I have been encouraged for quite a while now to start a travel blog, but life has kept getting in the way. Working two jobs and spending all my free time traveling, at the gym, or outside hiking was dominating my life and I just let it slide down on my to-do list. But I’ve decided that now is the time to just throw some words down on paper (or on a screen, more like) and see what happens. People with delusions of grandeur think that they are going to start a travel blog and that it will get picked up immediately and then all the advertisements will come flooding through and pay for them live a life of traveling full time. I do not have this delusion. I fully understand that it will take a lot of time and effort to have a successful travel blog, if ever. But I have definitely done a lot of traveling and have a lot of knowledge to share and, if my advice can help at least one person have a better experience on a trip, then it’s worth the time and effort. So, here goes!
Finding cheap flights
The question I get asked the most often is how I find affordable flights. Here are my best tips on this topic:
- Use Skyscanner.com to search for flights and research different dates. The more flexible the dates are, the better chance you have of finding a good deal. I have seen it where a one-day difference literally differed in price by $100. Skyscanner is awesome because they will let you search an entire month and see the prices for each day of that month, and they’ll even let you search for the cheapest time to travel somewhere, so if you have a trip in mind with no specific month in mind, you can see what time of year is the most affordable to fly there. That’s what I’ve done many times and is probably my favorite feature of theirs. Beware, though – I have noticed with Skyscanner that sometimes with low-cost airlines, like Spirit and Frontier, the prices are actually cheaper on the airline’s direct website, so always double check that before booking.
- Go with the least comfortable option. As most of you know or can guess, the least comfortable option (multiple layovers, red-eye flights, early morning flights) are usually the cheapest. If you want to save money, sometimes (actually, a lot of the time) you have to sacrifice convenience. If the only way you can afford to go on a trip is to take a red-eye flight, do it. Life is short, and I promise you the trip will be worth the one or two days of exhaustion it takes to get there.
- Purchase flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Airlines put out their best deals on Tuesday afternoons and raise prices on Thursdays. I recommend setting up a travel alert on Skyscanner.com for whatever flight itinerary you like, and then they will email you each day to show you how the price has changed. Set yourself a budget and if/when the price dips below your budget, book it!
- Book international flights four to six months in advance and domestic flights two to three months in advance. When flights are first released, they are usually at the best price. As it gets closer to the departure date, the demand for the flights typically is higher, which causes the airlines to raise the prices. Be sure to book ahead of time (but not too far ahead), ESPECIALLY for summer flights.
- Travel during the off-season. Summer and spring flights are the most expensive, as most people know. If you are flexible with the time of year for your trip, go in the fall or winter time. Don’t let the fact that it’s winter scare you off – there are still lots of awesome things to do in the winter time and beautiful sights to see. Right after undergrad, I spent three months traveling around Europe in the winter and I rarely had to wait in line for anything. I literally walked right up to the ticket window at the Eiffel Tower. (I lived in Paris for 5 months a year before that and the line for the Eiffel Tower was always at least an hour wait.) Sure, it was chilly, but winter gives a place a special kind of beauty and feeling. Or, if you are just not down with the cold (as many of my Texas friends would say), go somewhere tropical in the winter. I flew very cheaply to Thailand last November and there was nothing cold about that trip!
- Get a credit card that earns bonus points/miles. If you are able to get a credit card and pay it off responsibly, I highly recommend getting one that offers you the opportunity to earn bonus points and/or miles with each purchase. I have the Chase Freedom card and you can get it without a fee if you are a Chase customer. The only issue I’ve come across is that I can typically find cheaper flights by using Skyscanner.com than searching on the Chase.com rewards website, but the points can also be redeemed for cash so it’s a win/win either way!
People ask me often how I am able to afford so many trips; finding cheap flights is a big part of the reason why. Traveling on a budget is another huge part of that, and I will dedicate my next post to that topic. I hope this entry will help some of you plan your next adventure! As Helen Keller said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing. 🙂 If you have any questions or any tips of your own for finding cheap flights that I didn’t cover, please feel free to leave a comment!