Monthly Archives: December 2019

Travel

Find Good Airfares for Big Savings

airliner landing in large city - find good airfares

Airfare can be one of the most significant expenses in your travel budget.  The online capabilities of search engines and travel sites provide opportunities to compare prices, travel options and find good airfares.  You can search for your travel fares by various dates, or based on using different airports, or by looking at various route options in search of the best fares.  The sites also provide some helpful tools such as fare alerts, frequent traveler benefits, additional costs involved, etc.

Explore Your Options

In your search for the best airfare, it is always wise to investigate many different options.  A diligent search does not require much time or effort.  A few extra minutes in front of your computer or on your mobile device may surprise you with the number of options and different prices you may discover.  You will never know about these options if you don’t look.  Even changing up your travel itinerary can result in different pricing. 

Look Everywhere

A quick internet search for airfare travel sites will turn up many different options in your search to find good airfares.  I like to use Momondo, Google Flights, Kayak, and Skyscanner.  So I start my search using Skyscanner.  After finding the best prices for my planned travel dates and places, I then will open additional windows and check the same, or similar, itinerary on Momondo, Google Flights, and Kayak.  My next steps will include a search on the specific airline websites (at times you will find the best prices on the airline websites) and a search on the sites of the budget airline carriers that do not submit their information to the travel meta sites. 

Be sure to compare the total travel price offered for each option.  Add up all the costs including the ticket, any seat preference costs, baggage costs, carry-on costs, boarding pass printing costs (yes some of the budget airlines can nickel-and-dime you to death and an apparent cheap ticket plus all the extra costs can end up costing more than other options).

This comparison only takes a few extra minutes and often can save you significant monies on your travel costs. 

Get Alerts

Be sure to sign up for travel fare alerts at each site you visit.  Especially if you are planning your trip early and have plenty of time before you buy your ticket.  You will be able to see how the fares change over time and often daily.  As the fares change these travel alerts will let you know.  After all the research you have completed, you will know a great price when you see one.

Also on the internet, you can find various websites dedicated to searching for the best airfare deals all around the world.  They continually post fantastic bargain fares without regard to itineraries.  When they find a great deal, they post it.  You can get on the mailing list for these sites, or join as a subscriber, and get regular notices of the deals they find.  Then when you see a deal for a location you would like to visit, you can quickly buy tickets before the deal expires.  Many such deals are extremely time-sensitive.  Check out Scott’s Cheap Flights and the Dollar Flight Club which are two of these airfare deal sites.

Each major airline publishes electronic newsletters.  By signing up for these publications from the airlines you frequently fly, you can get notices of special discounts and promotions offered by the airline.  Often they come in the form of a special offer or a special promotion code.  If you are not on their mailing list you may miss these fare deals.

Be Flexible

There is no exact time to book a fare for the best deal.  Generally, the prime time to get buy is approximately four to ten weeks ahead of your travel time.  Once you do your research and sign up for fare alerts, you will be aware of the available options and will know when you see a great price.  By looking at the calendar prices many sites offer, you can see that it is often cheaper to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.  Pay careful attention, often the cheapest flights for the day are the red-eye, late-night flights. 

Look at Airport Options

Another way find good airfares and save is to consider using alternate airports.  If your destination has several nearby airports, you may get a better airfare deal to an airport a little further away from your desired location.  Then just compare the total cost of the airfare plus ground transportation to find the best deal.  Consider the time involved too if that is an issue for you.  I once saved over $800 on a round trip fare to New Zealand by driving 10 hours to a different departure city from my home airport.  Time was not a factor since I had a family to visit in the alternate departure city anyway so I got to see that family, save a bunch of money and still enjoy my trip to New Zealand. 

These are a few considerations in your search to find good airfares.  Taking a little extra time to do the research, planning ahead, starting early, and exploring various alternatives will help you find those good airfares and save the extra money to cover other expenses of your trip.…

Travel

Things to Consider Before Traveling with Friends

Traveling with your friends?  What could be more fun, right?  Such a trip can actually be a wonderful experience.  One you will remember for years.  On the other hand, it can also be an ugly experience that changes the way you feel about each other or those in the group. 

