Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Budget Airfare

I have given you some tips on traveling, but I want to spend a little time sharing some practical trip planning tips. When it comes to cheap traveling (flying especially), I guess you could say I am a bit of a pro.

-Read the news. Often times, news sites provide information on the best deals on airfare.

-Sign up your email on Airfare Watchdog. You can just sign up and get email alerts when there are great deals flying from your area to various destinations, or if you are looking for a specific flight from city X to city Y, you will receive a notification of low rates. This is good for those trips a bit far out.

-If you are booking a flight, check out flight prices on Bing's Price Predictor. All you do is enter in the dates you are traveling, and your cities, and it actually will let you know if you should wait to book your flight because prices will be dropping, or to book now, as prices will increase. It graphs out what the prices have been like in the past, and bases its predictions off of that. It's actually very accurate, and great for those last minute trips!

-Search out flights Monday through Wednesday. Those days tend to be the days most airlines have sales on flights. Prices tend to jump up Thursday through Sunday, because of weekend travel.

-If you search through Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak, etc., make sure to also check the airline's direct prices, as they are sometimes lower (Delta, United, Airtran, etc.)

-Buy early, or buy late. If you buy early (4-6 weeks or more), you are more likely to save money. If you buy late (less than 4 weeks), you may have limited travel times, but could find some cheap deals because the airline is trying to fill up those last couple of seats.

-If you are flying from or to a smaller airport (for example, Providence, Rhode Island), you might be better off flying out of/into a bigger airport that's close, and then having someone pick you up or take a train. I used to fly into Boston, then take the train to Providence. It took me longer to arrive to RI, but I saved anywhere from $100-$150.

-Don't be afraid to shop around. Even though most online travel providers have comparable prices, you might find a better deal on one versus another.

-Be flexible. Experiment with different dates and times around your trip. If you are able to choose a different day to depart or return, it might mean the difference of saving $100 for flying out on a Thursday instead of a Friday.

-Sign up for frequent flier mile programs on EVERY airline you fly. It's free to do it, plus if you end up flying one in particular a lot, you may gain elite status, and earn enough miles to have a free flight or other cool prize!

Random travel tips not included in the previous blog post:

-Dress up a little, but be comfortable. Studies show that you are more likely to be treated better and taken more seriously if you look presentable than if you are in your sweatsuit finest.

-The flat tire or "2-hour" rule: If the day of your flight you happen to miss your flight because you were late due to circumstances beyond your control, call the airline immediately and tell the airline attendant it was because you got a flat tire, weather delay, accident, or traffic delay on the way to the airport. Most airlines have a "flat tire" unspoken rule and will try to get you at least on standby on the next flight as a courtesy, without fighting you on it, so long as you re-book within 2 hours of your flight's original departure time. This rule is not advertised by airline employees, but they can bend the rules from time to time.

What tips on low cost traveling do you know?

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