If I have to name one frugal fail this year – this trip would have been it. We tried to save money and trading it with our time.
Have you ever tried to plan an international trip for 7 people from different parts of the country? Let me tell you…it is not fun. Everybody wanted different things.
I’m surprised we even made it back. My dad even said that he’s learned more from this one trip than his whole life about traveling and it will be a very long time before he travels again. That should tell you something 🙂
How it all began
My 3-week summer trip to Asia started with a 22-layover in Hong Kong.
Why on earth would anyone book a ticket with a 22-hour layover? A shorter layover would have cost us $400 extra per person and most of us just did not want to pay. That is a lot of money for a total of 7 people.
We booked our tickets after one month of checking the prices daily. We didn’t want to risk not being able to book for 7 people all at once by waiting any longer.
We figured a 22-hour layover might not be such a bad idea. We can leave the airport, check into the hotel, explore the country and I can cross another country off of my list. Not too bad of a plan right?
It sounded so good in my head, but things often don’t turn out as planned – so instead of out exploring the city, I was so exhausted and just passed out in the hotel. Only to wake up at 4 AM local time being so out of it.
Where did it all go wrong
I soon realized it was a bad idea when I barely had any sleep on our 15-hour flight to Hong Kong. After dealing with my mom’s injured foot, going through immigration, finding our shuttle bus and checking in at the hotel – I can feel my blood boiling and ready to snap at any moment. I just wanted to be best friends with the bed when I got to the hotel.
Everyone else went to explore Hong Kong night market while I slept. The taxi ride to and from Hong Kong market cost over $60. They thought the food was expensive. It was also pouring rain. They didn’t even bring me back any food. Thanks a lot!
My parents were more gung-ho than me. My mom’s foot was in pain and she still wanted to walk around to see Hong Kong. All I wanted was to be left alone – even for just a few hours.
I was so out of it because of the time difference. I did absolutely nothing for those 22 hours. YUP – I wasted my chance to explore Hong Kong. I was the party pooper.
How did it end up costing me more money
Hotel ($159) – My brother booked the hotel near the airport for convenience, so it was a bit more expensive compared to other hotels.
Time (priceless)- I spent 22 hours there – which means I wasted 1 PTO day or 1 day of work. Hey, if I didn’t use it, I could cash it in for a day of pay. Time is money. I am not even going to mention the 13-hour layover coming back!!!
Food – I don’t even know how much we spent, but we went to the AIRPORT to eat. I asked the hotel clerks where to eat besides hotel food and they suggested we take the shuttle to the airport to eat. How insane is this!
Things I did not account for:
I did not account for the fact that when I land, it would be 3 AM my normal time. I should be in bed sleeping, not out exploring. Maybe I thought I would sleep on the airplane and be fully recharged by the time I landed.
We tried to save $400 by booking a flight with a 22-hour layover going there and 13-hour layover coming back, it ended up costing us about the same (or more) between hotel and cost of transportation. Not to mention we lost over a day of our travel time.
My parents love to bring a lot of things back for their relatives such as vitamins, clothes and even fish cakes. Yes. They made fish cakes to bring back for their relatives. Don’t ask me why they thought it was a good idea to do that. We had to repack and leave those behind because they would definitely spoil with the long layover.
4. Language barrier
I don’t know why I was under the impression that almost everybody in Hong Kong spoke English. It is probably because of all the Hong Kong dramas I grew up watching. I was surprised to find that it is not the case at all. The guy wheeling my mom around the airport spoke to us strictly in Mandarin for 20 minutes and boy, was he talkative. The taxi drivers didn’t speak a word of English. Surprisingly, a lot of airport workers didn’t either. I definitely wasn’t prepared in this department
It was pouring rain causing my family to cut their night out short. Weather is unpredictable and there was no way we could have predicted that, but it is something to watch out for.
6. Lost luggage
Because of our 22-hour layover, only 1 luggage out of 8 arrived when we finally landed in Da Nang, Vietnam. Right before we left for Hong Kong to fly to Vietnam, one of their staff members came and asked us for our luggage codes, made a phone call, assured us that EVERYTHING will be there when we arrive. I was extremely upset because I felt we were lied to.
We had to stay in Da Nang an extra day to claim our luggage. In the end, it cost us 2 travel days instead of 1.
Don’t do what I did. Don’t try to cut corners to save some money and end up being frustrated. I am all for saving money, but sometimes, it’s just not worth it. You just have to know your worth and it definitely wasn’t worth it.
I definitely learned my lesson the hard way. I am never doing a trip with long layover again unless I absolutely have no other choice. It was just too stressful traveling with so many people with the long layover and especially the delayed arrival of our luggage.
We had to get the taxi to and from the airport to pick up our luggage at Da Nang airport the next day in addition to staying in the hotel an extra night before we were able to leave for Hue (my parents’ hometown).
When I did my research for things to do with a layover, I saw a lot of tours for the 6-hour layover. I thought since we had 22 hours, we would be able to accomplish more on our own. Maybe just having a 6-hour layover might be better since we wouldn’t have to check into a hotel – just book the tour and explore.
I also didn’t account for the fact that a 15-hour long flight can really exhaust the body.
It was a trip full of lessons and I can’t wait to travel again.