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My Situation on booking the flight

isawtman

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Hi Everyone

I am Todd from Wisconsin
I am 63 years old and I have a rather frail mother
that I watch over. She had an illness in August and
was in the Hospital and Nursing home for the whole
month of Sept. She's home now and is pretty much
taking care of herself.

I plan on retiring this spring and hiking the Camino Frances
in Sept 2022. Here's my question. What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I have hiked aplenty in the Midwest, etc.
But the logistics of getting a flight and traveling to a foreign country
is new to me. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.

Thanks, Todd, www.tmanshikes.com
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Buy your travel insurance right away after you book your flights. Look for travel insurance with a preexisting conditions waiver, both for you and close relatives like your mother. In order to receive the waiver you need to purchase the insurance within a week or two.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Hi! Welcome to the best Camino planning place around.

@trecile 's advice to get travel insurance with your ticket is important. You want insurance that covers your ticket if you or your mother become ill and you need to cancel. You should ask very specifically about the conditions, and which relatives are included. Usually the airlines offer insurance at the time you buy your ticket, but you'll need to look into the details more.

It isn't necessary to buy your ticket many months in advance. Sure, you can sometimes get better prices if you do, but if it is not critical to save a couple hundred dollars, don't be in a hurry. I typically buy mine 6-8 weeks before I will travel. I choose not to buy the cancellation insurance, but I always buy a ticket that can be changed, albeit for a considerable fee. Since Covid, many airlines allow a single change for free, but that might not be something that is convenient for your circumstances. Read the conditions that go with your ticket.

I don't know that it will necessarily be cheaper to fly to Madrid than to Paris. You will need to compare prices for the time you want to travel. If you go through Paris, consider buying a ticket through to Biarritz, France - you will need to change planes in Paris.

If you have any connecting flights, make sure that they are all bought as a single ticket, so that if the first flight is delayed and you miss your second flight, the airline will be responsible to get you to the ticketed destination.

As your planning progresses, feel free to ask more questions!
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Past OR future Camino
2019
What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.
Another option...although not a very attractive one if budget is a main consideration...would be to purchase a more expensive plane ticket which gives flexibility to make changes, either without penalty or limited penalty.
The lowest cost airfare gets 'bums on seats' but is really only suitable for people who can confidently travel on their chosen date regardless. In your case, that is far from certain. You could still book same dates, same route, same airline but take their 'fully flexible' fare for peace of mind.
Of course travel insurance is essential anyway but you'd have to be absolutely clear on the policy wording to ensure it would pay up in your circumstances.
Best wishes to you @isawtman & welcome to the world of international travel fine print! 🤭
👣 🌏
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I forgot to mention that I always use insuremytrip.com to compare and purchase travel insurance.

 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Past OR future Camino
2019
In my experience from Canada, a "fully flexible" ticket costs twice as much as a ticket with more limited flexibility.
Yes, definitely more expensive (mercifully not double, airline depending, when flying from Oz) but there are also 'steps' of fares between rock bottom & fully flexible...Todd may find one of them will give him the wriggle room he needs.
As he is an inexperienced international traveller, I'm just showing him he has various options in choosing what is best for his situation.
The fine print will be key!
👣 🌏
 
Past OR future Camino
2018
Hi Everyone

I am Todd from Wisconsin
I am 63 years old and I have a rather frail mother
that I watch over. She had an illness in August and
was in the Hospital and Nursing home for the whole
month of Sept. She's home now and is pretty much
taking care of herself.

I plan on retiring this spring and hiking the Camino Frances
in Sept 2022. Here's my question. What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I have hiked aplenty in the Midwest, etc.
But the logistics of getting a flight and traveling to a foreign country
is new to me. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.

Thanks, Todd, www.tmanshikes.com
Hi Todd. I pretty much just fly United because of where I live in Colorado. There are RT flights from MKE to MAD right now for $1269 in basic economy. A fully refundable economy seat is $1649. That $400 difference sounds pretty reasonable to me. I have always had travel insurance--mostly for evacuation--and although there might be a policy that covers your situation, it's probably unlikely.
 
