The moment has arrived… your flight has landed… What’s that I hear you saying? “The turbulence shook me up a little”, don’t worry, some flights can be a little bumpy, but you’re here, you’ve arrived, and you’re ready to dive into your next adventure… after a little snooze.
So your first challenge on your trip… get out of the obstacle course known as “The Airport” and make your way to your hotel.
Yes yes, you want to know how, I’m getting to that bit…
Ok, our options in general are airport transfer, cab, train, or bus.
Let me go through these one by one…
Airport transfer – Potentially one of the more expensive options, although this relies on you being organised and booking ahead of your arrival. With this option you need to book your airport transfer with your hotel before you start your journey, although, this assumes you’re staying in a hotel, you may have chosen to go for something a little more rural. So thinking about this option? Do you want to walk out of your flight to see a driver holding up a piece of paper with your name on it? Sounds fancy I know.
Cab from the airport – There are a lot of cabs “hanging around” outside the airport, and many companies in all shapes and sizes having set up shop within the airport. These cabs can be both official and unofficial and depending on the destination, there are specific characteristics that official cabs have, this is where I am going to say one thing… do your research. I always say go for the official cabs, it may be a little more expensive, but it is the safer option. This option is often cheaper than doing an airport transfer but I have one question for you about this option and all other options below… Do you have local currency to pay for the cab? Oops… go and check if the company will take whatever currency you have? If not then go get some currency converted… quick…
Train – This option depends on where you are in the world. If there is a train that goes from the airport to near your hotel, woohoo, that is an ideal scenario for quick and easy transfer but this option is not always available.
Bus – Perhaps the cheapest of all these option, and is truly the best option if you are travelling on a shoestring, is this you? A bus has never been my favourite mode of transport but hey, sometimes it is the best option, so I say again, do your research. You do have an advantage with the bus in that it will often stop at several places, but just make sure it is going in the direction of your hotel.
On your first day, my suggestion would be pick the option that is the easiest and gets you to your hotel the quickest. Once at the hotel, have a short (or long) break, and then think of onward travel, when there may be even more options.
For onward travel, I’ve found using a shuttle/minibus is often a good option, and there are many reputable companies that you can find in many destinations, but if there are atleast 3-4 of you, and if you are travelling a long distance, go for a private shuttle, its just more comfortable.
You’re sat there, scratching your head, making your decisions with the following results:
Airline… Check… Sort of… You’ll have an inkling…
Now I’m sure you want to get the deed done, you want to find flights to your next adventure, ok we are getting to that bit now…
Tell me something, how do you normally book your flights? I have a few ways that you can find a flight… keep reading…
1 – The “old fashioned” way via a Travel Agent – You may already be aware of this method, you go to a travel agent on your local high street, tell them where, when, for how long, and you’ll be given the cheapest flight for those dates. In this scenario you can either accept this flight or ask further questions, sometimes this really is the best option as travel agents sometimes have special deals with some airlines so make sure you at least enquiry through this route.
2 – The “modern” way, in other words using a price comparison website – This is similar to what a travel agents do for you but the “power” is now in your hands. When you go to such websites, you need to enter your travel destination(s) and dates, and you are shown a long list of airlines, departure/arrival dates, and most importantly for some, a range of prices. There are a couple of advantages to this method as follows:
As with travel agents price comparison websites sometimes have special deals.
You can choose multiple destinations, flying in and out from different places.
You can select only airlines that you are willing to use and screen out those that you don’t line.
Here are a few price comparison websites that I use and that you may find useful:
3 – “Go direct” to the airline(s) of your choice – Sometimes it really is about going direct. Your next option is go to your airline of choice’s website site and compare these separately to the price comparison websites. I find this varies from region to region, for example, for travelling to Asia, I prefer using Qatar or Emirates, this is just me, you may have different preferences, but I would always check their websites separately as well as going through price comparison websites. Of course if your preference is budget airlines, Easyjet to many destinations and are worth looking at as well.
Finding flights is not the easiest of tasks but I hope the information that I have given you helps to find your perfect set of flights.
