I just finished booking my trip for September, and as you know I had initially been trying to decide between Morocco or Japan.  In the end I researched both options thoroughly but for some inextricable reason my ability to get in and out of Morocco easily was both cumbersome and difficult. Hhhmmm…

When I book my travel I look at a couple of important dimensions to help me figure out my final itinerary: (1) ease of getting to my final destination and (2) layover times (if I have to).  My latest trip booking was no exception and a good rule of thumb to follow when self booking your next trip.

Once I’d settled on dates it really was a matter of booking flights, although to get to this years locations I had to use my creativity!

First choice:  I had initially thought about spending a week in each location of my two targeted destinations.  Japan and Morocco.  This meant that I began looking at flying from Toronto to Tokyo on my start date, then a week later onto my second location – Marrakesh.  Yes, it could be done by very costly…over $8,000 and extremely time consuming with flight times and stopovers…yep, no simple way to get from Tokyo to Marrakesh.  🙂

Okay, lets try the other direction – to Marrakesh first, then Tokyo…same issue.  Way too much time lost flying and in transit for this to work – but worth a try!

Option Two:  Next option was to spend my time in Morocco and Europe, namely Malta (which I’ve heard incredible things about), then onto Milan so I could spend some time at the lake as well…cos’, you know how much I love Lake Como!

Flying into Marrakesh either via Lisbon, London, Paris, Amsterdam or Munich was doable, but with a half a day “lost” while waiting for my flight to leave to the real destination was painful, and also made it hard to get out and explore and be back in time to catch the flight…6 hours just wasn’t quite long enough.  Okay, so for argument sake lets say I can figure out a way to make the stopover cities work with the half day I have, what would the remainder of the itinerary look like?

Well, as fate would have it if I got to Marrakesh, then I would need to fly back to one of the European hubs (Lisbon, Paris, London, Amsterdam) and spend another 6 – 9 hours before coming back to Malta.  Now that was crazy as the actual flight time to Malta directly from Marrakesh is only 3 hours 17 min.  In effect losing at least another full day from my trip.  🙁

Okay, so if I were to concede and agree to that, when could I get to Milan from Malta?  Well, surprisingly not!  I have exactly the same issue, again flying back to one of the major hubs before flying back into Milan…  Oi vey!!!

Clearly the travel gods had other ideas for me!  🙂

It was increasingly difficult to imagine this itinerary would work given that I had now lost three full days between the three locations.  With only two weeks planned I was already down to just over 10 days spent exploring.    Clearly not so much!?

Option Three:  Okay, so I turned my attention to Japan and Bali to see if I could make this work.

It was easy to get from Toronto to Tokyo on the dates desired as there are a number of direct flights daily, so no issue there.  I have a friend in Japan (thanks Kayoko!) who has been giving my great advice as to where to explore to maximize my trip especially given that I really want to discover the “Old Japan” and more traditional places versus the big glitzy cities.

The first flight worked well so definitely a great start to this potential itinerary!   Next up was the flight from Tokyo to Bali which is a 7 hour 40 min direct flight.  Firstly, finding affordable direct flights seemed an impossibility given the $2000 price tag.  The stopover option was a quarter of the price, so this became the most viable choice.

With lots of cities that I could of spent a day and night in I decided on Singapore and although I’d been to Singapore many times in the past, I’d never visited with my camera.  What an awesome opportunity to walk around and get some great shots!  This was looking promising.  🙂

The flight from Singapore to Denpasar in Bali was an easy hop (2 hours 40 min) and only cost $69 one way on JetStar…now that’s what I’m talking about!

So far, so good!

Next was getting back to Toronto from Bali – again I had lots of options, but as I said earlier maximizing your time either by limiting flight times to and from my destination or the number of stops is crucial when planning your long haul international flights.

The first option was to fly into Sydney overnight which is a 5 hours and 50 minutes “hop”, then catch the Air Canada flight (AC 34) from Sydney to Vancouver overnight then onto Toronto from there.  I’ve done this one many times and it isn’t so bad, except that its basically 30 + hours total and exhausting at the end of your trip.

I also had lots of choices if I flew back via Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo or Beijing, which would give me more flexible flight times.  I decided on Shanghai (which I loved when Sam and I went there last Christmas) as I have a little more to explore especially in the old International settlement area of the city, plus its a direct flight from Shanghai to Toronto with no further stopovers…sweet!

As I often find when researching trips there are a myriad of permutations between airlines, cities, time spent waiting coupled with flight times something generally works out, but you have to remain flexible in your thinking and stay open to new possibilities.

So with my choice of destination chosen my next task is to research and book my accommodations and ground transportation for each city.  Definitely looking forward to Bali and getting in some well earned R&R! I’m thinking yoga, beach, jungle and hanging out with my mate Rodney who I used to teach with back in Australia and who now lives in Bali full time.

Strangely I love the planning and figuring out the ‘rubik’s cube” aspect of the travel almost as much as the actual travel…call me crazy, but there you have it!

If you ever have a travel related question feel free to reach out and ask and I’ll be sure to get back to you.