Past OR future Camino
2018
Hi Todd. I pretty much just fly United because of where I live in Colorado. There are RT flights from MKE to MAD right now for $1269 in basic economy. A fully refundable economy seat is $1649. That $400 difference sounds pretty reasonable to me. I have always had travel insurance--mostly for evacuation--and although there might be a policy that covers your situation, it's probably unlikely.
Oh, and the dates I checked were 9/1 to 10/10.
 

Phoenix

Generic member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Another option to consider is to fly to the least expensive major European city (flight cost) then use regional carriers to get as close as possible to your starting point.

For example: for where I live (Colorado), right now that would be London (via Google flights), which is appx $750 RT vs $300-$500 more to fly to Paris or Madrid. Then I would hop on a regional carrier to Spain (typically less than $100), then a bus or train ride to the starting point. This approach has saved me hundreds since 2014. I do not mind the extra time (usually no more than a day overall per trip), but for others, I understand that simplicity and direct flights are worth more than the additional $ cost. In addition, by planning my trips this way, I usually get to add a day or so in a new or favorite city either going or coming home.

Buen Camino
 
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Corned Beef

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VDLP 9/2022
Don't forget to factor in CV19 checks. Some countries will require you to have a vax certificate just for transit through their airports. This is the situation for London (a major hub for US flights). So your vax status will come into play


Personally I prefer direct flights into the country rather than transiting.
 

isawtman

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I would probably fly out of Chicago Ohare.
I checked the rate for next week on Kayak.com
and it seems there are flights in the $350 to $600
price range. So, maybe I don't have to worry about
getting the ticket too far in advance. But then again,
Sept is a lot different than Nov.
 
Last edited:

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
@isawtman, my wife found new restrictions on some insurance policies when she was shopping for cover recently for travel to Europe next year. Some companies will no longer cover return travel for death of family members over 85 years old. It does pay to check that the cover you buy doesn't have any 'nasties' in the fine print.
 
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Hi Todd. it is good to read what you say about minding your mother. What goes around, comes around. I too had some opportunities to mind both my parents, when they needed me.
Already, you have the wisdom of above posters in relation to your questions.
Here, I kick in with the cynic in me. A young friend worked with an insurance company, and she saw how the first line of attack is: refuse benefits.
I am aware this is anecdotal. Therefore, I can only underline what is clear in all recommendations: take a huge magnifying glass to the fine print.
It is so much more of an investment for those of you living at greater distances on the circumference from Santiago... I wish you well and hope your mother is thriving!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
Portuguese/Finisterre 2018, 2019
Just returned from 8th Camino and here is my 2 cents:
1) Agree with all the advice on travel insurance; get it when you buy your flight (technically you generally have a small window to cover pre-existing conditions.) I buy it in case I get injured or sick so that I can get home. When I had a frail father, I think that most policies excluded him because of age or pre-existing conditions, but I would always buy travel insurance for this type of trip.
2) I am not familiar with your airport, but if cost is an issue look at airports nearby. I am in Florida and pre-COVID the flights from my city were 2.5 the cost of flying direct from Miami to Madrid. Its a 5 hour drive but it takes almost that long to get to my airport and fly there.
3) Be careful booking the basic fare unless you don't want to pick your seat and/or check a bag. You will need to check your poles.....please lets not start this debate. It is clear on the TSA site that hiking poles are not allowed and yes some get away with it....but its a risk.
4) Remember that while you many of the fares are changeable, you have one year from THE DATE YOU BOOKED THE TRIP, not the date of the trip. This has tripped me up a couple of times.
5) While COVID testing is still going on, I would not book a flight that transits through another country. Just might (or might not) complicate things.
6) I have flown through Paris and Madrid. The Madrid is usually way cheaper for me, so that's the way I go. It is really nice if you can fly into Biarritz and book Bouricott Transport to get to SJPdP. Otherwise, a bus or train through Pamplona or a train to Bayonne from Paris, they are all gonna take some time.
7) While I dont book anything on the site, ROME2rio.com can be helpful in figuring out your travel options.

