Perfecting the Stopover: How to Turn a Layover into A Playover
If you book flights online, you’ve no doubt noticed that itineraries with one or more connections are usually cheaper than direct flights.
Most airlines fly between destinations through one or several hub cities, following a “hub and spokes” model. For example, New York (JFK) is a hub for American Airlines and Delta Airlines, while Paris is the hub for Air France.
What if, instead of wasting several hours in an airport waiting for a connecting flight (known as a layover), you decided instead to explore a new city for a few days? You could cross one more place off your bucket list, while spending less on the flights than if you were flying direct.
Spending one night or more in a destination on the way to another is called a stopover. It’s a little trick that lets budget-savvy travelers visit two destinations for the price of one.
What are good stopover destinations?
While a good stopover is anywhere you would like to explore, New York City, Reykjavik, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore are all popular choices. Although they are expensive places to visit, stopping for a few days in one of those cities could give you a taste without spending a fortune.
Several national airlines offer deep discounts on hotel nights and attractions in their hub city through airline stopover programs. These programs also let you stop over for no (or little) extra airfare.
Stopover in Singapore
For example, Singapore Airlines gives you a hotel stay in Singapore, admission to over 20 attractions, and restaurant deals for as low as SGD 63 (USD 46) for your first night. If you’re planning to travel in Southeast or South Asia, multi-cultural Singapore makes a wonderful introduction to the region with its clean streets, delicious (and perfectly safe) street food, funky modern architecture, and shopping.
A trip to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland © Marie-France Roy / Budget Travel
Stopover in Iceland
Iceland has become immensely popular in recent years. Although it’s a pricey destination, some of the cheapest flights from North America to mainland Europe touch down here. Icelandair let’s you stop in Reykjavik for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. From the capital, it’s easy to arrange day trips to the geysers, glaciers, and waterfalls that make Iceland unique. Winter affords a chance to see the northern lights, while in summer the sun barely sets.
Stopover in Istanbul
Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline via Istanbul, a fascinating and very affordable stopover. Depending on your departure and arrival point, the airline may also give you a free hotel night. Let the bazaars, palaces, mosques, and museums dazzle you, but if you have a sweet tooth, don’t leave without visiting a pudding shop!
Other destinations with airline stopover programs include Helsinki, Lisbon, and Montreal, as well as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha on the Arabian Peninsula.
How to book a stopover
First, start with an aggregator such as Skyscanner or Kayak to see a selection of flights to your primary destination. Find those with the cheaper prices; they’ll likely involve a connection in another city.
If one of those cities looks appealing, do a multi-city search on an itinerary that stops there for one night or more. Note how the price compares to the original return flight price. Also do this search on the airline’s own website, which may give you the option of adding the stopover on its booking page.
If the new price is quite a bit higher, you may need to call the airline and ask if you can get a “free” stopover. The national airline of the stopover country is your best bet in this case (for example, Icelandair for Reykjavik).
While you’re on the airline’s website or talking to their agent, find out if they have an “airline stopover program” as described above, before making your decision. With enough time, you could even include two stopovers in different cities, one in each direction.
Another method is to fly to the stopover city with the national airline, and then book a separate flight on a discount airline to your final destination (or vice-versa). Make sure to check different date combinations for optimal pricing.
Columns inside the Blue Mosque in Instanbul © Marie-France Roy / Budget Travel
Why is including a stopover often cheaper than flying direct?
In the mysterious world of airfare pricing, several factors can explain this price difference, but in the end, it’s always about the airline wanting to fill those seats and maximize revenue.
Competitiveness is likely one of the main reasons. On international flights, only two airlines normally fly direct between two hub cities: the airlines of the respective countries. Meanwhile, several additional airlines link them with a connection through their own hub, increasing competition and making connecting flights cheaper.
Demand is also a factor, since many of us are often willing to take less convenient connecting flights in order to save money.
Five extra tips for saving money on your stopover
Tip #1: Find out if you need a visa for your stopover country. For citizens of US and Canada, many countries are visa-free or offer visas on arrival. Others have cheaper transit visas for short visits. China even offers visa-free stays of up to six days.
Tip #2: Try not to arrive late at night to facilitate transfers and avoid expensive airport taxi fares. Many cities have affordable airport trains or shuttles that run during the day and evening.
Tip #3: If you’re only staying for one night, look into a walking tour to get local insights and see as much of the city as possible within a short time. Some walking tours are “free” (tip-based).