Disappointments, misunderstandings, and frustrations can easily sour the trip you have planned together for so long.  You can avoid the negative results that can come from traveling with a friend, or a group of friends, by simply considering some of the following travel tips.

Before You Leave

It is not enough just to decide you’re going to travel with an old friend, your family relative, an old roommate or even your favorite co-worker.  There are other important factors you should consider as you evaluate whether this person or group of friends has the proper combination of traits that will contribute to a successful and happy voyage. 

  • How well do you actually know this person?
  • What kind of travel planning personality do they have?  Are they a spontaneous person or are they a planner?  If this trait is opposite of yours, it just may not work for a long-term travel partnership.
  • Do you each have similar traveling energy levels?  Do you both enjoy short, leisurely walks and activities or are you both adventure-seeking, high energy, rugged outdoor types who constantly want to push the daily activity levels?  A mismatch can make for plenty of frustrations and may not work out the best.
  • What about your dietary habits and preferences?  Do you like the same foods?  A vegetarian will want to eat totally different than a meat lover. 
  • Are your body clocks similar?  Are you both morning persons or are you both night owls?  Again a mismatch here can turn out to be frustrating for both of you and others if you are with a group.
  • Do you enjoy constantly being with this friend or this group of friends in a variety of situations?
  • Are your traveling interests similar?  Do you both enjoy similar items?  A confirm art museum connoisseur will definitely have different desires during the trip than an outdoor, thrill-seeking adventurer.
  • What about the level of travel experience you each have?  Experienced travelers may get a bit frustrated if they are constantly needing to mentor novice companions.
  • How long is your trip?  One can handle a variety of different issues during a short trip.  But issues developing over a longer trip can really put a strain on the relationships.

Agree on the Basics

Now that you are planning your trip it is time to make sure you all agree on the basics.  Where are you going?  How long are you staying?  What do you plan on doing while you are there.?  What are the goals of the trip?  It is the time now to make sure that all parties are on the same page—at least with the basic, rough schedule and plans.

One hint:  book your travel with a set itinerary, such as a cruise, or an organized tour.  This will eliminate many of the decisions about where you will spend a good chunk of your time.

Agree on the Budget

Of course, in a perfect situation, all traveling companions will have similar financial situations and preferences—at least as it applies to the trip you are planning.  One person may want to make it a 5-star vacation while another is looking for a modest Airbnb experience.  One may want to walk most places and enjoy the nearby local scenes while another may want to rent a car and get out to other distant locations.  One may want to eat at fancy reservation-only establishments while another may want to eat in the local sidewalk casual dining spots. 

During the Trip

Plan on having some personal time during your journey.  Although it is great to be with friends, too much togetherness can put a strain on the relationship.  Also, each of you likely has some different interests you want to satisfy. 

Don’t be afraid of splitting up for part of a day or even an entire day and then getting back together for dinner.  That way you each will have some time to pursue your own interests and not be pressured to go along with another or with the group.  

This works, of course, as long as you are each comfortable going your own way for short periods.  Otherwise, one may decide to join a guided tour while the other pursues some personal relaxing time by staying at the hotel and getting a rejuvenating, and well-deserved massage. You’ll thank me for the recommendation.

Enjoy Your Friends

Travel is a great experience.  And traveling with friends can strengthen your relationship with shared experiences and memories.  Be sure to enjoy each other and be present.  During your together time it would be wise to limit your time on social media, emails, texts and phone calls.   

Be Flexible

Bring along plenty of patience and flexibility when you are traveling with friends.  You may not get to see and do everything on your list.  But don’t worry.  Your traveling companions may not get to do everything on their list either.  There will be many times you each have to give in to the other and adapt to the variety of conditions that occur during your travels.

Talk About It

Consider your traveling companion choices, plan ahead, communicate clearly and be flexible.  And most important of all, have a great time on your journeys together. 

Summary

Consider your traveling companion choices, plan ahead, communicate clearly and be flexible.  And most important of all, have a great time on your journeys together.  …