Our 2015 journey had started with a one way flight on Qantas from Sydney to Los Angeles on Monday 9th March. Our initial destination was Ecuador where we stayed for 3 months. The first couple of weeks was spent in the Quito where we took Spanish Classes at the Simon Bolivar Spanish School. Our next stop was Canoa on the Pacific Coast for a five week House Sitting assignment. We were intending to spend time in the Galapagos Islands, Otavalo, Cuenca and Guayaquil as well during our 3 months.
Cost of Our One Way Flights Using Points
Sydney to Los Angeles, one way on Qantas Airlines, 48,000 points per person
Taxes: AU$476.52 per person
Los Angeles to Miami to Quito one way on American Airlines using points 36,000 points per person
Taxes: AU$ 11.20 per person
Total Cost of One Way Flights:
AU$487.72 per person Sydney, Australia to Quito, Ecuador one way
On arrival at Sydney International Airport, we joined the queue for check in, normally we checked in via the internet but we were getting an error message. It turned out that our ESTA visas for entry into the USA had expired February last month (2015). Mistakenly, we had taken the expiration date as November, 2015 not realising that the expiration date was written in the American format. A good lesson for us both to take note in the future and to make a note of the expiration of our Visas along with the expiration of our passports. Fortunately, Flight Centre at Sydney International Airport can process the visa for a handling fee of AUD$30 per person, plus the USD$14 for the US ESTA on the spot.
To Travel Too Tip:
At the start of our 2013 RTW journey we processed the ESTA Visa online through what we thought was the American Government site at a cost of USD50 per person. Beware of these copy sites, they look so similar, it is hard to tell the difference, the only way is by the fees that they charge.
US ESTA Visa in hand, we arrived back at the check-in counter to encounter another issue. We had a one-way ticket into Quito, Ecuador. We had read up on a few of the travel forum sites about this issue and the consensus is that Ecuador Immigration hardly ever ask for proof of exit from the country. What we learnt though; is that it is the Airline’s responsibility to repatriate the passenger in the event of a Visa Immigration issue. Qantas was querying our ticket even though the Airline flying us into Quito was American Airlines. Qantas allowed us to board the QF flight on the advice that we were going to leave Ecuador by the 90-day visa expiration date and that we had enough funds to cover us for the whole period.
13 hours later we arrived in LAX airport with a 9-hour wait for our transit flight to Miami ahead of us. We had considered a number of options on how to spend the nine hours in LAX.
Option #1 was to hightail it out of there and make our way to the LA Beaches.
Option #2 purchase a day pass at the Admirals Club at LAX American Airlines Domestic Terminal for USD50 per person which included free WiFi, food and drinks.
Option #3 a tip from a fellow travel blogger was to sit outside the Admirals Club to see if we can gain access to their WiFi. We thought we would try the latter first and it worked depending on what seat you managed to get and this approach saved us thirty percent of our daily travel budget.
What we spent in our 9 hour transit:
Breakfast/Lunch: two coffees and a sandwich that we shared. USD11
Dinner at Coles Bar: 3 beers, fries and a French Dip Specialty Beef Sandwich. USD58
For our A$100 a day travel budget, we had almost consumed our entire budget.
Onward One Way Flight To Miami
Our flight to Miami was an overnight flight with American Airlines. A smooth flight that was on time and arrived on schedule at 6.00am.
24 Hours in Miami
We were due to be at the Miami International airport at 7am the next day for our flight to Quito, Ecuador, so we decided to book a hotel at the Airport that provided a free shuttle service 24 hours a day. We decided on the Days Inn Miami International Airport, the cost was USD149 smashing our AUD100 per day budget.
Definitely the quality of this hotel was not worth the USD149 even with the shuttle service and free WiFi. It did though gave us the opportunity to have a sleep, shower and catch up on some travel planning. We had to revise our ticketing due to the questions that had been raised by Qantas with our one way ticket.
With our travel planning hats on we booked our flights out of Quito, Ecuador to Mexico where we weere heading to in early June to start our 2nd overseas house sitting assignment in San Miguel de Allende.
On arrival at Miami Airport the next morning we used the self-check-in booths for the flight to Quito. When we checked our luggage in at the baggage drop there was no query by the American Airlines staff in regards to our departure date or destination.
After a 4-hour flight we arrived in Quito, our Immigration Officer asked how long we would be staying, we gave him our date, he stamped our passports and we went through.
The question is, should we have had purchased our tickets to exit the country or not? From our point of view, as a safe guard against not being let into the country or having to pay some sort of fine, we did the right thing. A future tip/trick could be is to purchase a fully refundable ticket to the next country.
When we travel we always like to stay in Hostels wherever we can. They provide a low-cost alternative to hotels and we get to meet other travellers and exchange invaluable travel information. We chose the Discovery Hostel in Quito for two reasons. #1 it was recommended by the Simon Bolivar Spanish School where we were taking Spanish lessons for a week and it was located close by to the school and #2 it was located in the Mariscal area that was central for bars and restaurants. The Hostel also provided breakfast and a one-way transfer from the airport. Arriving into a new country or city and trying to find safe and convenient transfers can be a hassle so when our accommodation provided this service we always take up their offer.
Costs for 10 nights accommodation at the Discovery Hostel in Quito for a double room with ensuite $400 USD plus 12% tax $USD448.00
Costs for our Spanish lessons at the Simon Bolivar Spanish School in Quito:
4 hours per day Monday to Friday 8.30am – 12.30pm $6 per hour per person = $24.00 per day per person
$20USD registration fee per person
Total Cost one-week Spanish lessons: $280 USD
Have you travelled on a one way ticket into a country? Did you have any issues?
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