Travel Talk: Flight Deals
Sunday was a fairly regular day for me as I pulled myself back together from the days that had passed me by. I had my time with God, I went to the gym, and even managed to eat some leftover pizza. What's unique about this day is that I landed an amazing flight to the capital of South Africa, Cape Town.
You're probably wondering how I'm managing to take several international trips within months of each other, right? You're probably wondering what type of job I have or if I'm in a travel club that pays me to travel, right? Well, I would love to tell you I'm balling and my job pays for this travel but truth be told, I'm just a nearly 30 year old who works at a nonprofit in DC with a sky high rent due each month. I say all this to say that I can barely afford to travel but I make it a priority rather than a luxury.
I wanted to share a few tips I've used when it comes to booking deals. These aren't necessarily foolproof but it is the perfect way to start. I also wrote recently about traveling on a budget which includes helpful links!
Surround Yourself With Other Travelers
Unless you prefer solo travel then you need a crew to roll with when jet setting around the world. For me, this is a few of my girlfriends but for others, this may be a group of perfect strangers who enjoy seeing other places. These people are much more prone to sending you information on deals before they put it on their facebook. For instance, I told two people about the South Africa flight deal before Facebook because I knew they were frequent travelers.
Join a Travel Group
I'm in two travel GroupMe chats which seem small but when you have hundreds of people on the same mission then it adds up. This means I have 24 hour access to people who find fare glitches and RSS feeds from different sites which track flights domestically and internationally.
Get a Good Credit Card
Did I mention that I'm not rich? This step takes discipline but can be more helpful than anything if used correctly. A good credit card will allow you to purchase flights at a moment's notice but also provide you return on travel. My current card provides 1.5% cash back on unlimited purchases even flights. Use this wisely or you could possibly bite off more than you can chew with a large amount of debt.
Book Now, Question Later
I originally saw the flight for South Africa fairly early Sunday morning with little information provided. Assuming it was dead and not knowing the important details, I almost missed out on a great deal. With a bit more research and plugging, we were able to locate tickets that are cheaper than what most people would pay to go across the country. This being said, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I'm not a pro but no one will search for a flight for you nearly as hard as you would yourself. In a lot of instances, people can be very vague when it comes to flight deals especially if they are still trying to get their friends booked. This means that you need to take what you can and start from point A so you're not forced to rely on anyone else which can be a large hassle. We spent around 30 minutes plugging dates/locations into various websites in order to find a price we were comfortable with. These deals normally don't last more than a day, if that, so it is important that you book as quickly as possible.
Know Your Price
Remember when I talked about my recent trip and my lack of knowledge for the pricing of the island? This holds true for anywhere you visit...check the cost of everything from tourist attractions, food, lodging, and transportation. It's also important to note what the currency exchange rate is and how far your USD will go. My flight to Ghana was a little bit over a $1000(I didn't know any better) BUT the exchange rate was amazing so it made up for the difference. In the same token, always have a price you're willing to pay. My trip to Madrid/London was less than $500, my upcoming trip Morocco and Portugal was $350 which are all comfy price points to me and amazing steals.
Wait It Out
Flight Deals of this nature are usually glitch fares which means you're getting a ticket for hundreds/thousands less than what they may actually be. This means a lot of tickets are booked at inexpensive prices which could ultimately be canceled by the airline. My flight to Madrid was officially cleared a week after the original purchase so hold your horses when it comes to additional planning.
Location, Location, Location
Though it would be nice, sometimes our most desired locations will never be cheap. This means you have to expand your outlook and be willing to travel somewhere that may be low on your travel list or maybe wasn't there to begin with. Though I've wanted to travel to South Africa, I would have been completely fine going to Dubai, Tanzania , Kenya,etc.