BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG

How to Find Cheap Flights Online

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How to Find Cheap Flights Online





Are airfare costs are keeping you from booking a trip?

Are you sure you're getting the best available fares?



Keep this article within arm's reach next time you plan a trip to quickly find cheap flights online. Even if you have no issue with what you pay for airfare, odds are others are getting better fares on the very same flights, due to a combination of the following strategies:

A Common Mistake that Costs You Money When Booking Flights
 is deciding where and when to go before looking up airfares. The problem with this seemingly innocent approach is that you emotionally commit yourself to an itinerary that is likely to cost much more than equally satisfying alternatives.

Regardless of what website, strategy or tricks you use, the following illustration shows where the cheap flights are, and why you aren't getting them:
     

You may think you're being flexible by departing at 6am to save a few dollars. Maybe you're willing to shift your vacation ahead or delay it by a few days to save a bit more. Truth is, any savings you get this way hardly scratches the surface of how cheap flights can be when you really open up your options. 

Let's say you want to escape the cold every winter for a beach vacation. If you give yourself a four-month window (flexible on dates), and are equally open to the Caribbean, Mexico and South-East Asia (flexible on destination), you will open doors to the sorts of jaw dropping flight deals you will rave about, and your friends will envy.


Best Time to Book Flights for Cheap Flights

People will have you believe there's a magic time to book travel to get the cheapest flights. Don't buy into this myth. Reality is, millions of people have varying travel plans and there are just too many moving parts to have a one-size fits all best time to book travel for best fares.

Lucky for you, there are free online tools that crunch data specific to your desired itinerary, and they tell you how and when the best fares will be available as follows:

  • If Your Travel Dates Are Firm: The Hopper app. and Kayak.com crunch historical flight data specific to your itinerary, and not only tell you the best fare available now, but whether the price is likely to rise or drop with time, and if so, when and by how much. These forecasts are based on historical data, so they cannot account for current events (airline strikes, fuel prices). Still, it's valuable intelligence to have when deciding whether to hold off for a better fare.
  • If Your Travel Dates Are Flexible and it doesn't matter to you whether you visit Paris in 6 months, next year or in two years' time. There are websites where you can enter your desired flight route along with the most you are willing to pay, then the website continuously searches for flights meeting your criteria, and send you a notification anytime it finds a match. AirfareWatchdog.com, FareCompare.com and Yapta.com all do this, and I recommend you setup e-alerts for all cities you want to visit, and that you get aggressive with your price ceilings. This way, you're giving yourself options and can prioritize your trips to cities with filler airfare deals. This also buys the website time to find killer fares to your other bucket list cities. 

Finding Cheap Flights - When You Aren't Flexible:





1. No single website returns the best fares every time. So, run your search through three or more websites. I use Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, and Hipmunk.com, but I also know many people who swear by Google.com/fights, Momondo.com and Matrix.itasoftware.com. We won't break these websites down into detail, but you should experiment with them all, and try to keep a given flight search to 15
minutes.

If you aren't crazy about the fares in your search results:

2. Toggle between one-way and round-trip as airlines sometimes charge different fares each way. If this happens to you, consider flying each way on separate airlines. You can easily look into these options using Kayak.com as their search engine automatically mixes and matches different airlines to get you the best fare each way.

3. Expand your search to include all neighboring airports. I am certainly willing to drive three hours to another airport if it saves me $250 on an overseas flight. 

4. When flying abroad, run your search through at least one airfare search engine commonly used in your destination country. For example, when traveling to Europe, CheckFelix.com/uk allows you toggle between countries, and it converts your airfare to that country's currency. Now you can compare the relative price by factoring the currency differential, and you can book your flight in the currency that gives you the lowest overall price:


*If you do this: Pay for your flight using a credit card with a 'No Foreign Transaction Fee' benefit. For a list of credit cards that waive foreign transaction fees, Click Here.  


Booking your Flight

Before you book a flight on an airfare search website, go to the website of the airline you will be flying on, and if the airline's website offers the same fare or better, buy your ticket direct from the airline to cut out the middleman, avoid stickly third party terms and conditions, and potential complications should a customer service issue arise.


"What if Prices Drop After I Book my Flight?" 

