Get a leg up before you even get on the plane!
Travel planning has evolved dramatically over the years. Once dominated by travel agents, it has been blown wide open by aggregators and airlines themselves. For the best deals I start my search with Momondo, Skyscanner, or Hipmunk then move to the official airline site – where I often find the best deals.
Planning is key – how much time off do you get per year? Make the most of it by planning better. With all the tools we have available to us we now have no excuse for missing out on a good deal.
Best time to buy? The Wall Street Journal This Morning did a report on purchasing flights and came up with the best day to purchase tickets. Which day? Tuesday, and I would argue at 3pm exactly. Why? As airlines offer their new specials on Monday the rest then rush to keep up and be competitive. The offers level out by Tuesday afternoon and move up or down from there depending on availability. I have tried this when purchasing a trip to Africa, the cost shot up Monday night – I panicked, but held steady, thinking I was out $300… low and behold, Tuesday afternoon, the price dropped back below the original price from the week before!
*Update – Skyscanner has also published an exhaustive study which details when airlines publish their fares and how far ahead to book – great info!
My top five sites I use while planning any trip:
- Skyscanner: Have an open agenda and an adventurous streak? Plug in your dates and point of origin then sit back as Skyscanner presents your options. Best app I wish I’d known about earlier.
- Momondo: Great when you know the when and where’s of travel planning. I first found these folks at an adventure travel exposition in Chicago, have been using their travel aggregator ever since.
- Seatguru: Have tix? Great! Know where you’re sitting? Avoid getting stuck by the galley or worse, the toilets. This will tell you the plus and minuses of your specific seat on the plane as reported by other well-heeled travelers.
- TripAdvisor: This site has proven invaluable when choosing hotels. I look at the average rank and then if I want more details I’ll read a few 4 and 3 star reviews when choosing a hotel. Be aware that TripAdvisor does not verify that each review was made by an actual guest of the hotel and that the process to fix/remove false reviews as an establishment is convoluted at best.
- State Department– Do I need a visa? Which vaccinations are necessary to get in the country? Is there the potential of being gunned down by an evil dictator? All good things to know before you go.