TUESDAY TRAVEL TIP: Travel inspiration is important, but we all know the logistical side of a voyage comes to the forefront when it actually comes time to get out of town. Every Tuesday we bring you informative tips to help in the sometimes daunting process of getting from here to there. You can thank us by having a freakin’ blast on your trip.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] layover that lasts longer than the time it takes to grab a coffee and buy a new magazine at the airport can throw some people into hysterics, and heaven forbid if a weary traveler has to stay overnight — the horror! But before you clutch your pearls and reach for the smelling salts, consider taking a stopover on your journey instead of a layover.
Stopovers are not just glorified, extended layovers. Besides the fact that they give you the opportunity to explore another destination in your travels, many times an itinerary with a stopover can be cheaper than flying direct. The first way to explore your stopover options is to investigate national airlines from around the world. For example, Icelandair offers flights to and from Europe with the option of a stopover in Iceland for no additional fee. Flying to Asia? Check and see if you can do a stopover in Singapore with Singapore Air and knock a few dollars off your total. Is North Africa more your scene? Turn your layover in Dubai into a stopover with Emirates Airlines and see the extravagant city without going broke.
The second method involves straying from the big name airlines. Small, discount airlines might not be very prevalent in the United States, but they are very popular almost everywhere else and can be the perfect solution to slicing the cost of a trip with an extra stop or two. Skyscanner is a great site to use to find cheap flights on these airlines, and as long as you get over the fear that a plane so cheap must be made out of popsicle sticks, you’ll be a stopover superstar in no time.
Here is an example of how to use both methods to craft a three-destination dream trip that costs over $100 less than booking a round-trip, nonstop ticket to a single location:
We at Travel Freak have always wanted to visit Istanbul in August, mostly because the thought of strolling through the Spice Bazaar in the heat of summer sounds too olfactorily opulent to pass up. In a dream world we would have three weeks of paid vacation time, so we arbitrarily set the travel dates as Aug. 1-20, 2012, and found a nonstop flight from New York for $1,208 on Turkish Airlines.
Three weeks is long enough to try to fit another destination into the itinerary, so we decided to take up Icelandair on their stopover option, flying from New York to Reykjavik on Aug. 1 for $398. This is where we run into a snag — Icelandair doesn’t fly to Istanbul. They do, however, fly to several locations in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe where myriad discount airlines thrive. We found a flight from Reykjavik to Helsinki, Finland on Aug. 6 for $113 and another flying from Helsinki to Istanbul with AirBaltic on Aug. 9 for — get this — $91. Now all we have to do is get back home from Istanbul on Aug. 20, which we can do on Aerosvit Airlines for $480.
The grand total for four flights is $1,082 — $126 cheaper than our original two-flight option. And while having the extra spending money is nice, the best part is that we just added two awesome, uncommon destinations to our itinerary with enough time in each (five days in Reykjavik, three days in Helsinki) to do some exploring and still get the most out of our August adventure with 10 whole days in Istanbul.
A little research and some time spent playing travel agent online can go a long way, as long as you keep an open mind. Of course, how much time you have plays an important role in the stopover process, but with some creativity and compromise you can use this travel technique to find adventure at a reduced price.
Now excuse us while we ask our boss for three weeks off next August.