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International Travel Advice (Read 656 times)

KMB


    Somehow I agreed yesterday to my DW accompanying her mother to a wedding in Bulgaria in September.  Having never flown internationally, I am looking for advice on how/where to book travel and reluctant to have either of them do it as I have witnessed the family Disney trip budget this summer spiral completely out of control.  Any global jet setters out there have some advice?

    2013 Goals:

    RTB Ultra Done
    BQ (< 3:25:00) Philadelphia 11/17/2013 3:21:45

    1666+ miles
    Rhode Island Road Runners


    3Days4Cure

      The web is a beautiful thing, and I'm jealous you get to go to bulgaria.

       

      Flights are easy, you can use standard airline websites/hotwire/orbits-- just shop around to make sure you get the best deal.

       

      Unless lodging has been specified, go to the travel/tourism website for the city you are visiting and/or look for some backpackers blogs about the city. Often you can find a local gem of a hotel that is much cheaper than an americanized institution. Be sure to ask for reviews and/or references if you go the local route-- I googled the name of the lodge and reviews and got a ton of feedback when looking at places in South America.

       

      I found my hotel in Ecuador that way, and spent pennies on the dollar to what others did and had an AWESOME trip.

       

      FYI, here are the USA visa requirements...

       

      Entry requirements for Americans: Citizens of the USA do not need a visa to visit Bulgaria for a period of up to 90 days within a six-month period. Passports must be valid for at least three months after entry.

      Chris

      2014 Goals 
      Raise $3,000 for the Komen 3-Day (and walk 60 miles in 3 days)
      Run at least one race

       

        My wife travels internationally all the time with her work and the biggest thing she preaches is that not all airlines are the same.  After several horrible experiences ( including sitting on the tarmac for over 90 minutes in Rome because they "misplaced their stewardess" ) she will never fly an Italian airline again.  Likewise it's not always the big name airlines that are the best.  She flew British Airways New York to London, London to Paris and London to Toronto last year.  On none of those flights did the movie player work.  Likewise, every time she flies Air Canada she has nothing but a great experience.   The flights are usually cheaper, on time, and everything works.  I know that doesn't apply to you because I doubt Air Canada flies from Memphis or wherever to Bulgaria, but the point is look into the airlines carefully.  A crappy flight will go a long way towards ruining the first few days of a trip.
        And who am I anyway?
        Just another fat jogger, evidently.
        KMB


          awesome - thanks!

          I dont get to go though... just dw.

          m-i-l was invited to wedding there and the invitation includes everything except airfare... she wont go alone so dw is the travel buddy.

          Boston is close so flight access is easy and it looks like air france has the cheapest one....

          the chance to spend a week abroad for only the cost of airfare seems too good to pass up

          recession - re-schmession

          2013 Goals:

          RTB Ultra Done
          BQ (< 3:25:00) Philadelphia 11/17/2013 3:21:45

          1666+ miles
          Rhode Island Road Runners


          Along for the Ride

            kayak.com is a great search engine. It looks on all airline websites and other big travel sites for the best deals. I personally have flown SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) for the last few years. I fly once a year to Germany. Judging by the occasional other flights on different airlines strewn in (availability, booked by my company etc.), SAS has the best and most consistent service and will always be my airline of choice.

            God luck and have fun!


            Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

            Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

             

            MrH


              Even if there is a direct flight to Sofia from your home airport, chances are it won't be that competitive as there won't be multiple airlines on that route. Flying to one of the major Euro hubs London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or similar and then taking a shorter flight to the airport you want in Bulgaria may be cheaper.


              Orbitz will give you a good handle on flight options and pricing; once you know which carriers are relevant going direct to the airline websites is a good idea too.

              The process is the goal.

              Men heap together the mistakes of their lives, and create a monster they call Destiny.

                Orbitz will give you a good handle on flight options and pricing; once you know which carriers are relevant going direct to the airline websites is a good idea too.

                 Agree - I went to Ireland recently and after painstaking comparisons, I found that booking directly (online) with the hotel and the airlines was cheaper than booking through expedia/travelocity etc. but it's useful to go to those types of sites first to get an idea of what the options are (routes/airlines etc.)

                KMB


                   Agree - I went to Ireland recently and after painstaking comparisons, I found that booking directly (online) with the hotel and the airlines was cheaper than booking through expedia/travelocity etc. but it's useful to go to those types of sites first to get an idea of what the options are (routes/airlines etc.)

                   the enigine showed the airline; the airline site beat the engine's rate...

                  the dilema.... its AirFrance.

                  my position is yes - book it - statistically, they are least likely to experience another problem.

                  2013 Goals:

                  RTB Ultra Done
                  BQ (< 3:25:00) Philadelphia 11/17/2013 3:21:45

                  1666+ miles
                  Rhode Island Road Runners

                  Pamphili


                    I agree with the above comment about kayak.com  It's a great tool, even when the prices it shows don't turn out to be actually obtainable.

                     

                     


                      Did the wedding party get a deal on the hotel for guests?
                      Make sure you tell your credit card companies you’re when, where, and for how long you are going overseas. I recommend getting a VISA credit card with (Penfed Platinum  or Schwab Signature) so you can avoid foreign transaction fees. I’m not sure what is best when it comes to getting cash in Bulgaria.

