jodie

A bit off topic, but I would love to hear about the Rwanda trip and how you finagled that with points/miles. Pretty please.

Jodie

Thanks so much! That’s a trip I would love to do – and probably would pair it with Tanzania. Will check out the hotels you mentioned. Thanks again!

Jodie

Thank you!

whocares

going to Australia later this year. I already have nights booked at the HR Perth (No suite upg certs though — i’m a poor Explorist..for now), and I’m also planning on a day trip to Rottnest Island. The trip is mostly camping otherwise in other parts…

I’ll take one for the team and go there on your behalf. Any voodoo like rituals you would like me to perform that might get the travel gods on your side so that u may both eventually butt heads with a Quokka?

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

Yes please!! Just pop in on your backpack, wear it on your front and claim to also be a marsupial!!

ok…this is going above & beyond…you know that australian border force is pretty tough. fining people a couple thousand dollars for illicitly bringing mcdonalds hamburgers into the country.

but…this is the age of “you can be anything you want to be”…so your suggestion just might work. Why can’t I self-identify as a mutant largely hairless giant quokka marsupial? And I’ll be carrying my normal quokka baby.

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

True, true. I say go with “giant hairless marsupial” – you can see I’m clearly a criminal mastermind

David

Bad luck turned out good! The power of points in full display. What a great story….

Brian

Googling suggests that swimming with whales was banned in Mauritius a few years ago.

Roza

I read your article very interesting I like the details. I’m originated from Mauritius and lived in Australia for nearly 4 decades. Good choice on choosing Mauritius try the famous Dhal Puri and don’t forget to visit Rodrigues Is. close to MTS. Question: how do u use the travelling points?

rdover1

Makes me think of the old joke:

“My wife had to go to Kingston!”
“Jamaica?”
“No, she went of her own free choice!”

Brutus

“I had to go to Mauritius because Australia thought my wife was a criminal”
Sounds better than: “I had to go to Mauritius because I forgot to get visas for Australia and then my wife declared she was a criminal.”

Jay Power

Are you there now? How is the weather? water temp to scuba/snorkel? Having limited vacation time allowed for Americans, makes far far away travel a distant possibility. Do you share pics anywhere else?

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

We’ve been sharing them on our Facebook and Instagram @nohomejustroam and they will be on our blog in coming weeks nohomejustroam.com

Julie

We had the exact same issue with Aussie ETA! My son and I ended up getting on the flight without my husband, and then we shortened Australia and pivoted to Vietnam for our family trip instead. His ETA didn’t come through until 3 weeks later!

Jack

I had the exact same ETA problem last May! Ended up sitting in the LAX airport as the flight left for SYD. I clicked yes on the exact same question. No worse feeling.

Kirk

Reyes this Nick and where can we get his consulting services?

kayexalate

Stephen: excellent post as always with every detail and morsel that makes the readers feel like they are there with you (through all the ups and downs!)

I’m sorry you and Shea didn’t make it to Australia, but I’m glad you made it to Mauritius and am looking forward to reading your trip reports about somewhere a little more off the beaten path than your typical trip reports you’ve done in the past.
Mauritius has some of the best beaches I’ve been too and some excellent Indian food. Also check out the Mangal Mahadev – Shiva Statue in Grand Bassin. It’s very impressive.

If you have time, I recommend a short 1 hour flight to Reunion, which has a completely different vibe and activities than Mauritius. Since it’s part of France, there should be no visa issues. Reunion is much more volcanic with wonderful food as well and plentiful activities like Biking, hiking, volcanoes, abseiling, etc. You will rarely find any American tourists there as well. Be prepared to use your French as almost no one there speaks English, which made it so much more fun/memorable for us when we spent a week there.

Overall a great post about the power of miles/points and the ability to change things last minute without any (major) penalties/cost

Last edited 22 days ago by kayexalate
kayexalate

Definitely check out Reunion if your plans are flexible. It’s so close to Mauritius and yet completley different, and also has wonderful food (more of a French/Afro/Indian/Chinese influence) and no shortage of activities/sightseeing. Although a very poor analogy, Reunion is more like “Kauai” while Mauritius is more like “Oahu”

Tim

So sorry to hear about your Australian nightmare. Just curious, how come you had an issue with Australian immigration officials if you were still in Dallas? I suppose learning about the problem while you were still in the US minimized the damage, but I figured you would’ve landed in Australia before talking to immigration officials there?