Good luck....prayers for your mother and yourself.
 
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TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
Right now most of the Delta main cabin flights I’ve taken or checked lately come with changeable but not refundable fares. Might be worthwhile if you know you’ll reschedule if you have to cancel. I think they are changeable through 2022.
 

EL LECHERO

Friends no Strangers
Past OR future Camino
2008
Hi Everyone

I am Todd from Wisconsin
I am 63 years old and I have a rather frail mother
that I watch over. She had an illness in August and
was in the Hospital and Nursing home for the whole
month of Sept. She's home now and is pretty much
taking care of herself.

I plan on retiring this spring and hiking the Camino Frances
in Sept 2022. Here's my question. What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I have hiked aplenty in the Midwest, etc.
But the logistics of getting a flight and traveling to a foreign country
is new to me. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.

Thanks, Todd, www.tmanshikes.com
Yes, travel insurance is a must for peace of mind. Also, I buy my plane ticket that make my travel as convenient as possible. You can find some great deals but 3 stops and 2 days later you are where you need to be. Is that worth it for a trip of a life time?
 

RRat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
Hi Everyone

I am Todd from Wisconsin
I am 63 years old and I have a rather frail mother
that I watch over. She had an illness in August and
was in the Hospital and Nursing home for the whole
month of Sept. She's home now and is pretty much
taking care of herself.

I plan on retiring this spring and hiking the Camino Frances
in Sept 2022. Here's my question. What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I have hiked aplenty in the Midwest, etc.
But the logistics of getting a flight and traveling to a foreign country
is new to me. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.

Thanks, Todd, www.tmanshikes.com
The insurance recommendation might be a good idea but in your case I would stay away from budget flights that lock you in. Purchase your tickets directly with the airline and make sure they are modifiable. Compare the cost with insurance. Most insurance companies reimburse you after you justify your action to them. Wherr you are at the mercy of their definition of an emergency. Additional note: The bus station in Pamplona is underground with no obvious markings at ground level. I wandered all around a pill box of a building with an escalator going down not realizing it was the entrance to the bus station. Finally I saw a bus barreling down the street and dip down into a tunnel which gave very the clue to try the escalator.
 

TMcA

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
Lots of good advice already. My two cents...

Try to imagine all the conditions under which you might be forced to come back to help your mother. Then scrupulously read the terms and conditions of the various insurance policies to determine which choice, if any, covers all (or maybe most) of these conditions. With a frail mother, your tipping point to decide to come home is going to be vastly different from the more catastrophic types of things (heart attack with hospitalization resulting, broken neck with surgical repair - case of my son, etc.) that are the more typical justifiable events from the standpoint of insurers.

Following my advice is going to be a slog...it is really hard to drill down into the nits and grits of the coverages. But your situation is, I believe, atypical.

Good luck. And good health to your mother.

Tom
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Here's what I would do:

Fly as direct as possible (Madrid). Avoid transit countries.
Book a cheap hotel and explore Madrid 1-2 days. Will take away the jetlag.
Take train to Pamplona. Important: All persons +60 are entitled to buy a Gold Card (Carta Dorada) for 6 euros. It will give you 25% (!) discount on all train travels (Edit: In Spain) for a whole year. Good to have for going back from SdC to Madrid. You buy it at the rail station and then you buy the ticket.
Pamplona-SJpdP: Several options.

Buen Camino!
 
