A reader wrote:
We had already been researching the separate tickets for each leg of the flight. Definitely cheaper. Our hard thing is that we won’t know when we’re traveling until last minute. Feel free to throw out any tips you have. Do you recommend doing the hotel thing or just doing a crazy long flight all the way? Is it a big challenge to go through customs at each leg versus staying within the airport, or is that even a concern? Something we came across is [named a website] which specializes in international adoption and missionary travel. We haven’t researched it much, but it was at least interesting.
I’ll try and take the questions one at a time:
Last Minute Travel:
There are some effective ways to get great deals. One of those ways is to book as early as possible. Fortunately, in your case the opposite can also be true – you can get good and even great last minute deals. The reality is that most people don’t want to force themselves to buy last minute tickets in case the prices are sky high. The risk is too great. But in your case, waiting on an adoption notice, you do not have any choice.
When buying last minute travel, places like Priceline and Hotwire have an advantage as they are trying to clear out unsold seats. Be diligent and follow the steps for getting the best deal online for airfare.
At times you might find that delaying your trip even a few days makes a HUGE difference. My family of four recently made a last minute change to an international itinerary. Flying out on Thursday rather than Tuesday of the same week saved us $900.
There are sites that specifically deal with last minute travel. You might check them out for pricing once you have your dates. Just Google “last minute travel”.
Hotel versus ‘crazy long flight’
A note to the readers: It was previously mentioned that the family will be flying to Ethiopia.
There are four factors to consider in answering that question:
- Personal preference – My family often stops between international legs. We have young kids and flying then waiting in airports for connecting flights can really wear on you. We have flown straight through, but found we prefer a slower pace – which takes a little extra time.
- Connecting Flights – when you book separate tickets you always run the risk of missing a flight if you are delayed. I have never booked separate legs and missed a flight. However, I have heard airlines will not honor your connection at times. Still, I personally know of folks who have missed flights and were reconnected without any questions or issues. To be safe, we typically overnight.
- Baggage – when you fly straight through you (1) pay for your baggage once, and (2) don’t have to deal with it until your final destination. If you stop, it will join you on all the shuttle buses and such.
- You mentioned the fourth factor: customs. Depending on the country, you may need a travel visa just to overnight. For example, when we overnight in Australia we need tourist visas which cost $20 per person. It can add up. Check with the country you are transiting through for their rules. Going through customs is never fun, but not any reason not to stop over for a good night of rest.
As for me and my family, we typically prefer to overnight.
Companies Specializing in Missionary Travel and Adoption Travel
Here is my biased view. First, let me start by saying I am a missionary. I have never used missionary-specific travel. Here is why:
- Never found their pricing more competitive than the major booking methods I typically use. Typically a person who is traveling for an adoption would think, “Hey, I should book with this company because they specialize in adoption.” Therefore, I believe it is a marketing approach.
- Have known of missionaries booked on ‘missionary fare’ tickets who had negative experiences because the fare was so restrictive their itinerary issues were not properly resolved. Always the case? I don’t know.
Anyone used missionary or adoption specialized travel? What was your experience?
Nevertheless, I am a fan of the free market so be sure to get a quote from them. All I am saying is do not spend extra for tickets just because they “specialize” in adoption travel. When you do your booking let us know if they came in with a lower price than follow the steps for getting the best deal online for airfare.