Grant and Linda’s first holiday

Linda and Grant at Kylies weddingby Grant J Everett

Setting goals is an essential component of recovery. One of the many goals my wife and I shared was to go on an out-of-state holiday together. Although our wedding was back in September 2016, life has kept us in New South Wales…until now. 

A perfect opportunity to get away presented itself when we found out our good friend Kylie was getting married in Victoria in the first quarter of 2018 (be sure to see the “Kylie and Shane’s Long Distance Love Story on p.12 ). The big day would happen in a lovely little rural town called Timboon. Better yet, Linda was asked to be the matron of honour. What a great reason to get out the luggage! 

It took a lot of planning to figure out how we’d get to the wedding and where we’d stay, but it wasn’t insurmountable. We just focussed on one part of the plan at a time: booking the flight, researching what buses and trains we’d have to catch in Victoria to reach Kylie’s house, how Victorian public transport worked, where we’d be staying…the list went on. Thankfully, as we literally had months to figure all this stuff out, rather than dealing with everything in one hit we just kept nibbling away a bit at a time until we were confident our itinerary ticked every box. We soon had our basic game plan: we’d fly down and stay at Kylie and Shane’s home for all but one night of our trip. This second factor kept our trip very affordable.

The journey itself was definitely the biggest hurdle when it came to nutting out the details. With a lot of help from two websites – New South Wales Tripplanner and Public Transport Victoria’s Journey Planner – we figured out our trek would involve two trains, a plane, a bus, two more trains and a 45-minute drive. By the time we got to Kylie and Shane’s home in Timboon it would be 11pm. 

In addition to booking plane tickets and sorting out accommodation, we had other preparations to make. We were encouraged to contact a mental health service in rural Victoria we could access if required, and we had to carry enough medication to last from Thursday afternoon to when we got back on Monday night.

We were sure to keep our trip affordable wherever possible. For instance, our 870km flight to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport would take a little over an hour, so we didn’t feel the need to get fancy with our seats. Qantas Economy suited us fine. And while this meant we were only allowed to take one carry-on bag each, as we’d be away less than a week we didn’t want to drag around too much stuff anyway. Yes, it can be tempting to pack for every eventuality, but travelling light is best. Besides what I was wearing or had in my pockets, I took the exact changes of clothes required for the trip, some basic toiletries, my formal suit and shoes for the wedding, my phone charger and a book. All up, my bag weighed less than 5 kilograms. Thankfully, some friends generously lent us their carry-on luggage. We are planning on getting our own before next time, though.

Considering we were exploring new territory, it all went smoothly enough for us. Expecting every detail to go according to plan is unrealistic, so it wasn’t a surprise when we encountered a few bumps along the way. For instance, there’s no chance we’ll ever try to get onto a plane at the last minute without boarding passes again (that’s a minute of total and utter panic we’ll never forget). 

If you exceed your baggage limit, you will be slugged with a surcharge. Be sure to do your homework, or you may encounter unwelcome surprises.

All up, our hard work was totally worth it. Walking around and seeing the sights in a different state was amazing, and both Linda and I felt totally different to how we do in our home state. True, every now and again I forgot that I wasn’t in Sydney anymore, but then I’d notice how the signs and traffic lights were odd colours and shapes, or how different the trains and buses looked to the ones I usually caught. One of the biggest reminders we were in Victoria is how strangers would happily start a conversation with us, especially if they had something to add to what I was discussing with Linda. My Sydney instincts were to avoid eye contact and increase how fast I was walking, but it was nice to visit such a friendly place.

All up, our holiday came in well under budget at around $1500 for 5 days, including transport, food and one night in a nice hotel overlooking the runway at Tullamarine airport. 

We are already planning our next adventure. Linda’s family has a holiday home near Sussex Inlet, so we’re counting down the months until we can pack our bags again…

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