Tips and Tricks of Flying: How We Get Around The World For Next to Nothing
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Let me start out by saying that not ALL of our travel is "budget travel." By no means are we throwing money at the airline companies, but there isn't always a way to fly for "next to nothing." What I can tell you is there are some pretty cool strategies you can use to help get you where you want to go without blowing your whole vacation budget on airfare!
The cheapest flight I have ever found was absolutely insane! A few years ago JetBlue was doing a promotion for the Holidays, something along the lines of "the 12 days of Christmas," (dont hold me to that title because it was years ago). Anyways, each day at a certain time they would post incredible deals including one for $10.19!!!! It was a one way flight from Fort Lauderdale to (I believe) Jamaica! I couldn't believe my eyes. I immediately got Luke on the phone (he was traveling for work) and convinced him that we could not miss out on this deal. After checking dates and verifying his work schedule and trying to figure out the logistics of the trip, we were ready to book it! Yay we are going to Jamaica! So I jump on the computer to purchase our tickets and of course, they were all sold out!! I mean, why wouldn't they be? We are talking about a flight to the Caribbean for $10.19! Right then and there we decided, if we ever found something like that again, we would just pull the trigger and figure out everything else later.
While doing my daily scroll through my Facebook Feed lately, I have noticed quite a few people asking their friends for advice on where they find cheap flights. At this point I think after a year of being cooped up due to a pandemic, people are really trying to make an effort to travel, and why wouldn't they? So, I have decided to post some of the things we do to save on airfare.
It should come as no surprise that as much as Luke travels for work and we travel as a couple/family that we would use points that we have collected to cash in on plane tickets. We also only use travel credit cards such as American Airlines, Marriott, Hilton, and Delta. Not only do you get points while using these cards, but they have great bonuses once you are approved. Another added bonus is that most of these cards have other perks, like upgrade certificates, lounge access, etc. But you don't just have to have these cards to use your points. Check with your credit card company to see how they allow you to use your points towards travel. Also, sign up for frequent flyer accounts with ALL the airlines, hotels and car rental companies. They are free! You will get emails about deals and promotions they are holding along with promotions for point giveaways.
2. The Flight Deal
This is by FAR this best site I can recommend to you for fantastic flight deals!!! They are an affiliate website that scours the internet and all the airlines to find their absolute cheapest flights. TheFlightDeal.com does not sell the flights to you, so you don't have to worry about being scammed. They simply find the deal, post it on their site and tell you how to get the appropriate airline website to claim the deal. We are constantly looking on this website to find new trips to take. We just booked our first international trip since the pandemic started because of a deal we found on there. You will never believe me but we found plane tickets for about $250 round trip, all taxes and fees included, for Miami to Tokyo! We ended up paying $306 instead of the $250 because we were on our way home from another trip and couldn't sit down to properly look at it, so the cost went up about $50, but still! $306 per person to fly to Tokyo from the east coast of the United States is insane!
Now the only downside of this site is the flights listed are for a specific period of time. Meaning that when they list the flight for a specific price, that price may only be good for a couple of weeks between the months of August - October. It isn't a platform where you can put in the exact dates you want to travel and where and see what is available. You will have to have some flexibility. But if you know that you want to take a trip in the near future and you are open to ideas and dates, this is the perfect place for you.
3. Catch The Next flight
What on earth could I possibly be talking about? You have booked your flight, gotten to the airport (which can be stressful enough on it's own), gone though security (sigh), and now you are at your gate where you notice there is some kind of chaos and confusion only to learn, the airline in all their glory has over-booked your flight. UGH! Why do these airlines do this to us? Well, you are not alone in your frustration, but it's not all bad. Most of the time the airlines will ask people to stay back and take a later flight, and they pay. The most we have ever gotten for Luke taking a later flight home from a work trip was over $800! Now, this isn't a cash offer, its a certificate, but sometimes you get enough to pay for your next trip! If you are just going to the next flight on that same day, you can just hang out in the airport for a bit, but if the next flight isn't until the next day they will give you a hotel voucher for your overnight stay. It isn't always worth it, so you have to make the decision if it is enough for what you might be missing out on. I can't tell you how many times I have joined Luke for a work trip or paid for one of our tickets for vacation because we were armed with one of these.