If the airline's fare is higher than the one you found elsewhere, you may be able to game any of the following policies the airline may have:
  • Best Price Guarantees are policies where the airline will match a better fare found elsewhere for an identical booking. 
  • Price Drop Refund Policies protect you from missing out on savings you otherwise would have missed out on should airfares drop after you book your flight.
An issue with these policies is the onus is on the passenger to submit a claim (slimy I know). Fortunately, Yapta.com has a free service where you key your flight itinerary and price paid, and if the price for your itinerary later drops to a level that entitles you to a refund, Yapta automatically notifies you, and all you need to do is contact the airline to claim your refund:



*Did You Know
: Anytime an airline notifies you of even the slightest change to your booked itinerary, that's your gateway to get out of your booking altogether at no charge. Simply call the airline when you get a change notification, and say the change does not suit you, and that you want to cancel - which they will do at no charge when it's due to an itinerary change initiated by the airline.


Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight

Some airlines not only offer price drop refunds, but also give you flight credits on top of the refund for you to use toward future flights. A number of airlines that offer this benefit, but the terms vary by airline. So, I break down step-by-step how to game the system and claim these credits in a FREE guide you can download from the homepage of BreakTheTravelBarrier.com:



Ultra-Low Cost (ULC) Airlines

If you play the ULC airline game right, your flying future is going to be a lot less expensive. Budget airlines generally work like this:
  • Your base fare entitles you to a seat, the space under it for a bag, and washroom access.
  • Anything else costs extra from printed boarding passes, use of overhead bins, water and snacks, priority boarding priority boarding and seat selection - except for Southwest where you choose your seat as you board.
Airlines that work this way include Spirit and Southwest (U.S.), Flair, SWOOP and Jetlines (Canada), and abroad you have AirAsia, Norwegian, Ryan Air and WOW Air.


Challenges Comparing ULC Fares v.s. Traditional Fares:

  1. In-flight discretionary surcharges can quadruple the cost of your base ULC fare.
  2. ULC airlines do not show up in airfare search engine results as their pricing model is not easily compared to standard fares. Also, their bare bones fares may also limit their ability to pay third party booking commissions.
  3. Since ULC airlines are excluded from most search engines, you may need to the go the website of your departing airport to see if any ULC airlines fly your desired route.

Comparing ULC fares to traditional posted rates requires you to factor in all surcharges you anticipate incurring on an ULC flight. Personally, I feel ULC airlines are best flown for short haul flights for a short escape where you won't be on the plane long, and can fit everything you bring under your seat.


Where to Find Cheap Flights

I am a regular radio guest where I call in from home, and I am commonly asked what the best flight deals are out of that city. These are sometimes places I have not been to or spent little time in. Fortunately, I am connected to a network of travel deal newsletters and Facebook pages solely devoted to finding and broadcasting jaw dropping flight deals. I list the ones I follow in my article Where to Find the Best Travel Deals.


Credit Card Travel Rewards

Since all travel is booked online, you have to have a credit card. In fact, I recommend you travel with two cards, and that you keep them separate to lessen the likelihood of losing them both at the same time.

With so many travel rewards credit cards to choose from - each with different benefits - it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which ones are best for you. I recommend you first identify three (3) common travel credit card benefits that you most desire, and get the card that has the best combination of those benefits. Then do the same for your second card, but this time choose three other benefits not offered by your first card. You can quickly narrow down which cards have the best combination of benefits for you using the credit card travel rewards matrix in this article where I compare the benefits of the top travel rewards credit cards.

If you follow these strategies, you will hands down land better fares over people who don't. And should we ever cross paths on a plane, I look forward to seeing who paid the least. Meantime...


Here's to Inexpensive Flights!

Fly Away


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com  

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2018

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Still using THAT card?
Odds are you're leaving points on the table.

According to CreditCards.com, 31 million Americans haven't changed credit cards in more than a decade - two thirds of them still use their first credit card. If that describes you, you're missing out on a bonanza of free flights, complimentary travel incidentals, VIP benefits and perks big banks dole out to entice you to sign-up to their credit cards. The latest up-and-coming benefit; an annual travel incidental credit you can apply against any incidentals fees charged to your card. 

