How To Book Flights Without Breaking the Bank

 

A popular question that Ryan and I are often asked is “how do you all travel so frequently?” What may seem frequent  to one person versus another is purely based on perception, but in this post I will explain to you how we make the most of our ability to travel. Let me start by prefacing this post with, this blog post is in no way sponsored or paid for by any of the companies that I will touch on today. All thoughts and preferences are based on our own beliefs and experiences. 

If you’re new to my blog, I’ll give you a quick backstory of how all of our travels started. I grew up in a military family and by the time I met Ryan, I had been to quite a few countries with my family or with my church on missions. I was born aboard and my family later moved back overseas in my elementary and middle school years. So needless to say, by birth right the travel bug had bitten me long ago. Ryan, on the other hand, had not traveled abroad other than to Mexico. In our mid 20s, Ryan’s job gave him the opportunity to work abroad. We were married and moved to the Middle East in a matter of 2 months. In our first 14 months of marriage we managed to visit, 9 countries including: Qatar, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, France, Maldives, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

One thing that we did learn and that I will acknowledge is that it is much easier and cheaper to travel abroad when you are traveling from a central location like Qatar. Some of our trips were paid for or discounted through our jobs, i.e. we opted not to take our annual trip back home to the United States in exchange for our flights to Maldives or flying for weekend trips on stand by and at discounted rates through my job with Qatar Airways. However, since we have returned home and our desire to travel still consumes us, we have learned how to book flights without breaking the bank. There are a number of websites that can be accessed for free which provide flight deals daily. I’m going to touch on a few that we use on a regular basis.

Thrifty Traveler

ThriftyTraveler

Thrifty Traveler was one of the first sites that Ryan and I accessed to look for flights. They have a number of discounted rates that are posted daily. These include US based flights for both domestic and international travel. Just taking a quick peek over at that the site today I’m seeing deals for as little as Portland to Hawaii for $286 round-trip, Nashville to Chicago for $96, and New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico $249.

Thrifty Traveler also provides several travel related articles and promotes the use of signing up for travel reward cards to maximize on your return. They also offer a premium option with a fee of $35 a year which gives you immediate notifications and allows you to pick travel hubs amongst other things.

Secret Flying

SecretFlying

Secret Flying is another great source for discounted fares. One of the biggest advantages of Secret Flying is that it is not exclusive to users within the United States. This site touches on most global locations. You are able to choose one of the various tabs to isolate your search to a particular geographical point of origin and you may also search for specific locations and travel dates that you might be interested in. Keep in mind that a lot of the focus for travel cities of origin will be on major hubs.

One of my favorite things about Secret Flying is that they continuously post error fares. These deals are rates at an extremely discounted price due to errors in the airline postings. As wonderful as they are, use caution when booking error flights. Many airlines will catch the error and may not be willing to honor deal. However, if you do proceed with booking one of these flights, it is highly suggested that you wait a while before booking your accommodations in the event the your airline ticket is cancelled by the airline.

Travel Pirates

TravelPirates

Travel Pirates is one of top two sites that we use. It was introduced to me by a coworker who also enjoys traveling. I am linking the website, however I exclusively use the app on my phone. I find that the advantage of using the app is that I can set my notifications to receive flight deals as soon as they are posted.

As with the other two sites, the focal points of origin will be on major cities. It appears that their main focus as of late has been out of New York. Do not let this be a deterrent as we have successfully found flights from smaller airports.

Other great things that Travel Pirates offers are notifications on when airlines have major sales and a good number of the their postings include all inclusive packages to locations all over the world.

Scotts Cheap Flights

ScottsCheapFlights

Scott’s Cheap Flights is probably my Achilles heel. There are two options when signing up for notifications through Scott’s Cheap Flights: Premium & Limited. I personally bit the bullet and signed up for the premium access a few years ago. At the time when I signed up it was $25/year, but I do see that the price has increased to $39/year. I can gladly say that I do not regret it.

Here is why I chose Premium over Limited:

  • Instant notifications of flight deals via email
  • Access to use preferred departure locations
  • Notifications of peak season and holiday flights
  • Mistake Fares
  • Ability to use airport filters

At the time many of the other sites did not offer these things. For me, what was $25/year for hundreds of dollars in savings. Some of our greatest trips were planned based on notifications from Scott’s Cheap Flights like Australia for $708 each round trip from our home city which is not a major hub. Prior to the notification, we had not been able to find a ticket to Australia for less than $1,200 each, but lo and behold I have the awful habit of checking my email first thing in the morning. And one morning, there in my email waiting ever so patiently, was our golden ticket notification to Australia.

The premium membership provides so many more exclusive deals and notifications and in my opinion is well worth it. One of the best deals that I can say that I have seen lately was 2 tickets to Fiji from the west coast for $1,099 which is almost unheard of.

Fiji

Things To Keep In Mind

  • As with any of the sites, there will be a specified window of travel to capitalize on the deals. Some of these may be immediate travel and some may be scattered dates throughout the year. You will need to be flexible in your travel dates. We have been able to travel over Thanksgiving at times based on the deals we’ve found, we’ve been able to book trips for the end of the year at the beginning of year, and we’ve been able to book immediate trips.
  • If there are instructions on how to book the tickets to obtain the best pricing be sure to read them and follow them, but don’t let that deter your from checking other sites to compare the pricing. You may actually find a better deal elsewhere.
  • Do your research on the best time to travel to certain locations whether it be domestic or internationally. You don’t want to make the mistakes of not knowing the weather conditions like visiting a country during it’s rainy season instead of dry season or traveling somewhere during important religious traditions or ceremonies without knowing the appropriate customs, behaviors, or attire.
  • Find out if you need a visa or a passport and be sure to do that well in advance to your travel.
  • Lastly and most importantly, enjoy your trip wherever it is that you choose to go!

I hope this post has been helpful in providing an understanding of how to find flight deals at a better rate. If I receive feedback, I would be more than happy to show how we actually book our flights and what other factors we look for when booking flights. 

If you know of any other tips or great sites for booking trips, I would love to hear them and feel free to share them below in the comments.

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