4. Fly Out Of A Different City
Okay, Okay, I know this one might seem like a no-brainer. Most people obviously fly out of their home city or closest city with an airport. When flights are too expensive in that city they check their neighboring cities for cheaper options, and usually there are some. Unless you are living in one of the top largest cities in the US with the biggest international airports, chances are you are paying a lot more for flights. So why not fly out of those cities? Whenever we start planning our travel I always start by checking flights out of Charleston, South Carolina because that is where we live, but when flights are listed for more than we want to pay for them we start fanning out our search. If you are wanting to fly internationally or even cross country try looking for flight in the much larger cities. I constantly look for flights out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale (especially for Caribbean travel), Atlanta, Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Basically all of the east coast hubs. Now I realize that you have to factor in getting to and from those cities as well, but sometimes (most of the time) it can actually save you money.
Take this in to consideration...on one of my searches for tickets from Charleston, S.C. to London, it was about $1100. I then checked what it would cost from New York City to London, and it came out to be about $420 round trip. To get to New York from Charleston at that time on JetBlue airlines was $49 each way. Now add that up... it's about $520 round trip. It might have taken a little more researching and time, but it just saved you almost $600. In my opinion, that is more than worth it. I will say that this isn't always the case. Sometimes you have to play around with different dates and airlines in order to save.
5. Budget Airlines
Sometimes it's nice flying in style up in the first class cabin with champagne and the much better food options, but sometimes it's a wonderful feeling knowing you just boarded a plane to a new exciting destination and paid next to nothing for it. Knowing that you can treat yourself to a nice dinner or excursion when you arrive at your final destination because you saved money on your flight. Using airlines such as JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Frontier, and Breeze can give you some great cheap options to getting to where you want to go without spending and arm and a leg. Obviously these are no frills planes you will be on, but at least you are going somewhere wonderful (hopefully).
6. Jet Opinions
This one is probably new to you, and if it isn't then you know just how great it is and why it is on this list. The "get paid for surveys" thing has been around for a long time, and is usually a scam of some sort. But what if there was a company that paired up with an airline where you can do surveys and get rewarded with airline points? Well it exists! Look no further than jetopinions.com. They reward you with True Blue points on JetBlue airlines and it is completely legitimate. All you have to do is sign up for a JetBlue frequent flyer account (it's free) and sign up with Jet Opinions (it's free also), and link the accounts with your JetBlue True Blue number. Then start taking surveys and watch your JetBlue miles go up and up and up. Soon enough you will be flying somewhere for FREE (except for taxes usually about $5) because of the miles you have racked up.
7. Google Flights
Google Flights is one of the best flight search engines around. You can manipulate their system to narrow down just about every category. Search for flights during a block of time, under a certain price, duration, and or airline. Then it will give you a map of everywhere you can fly in the world from your starting point based on your criteria. It is truly an amazing platform and we highly recommend it! This is a great tool when you just want to go somewhere on a particular date. It gives you all available options based upon price, air carrier, stops and duration. I have found and visited places I never knew existed by using Google Flights. One time it absolutely saved us. We were in Hanoi Vietnam and a typhoon was scheduled to arrive in the next couple days, canceling our Ha Long Bay cruise. We needed to evacuate out of Hanoi and go somewhere. I popped in our origin airport and dates, and up comes Phu Qouc island in the Gulf of Thailand. We had never heard of this Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia, so we booked our flights and headed off. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip and we staid at the best hotel I've ever experienced, the JW Marriott Phu Qouc and the Turquoise Suite. The best room I've ever had or been upgraded too by far.
What are your travel tips and cost savers? Leave your comments below.