On a final note, food for thought, if you are going travelling and will be going to multiple destinations, you don’t have to book a muti-destination flight. I feel your eye opening wider and your attention peaking. Yes you don’t have to do this multi-destination business, why not try to book multiple individual single flights, you may find this a cheaper option giving you exactly the same flight as you would have via the multi-destination option. Think about it, try it, book it, and let me know how your booking experience was….
Having decided on where to go on your next adventure, are you going to fly like an eagle??? Well maybe not like an eagle, hopefully inside a plane?
If you do then your next challenge will be getting the best value for money on your flight as there are a near infinite number of flights that you can choose from… Where on earth do you begin??? I don’t mean where on earth literally, that would be your home city, you know what I mean…
Now as always, I am going to ask you to make a decision. There are four questions that I am now going to throw at you:
1 – How much are you willing to spend on your flights? If you have a money tree growing in your back garden, then by all means, first class will give you the most luxurious time in flight. If however you feel more like you have a black hole in your pockets and your money doesn’t seem to hang around for very long, then you are more likely to vote for the economy cabin. Ok, we’ll say you’ve chosen economy, you still need to set yourself a budget for how much you are willing to spend. Do you know this figure?
2 – Are you taking a long haul or short haul flight? In other words is it going to be a 200 hour (yes I know a slight exaggeration) marathon flight, or a two hour flight to that place just down there.
3 – Are you more concerned with price or comfort? Is it value for money that you are looking for ? i.e. the cheapest flight available to your destination of choice, or are you looking for a journey where the economy cabin will give you a good nights sleep, FOOOOD, and a tonne of entertainment?
4 – How much baggage do you want to take – Are you a backpacker? Are you a fan of the traditional suitcase, or are you the extreme minimalist. This makes a big difference as if you are a budget flyer you often will only be able to take a small backpack/bag in the cabin without an extra charge, meanwhile. Backpack or suitcase makes a big difference as well with suitcases often being heavier than backpacks (because you can take more) and baggage allowance in general often being 20-30kg, varying between airlines, this is something you will need to consider.
It is essential for you to answer these four questions before booking your flight. All four questions don’t have a fixed answer but there is in fact a spectrum, how much money do you want to spend on travel? How far do you want to go? How important is the cost of the flight to you? How important is comfort to you in-flight? How many “essentials” do you want to take with you?
If you really want to do detailed research then I would suggest going to a website that I have recommended once before. This website will show you data on the airlines, seats, and feedback on various elements of these airlines… https://www.airlinequality.com.
No before you as I am not sponsored by this website, I just feel it gives you good information to help make your journey as comfortable as possible, yes comfort is something that I value…
Let me guess, you’ve booked your next adventure, it’s approaching quickly, next month… next week… tomorrow?
If your adventure starts tomorrow what are you doing reading this blog? Your backpack is still half empty, hurry up and finish packing!!!
On a serious note picture this… your next holiday is booked and you are thinking “What should I do about keeping money with me on holiday?” This is where I can give you some tips… Have you had your caffeine fix? Ready to pay attention?
Now when money is involved there have historically been two different options… can you guess what they are? Yes you’re right, its cash and travellers cheques. These two have been around for donkey’s years so you could be forgiven for thinking this is where the buck stops…
Oh but there are many more options… with the advent of the modern age and digitisation of the economy we were introduced to card based transactions, these cards are not just for use at home, they can be used abroad during your many many adventures as well…
To simplify things these are the options that you have, all of which I will be talking about:
1 – Cash
2 – Travellers cheques
3 – Cards
To start with there is and will always be (possibly), the all mighty cash. I will always recommend someone to keep 3 different types of cash on them:
1 – Your home currency – This one is purely a backup of a backup and hide it so temptation doesn’t find it. The reason I say take some of this with you is because you don’t want to end up in the situation where you have run out of cash, as you typically do on your journey back home, and you don’t have any way of getting a cab. You want your journey back to be as stress free as possible.
