Organizing Cheap and Hassle-Free Transport

Implementing money-saving strategies when booking flights/buses can help stretch your travel budget to its fullest.

BOOKING TIPS

If you are flying, it might be cheaper to book two separate one-way flights. Similarly, booking one month ahead for a greyhound bus trip is usually the cheapest. If you use online travel sites, it is important to either enable private browsing or constantly delete your cookies (or do both). Dynamic pricing technologies allow booking sites to “discriminate” customers. If you have previously used the site or sites of similar ilk, they know your personal demand is high, enabling them to increase the offered price until it reaches their perceived equilibrium price-point. Another aspect of dynamic pricing strategies is called regional pricing, which is the practice of pricing identical offerings differently based on the geographic location of the buyer. To thwart regional pricing practices, you can visit a non-domestic version of the site (for example Expedia.com in Japan is Expedia.co.jp). This trick also works for booking hotels; but one must take heed, however, and convert the prices back to dollars for comparison. Also, the best time for ticket booking is on Tuesday afternoons (around three o’clock). This is because the cheaper, low-cost, airlines list their sales every Tuesday morning, which the bigger airlines attempt to match later in the day.

If you plan to use carry-on luggage exclusively, you may find cheaper tickets by booking a flight with your final destination as a layover. When the plane lands you simply skip out on your scheduled connecting flight. To do this you will also have to book separate one-way tickets, but the cost advantage may well be worth it. With buses, it is often cheaper to “segment” your trip by booking two different tickets to the same destination. For example, you can book one ticket from Reno to Sacramento then another from Sacramento to Las Angeles rather than one ticket from Reno to Las Angeles The wait times are usually identical so the only thing that differs is the price.

FREQUENT FLYERS

Frequent flyers who spend many hours in the airport often buy priority passes, which grant them access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide. However, lounges often sell day passes to non-members. Although these passes can be rather expensive, when purchased online in advance, the cost reduction is drastic. Frequent flyers may also find it beneficial to sign up for TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry (pre-approvals granted by the US Customs and Border Protection). The former costs eighty-five dollars and allows you to cut in security lines and keep on particular articles of clothing (namely shoes and belts) whilst navigating security checkpoints. Similarly, Global Entry makes returning from abroad easier. It costs one hundred dollars and allows you to avoid most paperwork and skip many lengthy processing lines when entering the country. Both of these pre-approvals can be obtained (by non-felons) by filling out some quick paperwork and attending a terse personal interview.

PRE-FLIGHT TRICKS

Savvy flyers should also be aware of upgrade potentials and plane schematics. By simply requesting an upgrade, you may receive it should there be any unoccupied seats in the next class up. You should see a Y or B on your booking code, which lets the airline know you are seeking an upgrade – though it helps to be a loyal frequent flyer. With regards to comfort, all planes are not created equal. The Boeing 767 is always a good bet as it has fewer middle seats.

Seatguru is a great resource one can consult to learn which rows don’t recline, which are close to the bathroom, and which have more legroom

SAVE ON TRAVELING WITH CREDIT CARDS

Utilizing credit cards can also be a sly way to game the system. Some allow access to airport lounges, others offer hotel-room upgrades and pay for the insurance on rental cars. Cards that earn you flight miles with every purchase are good but so are ones that waive foreign transaction fees. Sophie-Claire Hoeller of Business Insider suggests the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which gives you two Ultimate Rewards Points fore every $1 spent on travel and restaurants, as well as 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere. It also waives those pesky foreign transaction fees, offers a signup bonus of 40,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening an account, and boasts 20% off travel when you redeem points for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Although it costs $95 annually, the first year is free, so it may benefit you to use it for a year then cancel it before the fee is due.

Some credit cards like the American Express Platinum card grant you access to the Wi-Fi hotspot provider Boingo. Boingo gives you premium global mobile connectivity; even in the air. If you don’t have an American Express Platinum card, you can purchase a monthly subscription for less than $5 ($59 for worldwide access).

SAVING WITH STOPOVERS

Another tactic that proves advantageous is adding free layovers (AKA stopovers). Many airlines find it cost effective to allow free or low-cost stopovers in their hub city. These stopovers (usually only a day or two) not only allow you to visit different cities en route to your destination, but also give you a chance to relax and wind down after hours of strenuous air travel. Turkish Airlines, Icelandair, and Air France are but a small selection of airline companies that offer free stopovers on round trip tickets.

PREVENTING JET LAG

One last hack that can be implemented before embarkation is jet lag mitigation. If possible, shifting your daily routine to correspond with the destination’s time zone can lessen the effects of jet lag. For example, if your destination is five hours behind, it would be wise to begin gradually going to bed and waking up earlier. Additionally, you could shift your eating schedule back as well. It is wise to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they tend to dehydrate the body. Exercising before a flight can also help as it reduces stress and promotes subsequent restfulness. Hate turbulence? Try booking morning flights when weather patterns are calmer or sit over the wings where it is less bumpy.

BOOKING SITE SAVINGS

Google runs an online flight booking search service called Google Flights, which facilitates the purchase of airline tickets through third party suppliers. It allow for open-ended searches based on criteria other than destination. Users can search for flights within a specific time range and under a particular budget and various destination choices will be generated. Alternatively, a user can select a destination, and Google Flights will calculate every price for each day of the next 12 months, visualised in a graph or table. This allows users to easily spot a cheapest date to fly to their planned destination.

Skyscanner is another good website to find cheap flights — especially in Asia. You don’t even need to put in a city, just type “everywhere” and it will show you all the destinations in order by price. You can even make plans with its Facebook bot. Simply go to their Facebook page and start up a conversation.

There is another cool site called Eighydays.me, which utilizes an AI-powered generator to plan multi-city trips in seconds. Even if you don’t have an exact location, all you have to do is plug in a date and starting point and the site will generate options for the cheapest possible destinations via both air and rail travel. Pay the same for a one-city trip but get a multi-city experience. The only caveat about Eightdays.me is that it’s still in beta testing, and primarily operates in Europe.  

You can also try Hellotrip. Begin by going to the inspire me section! You can type where, when and for how much, and Hellotrip will give you a map of Europe with places to go and their corresponding prices.

Another option is Momondo. Use their free, independent and global travel search technology to compare billions of prices on flights, hotels and car rentals. Plan your next travel experience using their advanced features, find expert tips and discover unique travel inspiration.

There is a cool app called Hopper — a super-fast and all-knowing travel agent that analyzes up to 15 billion flight prices every day to predict the future cheapest price with 95% accuracy!

PREDICT the best time to fly and buy so you’ll score the cheapest fares.

WATCH a trip to receive price alerts via push notifications the instant prices drop.

BUY cheap flights in 60 seconds or less with just a few taps and a swipe.

FLY with confidence knowing you’ve found the best plane tickets on the airlines you like.