This is Ro here, talking about guess what: travel! My first flight happened when I was two- my family frantically flew from Emporia, Kansas to Washington DC after word that my ummamah (grandmother in Tamil) fell ill. While I have zero recollection of my first plane, I’m sure that first ride struck me with an untamable addiction of travel.
Growing up our yearly family vacations consisted of a thoroughly detailed excel sheet itinerary created by my father. He would plan those trips like it was his side job- scouring the web for bargains in places unknown to most. “How cheap could we fly somewhere?” was his game. How much could we save compared to a popular destination? One of his proudest moments was when he found a way for us to go to Disneyland Paris for less money than Disneyworld in Florida. We even got to ride the chunnel on the way there. My addiction to the travel game was in my destiny. I get so much joy from finding that cheap flight from Houston to Singapore, or collecting enough miles to purchase an incredibly cheap business class ticket on Turkish Airways (so luxurious and so friendly).
I don’t want to keep this game to myself any longer, I want to spread this crazy addiction. Below is a list of my top seven travel tips. Take it from a girl who has explored many regions of the world and takes pride in creating the most creative itineraries (want to take trains and buses across Central Africa to South Africa, anyone? I did.).
- Sign up for frequent flier programs, correction: sign up for ALL the frequent flier programs. Flying without earning points is a scandal- you are literally throwing away a portion of a free trip. It’s like not using your ice cream shop’s frequent buyer card, who doesn’t want their 10th ice cream free?
- While you’re signing up for the frequent flier programs, sign up for a travel credit card. Before you sign up for any airline card, be sure to do some research. Most airlines (and credit cards in general) will rotate specials throughout the year with added points bonus. Some incentivize you to sign up for their credit while in-flight with added deals (Southwest often offers a 50,000 point bonus instead of their normal 25,000 point if you sign up in flight or at the airport). Be sure to meet your minimum amount of spending to receive full points for those specials
- Read travel blogs and not just this one. Check out The Points Guy for frequent updates on fare deals, credit card promotions, and even reviews on airlines/airport lounges.
- Vary your travel dates– If you are able to have flexibility when you travel, think outside the box a bit. My husband and I have skipped turkey and dressing for the past three years to travel internationally because of irresistible deals offered during Thanksgiving week. Although we missed time with family, they immediately understood once we explained the thousands of dollars in savings by flying at a time when the majority of Americans stay domestic.
- If you have an iPhone, utilize Travel Apps: Adioso, Routehappy, Yapta, and Hitlist to name a few. Instead of playing candy crush while wasting time, experiment with flexibility in dates, origin, route, and other options. Yapta will help you find any price reductions once you have purchased your ticket (and refunds if applicable).
- Keep searching. My husband and I will often search for flights for at least two weeks at a time until we find the best deal possible. This means scouring different sites (including airline sites), checking rates at different times of day, and searching from various devices.
- Be flexible– maybe your fantasized itinerary from Milwaukee to Paris never reached an affordable point- don’t give up yet. Check other airports and destinations. It may be cheaper for you to fly from another semi-close city to London, and then take the chunnel from London to Paris. Always check flights out of other airports in the United States if you’re trying to save cash. It doesn’t hurt to break up your journey – learn where the major hubs are that fly into Paris from the USA.
Now, go ROAM!