Worried about vegetarian food while travelling to another country?

One of the things which our clients ask quite often when they are travelling is “Will I get vegetarian food”? Food is an important element of any travel planning. Some people are pure vegetarian and some even have preference for a particular type of vegetarian food. Food becomes even more important when travelling with kids. If they are not stuffed, we know how cranky they can get.

I am a vegetarian myself. When I went to Thailand with my family including my parents, my mother would not eat at a place where they served non-veg food. Luckily Thailand had a lot of vegetarian food options. My father and the rest of the family eat eggs so there was a bit of flexibility there. I was able to find restaurants which would satisfy everyone’s dietary needs here.

However, my experience in Europe was different. I had gone to work some 15 years back. The job required me to travel to smaller cities where vegetarian food was very difficult to get. And that time, I would not even eat eggs. So my options were very limited. Cheese pizza, cheese sandwiches were my safe bets. Once I remember having breakfast at a local restaurant, and I asked for a vegetarian sandwich. I took a bite and realized something was off. So I checked what all was in the sandwich and saw a red color stuffing. When I inquired, they said its ham. They said ham is considered vegetarian in Europe.

I learnt my lessons very early on. I need to be prepared when I am looking for vegetarian food options. Following is my checklist:

  1. Does the destination I am visiting have vegetarian food options?
  2. How easy is it to find vegetarian food? I mean are then many or few restaurants serving vegetarian food?
  3. What happens if I am on a tour and I return late to the hotel. I don’t have energy left to go to the restaurant. What do I do then?
  4. Do I have a preference for any particular vegetarian food?
  5. If there are vegetarian restaurants, are there food delivery companies? If yes, what are the delivery charges of these companies? Please remember that some countries charge a higher food delivery fee than others
  6. If none of the above, Should I carry ready to eat food from my home country?

We did a group tour to Europe for Nepali residents. It was a preplanned coach tour. They were supposed to reach Milan from Rome. However, due to stoppages along the way, they would not reach before 11. European restaurants close by 11pm, at least most of them. Our client called us and we asked them to have dinner on the way. However, they could not manage the same on the way. So we called up a restaurant and asked them to deliver food at their hotel and paid them a delivery fee.

Some of the vegetarian food that you will find on most countries are as follows:

  • Cheese or mushroom Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Cheese sandwich

You could even visit https://www.tripdarwin.com/explore to understand the popular cuisines of various countries.

So guys plan your holiday accordingly and make sure you are prepared before you take your next trip.

What if something goes wrong when you are on a holiday?

One of my friends had been to New Zealand for his honeymoon. He rented a self drive car for 10 days. On the 5th day, his car banged into another car. Police came and he was worried and not sure what to do. He called us and we immediately spoke to the car rental company to help with the formalities. He got another car and carried on with his journey.

Another customer has travelled to Paris and other European countries for his honeymoon. He went in December when it was off season in Europe. He was staying in a good small 4* boutique hotel in the city center. However, he was the only one in the hotel with one person at the reception since it was off season. While he was inside the room, he heard someone banging the door from outside. He spoke to the reception and she said it’s not possible since there is no other guest or person in this hotel.

He asked the receptionist to come up and check, but she was scared. He called me. It was 2am in the night. I suggested he call the police and immediately move to another hotel at the next opportunity. I booked him another hotel near Eiffel tower. But how does he get out? After a while he called me and mentioned that the receptionist took the courage to come up and asked them to move to another hotel.

Another customer travelled to Singapore and had to be hospitalized because of some infection. The hospital charged him USD 3000 for the entire treatment. He called us and asked us about the procedure to claim his USD 3000. Our team spoke to the insurance company and he got a 90% refund within 15 days after deducting  standard fees of the insurance company.

One more case happened when a customer was travelling to Europe and the airline misplaced his bag. He had to buy new clothes and incurred USD 500 towards emergency expenses. When he called us, we helped him get this money back from the insurance company.

