Full-time Travel: Booking the First Flight

While leaving our jobs was terrifying enough, the thought of booking our first flight was equally, if not more scary. After much deliberation, we chose our starting point: South Africa.  Now we just have to get there!

We have been looking at various flight options over the last several months, and have finally found the best option. By weighing flight times, baggage rules, and cost we are about to pull the trigger. This was our thought process before arriving at the final booking. With this first step, it will really feel real!

Climbing the covered walkway onto our Norwegian flight | BIG tiny World Travel

New York Option

Once we figured out our starting point we started looking at various flights directly from Portland and also explored other possibilities. One of which had us flying to New York first for a couple of weeks to break up the trip and then proceeding to South Africa. As we are trying to stick to a budget, two weeks in New York wasn’t going to work as it is very expensive. Also, we would have been flying on Ethiopian Airlines for that trip. We weren’t a big fan of their baggage policies with 7kg for carry-on limits. Also, hearing about plenty of baggage theft we weren’t sure that our bags would even make it all the way to Cape Town if we were forced to check them.

  • Price: $401 to New York and $2,601 to Cape Town through Addis Ababa Ethiopia.  $3,002 per couple one-way 
  • Travel Time: 28 hours
Signs outside the Seattle Airport denoting the many different airlines | BIG tiny World Travel

Amsterdam Option

The next option would take us to Amsterdam and then to Cape town. The price was lower with our skipping New York, and the airlines appeared to be better with both baggage restrictions and time to arrival. This trip would be a combination of Delta Airlines and its partner airline KLM. It looked like our best bet through many weeks of deliberation, but we still couldn’t stomach the prices.

  • Price: Portland to Cape Town through Amsterdam was $2,622 per couple one-way in total.
  • Travel Time: 23 hours
Aaron filming his way onto our little puddle-hopper from Portland to Vancouver, B.C. | BIG tiny World Travel

Istanbul Option

Finally we arrived at an option that would take us to San Francisco, then to Istanbul Turkey, and finally to Cape Town on Turkish Airlines. Yes the journey would take quite a bit longer, but we would save $600 from the previous best option. When we aren’t actively making money, every dollar counts. This flight will be booked THIS WEEK!

  • Price: Portland to Cape Town through San Francisco/Istanbul was $2,020 per couple one-way in total.
  • Travel Time: 38 hours
The darkened cabin for our international flight | BIG tiny World Travel

Final Thoughts

There are cheaper flights than this, but they are so ridiculous that they exceed our threshold for pain. Some of these included flying to Moscow or China before going to Africa, which just didn’t make any sense. We also used airlineratings.com to check each carriers safety and service ratings. Turkish Airlines has very good quality on both. Having a longer flight doesn’t bother us when we can save so much on the flight costs. As an added bonus we will be getting enough miles to get $500 back.

When traveling long-term, we will have to do everything to save money on flights, which will be our largest expense. Sacrificing a little time for extra savings will help us travel longer. Now it is time to make that first booking.

Flight search websites used:

The GPS image of our airplane on the back of a seat as it crosses Iceland on its way back to America | BIG tiny World Travel

What good deals have you found on long-haul flights?

Long-term Travel: Booking the First Flight | BIG tiny World Travel | We've waited two long years for this moment, and it's finally arrived!  We're booking the very first flight of the trip of a lifetime!  Read how we got here and what you should consider if you're also planning a similar trip! | #internationaltravel #aroundtheworld #coupletravel #travel #travelplanning

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