{Travel Tips} Top 3 airfare search websites

Hello fellow travel aficionados. I was a little bit reluctant to write posts about the Top 3 or Top 10 whatever, but I guess that this topic is interesting. There are many many manyyyyy websites out there for finding the best plane tickets for you. I don’t like saying cheap tickets because this is something that depends on each person. There are so many things that influence what we consider is the best price that I will just leave at “best plane tickets for you”. So, after a few years of really using and buying tickets through this websites, I think they are the best out there:

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Little pic to add a pop of color to this article 😉

1. Kayak 

You can’t actually buy a ticket directly from Kayak BUT they have the best search engine out there. I get the best prices with the best options on layovers thanks to Kayak. Since I use it practically all the time, both for business and personal travel, I give my absolute seal of approval.

2. Vol24

I found this website via Kayak. I have bought 3 different tickets for different destinations (Mexico, Vietnam…) through it. The website does not look very modern, so the first time I used it I was a little bit worried. However, there is nothing to worry about! One of the nice things about vol24 is that you have several price options depending on your payment method (Visa, Visa debit, Mastercard, American Express). This avoids bad surprises when you are ready to go through the payment: you know upfront that you will pay more fees if you buy with Amex.

Quick pro tip: beware of fees charged by different websites. Expedia, Opodo, Travelocity and all the others have different fees so do not be surprised if they charge you 40 USD for each flight (this would mean 80 USD for a round trip NYC-Paris for example). 

3. Opodo

If it’s not Vol24 or Kayak, I use Opodo. I have used it mostly for buying flight+hotel packages, and also for the usual Paris-Mexico plane tickets. Although the fees are a little bit on the high side, they usually have great prices so it compensates the fees.

There you go! What is your experience using these websites? Do you have others that you think are better for finding great prices?

-Andy

 

 

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{Travel tips} The ups and downs of buying plane tickets

Let’s be honest: most of the time, it is impossible to find the perfect plane ticket (cheap, no layover, great airline). Although there are some tricks that do work, such as erasing the cookies, you have to have a lot of time and be really into finding super deals online to get THE perfect price.

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However, I’ve found recently that there are two basic rules for buying tickets, either for business or for pleasure (even though for business you will not be worrying that much for the price but still, you don’t want your company to pay double just because you decided to plan your trip at the last minute):

  1. You can find the cheapest tickets months in advance, BUT it is not always the case.

What? It is not possible! you might be saying to yourself right now. Well, let me tell you something that just happened. I wanted to go to Mexico in April, so I checked the airfares for Paris-Mexico no layover with AirFrance (I really don’t like AeroMexico, which is another company that flies directly from Paris to Mexico). The price? 1 540 Euros. Yes, you read that right! I decided it was too much money for economy class, so I planned something else to see my family. Anyway, I received an email from AirFrance on Monday announcing great prices for Mexico because of their inaugural A380 flight direct from Paris. Since I like to hurt and traumatize myself, I checked right away and lo and behold, the airfare is 758 euros for the same dates.

Quick pro tip: you cannot always anticipate price changes. Buying months in advance does not guarantee that you will get the best price. 

So, what to do then?

2. Whenever you see what you consider is the best price that you are willing to pay, buy it straight away. 

It is the same logic I apply (most of the time) when buying clothes or stuff. Sometimes you think it soooo much that in the end your size is out of stock or the discount is no longer applicable. So just go ahead and buy it, it is great to analyze and search like crazy for an incredible price but, unless there is an error fare, miracles don’t exist. Another example of this precise situation happened to me this week. I am planning a business trip to Australia (I’m so excited I’ll write about it later!), and since I have family there, I was looking for plane tickets to go to Canberra from Sydney. One week ago I found on vol24.fr (hands down one of the best websites out there) a ticket going for 100 Euros. I didn’t buy it because I was in a lazy mood and whatever. I decided to finally buy it yesterday and guess what, it is now 150 Euros.

Quick pro tip: if you find a price that is a great price for you, don’t over think it, just do it!

So there you go, real life experience coming from yours truly.

Have you ever experienced something like this? I would love to hear your thoughts about it!

