Airline tickets and planning routes

For my entire travelling life I’ve had access to airline staff benefits. This means access to cheap flights on many airlines around the world. Staff tickets are also standby tickets, which means I’ve been able to plan dates and buy tickets within a week of flying. This time it’s different. For the coming trip to Europe I’ll only have limited access to the benefits, so any flights in Europe, North America, or between the two continents, are commercial. To and from Australia will be on standby.

The biggest expense is of course getting between Europe and Vancouver. Air Berlin had a fantastic deal of €650 from Berlin to Vancouver, so we’ve locked that in.

The next issue is getting to South Eastern Europe. We’ve decided we want to see Budapest, Croatia, perhaps Montenegro, and everything else is a bonus. We’re picking up our bikes from Tallinn, Estonia, from where there are no direct cheap flights to any of these places. Doing two flights with bikes is both difficult and expensive. Easyjet charge €22 or so per bike per flight. Estonian Air had fairly cheap flights to Vienna which end up about AUD200 each including the bikes. This is reasonable, so now the plan is to take the train to Slovenia, then travel down through Croatia to Montenegro, then train back up to Budapest. That will probably take up three of the four available weeks (even covering large boring distances by train or ferry), so we’ll be train travelling tourists on the way back to Tallinn.

Currently I’m excited about the thought of Slovenia and a little apprehensive about Croatia and Montenegro. The former seems a lot more cyclist friendly, although the latter are supposedly more visually stunning.

As the greater part of the trip will be in the Balkans, I’ve found Balkanology particularly useful.

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