As you may or may not know, I’m going to London!
Not until December, mind you, but I am beyond excited. BEYOND. London has always been the number one destination on my bucket list, so when I got my tax return this year, I gave it a good think and decided I’d rather go on vacation than tuck it away in savings. (I’m really good with money, can you tell?)
On top of everything, I’m going to be traveling by myself. Now, I’ve done this plenty of times, but this is the first vacation I’ve really ever treated myself to, and the idea of bringing someone with just seemed wrong. I wanted to be able to explore London on my own time and switch my schedule around if something caught my eye. Traveling with people can be great, but you all know what I’m talking about when I say it can be taxing too. Are they having as much fun as I am right now? Have we been staring at this painting too long? I think they’re sick of walking, should I suggest sitting down for a bit? I really want a burger, but they don’t eat meat — would it be rude if I just ducked into Micky D’s for a sec?
No, for this trip, I just wanted to go it alone.
In general, I’d just like to start traveling more while time permits. So this series, Leading Up to London, is going to cover a lot of things, from buying plane tickets, to packing, and everything in between.
The first thing you need to get to London? A plane ticket.
I think this chart is pretty helpful as a basic guideline, although it didn’t really help me this time around. Because I’m flying from Wisconsin and not New York, it wasn’t possible to get a direct flight. I kept an eye on ticket prices for a while before I bit the bullet and purchased, and in the end it was cheaper to buy all one-way tickets.
And really, that’s the most important thing when it comes to booking your flights: do the math. Usually I don’t advocate doing things I’m absolutely horrendous at, but thanks to some serious research, I wound up saving nearly $500 on my flights. If you’re on a budget like me and don’t have an airline preference, buying one-way tickets can really pay off.
International flights aren’t cheap, and while I live in a major transportation hub, I sadly only get to take advantage of this fact on my return flight. But even with three separate plane tickets, I ended up spending significantly less than if I’d just bought a multi-city ticket, or even a round-trip from NY.
Another thing to keep in mind, it’s always cheaper to buy direct from the airline. I did all of my research first, figured out the cheapest flights on sites like Kayak and Cheapoair, then went directly to the airline. Again, anything to save a couple bucks.
The above chart touches on another major point, which is the fact that prices change constantly. Don’t impulse buy when you see flights increasing in price, as it’s highly likely they’ll go back down again (unless you’re buying much closer to your flight). Certain days are just more expensive when it comes to buying tickets, so try for something in the middle of the week.
Also, take advantage of credit cards with miles and/or points. I fly Southwest a lot, and eventually all those points added up to a free flight. No complaints here.
Budget travel, even to major cities full of expenses, can be doable. Start with the flights and go from there. Really, if you think it’ll suck that bad, you can always drink on the plane or take a Xanax.