Shopping for Flights

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Still on the travel theme because I’m in the process of planning our summer vacation to Japan, Thailand and Cambodia. Even when I’m not planning a vacation, I still “window shop” for vacations because I like to know the normal cost of things; this helps me recognize a good deal when I see one. This definitely applies to the cost of flights. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about shopping for flights online.

It’s pretty common knowledge that the season and the day of the week you’re traveling have a big impact on the price of the flight. If possible, try to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday are the high demand days to fly. If I need to fly on those days, I try to use airmiles because the number of miles needed to fly is only based on the season. If you’re looking to travel over Christmas, try flying on Christmas day.

What I didn’t know was the day of the week that you book the flights can also effect the price. Lately I’ve been checking flight prices every day, and it looks like it’s more expensive to book flights on the weekend. They go down during the week and up on the weekends.

My favourite websites for flight shopping depends on what I’m looking for. If I’m looking to fly within North America, I like to start with Fly, http://www.fly.com/ca/  On the top, check out the Fare Calendars. This is a great way to see how the price fluctuates depending on the day. My other favourite comparison sites for all flight shopping are Kayak http://www.ca.kayak.com/?ispredir=true , FlightHub (who consistently had the lowest price for our upcoming multi-city trip) http://www.flighthub.com/ and Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.ca/ . Check multiple sites, they are not all the same.

For booking flights, use Flight Network http://www.flightnetwork.ca because they have a lowest price guarantee, which will give you a credit if the price drops on your flights. If you’re booking for multiple people, this could really pay off. Otherwise, I always check directly with the airline because I figure it would be easier if things went wrong to be booked directly with the airlines.

When booking, know your insurance coverage! I once made a $5000 mistake because I didn’t know what trip interruption insurance was and incidentally didn’t have any when I needed it. I have gone with a credit card that has an annual fee, but provides travel and health insurance coverage. There are lots of insurance providers, so shop around, but read the details and understand what is covered and what isn’t.

My last tidbit is what they call travel hacking – how to travel for free by maximizing rewards programs. Here is a great post by a blogger I follow, Nomadic Matt ,http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-tips/travel-hacking-guide/  I was a loyal air miles collector for years but have recently switched to a new program because I am tired of the flights not being available and having to pay the taxes and fees. Now there are a number of bank associated programs that let you use your reward points for all of the cost. Now we put everything on our credit card, in the hopes of taking a big chunk off of our next vacation.

Any additional tips and tricks or comments are always appreciated – I’m learning about travel as I go. Happy travels!

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