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I love travel planning. Sometimes I think I like it more than the travel itself. It’s exhilarating learning about different locations, finding the right accommodations, planning our day to day and finding the hidden gems along the way.
I have my own way of planning how we travel but I realize my way is not the only way. Well, it might be the ONLY way in my house, but not necessarily yours!!
I reached out to a few of my fellow travelers to see how they plan travel. I’ll be featuring them in a series of posts on how to plan travel.
Brooke from A Different Kind of Travel wrote the following guest post for me. Read on to get some great tips on different sites she uses to do her travel planning.
Hit Momondo.com to look for all flights that could work for me. I don’t just look at the airport closest to me, and I don’t just type in the name of one city. I do start with what would be most convenient/easiest first and then work my way through all possible options to make sure I’m getting the best deal. This includes but is not limited to:
A. Checking other nearby airports (and I weigh any savings with any costs of time/$ to get to those other airports above and beyond what the closest airport option costs)
Ex: When I fly anywhere in Europe, if the prices are too high going into the city I want to fly into, I always check the deals that exist for London. London is one of the easiest airports to fly almost anywhere else in Europe from, and usually also the cheapest to fly into/out of (especially from West Coast in the U.S where I’m from-because you can get non-stop flights easily to London but not too many other places as easily or as cheaply). If the price difference is big enough ($200 or more) and there are easy flights out of London to my final destination, I go there. This is also a great way to see London if you have never visited! You can use the $ you save to see the sights and then get the heck out of dodge.
B. Checking different dates before and after my preferred departure date by 1 or 2 days (and cross referencing with all different airport combos). This can add up to big savings. For example last summer when I was looking for flights to France for November the absolute cheapest tickets were $1200 everywhere I looked, on every date in November, until I suddenly chose the right date, on which I saw a significant dip in price. This leads me to the next step I always take to make sure I know about the best deals currently in existence.
C. Checking directly with the airlines who are flying my route. Often when specific airlines have sales or promotions, you’ll only see them on their site. I found a $900 RT ticket to Paris from SFO (my preferred airport) for a particular date in November by first checking all possible dates on Momondo and keeping tabs on the dates when the prices dipped, and then plugging the lowest priced dates into British Airways site and voila! I suddenly found a ticket at $300 cheaper than any other site anywhere online. I did the same thing the next Fall when I flew into Europe. I had heard Norwegian Air was doing super cheap promo sales so I went directly to them for my flight and looked for all cheapest flights leaving on my preferred dates. They had only a few options for cities that I’d want to visit, and out of those, I had to then check the cost of flying from there to my final destination (Prague). The cheapest combination for me was to fly to Stockholm on a great cheap promo fare with Norwegian and then fly to Prague from Stockholm. I saved $350 by flying to Stockholm. I then spent my $350 savings on spending two nights/two days in Stockholm and flying on to Prague.
D. Checking to see if any of my credit card points can be used, without sacrificing the lowest price ticket. This often doesn’t work if you have CC points that are only good towards certain airlines, and only good when booking directly, but it’s always good to check. My British Airways card, for instance doesn’t do me much good most of the time unless I’m flying a route within Europe between two common destinations, on unpopular flying days. Otherwise, the tickets are so much more expensive, and the flights are so much less direct (too many stops, etc) through BA that I’m better off not using any points and just taking the cheap flights I find through Momondo.com on RyanAir or other such airlines.
My Capital One Venture card, however, has no restrictions on which airline I can use. In fact, they will even reimburse me for hotel purchases, train tickets, and pretty much anything that qualifies as ‘travel’ on my statement if I request to use my points for those purchases. I got the card with a 40,000 point bonus, and used that 40,000 points to pay for my $350 one way ticket to Stockholm, and cover $50 of my Airbnb costs. It also cost me no annual fee the first year (and I plan to cancel it before my second year starts so I don’t get charged going forward)
I think Brooke’s tips are great for planning air travel and I hadn’t heard of Momondo before reading her review. I also don’t think any of these steps take very long.
Want to be a featured writer in my travel planning process? Feel free to reach out to me on social media or by leaving a comment here.