Freitag, 18. März 2016

Flying from Munich to Los Angeles ... with a stay in Riga?

Traveling can be incredibly cheap if done correctly. Consider this a case study on "how to build your flight plan in the cheapest way possible". 

A day before New Year's Eve, my man Kai called me: "Dude, there are flights from Oslo to LA for 350 € round-trip. Let's go?". I had never been to the West Coast before. Considering I absolutely adore the United States and their citizens (well, except for the ones who genuinely think that Trump is the solution for their problems), I didn't hesitate. It was booked, and while booking I discovered that the return flight actually went through Munich. This is what my itinary looked like:

OSL >> FRA >> IAD >> LAX on the way there and LAX >> IAD >> MUC >> OSL (IAD is Washington Dulles in case you were wondering) on the way back. 

Pro tip #1: You can exit at any point of your journey, you just cannot enter at a given point. In my case, that means that I cannot just get aboard in Frankfurt (which would be a lot closer to me than Oslo), but I can leave the plane in Munich without taking the last flight to Munich. Normally, it also isn't a problem to just tell the airline at check-in to just check your luggage to a given destination (Munich in my case). 

Now I simply had to get to Oslo. Easy, right? Well, actually not that easy if you are considering costs - which was why I booked the flight in the first place. I had to be in Oslo by 11am, as my flight to Frankfurt left at 1pm. The only flight from Munich on the same day that would actually get there in time was 300 € one-way, so absolutely out of the question. Should I go there earlier and spend a night in Oslo? Difficult. Oslo is a beautiful city, but also ridiculously expensive. The value for money is a lot better in other places. 

I started looking into places from where it is really cheap to fly to Oslo: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and ... Riga. Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki are not equally expensive to Oslo, but still pricey, so I figured I'd catch the 25€ flight from Riga to Oslo. Perfect. From my trip there in the fall of 2015 I already knew a few people there, and accomodation in the Baltics is affordable. Riga it was, and I figured I might as well stay a few days. I found an apartment near the center for around 80€ / 4 nights, which I believe is totally fair

Riga from above
Almost got arrested for this picture .. look forward to that story

How do I get to Riga though? From Munich? Again, too expensive. However, we have this awesome airline called "Ryanair" in Europe, and they offer low cost flights from less common airports, among them my hometown Cologne. So I booked another flight for around 40€ and just had to get to Cologne, which was easily achieved by a 19 € train ticket. 

Let's do the math: 350 + 25 + 40 + 19 = 434 € for a round-trip flight to LA with a 4 day stay in Riga and a one day stay in DC. You could do a lot worse. 

Pro tip #2: Be creative when designing your flight path! It may take some time and some thinking outside the box, but when you try a few different days (preferably during the week) and a few different destinations in between you can figure out a good way to travel.

Pro tip #3: Round-trip flights are almost always a lot cheaper than one-way flights. Be creative in how you use return trip! 

As of right now, I am sitting in my parents' house typing these lines. My trip has already started, and I am keen to report the other things that will happen to me along the way. 

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