Sunday, April 05, 2009

Expat travel deals - have YOU found any?

Here comes a moan...

Quite a few expats need to travel regularly. Many spend endless hours trying to find the best deals possible on flights and ferries through various clubs, associations and special offers.

Many consider themselves experts on the numerous cheap travel web sites and tend to have their own favourites.

The trouble is, I’m one of those who always seem to find it difficult to get these deals!

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had expat friends and contacts telling me how they found 2 first-class air tickets round the globe for only 50 euros each or how they got their ferry tickets, a luxury cabin and dinner with the captain thrown in for a grand total of 15 euros. I am also seemingly the only person on Earth that has never been spontaneously offered a free upgrade or 10 free flight tickets when boarding a flight just because one of the cabin crew liked my tie, shoes etc.

It’s worth stating here that I do not for one-second doubt these stories, I’m only moaning that I am never the beneficiary of such luck or largesse!

I do get angry and frustrated when the "fly via private jet for only 30 euros anywhere in the world" offers emblazoned onto a web site’s home page immediately disappears at the next click never to be seen again. Equally frustrating are the "fly X to Y from 50 euros" offers. Try as I may to key in every single conceivable combination of dates and times, I can never get these deals as the system invariably keeps telling me I’ve got to find, say, 675 euros instead.

Now, there are some good sites out there for expat travel and we have some good links and advice on Expat Focus covering that subject. You may also want to look at - a section of the British Telegraph newspaper aimed specifically at expats – I’ve seen some useful travel tips and offers there also.

I’m also a fan of the budget airlines and don’t have any problem accepting their ads for flights at 1 cent then finding they’re going to add 40 euros in taxes – in fairness they highlight that clearly up front.

All this, though, doesn’t hide the fact that for all the great information and stunning offers, one can still struggle to get good deals. One site for a ferry company, I’ll mention no names, does provide an excellent deal between France and the UK but in fact to get it you effectively have to buy two return tickets (UK/France/UK and another France/UK/France) and throw one leg of each away to make a ‘merged’ return. I’m sure it must make sense to someone, but it certainly doesn’t to me.

One airline offers a great deal on flights between the UK and Spain, but nowhere indicates how one goes about getting it – you certainly won’t find it on their website and their sales staff seem equally baffled when one asks.

Maybe that’s why so many people do seem to track down these great offers and I seem to find it difficult. Perhaps one needs to be skilled at cryptic crosswords coupled with Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction AND have the patience of a saint to be able to find them!

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