How To Book the Cheapest Flights – 5 Flight Hacks I've travelled extensively for the past 20 years- This what I've learned.

Airplane - How I book the cheapest flights

I’ve been working for the government teaching soldiers for the last 20 years, and over this period of time, I’ve learned exactly how to book the cheapest flights.  During that time I usually traveled two to three times a year with them.  Then two years ago, I was traveling almost every month. 

I wondered if there was a way to drive down the cost of travel. And then, I could put more money in my pocket.  As I began studying, I found out that travel is an 8.8 trillion dollar a year industry. 

The Starting of a Side Hustle

I didn’t want to be a travel agent as I understood there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for profit.  Rather, I decided to add it as a side hustle.  My goal was to help folks travel for less, so they can travel more.

When I looked at the travel industry, I saw that many people didn’t travel because they thought that the flights were too expensive.  I am here to shout it from the rooftops that airfare doesn’t have to be so expensive – in fact, booking the cheapest flights isn’t so hard once you get the hang of it! 

Have you ever seen flights advertised and thought to yourself “I bet you fly in cargo”?  Flights like to Rome for under $300, Bali for under $500, Norway way for $377 or Iceland for $150????  These are some of the cheapest flights I’ve personally booked for myself and my friends. Today, I am going to show you how you too can book the cheapest flights!

There are 5 principles that I use to travel at rates you wouldn’t believe and we call them travel hacks.  There are more than 5 but these are the ones that I believe save the most money with the least amount of effort. 

For the Cheapest Flights, Use Websites Offer Unpublished Fares

Did you know that there are different rates available for airfare?  You probably knew it but have never really put it together.  You have the published rates directly from the provider, then discounted rates on sites like Expedia, and finally unpublished fares!!  These are the fares we want. 

Unpublished fares are also known as private, wholesale, or consolidator fares.  Consolidator fares can be up 20 to 60 percent off the regular fare.  In other words, unpublished fares are special discounted rates that are only attainable through close loop markets—you cannot find these fares on your own.  Just a few examples of close looped markets are companies such as Amex, Famers Insurance, and my own company has unpublished fares.   

#2: Be Flexible to Be Able to Find the Cheapest Flights

There is no substitute for flexibility.  You can still score great deals when traveling without flexibility but flexibility is king!  The ability to fly a day early or return a day early is often the difference in hundreds of dollars off your airfare. 

Flight Hack #3: Fly During Non-Peak Season

One of my favorite vacations was when I took my kids to Mt. Rushmore.  When I did some reading I read about the cost, the lines, the crowds, everything.  For example, Mt. Rushmore is extremely busy (read expensive) on Memorial Day weekend.  So I made my plans for the week prior.  It was amazing.  There was no one there, hotels were inexpensive, there were no lines, and best of all the kids loved it without breaking the bank. 

Traveling during the non-peak season is one of the most underrated hacks.  This one hack can legitimately make a $1000 difference on your budget and works with airfare as well.  Always check locations you want to visit and ensure that your timeframe is during that locations non-peak season or look at another time to visit this way you can travel more often. 

Flight Hack #4: Across the Pond

My favorite hack specific to airfare is what I call across the pond hack.  This technique is pretty simple.  When flying across the ocean to Europe, Asia, or South America you will often if not always have a stop at a major airport such as ORD, NYC, MIA, IAH, SFO, or LAX.  If I’m helping someone with traveling overseas I will first look at Round Trip prices to see what the average on tickets is.  Then I will check a round trip to the city where the layover is and another round trip ticket to the final destination.  The price difference is often significant and it is always worth the extra time to me. 

For example, if you wanted to fly to let’s say Finland from St. Louis your layover most likely will be Chicago or New York.  Check the price of a round trip to either ORD or NYC than the price of a second round trip to Finland.  One thing to bring attention to is checked baggage.  If you are traveling with checked baggage make sure your layover between the two round trips gives you enough time to claim your baggage and check back into your new flights on both sides of your trip.

Flight Hack #5: Credit Card Hacking for a Really Cheap Flight

Credit Card hacking takes time, skill, and most importantly discipline.  However, it can yield you 3-6 international flights a year for little to no money out of pocket.  There are plenty of guys out there who will show you the way so I won’t write extensively about it here, but I’ll share the big idea of this hack.  You will get an Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Preferred and put all your monthly fixed expenses on the card and pay it off every single month (NO EXCUSES).  This will accrue points that can be converted to airline or hotel points.  They often come with huge signup bonuses as well.  If this is something you are interested in making sure you understand the Chase Gauntlet before starting.

Sounds like a lot of work right?  I know, in the beginning, I felt like it was as well.  But after 39 vacations around the world in the last 30 months, it has been worth it to me!  Maybe you are like many people and simply don’t have time or bandwidth to learn a skill like this.  Let me help you book the cheapest flights.  I put together a program that sends you flight alerts directly to your Facebook Messenger. 

You can reach out to me on my website www.johnrenken.com or through Facebook Messenger any time!

John

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