Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Half the Fun?


Is it planning travel that's half the fun, or is it getting there that's half the fun? Maybe it's some of each.

We're not surprised by a Dutch study that indicates travelers are happier when anticipating travel, and happier when they're actually traveling. However, they're ordinarily no happier when their trip has concluded. We've reached similar conclusions based on our own experience. That's why we're always planning at least one future trip (and usually several trips). We also spend a fair (inordinate?) amount of time looking for travel bargains. We've been doing just that during the past couple of weeks since returning from Europe.

A lost and confused tourist supposedly asked a New Yorker, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The one-word reply was "Practice!" When others ask us "Where do you find your travel bargains?", our one-word reply is "Research!" We've found no single magic source, but we check a variety of sources regularly. 

As we've previously mentioned, our bodies tell us to settle for nothing less than Business Class on foreign flights longer than five hours, so FlyerTalk's Mileage Run Forum isn't as useful to us as it once was. We just signed up for Jack's Flight Club with a three-month trial membership. While they're flagging some great bargains in economy class to a variety of destinations, they don't offer much in the way of premium cabins, so it's doubtful we'll maintain our membership.

We do monitor FlyerTalk's Premium Fare Deals Forum regularly. We also utilize Google Flights Search, using a variety of originating airports, always including Seattle and Vancouver. We have absolutely no hesitation in adding repositioning flights to an itinerary if it's worthwhile. If we see a great deal that starts or ends in, say, New York, we'll fly there with points or cash. 

For example, in 2019 a bargain one-way Business Class fare became available on Singapore Airlines for what was then the world's longest flight, SIN-EWR (Singapore to Newark). The catch was that to use the bargain fare (somewhere around $1,200 in our recollection) it was necessary to start in Ahmedabad, India, AMD-SIN

We flew from Bangkok to Jaipur, where we enjoyed a most enjoyable cooking class, before flying to Ahmedabad and boarding our flight to SIN. After a short stay in a Changi Airport transit hotel, we flew 17 pleasant hours on SQ 22 We repositioned on both ends, enjoyed a great time in India, experienced the world's longest flight, earned a lot of miles in the process, and found our way home from EWR. Well worth it!

Using the same strategy, if we were planning to catch a cruise in Lisbon (LIS), we'd look for a cheap Business Class flight to just about anywhere in Europe, knowing we can find a cheap flight or train trip from there to Lisbon. As it happens, we'll be looking for one of those in Fall 2024.

We also monitor various travel blogs (check out our list of favorite links). Kathy in particular makes use of ITA Software, and we find Expert Flyer useful enough to pay for an annual subscription.

Finally, airline websites occasionally reveal bargains. We look at those, especially Alaska, from time to time.

Our travel plans for the first several months of 2024 look like this:

Early January: Larnaca Cyprus  

Mid-January: Fort Myers Florida  

Late January: Quito Ecuador  

Mid-February: Cancun Mexico  

Late February: Budapest Hungary  

Late March: Grandson’s Europe Tour

Late May: Cairns Australia for Oz Fest

Our March trip with grandson Jace and our May trip to Australia are currently booked on points (Alaska Airlines miles). In the unlikely event a cash price becomes competitive, we'll snap it up. Our paid round trip Business Class flights to Cyprus, Ecuador, and Hungary cost us about $2,200 each. It's an investment from which we receive a lot of benefits.

We're delighted with our upcoming itinerary. It will include our first visits to Ecuador and Cyprus (we just booked the Cyprus trip last night after spotting it out of YVR on Google flights), a return to Budapest after quite a few years, a traditional "grand tour" of Europe with our eighth grandchild, and our 18th trip to Australia to attend our 16th Oz Fest.

By our calculations, that's over 75,000 miles earned on Alaska for our paid flights. It looks like a lot of fun planning and getting there.


Untie the lines said...

Wow….very informative! Honestly, this is such a delightful account of your adventures, past, present
And future. Lucky grandkids to have instilled in them a sense of adventure through you two explorers.

Kathy and Brian said...

Many thanks. We think we're the fortunate ones to have the opportunity to share these experiences with our grandchildren.