This is the translation of the first post ever by Traveleira. I thought it would be a great idea to share it as well with more people than I usually share it, who are my Spanish-speaking loyal readers.
Constantly, when you tell someone your about to travel, people tend to think “oh, you must have a lot of money to do that” when in reality, in many occasions your budget is pretty tight. The difference between travelers and these people is that traveling becomes a priority and that money that other people spend a year saving just to buy that new car, the traveler saved it to finally visit India, for example. Now that I think I made clear that misconception that establish that all “all travelers have a lot of money or they parents pay for them”, it would be good to explain how everything starts. In my case, when I think about a certain destination, I try to enter to different blogs with travelers advice like this just to find some information about the place I am planning to go, read some travelers’ experiences and maybe, a few things that the locals can say about their city. Doing that you can also double check if the place you’re planning to go requires tourist visa to get there. I think that couchsurfing.org works pretty well in case you’re trying to fins out.
After doing that, we should start searching for all those things that will squeeze our budgets. I always start looking for airplane tickets because is the biggest investment you will do (in case you don’t have miles or points). If somebody have told you once that finding cheap tickets is pretty easy (unless it was me the one who told you that since I have a few strategies dominated already) probably they were lying or they only know how to search for US domestic flights. There are myths that says that the best days to buy tickets are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and that if you do it during midnight is even better. Trust me this is only a myth. I have bought tickets on Friday during day time and search them again at any time and never finding such a good deal as the one I paid for.
Some time ago, a study ran by CheapAir.com was published on which it is established that the best day to buy airplane tickets is 54 days before your flight. This number, according to the own article is not arbitrary and it may vary according to the destination. There are some other sites that establish a chart according to which region of the world you are traveling. For example, they establish that if you are flying either to Europe or Asia, you must buy your tickets with 4 to 6 months in advances. Once again, all that I have said until now consist on numbers, percentage, and probability. Now I will talk about real experiences. When I look for a plane ticket for leisure I start by entering to Kayak.com and write down my destination. I decided to add some silly screenshots to illustrate this better.
* This tricks are done starting with San Juan Airport (SJU) as local airport since is the closest one from me. You can try them with your local airport.
Ok, here we can see the main page of Kayak on which you can start doing your search. Like you can see, I chose the Roundtrip option and now I am looking for a *imaginary ticket* to Baku, Azerbaijan for December. Another thing that I made sure was to make my dates flexible so I could compare how the prices go up and down each day. To make the comparison even bigger, I also chose the option that allow comparing Kayak prices with other search engines. Once you have clicked the search button, the other search engines will appear in different windows and your Kayak window would look like this:
You can see that first appears a window that gives you the fares for all the days you asked for and it shows the cheapest option in green. In the second image, I opened the details of one of the flights that appeared as the cheapest to compare to the rest of the search engines.
Here I opened another search engine which is Cheapoair.com. As you may appreciate, here I found that the option given by Turkish Airlines is cheaper than the one given by Kayak. I repeat the same process with the other search engines to check the options they are giving me. The next step is checking the price that I can get buying directly from the airline. In the case of this flight, Turkish Airlines on their website doesn’t allow me to start the search from San Juan and Jet Blue does not allow me to make the search going to Baku. In this case, I would have to stay with the fare option of $979 to get to Baku (by the way, is pretty good!) or make another trick that I have learned with time and that I will illustrate flying *on my imagination” somewhere else.
Now, *on my imagination* on those same dates I am going to Oslo, Noway and repeat the same process I did before.
This is what I found in Kayak and that fare doesn’t really make me happy considering the amount of stops it has. Neither the rest of the search engines offer something that makes me happy. I have developed a little technique to avoid suffering this: create my own stops. Now I will explain this in detail (Once again, remember that this is traveling from San Juan but it may work for other places)
I repeat the search on Kayak.com with a little difference. Now instead of looking for a flight from San Juan, I decided to look for one from JFK.
In this case, I eliminated the flights with stops on purpose and focus on the non-stop flights from JFK to Oslo on purpose to compare this price with the one they were giving me if I started from San Juan and this one. Roundtrip. I guess you guys already understood that I really love Norwegian Airways. Now you must be wondering, how do I get from San Juan to JFK. That question is pretty easy, and I guess that many Puerto Ricans or San Juan residents know exactly how to answer it. There are three airlines that fly San Juan-JFK more than 3 times daily each: American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue. You only need to choose your favorite (or the cheapest). I won’t illustrate this part of the search but I will give you the prices each of them offer. On JetBue, you can fly from about $300-$350, on American Airlines from $308- $343 and on Delta it should be something around $380-$435. Lets imagine you choose JetBlue. The tolal of flying to Oslo would be $891. Notice you have to make your stops with at least a 2 hours difference just to be careful.
Now you may say “in your search from San Juan to Oslo there were flights from $831”. That’s true, is a $60 dollars difference, but when you think about it, stops may be a lot more expensive than $60. Everything is more expensive in an airport. Naturally, when you’re on a layover, you can feel hungry, anxious, you can find something you really like in one of the airport stores, and if you think about it, those expenses can fluctuate between the $100 and $1000. If you minimize your stops spending more time in the air you are making sure at least getting one or two meals included in the price of the plane ticket instead of buying something on that same ol’ McDonalds. When you are planning your international flights you have to consider these details in order to save a little more.
I guess that after reading this NO ONE can tell me that flying to Scandinavia is way too expensive. Is something I had already mastered and understood. This those have equivalences in other destinations that I will be showing you later. I hope this article becomes useful and soon I will be giving you more tips for saving for your trips.
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