Step 3: book your flight
Working holiday visa approved? Check! Plane ticket? Hummm… Well, I guess it is time to seriously plan your trip. Until you purchase your plane ticket and have a definite departure date, it will not really “hit you” that you are about to embark on a journey to the other side of the world.
In my mind there are three types of working holidaymakers:
- The ones that only stay in NZ a few months:
- They usually book a return ticket, as they have something to rush home to.
- The ones that have a worrying family:
- They book an open return ticket to New Zealand. They can come back whenever they want within 12 months. Mum and dad are happy.
- The ones that have no set plans:
- They book a one-way ticket to New Zealand and will book their return ticket when they figure out when they want to come back and where they want to stop over.
The two latter options (open return ticket and one-way ticket) are worth exploring more. So, here is my take on it:
Open return ticket vs. one-way ticket
Open return ticket:
Unlike a regular return ticket, an open-ended airline ticket gets you to New Zealand on a specific date but has a flexible return date. Usually within 12 months of your departure date.
- It makes it easy to prove that you have a return ticket at the immigration desk.
- It reassures your family.
- Those expensive tickets get you loads of miles points.
- It is usually a more expensive option and may incur extra fees when booking the return.
- Your return ticket must be on same value seat or you will have to pay the difference.
- A return must be booked well in advance, forget about calling the airline one month prior to return and get a return ticket without an extra fee.
- You must take the same route to fly back so forget about a stopover in Thailand.
This is a regular plane ticket getting you to New Zealand at a set date. You will then be able to book your return ticket (one-way again) back home when you feel like it.
- It gives you total freedom on where to stop on your way back home. Many choose Asia or neighboring Pacific islands.
- It is much cheaper than an open return ticket.
- You can change airlines if the first one you took was crap or if another one is cheaper.
- No contract = more freedom!
- You will need to show that you have sufficient funds to purchase one when entering New Zealand. An extra NZ$1000 will be enough.
- Tickets prices may change.
- Your family may complain: “you will never be back”.
With pros and cons for both options, it comes down to your gut feeling. No one but you will know what will suit you the best. Remember, there is nothing more personal than a gap year across the globe. So go with whatever floats YOUR boat, not others.
How to book a cheap flight to new zealand
All right, that’s the big one, the big-ticket item: a flight from home to the small country of New Zealand. This will be the most expensive thing you will buy this year so let’s get it right. Here is a list of advice to follow to get a cheap international flight ticket:
- It is commonly admitted that buying a ticket six weeks to two months in advance is the best way to get a fair deal on your flight.
- Booking on Tuesdays, especially early morning, is recommended by many websites, as prices will increase for Wednesdays.
- Booking a flight that leaves on a Wednesday is ideal as mid-week flights are often much cheaper than weekend flights.
- Do not be afraid to mix and match airlines. There is no problem with flying with Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and then with Air New Zealand to Auckland, for instance. It can save you a lot of money!
- Watch out for extra fees, especially with credit card fees, meals, stopover and luggage.
- When you have found a bargain: call the airline directly!
- Get a Miles card. Those points can get you far! With a big-ticket flight like Berlin-Auckland, you will almost instantly get enough points for a national ticket for free.
Here is how I proceed to buy my flight tickets:
After watching prices for about two weeks following the advice above, I zero in on a bargain. No matter what website it is on, I call the airline directly to book my ticket with them. Two times out of four they will match the price. One time out of four they will beat it! You have nothing to lose in doing so. Best of all, airlines tends to upgrade passengers that book with them directly and are member of their loyalty program. I’ve been called a few times to be upgraded that way.