Round the world trips for every budget

Round the world tripFor many people, booking a round the world trip is a distant fantasy, up there with “win a Grammy” and “marry Ryan Gosling“. But as most seasoned travelers know, there isn’t just one way to travel, and global adventures can be had at multiple budgets.

Our friends over at BootsnAll recently profiled 11 travel bloggers to uncover the real costs of round the world trips, getting them to spill the beans on itineraries, expenses, and travel tips.

On the low end of the per diem spectrum were Warren and Betsy, a married couple in their 40s who spent $34 per person per day on their round the world trip. They traveled through 11 countries in South America, Western Europe, and Thailand for 396 days, spending a grand total of $28,826. The couple stretched their dollar by using frequent flier miles to book tickets, and by taking a boat from South America to England. Their budgeting advice? “Take 2-3 minutes each day to track your expenses for the day. It will help you to know how much you are spending, but more importantly what you have left.”

Justin Troupe and his wife were a little less cautious about their spending, burning through $116 per person per day on their round the world trip through Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean. The 150-day, 24-country adventure cost a total of $35,000. Their speed of travel was admittedly one reason for the high cost. Justin advises, “Slow the pace down, my trip was quite expensive because we did 26 countries in 4 months. It was expensive if you look at the cost per day, but not it you look at it from a per country point of view. $30,000 divided by 26 countries works out to $1250 per country, which is not bad.”

He continues: “The craziest part of Round the World Travel is that so many people think it is out of reach for them. Yet people waste money constantly on things that don’t make them happy. In life, you can buy things or you can buy experiences. I have found that experiences make me much happier. For the cost of a used car, you can actually go see the world. All it takes is the courage to dream big and then set goals and make it happen.”

With a little bit of planning, there’s no reason you can’t embark on your own round the world trip. You’re on your own with the Grammy and Ryan.

[via BootsnAll; flickr image via Steve Cadman]

Do airlines change non-refundable tickets? Sometimes, yes

It’s happened to most of us at some point. You purchased a non-refundable plane ticket, but for unforseen reasons, you need to change it. “Sorry” the airline tells you, “you bought a non-refundable ticket”. Unless you part with a pint of blood and the full price of a new ticket, there’s nothing they can do. Or is there? According this story from frequent traveler Paul Karl Lukacs, airlines do occasionally make exceptions to this rule. You just need to know how to ask.

Lukacs recently purchased a one-way non-refundable ticket from Paris to Hong Kong and needed to change his date of travel. He was willing to pay a change fee and any difference in ticket price. Predictably, the customer service team at Qatar Airways denied his request. Sorry, said the ticket agent, “I can’t change the date of the ticket. You’ll have to buy an entirely new ticket if you want to leave earlier.” Familiar story. But Lukacs wasn’t giving up easily. Using an executive email technique he discovered at consumer advocate site Consumerist.com, he contacted seven of Qatar Airways’ senior executives pleading his case and mentioned the other recent flights he’d taken with the airline. It worked. Two executives emailed him back, and within 24 hours, Lukacs only had to pay the fare difference – goodbye change fee.

Sweet! Does this mean we’ve discovered a hidden loophole in the dreaded non-refundable ticket policy? Not quite. Lukacs’ strategy is clever, no doubt, but it won’t work in all cases. Don’t expect that simply by writing a complaint letter to an airline’s executive team you’re going to get your way. That said, Lukacs does outline some smart tips for those looking for options:

  1. Find the right executive – Lukacs suggests only certain executive level employees are able (or willing) to make exceptions. Do your research on which executive to contact.
  2. Be polite – if you start your note or phone call with anger, you’re not getting anywhere
  3. Mention your status – if you’re a frequent flier or small business owner, mention it in support of your case.

Have you ever been granted an exception on a non-refundable plane ticket? What happened? Tell us about it in the comments.

Like Cheapflights, get $50 in airfare credit

Interested in selling your Facebook soul for $50 off of your next flight? I am! The marketing folks over at Cheapflights and Vayama launched a campaign soliciting “likes” and shares late last month, in an effort to spread the word about their fare booking site across the web.

All that you have to do to earn $50 worth of credit redeemable from September 8 through October 5 is navigate over to their Facebook page, like the promotion and share it with your friends.

For the increased exposure that they get on the web, you’ll receive a $50 credit towards any purchased flight through the month of September — and from what we can tell, that applies to any flight that they pull up through their GDS.

This means that straight off the shelf, that $200 fare from Chicago to New York that you buy on American Airlines should be $150 after applying this voucher. Not bad for a small slice of your Facebook feed.

Who says money can’t buy friends?

[photo via Egil Fujikawa Nes on flickr]

Think those sale airfares are cheap? Think again!