Sign-up bonuses aren't as generous as they once were, but the sign-up incentives alone offered by the credit cards in the chart below add up to 28 free round-trip flights and a dozen free hotel stays. Every year, I earn a few free trips this way, and in the following video, I share how I did this to pull off a trip for taxes only:


                  


FINDING THE BEST CARD FOR YOU

To quickly find which credit cards offer the best overall value to you:

  1. Decide which benefits are most valuable to you.
  2. Filter the following list of cards down to those that offer the best combination of those benefits. (You must be a U.S. resident for the cards below. If you are Canadian click here for cards that apply to you).
Due to space restrictions in the chart, insurance benefits were not inserted. But you can review any card's insurance benefits by clicking 'APPLY' and reading the insurance benefits on their homepage:

FLIGHT REWARDS - U.S. RESIDENTS

Credit Card Annual Fee Waived 1st Year? Sign Up Bonus Points Free Checked Bag? Companion Pass? Foreign Transaction Fees Waived? Airport Lounge Access?
AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite
Yes 60K Must spend 3K in 3mths Yes on AA domestic flights No Yes No
Alaska Airlines Signature
No $75 30K Yes Annual pass from $121 Yes No
AMEX Delta SkyMiles Platinum
No $195 10K Must spend 25K/yr Yes Yes $75 max Yes Yes $29
AMEX Gold Delta Skymiles
Yes 30K Must spend 1K in 3mths Yes No No Delta Skyclub access discount
AMEX Platinum
No $550 60K Must spend 5K in 3mths $200/yr travel credit + $15mth Uber credit No No No
AMEX Premier Rewards Gold
Yes 50K Must spend $2K in 3mths $100/yr credit for airline fees No Yes No
Barclay Arrival+
Yes 40K Must spend 3K in 3 mths No No Yes No
BoA Premium Rewards
No $95 50K Must spend 3k in 3mths $100 annual travel credit No Yes No
British Airways Signature
No $95 75K Spend 3K in 3mths + 10K/1yr No Yes Must spend 30K in 1/yr Yes No
Capital One Venture
Yes 50K Must spend 3K in 3 mths No No Yes No
Chase Ink Business Preferred
No $95 80K Must spend 5K in 3 mths No No Yes No
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Yes 50K Must spend 4K in 3mths No No Yes No
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
No $99 40K Must spend 1K in 3mths FREE to check bags 1yr unltd. after 110Kpts or 100flights /yr Yes No
United Mileage Plus Explorer
Yes 50K Must spend $3K in 3mths Yes No Yes No
United MileagePlus Club
No $450 50K Must spend 3K in 3mths Yes No Yes Yes

HOTEL REWARDS - U.S. RESIDENTS

Credit Card Annual Fee Waived 1st Year? Sign Up Bonus Points Free Checked Bag? Companion Pass? Foreign Transaction Fees Waived? Airport Lounge Access?
AMEX Hilton Honors
No annual fee 50K Must spend 1K in 3mths No No No No
AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass
$95 ($75 till 01-18-18) 75K Must spend 3K in 3mths No No Yes No
AMEX SPG
Yes 25K Must spend 3K in 3mths No No Yes + FREE premium internet No
Chase Hyatt
Yes 40K Must spend 2K in 3mths + 1 FREE ngt/yr No No Yes No
Choice Privileges Signature
Yes 32K + 1 FREE ngt/yr No No No No
Marriott Rewards Premier
No $85 80K must spend 3K in 3mths + 1 FREE ngt/yr No No No No
Ritz- Carlton Rewards
No $450 2 FREE ngts must spend 4K in 3mths $300 annual travel credit $100 OFF multi flier bookings Yes Yes

MAXIMIZE YOUR POINTS

You should also factor how many points your card earns for everyday purchases. Most cards offer bonus points for purchases made at certain stores in addition to bonus points (or point multipliers) for purchases at select restaurants, with certain travel operators and for gas.

To accelerate your points earnings:
  • Use your credit card for all everyday purchases so long as you pay off your balance each billing cycle. Otherwise, the interest you pay on outstanding balances will erode the value of points you earn. *A secret way to charge rent, tuition and income tax payments to your credit card is to pay those bills with a Plastiq account linked to your credit card.
  • Sign-up to two or more cards. I recommend traveling with two credit cards (especially when traveling alone). Leave one in your bags as a spare in case anything happens to your primary card.