One more incident worth mentioning is when our client visiting Cambodia lost his passport. He wasn’t sure how he would return to his home country. Our team guided him to approach the local embassy who would issue a temporary passport to reach his home country after which he can apply for a new passport.

Such incidents are possible when you are travelling to another country and you may not be comfortable handling such situations unlike your own country where you know what to do. Then there are incidents of robbery, language issues because of which safety becomes an issue.

Below are some of the things you should do before travelling:

  1. Always get travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against charges borne in a foreign country if you fall sick and require hospitalization. Travel insurance also covers you from other small but possible cases of lost baggage, missed flight connection etc.
  2. Always save the emergency numbers for that destination e.g. police, hospital etc. I am assuming you have a way to reach the travel company or website from where you booked the trip.
  3. Keep your home country number active with enough data throughout the trip. You may opt for a local sim to cut costs but it is always handy to have one home country number working at all times.
  4. Don’t carry a lot of cash while you are out on a tour. Keep in the locker of your hotel room or in your bag back in your hotel.
  5. Use a baggage tracker for your bags. These trackers will tell you where your bag is in case you lose it.
  6. Save the contact numbers of all service providers. Your travel company will provide you a voucher which will have an emergency contact number of the supplier of the service e.g. tour company, car company etc.

We hope the above was useful and gives you the comfort and peace of mind to travel and explore an unknown territory.

Should you do a multi city holiday or have a longer stay in a single city?

We all want more. And hence we try to accommodate multiple cities in a single holiday. The perception is that you will get bored in a single city if you spend more time in one place.

Well the answer to the above depends upon the purpose of the trip, time in hand, budget etc. Following are some of the reasons to plan a holiday:

  • Summer vacations for children
  • Birthday/Anniversary/some other special occasion
  • Honeymoon
  • Want to experience a new culture
  • Break from routine life

and so on

Let me give two examples of a 7 day holiday in Switzerland

Holiday 1 – 2N Zurich + 2N Lucerne + 3N Gstaad

Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Zurich. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Zurich.
  • Day 2: Zurich city tour with Rhine falls. Overnight Zurich.
  • Day 3: Take the train to Lucerne. Overnight Lucerne.
  • Day 4: Lucerne lake cruise. Overnight Lucerne
  • Day 5: Take the train to Gstaad. Overnight Gstaad.
  • Day 6: Full day tour of Glacier 3000. Overnight Gstaad.
  • Day 7: Full day at leisure. Overnight Gstaad.
  • Day 8: Fly back

Holiday 2 – 7N Gstaad

Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Gstaad. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Gstaad
  • Day 2: Morning breakfast in the hotel. Day at leisure. Evening walk exploring nearby areas. Overnight Gstaad.
  • Day 3: Hot Air balloon ride from Chateau d’oex (next to Gstaad). The view of the Alps or the Gruyere from the balloon basket is incredible.
  • Day 4: Visit Glacier 3000. Overnight Gstaad
  • Day 5: Rent a bike and explore the town on two wheels. You could also explore the option of mountain biking.
  • Day 6: Hike the different trails Gstaad has to offer. There are more than 323km of hiking paths in Gstaad.
  • Day 7: Day free for shopping.
  • Day 8: Fly back

The difference between the 2 itineraries is that in itinerary 1, you explore 3 cities versus one in itinerary 2. Also in itinerary 1, you have to pack/unpack 6 times while in itinerary 2 you do so 2 times. In itinerary 1, you get to experience the train travel which you don’t in itinerary 2. However, you could look at visiting nearby cities by train in itinerary 2 and return back the same day. Itinerary 1 gives you the option to explore different cities e.g. city tour in zurich, lake cruise in lucerne whereas such experience is not there in itinerary 2. However this may differ from city to city. Itinerary 2 also gives you the option to explore things popular in the city like hiking, biking etc. whereas you don’t have enough time in itinerary 1 to explore the city culture on your own.

One of the recent trips we did for a client was to Kashmir. I tried to convince him to stay for 2N in a houseboat in Srinagar but he was very clear that he was looking for a ski holiday and would like to spend all 4N in Gulmarg.