Tip #4: Changing money always comes with fees, and figuring out exactly how much you need for a short stay is difficult. Some places like Reykjavik accept credit cards for everything, so you don’t need local currency. Research this ahead of time, but carry some US dollars that you can exchange in a pinch.
Tip #5: If you’re using a loyalty program to book a reward flight, you may still be able to add a stopover without spending extra miles or points. This may require calling an agent instead of just booking online.
Best Places to See Modern & Contemporary Art in NYC While MoMA Is Closed for Renovations
For art lovers who call New York City home or who visit frequently, the next few months are a good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is closed until October 21 for a $450 million renovation. That means that Van Gogh's "The Starry Night," Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie," and other iconic works of modernism are out of reach for New Yorkers for the next three months. But take a deep breath... The good news: When MoMA reopens, it will display more of its stunning permanent collection than ever before thanks to an additional 40,000 square feet. More good news: The renovation coincides with an overhaul of the way MoMA tells the story of modern art, which promises to be more inclusive of groundbreaking artists of the past 150 years or so who did not happen to be male or of European descent. A City of Galleries & Museums And one more piece of good news for those craving a modern- or contemporary-art fix right now: Even with MoMA temporarily closed, New York City still boasts an unparalleled array of places to see impressionist, cubist, abstract, pop, conceptual, and every other conceivable variety of “modern” visual art that has happened or is happening. Some of the world’s most successful galleries are either headquartered or represented in NYC. To see what’s cooking in the art world at this very minute, stop by: David Zwirner Gallery (537 W. 20th Street, davidzwirner.com), the Brant Foundation Art Study Center (421 E. 6th Street, brantfoundation.org), Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th Street, gagosian.com), or other galleries recommended by NYC & Company. Here, to tide you over till MoMA reopens, NYC’s "other" major collections of modern and contemporary art. The Met & Met Breuer The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, metmuseum.org) houses New York City’s largest art collection, ranging from ancient artifacts from Egypt and Assyria to a wealth of important work from the late 19th century through the 20th and beyond, including the eye-popping experiments of Monet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne. Contemporary photography is a fixture here, as are the immense, colorful paintings of modernist Ellsworth Kelly, and Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm." The Met Breuer (945 Madison Avenue, metmuseum.org) is devoted entirely to modern and contemporary work, a great place to see the work of 20th-century masters and also of living artists. The Guggenheim The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue, guggenheim.org) is as well-known for its unique spiral design, by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as for its great collection, much of it displayed along the winding, rising surface of the interior spiral. Don’t forget to look up at the incredible ceiling, and, through November 6, catch “'Defaced': The Untold Story,” about the remarkable work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Whitney The Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street, whitney.org) boasts a wonderful collection of 20th- and 21st-century American art, and visitors to NYC this summer can catch “Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s” through August 18 and the Whitney Biennial 2019 through September 22, spotlighting some of the most cutting-edge contemporary artists working today.
Where to Find Free Broadway Shows in NYC This Summer
This summer, you won’t have to visit New York’s theater district to get a taste of the Broadway action. Broadway in the Boros Broadway in the Boros releases musical theater talent from the confines of Times Square for a free lunchtime performance series. Starting this month, as part of the city’s fourth-annual Broadway in the Boros series, cast and musicians from eight big musicals will take the show on the road, making the magic happen in public plazas across the outer boroughs. The lunchtime series kicked off earlier this month in Brooklyn, with the critical darlings from Hadestown (nominated in 14 Tony categories and victorious in eight) partnering with the Mean Girls crew at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza. The Prom & LGBTQ Pride in Queens On June 28, for World Pride Month, representatives from LGBTQ hit The Prom and contemporary sci-fi musical Be More Chill will perform in Jackson Heights, Queens. “My district is home to one of the largest and most diverse LGBTQ communities in the nation,” said NYC Council LGBT Caucus chair Daniel Dromm, ”which makes this event’s official World Pride designation very fitting.” Beautiful in the Bronx & Beetlejuice in Staten Island The party continues in the Bronx on July 12, with numbers from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Wicked, and wraps in Staten Island on July 28 with newcomer Beetlejuice and long-running fan favorite Chicago rounding out the bill. (For the uninitiated, the free ferry from lower Manhattan to Staten Island offers great views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty, and the neighborhood of St. George has plenty to keep you busy once you reach the other side.) “The Arts Are For Everyone” Providing free entertainment far from the chaos of Times Square, the program aims to connect local communities – and lucky travelers too – with a hallmark of the city that’s often inaccessible to its broader population. “The arts are for everyone,” said Brooklyn borough President Eric Adams, “and the cast members, musicians, and cultural partners who make this series possible embody that ongoing mission.”
