Day 178 – How to travel cheap?

2009/03/09 § Leave a comment

The last couple of days I had to book a few flights and plan the central America part of my trip. I have come across some forum entries that show that there are many people out there who are quite clueless as to how to approach the topic of cheap flights and transportation generally.

On wikitravel and wikipedia you find excellent collections of the cheapest airlines, which in industry jargon are called “low cost carriers” (LCC). Hence if you try to google for it, enter these words as your search term in combination with the destination or region (or continent etc).

I have been quite successful with this strategy. In South America you will find that there are not too many cheap airlines yet. LAN is usually not to bad, as they fly to a large number of destinations. Otherwise you will find that there is a lack of internationally operating low cost carriers. Unfortunately many things down here are still run in a rather chauvinistic manor. Despite that, not too many people can afford to fly.

If you have the time bus travels are the way to get around in South America. The buses have been rather comfortable so far. If you squeeze out a few extra Euros, you will usually have a few seats to choose from which can be converted into something like a bed. This way even the 18 hours trips are bearable. If you have your iPod touch loaded with plenty of movies at least… 😉

My favorite source to check for general cheap flights (not necessarily including LCCs) is I find that they usually are a good source to get a feeling for the price range at least, and possible connections. Sure, eDreams is another possibility, but I do not like the way their page works too much. You seem to be promised tariffs which you never seem to be able to get in the end though…

Asia has the advantage that LCCs are founded at every street corner. If you neglect asking for safety this sure is a good thing. However, be aware that they occasionally have silly baggage limits of 15 kilograms or something like it. Of course it always pays out to read the small print beforehand, else the cheap flight can turn out expensive in the end.

When it comes to northern America the US is catching up with Europe, when it comes to LCCs. Also Canada has some and Mexico too. But here I find that some of their routs are a bit unsatisfying still. You may not get everywhere internationally with the LCCs or you get there after three stop-overs and a total travel time that rivals the bus companies…

However, travel agents have so far been utterly useless for me. I would have paid 30-100% more for each time had I not googled around a lot instead.

By the way, my flights of a total of twelve have cost me less than 2600€. That is less than a round the world ticket would have cost me last year (and that was the absolut cheapest, and only for 3 regions/ continents).

With a round-the-world ticket I could not have been as flexible as I have been now though. Now I could spontaneously decide to fly to Nepal for instance, and I could also change direction of flights (with usual RTW-tickets you have to follow one direction, e.g. go east always). Not to mention that when booking individual flights you are not tied to a certain schedule and can even extend a year if that is necessary or desired.

So I hope this is a bit of a inspiration: Happy cheap traveling!

PS. Below the travel costs per country so far; Total costs, daily total costs, costs for accommodation, total and daily, and so forth… (click image for full-size picture)


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