Budget Travel in your 4o's and Beyond, and it's COMFORTABLE!!!

Wake Me Up, When I’m Famous: let’s be honest, we all like a little luxury now and then, some of us like it a lot more than that. I mean I don’t know when it will happen again but I’d love to take another first class international flight. The goal is Emirates.

Granted, even travel in business is lovely with the flat beds, champagne, and even the comfy jammies, but sometimes we are talking a pricing difference of thousands AND THOUSANDS of Dollars. I mean how can one justify a $12000 ticket versus an $1200 one…but then the champagne:

Qatar Airways Boeimg 777-300ER Business Class Product

Qatar Airways Boeimg 777-300ER Business Class Product

I wondered if I could do it. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I mean, a week-long European holiday, WITHOUT having to check a bag and for $850 or less. And that MUST INCLUDE plane ticket. Piece of cake…sigh.

To be honest even IF it could be done, I DIDN’T want to do it. I mean how could I get a week’s worth of clothes in a backpack? What about shoes?

But I did it. And now at the airport with my backpack on as well as three sweaters and two pairs of pants, well because …weight restrictions. #thestruggle

Two destinations were set for the week-long European Adventure. First up Amsterdam for 4 nights/4.5 days. We chose a budget airline as we just needed to get there as inexpensive but as SAFE as possible. We chose Norwegian. (pro tip: when using a NON US Carrier always use the airlines website in THEIR language and LOCAL CURRENCY. Use a Chrome or Safari if you need translation. This can save you anywhere from 25-50$ a ticket). During this time of year the JFK to AMS ticket was super cheap. I scored a one way “crazy ‘$99 Dollars to Europe for Winter” so yeah it was about $115. The flight is a little over 7 hours from NYC to AMS. You leave at midnight, arrive aroun 7am (ET) but it’s actually 1PM Local time, by the time you arrive at hotel it’s check in time, you can refresh and hit the streets. The money we saved on traveling, we made up with food and fun:

The Housing Situation: we stayed in a charming Dutch AirBnB for four nights at the cost of $145 a night / (72.50 pp), and it could realistically sleep FOUR. It was an entire apartment for half the cost of a hotel. Perfection!

Next up, London. We flew again. This time it was an hour long flight on British Airways, for the low, LOW cost of $30!!!! #WINNING! Stayed at an Airbnb that was $130.50 per night (65.25pp) for a decent size studio in a lovely area for three nights, and saw some friends and theater. Plus a little champagne of course:

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Then there was the situation of returning home. It was right before Christmas and NYC so we braced for the worst…which was about $170 via good old Norwegian once more for the win. As well as the Victoria Station bookstore where I picked up my book to read on the plane ride back, however I was so excited I decided to start the night before with a little night cap:

The perfect ending to a perfect trip….

The perfect ending to a perfect trip….

Summation for flights and accommodations :

Airline ticket JFK to AMS: $120. Carry-on ONLY. No more than 10 KG! (I wore a lot of sweaters that trip)

Accommodations in AMS: Airbnb $580/290 pp

AMS to LGW: Flight on BA $30.00

Accommodations in London: Airbnb $391.50/195.75 pp

Airline ticket LGW to JFK: $170. However this time I was allowed 12kg.

Total: $805.75 pp for a WEEK IN EUROPE!!!! It can be done.

BONUS: Nothing needed but a passport if you are an US citizen!!!!







Qatar Airlines from Economy to Business Class aka Started at the Bottom Now We Here

I’m not lucky, nor am I fortunate. I am a hard and diligent worker who takes chances, and have made sacrifices. I am not rich, or even well off. I am like the minority of Americans. No, not the 1%. The middle class poor…we make just enough to pay our bills and buy a pair of shoes at the end of the month, or maybe splurge for a night out at the movies.

Yet, there are the days when the flight Gods smile upon me, and says UPGRADE!!! One day it will be a first class seat but until then, Qatar Business Class will do nicely…thank you!!!

It has taken a couple years, a few thousand miles and dollars but I’ve done it. I’ve ridden the entire Qatar Airlines Business class international fleet. And it has been glorious.

First how I did it:

When I started the flight game I was a wet behind the ears pup of 37 years old. I had no idea about how points worked, and frequent flier what? Then I joined a FB travel group geared toward black solo travel, another more women centered, another for women 35+, and then another. THEN I lurked, and lurked and lurked some more. Just reading and seeping up the vast amount of knowledge as much as I could.

For my initial flight to Thailand I chose Qatar for three main reasons:

  1. flight time (was the shortest around 19.5 hours)

  2. Cost- the economy ticket was on sale via their website for under $600 (THAT’S STILL a steal)

  3. Even their economy class was touted as part of the Five Star Service so you better believe I tried it out as well.

The Cost:

First, the cost of a International ticket JFK to BKK Business class can run between $9G-10G. That’s right around TEN THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS. Is it worth that much? I can’t justify it in my mind, but I also don’t have THAT kind of money. If I did, I’d still look for a bargain but yeah I’d do it. Besides, business class tickets from the states to Asia are costly. I however need SLEEP. Seriously to lay down.

Is it cheaper to book three economy tickets. YES. But we all know me…so

Two weeks before my flight I got an “OFFER” email. It seems I could bask in the Joys of Qatar’s Five Star Service in their business class for the low low upgrade cost of $1200 for the 12 hour flight from NYC to Doha, and an additional $850 for the Doha to BKK. AND I could use all lounges and services for the entire flight. Qatar Airlines was the ONLY airline that actually let you utilize this privilege. Something they don’t do anymore, FYI.

Well $2150 was a bit too steep for me so I opted for the NYC to Doha portion. I was NOT disappointed. It was everything I thought it would be. It was a 777. The seating is nice and the flatbeds seem to be larger than the American standard business class seats.

My first experience was delightful. Ok it was fruitcaking AMAZING. I had to have more. The food, the amenity kit, the pajamas, and did I mention the food? I spent 12 hours not wanting for a single thing. It was Heaven, and I was spoiled.

From the Q Suites in the 350, to the 777 spacious layout, to the Grandpappy of em all the double-decker 380 with it’s on COCKTAIL LOUNGE. So NOT kidding.

(SLIDESHOW ALERT: and by slideshow it’s eight pics, just click on image to see next one.)

The Q Suites are my favorite as it gives you the ability to be private but also social, and great if traveling in a group/team for work or a family. I love the little privacy door. You can actually shut the world out.

The entertainment system on all flights is the ONYX system. I did not notice a difference in programming between economy and business class, as I have noticed on other carriers. And while award tickets can be a BEAST to book with miles, it can be done for about 70,000 miles, BUT THAT’S A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY.

More and more I find myself flying to Asia and Qatar being my airlines of choice. Maybe I can work out a LOLA special with them. I mean everyone needs to try Qatar Airlines at least once.