Looking for a guide to planning a long layover? I love to add long stops or layovers to my travel plans. The idea of adding another adventure to my travel which is budgeted and time friendly is so exciting to me! If you aren’t sold on this idea or want to know more about the benefits of adding long layovers to your travel itineraries, then you should read my post about the benefits of layovers before reading further into this blog. In that article, you can also find some information about platforms you can use to make your bookings hassle-free.
If budget is a concern, then there are cities around the world that provide free city tours for folks with long layovers.
If you are planning your first long layover or looking to tweak your travel itinerary and make it more budget-friendly, so you do more with less, then I have you covered on exactly what you should be doing to make this happen!
Easy guide to planning a long layover
1) Know your travel destination and from where you plan to travel
Although this sounds kind of obvious, I decided to be as detailed as possible to help plan your long layover. Once you know the place of origin and final destination, the next step is to be sure if you want to choose to a round-trip or a one-off travel itinerary – this is very important considering it makes a difference to your airfare. Normally, round trips are cheaper and have more options for you to plan a multi-stop trip or plan a trip with a long layover.
2) Be aware of your travel route
To add a layover or two, it’s important to know the places you can possibly add these layovers to while you’re on your way to the destination. Don’t worry your geography knowledge doesn’t have to be great to do this. We have Interactive maps online which are free and are a big saver. Some of the free tools you can try are MapChart or NatGeo Mapmaker Interactive.
For instance, in the image below, I can plan my route and places I can possibly pit stop while I make my way from India to Australia or vice-versa. This information will help me choose the airlines and locate the layover city for my travel plans.
3) Understanding your travel airlines
I cannot stress this enough. Not all international airline websites are user-friendly when you are trying to plan a multi-stop travel itinerary or just one stopover. Sometimes you will need to click on the advance filter option while searching to use filters like multi-stop or add another city or multi-city will give you the results of itineraries that can cater to your needs. I also suggest you try using travel search engines like Skyscanner, Google flights, One world, alternativeairlines.com, and kiwi because these make it easier to choose multiple airlines for different stops, which usually works out cheaper than traveling with a single airline.
Some of these airline search engines are designed to help add multiple stops to their travel plan for a cheaper cost.
4) A phone call to the airline or write (email) to them
I would normally consider this my last option because all the information I need is available online. But just in case you are uncomfortable booking your first long layover without having a human answer your questions then go for it. After all, you need to be sure of what you are investing in and air tickets are quite an investment. Most of the popular international airlines will be able to answer your questions over a call or even over an email if you send an email to them with your questions. Normally they require one to three business days to get back to you on an email.
5) Taking help of a Travel agent
Travel agents are experts in booking air tickets so the chances of them going wrong are very less. They can do all the work for you from finding the correct city for a long layover during your long-hauled international flight to giving you information on immigration requirements if any applies to the passport of the country you hold. They can help book accommodation for your budget travel if your stopover is longer than a day. Their services come with a price, but it will definitely save you the time of planning your travel itinerary.
6) Budget travel itineraries for a long layover
If the budget is a priority, then flexibility is the key to finding cheaper airlines or cheaper airports or just cheaper cities to make a stopover. Being flexible on travel dates can make a big difference in how much airfare you pay. I do my best not to set my travel dates on weekends because airfare is usually more expensive on weekends and international public holidays.
You can maximize your chances of finding a cheaper deal by including nearby airports in your travel search. If you are using Skyscanner or a similar website, then using the word ‘anywhere’ as a search option will give you results of different cities with approximate cost on an interactive map.
On Momondo, you can find a feature called ‘flight-insight’ which gives pricing information on different places on your travel route. On kiwi, you have an option button called nomad, this does a lot of work in one click! All you need to do is enter your origin and destination cities and how long you plan to spend during a layover and it will come up with multiple options. Sadly, this feature isn’t available for use in all parts of the world.
7) Immigration rules
Will you need a visa during your layover to step out of the airport? Be sure to know if you need one. Most of the countries’ government tourism websites answer these kinds of questions for you.
If you need a visa, you will need to know how to apply for one, does the price (if it applies) fit within your budget.
Some countries need you to apply for a travel document and also those that don’t need you to apply for one. It’s important to have this information before you plan your itinerary.
8) Understand your layover
How much time can you spend outside the airport once you have landed in the layover city? How long does it take to make a trip to and from the airport? To and From the Airport.com gives you details of the distance and how to travel to and from the airport to different places in the city. Depending on the length of the layover, travel time and distance you can plan your sightseeing.
It is also important to cross verify with the airlines about getting your check-in luggage transferred directly to the final destination from the place of origin because some of the budget airlines may not provide you with this service. In such cases, you may have to collect your check-in baggage during the layover and store at the airport locker for a small fee and then check in the baggage again before hopping on to your next flight.
9) Travel Currency
Make sure to do your research about the currency exchange rate and if you need to withdraw cash.
Sometimes you may need local currency to pay by cash for certain local services.
When I was in Colombo, I had to pay for my cab ride by cash only. Most international airports have ATMs and foreign currency exchange outlets.
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