The Big Trip will include planes and trains for long distance travel. I am beginning to make reservations now. It’s important to take a look at many options before paying for travel. Here are some of my tips:
When do you want to fly? It’s said that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best travel days if you want to save some money. It’s also possible to get a better rate if you do your booking on Tuesday evening. Take a look at several sites such as Expedia and Kayak. Both offer a range of flights to your destination.
Take a close look at how much time you would have between existing flights. Less than 50 minutes makes me a bit nervous. More than three hours and I look for a shorter layover. If you have a layover more than 5-6 hours you do have some options. Consider going into town if you can be relatively sure of getting back for your next flight. You need to figure in travel time to and from the airport, what you might do there, and time to go through security and get to your gate. I once had a 5 hour layover at Narita in Japan. Like many large airports Narita offers sleeping rooms for travelers to rent by the hour. My room was plain, but clean and comfortable. There was no noise. It contained a single bed, sink, toilet and shower. I got a wake up call to let me know when my time was about up. The room as not expensive, I was able to get a few hours much needed sleep in a horizontal position and freshen up before my next flight. Chiangi Airport in Singapore has a movie theater. Whatever you chose to do, don’t fall asleep in the terminal and miss your flight!
Other things to consider are the cost of flight vs the layover time and the arrival time at your destination. It might be worth it to spend a little more for a shorter layover time, especially if it gets you to your destination sooner. For safety reasons it is a good idea to arrive at what my mother would call, a “decent hour”. Some flights I’ve seen for The Big Trip have a long layover in the middle of the night. Unless you get get into an airport hotel or a sleeping room, you might want to keep looking. My advice is try to arrive before dark, or at least early enough in the evening that there are still a lot of people milling about. Personal safety is worth the cost.
I look at serval web sites for flights and fares: Expedia, Kayak and BT-Store for example. I’ve used all 3 and have no complaints. Kayak gives you an array of travel companies’ fare (including Expedia). I’ve used BT-Store twice for travel to Thailand and found they had the best fares to Bangkok. Expedia gives you reward points and lets you build a trip with options for hotel and rental cars at a discount. You can also check with the airlines directly, but unless you have rewards points, you will probably do better at the sites I just mentioned. This is the time to use reward points. I just paid for my flight from Dulles to London with credit card miles. Free travel!!!! I try to fly American or Southwest all the time on my domestic flights to save up miles. I’ve purchased countless wedding gifts, etc at the AA online shopping mall that helps build up my points there. I just found out about Rocketmiles with AA that gives you points for certain hotels.
Next time I will talk about European train travel.