Tag Archives: deals

Traveling: When to pay for stuff (transportation)

One of the recurring issues I am having with planning my trip is the dilemma of when to purchase things like train tickets/passes and the order in which to purchase them.

Step 1: Decide on where all you will be needing to go.

I know that I will be traveling in over 6 countries I have never been before. I decided that it would be best to purchase a pass instead of a group of point-to-point tickets simply because of the possibility of missing a scheduled train due to a miscalculation of walking distance or the other. For the region that I am traveling in, it would be best to purchase the Eurail pass. Because I am visiting more than 5 countries, I will have to get the Eurail Global Pass instead of the Select Pass (where you select up to 5 countries to visit), because a “visit” in a country counts as either getting off the train at a stop there, OR simply passing along its train tracks. So even though I wasn’t planning on stopping in France or Belgium on the way to Holland, the Select Pass would have deducted on country from my limited visiting total. The Global Pass, instead allows unlimited travel for the time period selected in any of the 23 participating countries.

* It is helpful to know that Eurail passes are not applicable in Great Britain. Just like Pound Sterling (instead of Euro) and three-prong electrical sockets (instead of two), the Brits really just like to have their own special “something”  I’m beginning to realize. I will provide follow-up in a future post about British rail tips.*

Step 2: Decide on the route you will be taking and the amount and location of stops you will want to make.

After leaving the UK, I will need to end up in Spain for my study abroad program, so I was able to calculate a maximum of 16 days  in which I would be able to traverse the Continent. Because that coincided most closely with the 15-day consecutive pass, I decided that that option would be best. Flexible passes are the other type of pass, and they allow non-contiguous calendar day use. Remember to sit back and look at who you are as a statistic whenever you have to pay for ANYTHING; it helps you to spot discounts everywhere! Because I am under 25, a student, and a non-European resident, I was able to figure out a savings of over $200 for this pass.

Step 3: Decide on when to pay for the pass/tickets.

When things are offered to tourists that are not offered to residents of a destination, they usually only retain their lower cost outside of the destination country. This applies to the Eurail, as its passes need to be ordered online and shipped for the special pricing. Purchasing them directly from the website or from a student travel site like statravel.com is best. This means that you can’t wait until the week before you travel to purchase the those passes. And because I plan to leave home before I actually fly to Europe, I have to plan a little more in advance.

So, to recap: some things you will need not only to plan, but to purchase, before you arrive at your destination. With shipping time included, this is definitely one of the highest on the list of purchase-ASAP-items.

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Update: Almost bought airline tickets today

I was going to, but…

Okay, so I haven’t explained one of the ways I plan to save a great deal of money on my airline tickets. About 3 months ago I made sure my credit score was impeccable, and then I applied for one of the most beautiful credit cards I’ve ever seen… I’ll decide later if to tell you what card it is :P. Anyway… so the credit card offers no foreign transaction fee (this will be awesome if I ever need to use it on the other side), and it gave me quite a bit of cash back within the first three months because I was able to buy a ton of stuff for friends, for which they made immediate repayment. For every cash back dollar I apply to a airplane ticket, I actually get to redeem for $1.25. So, with all these in consideration, my plane ticket should be substantially lower than otherwise! Of course I have to factor in that the card charges an annual fee and that if I don’t pay any balance in full, I get charged interest. 

So, this brings me to my dilemma.

For the dollars to be worth more, I have to purchase the tickets through the credit card company’s online booking system. Using http://www.travel.bing.com (like I suggested in a previous post), my ticket is supposed to cost around $1,400 – $1,600. But, checking the online booking system today I saw that their lowest ticket for the same dates cost about $1,800! Of course, I then went into bargain-finder overdrive! Because the ticket that I am getting is a multi-city ticket (I want to go to my sister’s graduation and visit some family in London), I tried rearranging dates and schedules to figure out of that would lessen the cost. Well, after a while I found a fix. Instead of flying into London from my home town, I would fly into Dublin instead. Because the London airports are a lot busier than Dublin’s they charge higher landing fees and other charges for the airlines, thus inflating my ticket price. Now, the point of flying into Dublin was because I remembered the jewel of a website I had found the other day, http://www.RyanAir.com. They provide domestic flights at really low prices <– already stated haha. Connecting time looks great and because I was already using the company to get from London to my study abroad in Spain, I would be able to purchase them together.

However, after all this chaos, and the creation of an awesome plan B, I remembered that I had forgotten the first rule of airline ticket shopping! I was buying a ticket on a Sunday! Everybody knows that weekends are the worst days to buy tickets! Well, at least for domestic flights that is. So, instead of rushing for plan B, I’m going to wait to check prices (and my luck) on Tuesday!

I’ll update you guys on Tuesday with what happened.

Airlines again :)

Domestic (Foreign) Multi-City Stops

Okay. So, if you are planning on buying multi-city tickets like me for your study abroad trip (

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It’s not every day you get to fly 4,000 miles across the horizon, might as well stop by a few places on the way to your final destination), you should consider the type of airline you using. Think about it: major US airlines are probably transporting U.S. tourists or other international travelers, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be making stops all over the place right? Right. the major U.S. airlines that I looked are charging more for the inter-European legs of my trip. Domestic airlines such as RyanAir.com found me a ticket for about US$ 60 less than what companies like American or United were charging me for the same route. So, I plan to enter the first European city-stop via my trusty U.S. airliner, and for any inter-european flights afterwards, I will use domestic liners.

Miles & Alliances

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Another thing to look is for is Airline Alliances. U.S. airlines have partnered up with each other domestically and with foreign liners in the international market. When looking at cashing in your miles for study abroad (like I’m doing), its good to check what companies miles are actually worth more per mile (when flying internationally as opposed to domestically). This is because when some U.S. miles are used with international partner carriers, they count for less than they would at home. Also, some alliances (although having the same amount of partners) are more region-oriented than others. For instance, Oneworld alliance doesn’t have a Chinese partner, and Star Alliance only recently initiated partnership proceedings with two Mexico-related coverage liners (TACA and COPA). For my study abroad in Spain, I had names like Iberia, Air France, British Airways, and American Airlines resulting in the lowest prices. Oneworld alliance, though deficient in some regions, was my cheapest bet to Spain (Iberia, British Airways, and American Airlines are all in the Oneworld Alliance).