                      Other suggestions
                      -Buy a money belt
                      -Keep your ID/money spread out through your gear
                      -Copy your passport and all your important numbers (Embassy, home, medical, credit/debits cards) put this in your gear. I usually duck tape it in with plastic document covers.
                      -If you can travel light, do carry on only.

                      Saving Money?
                      -Buy food at a local market instead of eating out
                      -Snag food at the hotel
                      -See if you can rent a place for cheaper than the hotel or find someone to host you for free
                      -Search for deals before you go
                      - http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/travel/05practical.html

                      Trip Advisor
                      http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294451-Bulgaria-Vacations.html
                      http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294451-s601/Bulgaria:Banks.And.Money.html

                      Flights
                      http://moneyfortherestofus.com/2007/03/26/15-tips-for-cheap-travel-2b-how-to-find-cheap-plane-tickets/
                      http://www.vayama.com/
                      http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/10-useful-secrets-the-major-airlines-dont-want-you-to-know/

                      Visa Requirements
                      http://www.visahq.com/
                      Organize
                      http://www.tripit.com/

                      heh
                      http://www.vagabondish.com/8-tools-travel-long-term-live-rent-free/

                      Where to sit?
                      http://www.seatguru.com/

                      Power Traveler’s Checklist
                      http://lifehacker.com/software/hack-attack/the-power-travelers-checklist-part-one-pre+flight-311075.php

                       

                       MTA:

                       

                      Penfed Platinum Visa has a nice deal

                      Limited Time- 5.00% cash back on your first $4000 of airfare purchases per month.

                       

                      www.evreward.com --> great cashback searching tool (example Air France Search brings up this deal)

                      Vim

                      msl


                        I'm an American living in Europe ( Germany) for the past five years. I can help you out if you like. Although I don't live in Bulgaria, I can offer advice. Chances are the connection will be in Frankfurt. Look into Lufthansa airlines. Great service, great connections.

                         

                        If you need a hotel, I can highly recommend looking at  www.tripadvisor.com and reading all the ratings from other travelers.

                         

                        If Bulgaria is anything like Germany, many places ( shops and restaurants), other than in high tourist area, might not accept credit cards. Grocery stores here for example do not accept any credit cards.

                         

                        USAir has better in flight entertainment than United. Lufthansa has great entertainment as well!! Very important for a long flight as someone else pointed out.

                         

                        I do also agree with another poster...you might want to look at a flight directly to Frankfurt and then use one of the fantastic cheaper airlines here in Europe to fly into Bulgaria. ( I can help you with that!)

                         

                         

                        ok, enough of my 2 cents! If you want anymore suggestions/tips, let me know Smile


                        KMB


                          thanks modal and MSL - i have handed the baton to the actual travelers so I couldnt tell you where the logistics stand - I will share this thread with them though!

                          2013 Goals:

                          RTB Ultra Done
                          BQ (< 3:25:00) Philadelphia 11/17/2013 3:21:45

                          1666+ miles
                          Rhode Island Road Runners

                          jameslong


                            spam


                            Slow and Steady

                              Go here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Bulgaria

                              Eric S.

                              Trail Mix ||| dailymile ||| RA log

                              Goals: 50km, 50-miler, 100km, 100-miler

                              bap


                                My wife travels internationally all the time with her work and the biggest thing she preaches is that not all airlines are the same.  After several horrible experiences ( including sitting on the tarmac for over 90 minutes in Rome because they "misplaced their stewardess" ) she will never fly an Italian airline again.  Likewise it's not always the big name airlines that are the best.  She flew British Airways New York to London, London to Paris and London to Toronto last year.  On none of those flights did the movie player work.  Likewise, every time she flies Air Canada she has nothing but a great experience.   The flights are usually cheaper, on time, and everything works.  I know that doesn't apply to you because I doubt Air Canada flies from Memphis or wherever to Bulgaria, but the point is look into the airlines carefully.  A crappy flight will go a long way towards ruining the first few days of a trip.

                                 

                                I have a horror story about Alitalia flying between Rome and Zurich and I found it quite funny at the time.

                                 

                                The galley was on the left hand-side of the plane, opposite the last 5 or 6 rows of seats.

                                 

                                As we reached the Alps we ran in to extreme turbulence that had some people screaming and crying. Suddenly there was an explosion from the galley, at which point passengers became hysterical

                                 

                                What had happened was that the emergency dinghy, located outside the galley, had inflated as a result of the turbulence.

                                 

                                The dinghy rapidly grew in size, expanding along the aisle. One of the male flight attendants fruitlessly  jumped on it trying to stop it from expanding further. Another shouted "coltello" and two attendants picked up (metal) knives from passengers' food trays (we were still given metal knives and forks back them.)

                                 

                                They started repeatedly stabbing the dinghy, eventually bursting through causing another giant bang. More hysterical screams and tears.

                                 

                                I was hysterical... hysterically laughing at the farcical events! Of course the passengers at the front of the plane had no idea what was happening and were still screaming and crying in panic. One woman yelled out to her husband in Swiss German "I told you we shouldn't have flown Alitalia!"

                                 

                                There was no apology from either the captain or the crew, which was consistent with the airline's awful customer service policies.

                                Age 52

                                2016 Targets - 100 - 13.2s, 400 - 62s, 800 - 2:30, Mile - 5:40

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