Usually, I focus on traveling using points or miles, but there are plenty of people who prefer cash back or may not have access to a reward credit card. Those people shouldn’t be left out when it comes to traveling right? Of course not, there are ways for people who don’t use miles or points to travel for less on their wallets. Similar to planning trips with points or miles, flexibility is key! If you’re flexible you can book great flights for less money.
This past week there were some great sales to Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and a few other places, depending on where you live. The price for a ticket from New York or Boston to LA was $150 roundtrip and to Dallas it was $80! When fares like this come up, it is better to book first, think later. I’ll explain why soon.
**I almost booked Kristin and myself tickets to LA for a few days, but I have a problem of using our vacation time and sadly, I have used all of it. I need more vacation time!**
If you are spontaneous in your destination or like a cheaper flight to somewhere you haven’t been before. There are a few sites you should follow so you won’t miss deals like these:
They are always posting great deals, with information about dates that are available at the given price
They tell you step by step how to book you flights. They break everything down for you so you can find the flight they are talking about. They have Facebook and Twitter, but only a portion of the deals they find are put on social media. If you visit their site, you will see more flights.
This site is just as awesome as The Flight Deal. You can select your city and look at the lowest fares from your city to help decide your next destination.
If you select the first option to Chicago for $81 (great deal!), you’ll see this in the next screen
It breaks down all the information, so you know which days you can travel, which airlines, expiration of the bookings as well. Not only will they show you everything you need to know about booking, but if you are holding out for a price drop, you can also set fare alerts to let you know when (or if) the price drops
They have a Facebook and Twitter page and are always showing great deals. They are a must follow as well.
Both The Flight Deal and Airfarewatchdog, are great resources to see flights to different places for a great deal. They also post alerts when there is a mistake fare or a deal that is just so awesome, even if it is not in your region, they will share it. Sometimes it is worth repositioning yourself for some deals.
Now if you saw the deal for airfare from Boston to LA for $150, odds are those are going to sell out very fast! You always want to book first and think later. When booking flights like these, you should try to book through a site like Orbitz. Not only will you earn money toward your next hotel stay you book on those sites (usually 1% back), you will also have 24 hours to cancel your ticket. If you have to cancel, no harm, no foul. If you decide to wait and book later, those tickets will more than likely be GONE.
What if you like to plan your own trips and like to find your own flights, or have a budget and want to visit someplace new, but don’t know where you want to go?
This is where Google Flights will be your best friend. I absolutely love what Google has done. You pick the location of where you will be leaving from and Google gives you a map that shows fares to places all over the world all at the same time.
Lets say for example you want to go from New York to Europe, but you have no idea where in Europe you want to go. You could actually select Europe as your destination and this is what you’d see:
Sometimes you will see fares that are much lower to a specific location. If you look in the picture above, a round trip ticket from New York to Paris is $619 or you could fly from New York to Stockholm for $455 round trip.
Now lets say you choose Stockholm as your destination, you can then see a calendar of prices and it will show you the lowest fare:
You can see that November 27 to December 3, is actually under $400! It could be that it will be cold at that time, but this is just an example of how being flexible with your time and destination could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when flying.
Sometimes the lowest fare might not be the most direct route or possibly on a low cost carrier. Those are decisions you’ll have to make if you choose that location. If you are flexible and looking for a cheaper ticket to a new destination, Google Flights will help you find it.
There is another site that Google owns as well, it is called ITA Matrix. If you are more advanced you can find some better deals than you might find on Google Flights. It takes a little work to really get the most out of it,
Travel Codex has a guide to finding flights with ITA Matrix. This guide is great and I would say read this if you wanted to use ITA Matrix to find flights.
For most people, Google Flights would be sufficient to find great deals on flights and could be less time consuming.
Lastly, Kayak.com is another great place to look for flights. If you have your destination selected, they do a great locating the lowest price as well. It doesn’t have the map search option like Google Flights, but….
Using our New York to Stockholm example from November 27 to December 3, Kayak has the price listed at $379!
So, if you have found a location and dates you want to travel, you should check a few websites before booking. You might be surprised to see price difference for the same flight between websites.
**Kayak is owned by Priceline, but funny enough if you check Priceline from November 27 to December 3rd, from New York to Stockholm, the lowest price is $595.10 roundtrip**
Although using points/miles to book airfare can yield a much better return than cash back credit cards. For people who don’t play the points and miles game, all is not lost when it comes to booking vacations. Remember flexibility is the key for finding cheaper tickets! The more flexible you can be, the better chance you have of finding that super awesome ticket.
If you are not using a cash back or points credit card, why aren’t you? If you are, you should be earning no less than 2% cash back with card like the Citi Double Cash. If you feel comfortable juggling a few cards, you can earn 5% on different categories and really make your next vacation that much more affordable.
What was the best paid ticket you bought? Was it a mistake fare ticket, last minute ticket or did you maybe find a great deal using The Flight Deal or Airfarewatchdog?