I have been bugging one of my friends, Magdalena Whitney, to do a guest blog post on my site for ages. She is also a travel addict, a budget traveler, takes her husband and two sons along on trips, and has managed to see more places than most people I know. Needless to say, I hold very much respect for her, and admire her dedication to see the world. In my opinion, she is giving her children the best education possible by showing them the world. She puts people to shame who say that they can’t travel because they have kids. That, like many other things, is just an excuse.
While I still haven’t managed to get her to write a full-blown guest blog (yet), I managed to get this advice out of her just yesterday. This is a solid method from a seasoned traveler who knows the ropes about finding the cheapest fares possible. Originally from Mexico, she resides in San Diego, CA. This is why her tips are based on that particular location, but they can be applied to any city in the world. Read on.
Many people ask me how I am able to find such low fares for flights.
Some of my all time trophies were:
- Round trip San Diego-Stockholm (1 layover): $400 total.
- Round trip San Diego-Rome (1 layover): $377 total.
- Round trip San Diego-London (1 layover): $289 total.
- Round trip Tijuana-Cancun (nonstop): $126 total.
Finding these fares is no big mystery. But it does require being a little obsessive about it and to practice, practice, practice.
First of all, you have to know geography. This may sound silly, but seriously, you have to know exactly where everything is at. You have to learn the codes for every airport of every major city. And by EVERY major city, I mean every one. This will save you tons of time. Check all international airfares at least 3 times a week. (See why you need to know airport codes?) It takes me 15 minutes to check airfare to every major city in the world, leaving from San Diego. This way, you learn the trends of prices and how they fluctuate during that specific year- and it changes every year.
Other tips: Never, ever travel in the summer! Fall and winter are the best times to travel (inexpensive flights, lodging, etc., and fewer crowds). Plan your trip at least 9 months in advance. However, I gambled a couple of times, waiting to get that great rate and I got lucky!
Once you know the trends, when you find the best rate for that specific destination, you better jump on it. In just hours that rate will go away. Or, when you are ready to buy a ticket, see what fare is cheapest from your departure city and go to that destination. This is what I’ve done 80% of the time and the reason why our first international trip ever was to Scandinavia and not Paris, like the whole world wants…
Best rates are published on Tuesday night and Wednesday VERY early in the morning. Traveling on Tuesdays is usually cheaper than traveling right before a weekend. For those living in Texas, their airfares to any international destination are the best ever! Lucky dogs!!!
South America airfares are crazy expensive and rarely go on sale. Still, I’ll make it there one day. Asia is expensive, but sales are not as rare as South America. Also, in Asia, you may pay a lot to arrive, but once there, everything is unbelievably inexpensive, so it evens out. Europe is the easiest region to find cheap international fares. Once in a major city in Europe, local airlines will take you anywhere for less than $50, sometimes even less. For example, a flight from Madrid to Istanbul can be as cheap as $40 round trip! The most important tip of all is to be flexible.
The websites change constantly, so I don’t use a specific one- I use them all! When I’m in the zone, you will find me with 10 opened tabs on my desktop, plus the iPads on the sides of my desktop with another 4 tabs opened each. I use everything: travel hubs, individual airlines websites, airfare alarms, etc. But honestly, the airfare alarms have never gotten me anything good. It is about learning the trends at all times and recognizing a good fare when you see it.
Ain’t nobody got time for that? Then pay full price. Some people will drop $6k for a first class ticket without even blinking. But for us average mortals, and the stay-at-home wife of a fireman, this is what I have to do to fulfill my life project. With $6k, I can plan a 2 to 3 week trip to [fill in the blank] for a family of 4 for $6k!!!
Many, many thanks to Magdalena for these tips: I know I will definitely be using some of these in the near future! Like her, I have also found that it’s best to purchase tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and also to travel Monday through Wednesday for the best fares.
I’d also like to add that fares to Southeast Asia tend to be a bit cheaper than the rest of Asia. Not only are the fares to the more affluent countries more expensive, places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, certain parts of China, South Korea, and (especially) Japan, can be quite expensive once you arrive.
This advice is essential if you’d like to make the most of your money. Traveling really doesn’t have to be as costly as many make it out to be. Do you have any tips on finding cheap airfare, or cutting costs otherwise? Please share!
UPDATE 5/15: Magdalena now has her very own blog, and I think you’re going to love it! Please stop by Four Whitneys One World to see what she and her family have been up to! She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Go follow her adventures now!