Right now I sit here writing this early in the morning from Bali. I am on a three week vacation volunteering with IVHQ teaching English. I am doing this right before I go back home and switch jobs and move to another state. This is job one of life circumstances that have happened in the past year. However, I am hoping the new environment and the new job will allow me to have some additional free time to write more on my blogs.
As I sit here experiencing jet lag due to the 12 hour time difference from home, I thought I would let you in on a few of the travel secrets I have encountered and used in just the time it took me to get to Bali.
First, I would always recommend using a non-US based airline for overseas travel. They tend to have much better service, food, entertainment, and seats. There are a few exceptions to this but, I don't want to call any airlines out. Additionally, many of them offer a few perks, even for economy passengers, that you would never be offered through a US based carrier.
Here are just a couple of examples. For this trip I am flying Qatar Airlines and on the way to Bali I had a 8 hour layover in Qatar. Typically this would be the most boring thing in the world and I would consider paying a slightly higher price to avoid this. However, Qatar offers a couple of special things you wouldn't see with many other airlines. For example, for flights with layovers over 5 hours certain types of tickets include a free hotel room and this also includes the visa. You need to call the airline and ask them if your ticket is eligible. My ticket was not. They also offer a free city tour of Doha, in this case, and this is offered 4 times a day on a first come, first serve basis. I was able to take advantage of this.
The tour lasts about 2.5 hours and then you need to add in the time it takes to get through immigration and customs on both ends. This is why you can only do this if you have at least a 5 hour layover or more. The tour is not super in-depth but it is free and Qatar covers your visa cost. The bus does make three stops so you can take photos and walk around a little and you do get to go the Souk Warat and do a little shopping. However, we were only there for 30 minutes and there is so much great stuff there and places to eat. 30 minutes is not enough time for me to get my haggle on! So I only had time to walk around some and buy a couple of small things.
The guide was great though and pointed out most of the important buildings and talked about how the man-made island was created.
This tour was a great way to get out of the airport, for free I might add, and see another city you might not expect to or not really have on your bucket list.
Iss feedback on the city, I would say Doha is definitely a rich city. I don't think I saw a beat up car and almost every car I saw was a BMW or a Land Rover. We were downtown most of the time though.
Other airlines do similar things. I know Turkish airlines will offer a day tour if you have a 24 layover there or they will create that kind of layover for you so you can experience their city. Icelandic Air will do this as well.
So the next time you book you flights make sure you explore the airlines webpage and see what other kinds of perks you can take advantage of that might expand your global perspective.
More later as I explore Bali!