Recently I had someone approach me on two topics
How am I able to travel so often
What sites do I recommend when looking for good fares.
I want to start off by saying this, traveling is a PRIORITY for me. Now because it is a priority that means that I am budgeting for it. I am researching different ways to get in & out of certain locations, and I am looking for flights daily. A few things happen when I do this... because I live in San Antonio & because I live in relatively close proximity to Dallas & Houston, I have a total of four airports to play around with depending on the type of flight. If it is within the continental US, I normally stick to San Antonio & Austin airports depending on the length of my stay. If it's a weekend trip (Thursday-Early Monday) then I stay local. If it will be a Wed-Tuesday type of event, I will venture out to the bigger airports for cheaper fares. LOCATION & TIME OF DAY/WEEK matter. Which is why it is important to be flexible.
I will never fly to Europe for over $600 again. You shouldn’t either. My very first backpacking trip I dropped $1200 which absurd. (mainly because I was flexible in dates & decided to book anyways.) I was just so ready to go & I was very new to the traveling world, so research was not done in advance. There are a few tools you need to get really acquainted with if you are gonna want to land some good fares, stateside or abroad.
Airline websites you can buy directly from. (SW, AA, Delta, Icelandair, insert any you can think of)
Now a lot of the time I use these websites to COMPARE fares. I can gauge pretty well what the price points will be, around the time frame I have in mind. I think it is also worth noting that you HAVE to be FLEXIBLE. If you are not flexible with your travel dates, then you are putting yourself in a tighter position to pay a higher fare. A lot of the time you can go to google flights and sky scanner. See what airline is running the best fare, go directly to the airlines website and possibly get it even cheaper. I also check flights going into surrounding countries & If I find a flight that's $200 cheaper than where I actually want to go, Ill book that one and get a connecting flight from a different airline. Europe is a lot smaller than the states so fares aren't that expensive when hopping country to country.
When it comes to traveling within the continental US I have ZERO problem flying with a budget airline. I have flown with both Spirit and Frontier and I haven’t had an issue once. I suppose when you go in with no expectations other than arriving from point A to point B, well everything else is a pro. (I take my own snacks, Sour Patch Kids always.) I flew from San Antonio to San Jose, CA for less than 200$ total for 2 tickets. (my kind of deal). All airlines use an algorithm. I DO NOT KNOW THE ALGORITHM lol but the more you play around with dates, times, and locations then the more you will understand it. If you can't handle a 4 hour flight being a little uncomfortable then just don't travel. I have never flown first class, so therefore I don't know what I am missing (I plan on flying first class just to share the experience) Most likely will be an international flight for the true experience $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. If you have the funds the travel first class & often, well by all means enjoy! I personally like the thrill of the finesse.
I had been dying to go to Yosemite for the longest time. Probably over a year with a burning desire to lay my eyes on the valley. I could have easily paid the money to go the minute I got that desire, but c'mon, being in school, jobs, bills, you have other priorities as well. Besides, I like to go for as low as I can go. My girlfriend and I spent a whole weekend there for under $500 TOTAL. Normally that is the price for one person. You aren't gonna be able to get these fares on any given day. You have to dig, look often, be PATIENT. I took two other trips before I was able to find the deal I pulled the trigger on.
*When flying with a budget airline, BE AWARE of their baggage fees. In fact, always be aware of ANY AIRLINES baggage fees. Sometimes they aren't very straightforward and will get you when you arrive on outrageous prices. Don't let them finesse you, you finesse them ;)
You have to have a solid system when it comes to planning, If you have a solid saving system in place then your budget will grow along with your purchase rate. One of the systems I use is every time I come across a $5 bill I will immediately take it and put it in an adventure jar. Trust me, they add up. If I am ever at Walmart I will use the cash back option and grab a quick $10 and toss it in there as well. If you're really dedicated and want to get to your goal faster then pocket $50 every check. It is up to you & it is not rocket science.
Be on the lookout for my next post which will be a beginners guide to purchasing flights with points. Will involve a mature and responsible discussion involving credit cards. If you suck at managing your money, then don't tune in. lol