Are You Letting The Airlines Get The Upper Hand On You?

1264114549-airplane-clip-art-free

Today, there are so many on-line travel search engines that it can get overwhelming for the average person to know if they are getting the best fare for their flight. You can spend hours looking, searching and still not find the best fare.

Flexibility, even if you can’t be flexible, is the real key to searching for the lowest fare. If you can be flexible, even by one day, you may save hundreds of dollars. If you can’t be flexible you still need to make the airlines think you can.

Before we get to deep into how to find your flight, there’s one trick you need to know about. All booking sites record web browsing data. Some will use this information to increase prices when they know you are interested in a certain flight. Have you ever searched for a flight and get one price only to go back later and search it again only to find the price has increased? Always clear your web browser before you search again. You might just find the original price again. Now you are ready to shop.

Another tip, is don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight. Three months ahead is the best time to book and some airlines will give you an early-bird discount. Over three months really doesn’t have any dramatic advantages.

If it’s a vacation you are planning, you might want to consider going off-season. Various regions have different Off Seasons. If you can fly during these times, depending on your destination, you can usually fly cheaper. I have listed the off-seasons below:
* Australia & New Zealand – August
* Asia:January- February
* Europe: November- March
* South America: March – November
* The Caribbean: November – March

Make a list of the airlines you usually use and follow them on Twitter. Do the same for the Hotels and follow them. Some especially Jet-Blue and Virgin Atlantic are very active in promoting their hottest deals in real time. (Facebook doesn’t offer this, so its no use to add them there.) Hotels are great about posting their deals on twitter. Don’t forget that each and every time you do a search for an online fare, delete your cookies, cache and search history first.

Start your search with Kayak. It works for flexible or fixed dates on domestic and international flights. They also give you complete price, with taxes and fees, if for some reason you prefer to use another site, Skyscraper is worth looking at. It also has a flexible search tool. 52% of its customers are return users, which is a testament in itself.

Travelocity used to be the best travel search site, but today the company is not even in the running. They have a record for high-prices and poor customer service.

Some of the newer and better rated travel search sites are Vayama.com, Hipmunk.com, Google flights (www.itasoftworre.com). Google is great at pulling up every fare accurately, but the downside is you can’t book directly through google. You need to link out to anther site in order to book your flight.

Another way of getting cheaper flights is to fly into an alternate airport. Sometimes the alternate airport might even be closer to your destination. Even if you have to drive, it might be worth hundreds of dollars of savings to do so.

Now let’s talk a little more about the flexible date option, even if you can’t be flexible, Typically, how it works is you will put in a range of dates for your departure and return then you pick your original dates from the list. Some of the best travel websites to use when you are using flexible searching are :
* Kayack
* Skyscanner
* Orbit
* Hotwire – Only US flights
* Travelocity – only domestic flights

Word Of Caution: When using flexible date options with some travel searches, the taxes and fees are not added until you select your flight. Fees charged by the airport can vary dramatically.

Bottom line-Don’t make your final decision on price until your flight is selected and you receive the final total.

After you have found the fare you like, always compare it to the airline’s website, just to make sure their fare isn’t lower. One other point, when you are checking travel sites for fares, make sure you check the box to also search for alternate airports, near-by.

My last tip to help you get cheap flights is at auctions. You can save thousands of dollars, but auctions are not for the timid. If this sounds interesting, the best thing to do is first spend some time on the sites to see how they work. And always read the fine print before you bid. SkyAuction.com seems to be the best auction site, but there are others that are good also as long as you remember to read all the rules. Each one operates differently. Some of the others are LuxuryLink.com, FlightFax.com, and CruiseComplete.com – used for cruises. Priceline.com is good for rental cars and motels.

I hope some of these tips might help save you save money the next time you fly. If you find a deal using one of these methods or you have a different way that works for you, we would definitely love to hear from you, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. If you find this article useful I would appreciate you sharing it with your friends and family.

St. Augustine, Florida – Relaxing Week-End

I just returned from a relaxing week-end in St. Augustine. Two of my friends from Church and myself had made reservations a while back at the Super 8 Motel ($79.00 per night). Our reservations were made before Hurricane Mathew had came through, so when it came time to go, we were somewhat worried how our trip would go.

st-augustineFrom the news and many people’s photos, we knew that the area we were going to had been flooded. Once we got there, we were pleasantly surprised at how much clean-up had already been done. You actually could not tell that just a couple of weeks ago, everything had been under-water.

We arrived on a Friday evening, went straight to our motel and checked in. The motel was very nice and clean. Beds were very comfortable. The only complaint we had was the smell in the rooms was not to our liking. My friend had brought along some air fresheners, which is something I had never thought about taking on a trip. Once those were put out, everything was just perfect. I know that I will add this to my list for taking on trips from now on.

After checking in, we decided to run to the grocery store and get some coffee we liked, coffee creamer and sugar. We bought the little packets of Maxwell House coffee that you can use in the single server coffee pots they put in Motel rooms, now. All we had to do, was open their little packets and use the disposable tray they are in. You can use that tray over and over. This allowed us to make our own coffee without leaving our room. We had already brought a cooler packed with lunch meat, drinks and condiments. We also had bags with snacks in them also. So, back to the room we go.

After unloading the car, we walked across to the beach to look for sharks teeth. Another new experience for myself. We stayed out there till dark and then returned to the motel. We took baths, ate and played a card game till 2:00 in the morning. A great way to end our first night at the beach.

Saturday, we all arose, got dressed and went to the light house. One of my friends had already climbed it before and my other friend wanted to do it. I had never climbed it either and was kind of dreading it. I didn’t know if I could make it, but I did and bought the shirt that says I made it as a reward. After our conquering this feat we decided to visit Old Town. This area had been flooded also, but most of it had already been repaired. We spent almost all day, walking and shopping there. We grabbed a hamburger at one of the local shops. A little expensive, but not bad tasting. Everyone knows when you eat at a place like that, prices will be a little higher then normal. It was the only meal we bought while there, so we really couldn’t complain.

On returning to the Motel, we walked to the beach again, to look for sharks teeth. One of my friends and I decided to walk out on the pier (which cost $1.00 apiece). While we were in the little store there, we found out it only cost $3.00 to fish from the pier if you brought your own fishing poles or you could even rent a pole from them. Very nice man that runs the pier shop.
Their are benches all along the pier for setting on, so we sat and talked awhile while watching all the birds, boats and people around us. Some people were surfing, some playing in the water, some fishing and some just laying out enjoying the sun. We watched a few shrimp boats, not close enough to really see how they were doing.

When we returned to the motel that night we showered, ate sandwiches and went straight to bed. We all were exhausted.

Next and last day, we awoke, dressed, packed everything up and drove over to the beach. We were fairly early, so we were able to get a pretty good parking place right by some picnic tables. We walked to the beach, again looking for shark teeth. I had one friend that had found a lot, another friend found a few. I Had found 2. You really have to develop and eye for finding them. It’s not easy. We continued this till about 1:30 and then returned to the picnic table and had a picnic before we left.

Our vacation was done on a budget that almost any body can afford. I hope you like our story and might get some ideas, even if St. Augustine is not your destination. Having snacks and other things in our cooler made our stay much more affordable.