Guess what! I just booked us a trip to Paris for a combined 5th wedding anniversary (what) and my son's first birthday! Best of all, we are only paying $800 RT for the three of us on a full-service nonstop flight. Yes! We are taking the baby. He will celebrate his first birthday under the Eiffel Tower. It is bound to be more enjoyable for me than his last birthday which was a world of pain and actually I don't remember most of it.
As I was booking this deal, it got me thinking. I've come a long way to figure out how to travel this cheaply. Since beginning this travel booking endeavor, I've had a few people ask me for the impossible, that is cheap plane fares when and where there are none. I am good at what I do, but I can't produce a miracle. Sorry. Here are my top tips for finding cheap travel deals.
1) PLAN IN ADVANCE!! I can't emphasize this one enough. Want to go somewhere in the summer? Start planning during Christmas. How about the winter? Start planning in the spring. This allows you to keep an eye open for deals. As a rule, the closer you get to your date, the more good stuff will be taken. I love Airbnb, but the good ones get snapped up quickly and you are left with the rentals nobody really wants.
2) Be flexible on either destination or date. I knew I wanted to go to Paris, but I didn't know when. My top choice was in the fall, but I also would have gone in the winter or the spring. As such, I kept an eye open for all those dates and eventually something came through.
3) Don't travel in July or during the last two weeks of December. The last two weeks of June and the first two weeks of August are also challenging. You will pay double, sometimes triple for the same trip. Do a road trip then or stay home. However, an international trip over Thanksgiving is doable because it is an American holiday. My favorite months to travel are: October, September, and February (warm destinations only).
4) Work through your bucket list. Instead of choosing ONE place, have a list of the next three places you want to go. Jump on the deals, as they don't last long. Next for us are Paris, Seoul, and Iceland. This helps narrow down opportunities and incentivizes you to jump on them when you see them.
5) Look into getting a travel credit card. We have one we really like and we ended up paying for our Paris hotel with our miles. Cha-ching! Also, many travel credit cards offer trip insurance and no foreign transaction fees.
Ask me for more specific advice tailored to your destination! Inquiry is free, we only charge $15 if you end up booking the flight (aka save a boatload of money). I am tuned in to a LOT of travel websites. I get many deals sent to me and I would love to pass them on.