Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What to Do When Flights to Florida Are More Expensive Than Flights to China

If that ever happens to you, YOU GO TO CHINA!!!!!!!!  I'm so excited that I can hardly type!  Our family is taking a pretty-much-spur-of-the-moment spring break trip to both Disney parks in China! We're first going to the newly-opened Shanghai Disneyland, and then we're taking our third trip to Hong Kong Disneyland!
In front of Hong Kong Disneyland on our first visit in 2008

And again in 2010
How in the world did this come about?  Well, in the middle of February, we decided we should start thinking about how to spend our spring break, and we first looked into cruises out of Fort Lauderdale.  For about $2700, we could do a seven-day cruise on our favorite cruise line, Holland America, including all of our meals.  Unfortunately, we'd have to drive 18 hours each way since plane tickets from Indianapolis were about $600 each.

Now, at the time, Josh happened to be in serious research-avoidance mode.  That meant he didn't want to do research related to his job, but he was THRILLED to have an excuse to do research related to anything else.  He went to a website called Skyscanner which has a super cool feature that enables you to put in your city of departure and then put in "Everywhere" in the destination box.  It will give you every single flight to every single country that is available for your dates.  You click on a country, and the flights are listed cheapest to most expensive.

Josh did this on a lark, and there they were.  Round-trip tickets to Shanghai from Chicago for $495.  Yep.  You read that right.  $495.  Round-trip.  We could fly to China cheaper than we could fly to Fort Lauderdale.

So that's exactly what we're doing!!  Now, to be fair, we're not actually paying $495.  In order to buy that fare, we'd also need to shell out $560 for Chinese visas (the stamps that say you're legally entering the country, not the credit cards).  But we did some research and learned about a special visa just for visits to Shanghai that last no more than 144 hours, and it's FREE.  The catch is that you have to stop over in another country on your way home.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  Hong Kong isn't another country,  It's China.  But China doesn't see it that way (and neither, frankly, do the people of Hong Kong).  Hong Kong is what's known as a Special Administrative Region or SAR.  And as such, it counts as another country for the purposes of our free visas!

Of course, altering the base ticket meant that we had to buy a more expensive ticket (about $680 per person) that had a stopover in Hong Kong on the way home.  And since we were going to be there, we decided we might as well go to Hong Kong Disneyland as well!

To prepare for our adventure, we've been doing lots of online research.  Shanghai Disneyland just opened in June of 2016, and many of the posts we found about it dealt with the first few days the park was open.  Naturally, there were long lines, gobs of people, and several snafus.  But with enough digging, we found other posts that dealt with more recent visits.  Those unanimously praised the park and have been very helpful.  In my next post, I'll write about some of the sources we've used and what we plan to do while we're gone!

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