Moving my family from New Zealand back to the Mariana Islands had a number of challenges. There were no flights offered for a number of months in 2021. We finally booked our tickets via Singapore and Korea when the last flight to the Marianas was not approved by the local government to land due to Covid regulations. These were bought only after a travel bubble agreement was formed, but no flights actually happening yet! We had to get Covid tests within 72 hours before our departure in New Zealand due to Korea entry regulations (this policy became more strict after we bought the tickets, requiring even passengers transiting, not just entering Korea). When departing from the International Terminal at Auckland's Airport, it was eerily vacant with almost every shop closed and a noticeable lack of travelers you can see from the pictures below.
There were about 20 people on our flight from Auckland to Singapore. This is one of the few international flights scheduled to/from NZ and was told it has one departure every day. Getting into Singapore in the early am, wasn’t too bad, although all transiting passengers were kept to one area in the terminal until 75 minutes before their scheduled departure. Just like NZ, almost everything was closed at Singapore’s airport. There was a transit hotel available at reasonable rates for those wishing to transit in comfort.
We had a short layover, so opted for the transit hotel at Incheon Airport instead. I was amazed to see almost every store and restaurant open at Incheon Airport in Seoul. The whole terminal was open to explore, the only requirement was to wear a mask. .
We checked into our hotel and decided to have a much-needed rest. There was plenty of time to explore the shops, get some Starbucks and even Baskin Robbins Ice Cream for the kids! Our early morning flight to Saipan was fairly uneventful, but we did get some great daytime views of arriving to the island (most arriving flights seem to be scheduled for the middle of the night). We were tested again at the airport on arrival, then taken to a quarantine hotel.
We had the next 5 days to rest and relax, getting accustomed to the heat and prepare for completing our big move! Travel has definitely changed quite a bit since the start of 2020.
Back to the island-lifestyle
is on a decades old journey to experience the world.