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I would like to travel from Montreal, Canada to Japan, but a plane ticket is expensive so I want to minimize travel costs.

I like to explore and visit new places so alternative routes through unconventional means, multi-modal transport or through other countries are definitively fine. If possible I would like to avoid crossing the ocean by boat as it is likely to be prohibitively long, but otherwise boats are fine.

Is there a way to travel from Canada to Japan that's cheaper than the most direct flight routes?

My guess is: hitchhike from Montreal to the west coast and take a plane to Japan from there?

Note: I don't think it's a duplicate as I don't want to restrict answers to air travel only, all forms of transport should be considered if they can reduce the overall cost. Travelling to a neighboring country and taking a bus/ferry/train/etc. is a perfect example.

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    Are you familiar with Skyscanner? You can enter origin an destination countries (Canada and Japan) and it will find the cheapest flights from any origin city to any destination city. – Greg Hewgill Aug 29 '16 at 20:25
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    Rome2Rio is good, too, as it includes many modes of transport, not just flying. For example here are its suggestions for Nunavut to Okinawa. But to be honest, the flights will be so much the main cost, you're best off just looking at all Canada's airports with something like Skyscanner then figuring out the rest – user568458 Aug 29 '16 at 21:43
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    You can actually fly from New York City for way cheaper than eastern Canada and about the same price as Vancouver; I don't know if traveling south is a viable option for you and quite how the economics work out (it seems like going to western Canada or NYC from Montreal will eat up a big chunk of the USD200 in fare savings gained travel to either). – Urbana Aug 29 '16 at 23:51
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    I disagree with the duplicate status on this question as it does NOT specifically ask about flights. The question is "What is the cheapest way to travel from Canada to Japan?" not, "Which site should I use to find the cheapest flights from Montreal to Japan". – The Wandering Coder Aug 30 '16 at 7:15
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    @jonathanreez the question has already been flagged and reopened for this exact question. – JS Lavertu Aug 30 '16 at 19:19
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You may want to consider a flight to a neighbouring city and take the train to Tokyo if that's your ultimate destination. For example, while not the most enjoyable flight you've ever been on, but Air Canada Rouge flight from Vancouver to Osaka is one of the cheapest ways to get to Japan. At its cheapest it's around $435 per direction taxes incl. Note that the route to Osaka on Rouge is only a summer seasonal leg and won't be available for much longer.

But in my research it shows that a flight from Ottawa would be about 100 cheaper than out of montreal. Take the train to Ottawa and then get your flight from there. Train tickets are less than the money saved by leaving from Ottawa. Ticket prices to Tokyo at the moment from Ottawa are about $925 taxes incl vs over $1100 from Montreal. EDIT: Forgot to mention the above coast are round trip ticket costs unless otherwise.

Also check sites like Hipmunk and Cheap O Air for discounted tickets on any airline.

Those are by far the cheapest ways to get to Japan and that's considering using train, bus, and discount airlines. Boat isn't really an option since it alone would be thousands of dollars if it existed.

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    If the OP can get to New York, s/he can fly to Tokyo for $ 420 USD / $ 550 CAD. From Montreal it may be more affordable to get to NYC than Vancouver. Just putting it out there than "nearest alternate airport" may be South across the border. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Aug 30 '16 at 19:55
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas has a food point. A train ticket from montreal to NYC is about $100 per direction on Amtrak. It takes about 12 hours so it would likely be a two day trip though. – Daxxcat Aug 30 '16 at 20:10
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    "neighbouring city"? Osaka is 500kms from Tokyo and there are at least 2 International Airports in between (if you don't count Haneda). Likewise Vancouver to Ottawa is 4300kms. Your definition of neighbouring is a somewhat more... broad understanding than what I am used to. – The Wandering Coder Aug 31 '16 at 0:04
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    @TheWanderingCoder Ottawa was brought up for being a cheap option to tokyo and close to montreal as a departure. Osaka to Tokyo by train is about 3.75 hours. Thats not that bad and it has the benefit of seeing other cities. It all depends on how much money one is willing to be spent vs time spent getting to the destination. – Daxxcat Aug 31 '16 at 0:09
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    I am not complaining about your choice of cities, just the word "neighbouring". Coming from Australia, even 500kms is too far to call it "neighbouring" unless you are talking about country homesteads. "Neighbouring", after all means "next to". – The Wandering Coder Aug 31 '16 at 0:11
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Distance is only one of the factors determining the price of a flight. Demand has a large effect too. End result is the cost savings of a closer departure often do not offset the cost of getting to the closer departure point.

You will want to price tickets out of Toronto, New York, Newark, Detroit before comparing to west coast departures and then ask yourself if you can get to the west coast for less than the difference.

There are no cruise ships from Vancouver to Tokyo, except the occasional round-the-world über-luxury cruises, and they usually cost.... more.

hitchhike from Montreal to the west coast

"Japan" and "hitchhike" really don't belong in the same conversation. If you can't afford the fare difference how do you expect to pay for your stay in Japan? It's not cheap here.

