In one week we will be starting our trip around the world. Our first stop will be a long (overnight) layover in San Francisco on our way to Hawaii. Then we have a few days in Hawaii to work on finishing our scuba certification and to take in a few beaches, museums and hikes.
It’s the first visit to Hawaii for both of us, so we have a lot to see. It worked out really well that we had the opportunity to spend some time on Oahu and also break up the long flight to New Zealand, our next stop after Hawaii.
When we decided to take a year off to travel, one of the first steps was to decide our starting point. Ideally we wanted to hit all our destinations during their shoulder seasons, when weather was good but crowds and prices were low. Soon we realized we couldn’t hit everything at the right time, so we looked at 2 things: 1) what destination made sense to visit first geographically so that we weren’t backtracking in the future? and 2) where could we find affordable, or even the cheapest, one-way flights to?
We did a lot of flight searches for dates in mid-January. Our research had suggested a vartery of different approaches:
- Consider using airline miles when possible
- Price shop with different flight search engines (Kayak, Skyscanner, Momondo, etc.)
- Put the Google flight search tool to good use
- Keep your options and your mind open to different destinations
- Be flexible with your dates and times
- Make the most of long layovers
After a lot of searching and debating, we picked our starting route. It made sense financially and geographically. We decided we would take a one-way flight on Virgin America to Hawaii with a layover in San Francisco. It was an affordable flight on a great carrier and it gave us a chance to see two destinations in the United States on our way out. In addition, it gave us the chance to start working our way to New Zealand without sitting on a plane for 16-ish hours straight.
From Hawaii we used American Airlines miles to get us to Auckland. It was actually a really good deal on miles for a long haul flight and it saved us a lot of dough. Combining the costs and fees, it cost $300-400 per person to get us all the way from Dallas, Texas to Auckland, New Zealand. Winning!
We’ll continue to give more insights into our planning and bookings over the next few days as we get ready to leave. A lot of research has happened already and we are excited to share what we have in store!