For some, booking the flight is the most stressful part of planning an adventure. Should I book Monday morning? Sunday night? Midday?
There are a lot of sources that claim the best time is Tuesday. Apparently, airlines lower their prices on this day if the tickets have not yet sold. Act fast, however…there are only a limited amount of cheap tickets and remaining tickets are removed from the site before Thursday.Also, Monday mid-morning is supposedly the worst time to book because it is thought that a lot of employees are checking out flights at this time. Ha! Check out this site for more information.
After my strategy is in place, I start looking as soon as possible (while last minute deals do happen, your best bet is to book as far ahead as you can).
1- It is important to have a general Idea of the scope of your trip so that you may take advantage of the sometimes cheaper “Open Jaw” flights. For example, when I was in Italy, I traveled all over the country. If I had planned ahead, it would have been smarter/cheaper to fly into Rome (south) and out of Pisa (North). Instead, I had to take a 4 hour train ride back to Rome (Fail).
There is an option on all trip planner (i.e.: Expedia, Kayak, Priceline) for “Multiple Destinations”…try it out!
2- Select “All Airports” when you choose a city. Even if you have read that one airport is more easily navigated or friendlier than another, check out all airports. Typically, one is much cheaper than the other.
3- Once you decide your itinerary, take your dates to the site and BE FLEXIBLE. Typically, Departing/Return flights are cheaper if you fly out mid-week. You will see, if you play around with the dates a bit, that sometimes a day makes a difference of over $200.00!
So for example, I originally was thinking of doing Wednesday night (red eye) departure and Thursday morning return. But it just so happened that leaving on a Tuesday night red eye was over $50 cheaper… that’s your train ticket to another city! And I’m pretty sure I’m okay with spending another day in Paris :)
4- Take advantage of a red eye. While it may seem a bit inconvenient, it is one less night you will be in a hotel and one day gained! If you’re traveling with children or older parents, this may not be feasible. But if you’re traveling solo or with friends, trust me, the extra day will be worth the terrible jet lag…and you can always get a glorious cappuccino to soothe you (only if you arrive before 10:00 AM, though!)
5- Once you have tried all the tricks you learned and found a flight you are comfortable with, book it! Believe me, despite the anxiety you may feel before making such a big purchase, you will be so happy when you get that confirmation e-mail and you are that much closer to your trip. :)
Paris ’10 Update: So far, I booked my plane ticket, contacted the hostel in which I want to stay, and checked out a couple of the activities in which I am planning on participating. Pastry Class and Christmas Market Tour and Demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu, anyone? I also found a wonderful Modern Ballet performance that will be going on while I’m there. And, of course, I’ve been checking out the bistros/cafes I want to visit. Gosh, I can hardly wait!
Before then, however, my mom and I will be visiting Boston, MA in November for a long weekend! I’ve never been there before and neither has she, so we thought this would be a fun weekend getaway. I’ll be sure to provide some fun recommendations from my trip there, as well.
À tout à l’heure (see you later!)
Any tips I missed? Please let me know!