Destination: Everywhere

UntitledAre you ready for my second awesome flight search discovery in two weeks? It’s another one that is gobsmackingly useful, and so obvious that in retrospect I feel a little dumb for not having thought of it sooner: there is a way to search for flights with only a departure location and travel dates.

Both Google Flights and Skyscanner allow you to opt out of providing an arrival city (for Google Flights you leave that field blank; for Skyscanner you type in “Everywhere”). You can then filter the flight results by price and choose your destination based on what you can afford.

I happened upon this travel hack last week after I decided to plan a girls’ getaway for my birthday in October. My high school friends had all intended to whisk us away to exotic locales for their big 4-0’s but never ended up following through. As the youngest, I’m the only one still staring down 40, and therefore the last best hope that we will go on a group trip before we all turn 50. So, after my college friend mentioned that she is planning a trip to Eastern Europe for her own birthday this spring, I started toying with the idea of turning my fantasy of a Martinique-Guadeloupe solo trip into a shorter 4-day birthday weekend with friends. Having heard that Norwegian Air now flies to Martinique for under $250 roundtrip, I figured it would be both a fun and affordable destination.

Then I searched for flights and saw that Norwegian Air doesn’t go to Martinique or Guadalupe in October, and the cheapest alternative flight at that time is something like $950. But now that I had gotten the idea of a birthday getaway into my head, I asked myself, “Where else could we go for $250?” A short Google search later, I found the Google Flights and Skyscanner tools and discovered that:

• for under $300 roundtrip, we could fly nonstop to Iceland – where I’ve never been and where the Ring Road is a highly scenic option for a 3-day excursion.
• for under $400 we could fly direct to Ireland – where I spent four months of my 20th year studying abroad, and where it would be lovely to return exactly half a lifetime later.
• for about $410, we could fly to Barcelona and drive from there to either Andorra or the French Pyrenees to hang out in beautiful house nestled in jaw-dropping mountains for a few days.

Those are three pretty awesome options. So, thank you to Google Flights and Skyscanner for helping me to get the 40th birthday festivities train rolling. (Why do I keep using non-aerial travel metaphors when I have every intention of flying??)

P.S. An addendum to my last post: Less than 24 hours after writing about how the Dakar of 2019 remains largely unchanged from the Dakar of 2016, I attempted to check the schedule for my favorite live music venue in the city, Just4U – and found it was closed for good!

just4u

Waaaaaaahhhhh. A TRAGIC LOSS. Clearly I should have waited more than a couple of weeks before making any grand claims about this city…

le week-end is here…

IMG_6285.jpg

Tonight I was planning to check out an acoustic set at a restaurant only two blocks from my house… but then I got lazy. I literally haven’t been out once past 8pm since arriving in Dakar so it’s high time I get my nightlife on. Tomorrow! I’m going with someone I met at the language center to see a popular Senegalese band, Pape et Cheikh, at a club called Villa Krystal. Or we might change our minds and go to see a reggae band, Tiken Jah, at Just4U, which is apparently a very cool place in spite of its ridiculous name.

I also just found out that Youssou N’dour, whose music is half the reason I’m in love with Senegal, is playing a benefit concert at the fanciest hotel in town next Saturday. The unfortunate thing is that tickets are $100. I don’t think I’ve paid that much for a concert anywhere, ever. $100 is a small fortune here… though it’s worth a small fortune to see Youssou in his home country. Then again I’ve heard he plays here often, and I’ve also just heard about another great show the same night, so I might go to that one instead.

Anyway, it’s nice to be spoiled for choice. I hope your weekends are similarly filled to the brim with amazing options.

Here are some weekend reads, provided your internet access is not, like mine, virtually nonexistent.

What do free, open, and peaceful borders look like? 

This article about straightening out croissants is not from The Onion, but it could be.

Both this lady and her lawsuit are awesome.

“How scared or not you are is an emotion, not a statistic.” How to make rational safety decisions when it comes to travel (and many other things).

Language learning has made me more open to try new things, but unfortunately not in the way illustrated in this cute cartoon.

Two dishes tied for France’s favorite. For some reason neither of them are choucroute garnie (which came in third).

This documentary about an Afro-Cuban community’s links to Sierra Leone is on my to-see list – for the next time streaming video becomes a remote possibility.

You can now download all of NASA’s beautiful / awesome retro-style space travel posters for free.

An alfajores recipe (alfajores = best cookies on earth)

Passez un bon week-end!

[Photo: boys playing soccer one street from my host family’s house.]