Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vacation Planning part 1 - Airfare

It's that time of the year to start thinking about Spring Break plans and next Summer vacations!
When are the best times to travel? Where to start? Where are the good deals on air fare? When is the best time to book?

*Tip- Book your airfare BEFORE your hotel. It might be cheaper to fly into a nearby airport rather then the one you planned to book your hotel near. Also, there are a ton of hotels.....not as many flights.

When are the best times to travel?
Off-season, period. It's cheaper and less crowded. If you can go while school is in session to say, Disneyland, the park will be SO less crowded then on ANY school holiday and you will find better hotel rates. I will dedicate an entire post to Disneyland later. :)

Also, when searching for airfare, if your plans are flexible you can find better deals. Leaving and returning during the week is extremely cheaper then weekend travel. Search non-stop first. Often they are the same price as a 1 stop ticket, and you get there faster.

Where to Start:
I always start with a search for airfare through Kayak . It is easy to use and compares most airlines. And on the right side of the search there is a calendar that shows you fares for different days for the entire month. I just did a search for SLC to JFK in November and found a fare on Nov 3 for $279 Round Trip & non-stop!!
*After you find a good price on airfare on ANY search engine, go directly to that airline's web page to book the deal.* Search engines charge you a fee if you book through them.

With airfare, also check Southwest and Jet Blue. These two airlines DO NOT get searched on Kayak. They do not fly into every airport, so if your airport is not listed you will not be able to fly with them. (direct anyway)

What are good deals?
A decent deal to NYC from SLC is $400 RT (round trip). Anything less then that is AMAZING! (like the Nov. 3rd deal I found above)
SLC to Hawaii is about the same $400 RT.

You can base the places in between off that rate. Searching over a period of time, like a week or two will give you a good idea on what you should be paying.

Sign up for travel newsletters like Travelzoo and your travel destinations could be determined by a great deal you get in your inbox.

When is the best time to book?
I have noticed a difference from the beginning of the week to the end of the week. Never search/buy tickets on weekends. If you search over a period of time, you can see the fares fluctuate slightly.

Purchasing your tickets for planned travel as early as possible is the rule of thumb. Fares raise the closer you book to your departure. But again, search over a week or more so you know what the cheapest rate is you can get.

However, if you are available last minute, there are some great deals to be had. My sister was available to go last minute, so I bought her $10 one way tickets on Jet Blue to JFK during their "10th anniversary sale". She flew the red eye (leaves late at night and arrives early the next morning, you sleep on the plane and wake up with "red eyes") landed at 5:30 am, and left at 7:00pm that night. 12 hours in the "big city" for $20 and memories to last a lifetime!

Airport time:
Plan on arriving 1 hour PRIOR to your departure. I know that seems ridiculous, but with security today, and especially if you check a bag (a BIG NO NO) then you will need more time.

The one thing that can ruin your plans is a missed flight.

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  1. Michelle! Why do you not check bags?

  2. I have heard it is best to buy about 6 weeks prior to departure... but I start watching the prices long before that. As far as checking bags... if I don't need it immediately, I check it. It is less hassle at the airport. I did find out that when I refused to check my car seat that the government requires all airlines to stock a certain number of car seats for that reason. But I still carry mine on board... I don't want it to get trashed. Anyway, good post.

  3. I don't check bags because they might get lost and it's faster to get out of the airport if you don't have to wait for your bag. We pack accordingly so we don't have extra stuff to check.

    Gina, great comments! Thanks! :)

  4. You can usually make savings by flying into one of these smaller airports. This is definitely something worth enquiring about with the travel agent, as this has saved me a lot of money in the past.

  5. I found your blog very interesting and all the travel tips about flights ,airfares are useful.


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