I get asked all the time “How do you plan all these great vacations!?!”. Admittedly, I love planning trips, almost as much as I love the trips themselves! However, I know that not everyone enjoys this part of the process. It can definitely be daunting to look at all the options available. So, I have compiled my favorite travel planning tips and tricks and will share the secrets to travel success that I have learned over the years while stubbornly insisting that I WILL see the world, even if on a budget. I hope these tips and tricks will help all of you plan your own trips, and know that YOU TOO can see the world!
I absolutely hate spending a ton of money on flights. To me, the flight is just a means to an end. Since I can’t apparate to wherever I want to go (my wand must be broken), I know that I have to rely on airplanes to get me to where I want to go. So any tip or trick I can find to get me the cheapest flight possible is going to be worth my (and your) time.
Next Vacay is my newest obsession. I first came across this resource in an ad on Instagram. The ad said that Next Vacay could find me flights at unbelievable prices, like flying to Europe for $350. Did it sound too good to be true? Yup. Did I jump on and enter my credit card information immediately? Yup. And I am so glad that I did. After you sign up, you get your first 30 days free, and can cancel at any time within that window. If you do not cancel, you will then be charged $25 for the entire year. When you sign up, you enter your nearest airport, then Nexy Vacay will send you via email cheap flights as they become available that are leaving from your chosen airport, or sometimes the other airports nearby. You can’t choose where you want to go, so you either must be patient and watch for that specific destination to come up, or you must maintain an open mind to where you want to go. That said, I have been sent emails with cheap flights to Asia, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean, so they’ve got a good portion of the globe already covered.
Scott’s Cheap Flights is very similar to Next Vacay. Scott’s Cheap Flights will send you via email cheap international flights when they become available. These emails will be sorted by destination and time of year (For example: “Central/Southern China $400s/$500s Sep-Mar), then the body of the email will show where these flights are flying out from. You can access some of the flight deals from this incredible resource for free! Or, you can upgrade for $39 for the year and get access to all the deals. I have remained at the free level thus far and have been very pleased. In fact, I just booked two round trip flights from Detroit to Honolulu for $450! Was I planning a trip to Hawaii in September? Nope. Did I snatch these deals up and then inform my husband we were going to Hawaii? I sure did!
Google Flights is a great way to get a preliminary idea of how much flights are going to be based on your dates. Using this resource, you enter your origin airport and your destination airport, then you can click on the calendar, and see how much the flights are on each day. The best prices will be highlighted in green. So, let’s say I want to fly from Detroit to Nassau, Bahamas. Using Google Flights, I would see that if I left on July 29, flights would start at $516 per person…But if I waited just two days, and left on July 31, flights would start at $377!
This smart phone app is similar to Google Flights, except you can save a specific flight to watch, and you will get push notifications and suggestions of when to book. For example, I used this app when watching flights from Detroit to Barcelona. I entered my origin and destination airports, then Hopper showed me how much the flights would cost per day in an easy to read color coded calendar. I saw that if we traveled to Spain at the end of May, our flights would be almost $200 cheaper than if we waited until mid June! Once you enter the flight you want to watch, Hopper will tell you to wait if they predict prices to decrease, or buy now if they predict prices to increase without another price drop in sight.
Hotwire is a must-have travel planning resource. Cheap flights are just a part of what they offer for making vacations more affordable!
A few more tips and tricks:
Book flights on Tuesday: When actually purchasing your flights, timing is important. Airlines typically lower their prices on Tuesdays. To be even more specific, the absolute best time to purchase flights is Tuesday afternoon. Flight prices will generally slowly increase after that into the weekend, with Sundays being the most expensive time to purchase flights.
Delete your cookies: I am not talking about eating your Oreos, although I fully support that. I am talking about the cookies, or the software in all of our computers that tracks what websites we visit and what we search for. If you use the same computer and browser to search for a specific flight, the cookies will know that you are looking to buy that flight. So, these sneaky airlines will actually begin to show you more and more expensive prices so that you panic and purchase that flight! Well, we can play that game too. Just delete your cookies each time you search for that flight, and your browser will show you the better price. Learn how to delete cookies here.
Think in advance: Domestic flight prices fluctuate more than international flights, so they take a bit more watching. In general, the best prices for domestic flights will happen about 7 weeks in advance.
Send me your questions and suggestions! If you have any other questions about how to book flights and score cheap deals, send me your questions! Or, if you have found a great resource or reliable trick, let me know and I will check it out and consider adding it here!
Up Next: How to find the right accommodations
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Leah Little has a full time job as a social worker, and has managed to travel the world while wearing beautiful clothes by knowing how to score deals in travel and fashion. Learn more about her journey here. Join the Leah Little Travel and Fashion tribe by entering your email to subscribe to be the first to learn new ways to enjoy the best in travel and fashion for less. Say hi and send her a message! Contact