To collect your sign-up bonus, you are usually required to first charge a pre-defined dollar value to your card within a set number of billing cycles. This is referred to as minimum spend, and the minimum spend requirement varies by card. Most cards that come with an annual fee require to to spend $3,000 within three months of activating your card. Prestige and business cards tend to offer more enticing sign-up bonuses, but they come with higher annual fees and higher minimum spend requirements.


AVOID FEES

Any credit card with generous benefits comes with an annual fee. Some cards waive this fee for your first year upon subscribing, but you might not know how to have this fee waived when it comes due for renewal on your card's anniversary:
  1. Call your credit card company and ask them to cancel your card.
  2. They'll try to keep you from canceling by offering to either waive your renewal fee or give you points for keeping your card active.
You should make this call every year before your card comes due for renewal - you'll be amazed how often it works!
 

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at stopdreamingstarttaveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com    


Top Travel Planning Guide: Save Time and Money Without Skimping

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Did you return from your last trip to a scary credit card bill? Are you holding off on booking your dream trip due to the cost? Do you have safety concerns about traveling abroad?

If any of this resonates, you are in the perfect place because you are getting the ultimate travel planning resource - front row access to my New York Times and Travel & Adventure Show talks:

   - Expecting the Unexpected - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes
   - 99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping.
Watch the first 5 minutes of this talk below:

          

To see my full talk, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with the presentation:

                    

If you missed the highlights of my U.S. tour on my Facebook or Twitter pages, here they are with video of my New York times Travel Show panel talk:

Chicago
My first trip of the year was to the windy city which was also the first stop of my U.S. tour. When staying in hotels, I prioritize chains that include Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast in the base fare. These tend to be 3-star hotels like the Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn Express, Home2Suites by Hilton, and Embassy Suites (which is where I stayed in Chicago) gets bonus points for having an open bar and free snacks every evening from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

This was my first talk of the tour, so I stopped by the travel show a day early to do a test run:


                                 

I took advantage of the unseasonably warn mid-January weather to explore the city, using Uber to get from my airport area hotel to the Bean:
                             


Our Uber driver took extra time to show us his favorite sights. We had lunch at 
Gino's East which is legendary for deep dish pizza, then we rode the ferris wheel on the Navy Pier, and took in this amazing view from atop the John Hancock Center:



Manhattan
I landed in New York City a few days early to enjoy the city, and arrived to find this article in the New York Times about my speaking engagement and book signing.

It's no coincidence that travel shows take place in mid-winter. Lucky for me, New York was also having unseasonably warm, and I took full advantage to jog in Central Park:



I also walked to the Lincoln Center to see Romeo and Juliette - en francais:




To cut  my accommodation costs, my friend and Marriott Vacation Club owner Travel Coach Chris referred me to a Marriott ownership presentation that I attended in return for discounted accommodations. The property was under renovation, so after my three nights there, I was ready to move to the Marriott Marquis which is usually beyond my budget, but is the New York Times Travel Show's partner hotel. Here is the priceless view from my room:



The big day! As I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center, the size and scale of everything was imposing:
  
 

Here we are for our panel discussion 'Disaster Prevention - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes.' From left to right in the picture below are:

- Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world (Cassandra De Pecol has since claimed to have beat that record doing it by the age of 27).
- Kelly Walton with the Center for Disease Control.
- Karen Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizen Services.
- To the far right, fortunate to be in the company of these amazing people is me! :D




Click any question to watch me answer it:

1. "What do you recommend to those traveling on a budget? And what would you say to those who feel they cannot afford travel insurance?" 

2. "Tell us a story of an unexpected disaster you had while abroad."

3. "What do travelers commonly overlook when planning a trip?"

4. "What's your top travel safety tip?" 

After our panel talk, I was whisked away to my book signing where I was humbled to find a line of people waiting for me with a copy of my book already in hand.

