With a little bit of planning you can save money traveling – a lot of money. Sure, you can score last-minute deals on flights, like weekend fares. But overall, you’ll pay a lot more when you wait too long to book your flights. Let me share two ways you can save serious cash when it comes to air travel.
Useful Travel Tools
Airfare prices fluctuate like crazy, so it can be really time consuming going to various websites every day and performing the same search over and over again in hopes of finding a good deal to your destination.
Luckily, there are useful online tools that make your job a lot easier than it was ten years ago.
Two of my favorite sites for setting up airfare alerts are Kayak.com and Airfarewatchdog.com. They allow you to input your Departure and Arrival cities into their forms and then they churn out results based on the criteria you enter.
Each one has benefits depending on what you’re looking for. Kayak.com offers more granular control, but Airfarewatchdog.com has actual humans verifying their fares.
Once you know about, and actually use these tools, you’ll probably find them quite helpful and huge time savers.
Neal’s notes – it never hurts to check into these tools. I’ve personally found them to be hit and miss. But if you do travel overseas, one thing that you absolutely must do is find a way to stay in touch with the homeland. Here’s the solution I found to make international calls for cheap.
What Type of Traveler Are You?
You will likely be one of two different types of travelers.
Either you have a pretty good idea of what dates you want to travel or you’re pretty flexible and just want to find the best deal.
1. Travel on Specific Dates
Most people will probably have a fairly narrow window of time that they’ll be able to travel within.
Kayak.com is great for this because they have an option that allows you to define all of the following criteria:
• From City
• To City
• Leave Date
• Return Date
• Number of Travelers
• Class of Travel (Economy, Business, etc.)
• Non-stop Only
• One Way
• Max Price (in USD)
• Weekly or Daily Email Notification
If you know exactly what you want, you simply input all of your information, Save your alert, and then you’ll start receiving notifications when flights are found that meet your conditions. It’s simple, fast and easy.
2. Find the Lowest Fare
If you’re the type of traveler who is lucky enough to have some flexibility when it comes to your travel dates, Kayak.com also has an alert for you.
The options are fewer but basically the same as above, except that you eliminate the date restrictions.
When I was planning my move to Hawaii a few years ago, this feature worked really well for me.
About eight months prior to my move, I set up a Lowest Fare Alert that would keep me informed of the prices on airfare from Denver to Honolulu. I didn’t have a set departure date and could leave within roughly a one-month window of time, so I had plenty of time to watch the fares.
These tools could help you save serious cabbage. But if you do take a trip, just make sure sure to protect your identity while traveling.
The prices were hovering around $500 roundtrip and it took a couple of months before I saw the fare drop suddenly to $335 roundtrip. Because I’d been keeping an eye on the airfare, I knew this was a killer deal so I snatched that up quickly.
Because I had the flexibility in my dates and time to watch the fares, I was able to get possibly the lowest fare available. If you have the flexibility and time, this could hopefully save you quite a bit on fares, too.
These tools are not without their faults, however, and there are no guarantees they’ll always work so well.
There have been a number of times both Kayak.com and Airfarewatchdog.com have sent me an alert and I’ll go investigate the pricing manually only to discover those low fares are nowhere to be found any longer.
In my experience, finding the exact price they email you can be a difficult thing due to constantly changing prices, and Kayak.com does provide a little disclaimer when you set up the alert:
“Fares sent are round-trip economy found by KAYAK users in the past 48 hours. Fares are subject to change and may not be available on all flights or dates.”
But I believe the benefits of having alerts set up outweigh the cons.
Your Next Trip
If you’ve never used alerts before, I’d definitely recommend trying it out before you buy tickets for your next trip.
Setting up alerts is quick and painless and could end up saving you a decent amount of money. And once it’s set up, it’s automated so that you only need to pay attention to your email inbox to see the alerts rolling through.
Once you’ve purchased your tickets, you can simply cancel the alert and all that’s left is to enjoy your trip!
This article was written by Kim Olson over at Everything Finance. Everything Finance is a site about just that, everything related to finance. You can get information about investing, saving money, shopping, blogging, and making money online. Its Never too late to Start an Emergency Fund. Find banks with the BEST Savings Rates