Tag Archives: prices

Travel Abroad Scavenger Hunt: Outlets

One of the most important things to remember when traveling to Europe is that the electrical outlets are different than the ones we have here in the U.S. and many neighbouring countries. The voltage is also different, with 220v used in Europe and 110v used in the U.S.

The good news is, that most newer appliances have dual voltage, meaning that they are able to safely uptake electricity in both U.S. and European systems without being totally destroyed. These units come in one of two forms. Either they have a switch which allows the unit to switch from 110v to 220v and vice versa, or they have a range of acceptable voltage from 110v to 220v.

That being said, the second problem of fitting the unit’s plugs into a wall socket needs to be addressed. Because there’s no feasibly economical way for companies to have all the different types of electrical outlet prongs built into their devices, you will need to purchase an electrical adapter.

Which brings me to the first tangible part of my study abroad experience!

 I received it in the mail today. All nice and shiny, it comes with prongs for Europe, Japan, the U.S. and a few others.
One thing I hadn’t remembered was that the Brits, although grouped with the Continent, rather like being different. The outlet used throughout much of continental Europe is the same (with Switzerland producing some slight variations recently). The outlet used in the UK  however, has three prong inserts, as opposed to the Continental two.

FYI, I paid about $4 (shipping included) for this cool gadget.

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Money Tip: When to buy?

When to buy tickets?

Most people who know anything about buying airplane tickets know that Tuesday afternoon (at about 3pm) is the best time to purchase them. This is because the airline companies lower their prices at the beginning of the week to entice buyers. When airline A lowers its prices for a ticket, other airlines will follow suit in order to compete effectively. If there are only 10 people going to Cancun a certain week and Airline A has $20 tickets while the competitors have $300 tickets, guess who gets all the customers AND all the money that there is to get? (hint:Airline A). However, the airlines can’t keep prices too low for too long or else buyers will take all of them AND have paid less than they may have been actually willing to pay. So, eventually the prices start climbing again, that towards the end of the week, they are usually considerable higher than they were at the beginning.

The stealthy game owes its existence to the computer operated ticket-sellers that command the prices during weekends (when workers are at home spending time with families and such). The computers use algorithms that leave prices high to maximize profit until Mondays, when human workers adjust prices for competitiveness.

Of course this game gets trickier depending on demand. Waiting until the last minute can be a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or it could spell disaster for your travel plans and your bankbook!

When to fly?

No one likes waking up early in the morning to catch a flight, making it the perfect time of day in which to fly. Chances are, you may be the only one of 20 people on a 40-seat plane, translating into a more favorably priced ticket than full flights.
Similarly, there are actually good days on which to fly. Tuesdays (#1), Wednesdays, and Sundays are the cheapest to fly on. This is because most business travelers want to get home from their work related travel. So they tend to be more willing to fork over a couple extra twenties in order to fly out on a Friday. Also, the reverse is true for Sundays, when business travelers need to get back to work or college kids or other vacationers need to get back to school from weekend getaways. This makes Friday and Sunday the worst days to buy tickets!
 

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).