One of the most important (and arguably, one of the trickiest) things to organize when planning a trip is transportation. You have to consider how to get where you’re going, and then how to get around once you’re there. Do you drive? Fly? Hop on a bus? What about a cruise? Sometimes, your trip may require a combination of these – or you may just rely on one mode of transportation. It all depends on what you want to do and how far you need to go.
When making these decisions, you have to factor in a few things: affordability, accessibility, convenience, and comfort are usually on the top of my list. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to outline how to go about choosing transportation while traveling, covering planes, trains, and automobiles (I haven’t been on a cruise yet, so I can’t dole out any personal advice in that area!). Hopefully you’ll find these tips and tricks useful!
Oh flying. We’ve covered lots of ground on what to wear, how to pack, and how (not) to behave while flying, but we haven’t yet discussed the joys of booking flights and finding the best deals. Having just booked an intercontinental flight myself, the process is fresh in my mind.
Here are seven tips on how to book affordable flights for international travel.
- Use meta search engines like Momondo (this is the site I just used to book my flight to London this summer! It’s awesome), Google Flights, Hipmunk (a friend just recommended this site to me – it’s a great resource), Expedia, and InsanelyCheapFlights.com, to search for the best rates on flights.
- Keep your eyes out for sales in advance – go to airline websites and sign up for e-newsletters so that you get a heads up on sales and first pick when the sales are running. This Buzzfeed article recommends booking your flights on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, as this is when sales are usually announced by airlines.
- If you aren’t in a hurry to get from place to place, book a flight with a longer layover or multiple connections – it may take you an extra 10 hours to get where you’re going, but you’ll save money! My only advice for this one is that sometimes your comfort is more important than your bank account – flying can be exhausting and sometimes you just want to get where you’re going. In that case, a more direct flight plan is your best bet.
- Budget airlines are king. Amen to RyanAir and its comrades – if you’re going to Europe and want to jump from city to city in a cheap and efficient way, sometimes flying pans out better than taking the train. Keep in mind that while budget airlines may not take you to the main airport, you will still save a ton of money. This summer, I need to get from Berlin to London and don’t have time to train or bus it – it’ll only cost me 40€ maximum and there are several flights at different times every day (30€ depending on the time of day!). Worth it!
- Depending on where you’re flying, try to book about 4-6 months in advance. Some people recommend 1-2 months, but that depends on your destination and the time of year you’re flying. If you’re flying in high season (June to September), your best bet is at the 4-month line.
- If you see a flight at a good rate (if you can get to Europe during the summer months for under $1100, you’re golden), don’t hesitate. Book it right away. Sometimes, certain seats sell at a cheaper rate, and once those seats are booked, the cost of your flight will go up incrementally. And you have at least 24 hours to cancel your flight in case a better deal catches your eye.
- If you have a credit card and can get your cancellation and medical insurance all in one place, you should do it. Read the fine print and compare prices on packages – generally, you can get a better deal doing this than purchasing the insurance offered by the airline. That being said, always get some level of cancellation and interruption insurance.
There are a ton of resources out there on how to get the best deals for flying and which airlines have high quality ratings – do your research ahead of time and your flight booking experience will be a breeze! And remember, flying is part of the journey and traveling is just as much (or more so) about the journey as the destination. What are your best tips for flying? Send me a tweet @KatrinaSklepo or comment below!
Until next week, stay well!