“Is there a deal to __?” is our most asked question. We receive variations of this question on a daily basis via email, Facebook, and Twitter. Inevitably, our answer is “no.” There are a few reasons why and as much as we like fare deals, waiting for a good fare to travel is not a good strategy. Simply from asking that question, you have already failed at making sure you can travel for less.
At this point, most of you understand what we do. We find the best deals from our 12 coverage cities and we post the best ones for that day. We are not travel agents nor consolidators so we cannot MAKE a deal happen. We only find and post what airlines publish.
Knowing the price
We believe the reason why this question is asked is because the price for a destination to most is unknown. Without a good baseline, it is difficult to know when to take advantage of a deal when it shows up. We always recommend that you go to Matrix by ITA Software to search pricing.
Once you are at Matrix by ITA Software, just enter where you are departing from and where you are going to. The most important thing to make sure you do at this stage is to select “See calendar of lowest fares” on the dates and always use a date range, we like 0-7 in the length of stay. This will give you a month view of fares. Having a good idea of prices will allow you to decide whether or not to take advantage of a deal when it does show up.
We recommend Matrix by ITA over all other services — it is relatively fast, its search facilities are extremely flexible, and it is as complete of a data source as it gets. Once you have a fare, you may want to double-check with Kayak if it is international or Southwest if it is domestic. For international flights outside of the US, we like to use skyscanner.net. At the moment, we don’t recommend Google Flights except for quick checks because it is missing a lot of international carriers (i.e. Emirates, Turkish, etc.).
Timing is Everything
Traveling for less requires timing and planning. The really good deals rarely last long and show up unexpectedly. For example, last year’s Wideroe deal with United showed up on a Saturday and lasted about 10 hours. To take advantage meant you would have been connected on a day when most disconnect.
Our advice in general is to set alerts with all your favorite deal sites. One sidebar — if you like a deal site’s Facebook page, make sure you interact with their page once in a while. Facebook shows items on your newsfeed based on your frequency of your interaction. An interaction is liking their post, leaving a comment or sharing their post.
If you have alerts setup, you probably won’t miss too many deals. Deal finding requires you to be involved everyday. Being disconnected means you will miss out on a lot of deals.
Planning means having the resources available to take advantage of deals when they happen — this means having the funds or the miles! You can’t make travel happen if you don’t have the savings or the miles!
Being flexible is important
Do you want to travel on the 4th of July for cheap? Yeah, it won’t happen. In general, cheap tickets are available from January – April and September – November. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are best for domestic departures, while Monday through Thursday are generally best for international. If you are not flexible, you are unlikely to find a truly good deal.
Now that’s just timing. But being flexible also means that fares to cities, such as Paris or London, are not likely to go on sale. However, flying to Scandinavia is cheap right now. Your alternative to potentially saving you money is to fly there instead and then find another flight to get you to where you want to go. Try not to think of travel as being linear, going from from A to B. Search engines will not give you all of the possible flight combinations.
To see how you potentially can create your own set of combinations, go to wikipedia.org, and enter “[city] airport” to see who flies where to create your own itinerary.
Chase the fare, not the destination
Being flexible also means that you shouldn’t be fixated on a particular destination. The world is large and should be explored. Paris, London, Tokyo, etc will always be there. We are fare chasers — and we have gone to some great places that weren’t on our initial radar. These awesome places would have been overlooked if it wasn’t for the fare:
- Stockholm for $151
- Copenhagen for $170
- Lima for $270
- Buenos Aires for $131
- Tel Aviv for $400
Again, chase the fare, not the destination!
Don’t let fear and OCD hold you back
Travel is one of the things we see people obsessively search for yet often let their fear and OCD hold them back from making the buying decision. Have you let a $280 cross-country fare pass you by because you really wanted it for $260? What is the opportunity cost of you constantly searching, only to see the fare later increase to $350? Yeah, it has happened to all of us.
As always, if the flight departs to/from the United States, by US Department of Transportation regulation, in general you have 24 hours to either cancel risk-free or to hold the fare. Use that small window of time to firm up your plans. Once that is fully confirmed, then you should go about booking accommodations. But if you buy the ticket and realize that your plans don’t work out accordingly with the original flight, cancel within your risk free cancellation period and start your search again.
So What’s Our Strategy for Inexpensive Travel?
Our travel strategy is simple especially if you travel a lot. Buy the cheap tickets (usually domestic) and use miles for expensive and international tickets. Notice how all of our deals feature how many miles you will earn? Collect those miles! Signing up for a frequent flyer program is free — no credit card required.
The key points to traveling for cheap are:
- Knowing the price
- Be there to take advantage of the deal
- Being flexible is important
- Chase the fare, not the destination
- Don’t let fear and OCD hold you back
- Collect miles for expensive trips
The Flight Deal does not sell travel products or services. We provide you with information about third-party travel suppliers’ offers, and link you to their sites. The information posted by The Flight Deal is valid at the time of publication. However, we have no control over the suppliers, and we therefore do not warrant or guarantee that their offers will not change or become unavailable. Nor are we responsible for their products, services or site content. Please see their sites for their most up-to-date offer information and all applicable terms and conditions.