2 – Destination local currency – This one is so in particular on arrival at your destination airport, you don’t have to stress about trying to find somewhere to convert your money to local currency and at the very least you can grab a cab and get to your first true destination. Now this format of currency is one that you may want to bring more of but it is dependant on exchange rate. If the exchange rate is greatly variable at the time of your holiday, you may not want to take a lot of local currency with you. In addition if you are going to a small country with more rural than urban areas, their local currency may not be available in your home country readily and as a result it may prove difficult to obtain a large amount or any amount of this currency. I personally say you should have some of this, I would try and source enough to cover at least half of my holiday in local currency.
3 – US Dollar $ – Now this one is the saviour (sort of). As I said above your destination’s home currency may not be available in your home country, but the US Dollar will almost certainly be available as it is one of the few currencies that almost all countries will accept, at least in the larger institutions. With the US Dollar you have two options, the first of which is to use this as an intermediary currency that you can exchange into your destination’s local currency at your destination, this depends on how readily your home currency is available as an exchange currency across the world. The second option is to use the US Dollar as your currency of choice whilst on holiday, which is accepted practice in a number of countries as I have seen in Cambodia and Costa Rica. You have to be aware of one thing though, if you use the US Dollar as your currency of choice, at least in the smaller institutions at your destination i.e. markets, the exchange rate that they give you may mean that the product/service that you purchase would work out to be a lot more expensive than it would in the local currency. The most savvy way to pay whilst abroad is to use the local currency.
Does this give you an idea how the value of having cash? Do bear in mind that in the more rural countries, the facility may not be available to use any other means of payment other than cash. This is true at least in a proportion of the destinations, and in particular those that are off the beaten path…
Travellers cheques… You may be fond if this if you remember a time before the world was conquered but the all powerful card!!! Millennials may be stumped with confusion here…. Ok listen up millennials, time for a history lesson… Travellers cheques are essentially like buying a Love2Shop voucher in your home currency, that is backed by the issuing bank because you’ve already paid for it. You would take it to a bank or other institution abroad where it would be converted to local currency cash but ID would need to be provided as it would be in a set person’s name. The benefit was that if the traveller’s cheques were stollen, they could be cancelled meaning you don’t lose you money, where as if you had cash it would be lost.
All joking aside, travellers cheques were once a gold standard method of taking money with you on your travels, but now like with all other forms of cheque, their use has declined. If you are comfortable with these, you can still use them but these may not be accepted in many places aside from large institutions such as major banks at your destination.
Now we step forth into the modern era… And again… Multiple options… Decisions decisions, where does it end? Don’t worry this is the last option that I will be talking about so here goes…
With cards now there are three different options; credit card, debit card and a pre-paid travel card. Here you can also include options like ApplePay, although used widely in the developed economies, may not be so readily used in other countries. With these options there a millions of different cards you can choose depending on your home country so this is where I will have to leave the research in your hand.
One thing that I can say however, is that VISA and Mastercard are generally accepted in most countries and although you may get a better deal on some less well known card companies, VISA and Mastercard are usually a safe bet.
Oh don’t forget, before you take your card with you, let your bank know where you are going, you don’t want to find you’re on holiday trying to use your card and turns out it’s declined.
There are two things that you want to check, regardless of whether the card the you chose to use is a credit, debit or prepaid card.
1 – Fees on use – Make sure the card you use has no fees on purchases and withdrawals as this would be throwing money away, quite literally. Do however bear in mind that in a lot of countries ATM machines do apply a small charge to withdrawals regardless of which card you use.
2 – Exchange rate – This one will require a fair bit of research. Using comparison websites will help you with this but it may still be a tricky one to get your head around. Many websites do quote their exchange rates regardless of the type of card and you’ll soon start to see a trend so try to shop around. This will also impact you whilst withdrawing money from an ATM so try to withdraw in local currency as your card provider will work out the exchange rate that way.
I hope this has helped and if you need any more information please to let me know.
Here is a curveball for you now, particularly for those of who living in the post modern futuristic era… You know what I mean… Yes Cryptocurrency… I know I know, this is a controversial topic and this would start up a debate in itself, but there are countries across the world where Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ripple are being used at ATM machines, this could be an idea for those of you who like to try new things and are not afraid to take risks. Maybe you have already tried this, let me know of your experiences…
I’d love to hear what options you have decided to go with.