Posts Tagged ‘tips’

How I Find Cheap Airfare

Posted: December 14, 2014 in In My Backpack, TRAVEL
Tags: , , ,

“Yea, sure, housesitting and working for accommodation is one way of traveling for the cheap, but plane tickets cost a fortune!” -Tracy S.

Sup Tracy, 

You asked- I’m delivering!

 

When you travel, you have the forever triangle of decisions:

Good, Fast, Cheap… pick 2.

 

I always go for cheap and cheap… I don’t care about quickness. I don’t care the mode of transportation (hello, chicken-bus!). I just care about cheap. Sometimes this bites me in the ass- but I just write it off as an adventure/future blog.

With that said, the more flexible you are with Airline, Airport, Destination and Time-frame, the cheaper/gooder your tickets will be.

 

So- let’s get started:

I live in the greatest city in the world, Baltimore- and I don’t care where/when I go… but I have 300$ to spend on tickets. 

Great! I love people like you!

  1. Go to Skyscanner.com. This site gives you a flex period of max a month, and you are able to pick “everywhere” to see where the cheapest places are.
  2. You can also go to http://www.kayak.com/explore/. This allows you to search your home airport and see where you can go (what month/season) and how much it’ll cost.
  3. Another site that is good for initial (US domestic) searches is https://www.google.com/flights/. Note: I haven’t used it in a while.
  4. You can also check out the “escape” fares on sites like orbitz, expedia, etc… Sometimes they are good, sometimes they aren’t.

I am in country X, want to go someplace else for THIS WEEKEND, but don’t know where. 

This is where skyscanner really comes in handy! Search: FROM “(insert your current country here)” and TO “everywhere”. It’ll give you some great ideas! 🙂

Yea… but now I need to get from Baltimore to Chicago Ohare! WTF, LN?!

Hey hey… chill out. check these out:

http://megabus.com/ (or GotoBus, Transit apps on iphone)

http://www.amtrak.com/home (or NJTransit when traveling around Philly/NJ/NYC)

www.google.com/flights is also good/decent for domestic flights.

*NOTE: When you’re traveling internationally, these obviously don’t work- but there are buses and trains everywhere. And they are usually cheaper than airfare, but not always. SE. Asia, for example, is cheaper to fly. Africa, if you are braver than me, bus is cheaper. In Nicaragua and Belize, hitch-hiking is the common mode of cheap transportation.

How far in advanced do I need to book my tickets?

My friend, Suz, says “6 weeks is the magic number”. I have booked 2 weeks in advanced (on international tickets) and still got great deals- but the earlier you go for American-domestic, the better.

According to this article- they say “Sunday, 57 days before leaving“.

I typically will do a priceline thing for 3 weeks along with a kayak alert. 3-4 weeks before take off (for international flights only… not during holidays) I will buy a ticket.

What if I’m not picky about my airport but I know I want to fly into SEA-tac. 

  1. Google “Direct flights into SEA”
  2. (or) google flights/kayak can search multiple airports around that area.

Your flights are cheap because you don’t have to pay for parking!

Accurate! I hate paying for parking. You have multiple options!

  1. Uber (like a taxi… but cheaper and more friendly)
  2. Lyft (like Uber)
  3. Park in a grocery parking lot (with cameras) that is also near public transportation to the airport.

When should I use frequent fliers? 

I compare flight prices first and do maths in my head. I’m terrible at math, but, basically, if the ticket is over 500$USD I consider using Frequent Fliers.

This guys explains the maths really well to see if it’s worth it or not.

 

Do you ever go for those “deals”?

There are some deals that are awesome, and some that just flat-out suck. Again, it depends on what you are looking for/how you travel. I had a friend that bought the Expedia “all inclusive” plans to Ireland. (Flight + castle hotel stays). It was a great deal for her. For me? I just look at flight deals.

Here are some that have recently popped up in my inbox that I’m curious about/would try:

Jet Blue’s GO PACK

Air Asia Unlimited

I also had a friend that bought the “RTW ticket” by virgin/delta/etc. He saved heaps of money. This is great if you have a set itinerary. Sometimes Statravel has some awesome deals- if you’re young enough.


TIPS: 

  • Searching for direct flights MAY be cheaper, or more expensive. So search for both. (google “direct flights from IAD” for example)
  • Search smaller airlines. (kenmore, spirit, airtran, Seapoint, etc.) If you are settled, you can find these by doing a google search on your airport. (“CPT airlines”, “IAD airlines”, etc)
  • When looking at airfares, use your normal browser. When BOOKING- do it in incognito mode (so it doesn’t look at your cache/cookies. This tends to jack up the prices slightly. sneaky hobbitses).

 

Last but not least:

The worst travel experiences I have (in airports/planes) is in America. With that said- don’t be surprised when travel plans change. Expect the worst (especially when flying in America). Planes will be canceled, they will be over-booked, you’ll be screamed at by under-paid/frustrated ticket-counter people and sexually-pent-up TSA agents. You aren’t going to have fun, so make the most of it! Create a drinking game every time you hear someone say “BUT I NEED TO BE ON THAT PLANE!”. Chill out. Just expect that you will be traveling for 48 hours (even if it’s a 2 hour flight). It’s an adventure! Something to tell the grandkids later about how their parents were conceived in a bathroom in LAX because you were stuck there for 4 days. (#truestory)

 


EDITS:

Here are some other useful websites to check out:

Are there questions I missed?

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