It’s been 3 months since we were on a plane. I tell you that like it is like some kind of record. Of course we haven’t been in one spot that long, but we have been travelling by boat, taxi, shuttles, collectivos and luxury buses throughout Central America.
I found myself slightly nervous. As always we had grown super comfortable with our life in Antigua and the future was unknown. Well, as unknown as can be with my super organizational powers.
We had decided to fly with Spirit. Every airline out of Guatemala was costing a fortune, at least US$350 pp, while Spirit was coming in at US$223 including all baggage. The baggage is the key to watch though since they not only charge for checked luggage, but for carry on luggage too. Ridiculous, right? Then when we got to the airport they let us know the weight limit was 40 pounds (approx. 18 kilos), have you ever heard of such a thing? In Australia the average weight is 23 kilos, in the US for us, it was 32kg so we were rather shocked by this.
Well never mind we had bought 4 bags and only had 3 to check in. Nope, our bag was over and they don’t distribute weight, each bag is it’s own. Honestly, it is the most ridiculous system I have ever seen. While we were in Asia all our flights simply took the stance of ‘she’s paid for 4x 20kg bags so she has 80kgs whether each bag is over or under’.
Anyway back to the beginning. The day before we left Guatemala we organized a private vehicle. A shared shuttle would have been US$9 per person so at $27 (with Caius on our lap) we decided to spend the US$37 for a private vehicle that could pick us up at the time we wanted.
The morning of our departure was the least stressed so far. We had plenty of time to pack and scour the house, confident for once we had left nothing behind. Phew!
Our vehicle got lost and arrived 20 minutes late, but we still had time up our sleeve. It was a nice big Volvo sedan and we were on our way.
The airport in Guatemala is a little overwhelming on arrival. The front is crowded with people standing around selling items or waiting for people. We pushed through and inside was surprisingly nice.
After our check-in we filled in 4 immigration papers, which took awhile before getting through security and at then to the gate.
We spent the reminder of our money at McDonalds, while using the free wifi and then boarded our flight.
Our male flight attendant was a jokester and every announcement was accompanied with a joke. When I asked for a cup of water he told me it was $5 I said “oh…”, he said, “just kidding.” I said, “sorry, but for what they charge for luggage on this plane I wouldn’t have been surprised.” The joke suddenly ended.
Caius fell asleep during take off like he normally does, Mia was happy watching a movie on the iPad. Josh got upgraded to an exit seat, since not even my legs seem to fit on the tiny Spirit planes. I wrote a whole bunch of blog posts and 2 hours and 35 minutes later we hit Fort Lauderdale – back in the land of the free! (cough cough)
Flights direct to Puerto Rico were much more expensive than me organizing two separate flights. Since no flights to PR could be found that same day until really late we decided to spend the night at a nearby airport hotel and catch the 11am flight the next day.
Comfort Inn has a shuttle that can collect you from the airport, which you simply call when you arrive. After waiting very patiently for our stroller (that seemed to have been mislaid) we exited the customs. In the front of the airport was a free phone, which we used to call Comfort Inn. The packed shuttle was there within 10 minutes.
There was a pool (bummed we didn’t have time to use) and the room was clean and sufficient. We had a $50 Expedia credit so it cost us $37.
I then asked my kids where we should go for dinner and my 4 year old answered “Central America.” As we were crossing the road to the restaurant, she then asked if we could just take a tuktuk. We laughed, you can’t believe how proud I am to have a 4 year old who even knows what Central America is as well as a tuktuk.
We grabbed some Mexican food from Chipotle across the street for $23 – massive burrito, massive Tex salad bowl and a kids meal before getting the crying cranky kids home for a good nights sleep.
The next morning we ate our included breakfast at the hotel, which is always the same in the US microwaved (not really scrambled) eggs, make your own waffles, fruit, cereal and toast. I was pleased to get my bagel on again. We then jumped the hotel shuttle back to the airport for our second 2.5 hour flight into San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Airline check-in was fairly smooth, the lady took a very long time, but didn’t even check the weigh of our bags before passing them through.
Security was over the top as usual demanding to inspect every cable and electronic device. It must have been Josh’s scruffy, unshaven face that looked dodgy, I’m sure.
Spirit then took a very long time to get passengers on the plane. I know people usually pay more for those front seats, but I never got the whole “front people first” idea. To me it makes more sense to let the back people on and move forward so no one is holding up the queue, doesn’t it?
Once on board Mia managed to sweet talk her way into some free m&m cookies. Neither child slept, which was rough, well until the flight was landing then Caius decided to fall asleep at the least opportune time.
The Puerto Rico airport was lovely and fairly easy to find our way out and into a taxi on the way to our new home for the next two nights. Another flight done!
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
I find all the stuff you have to do to get on a plane is so tiring. Great read
Spirit sounds like they're best to be avoided unless it is massively cheaper to fly with them. Reuben almost always falls asleep on landing too which makes it really tricky getting off the plane, going through immigration and collecting bags. Why do kids do this???
Urgh, microwaved airline food gets me down howeevr free m&m cookies sound fab!
Travel days are always so tough. Looks like you can still have some fun.
Ahhh, so good to read up on the adventures of a family in the midst of world travel. We have just hit the '6 months since returning' mark and I am now sitting here catching up on some work, on a Saturday, finding my mind still wandering back to 'hmmm so where were we this time last year?', which lead to some googling, and then to your page, which resonates well since our kids were 2 and 4 on our last years RTW adventure (it was our third extended travel of 9, 3 and 6 months duration, we haven't yet reached the 1 year + plus mark and I am envious - well done! My parents managed a 2 year RTW with myself and my sister but we were much older at 10-12 years). I am only working now in preparation for the next one. So, thanks for the inspiration and keep enjoying your adventure.
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