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Amused212

Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Hi Todd. it is good to read what you say about minding your mother. What goes around, comes around. I too had some opportunities to mind both my parents, when they needed me.
Already, you have the wisdom of above posters in relation to your questions.
Here, I kick in with the cynic in me. A young friend worked with an insurance company, and she saw how the first line of attack is: refuse benefits.
I am aware this is anecdotal. Therefore, I can only underline what is clear in all recommendations: take a huge magnifying glass to the fine print.
It is so much more of an investment for those of you living at greater distances on the circumference from Santiago... I wish you well and hope your mother is thriving!
It is, sadly, useful to keep in mind when buying insurance that the primary goal of insurance companies is to make money so there is a indeed a tendency to refuse benefits or make it very difficult to approve claims. Others have advised taking a magnifying glass to the fine print on policies - do it and work with an agent who can help you find what you need. Definitions are tricky. I bought pricey coverage for a trip to Egypt and Jordan. We landed on their "Day of Rage" during the Arab Spring and weren't even allowed out of the airport. Everything for a 3+ week vacation had to be cancelled, including flights, and not everything was refunded. Our insurance paid nothing. Not a cent. Why? While I thought it would be covered under trip interruption/cancellation it was not. They don't cover civil unrest. Apparently I didn't read the fine print.
 

Faye Walker

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I guess I am more worried about buying the ticket early and
not being able to go. Once I fly over to Spain, I'm not that worried
about flying back early. If my mom dies suddenly, then we will just
have the funeral when I get back.

I think that what you are saying is that it's not the money in particular, but anticipatory grief about a lost opportunity and the other loss involved. I shall hope for you not to suffer either of those losses, and to have your camino.
I have a frail mother as well, and she has ordered me that if I am ever travelling when she passes, that I am not to come home. She says, "I won't be any more or less dead. So just finish your journey and then dispatch me."
And I never leave her without immediate family in my stead (my spouse). I am sure you will have everything in place when you go... I shall just say my words to the winds that you may make your journey...
 
Last edited:

lisagb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Todd! I can feel your concern. My mom is a healthy 83 however anything can happen and I did part of the Way of St James this fall. I got a fully refundable rebook-able, and changeable (up to within 24 hours of departure) ticket with Air France and I had to change it several times with no problems. Perhaps get insurance too although I did not. I am sure your mom wouldn’t want you to stop your life for her and most places on the camino have wifi so you could WhatsApp video with her if she has a cell phone or iPad (I did this with my mom and she really enjoyed it). Best of luck to you. Lisa
 

Mayoracer

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(May, June 2020)
I guess I am more worried about buying the ticket early and
not being able to go. Once I fly over to Spain, I'm not that worried
about flying back early. If my mom dies suddenly, then we will just
have the funeral when I get back.
My husband and I just walked in Sept and Oct. When we were on the trail our flight home was cancelled. Iceland Air refunded our money but we were worried how much it would cost us to book another flight on ~2 weeks notice. It ended up being way cheaper for us. I know that is not always the case but if you're flexible and traveling single you have more options. Supply and demand also works into the equation though. When we flew, the US was not allowing tourists due to Covid. Next fall Europe could be a popular destination.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Another option to consider is to fly to the least expensive major European city (flight cost) then use regional carriers to get as close as possible to your starting point.
That is the situation where you can have problems if you have not booked all flights on the same ticket. Airline #1 cancels/changes your flight, or it is late, so you miss the separately-booked flight. Airline #1 does not owe you anything related to the second flight unless it was booked on the same ticket.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Hi Todd,
I did have travel insurance when I had to return home early from Spain in the summer of 2019 for a family emergency. There was a lot of paperwork I had to file afterwards, but eventually I did get reimbursed. It took several months. I had to get notes signed by my family member's physician that said I was needed at home, etc. I had to pay for my return flights and other expenses out of pocket and then file for reimbursement. Because I flew back to my parents' home city and not to my own, they would not cover all of that cost, but it was still better than losing the whole amount.

I have flown both "discount" flights and also purchased tickets that were refundable. Even though the cost is higher, I am now moving solely toward the refundable/changeable route. They are more expensive, but because we have made frequent visits to Spain over the last six years, I sometimes find I'd like to or need change my plans. My mother is also experiencing multiple health issues so this year I did not go to Spain at all.

This year we booked a "cut rate" for my husband from Denver to Madrid on Air France and could not make any changes without hours on the phone--there was no mechanism to change flights online. He was hung up on multiple times while waiting, etc. They also cancelled his return flight without explanation and booked him on a return that took him more than 24 hours of travel rather than the more direct flight he originally had. We won't be flying with Air France again. I've also flown Iceland Air and Norwegian (both without difficulties or issue.)

