The man who pays his way: The long and short of choosing a stopover

The clocks are about to lurch back, casting all of us in the Northern Hemisphere into the wintry gloom of dark evenings and shortening days. Just the moment, then, to start plotting a course for somewhere with brighter prospects. Those with the twin blessings of time and money may well be tempted to aim for Australia and New Zealand, which are celebrating the Southern Hemisphere spring. The shrewd travellers among them will plan a stopover – if you are flying to the far side of the planet, it's sad not to build in a pause of at least a day in one of the world's more exotic locations.

The usual suspects have plenty to commend them: Hong Kong and Singapore offer an accessible distillation of China and South-East Asia respectively, while Bangkok works for travellers hungry for the Thai temple experience or full-on nightlife, once flood waters have receded.

Going west, Los Angeles is the hub of choice, with flights funnelled into southern California from Europe and fanning out into a trans-Pacific web – with five departures to Sydney alone between 9pm and midnight tomorrow.

Yet if you are lucky enough to be contemplating an escape to somewhere hot and exotic, or alternatively Adelaide, look beyond the obvious: anywhere from Munich to Havana can feature in your plans.

If Sydney is your destination, then one question: are you sure? If you intend to explore more widely in Australia, then it is almost certainly going to be better to buy an "open-jaw" itinerary, flying into one city and out of another: you'll reduce personal fatigue, expense and carbon footprint.

* If Sydney is the sole target, you have the widest choice of stopovers. Of the Asian transit points, Shanghai (China Eastern), Taipei (China Airlines) and Seoul (Korean Air or Asiana) are the most startling mega-cities, with Abu Dhabi (Etihad) and Dubai (Emirates) clamouring for metropolitan supremacy in the Gulf. For the opposite experience, fly out of Heathrow one evening at 8pm on Air Mauritius. You'll land on the idyllic Indian Ocean island described in the next two pages just before noon next day, and have time for a few blissful hours on the beach before another overnight flight. Attenuating jet lag has never been so sweet.

* The ideal trip to Australia, though, is a Premium Economy haul from London to Sydney. The return price of £2,676 (as quoted by Opodo for travel next month) may seem expensive, but just look what it involves: flying Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick to Havana, where you can spend a week exploring the greatest city in the Caribbean. You cannot make the obvious connections via Miami and Los Angeles, because of US rules, but Air Canada will take you via Toronto and Vancouver, with time to enjoy both of these great cities. And coming home, luxuriate in Virgin's premium economy via Hong Kong.

Expensive and indulgent, certainly – but comfort yourself with the knowledge that, at the National Minimum Wage and assuming a 40-hour week, it will take exactly 11 weeks to earn enough to buy the ticket. Not bad for the circumnavigation of a lifetime.

Let's put the refuelling stops back on the map

When you look at the inflight "sky map", do you feel an occasional pang of sorrow – wondering about the wonders that are seven miles below and about to disappear at nine miles a minute? Well, you can go back to the days when thirsty old planes were barely capable of reaching the end of the runway, let alone going halfway around the world.

Flying down to Rio? You used to have to stop in Lisbon and the Brazilian city of Recife, close to the mouth of the Amazon. And you still can, thanks to TAP Portugal. And with Lisbon's airport only 15 minutes from town, you can build in a stroll by the Tagus.

Darwin was for decades a mandatory stop en route to the rest of Australia. Now you fly over it. Yet the Northern Territory capital is the natural gateway, in both senses, to the nation. You can change planes in Singapore for Darwin, then travel by train from the rainforest to the desert at Alice Springs (and a side trip to Uluru) before continuing on the rails to Adelaide – proof that to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas