Australians are experts in long-haul flying, but even the most seasoned among us struggle with long airport layovers and accompanying jet lag. Incorporating stopovers into round-the-world itineraries at little or no extra cost has long been a popular option for families travelling overseas with kids, those wanting to add a contrasting destination to their overall trip, or travellers who simply want to arrive on the other side of the world bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
The world is literally your oyster when choosing stopover destinations. Singapore has been a long-time favourite for Australians making the trek to Europe, while Dubai has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination in its own right. Other classic stopover cities include Abu Dhabi and Doha in the Middle East, and Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok in Asia.
However, the list doesn’t stop there. Other up and coming stopover destinations include Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), Manila (Philippines), Muscat (Oman), Penang (Malaysia), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Delhi (India).
There is nothing stopping you from hanging out for a while in cosmopolitan San Francisco, bustling New York, or downtown Toronto before continuing onto Europe and then coming back home via Asia. You might even opt to hop a few extra steps when arriving or departing Europe, with Reykjavik (Iceland) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) becoming more renowned as unique stopover destinations.
Spend a day or a week in your ‘bonus destination’ to catch some much-needed R&R, take in the sights, do a spot of bargain hunting, sample the local cuisine, and then continue on your merry way.
Major airlines and alliances have long offered free or discounted stopovers in their hub cities when booking multi-city flights. If you are planning on hopping around the Americas, why not take advantage of Air Canada’s free stopover program and hit the streets of the cosmopolitan melting pot of Toronto. If you are jetting around Europe, consider extending your stay by turning a free stopover with Finnair into a Nordic expedition, spending as little as 5 hours or as long as 5 days exploring charming Helsinki.
If you are looking to travel via the Middle East, Emirates’ recent launch of their Dubai Experience platform makes it easier than ever to book hotels and attractions alongside your air ticket. Enjoy the ultimate luxury at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven-star hotel, and book a desert safari for those feeling up to a little more adventure. If you don’t have quite as much time to spare and you have a layover between 10 to 24 hours, the Dubai Connect service will provide complimentary hotel accommodation, transfers and a temporary visa so you can leave the airport. Shopaholics will no doubt make a beeline for The Dubai Mall.
When time is of the essence, you want to get to your stopover base as quickly as possible, with major attractions within arm’s reach. There is a reason why Dubai and Singapore continue to be premier stopover cities—getting around is a breeze and they are compact enough to explore within a weekend.