I wish you the best on your journey and also wish the best for your mother. Ultimately I would chose a flight that is booked through a major airline that was as short as possible to reduce the wear and tear on my body. You will make the decision that is best for you.
Janet
 

Phoenix

Generic member
Past OR future Camino
2022
That is the situation where you can have problems if you have not booked all flights on the same ticket. Airline #1 cancels/changes your flight, or it is late, so you miss the separately-booked flight. Airline #1 does not owe you anything related to the second flight unless it was booked on the same ticket.
Thanks for your thoughts.

Since most of the regional flights are relatively inexpensive (< €100) compared to the typically much higher cost of direct flights, I think of it as a small gamble (part of the adventure). Works for me, but guess it's not for everyone...
 
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pjacobi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
How did you acquire your hiking skills? Did you start at 500 miles for your first hike? More likely is that you spent years making lots of small hikes and gradually learning and improving your hiking skills.

Travel skills are the same way. Take a trip to London as your first introduction to international travel. Next, plans a trip to country where English is not the native language. These trips might take several years to accomplish, just like you practiced your hiking skills for many years.

Learning travel skills might delay your Camino, but will result in a much better experience.


-Paul
 
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Walton

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
My only advice after reading what everyone else said, would be to disclose all your and your mother's medical conditions, ages etc to your selected insurance company before you insure and pay and then if they agree to insure you for cancellation, get something from them that is in writing.

In the past, I have submitted medical reports to travel insurance companies to make sure that I'm covered for medical expenses. For me, losing an airfare would be a minor expense than say a two week stay in hospital somewhere, although I'd rather not lose anything other than the insurance premium.

In my experience, insurance companies are real quick in taking your money but when it comes to paying out...they will immediately start looking for a loophole or wording out.

Verbal confirmation by them doesn't cut it if there is a later dispute. The wording of their policy and their written communications are the important things.

The other option is to make some kind of provisional arrangements, should something happen just before or after your departure. Perhaps there is an aged care office, or another relative who could stand in your place while you are on your Camino?

I have a 96 year old dad and being 70 myself, my own Camino walking window of health and fitness is rapidly closing esp. as we have effectively lost two years due to this darn pandemic. Dad could live independently, hopefully another five years or more and our age as it is, means that we can't wait.

I have had a chat with my dad and he understands and supports this..

Best for you
 

auburnfive

Active Member
I kind of work this from a different angle. I’ve done lots of travel over the past 15 years. Although I always make sure I’ve got plenty of health insurance to cover any health situation I don’t get trip cancellation. The cost is significant , and I figure if something happens then I will just take the loss or pay for an extra ticket home. I’ve saved a bundle over the years, so it will balance out. Maybe just lucky so far. but have never had an issue. Even with Covid, everything I had was credited or reimbursed, even my uninsured Airmiles trips.
If this is your first foray though, and with an ill mother I can understand why you’d want to be more cautious
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for your thoughts.

Since most of the regional flights are relatively inexpensive (< €100) compared to the typically much higher cost of direct flights, I think of it as a small gamble (part of the adventure). Works for me, but guess it's not for everyone...
This rationale works best on the way into Spain, but on the way out of Spain, if your regional flight is delayed or cancelled you’ve got a much bigger problem. I remember once in the Madrid airport when a young traveler missed her flight to the US because the regional flight from Athens to Madrid was late (on a separate ticket). Not only did she lose her ticket home, but she also had to buy a last minute one way ticket to the US, which was, she said, more than she had spent on her round trip ticket to Madrid. Staff was sympathetic and polite but wouldn’t budge.

So if your cheap Madrid-LHR (or wherever) flight gets cancelled or is delayed you will have a much bigger loss than the cost of the regional flight.

Hope that never happens to you!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Take train to Pamplona. Important: All persons +60 are entitled to buy a Gold Card (Carta Dorada) for 6 euros. It will give you 25% (!) discount on all train travels (Edit: In Spain) for a whole year.

