We live in exciting travel times. The world seems to get smaller every single day and our options for seeing things our parents only dreamed of are getting longer and longer. So don't just dream about that beachside resort in the south of France, get out there and experience the coastal life. Here's a few tips to get you off your couch and into your dream vacation without blowing your savings account.
Become a Super Sleuth (or Just Use a Private Browser)
Ever looked up a certain route on a Wednesday morning only to find that when you get home from work, the price has increased by $80 each way? Odds are you've been caught by the cookie. That is, the airlines watch what flights are being searched for by checking your internet browsing metadata and adjusting pricing accordingly. It's the same reason that one funny t-shirt you looked up two weeks ago keeps popping up in your Facebook feed or next to a story on immigration on CNN.
The internet tracks you so why not work smarter and open a Private Browser window when checking flights. On Google Chrome it's called "Incognito", on Safari it's a Private Window, but what it does is keep your flight queries from checking on you. I've watched flights go up solely because I daydreamed about a trip to Seattle and kept obsessively checking flights. On a Mac, just click on File and the second option down should be "New Incognito Window", or whatever language your browser uses. Alternatively, use Ctrl+Shift+N to open an Incognito tab in Windows and ⌘+Shift+N on a Mac.
Go Incognito and save some of that hard earned cash for when you get to your destination.
This works on both ends of the trip. If you can be flexible with when and where you fly into, you can usually grab some pretty amazing deals. Living in Houston gives me access to a few international airports within a 4-hour driving distance so if there's a really amazing deal that can only be had from Dallas' airport, weigh out if the drive is actually worth it or not. The increased options can net some really low prices. The same is true for where you're going. Right now it's cheaper for me to fly into Manchester non-stop from Houston and take a train to London. It might not always be like that, but flexibility means I can make it happen for a much lower cost.
Some search engines let you look up One Way, Round Trip or Multiple Cities so play around with some different options and see what you can find. On my first trip to the U.K. in 2007, it was cheaper for me to fly into Birmingham (BHX) and then fly out of London as opposed to just going roundtrip from a single destination. Same for last summer, I went into Paris (CDG) and out of Amsterdam (AMS) and saved at least $400 on a non-stop flight.
Don't be afraid to explore a new destination and you might save some money!
Compare, Research, Compare
I love Google Flights. It searches a ton of airlines fast and usually comes up with the lowest prices for me. The ease of use keeps me coming back, but it doesn't always give me the best deal. To compare, check out sites like BookingBuddy or Priceline before clicking buy to make sure that you're getting the best bang for your buck.
There's also fare sites like my favorite, Escape Houston, that list super cheap deals and notify you via Twitter or email when new deals become available. They currently check flights from 5 metro areas in the U.S. (Houston, Austin/San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York/Newark and Chicago) and have dug up some amazing sales, glitch fares and more. Make sure to click through on their links when booking flights as that's how they stay in business.
Lastly, check individual airlines for sales. Southwest Airlines has some great domestic U.S. fare sales that they don't list on search engine sites. The only way to find them is by digging a little bit on southwest.com. Many other airlines are the same way so if you have a preferred flying choice, check out their corporate site before booking on Google or Priceline.
Got any other tips for booking cheap airfare? Leave them in the comments below!