Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Flights’

How to save money on a trip to Asia

A few weeks ago, Michelle Higgins of The New York Times called out our Taste of China tour as a great way save money on a trip to Asia. But when I was exchanging e-mails with Michelle about Friendly Planet Travel’s tour, it got me thinking of other ways travelers can save money when planning a trip to Asia.

I know a lot of ways to cut costs without cutting the experience of a trip. Being in the travel industry for over 30 years has taught me a thing or two. It’s why Friendly Planet Travel’s tours are so extraordinary.

However, I also know that some travelers like to design their own itineraries when they travel. But even if building your own trip is your travel preference, everyone loves to get advice from other travelers who’ve been to that destination before.

The Friendly Planet team, myself included, has been to Asia at least a dozen times. So I wanted to share with you ways to save on flights, hotels, tours, currency exchange, and restaurants.

But since there’s so much to tell you about, I’m splitting this post into two. Look for part two in a few days. Let’s start with ways to save on flights and hotels when booking a trip to Asia.

Flights
Asia is far away for American travelers. That means you’re going to be flying for a very long time, no matter which carrier you select. But if you do your airfare research, you’ll discover that there are wide variations in pricing. In booking flights, I typically look for the least expensive deal I can find.

Sometimes that double connection actually saves hundreds of dollars per ticket off the single connection or nonstop flight. Keep in mind that the single connection and nonstop flights still take a long time, and if you can save $300, 400, or more on your tickets by choosing the longer flight, you might want to take advantage of the savings.

Or, consider departing one day earlier, take a relatively small part of your savings to pay for an extra hotel overnight at your destination, and give yourself the gift of a day to rest and recover from the jet lag. You will need the extra rest regardless of the flight you take. But saving money on the ticket will give you the money to indulge in the luxury of sleeping off the impact on your body of the long flight. You will still enjoy the savings from your tickets, and you’ll be ready to explore the destination with plenty of energy.

Hotels
Hotels in many Asian destinations can be tricky. The price is not the sole consideration for selecting a hotel. I start with the location of the hotel. Make sure that it’s very close to, or even at, a public transportation station.

In many, many Asian cities, gridlock is what you’ll find all day and into the night. Traffic is a nightmare and getting around the city can be a horrible and time-wasting experience. Even if your hotel is practically free, if you have to spend hours getting around, the value of your entire vacation will be eroded by the inability to do the things you really want to do.

On the other hand, if you’re near a tube, light rail, or (last choice) a bus line, you’ll make much better time. The extra cost of a hotel in a location that is very close to good public transportation will be well worth it.

Also, when you do your comparison shopping for a hotel, be sure your breakfast (buffet, American style) is included in the cost, as well as taxes and other fees. Otherwise, you may think you’re paying a bargain price only to discover the real cost is 50 percent or more more than your budget. I would NOT recommend staying in anything less than superior tourist class hotels in Asia, unless you are staying in a B&B owned by a good friend.

So, if designing your own trip to Asia is more your style, try using Friendly Planet’s new travel search engine. It lets you search thousands of great deals on flights and hotels. Our travel search engine is an easy way to arrange your next vacation, while enjoying Friendly Planet’s great savings and award-winning service.

And stay tuned. I’ll talk about ways to save on tours, currency exchange, and restaurants in part two. But before I get to that, have you been to Asia recently? Please share some of your own advice on ways to save in a comment on this post.

The early bird doesn’t always get the worm with travel deals

As The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, sometimes it pays off big time for travelers who wait until the last minute to book their plane, hotel, or cruise reservations. That’s because many operators are forced to drop prices at the last minute because of low demand and a difficulty in predicting sales, especially in rocky economic times. I touched on this subject a bit already, but think it’s an important one for travelers to remember. FP_hotel.jpg
Airlines usually raise prices significantly during the two weeks prior to a flight departure date, but that hasn’t been happening lately. Instead of watching the prices go up, patient travelers are watching them go down.
And thrifty travelers who are reluctant, in general, to book in advance have recently been making reservations last minute, making it difficult for the industry to predict sales volume and, therefore, rates.
I left a comment on the article, but silly me didn’t realize a coworker had already signed in with his name on the computer I was using! Shush, Baby Boomers are allowed to make Internet mistakes every so often! Have a look!

You CAN breastfeed your baby on a crowded flight

As a follow up to Tuesday’s "Flight Fright" post, I wanted to broach the subject of breastfeeding while traveling. If you’re a mom who breastfeeds or has breastfed your babies, you know that breastfeeding in public can be a tricky subject. When the "public" is a crowded plane, it can be even trickier.
FP_breastfeeding.jpg
In my opinion breastfeeding can be done elegantly and easily, without exposing your body to strangers. And if you aren’t in puritanical America (we often treat women who breastfeed as though they’re hookers on the street), you have even less to worry about.
Not to mention that when traveling with a baby you breastfeed rather than bottle feed, you’re actually traveling with a lighter load in your baby’s diaper bag. And what mother isn’t looking to lighten the load?
My daughter-in-law has a routine that allows her to travel anywhere. She has a scarf or shawl that she carries with her. It’s a very light and porous material, so it allows air to circulate freely, making it a perfect drape for the baby while she’s nursing.
She wears the correct nursing bra, and always, while nursing, a top that has easy access, like a button or zipper, so that she only has to open up her top as much as is absolutely necessary. She holds the baby in her arms, drapes the shawl or scarf over herself and the baby, and the cover allows her to nurse the baby in privacy. Plus, the very same scarf or shawl you use to cover up while breastfeeding can serve duel purpose as an accessory for your wardrobe.
Viola! Breastfeeding on the go is a snap.

Do you have baby’s first plane flight fright?

Jen Leo of the LA Times recently wrote about her excitement for her baby’s first plane flight in the LAT’s Daily Travel and Deal Blog. If any of you have ever experienced the joys of a fussy baby in a public place, you might be scratching your head right now. Yes, she said excitement.FP_baby.jpg
Jen suggested some tips for flying with a baby and keeping your seat neighbors happy. But not only am I a travel agent and constant traveler, I’m a mom too. So I’ve had my own experiences flying with a baby, and I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not that bad. For the full scoop, take a look at the comment I left on Jen Leo’s post.

Travel Tips: When is the best time to book a flight?

Working in the travel business, I naturally get a lot of travel questions from people. And a question that comes up fairly often is when is a good time of day to schedule a flight to ensure on-time arrival and lower fares?FP_Flight.jpg
Flights that take off in the morning and originate at your departure airport are going to depart and arrive as timely as possible. As the day goes on, flights tend to back up, and you run the risk of arriving later.
Morning, however, is not the least expensive time to travel. Typically, if you’re flying to places that are business destinations (New York City, Boston, L.A., etc.), the Monday through Friday early morning and early evening flights are going to be the most expensive.
The best way to get the very best fare is to call the airline and ask about the lowest rate between Point A and Point B, and what you have to do to get this price. If you’re flexible, make sure you tell them so, and you should only offer up the approximate time you need to travel.
For example, "I’m flexible. I want to go from Philadelphia to Miami sometime in March." The agent will tell you the best fare available, and if you call several airlines operating that service, you’ll soon discover what the best rates are and how to get them.
The same works for online booking sites. By clicking the "I’m flexible" button, you can compare the various fares available at the cheapest times. If you’re willing to do your homework, chances are you’ll be able to find a great deal no matter where you’re headed.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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