The idea of this post is not to influence you to opt for a single city or multi city trip. I thought of bringing to light the different experience you will get in both options. It also depends upon who you are travelling with, interest of others and several other factors.

The major reason for people not opting for a single city holiday is they are not aware of all the different things to do there. Also, we get influenced by what others are doing. Until you share your story with others, people will not know how good the experience is.

You could also visit https://www.tripdarwin.com/app/#/explore to get some ideas on what to do in the destination you are visiting. I hope you make the right decision while planning your holiday and get the experience you are looking for.

Find the cheapest holiday option using multiple airport flight search (DIY travel)

Couple of years back, I was planning a trip to Bandipur National park in Karnataka. I was flying from Mumbai. As per internet search, the closest airport to Bandipur is Mysore (about 73km from Bandipur. Approx 1.5 hrs drive from airport). So I searched for a flight for 2 people from Mumbai to Mysore. I got a roundtrip fare of INR 18000 (approx USD 250). The flight was one stop via Bengaluru airport. Looking at this 1 stop flight via Bengaluru, I thought of checking the distance from Bengaluru airport to Bandipur. This was 286 km and approximate driving distance of 5hrs drive.

The driving distance from Bengaluru airport to Bandipur national park was acceptable to me. So the next step was to check the airfare from Mumbai to Bengaluru. This was approx 9500 (USD 120). That’s more than 50% saving on flight. Wow!! But that’s not it. Since Bengaluru airport is 286km (5hrs drive) and Mysore airport is 73km (1.5hrs drive), I still had to figure out the difference in taxi cost from Bengaluru airport to Bandipur and Mysore airport to Bandipur.

Mysore airport to Bandipur costs INR 2500 (approx USD 35) for taxi while Bengaluru airport to Bandipur costs INR 4000 (approx USD 50) for taxi. So my total cost to reach Bandipur via Mysore is INR 18000 + INR 2500 = INR 20500 (approx USD 285) whereas the same via Bengaluru costs me INR 9500 + 4000 = 13500 (approx USD 170). So I save more than 40% doing the trip via Bengaluru.

There is still one criteria we haven’t discussed yet. Mumbai to Mysore has a total flight time including layover of 4 hrs approx. Add another 1.5 hours drive to Bandipur. So the total travel time from Mumbai is approx 5.5 hrs. While the flight from Mumbai to Bengaluru is approx 1.45hrs. Adding 5 hrs drive to Bandipur makes the total travel time 6.45 hrs. It takes me 1 hour extra to reach Bandipur via Bengaluru and I save more than 40%. I think it’s no brainer!!

The logic we used above is to check the airfare from airports other than the closest airport and add the taxi fare to see which option is best. This could be applied to any place in the world. For e.g. Orlando, USA has its own airport. There is another airport Tampa which is 80miles or 1 hour drive to Orlando. Then there is a third airport, Fort Myres which is 160 miles or 3 hours drive to Orlando. One more popular airport is Miami which is 236 miles or 3.5 hours drive to Orlando. There is a reason why I included Miami in the list. Miami being a popular international tourist spot, you will have many flights operating to this city and hence you are likely to get a better airfare for this route. However, don’t forget to factor a taxi from these airports to Orlando.

You could also visit http://www.tripdarwin.com to know the combined fare including taxi from airport for the end to end journey from multiple nearby airports. For more information you could visit https://www.tripdarwin.com/faq#transport

I hope you save money on your next trip.  

Different modes of transport between 2 cities (DIY travel)

When I went to Helsinki, I thought of doing a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. I researched on the internet on the different ways to get there. Since Helsinki and Tallinn are close to each other separated by sea, flight and ferry were the only 2 options for a same day return. The next obvious thought was what is cheaper. I again searched the internet for airfare and rates for ferry and it turned out that ferry was a better option

Let’s take another example. Let’s say you are travelling to Europe and plan to cover Paris, Milan and Rome. You now want to decide how to travel from Paris to Milan and Milan to Rome. There are 4 ways to get from Paris to Milan i.e. Flight, Train, Bus, private car.

