Fight or Flight

If traveling across the pond, you will need to book a flight (unless you have all the time and money in the world to cruise up to 25 days to another continent).  Start doing some legwork before booking your flight overseas.  If you are a business traveler or travel on a leisurely basis a few times a year, you already know how hectic and overcrowded flights can get.  During your business or leisure travel, if you are able, volunteer to give up your seats and don’t accept anything less than a $700 flight voucher per person.  The airline will guarantee you a seat on the next flight, so if you don’t mind waiting longer for your next flight, you get $700 to do more people watching at the airport bar.  These vouchers come in handy, especially for international travel.  Please keep in mind that the vouchers expire 1 year to the date of issue, so get those vouchers and start planning.

Researching flights can be exhausting.  Use your itinerary to determine when you will need to book a flight and when to use alternative transportation for shorter distance destinations.  If you don’t have an airline preference, use Sky Scanner as a flight search tool.  It provides a variety of fares to choose from, usually with lots of cost savings.  You can also view fares for the entire month in case it is more cost-effective to fly out on a different day.  Below is an example of a detailed itinerary that includes flights:

Click for Most Detailed Itinerary with Flights

If you have an active voucher, use it.  If not, search the round-trip method first.  You may run into options that either do not offer or hike up fares on nonstop flights.  If the fare still seems too high, try searching by one-way legs or multiple round trip flights with layovers.  This can sometimes be more cost-effective, but try all your options.  If a layover is unavoidable, ensure you include a buffer of time between flights to allow for delays, luggage transfer, travel to gates, meals, restroom breaks, etc.  Since some airports are easier to navigate through than others, that buffer will come in handy and help prevent rushing around and stressing out.

This past year we flew to Ireland.  When researching fares, non-stop flights were around $1400 round trip per person.  We decided to take a different approach and researched bundled fares with layovers.  It was still high.  Next, we experimented and split up the flights.   Non-stop flights from Philadelphia to Dublin were about $600 round trip per person.  Next, we looked at flights to Philadelphia.  Non-stop flights from our city to Philadelphia were about $200 round trip per person.  The total flight costs were $800 per person.  By not bundling the flights, splitting them up and dealing with a layover, we saved $1200.  This doesn’t always work, but try it out, you’ll be surprised.

Once on a continent, flight costs are fairly reasonable when traveling between countries.  There are many local, no frills airlines like RyanAir that fly for under $50 one-way.  These airlines usually have a la carte services and enforce regulations for carry-on bags, etc.   They will weigh your bag!  Also keep in mind that these airlines may not fly to your designated destination on specified days, so definitely research dates and times that fit within your itinerary.

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