Nary a day goes by when we don’t receive another email at Gadling from an airline or travel agent trumpeting the latest sale fare to this season’s hot destination. Fares like $215 to Barcelona, $199 to London and $400 to Buenos Aires tickle our travel fancies, filling us with the dream that we can score a dirt cheap international ticket and jetset away for an action packed, budget weekend.

Click through those links to the booking page, however, and your miracle sale fares will evaporate. But where did these original, quoted prices come from? Lets take a look.

In an advertisement (ie, email) that an airline sends to you, airfares are often only quoted one way. So the $215 fare that you see to Barcelona above is actually $430. That’s not a bad price until you also note that taxes and fees aren’t included, which for any transatlantic destination is a least $100. That pushes the price up to $530.

But that’s still a good sale price, right? Maybe not. Yesterday’s Air France sale advertised fares from New York to Madrid for $239. Making the ticket round trip with fees included (say, from March 3rd to March 10th) brings the price up to $570. That same fare on British Airways: $518. Air Europa (who?): $520. What kind of a sale is this?

The lesson here is that it’s important to keep both the advertorial angle and the competition in mind when considering a sale fare. Airlines send these emails out to get your brain engaged, drag you into their site and make a sale, but a good consumer does her homework, compares prices and knows when a fare is truly outstanding.
What works
You can throw nine out of ten of those sale emails into your trash bin as soon as they reach your inbox. Instead, set a fare alert on Kayak or Orbitz for low fares between key target cities (example: New York – London for under $300) and make sure it’s set to alert you every day.

Subscribe to newsletters like Airfarewatchdog and browse the wealth of fares available at Farecompare. They both have twitter feeds that you can follow as well. Keep an eye on Flyertalk for dirt cheap “mileage run” fares if you’ve got some extra time.

And last but not least, keep your head out of the ground when you get a “sale” email from the airlines or a travel agent. If the fare seems too good to be true even though it was mass emailed to fifty thousand people, it probably is.

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Happy Birthday Gadling! Enter to win FREE TICKETS to anywhere Virgin America flies!

Part of our role as travel bloggers is covering all of the new, hip happenings in the travel industry, and as a result, we’ve worked closely with Virgin America over the last few years. We have similar histories in a way, both of us in our infancy, both working hard as hell to earn respect and clout in our industries. And its been a wild ride.

We were right there to witness the madness of the Entourage JFK-LAS inaugural, the mad dash from a Champagne soaked hangar in New York to the peak of the Tropicana casino in Vegas. Armed with cameras in hand during the Victoria’s Secret in-air fashion show from New York to Los Angeles. Taking shots at the bar at the Los Angeles – Seattle launch party. And maybe, just maybe, already wearing board shorts anticipating the Ft. Lauderdale launch. What can we say? It’s been great growing up together.

And now it’s time to extend our fortunes to you. In honor of our 5th birthday this month, Virgin America and Gadling are teaming up to give away two pair of round trip tickets anywhere that the airline flies. Want to take advantage of the award-winning RED system to flirt with the hottie from row 6? Now’s your chance. Finally want to see what it’s like to fly inside of a purple mood-lit plane? You could do it for free. We’ll even throw in free GoGo wireless credit so you can brag to your friends while you’re in the sky.

It’s a small way of saying “thanks” to all of the readers that have stuck around with us for these past five years, watching us grow, evolve and mature. Gadling wouldn’t be what we are today without you guys, and we can’t thank you enough for your support. Bookmark us, come back often and enter below.

  • To enter for your chance to win a pair of round trip tickets on Virgin America, leave a comment below. It can say anything, but we would prefer nice things for our birthday.
  • You may only enter this specific giveaway once. If you enter this specific giveaway more than once you’ll be automatically disqualified, etc. (Yes, we have robots that thoroughly check to ensure fairness.)
  • If you enter more than once, only activate one comment. This is pretty self explanatory. Just be careful and you’ll be fine.
  • Contest is open to anyone in the 50 States, 18 or older. Passes are not eligible for upgrades or premium seats. Flights must be booked no later than twenty one (21) days prior to travel. Please remember that the seats being offered through these passes are limited; thus, you should try to book as far out as possible so we can accommodate your flight request. Blackout dates: (2009: 11/25-11/30, 12/18-12/27/ 2010: 1/2-1/3, 2/12, 2/15, 5/28, 5/31, 7/2, 7/5, 9/3, 9/6, 11/24, 11/27 – 11/29, 12/17, 12/18, 12/23 – 12/26)
  • Winner will be chosen randomly. Two winners will get two round trip tickets to anywhere Virgin America flies. Tickets are valid through January 1, 2011. Approximate value is $599 per pair. You can only win once.
  • Entries can be submitted until Friday Saturday, October 17th, 5PM ET. Good luck!
  • Full rules can be found here.