I should start off by saying I am not the traditional Jet setter. At a time I made great money and could have traveled in luxury anywhere I wanted. However, I wasn’t happy. So, I left the unhappy situation behind and set out to live life in a way that would make me happy. However, before making changes one thing I learned was that travel definitely made me happy. So there’s things with my travel that I sacrifice that perhaps traditional jet setters with the unlimited bank account don’t have to think about. For instance, booking a flight.
Back in the early part of 2015 I bought a ticket to the F1 race in Monza and I decided why not take a trip to Europe for the F1 race? I’ve done a lot of reading about booking flights, book on Wednesday mornings, make sure you fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, You’ll get the best prices 53 days out from the day you want to fly, make sure you use incognito mode, etc. I put a task in my Samsung Galaxy Note Edge calendar to begin looking for flights about 2 months out from when I want to leave. Usually I can find a flight one way from NYC to Europe for $250 – 350. This time however, due to various projects going on in my personal life I completely forgot and here it was 30 days out and I still haven’t booked a flight. At this point to find an inexpensive flight you really need to be committed to putting some time in.
My previous two flights to Europe I booked about 6 weeks out and found the best deals at the airlines sights. The most recent being Norwegian and the previous being Icelandair. I obviously checked both of those and realized flight prices were about double.
So it was time to get down to work. I popped myself incognito mode. Why did I put myself incognito mode? Well, airlines track and see what are popular route. And do you know what they do to the popular routes? They raise prices. So it’s always best to put yourself incognito, and for extra “safety” don’t have a “home airport” and check various close airports, and even do your searching on various devices (laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc).
Okay, your incognito mode. Now it’s time to have your list of airports close to home and your list of airports close to your destination. I live in CT so the closest international airport for me would be Bradley in Hartford. However, through research I’ve learned Bradley is almost always 150 – 200 dollars more than flying from NYC or Boston. So you need to decide what is most important to you, convenience or price. If you choose price, you need to make sure, the amount of money your will be spending to get to the further airport will not have you changing your tune. For me going to NYC or even Boston will add some money to my ticket price (when you add on the travel to these airports) but certainly not enough to not make it worth it to fly from NYC or Boston instead. With going to Monza it’s closest to the airports in Milano, however, Lugao in Switzerland, Pisa, and Venice are also close enough to my destination that I will give them a look as well.
Okay, you have the list of airports you want to search, now you need to decide which travel sites you want to search through. Again, usually you can get good deals right from the airlines official page, however, with it being 30 days out that wasn’t working for me. But if you wanted to give it a shot, look at a few airlines, not just one. Icelandair, wowair, Swissair, Alitalia, Delta, etc. Wowair doesn’t have a lot of destination spots yet, but if you’re close to one of the airports you’ve got to give them a look, they can have really great prices and sales! And don’t forget sometimes you can find a great price to a different part of Europe and then got on a discount airline in Europe (Ryanair, Easyjet, and the like) and possibly save money rather than flying directly through 1 airline. Again, you need to be committed.
If you’ve checked those airlines and the prices aren’t working for you, you can go ahead and try sites like Kayak, Priceline, Expedia, and the like. Granted with those you are taking a bit of a chance. Going through those, you would be the first bumped off a flight if it is overbooked. So, weigh the risk, it hasn’t happened to me yet, but I know in the back of my mind, I’m playing odds and it could happen.
So, with all of these sites, the way you want to search is going to go like this:
- Remember, get yourself incognito mode.
- You are going to go on the first site you want to search (you will repeat these steps for all sites), if you have the option of flexibility with when you fly, you definitely want to click that option (if given), there’s times where a day earlier or later could save you $100.
- You will type in the first of your home airports and you will click (if given the option) search surrounding airports you will then type in one of your detestation airports (again click search surrounding airports). You will then be given a list of prices etc, you can decided from there if any of that works for you. Now remember you click flexible dates and surrounding airports, so if you see a price you like, make check the date and the airport you are departing from and arriving into and make sure they work for you.
- You if don’t find a price you like, or if you want to see if there’s something better, next you will stay on that site, and the same departure airport, but change the arrival airport to the next on your list. Continue to work your way down in this manner until you’ve gone through all of your arrival airports. From there you can stay on the site, start with the next departure airport on your list and begin working your way down all of the destination airports again. Once you’ve gone through all departure and arrival, you can move on to the next site and do it all over again.
Once you’ve done all of that, there’s still another trick!
Some of the airlines have sites in various countries. So, my Italian is pretty good, so I’ll go and search the Italian sites. So you see a lot of times at the end of the link .us if your in the states, you can change that to diff countries so me knowing enough Italian I change it to .it and all of a sudden I’m on the Italian site! And guess what? Prices can be different. This works great too if you can hide or IP address because then you can use an IP in a different country then “translate” to English or your native tongue and search even more countries. You want to make sure you check the prices in the British pound, the Euro, and US dollar and know the exchange rate, and the fees places by your credit card or bank when paying with pounds or Euros, etc, and know if it is worth it to book on another site (like the .it site). If you don’t know how to check exchange rates just type euro to us dollar or something similar in google and it will bring up where you can type in a price and it will change it to what you are looking for. It’s simple and self explanatory once you type in “Euro to US dollar” in google. Go ahead and try it now. You will need to call your bank and credit card company to find out about fees.
The final thing, I touched on just a bit, is flying into one destination and taking a puddle jumper to your destination. So there’s airlines like Wowair which sometimes have $99 dollar sales from the states to a few destinations in Europe. If you’re able to find a really great price but it’s not to your destination, bring up easyjet or Ryanair and type that destination as the departure and your destination as the arrival add those two prices and see if it would be a better price range. But make sure you check those departure and arrival sites as sometime the airport they fly out of may be considered the same city, but different airports, so you’ll want to see if traveling between the two is worth it.
As for my flight? I ended up booking through StudentUniverse as I am a college student and got a flight for $371 and change on Swissair leaving from NYC to Milano with a short layover in Switzerland. So it took some time, but ended up only being about $20 more than I like to pay. So, it took me a few hours, but for me? It was worth it. Now I have more money for the experiences I;’ll have in Europe, rather than on the flight. Because you know the best experiences happen once your own the ground exploring your destination.
It may seem light a daunting task, but if you make your list of sites, departure and arrival airports and just work down one by one, crossing them off as you go, you’ll be able to get through it, without driving yourself crazy.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes!
Tomorrow’s post: To hostel or not to hostel.