Spend to save your sanity
THE prospect of saving $100 is irresistible but my situation is anything but. Harsh fluorescent lights cast an eerie glow over my weary fellow passengers as an overhead speaker informs us our flight is still delayed. Stuck in a transit time warp awaiting a connecting flight I fear will never come, there is one thing of which I am certain: when it comes to travel the cheapest deal is not always the best value. The lure of a significant saving is hard to resist but sometimes it pays to look beyond the economics.
Had I flown direct to my destination I would have already arrived and been on to my second glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc before my connection was even due to depart. That long and frustrating day of travel will be long remembered yet the $100 I saved is a distant memory. Sitting in that transit lounge I would have gladly paid double that amount just to get out of there.
Rather than setting your sights on paying the lowest possible price, consider what equates to maximum value. At the Langham Hotel in Hong Kong, an additional $120 buys an upgrade to the hotel’s club floor with private check-in and champagne on arrival, noodles 24/7, cute little tubs of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, sumptuous afternoon tea, internet access, a generous amount of free laundry and pressing a day, evening canapes from Langham’s signature restaurants, and an international beer and wine selection. This is the closest I will ever get to being a rock star surrounded by those who cater to my every whim.
But what about when it comes to air fares? Annual leave is a beautiful thing, so earlier is definitely better when it comes to flights. This is especially important if you are heading off to indulge in a bit of hotel heaven. Places such as Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island cost upwards of $1500 a night so it is best to be on the first flight, which gets in at 8.50am, rather than the slightly cheaper one at 3pm. Even if the room isn’t ready, Capella’s luxe in-house facilities are yours to enjoy. The extra $65 we pay for each flight allows time for an excellent lunch, a snorkel with friendly parrot fish and a cycling excursion. Riding up Airport Road towards Capella Lodge we see the last plane of the day touch down. It feels like we’ve been here all day, probably because we have.
Lord Howe is laid back, but capital cities can allow you to save money and your sanity as well. In Melbourne, the Skybus airport transfer service to the city is excellent but can be less than convenient for those staying out of the central business district. While the $18 fare does include a two-hour Metcard for the second part of the journey, squeezing carry-on luggage on to a crowded, peakhour tram is not for the faint-hearted. It may surprise that a limousine from the airport to St Kilda costs the same as four Skybus fares without the game of tram skirmish. The final destination may be the same but nothing beats a charming man in the arrivals hall holding a sign with your name on it. Sometimes value-conscious travel is not just about the money.