The cost of air travel continues to go up, but with a little bit of Internet time, you can find the best possible fares.
Start with a search of discount travel sites, and don’t stop with just one. Compare. Popular sites include Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Google Flight Search and Hotwire. When you have made your comparison and think you have the best price you can find, act. Prices can change within minutes.
Skyscanner.com is a search engine that tracks prices for particular routes for a certain period of time – a month or a year. It’s easy to spot the best prices and the optimum times to fly as well as finding information on hotels and car rentals. You can receive email notices when the data changes.
Booking your flight online is cheaper than using the airline’s phone service, which adds a fee. Travel agencies also have started adding booking fees to replace revenue they used to get from the carriers.
Inform yourself as to the best times to fly. Be flexible if you are able. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for private travel. Sunday is the most expensive. If you’re willing to make a brief stopover en route, it is less expensive than a direct flight. Early morning flights also are less costly.
As you would guess, holidays are not times to expect great travel deals. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Presidents’ Day, spring break and other high-travel times are when to avoid air travel if you can.
Booking ahead – six weeks, if possible, when the airlines are still hoping to fill up their flights, is usually the best time to get a deal. If you wait until a week or two prior to the date you want to fly, the airlines are clear on whether their flights are going to be full and they’re less anxious to offer deals. There are, however, last-minute deals to be had if you can be flexible.
Use your credit card to pay to take advantage of air mile offers. In addition, keep track of accumulated air miles through the airlines, particularly if you fly frequently.
The great majority of airports have shuttles or public ground transportation to get you to a post-flight destination. It’s less expensive than a cab. If possible, walk. If you rent a car, opt for the green alternative, a small, fuel-efficient car. Return the vehicle to the rental business fully gassed. They charge a premium to do that for you. And if you are really thinking ahead, consider driving to your destination instead of flying, then you’ll avoid a car rental.
Consider hotel alternatives such as condo or house rentals. Most units can be rented nightly or by the week. VRBO.com offers photos, details and prices and doesn’t charges a fee for the service. Make travel an occasion to visit family or friends, if possible. In exchange for their hospitality, help with groceries or take the hosts to dinner or some activity. And when it’s their time to travel, reciprocate.
Home exchanges can be arranged through homeExchange.com, SeniorsHome Exchange.com or Craigslist. That way, your home is not empty while you are away and you have housing at your travel destination. A win-win situation for both parties.