Cheap and Easy Travel Throughout the World: Getting There
Travel is a wonderful activity that really invigorates the soul and stimulates the mind. As the cliché goes, travel will make you a better, more cultured person, and quite frankly, it’s a lot of fun. However, travel can also tend to deplete the wallet in a fast way. So, if you are considering traveling and money is your main concern, here are some ideas to think about.
First, the two heaviest expenses of travel lie in getting to your destination, or in food and lodging at the destination itself. These latter two considerations will be dealt with in another hub. For now, let’s think about getting there cheaply.
The general mode of transportation is by plane and so will be the sole consideration here. However, if taking a train, boat, ferry, hydrofoil, automobile, or even going by hitchhiking (when safe) is possible, do keep these possibilities in mind as a little less comfort can equate to more money in your pocket. With regards to flying there are a few simple rules to save money.
Rule # 1: Plan ahead and buy your ticket early. The sooner you crystallize your plans, the sooner you can purchase your ticket, and this will mean a great savings. To test this theory, go online and try to purchase a flight for tomorrow. Then change the date to a week from now. And then do the same for a month from now. Now for a whopping big savings, change your departure date to a year from now. Wow, what a difference in price! You see, the further in advance your flight is, the greater the savings.
While this seems very commonsensical, you’d be surprised at how much people will put off purchasing a ticket until the very last, wallet-wrenching moment.
Rule # 2: Go online to make your purchases. It is said that travel agents get the cheapest deals, and while it’s not a bad idea to talk with one to see what the lowest price she can get for you, usually the cheapest tickets are to be found online. Now this may require numerous hours of searching. For many people, this simply is not worth it, but let’s looks at some figures before we exclude doing a little online research.
Let’s say that by utilizing a travel agent we get a great deal for $1,000 from New York City to Paris, France, round trip. This is fine, but after 4 hours of research online we get a flight for only $600 roundtrip. Of course, most people would jump at this, after the work has been done, yet coming into the proposition of sitting at a computer for 4 hours just doesn’t seem worth it; better to just have a travel agent take care of it, right? No!
Remember the old axiom “time is money”? Suppose that you make $20 an hour at your job. At this rate it will take you 20 hours at work to make $400. Yet by going on the Internet for a fifth of this time, you’ve saved $400 (or $320 if you would’ve otherwise been working instead of researching flights). By researching your own flight you have to work 16 hours less at work. Why pass up such an opportunity?
Some websites that I’ve used before (though the list is nowhere near exhaustive), include edreams, TUIfly, Thomsonfly, Ryanair, Vueling (a personal favorite), Ezjet, Airplus, Expedia, and the meta search Bookingbuddy.com, many of which are great for inter-European flights as well.
Rule # 3: Go with standby services. Standby flights are those that a person gets at the last minute, sometimes that morning, as no one else has bought a ticket by the more traditional methods. To learn more about this, ask at your airport, or see my hub on standby flights once it’s posted.
Another, slightly more expensive method of utilizing standby is with a go-between company that will cushion the experience for you a bit, especially if you’ve never experienced standby before. My favorite of these is www.airtech.com. I’ve utilized the services of this fine company for 5 years now and have gone back and forth between the United States and Europe for as low as $75 each way. Now due to inflation and fuel prices skyrocketing, the price has gone up, but it is still one of the cheapest methods to cross that great big pond the Atlantic. I do recommend that when using Airtech that you purchase your flight voucher early, read everything carefully, and if you’re fortunate enough to do so, correspond or talk with the owner, as he’s a pleasure to talk with.
Rule # 4: Go by currier flight. With a bit of research online it is possible to become a currier for a company. This entices simply transporting a package or even a mere document of importance from one place to another, with your flight expenses paid for by a company. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it once was, as word has gotten around, and so research may take some time. Further, you are often expected to return from Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Chang Mai, or wherever you may be sent, within a day or two, although sometimes you can stay for as long as a week or two. However, if you are up to a brief excursion, especially if you’ve never before gotten away, currier flights may be perfect.
Rule # 5: If you own a business it is possible to have the cost of the flight taken off of your taxes, as long as at least one aspect of your trip is for business, such as having a meeting (even if over a dinner) with a potential client. To learn more about this, contact a CPA or other tax specialist.
Rule # 6: This rule is specifically for anyone who is in the U.S. military or Coast Guard or who is retired military, and should be ignored by anyone not meeting this description. Something that the military surprising does not advertise much is that they offer a service known as Mac Flights. These flights are extremely cheap and allow military personnel to travel anywhere in the world, as long as the departing airport and arriving airport are on U.S. military bases. I personally took a Mac Flight 15 years ago from Norfolk, Virginia to Sigonella, Italy for a meager $ 5!! Today the flights are approximately $15. There you have it. These basic guidelines will save you thousands of dollars in travel over the years. Yet let me just add 1 more rule, which is probably the most important.
Rule # 7: talk to your fellow travelers. No one can tell you more about travel -or anything in life, for that matter, than those who have already done it. Bon Voyage!