I love to travel, though my heart and wallet are somewhat at odds with each other over where to go, my heart says South America, India, Asia, Africa and my wallet reminds me that there are plenty of interesting places and beautiful views within a short walk or drive of my home. These are some of the links that I use to convince my wallet that travel needn’t always be expensive.
The first places to look for medium or long haul flights:
- SkyScanner – flight finding service that seeks out good deals
- Thomas Cook – not the most intuitive design for flight only searches, but competitive fares.
- Travelocity – flight finder by the owners of Lastminute.com
- Opodo – another flight finder
- Kayak – offers some very nice fine-tuning options
- eBookers – allows you to search for and book the cheapest flight on their database.
- Expedia (UK) – search for and book the cheapest flight on their database.
- Cheap Flights – this site helps you search other flight finding sites.
The above sites don’t generally include fares from the so-called “cheap” airlines, and even with the regular airlines the fares are often cheaper booked directly than through an above agent. Don’t assume that the no-thrills airlines will have the best prices, in my experience it is rarely the case unless you are flying mid-week or require a one-way ticket. My favourite airline for any journey is British Airways, even though the food and service on their domestic routes does not match their long and medium haul services, that said there are of course many I haven’t flown with yet, including Virgin. When looking for a flight also remember to think about the cost of getting to and from the airport at each end and any parking fees you may have to pay, there is no point choosing a flight that is 10 pounds cheaper if the extra requirements for petrol, parking and food are going to cost you another 40.
- British Airways – So many routes at such competitive prices too, their own web site makes it clear when you should travel to get the best deal.
- Ryanair – Really cheap prices if you fly at the right times.
- easyJet – You pay them, they fly you, that’s it. Genuinely thrill-free service.
- flybe – An airline that has some cheap flights, for a cheaper return consider using a different airline in conjunction with them.
- BMI – Always ofering fairly reasonable prices.
- KLM – Often have cheap flights to European destinations or via Amsterdam to the rest of the world.
- Lufthansa – Fly to Germany or connect there for longer haul journeys.
- Virgin Atlantic – Often have good sale fares on their site.
If you’ve never flown an indirect route before be warned that airports can be very boring places. At best you will have the chance to buy snacks and eat them on a comfortable chair, most likely you will only be able to sit on a metal chair for hours on end and try to find some interesting shapes in the dull architecture of the building. Direct flights, or flights that only have domestic connections in your own country, are worth a little extra. Don’t pay too much attention to the reputation an airline had for service several years ago, they change, the ones that are behind catch up and the ones that are ahead can fall behind, if you’re taking a long flight and there are several companies offering good deals ask around for recent expereinces of the airlines on offer.
- BAA – Flight information, parking facilities and other aiport details for most UK airports
- Luton Airport – As above, for Luton airport
- Manchester Airport – As above, for Manchester
Finally on the subject of flights, British Airways have a Courier flight programme offering a limited number of flights at highly discounted prices to New York, Miami, Bangkok and Tokyo. Couriers must carry an envelope of paperwork on BA’s behalf for the duration of the flight, they must be over 18 and dress smartly. For more information call the British Airways Travel Shop on 0870 606 11 33, Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm. There is no longer a recorded message on this number outside these times.
Feet nearer the ground
Orville wished that he could fly, but he couldn’t. Keith Harris though that Orville could fly, but he couldn’t. Not to worry…
- National Express – timetables and booking for coach travel in the UK and Europe
- UK Railways – UK rail timetables and boking service
- Deutsche Bahn Travel Service – impressive European train timetable database.
- Eurostar – Not cheap but fairly fast, direct, and offer good prices on package deals.
- MultiMap – Great site giving street maps of UK towns and cities
- UK Street Map – Not as thorough as MultiMap but larger maps of London possible
Sometimes it helps to do some research about a place before you travel there, if nothing else it is good to check for known scams that take place at airports… for example in Cairo it is said to be a common scam for taxi drivers to claim that your hotel has been closed for refurbishment and then kindly offer take you to another hotel of similar quality from which they will get a percentage for your stay.
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Latest advise and warnings for travellers
- Time Out – Very comprehensive city guides for many US and European cities.
- Yahoo Countries – Browse this section of Yahoo for tons of useful info.
- The CIA World Fact Book – CIA Factbook with information about every country.
- The World Travel Guide – Short guides to countries and cities.
- Universal Currency Converter – Check how much you get for your Pound, Dollar, Euro etc.
- Foriegn Languages for Travelers – Basic words in over 70 languages.
As the day nears an end you will want somewhere to rest your head and fall asleep, preferably in the style of a king but within the budget of a pauper. Most of the sites above have links to accomodation, one of the very best is Expedia, sometimes it is worth typing the name of the hotels with the best deal on Expedia into Google to see of they have a web site that offers an even cheaper price, or ask a travel agent on your high street for some good hotel names, maybe pick up a brochure, and then look for them online, you may have to email for an up to date quote.
- Expedia (UK) – Great deals on top quality hotels
- Starwod Hotels and Resorts – Look at all the available rates to find great online deals at Sheraton hotels
- Smooth Hound’s – Extensive guide to hotel and Bed and Breakfast accomodation throughout the UK
If you just want to visit one place and there are no really cheap flights available then the next best deals are often available as a hotel and flight package. I end this post with just a few links to help you find a package deal, there is another really good one for European breaks that I will add when I have found it.
- Expedia (UK) – Usually has some very good deals
- Eurostar – Offers package deals within its destinations
- British Airways – Hotels and tourist acitivities can be booked online as well as flights
- Thomas Cook – “Don’t just book it…”, Holidays and late deals
- Thomson – “Thomson look after number one…”, Holidays and late deals
- lastminute.com – Easy to browse lists of late deals to popular tourist destinations.