Although I have been to New York City half a dozen times, I had never been up the Empire State Building. So after my book signing, we went up to watch the sunset. When we got to the top, we ran into non-other than King Kong himself!:


                                                    

San Francisco Bay Area
As mild as the east coast winter was, it cannot compare to California's sunny skies and palm trees. Little did I know, the day I landed in San Jose was the first sunny day in more than two weeks. The night before my appearance, I strolled over to the Santa Clara Convention Center and snapped this picture with Levis Stadium in the background:



I set a day aside for a day trip to a Redwood forests, and when I arrived at the entrance to Castle Rock State Park, I couldn't believe the park entrance was barricaded, and that I was handed this leaflet:



So I continued driving West on highway 17 to Santa Cruz, and was again stunned to see the east bound lanes closed due to a landslide. When I finally got to the coast, I literally melted as I sat on the beach watching surfers in the distance before snapping a picture of this sunset:


Las Vegas
I had 6 days to kill between my Bay area and Los Angeles travel appearances, so I flew to Las Vegas for some rest and relaxation (yes really!). I got 3 FREE nights at the Hilton Vacation Club for attending a timeshare sales presentation. The way it worked is that I paid $200 up front, which was credited back to my account after attending the presentation. This was the second ownership presentation in three weeks, but I have become accustomed to how they work. To learn how to survive a timeshare sales pitch, watch this video.

I spent my last evening in Vegas strolling the strip when I spontaneously went up the Eifel Tower and captured this stunning 360 degree panoramic video of the strip:


Los Angeles
The clear desert sky had me all forget about California's endless rain, that is until I landed in it at LAX. I had a commitment in Santa Barabara during my visit, and my drive there was thrown into a hiatus when a landslide came down on the 101 Freeway northbound as I was driving there. Here is a picture I took during the hour I spent stuck in traffic:



Despite the setback, I was determined to make it, and the kind folks at the Ventura Visitors Information Center showed me a back road to get from Ventura to Santa Barbara via Lake Casitas in the mountains. It was not without it's challenges, but 5 hours after leaving Encino, I made it to Santa Barbara (usually a 1.5 hour drive) and took this picture adjacent to the waterfront:




Show Time!
 The next day, I was back in Los Angeles, and it was a thrill to speak at the Travel and Adventure Show where I was the last speaker of the day. Here are the first 5 minutes of '99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping':

          

To see the full presentation, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:

                     

The Los Angeles Convention Center is attached to the Staples Center, and as my book signing wrapped up, an L.A. Kings game was starting. By the time I made it to the box office, the first period was nearly over, and I got a $133 ticket 15 rows from the ice for just $66. Here is a picture I took from my seat:




Philadelphia
The city of brotherly love was the last stop of my speaking tour where I was took the stage twice, moderating a Travel Planning and Safety panel discussion in addition to my '99 tips' talk.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Orlando Rivera, who handles expedited passport requests at the Philadelphia passport office, and Henry Hand who has worked at a number of embassies around the world. Both men are a wealth of knowledge on everything travel safety, how to manage your passport, and about what resources are available to you when encountering a crisis abroad. They have incredibly interesting stories, and were a ton of fun to speak with.
Click Here to read a Philadelphia Sun article about our panel discussion.

After the travel show, we did what every visitor to Philadelphia needs to do, and that was head over to Spataros in Reading Terminal Station for Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches:




Then it was time to head home. I love how the train connects directly from the beautiful 30th Street Station picture below) to PHD ($8 one-way):



These 5 travel shows attracted more than 100K travelers combined. In every city, people came to me to share how I was their favorite speaker, and that the savvy tips, tricks, steals and deals I divulge are invaluable. 

Once you see
'99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping', it will be the single biggest influence on your ability to save money traveling, and I'm sure it will save you a bundle on your upcoming trips.

To watch it, sign up to my Travel Tips newsletter at
Breakthetravelbarrier.com. Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:



*PS: Your family and friends will love you even more than they already do once you share this with them.


WANT MORE?
 Get my FREE GUIDE 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com 


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight with Kate Delaney, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He is the author of 'Stop Dreaming... Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less' available at
StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.




Beat the System when Booking Travel Online

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The most daunting part of booking a trip online is the overwhelming number of options to choose from. Truth is, it's hard to know where to turn to find the best fares, and once you finally find a good deal, you may later return to your computer to find the price has since increased. This can happen due to a number of reasons:

1. Low fares are restricted to a set number of bookings, and if they all get booked between the time you run your search to the time you return to your computer, your price is going to jump.

