Who doesn’t love a great deal!
My question is: how hard are you willing to work for it?
Travel hacking can offer extreme savings on travel but it is a lot of work.
This post has
- 7 great tips for those who like to play the travel hacking game
- 3 go-to sites from a professional travel hacker’s arsenal
- 1 fantastic resource for those who’d prefer a “done-for-you” travel hacking solution.
Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Naveen Dittakavi of Next Vacay. He and his wife have been travel hacking for a number of years. Then they started doing it for friends. This past spring they started Next Vacay to offer the service to more people. They’ve hired and trained people to do the travel hacking research and applied Naveen’s software expertise to put systems in place to deliver exceptional flight deals based on an individual’s home and nearby airports.
Next Vacay has sponsored this post not just to promote their service but also to share their travel hacking tactics. Read on.
Done-For-You Travel Hacking
Below are the travel hacking tips for those who want to play the game. For me, the process is too onerous, so I’d much rather have someone take care of the analysis and details. Here’s how Next Vacay works:
- You sign up. You subscribe to Next Vacay for $25/yr and indicate your home airport.
- You receive the deals by email. They email deals to you that fly from your airport and any others within a three-hour radius.. Before sending you a deal they make sure:
- there is ample time (2 hours for international flights) between connections so that should there be a flight delay you most likely will still make your connection.
- there are not multiple extreme connections. While most deals have connections they do not send deals with 12+ hour connections.
- Money-back guarantee. Naveen offers a six-month money-back guarantee. I skyped with him for about an hour and he really wants to help people.
- In the future. As their service expands they’ll offer the service of travel hacking to a specific destination. For now, they show you a deal and you decide whether you want it.
A Professional Travel Hackers Favorite Sites
Obviously travel involves more that flying so I asked Naveen for his favorite travel booking sites for things other than flights. Here are his top three:
- iescape. When I asked the question this site just popped from his mouth. He uses it primarily for resorts.
- Costco. Naveen doesn’t often price compare car rentals anymore as Costco has consistently come in 20% cheaper than Kayak and other aggregators.
Top Five Tips of a Professional Travel Hacker
Finally, I asked Naveen to give me five tips for people who prefer to do their own travel hacking. I’m guess that some people love the game of it. So here are Naveen’s tips:
- Start by looking a regions not cities. Don’t think Paris, think Europe. Don’t think Cambodia, think Southeast Asia. Look for the best deal for getting yourself to the desired region.
- Use low-cost local carriers to get to your specific destination. Once you’re in the region you can look at inexpensive local carriers to take you to your destination. Be mindful of baggage allowances and other costs you’ll want to avoid.
- Look for the deals in the non-hub airports. Within North America, you won’t find great travel hacking opportunities at small airports or at airports that are hubs for a major airlines. The deals occur at non-hub airports where there are multiple carriers serving the city. (A hub airport is one where major airlines concentrate their passenger traffic and operations, where they route passengers through to smaller destinations. You can find a list of hub airports here)
- Know a good deal when you see it. If you find a flight that amounts to about 6 cents a mile you’ve found a good deal. It’s a good rule of thumb and means it time to buy.
- Use your airlines reward miles wisely. Don’t just look at your home airport or your usual carrier when using reward miles. Traveling by car and parking at another airport could reduce the number of miles required for your desired flight significantly. Know what alliance your airline is a member of and check on deals from other airlines in the alliance.
- Use a spreadsheet to track your options. You’ll need a spreadsheet to track airports of origin and destination, number of stop-overs, how much time you’ll have between flights, total time your trip will take, restrictions such as baggage allowance, services such as food and, of course, the price. The best deal is not just based on price.
- Take a mileage run for status if you’re close. While rewards miles are determined by how much you spend, status is determined by how far you fly. Second-tier status could give you such benefits as the priority security line, priority baggage, lounge access on international flights where they might have a shower facility to make those long hauls more bearable. So, depending on how close you are to a new status tier and what you want from the benefits it may be worth taking a super cheap flight to a distance that gets you the status you want.
So, there you have tips to make flying cheaper whether you want Next Vacay to do the work for you or whether you want to scrub the internet for amazing flight deals yourself. Whichever, I hope this post has been of help.