It wasn’t long after we traded our passports for our visa cards that London branded each of us. Awarded titles such as the queen of bartending or the shopping guru, I was instantly dubbed the travel agent just weeks after arriving. Planning everything from flights to hotels for the countless countries we visited, here are a few tips and tricks I learned along the way for traveling an entire continent for as cheap as possible.
Rarely do I use travel sites like priceline or expedia for bookings. While they offer good deals for hotel and flight combos, they often don’t offer all available flights or highlight ways you can modify your travel to lower the cost. Google flights will list all available flights and offer suggestions as to how to make your trip cheaper. Many times I will use google flights to see if leaving +/- a day would decrease costs & many times it does. Additionally, google flights shows price outlooks for flights and, if you do not have a specific designation in mind, allows you to put in your origin, see all of the available destinations, and easily compare costs with their flight map tool.
Tip: Always check the price of a roundtrip fare versus two one way tickets! Many times you are required to book the same airline both ways when booking a roundtrip which can increase the total price of your flights without you noticing; one way tickets allow you to book any airline each way.
While I love hotels.com for rewards and convince, it is often hard to book a hotel for five people on one bank account. On booking.com most hotels are cancellable (without a cancellation fee) and payable upon arrival, making travel convenient for poor college kids. I often use booking.com to book multiple hotels at different times in the weeks prior to my trip, and once I have found the best price and location, cancel the other hotels at no charge. Also, booking.com offers many apartment options similar to airbnb that hotels.com does not, giving you more space for less money and the peace of mind of a hotel run accommodation.
Tip: Use this strategy and then book your final choice of hotel on hotels.com a few days before your trip (if still available) to get a cheaper, non-refundable rate & earn rewards.
My most recent travel planning discovery was this adorable little hopper app. This free app is super helpful with knowing when to book flights and the best time to travel if your dates are flexible (& of course the bunny logo just makes it perfect). With this app and knowing the token rules of booking airfare, you’ll never overpay for flights!
But most importantly, know your timelines! While I haven’t noticed a real pattern in the 54 day optimum time-to-book theory, always book domestic flights in the U.S. 21 days in advance (at the latest) to get the best price. Internationally, prices don’t normally fluctuate. Once prices are set they stay fairly steady until they begin peaking 90 days before the departure date. For travel within Europe, flights between countries follows domestic flight price patterns rather than international.
Specific questions? Email me directly!