Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane part duex

Steve here - I heard from a number of people requesting more how, why, and wheres concerning round-the-world-ticket techniques from our previous posting. So I'm back to fill in a few of the details and  practicalities of booking. If you're here to read about the travel adventures, we'll be back to that soon, this is going to be a nitty-gritty article.

Step #1 - Figure out where you want to go. And be flexible.

It's a big place, the world that is, so when planning to see it you must make a list. Sarah and I started years ago cutting articles out of magazines, saving links to a Google Group, emailing them to each other and tagging the emails for future reference. One of our best resources has been the advice of friends who have been to many various locales and can recommend some great spots.

Dream wide and far but when you put your list together though, don't let yourself be fixated on too many locations. Pick three or four that are absolutes and put the rest in the awesome-if-we-can-make-it-happen category. You might find out that Bali costs 600 RT to get to while Bangkok costs 75. If you're planning on spending 5-7 days in each area, this is a huge price difference. A lot of adventures can happen for those $525 extra dollars.

Step #2 - Find a travel agent you trust.

Going into the trip, I figured I could do this all myself, book the flights, find some deals, etc. I mean how hard can it seriously be with expedia, travelocity, and the rest of the internet to help? I was thinking this right up until halfway through our meeting with Allison when she was able to pull up airline hubs, detail variable pricing through different partner airlines and destinations, and let us know she was already holding flights through her contacts at different airlines in some of our key locations for prices that were far lower than those I'd researched. Wow. Travel agents have the inside edge and the 35-50 they are gonna charge you per flight - extremely worth it. If you're going to NY for the weekend, listen to William Shatner and book your own flight. If you're traveling around the world, go with the experts. If you are in Vancouver, we recommend Allison Reshef from Travelmasters.

Step #3 Think circles, not straight lines

As we found out, the cheapest way to travel is to locate a hub of a major airline that is roughly in the geographical center of your travels in one area, then fly in and out of that city. In our case it is Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific has flights to Sydney, Bali, Thailand, Katmandu, and India, then off to Rome) and Istanbul (Turkish Airways flies to Rome, Cairo, Tel-Aviv, Greece, Casablanca). Because the airline doesn't have to deal with partners, they can give you quite low fares. In our case, the round trips ranged from $75 to $600, which each RT dumping us in a new locale. A few hints for picking your hubs:
- Look at the most difficult places to get to on your trip. For us it was Katmandu and Tel-aviv.
- Find the airlines that fly there.
- Go on that airline's website and look at the other places they fly. See how many destinations match up with where you want to go.
- Create a short list which you can go to your travel agent, who will be able to tell you the hubs and price out different options for you.

The shortest distance between two points is a line, but the cheapest is most definitely not.

Step #4 - Be creative about your traveling methods

For the most part, a plane is a plane is a plane. Some have smoking in the back, some have chickens, but mostly they are just big metal tubes. The real traveling is what we do outside of the tube. There are lots of inventive ways to get around besides the plane and I highly recommend researching some of these options, or, just leaving it up to what you find along the way. We decided for instance, that we'd like to visit Tunisia, but we looked at it on the map and decided it would be much easier to take a boat across the Mediterranean then it would be to fly. And the boat you don't have to book in advance, you just show up with a backpack, hop on, and all the sudden you're in Northern Africa. At least in my experience growing up on the west coast of the US, the distances were so large that planes were the only way to go, so I have to try hard to keep distances in mind and remind myself to get out of the metal tube whenever possible.

That's it for now, happy traveling!


  1. I tend to do my travelling in short bursts - always impressed by people who pack everything up and plan to go off for months (or years!), though I don't think it would suit me. The planning is always fun, though :)

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for reading, We've enjoyed reading your adventures on your blog. We're excited to wander around London next week and check out your native UK.