How I booked a cheap stopover flight to visit friends and family en route to Asia

I have always wanted to be someone who could maintain relationships with some of the most amazing people I have met but who unfortunately do not live near my home city of Toronto. I believe there is no substitution to meeting close friends in person, but there was never the time or the money to try to see them. Also, if there was a choice of going somewhere, I've been versus going somewhere new - somewhere new always won out. So, I would keep up with my friends through social media, texting, or – gasp – calling on the phone.

Trip to South Korea

Until one day, when I was looking for flights to South Korea, I noticed that many of those flights had a layover in Vancouver – about 1/3 of the way from Toronto to South Korea. I thought, why can't I stop there too? I had to solve this problem.

This is the alley of a bookstore in Busan. It’s where you can see many old books. Do you know? Maybe you can find the book you want here!
Photo by rawkkim / Unsplash

To give some context, visiting Vancouver was something I always want to do but never get around to it. I wouldn't want to spend the money to only go to Vancouver – as its far enough that going for a long weekend doesn't seem worth it and usually quite pricey. So, for me, being in Vancouver and not stopping was frustrating.


Photo by Mike Benna / Unsplash

So I tried to put the cheap multiflight ticket together, and it was more than 1.5 times the price them my roundtrip flight At the time. At the time, a flight to South Korea about $1200 CDN - with the stopover, it was close to $1600 – too much.

The roundtrip ticket to Korea was too much, and I wanted to do a stopover in Vancouver – I was determined.

Vancouver to South Korea

I first looked for seat sales in Asia from Vancouver. I found one to Tokyo with Air Canada for $353 one way. Excellent, I have never been there before. Since I was booking these tickets separately, I thought, why not a stopover there too. With Air Asia, I found a cheap flight to Seoul for $71. From there it's only a 3-hour train ride to Busan!!

Toronto to Vancouver

Now the hard part. Getting to Vancouver – flights in Canada are never cheap. I looked at all the combinations.

Departing Ariving
Toronto Canada Vancouver Canada
Toronto Canada Bellingham USA
Toronto Canada Victoria Canada
Toronto Canada Seattle USA
Hamilton Canada Vancouver Canada
Hamilton Canada Bellingham USA
Hamilton Canada Victoria Canada
Hamilton Canada Seattle USA
Buffalo USA Seattle USA
Buffalo USA Bellingham USA

I found the magic ticket for $280 from Toronto to Seattle – I have family there – so that's another stopover win! It's only a 3-hour bus ride between Seattle and Vancouver, and it's pretty cheap!

Return Trip

The last part, the way home, it turns out that the one-way fare was about just over half the roundtrip fare to Busan originally – so it was $680. Finally, I booked my jigsaw flight to Asia with TWO stopovers for only $184 more.

Always book Stopovers!

Since this moment, I have put a lot of research into where I fly to get awesome stopovers. I saw a new country I had not planned to (Japan), visited a group of old friends, and one of the most amazing hikes I have ever done (Vancouver) and saw my nieces and which is always a treat (Seattle). It was this trip that let me build my own algorithm www.hopupon.com.

Author image

About Doug Creighton

Data Scientist in Toronto in the tech industry. I have travelled to 40 countries and used to build handcrafted stopovers. Built this algorithm years ago for me and finally got it online for everyone.
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