travel

TRAVEL HACK: How I see two cities for the price of one when I travel.

By Chantae Reden, travel writer.

Did you know that for every long-haul flight you do, you could be seeing multiple destinations – at no extra cost? We’ve run the numbers and found that adding one layover can save up to 50 per cent on the direct fare. With some travel hacking you can turn the layover into a stopover and use these savings to explore an additional destination.

In this guide from Skyscanner Australia, I’ll cover the best money-saving layover routes (and how much you’ll save), how to turn these savings into a multi day stopover in just a few easy steps, as well as my favourite stopover routes and experiences.

But first thing’s first! A layover is the waiting time between connecting flights, ranging 30 minutes to 24 hours. A stopover refers to a stay that lasts longer than 24 hours, giving you more time to visit somewhere new.

Spending a few extra days in a stopover city not only gives you a break from flying, but it also lets you experience a new place at no extra cost. I’ve hiked around geothermal pools in New Zealand, surfed waves on the Gold Coast of Australia, and sampled new foods in China, all because I’ve taken advantage of flight stopovers.

The best money-saving layover routes for Australians

Sydney (SYD) to Seoul (ICN) via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) = 54 per cent average saving
Sydney (SYD) to Tokyo (NRT) via Cairns (CNS) = 52 per cent average saving
Sydney (SYD) to Bangkok (BKK) via Singapore (SIN) = 49 per cent average saving
Sydney (SYD) to Hong Kong (HKG) via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) = 46 per cent average saving
Sydney (SYD) to London (LHR) via Delhi (DEL) = 64 per cent average saving

Melbourne (MEL) to Hong Kong (HKG) via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) = 46 per cent average saving
Melbourne (MEL) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Guangzhou (CAN) = 34 per cent average saving
Melbourne (MEL) to London (LHR) via Beijing (PEK) = 61 per cent average saving
Melbourne (MEL) to Manila (MNL) via Singapore (SIN) = 50 per cent average saving
Melbourne (MEL) to Colombo (CMB) via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) = 40 per cent average saving

How to book a stopover through Skyscanner

The key to a successful stopover is being semi-flexible when it comes to choosing your flights. You don’t need extra points, miles, or memberships to take advantage of Skyscanner Australia’s multi-city search function.

Step 1: Search for flights to and from your target destination
Decide where you want your main destination to be and the date range you want to travel. Head to Skyscanner and type this into the search box. If you’re very flexible, you can select entire “Entire Month” or “Cheapest Month” to get the cheapest range. Click the “Search” button.

Step 2: Look through the results and switch between “direct” and “1+ stop” to see price differences in the results

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Step 3: Discover which cities offer layovers
Take note of what cities have layovers for your route. For most airlines, you will fly into the airline’s main hub. Choose a flight that is within your price range and has a layover in a city that interests you. Keep this layover city in mind – we’re going to turn it into a stopover.

Step 4: Perform a search using the multi-city option
Here’s where we turn a shorter layover into a several day stopover. Go to Skyscanner’s home page. Now, search using Skyscanner’s “Multi-city” option. Decide on a date range that you must leave your origin and arrive by. For your mid-stop, enter the layover city that you found in Step 3. Add the number of days you want to spend there.

Step 5: Add your stopover
Since your main flight will be stopping here anyway, you can usually add in a few days at no extra cost. Shift your dates slightly to see if you can get the long-haul flight for an even cheaper price.

Step 6: Complete your booking
Success! Once you’ve found a flight that gets you where you need to go and allows for a little bit of hang-time in a new city, click through to complete the booking. Pretty soon, scheduling in extra stops will become second nature.

flights cheaper stopover
Singapore. Image: Getty.

Case study: my favourite stopover routes and cities

Because of stopovers, I’ve spent time in Singapore, Honolulu, Taipei, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur and many other destinations I had no immediate plans to visit. Since I planned to purchase a long-haul flight anyways, I’ve always seen an extra city for free or cheaper than flying direct.

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SYD to LAX via CAN
This route saves an Australian flyer 47 per cent on average compared to flying direct.

I spent one night in Guangzhou, China (CAN) – a city that I never considered visiting before seeing it listed as a potential stopover. Since I wanted the cheapest flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, I had to stopover in a destination anyway.

I spent one day in Guangzhou which gave me a small taste of what China is like and allowed me to have a short break before hopping on a plane again.

PER to LAX via AKL
Because I was flying with Air New Zealand, my flight from Perth to Los Angeles stopped over in Auckland, Air New Zealand’s main hub. I’d always wanted to visit New Zealand, but hadn’t had the chance to plan a holiday. This was the perfect opportunity to see New Zealand without having to pay for an extra flight to get there.

I extended my stopover to include four days on the north island and went bungy jumping and explored the geothermal pools of Wai-o-Tapu.

While we're on the subject, where do you stand on reclining your seat? (Post continues below.)

Singapore
I always try to explore Singapore whenever I book a flight from Australia to Asia. Singapore is one of the most stopover-friendly cities in the world, with free city tours into Singapore departing every day. The public transport system is easy to use, and many of Singapore’s main attractions are walkable from the city centre.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of visiting Singapore is the chance to spend time in Chiangi Airport which has a rooftop pool, an open-air cactus garden, free movie theatres, a butterfly garden, art installations, and much more.

From Sydney to Bangkok via Singapore, you’ll save 49 per cent on average compared to flying direct.
From Melbourne to Manila via Singapore, you’ll save 50 per cent on average compared to flying direct.

PER to FRA via BKK
Though many long-haul flights stop in Abu Dhabi or Doha, it’s often cheaper to connect in Bangkok. Spending just a few days in Bangkok can give you a chance to see incredible contrast between temples and shopping malls, explore the bars, and take a ride in a bubblegum-pink taxi.

What cities are on your list?

Planning your trip around a stopover shows you a city you might not have considered before and can save you thousands of dollars.

So, while airlines are perfecting their flight paths to include as many direct routes as possible, I will stick to choosing flights with stopovers to get free trips to somewhere spontaneous.

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