But you can often buy a train ticket in advance online for even less than the Tarjeta Dorada, which you can't buy and use until you are in Spain, so check the train prices early. I use RailEurope.com to search for the tickets, and if they are not yet available I can set up an alert to be notified when they are. I then book the train tickets right away for discounted fares.
 

Walton

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
This rationale works best on the way into Spain, but on the way out of Spain, if your regional flight is delayed or cancelled you’ve got a much bigger problem. I remember once in the Madrid airport when a young traveler missed her flight to the US because the regional flight from Athens to Madrid was late (on a separate ticket). Not only did she lose her ticket home, but she also had to buy a last minute one way ticket to the US, which was, she said, more than she had spent on her round trip ticket to Madrid. Staff was sympathetic and polite but wouldn’t budge.

So if your cheap Madrid-LHR (or wherever) flight gets cancelled or is delayed you will have a much bigger loss than the cost of the regional flight.

Hope that never happens to you!

Sometimes, it is worth seeking the services of a licensed travel agent because there may be connection solutions that airline websites don't feature.

Quite often we buy a ticket with an airline, and then buy a connection ticket with another airline. Each airline is unaware of the other. You arrive late and miss your connecting flight, you do your dough normally.

It is very complex, but often airlines have interline agreements with each other and depending on your proposed itinerary, there may be a fare which combines both tickets into one. That means if you do miss a connection because the first airline arrives too late, then the second airline would be aware and most likely reschedule you on the next available flight.

By all means, do your research first and then perhaps a travel agent to price your intentions. That way you can compare before you book and pay.

Cheers
 
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Past OR future Camino
2019
In September Icelandair cancelled my flight from Minneapolis to Madrid with two weeks notice -- and promptly refunded everything. I then bought a (refundable!) ticket from American Airlines using Alaska Airlines miles. This ticket was much cheaper than the 9 month-earlier Icelandair fare. I took the train from Madrid to Pamplona. Easy. I had to return earlier than scheduled and it just took 5 minutes on the phone to Alaska Airlines, calling toll free from Spain, to change my ticket. In Madrid on my return I stayed 2 nights at OK Hostel so I would have plenty of time to get the PCR test required to re-enter the US. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the OK Hostel. I have stayed in many hostels, It is among the best. Also, Aloha Hostel in Pamplona was delightful. Also, having taken the metro several times from the Madrid airport downtown, I must say the standard 30 euro taxi fare is worth it. Buen Camino
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Quite often we buy a ticket with an airline, and then buy a connection ticket with another airline. Each airline is unaware of the other. You arrive late and miss your connecting flight, you do your dough normally.
Such tickets are not true connections, but completely separate, and as you said, if you miss flight B because flight A was late, you have no recourse except to purchase a new ticket.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
@isawtman - I hope all this advice is not overwhelming, since you were concerned about your lack of experience in international travel.

I suggest that you investigate all of the above, but not worry about buying a ticket until at least May or June 2022. By that time, hopefully the travel industry will be somewhat back to normal, and some of the Covid complications will be gone or at least stabilized, and you will be more comfortable with ticketing options.

I always buy my ticket online, on the website of a major airline, and I buy the entire air ticket on a single transaction, choosing from the connections that the airline offers. Flying straight into Spain (Madrid), rather than transiting through another country would eliminate some potential issues.

Pick one or two of the major airlines that are convenient for you, and experiment with their websites. You will see the various options. These will undoubtedly change in the next 6 months, but you will become more familiar with how it works and what the pricing trade-offs are.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I always buy my ticket online, on the website of a major airline, and I buy the entire air ticket on a single transaction, choosing from the connections that the airline offers.
I do the same, and would never consider purchasing a ticket from a third party. They often advertise low fares or prices from $XXX, but when you actually go to book the flight those cheap fares disappear.
And, if you do buy from an online ticket seller (they aren't really agents) if you have any issues at all you have to deal with them, and most have very little staff to deal with customers.
Bottom line only buy direct from the airline!
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
This rationale works best on the way into Spain, but on the way out of Spain, if your regional flight is delayed or cancelled you’ve got a much bigger problem. I remember once in the Madrid airport when a young traveler missed her flight to the US because the regional flight from Athens to Madrid was late (on a separate ticket).

