Spend to save your san­ity

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Tiana Tem­ple­man

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.

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