Flight would take about 1.5hrs and cost let say USD 250 (including roundtrip taxi to the airport from your hotel), train would take about 7hrs (fast train) to 12 hrs (slow train) and cost lets say USD 300 (including hotel roundtrip taxi), bus will take about 12.5 hours for an overnight journey and cost about lets say USD 175 including roundtrip taxi from hotel, and a private car costs lets say USD 1000 for a minivan from hotel in Paris to hotel in Milan.

After looking at all this data, what option would you choose?

If you take an overnight bus or train, you save on your accommodation cost. If you take flight, you will reach faster but pay more. Private car may look out of the equation. But imagine if you were 6 people travelling, then the cost of the private car per person is approx USD 166 per person which is cheaper than all other modes of transport. You see how different permutations and combinations are possible and the mode of transport selected may vary from person to person.

I asked myself – wouldn’t it be convenient to see all possible modes of transport between two cities along with the price? Rome2rio is one website that does this but the prices here are given as a range. Also I get redirected to their partner website to do the booking. Which means if I am booking a taxi from Paris hotel to train station, train ticket and taxi from Milan train station to Milan hotel, I will be booking these 3 components on 3 different websites. And if I end up missing one connection, then the other won’t give me a refund! 

You can also get all modes of transport between two cities with price from www.tripdarwin.com. You could visit www.tripdarwin.com/faq#transport for more information. I hope you make meaningful decisions from this data and have the freedom and power to choose the best option for you. 

How to plan and book your holiday on your own (DIY travel)

Many of us work on excel sheets when planning a holiday to a big destination like Europe, USA, Australia etc. With smaller destinations like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc, we may look online or contact a travel agent.

What is the advantage of planning your own holiday? Travel agents may sell you a popular fixed package. For customized packages, they may or may not have knowledge of a destination and most likely rely on a local agent to provide information over email. This is time consuming and you may not have an idea of all the things to do in a destination and pick what you want to do.

If you decide to plan your own holiday, you may start with an excel sheet to note down the cost of the individual components. For e.g. you may check the airfares and hotel rates on an online travel portal, sightseeing options on another website, transfers on different websites etc. and note the prices in excel. Then, you may check the total budget and may want to further curtail the holiday expense by removing some sightseeing or compromising on a hotel. All this is a lot of work and time consuming.

If you went ahead with the booking using this process, there is no one person responsible for your entire holiday. No one knows if you are actually going on a holiday other than you. For e.g. Let’s assume you have booked flights on one website and hotel on another and so on. Let’s say your flight is late, and you miss the airport pickup booked for you. You need to call the car operator and inform them beforehand. But how do you do this when you don’t know if your flight will be late? It’s not possible. Similarly, let’s say you land at the hotel and the hotel says you don’t have a room? It may sound difficult to believe but these things happen. Will you call the online travel company and wait in line before someone answers your call?

When I went to Helsinki, one of my friends had booked a hotel from Expedia.com. He landed at the hotel at 11pm and was told that there is no room. This is because the city was sold out. It was -2 degrees in November and he was freezing.

What if you don’t have to work with excel and you can do all this on one single portal dedicated to holidays? What if there is one company that knows that you are on a holiday and they take responsibility for your entire trip end to end? There are very few such online companies in the market and each have a different way of presenting information related to holidays to you.

You could also visit http://www.tripdarwin.com if you want to book a holiday on your own. You can add the different components like flights, hotels etc. individually to the package or cart. You have a transparent view of the pricing of the various individual components. You can research through all the different sightseeing or activities in the destination. If you want to reduce the package price, you can remove some components and add something else. Once you are happy, you can even book it instantly. Now since all components are booked at one place, the company knows that you have booked a holiday and they will make sure things are taken care of when you are travelling. Here you will also benefit from special rates only applicable for holiday packages. The same rates are not available for individual component booking.

