Layby Your Holiday
Layby schemes are by far the most helpful travel tip I have ever learned. Often times, being a student/part time worker isn’t naturally conducive to paying a few thousand dollary-doos for your flights and accommodation, not to mention chucking on travel insurance and then having to worry about food/tours/shopping. Especially if you live out of home already, and are still making the ridiculous standard wage for under 21s in some parts of the world (I’m looking at you, Australia).
The hardest part of all this is being young means you probably really really really want to travel and explore, and sate that desire to see the world, so it’s a little soul crushing sometimes when these things seem just out of reach.
standing on the rooftop of my hotel in LA 04/16
Layby schemes probably sound a little dodgy at first – I’ll admit skimming through a lot of fine print initially (skimming is a lot of effort for me, as I’ve never read T&C’s in my life) and feeling a little unsettled about the whole idea. However, it’s honestly turned out to be a gateway for me travelling internationally. Generally, the way it works is this:
Certain travel companies offer certain “deals” with certain airlines, for specific time/date windows. While it’s unlikely you’ll find the cheapest price this way, the prices tend to be on the lower part of the fare average, and are often even cheaper if you’re a student/teacher or meet other criteria. There’s rarely any other fees involved that I’ve found (maybe a $10 layby service fee), you just have to book by a certain time and pay a minimum deposit which is usually between $50-$200. You will then have until a set date to pay off the balance.
Other companies offer a similar service, however you are technically taking out a loan which is a lot more risky, plus it can be hard to have any sort of credit history when you’re young.
i got up hella early to take these btw 04/16
The Plus Side
You lock down your trip quickly, even if you don’t have all the savings just yet. If you book enough in advance, you can easily set an automatic payment in your bank account so that a portion of your paycheck is coming out each week. Once it’s paid off, you can focus the rest of your time and savings into other aspects of your trip.
Other bonuses are that you can sometimes layby accommodation, insurance and tours (including rail passes, etc) along with your flight. With careful budgeting, you can get everything sorted without necessarily having to eat buttered noodles and baked beans for all three meals over an eight month period.
In most layby schemes, there’s no interest, and no penalties as long as you get it paid off by the set date.
The Down Side
There ARE no downsides really, as long as you pay it off and are careful and responsible and all that, blah blah blah. The only real danger is in not paying it all off – you don’t get your deposit back in most cases, no matter how much you’ve put down. And the balance isn’t transferable to other flights/hotels/tours either.
Some of this depends on who you go through to actually book, as each company is slightly different. I’ve found that if you go directly through an airline, you are likely to have to pay everything off much faster than if you go through a travel agent.
That being said, travel agencies often aren’t quite as helpful if you’re laybying, perhaps because they don’t get the same commission for it as they would on flights booked outright. I’ve had both great and rotten experiences with different agents in the same company, so definitely feel comfortable enough to shop around.
Unsponsored List of Some Companies that Offer Layby (non-loan)
• STA Travel – my go-to – generally good service, and fares are great if you’re under 26 or a student/teacher!
• Student Flights – flights aren’t priced on the website, so get in contract directly with them. Same kind of thing as STA – u/26, students, etc.
• Qantas – great if they have a sale on, so keep an eye out!
• Jetstar – usually mainly domestic (within Australia) flights, with a really small window to pay them off.