This post is part of 30 Ways in 30 days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.
I’ve seen two ebooks published on the subject this year alone. How can you find those super-cheap airfares? There is no secret. It’s all about flexibility.
You’ll pay more for:
- Flights on Monday/Friday/Sunday
- Flying the morning or at night
- Flying non-stop
- Traveling in certain seasons (for example to Europe during the summer or to Hawaii during the winter)
- Buying too early (more than 5 months before your flight)
- Buying too late (less two weeks before flight)
- Certain Destinations (NY to London is cheaper than NY to Dublin, yet almost same distance)
- The day you happen to buy– who knows the next day the airline may adjust prices
So how do you find cheap flights without spending hours running multiple searches?
I’m personally a big fan of Kayak (apparently so is Microsoft) for it’s flexible, anywhere in the world, any time frame searches. You can search by a continent– say EUROPE, and they’ll give you the cheapest flights by country.
So instead of checking each country– trying to find a good deal– they give you all of them at once. You pick where to fly based on what’s cheapest.
I recommend setting and leaving a few of these fare alerts so that they will send you weekly email updates and keep you passively aware of the marketplace.
- Go to http://www.kayak.com/buzz
- Pick your home airport, a destination continent and a timeframe (by the month or leave it as is for “anytime”)
- I picked NYC to EUROPE for NOV 09 and had some surprising results: The cheapest three flights are:$481 to Moscow, $497 to Dublin, $509 to Geneva. This tells me that a flight to Europe for under $500 is probably a pretty good deal.
- Click the “Get this by email” link to schedule a fare alert direct to your inbox.
- Repeat with other areas of the world as needed. I set one for Asia and found deals in India on the top of the list at about $720. South America had a flight to Peru at $347. I’m starting to get a sense of the relative costs.
When a good deal comes, don’t wait. Cheap prices in one market usually means that the other airlines will rush in the next few days meet the price. Even if you’re not flying that exact day, it’s worth doing a quick price check across a few sites.
- Search the airline’s site and make sure they are in fact offering that price. (And if you’re flying one-way to make sure their one-way price isn’t wildly expensive).
- Do a quick search on Kayak for the same flight, and then check the second and third cheapest option’s websites to see if they are offering cheaper deals.
- If it’s a long haul flight, you’re done. If it’s a short flight, say Madrid to Paris, you’ll want to check local carriers, like RyanAir, who might not be listed in the search sites. A google search for your flight area will usually bring up a few local search engines you can double check.
Don’t Worry Too Much
Spending hours trying to figure how to save $20 on a flight will drive you crazy and waste your time. The truth is that the pricing mechanisms are complex and don’t always follow the so-called rules. If you can get a good price, lock it in.