We hope you have a great experience planning and booking your own holiday along with the comfort that someone is there to take care of you.      

Hidden secrets of booking holiday packages

We received a query from a client for Taj Maldives for 3 nights. She was getting a rate of USD 8000 for 3 nights excluding transfers on Booking.com. Transfers if booked separately would cost another USD 150 per person for a return trip by seaplane. The same hotel with us was available for USD 5000 including transfers.

How did this happen? Hotels have different pricing strategies for city hotels and leisure hotels. Leisure hotel means a hotel in a beach destination, mountain destination or any hotel we visit for holiday. City hotels are mainly for business. Hotels tend to offer higher differential pricing through various channels to improve their bottom line or profits. This difference varies from country to country. The difference for city hotels may be less because those may be filled for business purposes.

Rates also differ from season to season. There is a different pricing for off season versus peak season. For e.g. Goa is off season from 15th April to 30th September. Prices should be lower by 25% to 50% between peak season to off season.

Hotels also provide some inventory at better price, if booked as a holiday package. This again helps hotels improve their bottom line or profits by filling their initial rooms.

Booking the entire holiday package also has savings on airfare. This again works with certain destinations. For e.g. many travel agents do bulk booking with airlines for popular routes e.g. Delhi to Leh, Mumbai to Goa etc. But they will not sell this standalone. They will add a hotel and maybe a transfer and then sell as a package. If you have ever wondered why certain packages are cheaper than what you would get directly on public websites or with the hotel, this is the reason.

To help our clients, we got all this information together on our website http://www.tripdarwin.com which specializes in holidays. Here you will find individual discounted pricing for various components but to book, you will have to book a package. The reason to provide individual pricing is to help people decide what they need as per their budget and have the power to customize it as per preference. To help our clients, we further manage their entire trip end to end so that you can focus only on your holiday

I hope this article was useful and will help you decide on your holiday at the same time save money.

Hidden secrets for chauffeur driven car booking

We all may have some experience with car booking either by calling a travel agent or local car operator or booking online. In this post, I would like to share details of how chauffeur driven cars are priced so that you can take the best option for your needs.

Traditionally, chauffeur driven cars were quoted as roundtrip. For example, if you checked the price of an airport transfer from Cochin (Kochi) airport to your hotel in Kochi, then you would see one price. However, this is the price of a 2 way journey from Cochin (Kochi) airport to a hotel in Cochin and back to Cochin airport. The reason is the car operator has to pay for fuel for the empty leg. In this case, the empty leg is Cochin hotel to the airport. Car operators use kilometers used as a metric to calculate their pricing and profitability. One more important point is car operators always charge bumper to bumper or garage to garage i.e. if the car is parked 10kms away from the airport, they will add 10 + 10 = 20km to the total kms.

Similarly, if you are doing a 5 day multi city trip i.e. Cochin, Kumarakom, Kovalam and you are flying into Cochin and flying out from Trivandrum (airport close to Kovalam), you may ask for a quote for a car at disposal for 5 days starting from Cochin and ending in Kovalam. However, the car operator will add the kilometers from Kovalam back to Cochin without you understanding this. Also note that for multi city trips, each car operator will factor minimum 250 to 300km each day and add driver night allowance. So for 5 days trip, the quote will include 1250 km (if 250km * 5). Any extra km run by the operator will be charged on the basis of per km rate.

Keeping the above concept in mind, lets try to find out the price of a 6nights/ 7 days Rajasthan holiday covering 3 cities i.e. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. There are 2 ways to price this:

Option 1:

Car at disposal throughout the trip. Starting from Jaipur and ending in Jaipur. Considering 250km, we are looking at a minimum of 7* 250 = 1750 km. Considering approx INR 10 per km, we are looking at a total price of INR 17500 plus driver night charges i.e. INR 250 * 7 = INR 1750. So the total price of the car will be INR 17500 + 1750 = INR 19250. Toll and parking on actuals.

