Well, I’m leaving (on a jetplane) again. For Los Angeles, again. And once again, I’m reminded how much I hate the experience of modern air travel. I might not have any way to combat the tedious (and possibly ineffective) safety regulations, but I have come up with a system to save as much money as possible.
Tip #1: Don’t pay for it. Ok, this really isn’t “advice,” since not everyone has big, doe-y gray eyes like I do. But if you happen to be good at it, get someone else to pay for your flight. I’m not advocating begging, pleading or blackmailing (unless you’re really good at those) – instead, I just wait around until someone else buys me a plane ticket. It happens more often than you might think.
Tip #2: Don’t pay much for it. Although someone else usually pay for my ticket, I’m always charged with the task of tracking down the cheapest ticket. Because I’m exceptionally good at snaking my way around the internet and finding a deal? Probably not. It’s probably more along the lines of “I have a lot of time on my hands to scour websites.”
The best thing to do is use some of the “fare aggregator” websites, which search of the other plane fare websites for you. I have a confession to make: last time I went price checking, I brushed off the best website of all – didn’t even visit it, let alone fill out the search box and look up fares. Funny story, actually. Because the site is named Kayak*, and I can’t swim and thus am deadly afraid of kayaks (the idea of getting flipped over in one and being trapped under water gives me the heebee-jeebees), I didn’t even visit the site. I completely avoided it.
Not so this time, however. I bounded over to Kayak and fell in love at first search. Not only did it find me the lowest fare, but the advanced search options allowed me to both be flexible about dates and airports (I can fly out of Rochester or Buffalo, and land at LAX or Burbank… doesn’t matter to me) in order to find the bestest best fare for me. Win!
I’ve got this cute Kayak site widget, if you want to try it out right now:
The other site I use is SideStep, which didn’t find me the same low fare as Kayak this time, but it’s worth checking both sites every time.
Tip #3: Don’t buy anything at the airport. Seriously, there’s nothing there you can’t buy elsewhere, and probably at a quarter of the price. Be a little prepared, and you won’t need to buy anything in there. I just went to the supermarket and loaded up on Pringles and those little cheddar cracker sandwiches with peanut butter inside them. Bring your own books and magazines – airport bookstores are about the only place you’ll ever see books selling at their list price.
The only thing you really have to buy in the airport, maybe, is a drink, since they won’t let you bring one in. But you could always bring in an empty water bottle and fill it at a drinking fountain once you’re through security.
Tip #4: Definitely don’t buy anything on the plane. $5 for the world’s shoddiest pair of headphones? And don’t even get me started on those SkyMall catalogs. You’re being catapulted across the country in a metal tube – now is not the time to be buying lawn ornaments or massage chairs. And if the in-flight movies aren’t free, forget about them. They’re usually not that good anyway, and even if they are, they’re usually edited for content.
Tip #5: Park the car for free. This might be hard to pull off. Since I’m flying out of Buffalo again, it’s particularly hard to find someplace to leave my car for a week, without getting charged $50. Thankfully, I have a friend who goes to college in Buffalo, who doesn’t mind me leaving my car at his place, and giving me a ride from his campus to the airport – in exchange for a plate of brownies.
Juan Millon says
You know you couldn’t have posted those links at a better time. I need to find a flight to TX for a rental property I want to buy! w00t! Thanks for sharing. (Clicks on every link) click click click
Awesome! Hope you find a good fare! Glad I could help!
Some great tips and I couldn’t agree more with tips number 3 and 4. Wherever you are travelling from in the world all airports seem to be very expensive and buying stuff on the airplane itself is even worse
when we fly out of san diego, the huz drops us off, while we check in, etc…then goes to the nearby military base, parks it in the lot and hitches a ride back. you would NOT believe how many nice ppl are out there more than willing to give a really cute guy a ride to the airport to meet his ‘sister’ 🙂 wink wink! get it.
Hey, i told him to use what he has to get what he wants. LOL
i feel the same way about kayaks too!
Great tips. Two more websites for airfares I use are airfarewatchdog.com and farecompare.com.
Frugal travel is my full time hobby
Ron K says
Very Good information on how-to save money at the airport, and on the plane.
It is a fact, that airline companies have a hard time makeing money, so they have to sell everthing that they can to make a profit. Smart, frugal people, like yourself, are a great asset to working people who do not have the time to learn how-to save money when on vacation….
Greg M says
Love the travel information! Goes well with us traveling on a budget. Travel should be fun and not expensive.
Dave - New Zealand Pictures says
It’s a simalar thing with hotels, places like lastminute.com are good as they buy the places in bulk then have to off load them cheap at the last minute.
They will rob you at the airport for the simplest of stuff, they have you trapped thats why, the exchange rates are usually silly too.
What's Wrong with Massager Chairs? says
Lol, that’s true. The prices get halfed when you’re out of the airport.. Damn, you made me think about traveling again. Oh, by the way, I love to use those cheap flight companies. You get a ticket for nothing and get it in minutes online. What more could you ask for.
Grand Cayman Islands says
These are really simple tips, and if followed would save a lot of money. But sometimes when you’re hungry, you have no choice but to pay extra for that burger at the airport.
Campervan Rental Australia says
Thank you for your tip! Very useful indeed
It defineatly is possible to find great seats, and cheap air travel when you search net. The World-Wide-Web is loaded with options. You need a flight to Egypt? Cyberspace will connect you to every flight on every airline to any destination in the world. This is perfect for the frugal traveler. You can always make sure that you’re getting the best deal. The online air travel companies constantly vie for your business, so the prices are are always reasonable.
gas costs travel industry says
A lot of simple , very common sense pieces of advice here – thanks
People , including those traveling are often penny wise , yet pound foolish buying food and drinks at the airport and on the plane
Good standard points which a;ways bear repeating time and time again
Free Travel says
Some time ago I watched a consumer show on tv
On the episode three women were given a task of finding a set of three fares
Each person had a preference in terms of research
One loved to research online – its more fun than the trip and the travel. Number two likes to phone the airlines with number three using travel agents ( the old way)
In the end each contestant had the best price in one case out of three
There is no one best answer to find the best deals on travel deals and hotel accommodation deals
Roddy the Traveller says
Nice tips and ideas great going on thanks for sharing.
Don’t forget to mention using free airline miles and bonus points from credit card companies to pay for your flights! You may find yourself saving $350 by using what you earn from just one credit card application!
Good call on Kayak, I always check it before booking to make sure I’m getting the best deal…
I find I still get the best rates booking directly on each airlines website though.
Chris McGee says
Thanks for the great tips!
Great tips! One other tip I’ve been given is to get money from the ATM on arrival. I’m not sure how valid that is though. Any thoughts?
Angel Falls says
These are some awesome tips there.
Mark Ransom says
interesting tips. its amazing what you can accomplish when you think outside the box.