2. Anything a website knows about you can be used to assume your purchasing power and intentions. Websites often have macros that manipulate your search results based on your demographics. For example:

·     If you logon to the website, it will know everything you have entered and done on that site.

·     If cookies are enabled on your PC, the website can see your search history on their site.

·     Websites can see what operating system you are using. Some may assume users of certain operating systems are be willing to pay more (or less) than others and could manipulate prices according to those assumptions.

Any demographic based price adjustments are likely to be in small dollar amounts, but if you are determined to conduct your search in stealth mode, I recommend not logging onto the website prior to running your search, delete cookies on your PC, and run your search from two computers with different operating systems.

CLICK HERE to hear what Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank and I have to say about this on Toronto News Talk 1010.

                                                              

Out-Negotiate the Priceline Negotiator
Bidding websites like Priceline allow you to bid how much you are willing to pay for a hotel room. The way these websites work is they require your credit card information before you submit your bid, and if it is accepted, your card is automatically charged a non-refundable booking. What you don't know is that if you bid more than the base rate, Priceline splits the difference 50/50 with the hotel.

There is a secret way to get around this. Instead of using your credit card, use a pre-paid Visa card with a small balance (i.e. $2). If your bid is accepted, you will get a pop-up window saying your credit card could not be charged (as it has insufficient funds). You can then lower your bid, and keep lowering it until it is finally rejected. You now know the lowest acceptable bid and can book your room using your credit card at that base fare and not a penny more.


                       

Best Time to Book Flights for Best Fares

I truly believe there are too many moving parts to pin down a one-size fits all best time to book travel online. Luckily, there are incredibly powerful tools you can use that crunch historical data related to the specific flight you want to take and can show you the best price you can get now, whether the price is likely to rise or drop, when and by how much.

You can do this using a free App called
Hopper, and you can also use Kayak's Airfare Predictor. Bear in mind, as with financial investments, past performance is not necessarily reflective of future returns, but it's always good to have historical data on-hand when making your decision.

What if a Better Fare Arises After I Book? 

·    For flights, airlines allow you to cancel reservations within 24 hours of booking. Once that grace period ends, high change fees tend to offset any cost savings you would get from changing your original flight. 

·    Hotel rooms booked through a travel agent or directly with a hotel tend to have better terms, often allowing you to cancel with no penalty as late as 6pm on check-in day. Anytime you find a good fare, try to book it under these terms to lock-in that rate. If something better comes along, you can simply cancel your existing reservation and rebook at the lower fare.

·    Some websites constantly search for better fares after you book, and alert you when they find lower fares for an identical itinerary. Tingo.com (for hotels) and Autoslash.com (for car rentals) do this and allow you to cancel your existing reservation and rebook at the lower fare.

Last year, 22-year old college student Aktarer Zaman made international headlines after launching skiplagged.com, a website that shows you how to fly cheaper by booking indirect flights that connect through your destination city where you can simply hop-off the plane. If you try this:

·     Carry on all your luggage as checked-bags will go on to the final destination. 

·    Book a one-way flight because anytime you miss a leg of a flight, all subsequent legs are automatically cancelled and are ineligible for refund or credit.

I first learned about this in 2013 when my friend Adam showed me he could fly cheaper to Houston by booking a flight to New Orleans connecting in Houston and hopping off, than it would cost to book a flight destined to Houston.

Are the savings worth the time it takes it takes to do these things?  
Everything boils down to time vs. money. If you can afford to take a trip, you might not feel the time spent is worth the possible savings. But if it makes the difference between being able to afford a trip or not going, it's well worth the effort.

Regardless of whether I save $500, $5 or nothing at all, I am willing to try any strategy that can save me money regardless of affordability. Often those who can afford a trip are the ones who overpay. In fact, knowing HOW to save money is more powerful that HOW MUCH you may save on one specific trip, as you can apply the principles for every trip.



CLICK HERE to hear me talk about all this and more on CBC.

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at stopdreamingstarttraveling.com    
                           
                               
FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at breakthetravelbarrier.com