Option 2:

We try to split the trip and book point to point for each city. In this case, we are looking at the following:

  • Pickup from Jaipur airport and drop to Jaipur hotel (approx INR 1450)
  • Car at disposal on Day 2 in Jaipur for 8 hours for local sightseeing (approx INR 1600)
  • Pickup from Jaipur hotel and drop to Jodhpur hotel (approx INR 4000)
  • Car at disposal on Day 4 in Jodhpur for 8 hours for local sightseeing (approx INR 1750)
  • Pickup from Jodhpur hotel and drop to Jaisalmer hotel (approx INR 4700)
  • Car at disposal on Day 6 in Jaisalmer for 8 hours for local sightseeing (approx 2300)
  • Drop to Jaisalmer airport on Day 7 (approx INR 1000)

Total = 1450 + 1600 + 4000 + 1750 + 4700 + 2300 + 1000 = INR 16800 (Toll and parking on actuals)

It may appear that option 2 is better. But you may want to factor the fact that you will not have a vehicle with you on Day 1, Day 3, Day 5 at disposal. You could always consider using a local taxi as per your need. You could also consider taking a bus or train or flight for certain routes. In that case, option 2 will definitely be better.

Hope you found this article useful and will be able to take a well informed decision to suit your needs.

Hidden secrets of hotel booking

How many times have you searched for 2 adults + 1 child above 12 yrs on hotel booking websites and see Suite room as the only option for a particular hotel? Or how many times have you seen a hotel worth USD 200 appear as USD 250? How about seeing a higher room category for a search for 2 adults + 1 infant?

Many of us are comfortable booking hotels online. For those who are not, hotel booking requires the name of the city where you need the hotel, the check-in and check-out date and number of travelers. Based on this input, you will see a list of hotels that match your criteria. It’s simple.

However, to get best pricing or the right room category requires some knowledge of how the logic of the best price or best room category works. Let me explain to you how hotels work. Each hotel has a total number of rooms to fill. Hotels with more rooms (more than 100) will offer the initial few rooms at a low price. Hotels with less number of rooms (less than 30) will generally have a fixed price structure. The objective of every hotel is to sell all their rooms every day. Hotels use different channels to do this. One channel is big online travel websites (OTA) like Expedia, Booking.com etc. Second channel is travel agents. Third channel is their own website.

Most branded hotel chains will have a price parity agreement with OTA’s. i.e. OTA’s cannot show a price lower than what is available on hotel websites. Try checking rates for any Marriott hotel or Intercontinental group or Accor and see if you find a cheaper rate than what is available on the hotel website. If you do, that is not allowed and you won’t find it on a good OTA.

With smaller hotels, you may find it cheaper on a big OTA’s as a lot of them buy majority inventory and may have exclusive selling rights to that hotel. Some of these hotels may even agree to offer hefty commissions to these OTA’s as they don’t have the resources to build and market their own website.

Hotels also use travel agents to sell their inventory. Travel agents may have heavily discounted rates for the initial few rooms across multiple hotels and geographies. Here again, some rates are for hotel only selling but the majority is for package selling.

When you are looking for a hotel as part of your holiday, you may get it cheaper if you buy the entire package. A lot of websites offer this as an offline service i.e. you will have to give your requirement and they will create a package for you. You could also check this with your travel agent. Alternatively, you could also visit our website on https://www.tripdarwin.com/tripIdeasList and check for these special rates yourself online. As discussed earlier these are package special rates and to be booked as part of a package.

