Booking flights… Is the price the only factor?
In the previous post of this series, we spoke about researching your dream destination. Now onto booking those all important flights…
If you are 100% certain on your overseas working location, then the next step to take is booking flights. Once you have a flight secured, you will have a date in the diary to plan towards. This will really motivate you to start saving and organise all other aspects of the trip! Before I booked my flights, I had a lot of ideas floating around, but until it was set in stone, didn’t have enough incentive to get moving. Booking a flight can be nerve-wracking, but I cannot describe the sheer excitement you will feel when your dreams have officially become a reality!
First look at cost!
Of course, for most people, the price of a flight is key! Of course, the more you save here, the more money you will have to spend when you are overseas. I would advise beginning your flight search using a cost comparison site, such as Skyscanner. The more flexible you are with dates, the more likely you will be to find a deal. Most sites will let you view the costs over a month period, which can be really helpful.
In terms of flights, timing is key. Generally, the earlier the better. This not only means you have plenty of time to organise yourself, but the prices will generally be lower. Use comparison sites to see the range of different prices. Also, be sure to research the more affordable providers, because although price is important, if you are going on a long-haul flight especially, comfort is also key!
On another note, it is worth thinking about buying tickets during typical sale/discount periods. For example, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can bring special offers, as well as Boxing Day. Quiet periods in businesses can bring sales, so think about signing up to newsletters with agents such as Flight Centre or individual airlines. They often send specials and discounts directly to your email.
You’ve found the cheapest flight, should I book now?
The answer is definitely not! There are many factors you need to consider, especially for long haul flights or for those with stopovers. There could be a reason that your flight is so cheap. Will you be arriving at 03.00 in the morning at an airport 5 hours from Bangkok city centre? Are you diverting via Minsk on what should be a straight forward flight? Are you on a no frills airline for a very long period, which could mean some serious discomfort later?
Key points to consider when booking a flight:
Which airport are you departing from?
An important factor to consider is that the cheapest flight may be far from your home and end up costing you more in petrol, taxi or train fayre. Is it worth the stress of a longer trip? Also, will it be easy to carry your luggage? If you have a huge backpack, it may be nicer to get a lift with a friend over lugging it across the subway.
What time will the flight be leaving?
Are yo really going to ask all your family to wave you goodbye at 04.00 in the morning? Are you flying bang on rush hour, meaning you’ll need to leave an extra three hours early? Timing can be really important and if you want to feel relaxed before a huge journey. You may want to consider leaving in the afternoon on a Saturday for example, so that family can visit and so that you don’t need to be up at the crack of dawn! Alternatively, you may prefer a late evening flight, which means, hopefully, you will be tired enough to get some kip on the plane. Whatever your preference, make sure you check the departure time before booking the cheapest flight you see.
Which airport are you arriving at?
It might seem obvious, but check your arrival airport! Some airports have the destination city in the name, but can be up to a few hours drive away from the centre. A quick check on Google Maps can save a lot of time and worry later!
What is the flight arrival time?
The time you arrive at your dream working holiday destination could be a vital factor when choosing a flight. Arriving in the early evening after a big trip, it may give you time to have a nice dinner (try and undo all that horrible plane food!) and then, if you haven’t slept well on the flight, it may be a perfect way to get yourself some sleep in a real bed at the local time. This gives you a head start on the jet lag! If you were to arrive in the morning, it can be very tempting to have a nap during the day, leaving you up all night later! As well as this, timing could also change the type of transport that will be available at the airport. If you are totally new to a country, you may feel more comfortable arriving in the day light. Whatever your inclination, it is a good idea to think about this when booking a flight.
What is the leg room/seat size?
This applies more to those taking long haul flights or those who are definitely not vertically challenged! It may not seem like a lot, but if you research the plane type and airline, you will notice that they will usually vary slightly in seat width and leg room space. For those of a smaller disposition, this won’t be such a problem, or if you are just taking a two hour flight. However, if you are on the taller side or travelling to somewhere like New Zealand, those few inches extra space can be the difference between a good sleep and might stop you from feeling achy for the next few days.
Do the meals cater to your needs?
Unless you are lucky enough to be able to afford first class or a private jet, the chances are, the food isn’t going to be great. I hate to break it to you! We are always left wondering, why are the flavours so strong when it looks so bland? I don’t really want to know! However, if you have any special dietary requirements, religious requirements or dislike a certain type of food (e.g. spicy food), it could be important to check the menu of the airline. Those from Asian countries often include more noodles and curries, Middle Eastern airlines sometimes don’t offer alcohol, whereas you may find those from Europe a little more bland. If food is important to you, or you have allergies, my best advice is to contact the airline before you book to see what they offer and if you choose to book, ensure you let them know your requirements!
What is the luggage allowance?
You’re taking a big step moving abroad to work. If you are only going to be based in one place over a long period, you may want to bring a hefty piece of luggage. For the reason, it’s important to check the weight allowance of your chosen airline. They can vary a surprising amount and if this is an important factor for you, you need to do your research!
Have you checked airline reviews?
I would recommend checking that the airline you are flying with is rated well. Although you may think that it won’t really matter, if you are heading half way across the world and the staff aren’t too attentive, it can make a real difference to your trip. I had a bad experience on the way to Australia, where I wasn’t given enough water on a very long and hot flight and found it very difficult to get hold of airline staff and when I did, they would often forget to bring it back. If you are excited about a holiday, the last thing you want is to feel grumpy or stressed. I would use a search engine like Google or websites like www.airlinequality.com or https://upgradedpoints.com/guides-and-resources/airline-guides/
What is the location & duration of your stopover?
When considering your flights for your job overseas, you should think carefully about your stopover. It may be more convenient if it is roughly halfway through your trip, as it will give you time to stretch your legs. Shorter stops can be good if you want to arrive at your destination faster, but it can mean you don’t have time to recoup-orate, eat ‘normal’ food and move around. Consequently, if your flight is delayed, you could be in a mad rush, running through an unknown airport, from one gate to the other, or worse still, miss your connection. Longer stopovers can give you a chance to have a breather, do some shopping and can make for a less stressful experience. You also may want to think about staying over night, or for a few nights. It’s a fantastic way to visit somewhere on the way to your working holiday location, for example, the US, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, London and so on. Make the most of being there! Of course, if you want to visit the location, ensure you thoroughly research whether you will need a visa.
Should you book through an agent?
Sometimes, travel agents such as Trailfinders or STA Travel will be able to get better deals in house, as well as giving you invaluable advice. I would suggest visiting a few agents face-to-face then taking some time to decide which quote suits you, or whether it is still best to book online. Of course agents can sometimes have extra fees, due to the support they offer, so bare this in mind. Everyone is different, but I found that agents gave me ideas that I never would have dreamed of by myself and I ended up booking my trip through one. It’s a relief to know that there are always people on hand to help at any time!
All things considered? Now it’s time to book!
If you have taken into account all of the above aspects, you should be able to whittle down which flight suits you best!
Have you already bagged yourself a job? If you haven’t and are looking for the perfect career while travelling, teaching TEFL English overseas could suit you perfectly. Check out StudyCELTA for all of the locations you can take the world’s most widely accepted TESOL, the Cambridge CELTA. Alternatively, if you already have a TEFL certificate, you can look at our full range of jobs here.
Next up, we look at all important Insurance and Healthcare overseas… Tune in soon for more info!