I had a terrific phone call this morning from Kylie (my accountant) informing me that my “mega tax return” was just days away. This was the tax return you may recall I promised myself I would spend on overseas travel.
I know where I want to go: Sweden, France, United States. I’ve done a fair bit of travel planning and I have a reasonable idea of my itinerary.
I know when I want to go: August-October 2008 (and maybe longer).
I have more than enough leave: I could actually take 34 weeks of combined annual and long-service leave at full-pay if I wanted to.
But what I’m not sure about is what I should do now.
Should I go for an around-the-world-ticket? Should I go through a bricks-and-mortar travel agent? Should I book online directly with the airlines? Any advice you have to offer would be greatly appreciated.
The last time I went on a big overseas trip, Damo did most of the planning. I’ve gotta be a grown-up myself this time and I need your help.
6 thoughts on “Travel Advice”
Round the world tickets don’t seem to be available any more – everything is booked by single flights. Having done a reasonable bit of travel I now do some research on the internet myself, then talk to a ‘real’ travel agent. There’s a lot you can find out yourself, and I think you get on better with them if you have a rough idea of what you want to do before you talk to them, but I’ve found them really useful. They know all the tricks and dodges that you can’t find yourself, or could waste hours of time finding out – eg they can easily advise on stopovers and connecting flights. And they don’t cost anything. And they are endlessly patient. But you do need to check everything carefully when you get the final documents – none of them are perfect!
On a trip this big I would definitely use a travel agent and make sure you get adequate travel insurance – do not get on an international aeroplane (especially to the US) without it! You can still buy round the world tickets, whether that is your cheapest option needs assessment because the rules around how they work can be complicated. Think about a wide range of accommodation options because travelling on your own can be lonely for a long period – think about ways to actually meet real people instead of just hanging out in posh hotels.
You certainly can still get round the world tickets, but knowing what your plans are I don’t think that is the right option for you.
If you just want to visit three cities (Stockholm, Paris and New York), I’d recommend getting a return ticket to Paris. Then use the budget airlines to travel within Europe and to NY – that will save heaps of dough. Having flown around Europe very recently I can attest that the budget airlines I travelled on (Air Berlin, Sky Europe and Sterling) offer good service at ridiculously low prices, if you book early enough.
Excellent advice all round so far. The consensus seems to be
1. Do my own research first and then go to a travel agent with a fair idea of what I’m looking for, but being open to their advice.
2. Choose one central location as a base and fly out/travel to the orther locations from there.
3. Make sure I have travel insurance.
PS. The tax cheque arrived today, so I’m all cashed up and ready to spend.
I’d fly to London as there is a lot more competition on the Sydney-London route than to other places in Europe, and you can get around from there on the Eurostar to Paris (SO much nicer than flying…) or Ryanair/Easyjet etc which are the UK versions of Jetstar/Virgin Blue – but be careful of the hidden charges – by the time you check in bags, have something to eat etc it can be cheaper to go on a traditional airline.
But shop around both travel agents and online – they all have their own allocations of cheap tickets so they can’t all offer the same deals. It also depends on how restrictive the ticket rules are – if you’re sure you won’t need to stray from your itinerary you can get really good deals – but it’s expensive if you then change your mind and want to stay longer in a particular place and change the flights!
Trailfinders in Spring Street off Pitt Street in the north end of the cbd is good and whilst they don’t often have the best face-value prices they can throw in lots of extras – free stopovers, tube passes, airport transfers….
RTW is a waste of time unless you stop in every continent and even then they are quite restrictive.
Thanks Tom – hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.
I’ve received some more advice, which I’ve published below without attribution. I’ve removed a couple of bits and pieces to respect the privacy of those who emailed, but have published their thoughts because they’re interesting…