Tips on how to find and enjoy the low-cost journey to the destination
By Claude Puggioni
My first long haul international flight was in 1973 as a kid when the minimum wage in the U.S. was under $2 per hour. An economy class ticket from Australia to Italy (24 hours travel time plus three stops to refuel) was $1,400 round trip per person. Today, 46 years later, the same trip costs $1,200 and the minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. This calculates out to be five times cheaper to fly the same flight today than it did when I was a child. How many things in this world can we say have gone down in price over 46 years?
What has caused this is that the airline industry is much more efficient these days using less fuel and needing to stop fewer times to refuel on long haul flights as well as advanced technology and avionics. This combined with fierce competition between airline companies has created a perfect storm for low-cost air travelers. Websites such as skyscanner.com, lastminute.com, Priceline.com, and many others are forcing airline companies to compete against each other in real time online. This is excellent news for the budget conscious traveler. For example, on Skyscanner.com, if I can choose my own vacation time frame, I can search when flights are cheapest over 12 months and take advantage of the most inexpensive flights. Using this method, I can fly from Las Vegas to London, round trip, for under $400, which is a real bargain!
Now that you know how to find super low-cost air tickets, let’s learn how to make the best of the flying time. Being low-cost flights, some will not offer all of the onboard services that the more expensive airlines offer so one needs to allow and prepare for that using a little for planning. If the low-cost airline isn’t providing food or free water on the flight or I just want something different to eat or more quantity, then it’s time to pack a lunch before leaving home. I bring cookies, fruit, chocolates, sandwiches, chips and many other goodies on my low-cost flights. This not only saves me money not having to buy expensive food on the plane but I have the convenience to eat when I feel hungry and not when the flight schedule demands.
Next important point is keeping my body super clean during the whole long haul flight. This is as important for your comfort as your food. Taking a toothbrush, a comb, deodorant, a small towel, wet wipes, tissues, and a change of underwear is an essential part of feeling good while traveling. Even though I shower just before departing for the airport, long haul plane travel seems to accelerate how dirty I feel in a shorter than usual timeframe. Conditions are also often a little cramped so feeling sweaty or sticky will just add to any discomfort. As this part is entirely avoidable with a little planning, you will feel so much better when you get to your destination many hours or even days later.
Often the squeaky wheel gets the grease so as I check in, I ask for a free upgrade or an exit row giving you more leg room.
The last thing you need when arriving at your final destination is a sore neck. I recommend a firm neck support pillow and in my case, as I had a neck injury as a small child, a full medical neck brace. This stops my head from flopping while sleeping sitting up and I arrive fresh and ready to enjoy my vacation.
Now if your flight schedule has any stopovers in exciting cities, I recommend spending one or more nights looking around on the way to your final destination enjoying further travel in addition to your planned vacation at little or no additional cost. I have seen many cities around the world I would have never seen if I didn’t use this method. In many cases, I have stayed one or more days, and then I catch the next or later flights onto my final destination for only the cost of a hotel room. This opens up many new travel opportunities.
Other times, if you have long layovers, you can enjoy things inside or outside of the airport until you are ready to board your flight. For example, Singapore airport offers international travelers the opportunity to do a free city tour with the tourist bus while you are on a long layover. This is a guided tour with an English speaking guide for free. Otherwise, if you don’t want to leave the airport, Singapore has a hotel inside the airport that for $10 will allow you to swim in their indoor, heated pool, use their Jacuzzi and shower afterward. A real oasis when traveling long haul flights. You will feel brand new before you board your next flight.
These are just a few options available for the low-cost traveler thus improving the travel experience and improving how one will feel when you get to your final destination.