If you follow my blog, you know that I love saving money. When it comes to travel, the one area that is elusive to many people is capturing that perfect discount airfare. It is really amazing the large range of prices that people can end up paying for the very same flight. I have met people on flights over the years and the topic of airfare would come up in conversation. In some cases, my fellow seatmate paid more than double what I did for the very same itinerary! Despite all of the wonderful price comparison tools available online, many people still struggle finding the best deal.
Knowing When To Start Shopping For Your Ticket
According to a recent study, the best time to buy your tickets is about six weeks in advance. This represents the ideal 'window of opportunity' for the lowest prices. Of course, if you can be flexible you can simply wait for the price you want and then plan your trip around a particular airfare deal.
Using Automated Search
If you can be flexible, consider using a service like Airfare Watchdog which allows you to set up an automated search. Using this feature you will be notified automatically by e mail when a discounted fare become available. They offer a typical 'city to city' fare alert option but also an 'anywhere cheap' option, which alerts of great deals from your location. Of all of the tools I use, this is really my overall secret weapon.
The Bing Price Predictor
A very powerful tool is the Bing Price Predictor. The free tool allows you to do an online search for airfare deals, but with a twist. The price predictor feature will actually advise you as to what timeframe is likely to yield the best deal (with a 75% accuracy). Using this along with Airfare Watchdog will help you to zero in on some real bargains.
Staying Flexible With The Neighboring City Strategy
About 14 years ago when we were living in Dallas we planned a family trip to southern California. By flying from Houston instead of Dallas we saved over $1,000 on what it would have cost our family of five for airfare. If you are buying just one ticket it may not be worth it to drive two to three hours to an alternate airport to save $150 but when the whole family is traveling this can be a very worthwhile strategy. Also, don't forget to consider alternative cities near your destination.
An example of this in recent months has been flying into Las Vegas and driving three hours to southern California vs. directly flying to Los Angeles. Many airfare search engines offer the option of including nearby cities in your search results. Take a look at a map and you will be surprised how many airports you can include in your search if you are willing to drive two to three hours. Most major metro areas now have at least one alternative smaller airport. In Central Florida, the Sanford Airport has become very popular as an alternative to Orlando and is just 35 minutes from Disney.
I have used the neighboring city strategy plenty of times and had a lot of fun doing so. Rather than looking at it as an inconvenience to simply save money, I try and make it just another stop on my trip. Find an interesting museum or other unique venue to visit along the way to or from your 'alternate city.' Tip: Smaller airports also have better 'on time' records as well (see video below).
Using Twitter To Find Airfare Bargains
There are a few great airfare experts worth following on Twitter. By the way, if you don't have a Twitter account it is free to get one. Discount airfare experts worth following include -
@airfarewatchdog (yes, they are on Twitter too).
Here is a great article on how to use Twitter to track airfare deals.
Please share your own travel savings story in the comments section below.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!