Are you planning a trip and want to make the most of your flight and travel budget by adding a stopover?
Did you know that you can often add a popular city into your flight itinerary, whether it’s a round trip flight or a long-term, round the world trip, for very little additional money (sometimes none at all, and sometimes even less!).
What do you know about stopovers?
Many travelers don’t know much about stopovers. When flying internationally (and often regionally), most airlines have to stop somewhere en route to the final destination. This could mean a layover of an hour or so, but in some cases it could reach half a day, or maybe even overnight. Most travelers just accept this by staying in the airport or getting a room at an airport hotel before flying on to their final destination.
But what if you’re traveling through a city that you’d love to explore? What if you are passing over a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Did you know that with many itineraries, you can stopover in certain cities for a few days with little change to your budget (you can sometimes even add an extra flight for less!)?
Want to check out Dubai but don’t have the funds to spend more than a few days there? How about a few days in Hawaii en route to Asia? Want to see the Great Wall but don’t think fitting China into the itinerary makes financial sense? Want to see what London has to offer but don’t have the budget for more than a day or two? Looking into your stopover options gives you the opportunity to see more for less.
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Finding cheap stopover flights
There are a few ways to find free or cheap stopovers when planning your trip. Our multi-flight booking tool, Indie, is adept at quickly finding stopovers, and below we’ll dig into how to use Indie to maximize your airfare. Indie is not the only way to find stopovers, so we’ll outline other ways to find them as well.
1. Go directly through the airlines
Many airlines offer stopovers for free or a nominal fee, it just might take a bit of digging to find out how to do it. You can find some information on airline websites, but often a call is necessary. While travel agents aren’t all the rage anymore, this is a time when one can come in handy. Travel agents know the ins and outs of the airline industry and will be able to tell you if stopping over in a certain destination is feasible. Keep in mind that national airlines are most likely the ones who allow stopovers in their home country. For example, Emirates Airlines cover UAE, British Airways cover London, Singapore Air covers Singapore.
2. Search multi-stop flights
If you’re having trouble finding an airline that will stop over in a particular city or country, you can often find a multi-city flight on a site like Kayak or BootsnAll’s Indie for the same price, or sometimes cheaper, than a one way or round trip flight. Flight prices are ever changing, and you never know when you can find that one crazy deal, so be diligent in checking all your options. If you can’t find a good R/T or multi-city flight, try piecing together a series of one way flights.
An online tool for finding stopovers
BootsnAll’s multi-stop flight tool, called Indie, allows you to craft up to a 25 leg trip and get an immediate, bookable price. So if you want to add a stopover somewhere during your trip, it’s quick and easy to build routes and get a price back right away, without having to wait to talk to anyone. Of course we also have experts at the ready to help you should you need a few tips.
Register for a free Indie account to start building, pricing, finding stopovers, and booking your trip!
Choosing smart stopovers
Many times a stopover is just an extended layover. Chances are when you’ve been searching for flights on whatever site is your favorite, you have seen that most long, international flights have a layover in a certain city. This is a good chance to make that couple hour layover into a couple day stopover. If you see that a flight to Berlin stops in Amsterdam for a layover, search that same flight but add an extra stop in Amsterdam. Many times the price is just a little more expensive, the same, and sometimes even cheaper! We’ll outline some real examples of this odd phenomenon below.
Below are some cities that make fantastic stopover options for those flying across the world, and we will give you multiple options on how to take advantage of these.
>> Discover ten things you should know about booking RTW tickets
A city that has been built out of virtually nothing in the past few decades, Dubai is a place that many travelers would love to see. The expense of travel here, in addition to it being out of the way, is the reason why most simply dismiss it. But there are ways to see Dubai without having to break the bank to do it.
Using the airlines to visit Dubai on a stopover:
If flying Emirates Airlines from most places in Europe to Asia or Australia (or from the US to elsewhere in the Middle East or North Africa), you may have a layover in Dubai. Emirates offers stopover packages and encourages its customers to stop in for a night or two and see the city. To book a stopover through Emirates, you have to visit a local Emirates office or go through a travel agent.
Using an online booking tool to visit Dubai on a stopover
The above trip cost $3521USD at the time of writing. The same exact itinerary without Dubai actually cost $79 more, $3600 at time of writing. Sometimes it’s a matter of just playing around and trying different route and city combinations. Remember that dates and days of the week (Tuesdays – Thursdays are typically cheaper) can change a price dramatically as well.
Things to do and see in Dubai on a short stopover:
You won’t be bored on a stopover to Dubai as there are plenty of things to see and do. Fancy skiing or snowboarding in the middle of the desert? You can do that in Dubai. If shopping is your thing, there isn’t a better shopping mecca in the world than Dubai. Want to see the world’s tallest building which also houses the world’s only (self proclaimed) 7 star hotel? Dubai has it. Desert safaris, beach fun, and just observing the lavish lifestyle of some the wealthiest people in the world are all on offer in Dubai.
A stunningly beautiful and unique country that offers an incredible array of landscapes, Iceland is usually not on the tourist radar, especially for those traveling on a budget.
