While there are plenty of reasons to book a short-haul holiday to one of the many nearby European destinations – such as cost and shorter travel distances - sometimes you just want to dream a little bigger and have a real adventure. So, if you’re fortunate enough to find a gap in your calendar where you can fit in a longer holiday, then you’ll be pleased to know we have some excellent tips below on managing it on a budget. Read on, pack your suitcase and don’t forget your passport!
Why travel long-haul?
Whether it’s different languages, mystical historical sites, untouched beauty or culture and cuisine, one of the benefits of travelling to a distant location is the complete culture shock that it can bring. Although there’s nothing wrong with visiting popular short-haul destinations, a common complaint from travelers is that apart from the sunshine and cocktails, it can feel stale and too much like home. Long haul holidays make for an unforgettable experience, and the journey is almost always worth the pay-off.
How to save money on long-haul flights?
One of the big barriers to long distance travel is the costs involved, or at least the perceived costs. While long-haul flights largely are more expensive than short distance flights – there are some bargains to be found if you’re willing to look around.
The first key bit of advice to take on board is that you can quite drastically reduce the cost of your flights by switching up your departure point. Typically, when hunting for flights we’ll be in a time-saving mindset that means we only look at flights leaving from the airports nearest to our home. However, if money is more important to you than time, then expanding that to the whole country can help bring the costs down. It’s also worth checking international travel hubs such as Amsterdam and Barcelona. Together with some London based airports, these destinations are some of the busiest airports in the world, with numerous different airlines running flights. This means that you can often find cheap flights to far-off destinations. If you can then find a connecting flight to, let’s say, Amsterdam, you might find it saves you a pretty penny. The same goes for layovers, if you’re willing to spend a day (or two) somewhere en-route.
Everyone knows by now about the benefits of using travel comparison websites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights. It takes just seconds to show comparisons on these high-speed global travel search engines. Whereas travel agents were once the go-to for all your holiday-hunting needs, these sites cut out the middle man and can often save you money. Two things to remember though when using them. First up, make sure you do your searches in private or ‘incognito’ browsers as sometimes the sites will inflate the cost when you repeatedly visit, in order to encourage you to make a purchase. Searching anonymously means you’ll likely get a better price. Also, don’t forget to check the small print. Sometimes an airline such as Virgin will appear as the flight carrier, but upon closer inspection the flight is actually run by another airline. If you find that airline’s name – let’s say Air Asia – and go directly to their website for your flight search you might find the cost of the flight is much cheaper.
In terms of actually booking your flights there are a few urban legends surrounding the best time to commit. Some people suggest that Tuesdays are the best day of the week to book, others say 55 days directly before the flight is the time that prices plummet. In truth, from what we can tell there is little rhyme or reason and Airlines tend to not play by either of these rules. As a rule of thumb, we find that if you book off-season and not too closely, nor too far away then you’ll get a better deal.
If you’re clever then your flights can be cheap, but you can money stretch in other ways too. If you pick long haul destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, Central or South America, South Africa or India than you may find that your cost of living is incredibly low. Inflation often means that your money can make accommodation, trips and eating out great value for money. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and particularly if you are visiting tourist hot spots you may find that costs are steeped against you. Equally, some long-haul destinations such as the Maldives, Dubai and areas of Japan are marketed to luxury tourists and while you’ll have a memorable, and relaxing time your wallet will take a punishment.
Have you found a long-haul travel bargain? Let us know how you did it by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.