I always say the two resources you need to travel are time & money. Sometimes we have more or less of one so it is important to strategize to get the most of out your trip. Money is often treated like a fear, especially when it comes to searching for the dreaded airline tickets, because it is often the largest single investment you make in a trip. So how do you remove this fear of clicking purchase and feel confident you have made the right decision among the age of travel apps, websites, booking engines & self proclaimed experts?
In addition to flexibility & creativity, the trick to finding that coveted cheap flight is more about identifying your goals then it is about getting from A to B. Keep the five Ds of Airline Travel in mind and you just may find the process more affordable & less complicated.
Make a list of destinations you really want to visit in the next year or two. Do this when you have a quiet moment away from work, friends & family. Think about at least five places you often find yourself routinely daydreaming about. Or if you find that too specific, consider types of destinations you want to visit, like beach, Spanish speaking, adventurous, historic, wine. This list of criteria will help create a lens to evaluate perspective destinations to best match your travel needs. Maybe you want to be in Barcelona, but there are attractive fares to Copenhagen. Your goal is European History, perhaps a brief stay in the Danish capital can offset the expensive direct flight to Barcelona, plus you get a rich experience with this deal.
Set a budget. Isn’t this what you or I do in other aspects of our life when it comes to living expenses, shopping or dining out. Do a little research to get a ball park of what rates typically are, but don’t get lock in on that. Simply write a value next to each destination like Barcelona < $500 or Hong Kong < $700. Do not be afraid to go low, you never know when a sale, anomaly or surplus will drive the price down for your dream deal.
Time the other resource I mention. Most of us have a fixed amount of this and can more or less count the time on one hand we are able to travel. So it should not come as a surprise when you actually might want to travel. Make a list, just like you did for destinations. Remember there will always be popular travel times, like Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Four Day Weekends. If you have the flexibility not to get locked into these times you may find a lower rate waiting. Taking that Monday off, could save you big so cash in on your hidden capital.
4. DISCUSS IT
Make it known you are serious about travel. Talk through all the relevant information and details required for a quick pull of the trigger when a fabulous travel opportunity presents itself. Do a talking tour with friends or family, go to lunch or coffee or call them up put your specific travel ideas out there. Post about it on Facebook to gauge interest. Get really manipulative and post a fabulous shot of your dream destination on Instagram and caption it “Planning a trip to XXX Message me if you want in! #TravelTuesday” Once you find an individual or group interested get real, talk travel requirements like documents, shots, budget, time & what you want out of the trip. If you can take responsibility for this & trust to get reimbursed, offer to buy the agreed upon airline tickets for the group. You have an opportunity to get those valuable reward points which can be applied to your next trip.
5. DEAL WATCH
Now that you did the “heavy lifting” wasn’t that easy? You are finally ready to deal watch and catch that coveted low price. Place your budgeted rates & destinations into a price tracker or price alert like Kayak Price Alerts, TheFlightDeal, FareDealAlert or AirFareWatchdog This is a particularly helpful tool for routine trips I make to Los Angeles or Florida to visit friends & family. I get notified of a deal & know its a great idea to plan a trip around it. Also follow your favorite airlines on social media and OPEN their email blasts! An exclusive offer may be waiting for you.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR FINDING THE BEST DEAL ON FLIGHTS & AIRLINE TRAVEL? WHICH OF THESE TIPS DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE MOST USEFUL FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TIME TO BOOK YOUR FLIGHT? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE & IDEAS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.