Nick Reyes

@Tim: You apply for an Australian visa online. It’s electronic and you receive confirmation when it gets approved. The airline presumably has a way to see if you have the visa you need and when Shae’s didn’t go through, they had a way to check on why.

Buddy M.

I was Mauritius a few years ago and stayed and the Intercontinental a few days. I was very nice and they even had a free snorkel excursion to a nearby spot that was better than I expected. I don’t know if it’s still free because, at the time, I couldn’t believe they weren’t charging for it.

PC Joe Penhale 3021

You cannot escape the long arm of the law.

J.C.

Why did you remove my post about Jamaica? How safe do you think it is? I’d genuinely like to know. There are plenty of verified data points to keep me from taking my family there.

J.C.

This is embarrassing. A refreshed page showed my comment.

J.C.

LOL, a downvote. Thx 😉
Would be interested to hear from travelers their thoughts on Jamaica. I’d genuinely love to feel good about taking family there.

J.C.

I really appreciate the response, thank you! I’ve traveled throughout most of Central America throughout the last few decades and always felt safe, despite published warnings, during my travels.

I had a family trip planned to Jamaica recently but ended up pivoting. There’s something about the nature of the crime, and responses by local authorities, in Jamaica that gives me pause and says to go somewhere else. I’m trying to work through it, sourcing the travel community. Thank you for sharing!

Terrific pivot to Mauritius! What a great location!

Tom C

I live in PDX, yes it has gotten much more dangerous, dirty, graffiti covered with a healthy serving of human feces afoot … very far cry from what it once was less than a decade ago. We use to tell everyone how wonderful it is and please come visit. Now we are too embarrassed to have them see how horrible it is.
Drugged out zombies on Fentanyl and Meth everywhere you turn. So down right potentially dangerous.
Business’ moving out of downtown. Break-ins now common, just bought my first gun as protection for our family.

Cavedweller

That’s the way Every Place is going. I watch Ch2&4 in Hawaii my hotel block has had THREE shooting since I’ve been there 2/12..Liberal anyone ?? ALOHA

Ganesh

Fantastic job handling the situation. Hope you guys have an awesome time in Mauritius! Enjoyed your post

JC

One thing gave me pause… Jamaica?!?

I’d love to take my family there (cheap, nice beaches, close, easy points availability), but after reading one too many accounts of s3xual assault and/or violence on that island it doesn’t feel worth the risk to my wife and daughter. Just google it. The assaults and crime are common even for folks who stay on property and don’t leave. Also, the assault accounts are all consistent (including when they happen on luxury branded properties), ending with the local police department not believing or acting on behalf of the victim.

Congrats on Mauritius! What a great trip!

Unclemel

Your wife admitted to being a criminal. Lol.

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

I don’t know about that I swear I hit the no buttons on all 3 questions. It’s even funnier bc I’m very much a rule follower. The most audacious thing I’ve done is fed wildlife at state park

Cavedweller

It was 4 years ago I PAID a firm to handle it and they Did . For the same reason they told me to use them ” THEY DON”T MUCK IT UP ” . Best trip ever it was..ALOHA

Last edited 22 days ago by Cavedweller
Cavedweller

I looked 9/23/2018 ETA but no name of the Firm but stated they were the best online. ALOHA

I am laughing with you. Now that it’s in the past it’s going to be a great story to tell for years. Great pivot from tough news to an awesome replacement.

LarryInNYC

Really amazing recovery, and great example of last-minute planning.

Very sorry to hear that your original plans got up-ended (and also that you have to go through the rest of your life wondering if your wife has a secret, undisclosed criminal past ;-)). Can’t imagine that it was much of a choice between Montego Bay and Mauritius. It sounds like the trip you ended up with will be absolutely amazing. I’d say your loss (of Quokkas) is our gain (of knowledge) but I’m not sure how much of a loss you actually suffered!

