In March I want to travel from my hideout here on Lake Atitlan, all the way back to Japan for Runaway Japan 2016.
At first glance, inserting Guatemala City to Tokyo Narita on Kayak, Google Flights and Skyscanner offers dismal prospects; 18 to 40 hour flights that are all over 1000 USD.
For my budget and me that’s absolutely unacceptable.
So what do I do?
I duct tape together a wild collage of various flights that somehow perfectly collide at the edges
Step 1: Don’t Be Afraid Of Piecing Together Flights
There’s nothing that says you can’t buy a series of one-way flights on different airlines in order to get to your final destination. In fact, it’s how I’ve been flying around the world my entire life.
Because more times than not, you won’t find the cheapest flight on the giant flight search engines. Even though they now offer search features such as hacker fares, it’s almost always possible to piece together something less expensive. This is especially true if you’re flying to and from less traveled regions of the world, such as Central/South America, Africa, and Central Asia.
Trust in your logistical skills, and don’t be afraid to find something cheaper than what’s advertised.
Step 2: Check Budget Airlines
The first place to turn to when piecing together flights is with budget airlines.
Head over to the websites of Norwegian Air, Spirit Air, and Air Asia. Together these budget airlines connect the world’s best backpacking regions. More importantly, they do it on the ultra cheap, and for that I am forever indebted.
If you don’t know much about budget airlines, their restrictions, fees, and policies, definitely give this guide a read, Ultimate Guide To Flying On Budget Airlines.
Step 3: Search Popular Routes On Regular Airlines
If you weren’t able to piece together something decent using budget carriers, it’s time to turn to those big overpriced Airlines instead.
Fortunately regular airlines often offer some remarkable deals on popular routes. This usually happens during the low season when airlines attempt to fill empty seats.
For example, Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, sometimes has deals from Boston to Dublin for as little as 140$.
And if you’re looking to get from the UK and Europe to South America, LAN Airlines often has some wicked low fares as well.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know which airline to look at and when these deals will actually happen, which means you’re going to have to put in the research.
Step 4: Make Sure It All Fits Together
By far the biggest hurdle to piecing together a super cheap flight is making sure all the flights connect properly.
Check and double check the flight times and give yourself at least 2 hours between connecting flights. This is especially important on longhaul West to East flights, where you often loose a day in transit.
So How Much Is My Flight?
- Aculpolco >> Tijuana 75$
- Tijuana >> San Diego By foot 0$
- San Diego >> San Francisco by 1 week car rental 127$
- San Francisco >> Seoul 433$
- Seoul >> Tokyo 100$
Total Price: 735$
Ok, so I’m kind of going the long way around but it’s definitely cheaper! O, and you’re probably wondering how I teleported to Aculpoco as well.
Here’s What I Decided
Since flying direct from Guatemala To Japan in one go is expensive, and not to mention incredible long, I figured I’d make an adventure out of it.
For January & February I decided on working from my hideout on Lake Atitlan.
Then come early March it’s time to head to Meixco. I’m going to take a shuttle or maybe rent a van and drive up to San Cristobal, and then on to Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca where I’ll park myself in some hammock in some beach side bungalow.
From there I’ll take a bus over to Alcopoco, where I’ll get that 4 hour flight to Tijuana, walk across the border, rent a car, visit my Grandma in Paso Robles, visit a friend in Santa Cruz, fly to Korea for a week to eat Kalbi, and finally arrive in Japan a month later on April 29th for Runaway Japan 2016!
It just goes to show that if you’re flexible, plus or minus a few days, weeks or even months, you can get some cheap flights as well, with an extra adventure on the side.
Go for it!
Let Me Know What You Think!
Around the World says
Pretty great tips Leif – I used to travel this way all the time but have since gotten a bit lazier. lol I need to get back to my roots and save some money…even if it is the cheaper route, it’s so damn tiring! lol
Hey Leif. One of the biggest worries I have about traveling is passport renewal. How do I renew a U.S. passport overseas without a U.S. driver’s license?
The Runaway Guide says
Hey, it’s really not too hard. I have renewed my passport in Egypt and Sudan without a problem. All you need to give them is your passport and they’ll give you a new one, no drivers license required.
Hey Leif. I just got my passport in the mail today. Do I have the ability to use it the same day I receive it?
The Runaway Guide says
Yes! Congrats! :)
Hey Leif, maybe you have other reasons for wanting to rent a car, but you can take the Mega Bus from San Diego to San Francisco for as little as $3. It’s cheaper when you book ahead. Just thought I’d share. I’m here trying to book a flight myself getting mindboggled with the choices. Have a great trip -Katij
The Runaway Guide says
Hey Thanks Katij,
That’s really good to know. I’ve taken mega bus on the east coast before, ny to boston, didn’t realize they were in california too. Cheers!