Traveling during an economic crisis…

January 16, 2009

Despite popular belief, traveling is still quite possible during this global economic crisis. While some countries have already hit recession, it is being predicted that Australia, fortunately, will surpass it. This does not mean everything is all well and good here, though;  just today it was announced that nearly 45,000 Australians lost their jobs in the month of December, 2008, a .1% rise on previous figures. This largest monthly decline of full-time jobs since March 2003 saw the job loss tally climb to 77,000 since August, 2008.

Although, for some, these figures represent gloom and despair, if you feel confident about the security of your position and your earnings, believe it or not, now is possibly the best time for you to get out there and see the world.

During an economic downturn and recession, travel is often the first cut people make in their budgets. Given that this crisis has struck on a global level, the whole world is adjusting to suit this changing economic climate. Just like the earths’ occupants, the world of travel is also having to alter its tactics to respond to the recognized decline that an unsteady economy brings with it. Airline companies right around the globe are slashing the prices of airfares to help enhance ticket sales. Their aim is to fill seats and they will do what ever it takes in order to ensure their aircraft’s are at full capacity. They realize that if they want people to travel during this time of uncertainty, they are going to have to make you an offer you can’t refuse and that is exactly what smart travel and airline companies like STA Travel and Qantas have been doing.

Launched in December of 2008, STA Travel Australia introduced online travel auctions to their website. Similar to that of eBay, you are able to bid on a huge selection of airfares, tours, package holidays and accommodation. The best part about all of this is that every single auction begins at a crazy $1 AU. That’s right folks, just $1! This puts you in control when deciding on a maximum amount to bid. If you’re after a bargain holiday, STA’s online travel auction is definitely worth the look.

Although by now, this offer has expired, just the other day STA Travel was promoting an insane sale fare of $999 AU including taxes for a return flight from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Los Angeles, USA. In a perfect economic climate, fares like this are just unheard of. Despite the current exchange rate of $0.66 AU to $1 US, an airfare this cheap can all but make up for the loss in exchange.

In November of 2008, Qantas released a too-good-to-refuse marketing scheme in hopes to amplify its dwindling 9.3% fall in September traffic. A two-for-one ticket sale was launched by Qantas to stimulate demand for international travel. This offering allowed for a second passenger to fly for the cost of only taxes and charges; an offer which received an extremely strong response by the public. Again, in a perfect economic climate, Qantas would never, not even for a second, dream of letting a passenger fly for free.

As mentioned above, the Australian dollar has plummeted severely within the last few months after reaching an all time high in July of 2008. The Aussie dollar has dropped from a whopping $0.98 AU to $0.66 AU to the U.S. dollar. The comparison between the Aussie and U.S. dollar always seems to be the one making the news here, and while some may view this conversion as extremely unfavorable, it should be remembered that there is a whole world out there to discover; your travel plans are not just restricted to the U.S.

Try vacationing in a country with a favorable conversion rate. While these countries may cost a little bit more airfare wise, once you arrive it is a case of more bang for your buck. The Lonely Planet suggests visiting the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Thailand, Laos, Syria, Ukraine and Uruguay. While some of these countries may seem out side of your comfort zone or perhaps not your ideal sense of vacation style, they can be a real adventure to discover. Everybody needs a little adventure in their lives; it’s good for you. Go on, surprise yourself.

Choosing to stay in a hostel over a hotel can be one of the biggest money-saving decisions of your entire vacation. Many people are under the impression that hostels only offer shared, mixed-sex dorm rooms with public facilities. Quite the opposite, actually. Many, if not all, hostels offer private rooms with a private bathroom and sometimes, if you are lucky, even a television. I spent a few nights in a hostel while staying in London, England. My main justification for choosing a hostel over a hotel was the fact that I would be spending barely any time in my room. I really just required a bed and bathroom facilities to get ready in the mornings. I recall paying £15 per night ($33 AU). If the point of your vacation is to get out there and discover the world, your accommodation really just needs to be secure, clean and quiet enough to allow you to get some peaceful shut-eye each night. Another advantage of staying in hostels are the number of people you meet and quickly become friends with from right around the globe; this could prove to be another cost-cutter for when you require future accommodation.

Without realizing it, one of the biggest money-eaters while on vacation is food. The constant eating out at restaurants or snacking in between meals quickly accumulates. Food and beverages were easily my biggest cost concern when traveling, especially through Europe as everything seems to be rather pricey there. My suggestion is to purchase snacks from the supermarket to nibble on through out the day. Don’t go to the biggest major supermarket in town either, have a wander; walk a few blocks down and you will be sure to find smaller, family-run retailers (this is especially more so common in the back streets of Europe) that charge up to half the price that the larger, tourist-infested supermarkets are charging. While in France a few friends and I got lost amongst the back streets of Paris. We came across the most beautiful produce,  freshly baked baguettes and scrumptious pastries at small, independently run stores. We only had to chip in a few Euro each and we all enjoyed a glorious picnic dinner under the Eiffel Tower. There is no way eating at a restaurant could beat that experience, or that price.