With the above background, I will list down a few things to try during your hotel search, based on my 12+ years of experience in the travel industry:

  • When you are searching for 2 adults + 1 infant, try also searching for 2 adults as well. Most hotels will have a free infant policy. However, you will still find hotels appearing with higher room categories or some hotels even saying no availability. This happens because it is not possible to include all hotel policies online.
  • When you are searching for 3 adults, also search for 2 adults. Then call the hotel and check for extra adult policy. You will be surprised that what is not appearing online will be offered by the hotel offline. Also ask for breakfast rate for the third adult.
  • If you have already booked a hotel room online in advance, try checking the same again 5 days prior to the free cancellation date. If you have booked the hotel at a high price, it is possible other people would have booked it at the lowest price. By checking the rates again, it is possible you may get the same room at a lower price, if the person who has booked decided to cancel. This happens a lot of times. You can even re-check multiple times till the check-in date since we are not sure when people will cancel.
  • Check for discounted rates with your travel agent or visit http://www.tripdarwin.com to access special discounted hotel rates for your holiday.
  • When you are checking for 2 adults + 2 children below 12 yrs, many hotels will not appear. Try searching for 2 adults + 1 child and then call the hotel and check for the child policy.
  • When you have 2 rooms, one with 2 adults and one with 2 adults + 1 child, try searching for both rooms separately. Mostly the rooms with 2adults + 1 child will be a higher room category. If you search both rooms together, chances are you will see a higher room category for both rooms due to technology limitations of the OTA.

Hope the above will be useful in helping you select the right room category and cheapest price for your hotel stay.  

Hidden secrets of flight booking

A lot of us are familiar with online travel booking or booking through travel agents. However, in this article I would like to explain some hidden secrets of air travel booking which can help you plan your holiday as well as save some money

First let us start with flight booking. Booking one way flight or return for domestic sector is easy. But there are some tricks you can apply for international travel which will help you save money. Lets say you are planning a holiday to Europe and you want to start from Paris and end at Rome covering Zurich and Geneva on the way. You could choose the multi city option in flight and select “departure from” as Paris and “departure to” as Rome. Select “All airports” for both cities since you may not know which airport has the cheapest fare. The thumb rule is if you select the same airline or partner airlines for onward and return, you will get the benefit of price. This may not be always true. There are some options you could check as below:

  • Option 1: Try “destination from” as Rome and “destination to” as Paris if you are flexible
  • Option 2: Try one way from Mumbai to Paris and one way from Rome to Mumbai as two separate flights
  • Option 3: Try “destination from” as Zurich and “destination to” as Geneva. In this case, your routing would be Zurich -> Paris -> Rome -> Geneva. While this may look like a longer route, it may be cheaper. This option also has the benefit of you taking an overnight train from Paris to Rome and save on hotel cost.
  • Option 4: Try “destination from” as Zurich and “destination to” as Zurich. In this case, your routing would be Zurich -> Paris -> Geneva -> Rome -> Zurich
  • Option 5: I will explain this with the below example

When I went to Helsinki in November 2019 from Mumbai, the cheapest round trip fare was coming to 900 USD (or INR 65000) on Finnair for 1 stop flight. There was an event in Helsinki and hence all flights were expensive. Since I was visiting only one city, I tried option 2 mentioned above. Still the cheapest option available was for 800 USD (or approx INR 58000).

I tried one more option. The onward flight from Mumbai to Helsinki was cheapest via Istanbul for USD 300 (approx. INR 23000) on Turkish airlines. Then I checked one way flight from Helsinki to Dubai (since Dubai was closer to India). There was one more reason to select Dubai. Dubai is a popular airport and has many flights operating from Dubai to India. When there are many flights, you will most likely get a good deal. The Helsinki to Dubai flight was just USD 100 (approx INR 7500) and then I checked a separate flight from Dubai to Mumbai which was just USD 80 (approx INR 6000). This is because there are 5 flights from Dubai to Mumbai and hence airfares are generally reasonable. Now my total came to USD 300 + 100 + 80 = USD 480. But there is a catch here. Since I am taking 2 different flights, I need a visa for Dubai. This I knew was around USD 80 (approx INR 6000) and I knew it would take just 2 days to get the visa without visiting the embassy. So now my total came to USD 480 + 80 = USD 560. This was a saving of approx 40%. Since, I was travelling alone, I was ok with this option.

The options mentioned above are taking into consideration how airlines price their fares. What option works for you will be an individual’s choice. Hope the above article was useful and you end up saving money on your next trip.