Extending Family Vacations with Layovers and Stopovers
Travel can sometimes be challenging for most of us who have a limited vacation time and budget but never-ending travel bucket lists. What if you could combine two vacations into one? How about stopping in London on your way to Madrid, or Honolulu on your way to Sydney? With some flexibility and creative planning, layovers and stopovers during family vacations can allow travelers to see more places for little or no extra cost.
Many airlines usually stop at their home cities (airport hubs) on their way to other destinations. These stops range from several hours to overnight. Why not extend your trips by visiting these cities for a few days instead? It beats hanging out at the airport with restless kids!
What are Extended Layovers and Stopovers?
We’ve taken advantage of extended layovers (staying in cities for less than 24 hours) to visit cities like Amsterdam and Paris for a day. Their airports were close enough to the city center with fast and convenient transportation options.
Many national airlines are happy to show off their countries. Tourists stopping over translate to money spent there. Some friends have taken free city tours in Singapore, Taipei and Istanbul during extended layovers.
We’ve used stopovers (connections of more than 24 hours between flights) and stayed for a few days in Japan, Iceland and Fiji before heading to our destinations or when going home. The cost to extend our vacation is typically good value because stopovers are usually either free or cost just a bit more.
For example, Icelandair offers free stopovers to and from Europe for seven days. Japan Airlines also offers free stopovers in Osaka and Tokyo. And Copa Airlines has a program that allows you to stopover in Panama on your way to or from any of their destinations.
These stopovers are a great way to break up the long flights and are especially helpful when traveling with kids or while battling jet lag. You can combine vacations to maximize your itinerary and budget.
Planning Your Vacation with a Layover or Stopover
Start with a travel aggregator site
Start your travel search with aggregator sites like Kayak or Hipmunk. See which airlines offer the best prices and look at the available layover cities. Redo the search with a multi-city or multiple destination option to piece flights together. Your fare may come out the same, a bit more, or even cheaper.
Go to the individual airline website for additional discounts
I then like going to each particular airline’s website. International flight discounts for kids 3-11 years old are usually also offered there. You may have to be somewhat flexible with your travel dates. Play around with various dates and times. Look for flights that allow you to stay overnight or ones arriving early in the morning and leaving late at night. Sometimes, I sort searches based on travel duration.
I looked up a sample booking from New York to Venice. The cheapest fare was on Turkish Airlines with an Istanbul overnight stay. However, for just a few dollars more, you could spend an extra three days in Istanbul.
Here’s another sample from San Francisco to Bangkok via Korean Air with an overnight layover in Seoul found on Kayak. Using Korean Air’s website, you could enjoy an extra three days in Seoul for just a little bit more money and see two exotic Asian cities in one itinerary and with a child discount.
Check for Stopover Packages
Check for stopover packages on airline websites. For example, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui usually offer packages that include lodging and free stops in Tahiti on the way to Australia or New Zealand. Singapore Airlines’ Stopover Holiday starts at about $50 per person at time of writing and includes accommodation and airport transfers. Emirates also offers stopover packages that include accommodations, breakfast and transfers in Dubai.
I focused on international destinations but this is also possible within the U.S. For example, check on overnight stays or extended layovers in Dallas or Miami for American Airlines or Philadelphia for US Airways. However, most U.S. stopovers aren’t free or as cheap as international routes.
Popular International Airlines and Their Hubs
See below for a handy airline list (though not comprehensive) and their city hubs to use as a reference. They’re worth looking into if you’re heading to a particular destination. These airlines may pop up in your searches and airfares don’t cost much more than other choices.
- Aer Lingus – Dublin, Ireland
- Aeroflot – Moscow, Russia
- British Airways – London, England
- Icelandair – Reykjavik, Iceland
- Lufthansa – Frankfurt and Munich, Germany
- Turkish Airlines – Istanbul, Turkey
- Cathay Pacific – Hong Kong
- Eva Air – Taipei, Tawain
- Japan Airlines – Tokyo and Osaka, Japan
- Korean Air/Asiana – Seoul, South Korea
- Singapore Airlines – Singapore
- Emirates – Dubai
- Etihad – Abu Dhabi
- Aero Mexico – Mexico City, Mexico
- Copa Airlines – Panama City, Panama
- Air Tahiti Nui – Papeete, French Polynesia
- Fiji Airways – Nadi, Fiji
- Hawaiian Airlines – Honolulu, Hawaii
Tips for Including Layovers and Stopovers on Your Vacation
Check layoverguide.com to see what you can or can’t do with the time you have at any given city.
Be aware of Visa restrictions especially if stopping in China or Moscow. Some Chinese cities allow 72-hour stopovers without visas including American and Canadian citizens.
Have you used layovers or stopovers to extend your vacations? Please share your tips and experiences with us in the comments below.
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