At the end of December 2019, I was getting an itch to travel some more. I started browsing TourRadar and found a tour that hits both India and Nepal. In my 2020 Timecapsule post, I even talked about having found the tour but not booked it, yet. I was supposed to travel in April of 2020 but of course, COVID-19 ended up happening. When I read the “we don’t cover pandemics or civil wars” part of the two seperate travel insurance policies, I figured that I was out of luck but the company that I used offered offered a travel credit with a deadline that kept getting moved.
When the deadline was moved to the end of September 2022, I figured that I better go while I can.
As I have mentioned previously, I am visiting Italy at the end of the month. I am spending one night in Naples, eight nights in Rome, and three nights in Venice. I am already hoping to see Pompeii, Herculaneum, Pisa, the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, etc. Have any suggestions about things that I shouldn’t miss? Please, let me know.
In 2018, I visited China and in 2019, I went a little crazy and visited England (twice), France (twice), Germany, Switzerland, Morocco, and Spain. In 2020, I wanted to see India and Nepal but the global covid pandemic killed that plan and in the end, it wasn’t even in the card for 2021. At one point in time, I even had airfare booked to fly from Chicago to Delhi for Oct 13, 2021.
Looking at vaccination rates and which countries allow American visitors, the only real option is Europe. South America and Asia are out of realm of possibility for 2022. I lost a lot of money when I had to cancel the India trip (both insurance plans had a clause where they don’t cover global pandemics). This time around, I am trying to be cautious about when I book stuff. I don’t want to lose everything if a new virus variant hits. I am optimistic, though.
The plan is to fly into Rome, spend some time there, take the high-speed train to Venice, and then fly home from Venice.
Have a suggestion for stuff to do or things to see while there? Feel free to drop a comment, below.
In another post in my “frugal traveler” series, I wanted to talk about “mistake fares”. Mistake fares are what happens when an airline accidentally puts the wrong price on a flight. More often than not, if you book one of these mistakenly cheap flights they will cancel your booking and refund your money. Every now and then, they actually honor the cheap price, though.
So, how do you find these fares? A really good resource is Secret Flying.
These fares do not tend to be live for long so, you are better off booking now and figuring out how to use it later. Personally, I am watching for something from North America to Asia, preferably in Business Class (I’ve never done that before), and in the second half of the year. I don’t know if I’ll find that but that is half the fun.
If you have ever visited jws.dev, you might have noticed my Travel Goals page. I think that I’m setting the overall goal of knocking out everything from the list by the time I hit 60. I’ll be 40 in August, so that’s a little over 20 years.
This is going to be a pretty quick post. I spun up the tumblr blog Joe Travels and gave it the twitter feed @JWSTravels. It posts one pseudorandom photo per day from my travels. I stocked up the queue with roughly four months of posts. I’ll refresh it with some more photos later in the year.
I discovered Scott’s after I booked my 2018 China trip. They have a team of people who look for airfare deals. Scott’s has both paid and free accounts. The folks with paid accounts get the deals first and the people with the free accounts get the deals later. The paid accounts cost $49/yr which is a lot of money but if it saves you $500 on a ticket, it’s worth the investment.
I started using FareDrop last summer after it launched. At $47.88/yr, it is similarly priced to Scott’s but it has some filters that Scott’s doesn’t have and it is uses some sort of automated magic for finding the deals. I’m not sure yet if it is better than Scott’s but it seems to be sending me some good deals.
Google Flights lets you search for the cheapest airfare between two airports by showing you the cheapest price for every day, for two months at a time. You can page through the calendar and find the abnormally low prices.
When I flew to London last January, this is how I found my super cheap airfare.
Skyscanner is another flight search engine. It has really good coverage with the various airlines and ticket agencies and allows you to limit the results based upon when you need to leave, duration, etc.
Momondo is very similar to Skyscanner. It searches all the things to help you find not only the cheapest flight but the cheapest way to buy it.
Much like Skyscanner, you can filter the results however you want.
Credit Card Points
I signed up for a Chase Sapphire Reserve card roughly a year ago for the travel benefits. When I signed up for it, there was a new member benefit of ~$750 worth of travel points. In addition to that, you get $300/yr worth of credit towards travel, a priority pass membership, and 3x points on travel and dining. When I signed up for it, the card had an annual fee of $450 but this month, they increased it to $550/yr. Is it still worth it at $550/yr? I’m not sure but I have 11 months remaining to decide.
How to best use these tools
I have a paid FareDrop account, a free Scott’s Cheap Flights account, and the CSR card. I keep a list of travel goals and occasionally check the various airfare search services for deals. You can get the best prices if you can find a deal on a specific flight and then book it on the credit card’s website. Doing that, you can (at least partially) pay for it using points.
Have a question, comment, etc? Feel free to drop a comment, below. This post is part of my occasional travel hacking series. Let me know if there is a particular topic that you want to see me cover.
Joe Steinbring's thoughts on coding, travel, and life