Connect airline hubs and travel regions travel tip —
After laying out the new parameters of traveling with a family, looking at our present location (northeast USA) in relation to the rest of the world in terms of flight costs, and harnessing that gut feeling that tells you that “now” is the right time to go somewhere, the Dominican Republic will be our next arrival country.
We purchased two tickets on Jet Blue from Portland, Maine to Santiago, Dominican Republic, connecting through JFK, for $210 each. This is an acceptable price to pay to cover the distance between these two points. It is good price to pay to jump from one region of the world to another.
While looking through the air travel route maps and prices, it seems as if the Dominican Republic is a good hub to travel through in the middle Americas. For $210 I bought a ticket from Maine to the Caribbean, and I can connect somewhat cheaply to other destinations in the region, such as Jamaica, Cuba, Colombia, or Mexico.
Potential routes of travel for 2010. The lines on the map are not exact, they are just proposals. I divided the above map into two regions, which are outlined in red. We plan on spending at least 6 months in each region.
Flights are the biggest expenses when traveling on long journeys. Planning a flight is a decision that demands a decent amount of pondering space — as I must plan three steps ahead. I not only need to think about where the flight that I am about to take is going, but also where I can travel onto from that point, and then again from that point, and then — eventually — find an acceptable way out of the region.
Buying a plane ticket is like playing chess: you don’t only think about the move you are making, but what moves you want to set yourself up to make for the next two turns. And the moves you make are always determined by the moves of the person you are playing against. In this case, the parameters of my opponent’s moves are flight cost, ease of onward travel, permitted time of stay, and a general interest in the region.
The cost of the flight to the Dominican was cheap, the country has easy paths of access to Jamaica, Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, and I should be granted a 60 day visa on arrival — which is enough time to settle into a steady location to use as a staging ground for travels around the country.
My friend, Andy Hobotraveler.com is also in the Dominican Republic, and it is always good to visit a friend of the way when the opportunity presents itself.
Each move on the global chess board of travel necessitates questions: How much time do I plan to spend in this region? Can I easily get to the other countries in this region? Do I want to? What do I need to have/ know to go to the neighboring countries? How much will it cost to get there? How much to get away? How much money do I have?
If my intention to travel in a particular region is under 6 months, then I must question the path, and maybe choose another region. But if 6 months sounds like a good amount of time to be somewhere, if the entry air ticket is cheap enough, if there is a clear exit point, and another region is on the path, I buy the ticket.
It is my impression that travelers seldom travel to countries, rather, they travel to regions. The world is made up of groups of 3 to 15 countries that are in geographic proximity to each other and are often similar culturally. Travel between the countries in these groups is often easy, as they seem to blend into each other. Each region of the world is worth at least three to six months of traveling.
If my intention was to travel as cheap as I could for as long as I could, I would not plan to travel to El Salvador and then Argentina and then Morocco in one six month period. These are three different countries in three different regions. If I want to go to El Salvador, then I take six months and travel through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua as well. If I want to go to Argentina, then I take my time and also travel to Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. If I want to go to Morocco, then I go to Spain, Portugal, or Western Africa as well.
The traveler’s world is grouped into regions. The countries that I take flights to are often just an entrance way to a region, and is not necessarily the end destination of the journey. When I decide on a region that I want to travel in, I look for the cheapest ways in and out. After I know this, I make a rough notion of a route, and I buy a plane ticket.
Traveling into a region is the largest expense a traveler will face. Traveling around a region can often be done cheaply. I also know that the longer I stay in a region, the cheaper the bottom line of my travel expenses will be.
Traveling is much like tossing a frog into a barrel of water. It is good to really get far into a region, to get to the bottom of the barrel, but it is also good to float back up to the top in order to come up for air and exit the water without hassle or undo expense.
If I were to travel through Central Asia, I would make my entry point either in China, Turkey, Russia, or India and my exit point would likewise not be anywhere in Central Asia, but the travel hub countries at the end of the road. I would enter the barrel of water and swim all the way down to the bottom, but will resurface gradually in order to get out. To try to exit Central Asia from Kazakstan would be like trying to get ouf of a barrel of water from the bottom — it takes a lot of effort (money).
To travel a region of the world well, I need to have a knowledge of good entry and exit points and a way to connect them. When Chaya and I traveled to the Middle East we took a $200 flight from JFK to Budapest, traveled overland, and then took a cheap flight out of Cairo. To fly directly in and out of a Middle Eastern city would have been a strain on the traveling purse — the cost of airfare would have been triple what we paid — and the journey would not have been as diverse or as long.
I would always rather spend my money on the ground traveling the long road into a region than in the air jumping from point to point like a frog between lily pads. Traveling is that which occurs between places. When looking to travel a region of the world, I look first at the entry and exit points, and then I connect the dots from there.
On February 3rd, we should board a flight for the Dominican Republic, the entry point of a different region to travel.
This travel tip is how to strategically purchase air tickets to spend the least amount of money possible to travel longer and farther. As with most travel tips, this is an ideal way to travel, a strategy, and not a rule.
All travelers seem to know well that a plan that is made is made to be broken.