TSA Warning: Security Lines Are Going to Get Longer
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials are warning that an expected increase in airline passengers, and an insufficient increase in TSA staffing, will lead to longer airport security lines, reports the Washington Post. TSA Staff Face Difficult Job, Low Pay An expected 4.5 percent increase in airline passengers and a request for a 2.5 increase in staffing for fiscal 2020 equals headaches for both travelers and TSA staff. As we witnessed during the government shutdown earlier this year, TSA officers will continue to follow protocols, one passenger at a time, regardless of staffing levels or long lines, in order to maintain the highest standard of flight safety and security. But TSA officers are already facing other challenges, including some of the lowest salaries in the federal government (with full-time pay starting around $33,000/year) and some of the highest rates of turnover. Redeployment to the Southwest Border Another TSA challenge is the Trump administration’s proposal to move hundreds of TSA officers to the Southwest border to handle immigration duties, which could have an impact on airport security, especially during the morning peak hours of the summer high season, the Post reports. PreCheck May Get Slower Too TSA PreCheck has been one of the best ways to ensure an efficient trip through airport security, but even PreCheck may slow down as the TSA moves to make enrolling in PreCheck easier than ever, reports Bloomberg. TSA estimates that 9 million “high-frequency travelers” aren’t enrolled in PreCheck yet, and an additional 80 million travelers who fly at least once per year are also not enrolled. If the initiatve to add even a portion of those frequent air travelers to PreCheck succeeds amid TSA understaffing and redeployment to the border, even PreCheck lines will likely get longer. What Every Air Traveler Can Do Right Now Budget Travel’s advice for getting through airport security remains the same regardless of TSA staffing: Get to the airport with plenty of extra time, pack smart, and if you haven’t already started the PreCheck application, do it now. Learn the TSA’s top 5 summer travel tips, and pack your patience.
Visiting Rome: The New Rules You’d Better Know
Rome has introduced a spate of new rules and regulations to govern decorum in the city; cracking down on everyday behaviors such as the impolite ways in which people drink water from public fountains and banning people from dragging wheeled suitcases down historic steps. Managing the Strains of Tourism Rome’s new wave of rules are part of an Italian-wide measure to manage tourist strains on cities and curb anti-social behavior in general. With summer travel season now in full bloom, Rome city council has updated existing legislation that dates all the way back to 1946 with the objective of improving city life for residents and tourists. Don’t Jump in the Fountains (And Other Sensible New Rules) The new rules include penalties for those who jump into water fountains. Men are also prohibited from walking around the city bare-chested, while the popular tourist tradition of attaching “love padlocks” will incur a fine. Overly-messy eating around historic monuments is also forbidden and yes, that could mean it’s no longer possible to cool down with a creamy gelato on the Spanish Steps. How to Legally Drink the Water (Really) Tourists will need to be especially considerate about how they drink water from the city’s public drinking fountains, known as nasoni. Authorities have decreed it’s not acceptable for thirsty tourists to let their mouth touch the metal spout, instead they can cup their hands under the the spout or place their fingers under the stream to direct an arc of water to directly to their mouths like the Romans do. Cracking Down on Street Trading, Ticket Hawking, and, Um… Hanging Laundry? Illegal street-trading and ticket-touting outside tourist sites have also been banned, as has the age-old Roman practice of hanging laundry out to dry on clothing lines between neighboring buildings. Organized pub crawls and those who advertise “skip-the-line” tours outside historic monuments such as the Vatican are also banned. No Performing on Public Transportation Another regulation decrees that singing, playing instruments or busking on public transport in the city is banned. People are also no longer allowed to take prams or wheeled suitcases up or down historic steps, such as the Spanish Steps. How Will the New Rules Be Enforced? It’s still unclear how these new rules will be imposed or what fines people could incur if they’re caught breaking them. It has been announced that police will be patrolling historic sites, however, and tourists who behave badly could now be faced with a daspo, or temporary ban from returning to the area in which they caused an offense.