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    I like your answer except for one part: "It's not cheap here" I beg to differ, Japan is as expensive or cheap as one wants it to be. – JS Lavertu Aug 30 '16 at 0:23
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    Agree with @JSLavertu. I live and work in Japan and it isn't really as expensive as people make out if you know what you are doing. – The Wandering Coder Aug 30 '16 at 0:26
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    I've hitchhiked every time I've been to Japan since 2010. Do a Google search. The two terms absolutely belong in the same conversation. "Japan is as expensive or cheap as one wants it to be" is absolutely correct. The "expensive Japan" myth has somehow magically stuck around for at least 30 years now. Bullet trains and toll roads are expensive but are not the only ways to get around Japan. Hostels are reasonably priced and you can crash in internet and manga cafes. There's always cheap food options. Japan is one of my favourite budget destinations in the world! – hippietrail Aug 30 '16 at 4:42
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    Also check out the book Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Fugu-san, it's a very funny and interesting account of a guy (Canadian, actually, if I remember right) hitchhiking the entire length of Japan. – user568458 Aug 31 '16 at 12:45
  • @TheWanderingCoder, What are some tips? – Pacerier Oct 9 '17 at 7:09
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I'd recommend not doing the hitch hiking portion...Canada is silly big, after a 14 hour drive you'll be relieved to find out your no longer in Ontario, but also know that your trek isn't half over. Cities are not close together and it's easy to get yourself stranded.

While living in Calgary, I found it far cheaper to get to Japan via Los Angeles...Flight from Calgary to LA, then Air Cathay from LA to Seoul, and finally Seoul to Japan. That worked out far better than Calgary to Van then direct to Japan.

I'd recommend getting out of Canada...our airport taxes and the sort can be expensive. Take a look into driving south across the US border (or hitch hiking if preferred) and catching a domestic flight into LA or Seattle. Go over the pacific from there. Remember Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver have some of the highest airport taxes world-wide and cost quite a bit to fly out of regardless of how much your flight actually is.

  • OP hasn't told us his hitching experience or nationality. I assumed they must be Canadian and an experienced hitcher given the huge distances. But yes maybe the OP is actually naive. I hitched across much more sparsely populated Australia last November and met other hitchers along the way. But yeah it's definitely not for the unprepared! (-: – hippietrail Aug 31 '16 at 15:07
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    @hippietrail It's likely a week long journey if you get lucky, it's a 4300km trip afterall. If you can get from Vancouver to Toronto in under 48 hours drive time (no rests/gas counted there) you are doing very well. There are patches in the rocky mountains and northern Ontario that have no services for well over 100km (that includes no cell service). It's actually quicker to drive Toronto to Van cutting through the states than it is going through Canada as well. Calgary to Vancouver is 10-12 hours alone (pending traffic) and you don't really want to attempt that in the winter. – Twelfth Aug 31 '16 at 15:24
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    Indeed! A similar distance in Australia took me 13 days. There were lots of places where you basically couldn't go past the edge of "town" because there were no services for well over 100km plus it was the desert plus much less traffic than across Canada. But yes across desert in Australia in summer is still more doable than across Canada in winter for sure! I've hitched Mongolia in the winter but might not do Canada in the winter. OP has to know their stuff if they're seriously considering this! – hippietrail Aug 31 '16 at 15:30
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    @Twelfth Many years ago I did Toronto to Vancouver through Canada in ~48 hours driving just myself, but I was very young and the speed limits were higher and less enforced.. almost half the trip (20 hours to Kenora) is getting out of Ontario and another 25 hours to Van according to Google. I hate to think of the gas cost to drive now. – Spehro Pefhany Aug 31 '16 at 16:05
  • @SpehroPefhany - I'm getting 36 to 38 mpg in my smaller car on the highway...works out to about 10cents a km with gas above $1 per liter with van city center to just east of calgary costing around $130. I'd imagine $450ish, probably more, to do the full van to Toronto today. Single person flight is usually cheaper and several days quicker. Calgary to van in particular is really only an option outside of winter...some of the roads (including the newer coquihalla) completely close from snowfall. I'm unaware of northern ontario, but it couldn't be much better. And the mosquitos.... – Twelfth Aug 31 '16 at 16:38
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You should just shop around and go at a time that leads to the cheapest fares. It may be cheaper from Toronto so you could consider hitchhiking or something like Megabus to get from Montreal to Hogtown.

I've recently seen $542 CAD (about US$430) round trip YYZ to Osaka including taxes and fees. You're not going to significantly beat that! It did have an overnight in SFO, which is inconvenient (as is unnecessarily dealing with US customs and immigration) but can be dealt with if saving money is the goal.

  • 542$ round trip? Wow, the lowest I've seen out of YUL was around 900 – JS Lavertu Aug 31 '16 at 15:06
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    @JSLavertu There are some stupidly cheap prices out of Toronto these days. It's crazy when China is half the price of Calgary or Vancouver. – Spehro Pefhany Aug 31 '16 at 15:10
  • @JSLavertu, Are you sure you didn't get ripppped off? What sites do you use? – Pacerier Oct 9 '17 at 7:11

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