Air & Train Fare Price Checking

Here are a few lessons learned while planning my 2015 trip to Europe to walk the Camino de Santiago to research my upcoming book, SU CAMINO… and then to Ireland where Kathey and I would work on an article on traveling the B&B circuit. The plan included, a flight to Paris, train to Bayonne and bus to St. Jean Pied de Port, France, and then (following completion of the Camino) train from Santiago to Barcelona Spain for a flight to Dublin.

This was all easily arranged over the Internet using various travel companies to price check then going to the respective transport company to secure our fares. I use Expedia.com, Kathey likes Kayak.com and many of our friends have their favorite sites. Go with the one you get used to, though they all operate pretty much the same way and from the same databases.

Once you have found the lowest priced fares, go directly to that companies website to book. We found the Aer Lingus had the best rates and flight schedules for us. I’ve found this method removes any hooks that the travel company adds to your required service. The price is usually as stated on the other sites, without additional hassles or fees if you need to make changes. These days you normally get a ticketless confirmation number that you can print out or keep on your smartphone. Once at the airport you normally only need your passport to secure a boarding pass. Unfortunately, you cannot receive and print boarding passes in advance for international flights.

For train tickets in Europe, you can follow the same advice as for flights. Seat61.com, Raileurope.com and other sites will provide useful information and ticket pricing. Too, tickets can be purchased at one of those sites or go directly to the train company’s website and purchase. I used Raileurope.com to buy tickets from Paris Montparnassus station to Bayonne.

Safety Pins

Good advice for the long distance backpacker: A small assortment of safety pins weighs less than one nappy pin, and great for many other uses: draining blisters, mending broken pack straps and hanging damp clothes to dry from your pack or on a clothesline. In recent years I’ve witnessed the use of clothespins by young people from Asia. Not sure the connection, simply an observation. Clothespins are cute and retro. But, safety pins work much better: They come in different sizes, when closed they stay put on your pack, and are much lighter, if not adorned by animals. (Good thing I watch BBC America or I wouldn’t know what a “nappy pin” is.)