-Andy

{Travel tips} Secret flying

A really good friend told me about this website where you could find extremely crazy cheap plane tickets. I had to see it to believe it …

Exhibit A: Many french cities to NY from € 373. Depart from Paris € 287. The link took me to a website I’ve never heard of before: Momondo. What did I find ? Round trip Paris- NYC with a 5h30 layover in Copenhagen from December 25th to January 1st for 552 €

Exhibit B:  Round trip Paris- NYC with a 1.5 hour layover in London and a direct flight for the return trip with British Airways from  March 2 to 9, 2016. All for the convenient (extremely convenient) price of 391 €

This is incredible ! Well, first of all in order to take advantage of this type of offers on needs to have a little bit of flexibility in terms of vacation time (or just a bit of luck!). Second, maybe the cheapest flights won’t leave from your home country/city, so you have to add the plane ticket to Amsterdam from Paris, for example.

There are basically three options for finding tickets on Secret Flying: USA and Canada deals, Europe deals, and Rest of the world deals.

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I haven’t bought a ticket using this website, but as soon as I do I will let you know more about my experience. At first glance, this is a really good option for finding great tickets at very decent prices !

Tell me what you think in the comments below. Do you think this website is helpful?

x-Andy

{Travel tips} Finding the best deals Part 1

I think that the most crucial parts of preparing a trip are 1/ finding a good flight (and by good I mean reasonably priced and without a layover of 15 hours in the middle of nowhere) and 2/ finding a good hotel. Let’s talk about crucial part numero uno, shall we?

I’ve read many articles talking about the perfect time to buy the tickets (at 4 am on a Tuesday??) , erasing the cookies in your computer, the timing, etc. Although there are people and websites (like here) that thrive on finding the perfect deal, there are other ways to find great deals. It all depends on the following criteria :

  1. What type of trip you are going for : weekend trip, long stay, circuit
  2. Means of transportation: plane or train *
  3. What are you willing to compromise or not : budget, comfort, layover
  4. Would you like to stay in a hotel or not

On this first post, I will be talking about the type of trip.

If you want to leave for 3-4 days, I suggest you look for a package hotel/train + hotel. My favorite websites are : Opodo, Expedia, Voyages SNCF.  If you are not sure of where you want to go, you can wait for a last minute deal on Last Minute. Other websites offer the same option as well.

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There are special filters that allow you to find more easily the hotel you are looking for. However, BEWARE! Not all cheap hotels are the best, so it is really important to think about criteria #3 above. You don’t care if the hotel smells bad but you want to save money? Then go ahead ! If you prefer a more comfortable setting, then you should be ready to spend a little more $$. This sounds pretty much logical, but sometimes we forget and get carried away. Exhibit A: I planned a weekend trip to Amsterdam. I found a “great” train+hotel package on voyages SNCF for two persons. The hotel was a little bit far from the center of the city, but I thought that with the public transportation we would be fine and wow, the price ! Alas, the hotel was in the middle of a creepy neighborhood, smelled like sweat and cigarette, and it was cold and dirty. We only stayed one night, the next day we found a last minute hotel deal and stayed at the NH just next the Rijksmuseum. Conclusion: research well before getting carried away by the price. Sometimes its better to spend a little bit more and have a good night sleep than to stay in a smelly, cheap and cold hotel.

After the hotel comes the flight. In Europe, the cheapest flights have the most horrible schedules (6 am flight to Berlin..7:35 flight to Rome). I believe that arriving early is a good option since you can take advantage of the city right from the beginning. The return flight should be a little more flexible. Keep in mind that prices vary depending the time of the flight, so remember criteria 3 for choosing it.

Do not take the fist option you find, if you do it in advance, you can scan several websites every day or every two days. That way you will know what is the best option for you. If there’s something you absolutely like and you are pretty much sure that it is the best price ever, then book it. Do not wait for a magical thing to happen and to get a discount of 100 $ , it’s not going to happen unless a one-shot offer or campaign. I’ve let good opportunities go a couple of times because I believe that prices are going to fall.

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For a circuit, it depends on whether you want to prepare it yourself or go with a travel company. If you want to avoid the hassle, you can book directly with a travel agent (bit old school). We did this when planning our honeymoon to the Greek islands. A great travel agent found the perfect circuit for what we were looking for, everything is taken care for you: boat tickets, plane tickets, hotel reservations. You only have to decide on the day trips available at the hotel and given by the tour company. If you want to control everything about your trip, it’s another story. I will talk about planning a long stay/circuit in another post.

What are your tips and tricks when planning a trip ? Let me know in the comments below !

(*): won’t be talking about taking a car since I am not very savvy car wise