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

Yes, I’m very suspicious

Carl

Many countries now have automated electronic travel authorization systems. The U.S. pioneered them with the justification of fighting terrorism. And that has killed visa-free travel as other countries have now adopted them, too. These automated systems are fine if everything goes smoothly, but the moment there is any deviation from the norm they can be a royal pain, and they seem designed to prevent human interaction and problem resolution.
My own example was that, despite being a Nexus card holder, which means I’ve been screened and cleared by the Canadian Border Services Agency, and can enter Canada via the Nexus lanes, I couldn’t get a Canadian eTA through their automated process because I answered truthfully the question of whether I’d ever been arrested (the answer, yes, arrested in relation to a protest in college 43 years ago with all charges dropped days later.) But answering the question truthfully generated a request more information. They asked for an FBI report, which I didn’t have. Instead, I sent a scan of my Nexus card together with the explanation that this had been discussed with CBSA as part of my Nexus approval and I provided a notarized copy of dismissal of charges. Once I submitted that, the option to contact them went away from the website and I didn’t hear back from them for weeks and eventually got a message that my application had expired. Just a crappy experience. Thankfully the requirement for U.S. permanent residents to get an eTA to enter Canada was dropped last year, but the process sucked.

Glad you were able to find a good alternate.

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

Yes! Not being able to speak to anyone helpful was frustrating in this scenario. Especially since uploading the docs still meant it went into a pool for a person to look at later rather than immediately going “oops this was just an accidental check box” or even a double check when you say yes before submitting would’ve been good.

Brands

Mauritius? That sounds like an awesome consolation prize. I’m sure you will make it back to Australia someday, of course you might be enjoying the beach while your wife is serving time! haha j/k, great work in not allowing a horrible setback to keep you down.

Bagira

Great post!! We were actually in a slightly similar situation a couple of weeks ago too, when we realized our kids passport is set to expire in 3 months and the county we were visiting seemed to have a 6 month expiration requirement. Similar to you, Stephen, when my whole family was sleeping in HR SFO, I was proactively searching for options if we are not allowed to check in and board the next morning 🙂

Anonymous

Get a cheap and lightweight chromebook, do not use phones or tablets to fill important forms where pop up keyboard keeps disrupting the page flow

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner

Definitely will do that next time.

Lee

Is her picture displayed in the post office as an FBI’s most wanted?

Shae Pepper - Stephen's Wife and Travel Partner
Anne

Great sorry! And anyone heading to New Zealand needs to get the ETA as well. Going to both Australia and NZ next month on points and miles booked last Feb. ETAs to Australia issued immediately. ETA to NZ for my husband also issued immediately. Mine to NZ wasn’t. Got a pending message but 2 days later got an approval. No explanation on what caused the delay.

NedsKid

Dodged a bullet not staying at that Montego Bay all-inclusive Holiday Inn resort. I was subjected to it a few times as the contract hotel to the airline I was with and visited on business… only all-inclusive where I passed on the food after one visit to the buffet and catered in my own. And liquor so horrible I bought my own. That is where I learned that hot water is considered a luxury and not guaranteed.

JayP

Your best post to date Stephen! For me anyways. Reads like a points and miles edge of your seat thriller lol. “Will he make it?! The clock’s ticking away….”
The thrill of finding last minute availability when you really need it is always awesome, but this was next level.

Teresa Henning

Helpful as always

SamBam

Your last paragraph is the key. Points saved me $1600 last summer bc of last minute snafu. That has to be the moral of this story!!!! Thanks for Sharing

docntx

Wow!
And my wife thinks MY travel planning and “oops” moments and quick pivots are hard to follow?
Truly a wonderful example of option exploration.

bob

isn’t the holiday inn right at the airport? it’s not near anything! Hilton location is nice. I spent a month in Flic-en-flac during the shoulder season last year. it was fantastic. don’t think I met another american the entire trip.

MFK

I’m curious. Have you considered visiting Madagascar for some of the time you have to kill? There are direct flights from MRU to TNR and from TNR to JNB and one of the world’s most unique animal experiences: seeing lemurs in their natural habitats. I’ve not yet been myself, but it’s at or near the top of my bucket list, so I’ve done a fair amount of research into traveling there. Great save regardless.

PS – small typo, I believe; airport, not hotel – “I therefore cancelled our 8 night stay at the Holiday Inn and rebooked it as a four night stay at the end of our trip; that way we’ll be right by the hotel plus we can rent a car during those few days to explore other parts of the island.”

Last edited 22 days ago by MFK
MFK

Makes sense. From what I’ve read, there are several different lemur habitats, along with a number of other interesting sights, spread across a much larger area and the roads are trickier to navigate, so more time and planning would make for a better trip. Hopefully we’ll both get there one day soon.