Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gee, Thanks Uncle Sam!

Most people, for good reason, don't enjoy doing their taxes. I for one, am a big fan.

Using my handy-dandy software, I can usually crank out my return and Tom's in less than a few hours, start to finish. So what does this have to do with weddings, you ask? Two words: the refund.

Because I'm not too interested in actually figuring out my correct withholdings, I usually end up with a fairly sizable refund. And because I don't know how much I owe every year, I just pretend like I don't have any money coming back, which makes it that much sweeter when it does. Last year, my refund came just in time to use during my fabulous trip to Ireland with my younger sister and maid of honor. Our travel recap is here.

This year, my refund came just as I was eyeing plane tickets for our honeymoon. As with every decision for the wedding thus far, the honeymoon choice was fraught with indecision. I asked Tom for a list of places he'd like to visit, and was greeted with this: Australia, Italy, Greece, or Scotland. I flatly told him Australia wasn't an option, as airfare is usually $2,000 a person, and you need to have plenty of time to travel across the globe. Thus began our inquisition into Europe. We entertained two main itineraries: Scotland, London, Paris or Rome, Venice, Florence. I even went so far as to purchase a Best of Italy guidebook.

And then my friend Kayak showed up. (Best airfare search engine EVER!) I wanted to assure myself that I hadn't cut down Tom's idea too quickly, so I did a rough search for airfare to Sydney, Australia. Imagine my surprise when I found that a 7-day trip was cheaper than a 7-day trip to Italy. In that instant, I knew there was no turning back. As a sucker for the unique, I knew that this would be the perfect honeymoon: exotic without being strange, touristy without being too busy, relaxing without having nothing to do, and the best part, fulfilling Tom's dream vacation.

All the pieces began falling into place. My boss said I could take my 10 days of vacation straight, the airfare price kept dropping, our hotel rewards card could get us 4 free nights at a 5 star resort, and the US dollar vs. the Australian dollar kept getting stronger.

So when my refund showed up in my bank account on Friday, and my Yapta account emailed me to let me know that airfare prices had dropped AGAIN, I bought the tickets.

We'll be leaving on Monday, the day after the wedding. I'm sure it will be crazy, but well worth it. We fly from Chicago to San Francisco, then board a 14-hour flight to the land of Oz. On arrival Wednesday morning, we'll find ourselves with this view:

Sydney Opera House @ Sydney Harbor

and this view:

Sydney Harbor Bridge

And we'll see a few of these guys:


We'll spend our time in Sydney visiting all the above, including a trip to a wildlife sanctuary to feed some kangaroos, a day trip to the Blue Mountains, and a trip to Hunter Valley, Australia's wine region. We'll also visit the Sydney Olympic Park (Tom's pick!), Darling Harbour, the Rocks, and Manly Beach.

After a few days, we'll fly to the north coast to the Great Barrier Reef for the rest of the trip. We'll be staying at this hotel:
Yep --- it's built on the water! It's actually a pool, but for some reason, they call them "lagoons." Apparently they want to sound more exotic.

We'll spend a day out on a boat in the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling, possibly scuba diving, and picnicking on a private island. Like this one:

I'm totally hoping to see some turtles and nemo fish. And hoping to not see any jellyfish or sharks. Or maybe to see them, just from afar.
Then, we'll take a hike through the Daintree Rainforest, and view these:
I am so unbelievably excited for this trip, and you can imagine how giddy Tom is! All in all, we'll be spending 9 days in Oz, and another 2 just flying. But with $1,000 airfare and everything else at roughly 60% (because of the exchange rate), it just seemed the perfect time to travel.
While I was totally in love with the thought of honeymooning in Italy (cliche, no?) or London/Paris, this trip just seems so much more fitting. So thanks again, IRS!


Jamie said...

WOW, i am JEALOUS! that sounds amaaazing! what a trip to look forward to - great job.

Tom said...