So if your cheap Madrid-LHR (or wherever) flight gets cancelled or is delayed you will have a much bigger loss than the cost of the regional flight.
I allow a couple of extra days in Madrid on the way home. I can always find interesting things to do in Madrid and so this strategy let's me explore a great city while not having to worry about delays on internal flights/train or bus trips into Madrid.
 
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MikeyC

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
Just a reminder that insurance companies price for risk. They rely on the applicant to fully disclose all facts so that they can price for any particular risk. That's why insurance contracts are considered to be of "Utmost good faith" (uberrimae fidei). It's not just a good idea to disclose all required information but a contractual requirement. Non disclosure will void your policy.
 
Past OR future Camino
Many and many more.
I fly sufficiently to be singled out by Greta Thunberg, so my annual travel insurance is a ‘cost of living’ expense and I ensure that every question on the renewal form is answered fully and accurately.

For single trip cover if the possibility of the passing of an aged or unwell relative is uppermost in your mind, I’d suggest looking at it a little differently.

If a long way from home, and without the benefit of reciprocal health-care benefit from your government a primary consideration is personal illness, incapacity and - in an extreme case - medical repatriation. That needs covering.

As to aged relatives - especially if they have a significant medical condition - often this will be excluded from standard travel insurance. The cost of adding cover will be most likely greater than the cost of sorting out the problem for yourself.

If you want to hedge your bets, you could instead put the cost of the additional premium into a one-off life assurance policy in the name of your relative. It may seem to be in bad taste, but life insurance is a business and that’s what it does.
 

Julio Rivera

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Camino Inglés, Camino Portugués, Camino Primitivo, Camino del Norte, Camino Aragonés
Hi Everyone

I am Todd from Wisconsin
I am 63 years old and I have a rather frail mother
that I watch over. She had an illness in August and
was in the Hospital and Nursing home for the whole
month of Sept. She's home now and is pretty much
taking care of herself.

I plan on retiring this spring and hiking the Camino Frances
in Sept 2022. Here's my question. What precautions do I have to
take to book my flight, so if I need to cancel I can do so without
losing a bunch of money. I have hiked aplenty in the Midwest, etc.
But the logistics of getting a flight and traveling to a foreign country
is new to me. I need to be ready in case something happens with my mom
and I need to cancel my flight.

From what I am seeing, I would be taking a flight from Chicago to Madrid then
a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then a bus to St Jean. The main reason
I would fly into Madrid is that it seems like it is less expensive than flying into Paris.

Thanks, Todd, www.tmanshikes.com
From Madrid you can book a flight to Pamplona. Train is slow and exhausting, especially when you arrive with jetlag.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
From Madrid you can book a flight to Pamplona. Train is slow and exhausting, especially when you arrive with jetlag.
Train travel in Spain is a pleasure: cheap, 200+ kms/hour, a restaurant coach with a glass of red, looking at the passing landscapes, preparing you for the walk through it. Go to Spain, and slow down.
 

Mera

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF, Norte twice, Primitivo, Porto, Madrid
Here's what I would do:

Fly as direct as possible (Madrid). Avoid transit countries.
Book a cheap hotel and explore Madrid 1-2 days. Will take away the jetlag.
Take train to Pamplona. Important: All persons +60 are entitled to buy a Gold Card (Carta Dorada) for 6 euros. It will give you 25% (!) discount on all train travels (Edit: In Spain) for a whole year. Good to have for going back from SdC to Madrid. You buy it at the rail station and then you buy the ticket.
Pamplona-SJpdP: Several options.

Buen Camino!
Yes the Dorada card is a good thing. It pays off in just one trip. Even 40% discount on some lines. Also a student ID (I take a course or two from a nearby community college, gets you discount in museums, zoo etc.
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC

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