Many of us have shuttled to an alternate city to catch a flight if the savings outweigh the hassles. Always going lengths to save a travel buck, I've often flown into Manchester's regional airport, 50 miles away, even though I only live a five minute drive from Boston's Logan.
But have you ever considered flying into your destination's neighboring country, then taking a shuttle (which could be in the form of a bus, boat, tram, or even commuter plane)? What if it could save you half the cost of your total airfare?
I explored that option when the deflating price of $750 per person for flying into Belize threatened to ruin my dreams of snorkeling at the world's second-largest barrier reef. Brainstorming geographically, I thought of Belize's neighbor, Honduras. And sure enough, after just a few minutes of comparing prices I found two tickets to Honduras for $200 less than the price of just one ticket to Belize—that was a savings of nearly $1,000 on airfare! Needless to say, I immediately booked tickets for me and my daughter to fly to San Pedro Sula.
Still feeling the high from the insane savings, I immediately went to researching how we were going to get from San Pedro Sula to Belize's Northern Cayes. I learned we could catch a ferry from a nearby coastal town in Honduras to Belize City for $110, and from there, to our final destination of Ambergris Caye. (Note when planning your itinerary that the ferries traversing national waters can have erratic schedules.) Even after the round-trip cost of the ferries, our savings to Belize would be worth the time the sailings added to our itinerary. We were ready to swim with all the fish, from angels to barracudas. Plus, we could have the added adventure of experiencing two vastly different cultures.
This strategy can, of course, be applied to other regions. For example:
- Fly into the more affordable Buffalo airport and travel by bus to Toronto. When I compared prices, I found a savings of $177, even after the round-trip Greyhound tickets took a $36 bite out of the pocket.
- Sometimes you even have to go further and then back to reach your destination. The initial savings in airfare when flying into Madrid for a London vacation was $276. After a Ryanair flight to London's Gatwick you'll still pocket $183 from your total airfare price. That can buy a lot of fish and chips!
When applying this booking blueprint, be sure to include all additional transportation costs such as ferries, trains, and car rentals; plus arrival and departure taxes, applicable visas; and of course, the immeasurable cost of that elusive vacation time.
And remember that for this type of travel, the journey is the destination.
Here are some good resources for planning such a voyage:
- Google Maps in order to map out routes.
- A distance calculator such as Infoplease's measuring tool.
- The U.S. State Department's site for visa, travel warnings, and embassy information.
- Your sense of adventure!
Have you ever used this, or any other similar strategy to book a trip? Leave a comment below about how you used planes, trains, automobiles (or any other vessels) to get to your final destination.