For most people, flying is just a way to get from Point A to Point B. But, in some cases, you can add a vacation to your vacation before you even get to your final destination.
How? The secret is stopovers.
A stopover is exactly what it sounds like: a long layover (usually a day or more) in a city where you might otherwise just change planes and never leave the airport. More and more airlines these days are allowing you to build in stopovers to your flight itinerary for no additional cost. Many even offer stopover vacation packages, with discounts on hotels and activities in the stopover destination.
Here are a handful of places that make for a great stopover:
Out of all the airlines out there offering free stopovers, Icelandair is perhaps the most well-known and one of the most generous. If you're flying from the East Coast of the U.S. to Europe (or vice versa), you can build in a stopover in Reykjavik for up to a week for no extra flight cost. It's a great stopover option because it first of all helps break up your trip (Reykjavik is only about 4 hours from Boston), and secondly five or six days is a great amount of time to spend in Iceland.
How to book: This Icelandair stopover offer is heavily promoted/publicized, meaning it's really simple to take advantage of just click the Stopover tab on their website. They also sell stopover vacation packages if you want to book everything all at once.
Singapore Airlines also offers a great stopover program if you happen to be flying through their main hub. Stopover programs in Singapore usually include hotel rooms at discounted rates, airport transfers and sometimes deals on area attractions meaning you could have a nice holiday in Singapore for a highly discounted price. This stopover would be great on routes between Australia and Europe.
How to book: The Singapore Airlines website doesn't have a designated stopover tab, but you can find all the details by going to the Special Offers tab, then looking under the Hotels & Attractions in Singapore heading. You'll find links to stopover deals listed there.
If you've booked a flight on Emirates to somewhere in the world, chances are you'll have a connection in Dubai. If your layover is longer (or if you specifically want to build in a stopover), you can. Stopovers with Emirates include your choice of more than 80 hotels and resorts, airport transfers and more.
How to book: To learn more about Dubai stopovers, head to the Destinations drop-down on Emirates.com, then click on Book your stopover in Dubai. The actual booking process is a little more complex; you actually can't do it through Emirates. You'll have to book through an "appointed stopover agent," which you can find links to through the Emirates website. Booking this way will ensure you get the correct visa to enter the UAE.
Create your own:
The above stopovers are ones that are clearly marked and relatively easy to book on each airline's website. But other airlines can help you plan stopovers, too.
Air Tahiti Nui - If you're headed to New Zealand from the West Coast of the U.S., check flight options on Air Tahiti Nui. They often offer stopover deals on the island of Tahiti at no extra cost. In some cases, the hotel is even included. These stopovers are offered as promotions, however, so keep an eye on the Air Tahiti Nui website or give them a call if you're interested in a Tahiti stopover.
Japan Airlines - Building in a stopover in one of the major hubs in Japan like Tokyo is made a little easier by the Make stopover option when you're booking your flights. You can build in stopovers to your itinerary at no extra cost, but you'll have to make your own arrangements for accommodation.
Thai Airways - Especially if you're flying between Europe or Asia and the South Pacific, Thai Airways can help you build in stopovers in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai through Royal Orchid Holidays.
Have YOU ever built in a stopover anywhere in the world?
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