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Save on your flight tickets: book early

sas_airplaneThe last 2 months everyone kept on asking ‘So where do you go, what’s the first stop?’.
We aimed at South-Africa, but we missed a super promotion on that flight by accident.
So we were not willing to keep that as our first destination. Other destination might have cheaper prices.
Especially when we were the next time in the low budget travel-agency and heared a price that had doubled compared to the initial promotion time we’d missed.
750 euro for a ticket Brussels to Jo’burg of Cape Town was ok, but pretty expensive compared to the 375 mentioned before. And yes we could take an Air Egypt flight for 550. But seeing the fear in Catherine’s eyes summed it up ‘Not worth risking our lives for 200 euro’.
So we decided to wait for winter sales.

In January airlines tend to do ‘early booking’ actions. The only problem about that is: you never know if your destination will be included. Yet, you can ‘check’ this with the travel-agent: was it included before or not.

Apparently Cape Town and Jo’burg had been included during the Summersales, so we decided to take the risk.

So on January 2, the beginning of sales, we stood in front of the door of Connections, at 8.30 in the morning. With some 30 people in front of us, thinking the same…
While waiting we considered the alternatives: what if the tickets were not in promotion, what if one of our other destinations was in promotion. Because that’s the thing with a world trip of several months: you really don’t care so much where to start or to end. :)

We were lucky: while Cape Town wasn’t included in the sales, Jo’burg was: at a nifty 500 euro we got a 3 month ticket with British Airways. That saved ourselves 250 euro each.
Which will be happily spent on a balloonflight over Namibia, I guess.

In Belgium we have Connections and Airstop doing great deals on cheap flights (they serve worldwide, and have English online booking).
I’ve been checking flights a lot lately, and must say, except for that Israeli travel-agent I had several years ago, no-one ever did better than those 2 agencies. Even the other online sites never offered cheaper flights.

While we firstly considered to take a ATW-ticket, it doesn’t tend to be a cheap as 3 separate tickets. And yes, you can have 16 stops for 3500 euro. But unlike some other nomads out there, we’re not planning to visit 210 countries in a rush.
We didn’t want to ‘plan’ our year, and define our stops. Heck, even 16 stops is too much.
Slow travel is the purpose. Work, and time for exploring a country in depth.

Nice tricks when looking for tickets:

  • Try to get an insider in your travel-agency. Someone who knows what you’re looking for, who cares and just drops a mail when seeing a good bargain flight.
  • Bargain flights aren’t always the best ones: you cannot changes their dates unless you pay a lot of money, and often they only tend to be bargain when having a return flight within a month. So check if you might need to change dates or not, and what costs are. Yet, on these early booking days, big companies like British Airways and alike do tend to have nice promotions not to miss.
  • Sales happen in January (often around Jan. 2 or 3 at the start of the sales) and in Summer, in August (around 15th).
  • Many of these agencies have Facebook-pages, on which bargains and promotions are mentioned. Much easier than searching yourself. Make Facebook useful! :)
  • Decide whether you need an insurance or not. We tend to take annulation, and travel assistance. In Belgium Protections / Europ Assistance offers this for a lousy 150 euro/year. I’ve seen other insurances worldwide costing way much more!
    Protections even includes countries in war, and pay-back when your flight is stuck.
  • When booking a flight for more than 4 months, be aware: some of the airlines might ask for proof of a long-term visa, or proof that you leave the country in between to prolong that visa (with other flight booking). Otherwise you might be kept on ground.
  • Nice to know: when travelling you often rely on Visa/Mastercard. They have Silver and Gold accounts, and the nice add-on on these cards is an insurance included. All your things paid by the card are insured for 3 months. So pay your flight with the card and you’re very often nicely insured. You might need an extra insurance, but for the 30 euro such a card costs it is a nice add-on to have.
  • Always make sure your international passport is valid for at least 3 months after return. Or you might get grounded too…

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One Response to “Save on your flight tickets: book early”

  1. Although I don’t have plans doing the same thing you’re going to do, your article contains some very interesting tips I will remember when I plan my journeys. Thanks for sharing!

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