Using the airlines to visit Iceland on a stopover:
Iceland Air makes it easy for tourists to check out this beautiful country, if only for a few days. Iceland Air offers customers the option of stopping over in their country at no extra charge. Look into flying Iceland Air and you can get a free stopover in Iceland to explore. They offer services to Iceland from Boston, New York, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, DC, Orlando, Halifax, and Toronto.
You can book an Iceland stopover online at Iceland Air. We searched a multi-city flight from Seattle to Stockholm, with a four-day stopover in Iceland, and the price at the time of writing was $870.
Using an online booking tool to visit Iceland on a stopover
We also searched the same exact flight, Seattle to Stockholm with a stopover in Iceland, same dates, on Indie. The price at the time of writing was $70 more at $940.
If you’re planning a longer trip and using Indie, you can sometimes add Iceland to your itinerary and save money, like in the trip below.
At the time of writing, the above trip was $2725. Taking Iceland out of the itinerary altogether actually made the price jump $385.
Things to do and see in Iceland on a short stopover:
If you’re into the outdoors, Iceland delivers a plethora of outdoor activities to keep you busy on your stopover. Vatnajökull National Park is the largest national park in Europe, where you can see mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls. The Blue Lagoon Spa is a geothermal spa in the middle of the lava field, certainly one of the more unique spa locations in the world. Ice climbing, glacier climbing, and hiking is amongst the most beautiful in the world, and the multitude of volcanoes creates a landscape like no other.
Travelers to Southeast Asia are used to great travel deals and rock bottom prices. Singapore is one of the places in the region that doesn’t subscribe to the same theory. While thrifty travelers can still get by on less here than in places like London and New York, it’s still not the same as traveling in nearby Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. But it would be a shame to miss this pristine country.
Using the airines to visit Singapore on a stopover:
There are many ways to stop over in Singapore, whether you are heading to Europe from Australia, vice versa, or from the US to various places throughout Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. For example, Singapore Air offers holiday stopover packages in Singapore for as little $59 for accommodations, return airport transfers, and free admission to major attractions.
If you go to the flight booking page and search a multi-city flight, simply add Singapore in the itinerary either going to or coming home from your destination. We searched a flight from Sydney to London, with a stopover in Singapore on the way there, with a cost of $2333. We also searched a round trip flight from Sydney to London, and the cost was about $50 cheaper, at $2283.
The real savings come from the hotel, transfer, and site-seeing deals Singapore Air offers once you get to the shopping cart page of your booking confirmation. Add the Singapore Stopover Holiday to the shopping cart to get packages as low as $59.
Using an online booking tool to visit Singapore on a stopover
Using Indie, we were able to find a round trip flight from Sydney to London, with a stopover in Singapore, for cheaper than what was offered on Singapore Air - $2253. Of course you cannot utilize the hotel, airport transfers, and site seeing discounts you can get from Singapore Air.
Kayak offered the lowest fare of all, through China Southern, for $2028.
Things to do and see in Singapore on a short stopover:
Beaches, culture, food, and shopping dominate a Singapore itinerary. The blend of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Arab cultures combine to create an interesting and unique country. If food is important to your travel experience, you’ll have no problems finding top notch cuisine in Singapore. Dining in fine restaurants is possible, but if you’re looking to eat amazing food at super low prices, hit up the street carts that litter the city. If you’re traveling with kids, the zoo and bird park would be great options, and the shopper will be in paradise, particularly if you’re looking for electronics.
>> Check out these indie travel tips for Singapore.
Tokyo never makes the list for budget friendly destinations, but it would make a fantastic stopover destination. This futuristic city should be seen by any travel lover, and it’s the perfect place to spend a few days en route to another destination.
Using an online booking tool to visit Tokyo on a stopover:
We did have trouble finding an airline that offered free or low price stopovers in Tokyo, but it is still possible to find a multi-city flight that stops in Tokyo for a few days for a slightly higher price than a round trip flight.
We found fares for multi-city flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Bangkok to Los Angeles on Kayak for $1083. A round trip flight from LA to Bangkok cost marginally less, $1022. The costs using Indie were a couple hundred dollars more at the time of writing (but airfares are always changing, so it pays to check all options before actually booking).
Things to do and see in Tokyo on a short stopover:
The most populated metro area in the world at 35 million, Tokyo has plenty to see and do while on a short stopover. The food in Tokyo is a major highlight for foodies, as fresh sushi and fish are available everywhere. Ornate temples, the Imperial Palace’s gardens, the Tokyo Tower, and the Meiji Shrine are great places to visit for those in town for a short time. If you want to view the impressive skyline, you have many options, but viewing from the World Trade Center building is perhaps the best. Even if you’re only in town for a day or less, it’s possible to take a cheap bus tour that originates from the airport. If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, you don’t have to go too far as there are mountains to the west and islands to the south.
>> Learn about saving money in Japan
It shouldn’t take any prodding to convince someone to want to visit London. It truly is one of the world’s great cities, and there’s no shortage of historic sites to see and things to do. For Americans, visiting London is brutal on the wallet. Not only is the city itself extremely expensive, but the exchange rate just adds insult to injury.
Using the airlines to visit London on a stopover:
British Airways offer stopovers in London on certain routes, but the catch is that you have to have miles with the airlines to do so.
Using an online booking tool to visit London on a stopover:
There are several ways to add London to your itinerary for a marginal cost.
Let’s say you were going to visit Barcelona for a couple weeks, but you wanted to visit some friends in London for a couple days on the way there. We found a multi-stop fare on Indie, New York to London to Barcelona to New York, for $991 (the same flight on Kayak was just a touch more, at $1010). A round trip fare on Indie from New York to Barcelona was $957. So for $34 more, you can add London into your itinerary.
To show you how much airfare varies from site to site, the same round trip flight (New York to Barcelona) on Kayak was nearly $100 cheaper than Indie, at $856, and $135 cheaper than adding Barcelona in. So the question you have to ask yourself in this specific scenario is whether or not it’s worth $135 to stop in London.
Like with many of the big cities highlighted in this article, you can often add them into a longer trip with little added expense, so if you’re planning a round the world trip, it pays to play around with your itinerary and see if you can take advantage of a good deal.
The above trip was $2397 at the time of writing. Taking London out of the itinerary on this multi-stop trip only saved $37, making the price $2360
Things to do and see in London on a short stopover:
Rolf Potts managed to cram in 19 London clichés in an afternoon, and while I don’t recommend seeing the city in the same frantic manner, using his experiences as a guideline would be a great idea. The usual tourist sites of Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, Big Ben, and the London Eye are all possible to see in a short period of time. If looking to see London on a bit of a cheaper budget, check out the museum options as many offer free admissions. Seeing a Shakespearian play at the Globe Theater is a fantastic cultural experience, and if you are a soccer (football) fan, there’s no better place to see a match than in London, home to many English Premier League teams.
>> Learn about free things to do in London
Many people add Turkey into their RTW itinerary, and while cheap, Istanbul is still considerably more expensive than destinations in SE Asia, South America, Africa, and other parts of the Middle East, so if you can’t add it in, there are options for spending a few days there while passing through to another destination.
Using the airlines for visiting Istanbul on a stopover:
If you can find a cheap way to add Istanbul into your flight plans, Turkish Airlines offer several free tours of Istanbul, even if you only have an afternoon or day to stop over. Best of all is that these tours are absolutely free! Turkish Airlines offers flights through Istanbul from the US to Africa; Europe to Africa, Asia, or Australia; and Australia to Europe, amongst others, but unfortunately they don’t have any advertised flight deals to add Istanbul.
Using an online booking tool to visit Istanbul on a stopover:
The above round the world trip cost $4103 at the time of writing. Taking Istanbul out from this RTW Trip actually added $49, making the price $4152.
Things to do and see in Istanbul on a short stopover:
If organized tours aren’t your thing and you’d rather take a few days to explore on your own, there’s plenty to see in Istanbul. It’s a massive city rich with history and is split into three distinct areas. Most of the sites tourists come to see are located in the old city. Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque are two of the most popular and historically significant sites that are must sees when in Istanbul. If you’re a market and shopping lover, then be sure to explore the vast bazaars located all around the old city. A visit to a hamam, or Turkish bath, would be a great send off to get you ready to explore your next destination.
>> Find budget accommodation in Istanbul
The following places are possible to visit on a stopover under the right conditions. Some are a little more difficult or will take a little extra planning, but if you’re motivated to see these places, you can do it.
The visa situation to visit Beijing for a short time may not be worth it to some. But if you want to scratch the Great Wall of China or the Forbidden City off your travel list, it’s possible to do both on a stopover to Beijing.
Even if you only have a half day layover in Beijing, there are tour companies offering Great Wall trips that can be done in about 8 hours. If flying from the UK to Australia or vice versa, or from the US to Hong Kong or vice versa, many of Air China’s routes offer stopovers in Beijing. There is a list of specials on their website (many of which include stopovers or long layovers) to check out.
On Indie, you can add Beijing as a stopover to a round trip flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong for about $100 more than the round trip flight.
Hawaii is a fantastic destination for any travel lover, and it really should be visited as part of a larger trip. But it’s expensive to reach, even from parts of the US, and it’s not cheap once arriving. But if you’re flying over Hawaii on your way to another destination, why not stop over for a few days to visit these pristine islands?
Getting here on a stopover is difficult (unless you have miles with American Airlines), but it can be done. Always be sure to check all your flight options, and you may be able to piece together a couple of cheap one way flights if passing over the South Pacific on your way to Australia, New Zealand, or another destination in the South Pacific or US.
The best way to work Hawaii into your itinerary is if you purchase a RTW ticket. This 7-stop round the world trip is actually $23 cheaper than when you take Honolulu out of the itinerary.
Choosing airfare and hammering out your itinerary can be a massive headache at times, especially if this is your first extended adventure. But options abound, and as long as you’re willing to do your homework, you can add in some amazing places for little or no extra cost.
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Have you ever used stopovers when traveling? Where were they? What did you do? Comment below and tell us your favorite stopover destinations.
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