Traveling to Fiji, a first time for us and our first holiday abroad since Covid began. We booked our trip as soon as the Australian border was announced opened and once we had a travel bubble with Fiji. We kept our planning simple and secured an all-inclusive deal with flights, never feeling confident that we would actually leave the country. Two years of lockdowns and state border closures caused us to cancel two domestic holidays and two camping trips, travel internationally seemed like a carrot we wouldn’t be able to grasp.
Omicron dropped on Oz and peaked just a week or two before our trip. We cancelled plans with friends and kept our masks on to limit any exposure in our family so as not to test positive before we even left the ground.
PCR testing at Histopath Labs within Melbourne Airport was quick and easy. We had our results within 2 hours and were able to do it the day before we traveled. The cost was $79 AUD per person. The advice given, was to be at the airport 3 hours prior to our flight time – there was literally no one traveling internationally when we went through security. Our tribe of five were the only people in the security area outside of airport personnel. How freakin’ weird?! Of course, there was lots more paperwork than normal: International vaccine certificates, proof of return travel, certified copies of negative pcr tests, and proof of Covid covered travel insurance. Gone are the days of passport in hand and off you go.
Flight time to Nadi was just under 5 hours and relatively smooth. Fiji Airways staff were so pleasant and the veg meal was a fab lentil curry that we all adored. I would say probably one of the better airplane meals that we’ve had.
Once we landed in Nadi, we had to temperature check and clear immigration which was all super easy. Their immigration too wanted to see all of the relevant documents for vaccination and negative covid testing. They flagged our drone in the x-ray machine and asked us to register it “officially” off to the side. Luckily, my husband (always on top of these things) researched this in advance and it had already filed it with the Fijian government.
Our very kind shuttle bus driver, Mohammed, was waiting for us as we left the arrivals area. He whisked us off to Denarau Island and to our resort. He shared with us the hard time the Fijians had been having as the country had been locked down for two years. A country that is so dependent on tourism had left many without any income. It made the traditional holiday adrenaline thrill feel more like a heavy weight. Oh I had thought much about the people in trades back home that had been doing it tough since 2020 but I hadn’t considered it when thinking about our holiday. Mohammed told us that the minimum wage in Fiji was just under $3 per hour, he also told us he had started work at 4:30am – it was now 9pm. Fortunately, Mohammed was heading home (a 90 minute drive) after dropping us at our hotel. He also shared that his income was paying to feed the 6 other people in his family that could not work. Dang. Over the course of the week, this story would be retold by others. Whoa, I feel very fortunate and also kind of crappy at the same time.
At the hotel, after temperature checks, we again had a browse through all of our paperwork with the registration desk. She informed us about RAT testing after 24 hours at the little white tent set up in a lovely tropical garden on sight. We landed in Fiji at 8pm but it was well after 10 before we were settled in to our room and ordering a late night snack for us all to enjoy – a little celebratory “we made it out of Oz” meal of French fries and salad. Even though there was so much extra work involved in actually getting here, I feel optimistic that there is hope for more travel in our future and for humanity to begin to recover from the aftermath of a pandemic.