©2012 PerryJoseph.com

8.25.2008

Travel to Eleuthera

For us, traveling to Eleuthera sometimes rivals a root canal. You can have the best laid travel plans, and SPLASH! -- lose a day, lose some bucks, or even worse, lose your luggage. So I thought I'd share a few of our hard learned travel lessons on how we keep keep our vacation to Eleuthera from hitting the crapper.

First and foremost, we make our airline reservations early, early, early because we usually travel to Eleuthera during peak season -- March / April. We start checking air fare rates as soon as they become available, which is typically 9 or 10 months in advance. We'll check to see which air carriers are servicing Eleuthera and call them to see when the dates we're interested will become available, and when they do, we don't take the first fares that become available; we game the airlines' online systems a bit for so many days and weeks to see if there's much flux in the rates noting the lowest fares along the way. Always interesting to see the prices go up and down arbitrarily. Once we've think we've seen the lower side of the price range, we pop for our airfare. And if it goes up, we keep checking back as it typically goes back down if it's still early and there are plenty of seat available -- but not always.

One of our bigger challenges is trying to come up with an itinerary that will get us to the Eleuthera on the same day. Who wants to lose a day's vacation laying over in the likes of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale when an Island like Eleuthera awaits? Beam me up, Scotty! Surf's up! (In the 70s, we used to be able to fly from the Midwest to the Abacos in 8 hours or less. Anyone remember Mackey airlines? Things were so laid back in those days. I actually got to copilot one of those old DC-6s. What a trip.)

Coupled with this are the complications of connecting from a major air carrier to the smaller commuter type airlines that service Eleuthera, like Gulfstream and U.S. Airways. What we don't like doing is booking two separate airlines so we're somewhat assured if we don't make it to Florida on time, the airline who got us there is going to put us up for the night and get us to our destination the next day. It's bad enough we have to lose a day's rent at whatever our Eleuthera vacation rental of choice is. Swell! Thanks for the free drink tickets, but we'd rather be bumming on the beach, Dude!

And then there's the rule if you don't make it to the gate an hour before the flight, they can sell your seat on the plane. What? Surely you jest! I've had that ticket for 9 months and we're here and the plane's still here! Tell those Spring Breakers that just bought a ticket they're partying at Motel 6 tonight and we're taking the A train to Eleuthera now! We've since learned just to grin and bear it -- there's not a damn thing you can do -- except DEMAND (nicely) they get your bags for you RIGHT NOW -- which usually works. You don't want your bags winding up sitting in customs in the Bahamas or they will surely rearrange everything in them before you arrive.

So... we're sure to have at least two hours layover in Florida, or whatever our last U.S. city is, before our flight leaves for Eleuthera. Three hours is even better. Have you checked the on-time performance of the airlines lately? It's off the hook! I no longer question what time the airlines will get me there; I question what day they'll get me there. We wish the airlines would quit poor mouthing us. We'd gladly write them a check for an extra hun if that meant they'd shut up and do what's expected of them.

Another hard lesson learned was checking our tickets every month or so, even weekly when it gets close to our departure date, just to be sure they're still flying at the times we expect, and that's if they're flying at all. Don't laugh... It's happened to us. And the the latest articles I've read indicate there may be a lot of stranded passengers in the months ahead for a lack of flights. The airlines are under siege and are contracting quickly. Delta recently discontinued service to Eleuthera, albeit we had already purchased tickets with them. Long story short, we weren't comfortable with "maybe we go / maybe not" so we talked them into a refund and booked with another airline. Let's hope airline number 2 goes (and doesn't go number 2), but rest assured, we'll keep checking.

Okay, so if you're just thinking about traveling to Eleuthera and you're reading this, you're probably thinking "uh-uh... Who wants this kind of hassle?" Well, we may be simply crazy (certifiable), but we think it's worth every bit of whatever pain-in-the-tookus there is to get there. Just check out some of these Eleuthera beaches and tell me if this doesn't beat virtually any beachfront vacation in the U.S. -- unless you otherwise like large crowds, brown sand and not being too far away from Mickey D's. Make ours' conch fritters and Goombay smash, please!

And to help round out these notes and pick up on some I've missed, you can check out some more notes on Eleuthera travel. Remember, it pays to do your homework so your vacation plans don't get beached.

pj

Eleuthera
©2008 PerryJoseph.com

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