Lastly, why waste your time stressing? Your concern is not going to mend the pitiful economy nor will it prevent your country from hitting recession. If you are in the position to, get out there and see the world. After all, traveling is a form of stress relief!


There must be something in the water…

January 8, 2009

‘Cause this is just insane. I just checked my email and saw this…

Insane STA Travel airfares at $999 AU inc taxes, Sydney to LA

Valid for travel: 01 – 31 March 2009.
My birthday is in March. Anyone feel like purchasing me an insanely cheap birthday present? *wink wink, nudge nudge*

Insane airfares… why now? Dang it!

December 19, 2008

This is insane…

“New airline V Australia starts price war with Qantas

INFANT airline V Australia will fire the first shots in a new ticket war with Qantas today by offering an ultra-low Melbourne-Los Angeles return fare of just $1199.

The bargain offer, which ends on December 29, undercuts by $810 the cheapest fare Qantas charged yesterday on the high-profit LA route.

The tickets are for economy class travel between March 1 and October 24 next year and include the cost of travel on the domestic leg between Melbourne and Sydney.

V Australia, an offshoot of domestic carrier Virgin Blue, had planned to launch this week but was forced to delay because of a long strike by airline workers in the US who were assembling its new Boeing 777 jets.

The maiden Sydney-LA flight will take off on February 27.

V Australia will begin with three direct flights a week, with a daily service from March 21 once its second 361-seat aircraft arrives from Boeing.

V Australia has ordered seven extended-range Boeing 777s, the same aircraft that Emirates uses on its Australia-Dubai route.

The V Australia planes will be configured into three classes.

Scott Swift, executive general manager of V Australia, said last night international business class would include flat beds and full bar service; premium economy would have wider seats with a self-service bar and food; and the economy section would have wider than normal leather seats and the latest in onboard entertainment.

A third aircraft, to be delivered in March, will operate three LA flights a week, starting on April 1 from Brisbane.

Mr Swift said V Australia would celebrate Australia Day by taking delivery on January 26 of its first aircraft.

Its silver-painted jetliners will feature a Southern Cross logo on a distinctive red tail.

News of the handover of the first plane and the February 27 launch date came as Qantas said it had taken delivery of its second A380 super jumbo, which will start on the Melbourne-Sydney-LA route from Monday.

The 470-seat aircraft – named after Hudson Fysh, the airline’s first managing director and joint founder – left the Airbus factory in the southwest French city of Toulouse on Monday and is due to land in Sydney early today.

A third aircraft, which is completing final trials, will leave the factory for Australia two days after Christmas and will begin Sydney-London flights on January 16.

Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti said the airline’s first A380, which has operated three services a week between Melbourne, Sydney and LA since October, was continuing to perform well and was drawing positive customer feedback.

“This second aircraft will allow us to increase A380 frequency across the Pacific, from three to as many as six return services each week,” Mr Borghetti said.”


Seriously, $1199 AU including taxes is just unheard of! I usually pay $2100 AU including tax for a bloody student fare! Ah, it is so unfair. If I had the finances I would totally book a flight right now and be out of here again in 2009. I cannot wait for the price war to begin. Qantas has always dominated that route and market with insanely high prices for a service that really is not all too impressive. My preferred airline of travel to the US is Air New Zealand. I often get great student deals through them at STA Travel and choose them regularly when flying to the USA from Melbourne. Their service is impeccable and the food on board is great too! My favorite part is their in-house entertainment system; one per person, even in economy class!

Interesting that they have just announced that Delta Air Lines, the world’s biggest airline carrier, has now confirmed its plans to launch flights from Los Angeles to Sydney beginning in July of 2009. This should further enhance the price wars and put added pressures on Qantas to reduce their fares. Having dominated this route for over a decade, Qantas are now facing double the competition. I’d imagine times to be very tough for Qantas right now.

Like Qantas, Delta will be commencing a daily Boeing 777-200 flight on the route commencing July 1, 2009. This will make Delta the first US airline to fly to six continents. Pretty impressive stuff. Hopefully Delta’s entry will spell an end to the insanely high profits and domination Qantas has enjoyed over the route for the past decade. If Qantas do not act smartly and refuse to drop their over-priced airfares, they will unfortunately be the ones facing the consequences.

I hope I can find an internship/work out in the US soon. I would love to take advantage of these introductory sale prices. It would save me an arm and a leg!