It’s July in the 20th century. Mr. Smith has worked hard all year. With his well-deserved paid holidays, he will be able to take his family to the South! The campground is reserved since last year, the caravan is filled with dried soups and noodles and tomorrow he will go take Daniel’s Vauxhall to begin the long journey on the motorway. Six months dreaming of barbecueing in the wild. Will the weather be good on the road? He turns the radio knob. The news host’s voice is dark: “Tomorrow, the motorways will be blocked due to the biggest strike in a decade.“. Oh gosh! They will not steal “his” holidays! Since when is July a month for a strike? Why is it the same day of his departure ? He calls Harriet, tells her to go get the children. No matter what, the departure will be… tonight!
While many employees are still forced to take short holidays and sometimes at the same time, flexibility is gaining ground. Independent status has developed in recent years, leaving to these courageous people the choice to organize more freely. They can improvise vacations in the event of a drop in activity, break them up in small chunks or work remotely during a trip, which will allow them to extend it.
Moreover, mobility continues to become easier, thanks to the Internet. Today, everybody gets travel information on the web, book their tickets online, and some even forget about paper maps and guidebooks.
Some avant-garde travelers, some of who embraced the slow travel philoshophy, go further, and do not settle any plans in advance. They travel according to the currents, and more concretely according to the emerging opportunities. Mo, a hitchhiker and couchsurfer friend I recently hosted, became an expert at this game. We were talking about travel in northern countries, known for being expensive. He told me that he knew how to get to Iceland from Poland for 9 euros! Now I am currently located in France, but I happen to have spent one month in Poland last September. For a wanderer, or at least for a traveler keen on doing a few steps, good plans are always within reach!
Let us take the example of Montpellier, France where I am writing this. While the city is well connected in summer to British and nordic cities, on the other hand it is generally impossible to go further east than Frankfurt using direct flights. Of course, the prices of correspondence flights, operated by conventional airlines such as Air France or Lufthansa, target business travelers and are unsuitable for private travelers (eg €400 frequently found at Air France for a purely European return flight). However, the smart individual will be able to extend his search either to direct flights from Marseilles, Carcassonne, Girona, Barcelona or Paris, or flights from Ryanair to Charleroi, Belgium, making it possible to connect to almost anywhere in Europe.
You will tell me that Barcelona is a bit far from Montpellier. Admittedly, the journey to Barcelona takes from 3hr to 6hr depending on the means of transport (TGV, carpool, coach) and from 19 to 60 euros. But isn’t Barcelona a beautiful and lively city, with countless opportunities for cheap accommodation, tapas, and lots of fun in the Barri Gòtic? One night in Barcelona is always a memorable one. No time lost, especially since I work on my computer, or learn Russian, during the ride.
That’s why, when I decide to travel, I build a tailor-made itinerary according to the opportunities for cheap flights, the opportunity to meet friends in some cities, or just to visit an unusual place. Until then, this required a lot of work using ticket search engines, and to remember the possibilities of routes. Fortunately, I now have a valuable tool, Calendoo: Cheap Flights Around which finds direct flights at the best price in a set of countries on an interactive map , thanks to Skyscanner’s API.
See, in this example, for the chosen date, it is very cheap to go through Bordeaux if you want to discover Croatia or Montenegro, with a ticket in the 20-euro range! You can search for routes from your country to another country, even from/to several countries at once … or even to anywhere!
These are not necessarily the absolute lowest prices, but the best prices related to the distance.
And when I find promising fares, before buying I import the schedules and details into the Calendoo timeline, to compare them. And finally, I select my choices and then I will buy them online, as I described in this previous article.
To sum up, even if Mr. Smith’s (or rather John’s) car is a symbol of freedom, today we can take advantage of a lot of opportunities from the Internet to be more flexible and mobile. To travel, but not according a defined program. To seize the opportunities, according to the events, festivals, meetings, and coups-de-coeur. A a word, to travel MORE! 🙂