Saturday, April 2, 2011

Airfare Wars

I've been a madwoman lately when it comes to looking up airfare.  To be fair, looking up and booking plane tickets is one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world.  I like it more than sneezing, unicorns (gasp!), pain au chocolats, and mayyybe even slightly more than Anderson Cooper. maybe.

When the boy and I decided to start researching airfare for our RTW expedition we immediately jumped to the conclusion that we'd be purchasing an around the world ticket.  We knew that it'd be cheaper and that we'd probably get more bang for our buck.

I started with Airtreks, Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team.   I made a sample itinerary and sent it out to each air service to get our starting quotes.   Our sample itinerary looked a little something like this:

Seattle -> New York -> Guayaquil, Ecuador -> London -> Delhi, India -> Bangkok -> Seattle

This way, after our stop in Ecuador, we could hit the major hubs around the world and then travel overland from there.  We know that Europe should be relatively easy to traverse using the train system or airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet.   Easy peasy, right?

Wrong.  Turns out that our cheapest quote (by far) was $3,523/person.  Ouch.  It still wasn't as bad as another quote we received that put our estimated cost at $7,500/person.  My bank account is dry heaving with me just having to type it out.

Okay, so technically $3,523 isn't too bad.  I mean, you are paying to travel across the entire world but we had expected it to be a little cheaper.  We're also traveling during peak holiday season which I'm sure didn't help us out fiscally.

While RTW tickets are good in a lot of aspects, we decided to exhaust every other option we had in order to save money.  We've looked into taking a transatlantic cruise from South America to Europe.  We actually found one that left from Panama City and arrived in Spain (with a stop in Curacao, no less) that was only $450/person.  We found a few other inexpensive transatlantic cruises as well.  Only problem is that most of them end in April and won't start up again until September.  We need to depart in June or else we'll just waste our time and money while waiting to leave the States.

The boy also discovered that some cargo vessels will often take on passengers, much like cruise ships but minus the extreme thrills.  It's an alternate way to travel and would be an amazing story.  Chris sent out a few e-mails and we're waiting to hear back from most of them.  One cargo vessel offered to take us on board but it was for an exorbitant amount of money and we respectfully declined.

As of now, I think we're going to forgo purchasing an around the world ticket.  It makes more sense for our unique expedition.  We won't even really know where we're headed until we collect the letters in the Galapagos.  We might need to take the Trans Siberian, hitch hike the western coast of Africa, jump on board someones yacht, or maybe even catch a cross country train in China.  I'm actually more excited now that we won't have deadlines or specific times that we'll have to reach a certain country. 

We're pretty happy with our decision and hope that we'll be able to offer more tips and tricks as we approach our official booking time.

Here's what our extremely tentative schedule looks like:

  • June 16/17: Depart for NYC
  • June 18: Attend the Nomading Film Festival (NoFF)
  • June 20: Fly out of NYC to Panama or Ecuador (which ever is cheaper)
  • June 21-?: Retrieve letters from the Galapagos and deliver any addressed within Central and South America.
  • July sometime: Fly or sail to Europe.
From Europe we have an open slate.  It'll be my first time in Europe and I want to see as much of it as possible.  We're hoping that we have a good amount of letters scattered throughout the continent and that we'll be able to find low cost ways to travel.  We'll also attempt to make our way to India at some point, and also end up in Thailand.  We'll make our way home from there.  maybe. 

There you have it.  Our weeks of research summed up in a wee blog post.  It's going to be an interesting ride and we're thrilled that you're coming along with us!

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