Traveling has always been this elusive “thing” that many people believe only the wealthy can afford. I am here to dispel these notions and inform every one of the facts: this idea is simply not true! I’ve been to just about 20 different countries and I don’t plan on putting a halt to my travels any time soon. I love exploring new areas, learning about different cultures, and creating memorable experiences.
I know it is hard to plan for next week, let alone the next 6 months to a year, but the easiest, surefire way to vacation affordably is to plan ahead! This may seem like a no-brainer and completely obvious, but many of us react on our sudden urges to travel. You know, when you’ve been browsing social media for a bit and continuously come across vacationers in their bikinis and enjoying beautiful scenery; or when we’ve become burnt out at work and the very first remedy that comes to mind is VACATION! While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does pose limiting options when planning a vacation in 3 months or less. I’ve found that the sweet spot is generally around 6-8 months in advance. The airfare is generally cheaper, especially if you are searching “off-season” and there are much higher quality hotels and Airbnbs available at an affordable rate.
Now for those of us who don’t want to wait 6-8 months to go on vacation and just want to get away as soon as possible, there are a few tips and tricks to bypass the expensive cost of travel. For many of us, depending on your geographic location, the airfare is the most expensive cost when planning a trip. However, there are ways around paying such exorbitant prices.
Last year a friend invited me to Tokyo for a ten-day trip to occur in January. She invited me in the summer, which left ample time to plan and pay for an inexpensive flight. I actually looked up the flight in July when she initially invited me and the price from LAX to Haneda airport in Tokyo was $450 dollars roundtrip; insane right!? But of course, I took this price for granted and procrastinated like time doesn’t move forward the unfathomable way it does. Soon it was October and I still had not bought my flight. I checked each day (something I will tell you shortly how to do properly) and the prices had skyrocketed to over $1500 dollars. I was almost considering not going on the trip! But, thanks to the resources I am about to share with you, I was able to go for an insanely affordable price; cheaper than the initial $450 dollars!
Images from my trip (left to right): Mount Fuji, Arashiyama Bamboo Garden, Golden Temple, Temple in Tokyo
1. Download Hopper to your mobile device right now! Hopper is an incredible app that I have been using for years. This app allows you to select the dates you plan to travel and the location. Using this information, the app displays the current airfare, displaying the single lowest ticket price from a list of airlines. The best feature of the App is the “Watch” feature. Not only does it give you the current lowest price, but their algorithm analyzes data and indicates the recommended time frame that you should buy your ticket to save money. If the app recommends you wait to buy the flight, you can watch the flight and set alerts to notify you when it is best to buy.
This is how I found a flight to Tokyo from Los Angeles, roundtrip with no layovers, for only $412 dollars! I highly recommend the app. It also has a helpful color-coded calendar system that indicates which dates are the least to most expensive to travel. They’ve also recently expanded their services to include hotel rates. You could potentially use this app to book your entire trip! Huge win!
An example of the Hopper Display
2. The next best resource is Scott’s Cheap Flights. This is a subscription service that send emails daily notifying recipients of amazing flight deals. When signing up, indicate the areas you wish to travel to and the general area you are traveling from. You input your email address and sign up for the daily notifications. That’s all you have to do to receive emails each day of the best flights on sale. The only caveat with this service is that the flight deals vary daily according to the data captured by the Scott Flight’s algorithm, which means you cannot simply put in specific travel dates and destination. However, you can monitor the emails and when a destination you have in mind appears, you can book the flight. Generally, you have a 1-2 day window to book the flight, and the email gives you all the information you need to book, i.e. airline, potential bag fees, etc. The great thing about the notifications are that it gives you the destination, the flight cost from departing airports, AND the timespan the price is applicable, which is generally a 5-8 month window.
My Tokyo Flight Notification
I think Scott’s Cheap Flights is best for when you are unsure of where you would like to go, but want to fly somewhere internationally at an affordable rate. It is also best when you know exactly where you would like to go and have time to wait; nine times out of ten your destination will appear. (The Tokyo Flight appeared for me when I needed it! -see image!)
Typical Scott’s Cheap Flight Email