Finding Affordable Flights – And Getting Inspired In the Process

The biggest financial challenge with any big trip tends to be the flight to get to ones destination. Flights, let’s face it – especially overseas, can be expensive. I get that, I really do. I’m not a person with deep pockets but I still have deep aspirations to take on every adventure I can. So, what’s a girl to do?

There are posts and blogs all over the place dedicated to flight hacking and detailing the best flight membership reward programs around. I’ll leave it to the experts that have dedicated their time with understanding the best credit card and airline membership programs, we won’t go into that here. However, if you are just looking for your initial first trip and aren’t dedicated to a particular airline or rewards program, we found a few ways to get started based on varying needs and desires.

1. When you know where you want to go and when.

If you don’t know kayak already, well, it’s time to get acquainted. This really is step number one! What’s great about this service is it allows you to search multiple days around your destination of choice to find the best deal across all airlines. Just setup an alert feature so you can receive notifications for when flights (or hotels even) reach the price you want! Yes there are multiple services out there like Priceline, Expedia and more, but I like Kayak as it provides the cleanest layout, functionality and it seems to be the most comprehensive source.

2. For traveling within Europe.

Ok, it may be costly to get to Europe – however once you’re there, traveling within the continent is CHEAP. I mean, like $20 cheap. There are a ton of budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet that fly throughout the continent at super affordable prices. You may not fly into the larger airports – such as Heathrow – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as smaller airports cut your waiting time and checkin time in half.  Yes you could take the trains in Europe for intercontinental travel but depending on the city, when doing a side-by-side comparison flying is cheaper and takes way less time. Want to hit multiple destinations in Europe? Fly in roundtrip on a deal of your choosing to one city and take a budget airline to your other destination and back. You’ll be surprised at the savings.

One tip – since these budget airlines aren’t always a huge priority for the larger airports – sometimes they are a bit delayed, so don’t schedule a close connecting flight. Also, these budget airlines have some hidden costs if you don’t come prepared. Ryanair for example will charge a ‘printing fee’ if you don’t come to the airport with the your own printed boarding pass. That fee can add up to $90 – so read the fine print and prepare before you go so you can get the best deal.

3. Keep an eye out for new airline acquisitions and route announcements.

This may take a bit more energy, but it doesn’t have to. Just be aware. For example, Alaska Airlines just bought Virgin America and that could equate to new routes, destinations and – you’ve got it- savings. Another airline, Norwegian Air, recently started flying routes to the United States. They’re trying to market this new service and as such, are offering incredible savings. For example, I was able to fly roundtrip to London from New York this past February for just $400 and now they’re offering similar priced flights for trips to Spain. Again, just another travel tip – with budget airlines like Norwegian, they try to makeup for their cheap flights with hidden costs. Norwegian Air for example will serve NO water or food for the entire intercontinental flight – which is a real downer. Especially since the flight attendants were British and seemed extra snobby when telling us this. Yes you can purchase items but it adds up and the food sucks. So know before you go and prepare accordingly. To me, the $400 international flight was worth packing snacks and water bottles for!

4.  Not sure where to go but you want to go somewhere fun?

Ok, here’s the bread and butter. My favorite feature in Kayak. If you don’t know where you want to go – but know you want to go SOMEWHERE – here’s a great way to find some savings and a little inspiration. Go to the Kayak home flight page www.kayak.com/flights and scroll down, you’ll see a bunch of ads like so:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.52.51 PM

You can click on any of them really – and you’ll be taken to a navigation flight page, like this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.54.03 PM

 

If you see the lower right hand corner, you’ll see the ability to browse flight origins and dates. You can select your origin (New York City for me) and then scroll down. If you scroll down even further, you’ll see the destination section. Here you can expand your destination and browse, based on worldwide, continents and of course, countries. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.55.35 PM

From here it’s easy to see which countries have affordable flights. In the list above, you’ll see there are flights to France for under $400 and flights to Iceland for $250! When you click on the country, a list of flights and dates will pop up that you can sort through to see if any of the time frames would work for you. Some of them are up and coming and others you’ll find are later in the year – so you can plan accordingly. It changes constantly so make sure to keep checking back – you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find. Using this  method, I found roundtrip tickets to Morocco from New York City for a shocking $170 on a reputable airline and many more. Needless to say – this is now my favorite way to find fun destinations I normally wouldn’t think to go to for bargain level prices.

And there you have it! A few quick tips to find affordable flights – for places you know you want to go and to discover new places to fall in love with. Happy flying!

 

 

Viva La Colombia!!

Welcome fellow travel lovers! We are excited to kick off our travel blog. Here we’ll be covering a lot of travel adventures – ones we take independently as well as those we take together – so you’ll get a taste of everything. To start, we’ll cover our latest trip – Colombia!

If you are anything like my parents – or anyone else I’ve encountered – you may ask: Why Colombia? Immediately images of Narcos, Pablo Escabor and cocaine dealers from the 90s come to mind. Violence, desperation, kidnappings even! I get it, I really do. But I have to tell you, Colombia is nothing like I imagined – it was better. And we didn’t encounter a single drug dealer. Would I have made this journey 10 or even 5 years ago? No. However, Colombia has come a long way since then and if you’re willing to stretch outside your comfort zone, I can guarantee you’ll have a great time.

So, to start. Why Colombia? Well, we didn’t choose Colombia as much as Colombia seemed to choose us. Randomly one evening, my dear friend (and fellow blog contributor) Corinne and I were having dinner (and maybe a few too many drinks) when we were discussing our travel aspirations.

“I always wanted to go to South America” I said.

“I’m down” said Corinne. And that was that. Very little arm twisting was needed.

I knew I had flight miles I could use and started looking up places that were on Delta’s flight path. Brazil, Colombia and a few other countries were all options. We settled on Colombia because they didn’t require a Visa like Brazil did and we liked the pictures we saw. That’s all it took!

We zoned in on a few cities, but settled on two: Cartagena and Bogota. Cartagena is a beachy, colonial town right on the coast and Bogota is the country’s capital located right in the mountains. It seemed to be the best of both world’s and a great way to get a taste of multiple aspects of the country. I couldn’t pronounce either of those names but figured as long as I had a credit card and a passport, I wouldn’t let that stop me. Voila! The tickets were booked for the last week of March and we were ready.

We did some research and decided on the following outline to get us started:

CARTAGENA
  • Saturday – Arrive & settle into our Airbnb. Then proceed to out dancing!! Bailamos!

BOGOTA

  • Thursday – Visit Cerro de Monserratea church on top of the famed mountains in Bogota with a complete view of the city. It came highly recommended.
  •  http://www.cerromonserrate.com/en/
  • Saturday – Tour the rest of Bogota, hit up a graffiti art tour and check out  Zona Rosa in the evening.
  • Sunday – Departure – back to New York.

That was our agenda and for the most part we stuck to it, only deviating slightly from the plan to incorporate a few fun activities other travelers recommended to us along the way. Stay tuned for following posts where we cover the events that transpired!