I am a planner. It’s something a lot of travelers I’ve met don’t like to do, but I absolutely love it. I find it often saves me money and allows me to make more efficient use of my time. I also get really excited when I find a way to make a complicated trip idea work, and I hope I can help other people do the same.
When searching for flights, I usually start with one of the main travel search engines as a base. But is there a cheaper way to get to my final destination? Or a way that takes less time? Or is there a good way for me to include additional destinations? If you’re willing to put in a little work, you will find many possibilities that I believe will help make your trip more exciting and less expensive. You might find you actually enjoy planning it!
Over the summer I went to Malta for a friend’s wedding. I only had 6 days for the trip, so the idea of paying $1800-1900 for a round trip ticket (as found on a typical travel search engine) was hard to swallow. So I looked up the Malta International Airport and found out what airlines fly there. Then I found out what their routes were to get to Malta. The idea was for me to find the cheapest city in Europe to fly to from Atlanta. I bought a ticket on Delta from Atlanta to Manchester, England (for the record, London was the same price but the departure time worked better for me) and then took Air Malta. EasyJet was actually cheaper, but it wasn’t worth the 14 hour layover.
While planning all of this, I decided, why not try to squeeze in a day in another city before going home? Dubrovnik, Croatia seemed like a good one day city, but the flight options from Malta were horrible. Everything was going to cost about $1000 and involve 2-3 flights, eating up not only my money but an entire day in transit. About to give up the idea of going to Dubrovnik, a lightbulb went on while I was looking at a map. I ended up with an evening flight on RyanAir from Malta to Bari, Italy on the east coast of Italy, and then an 9 hour overnight ferry to Dubrovnik. I didn’t feel like I was wasting time since the ferry was at night, plus it took care of my transportation and lodging in one. Even if my “lodging” was basically a lawn chair outside on deck.
To get home, I found the cheapest way was a short flight on easyJet from Dubrovnik to Geneva, and then from Geneva to Paris to Atlanta on Delta/Air France. Total cost of all flights on Delta, one flight each on easyJet, Air Malta, and RyanAir, and the overnight ferry: $1450. I saved about $400 over the price of the roundtrip ticket to Malta alone. The savings more than covered the cost of my lodging and I got to visit another city. All it took was a little research and planning.
A great website I found for researching airports and airline routes is TheAirDB.com. It’s a great place to look up an airport and see what airlines fly there and from what cities. I recommend checking the airline’s website because there are occasional errors (info is provided by the airlines) and some routes are seasonal, but overall it’s a great way to find alternatives. Plus looking at the maps is a fun way to plan those fantasy trips in your head.
So explore different airlines and routes, don’t forget about other methods of transportation such as ferries and trains, and do some research. Enjoy your travels, hopefully save some money along the way, and discover your hidden inner planner.