A few times a year, a crazy flight deal appears. Sometimes they're crazy sales, and other times they're mistakes that the airline will be legally obligated to honor. Take, for example, the one that popped up right as I began to write this post: San Francisco or LA to Jakarta for $385.
The unique characteristic of these flights is that they do not last. Sometimes you have a full day to book them, but other times you have hours, or even minutes. Very often availability will disappear within an hour or so until it's all gone. So you can't plan these trips like normal trips-- you have to go about a different way.
The first step is to just book any dates that you think you might want to go. Find an opening on your calendar, and choose a trip duration. When in doubt, go shorter. You never know what your schedule is going to look like, but a 4 day trip is easier to accommodate than a 10 day.
Because you're not paying much money, you don't need to get as much out of the trip. I'm paying less than $400 to go to Jakarta, with a full day in Tokyo. It's not going to take seeing too many things for that to be worth it.
Next, just book that trip. Don't think about it, just book it. Even if the layovers are crazy and you're not sure you can go. Book it.
Most people don't realize that you have a lot of time where you can cancel any ticket, even a nonrefundable one. It's stated as 24 hours, but it's usually until midnight the following day.
Once you've got something booked, email your friends and invite them to come along. If you have someone you know will want to go, you can always contact them before you book initially, but sometimes it's easier for people if you've picked dates and worked out the kinks first.
Now start looking for better flights. See if different layovers make sense, see if closer airports work. I ended up rebooking mine from SFO, even though it initially appeared to only be available from LAX. I would have been happy to buy my own ticket to LAX, but better to get a free connection and make the trip an even better deal.
Once your final route is booked, and you and your friends are on the same page, you get to relax. Look up things to do in the place your visiting, check out the weather, and look up hotel prices. You've got twenty-four hours to decide whether you actually want to go or not, so take your time.
If you follow these guidelines, you'll be poised to make the best of crazy flight deals that appear. If you don't, you may end up deliberating until the deal is gone, and then you'll definitely wish you'd booked.
The best blog to find good flight deals is http://theflightdeal.com.They get many of the good ones. If you want to make sure that you never miss any of the best deals, subscribe to Amazing Airfare, which sends deals that are 50% off or more via text and email. If you use coupon code "TYNANROCKS", you will pay $6.99 per month instead of $7.99.
Photo is a cool LCD screen globe in Tokyo that shows weather patterns and stuff like that.
I am now using Periscope! I was initially skeptical, but it's a really cool way for me to do live interactive video streams. I'm going to do at least one in every country I go to from now on, and may do them pretty frequently. You can ask questions live and see video replays for 24 hours. Seriously-- it's really cool. My name on it is @tynan, and if you follow me on Twitter, you'll see me automatically.
Also, my friend Brooke introduced me to Periscope and deserves all credit...
Last night I landed in Florence. I had four layovers on the way here, which doesn't sound like a positive thing at first, but I booked them intentionally. Very frequently, if I have a long flight, I'll book tons of long layovers and actually leave the airport on each one.
My first layover was in Newark for almost five hours, so I rented a car, drove to see my family in New Jersey for a couple hours, and then headed back to the airport. My next flight brought me to Lisbon for two hours, which was a layover I couldn't avoid, but was too short to enjoy. It was early in the morning when I landed, and it was a short flight to my next destination, Amsterdam, so I got there early as well. I had twenty-two hours in Amsterdam, so I checked into my airport hotel, dropped off my stuff, and headed downtown.
Downtown I had some lunch , visited the Rijksmusem to see the Vermeers (I'm on a pointless quest to see all 34 Vermeers), visited the Van Gogh museum, had dinner, and then walked around the red light district before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning I woke up early again and headed to Zurich, which I was warned was incredibly boring. I managed to take the least direct train downtown, which gave me a mini tour of the outer edges of the city, I walked down the main shopping street, wandered through old Zurich, ate a couple Swiss chocolates, spent a lot of time down by the water watching the swans, took some pictures, and then headed back to the airport to work in the Swiss Air lounge. After eight hours total in Zurich, I headed to Florence.
Yesterday afternoon we got to the bus stop and boarded our bus. We would be on it for twenty four hours without a power jack, meaning that every last milliamp of power was precious. In particular, I always want to save my laptop power for Sett stuff and use my phone for anything else when I can.
It's too bad I can't write blog posts on my phone, I thought. The keyboard is just too annoying and it would take me way too long. I'd thought about writing a post on the phone many times before, but never actually tried it because it just seemed like too much of a hassle.
Once I was on the bus I did my Arabic tape and my Chinese, German, and Arabic flash cards. Then I watched the episode of TV I saved for the ride. After that, there was nothing left to do but write my blog post.
Okay, I thought, let's just try writing it on the phone since it's already out. To my surprise, writing on the phone isn't bad at all. With the amazing autocorrect of SwiftKey, I don't really even need to look at the keys.