“You are sooo lucky, you must have the dream job!”
I get that cry all the time, though the person saying it is not always actually crying, but they are so envious of my travel adventures they may as well be. Of course travel blogging is not the best job in the world, hell it’s not even a job if you take the adage ‘do something you love and never work a day in your life’ to heart.
And I love travelling. And blogging. Bingo.
But you don’t need to be a travel blogger to get the best, most cost-effective ways to see the world. Here’s a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way. In this post I’m going to talk about the long haul, which I’ll follow with part two: short haul travel, and part three: travel extras, tips and hints.
So buckle up your seatbelts, put your tray tables away and listen up we’re heading long haul!
The longest long haul there is!
As a Kiwi I believe the longest long haul flights are those that connect the Northern Hemisphere with the Southern Hemisphere. If you’ve ever done the trip from the UK to New Zealand you’ll know the blood-draining eyeball drying kind of long haul I mean. It begs the question – is it actually possible to do the long haul cheaply?
Yup you can. If not cheaply, cost-effectively.
1/Forget the discount airlines – One of the few times I’d suggest you completely rule out discount airlines. If you’re travelling all that way you need to be sure that your flight will be as comfortable as possible or suffer the consequences. And if you arrive so knackered that you waste a week out of business action or holiday time how cost-effective is that?
If your budget allows have a look at Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch an ingenious solution for families or couples travelling together that turns your seat into a flat platform sleeping couch. Premium economy (especially on Air New Zealand- ATW’s 2012 Airline of the Year) is of course always worth the extra money if you are tall or really need to get off the plane and fire on all cylinders. If your budget isn’t that flexi you can still arrive relatively fresh after sitting for 24 hours or longer in economy class. It is possible as I’ve proven travelling that route two or three times per year over the past couple of years. Look for the exit seat where you can stretch your legs out as far as you like and get up and out of your seat freely throughout the flight. On Qantas you can pay a little extra to reserve that seat and I think that’s money well spent.
2/ Follow the night – If you can try and fly into night so that you’re able to get on the plane have a meal and then sleep. Use the dorky looking sleep aids like the blow up neck cushion, blindfold and ear plugs as they are all worth the money! Also put on a pair of socks and slip off your shoes (you’ll feel warmer) and women should carry a Pashmina (or a man with a shoulder) to snuggle up with. (Or just the Pashmina!)
3/Don’t ‘use the stopover airport – By that I mean don’t eat anything (it’s always horrendously expensive and food’s paid for on the plane), and don’t buy Duty Free. Once upon a time the Duty Free bargain shopping was a delightful part of air travel, but with internet shopping available these days most Duty Free prices are pretty much the same or even more expensive. What’s more you’re typically a pushover for pushy salespeople as you stagger off the plane at wee o’clock in the morning.
There is one exception to the ‘don’t use the stopover airport’ rule and that is do pay the $9 Singapore (or equivalent) for a shower between sectors. If you’re flying via the US this option isn’t available and in which case you will need to use the airport for catching up on your book, recharging your laptop and phone and stretching your legs.
4/Don’t fly and drive – Yes I know you want to get going but getting into a car at your destination after 20 odd hours of travelling is not wise, and worse, it could cost you heavily. Don’t underestimate the effects of jet lag and sleep deprivation on your driving as a poor young British backpacker did some years ago in New Zealand. After arriving in Auckland he jumped straight into a campervan and as he negotiated the perilous State Highway 1 he lost control of the vehicle and claimed two lives.
If you’re a tourist or business traveller plan on spending a day and night at an airport hotel. I appreciated the Jet Park Hotel at Auckland airport for its convenience and they’ll even pick you up from arrivals. If arriving in Brisbane you could try the Novotel at Brisbane Airport which also has a shuttle.
5/ Fly on the wrong day – Or ‘right’ day if you take into account the cheaper cost. Most long haul travellers want to fly out on a day that sees them arriving for work on a Monday or Sunday night. If you do the opposite you can often find a cheaper class of ticket. Likewise flights on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day can be easier to find than on the days surrounding those public holidays.
Have you ever done the long long haul? Tell us your suggestions on how to travel long haul cost-effectively….
Next: How to travel the world cheaply – part two cheap and cheerful short haul
NB/ I was not paid to mention any of the companies or products mentioned in this post.