How We: Booked Our Flights

Air, Finances & Savings, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Travel Products & Services — By on December 17, 2006 at 10:38 am

by Amanda Pressner
LG Executive Editor

Back in New York, when the girls and I were strategizing the cheapest ways to convey ourselves and three very heavy packs around the planet, we ruled out the infamous RTW or round the world ticket. Not only do Americans have to shell out hundreds or even thousands more than our British or Australian backpacker buddies for virtually the same itineraries, but locking in every destination before we’d even left NYC seemed a little rigid. Wouldn’t it be more spontaneous, go-with-the-flow and well, significantly cooler to arrive in a country and book our onward travel just a few days ahead?

Well, if we’d been slightly less ambitious in our destination planning (“Five continents in the same year? Sure…no sweat!”), flying solo instead of in a three-woman party or cashing in those trust funds everyone seems to think we have, traveling ticket-to-ticket might have worked out well. But after many frustrated attempts to make reservations through airline websites that don’t accept foreign credits cards, don’t have customer services numbers, advertise bogus fares or simply don’t have three seats available 48 hours in advance, we knew we had to find a happy middle ground between an insanely expensive RTW ticket and failing to fly by the seat of our pants.

Fellow world traveler and a pal of mine John Buckley (hey Buck!) recommend that we check out AirTreks, a San Francisco based company that specializes in tracking down the cheapest possible flights between any three or more destinations. After logging onto their website, we used an interactive program to estimate what the total for our trip would cost, then submitted it electronically to a travel agent. In about a day, someone from company wrote us to learn more about our plans, asked us a few questions and came up with a price tag for our dream trip.

After dealing with so many testy websites in South America and India (“what do you mean you can’t process my order without a local cell phone number?!”) it was a tremendous relief to deal with a real person. Our agent, Sarah, asked us innumerable questions and offered advice that ultimately saved us from having to backtrack overland just to fly out of the same city. And after viewing the route we wanted-Nairobi to Bangalore to Bangkok to Auckland to Sydney-she let us know that we could stop over in both Dubai and Bali without paying a single dollar, peso, baht or kip extra. Score!

So, while it might have made us cooler travelers to roll with the punches and to see where the wind takes us (both terrible clichés, wouldn’t you say?), we made the decidedly unglamorous move of plunking down the old credit card for an open-jaw ticket. How much did we spend, you ask? A little over $2000 apiece to travel between seven intercontinental cities, or approximately $300 a flight.

As for getting back to the states after the trip’s all finished? Well, we haven’t thought of everything yet. Stay tuned for updates.

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  • Dellie says:

    No matter how you booked your tickets, it’s all very cool to me. Good information. I think you are now qualified to handle the travel arrangments for 007 himself. The flight home should be a breeze. Thanks for the “Savvy Traveler” update.

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