In the age of low cost travel, we let flight fares decide when our next flight will be (and often where our next flight will be).
We’re extremely lucky to live in a time where we can just sit back and let the oh-so-many airlines compete with each other about the right to offer us the best deals. It has become a race to the bottom, and we’re the ones who benefit from it.
That’s definitely a good thing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any flaws with this approach.
You see, because the competition has become so fierce in the airline industry, these airline companies have no choice but to target to the masses in order to be profitable. And because the airlines target the mainstream, they end up offering the same flights & itineraries in order to capture as many fish they can.
This isn’t exactly a catered solution to our specific travel needs.
No matter what airline you end up booking with, you still probably end up paying too much.
We sometimes need more flexibility, and of course for less money.
Is that even possible?
Yes it is.
The herd isn’t always right
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
When online flight search engines or airlines create a flight itinerary for you, they usually make several assumptions that might be true for the mainstream, but NOT for us Travel Freaks:
- They assume you want short layovers
- They assume you don’t care where your layover is
- They assume you’re not prepared to spend time creating an itinerary by yourself.
While these may be true for most travelers, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge these assumptions – especially if it can help you save money (and have some fun in the process).
A little skepticism never hurt anyone.
Based on these assumptions, flight aggregators & airlines list the flights you might be interested in. Flights that don’t meet those assumptions are usually not even offered to us. They don’t take under consideration the fact that you’re a Travel Freak, and that maybe you’re more flexible than Mr. Average Joe Traveler. You end up missing cheaper opportunities as a result.
Well is there a better way?
Plan your itinerary
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Europe. Among the countries you plan on visiting:
- <Enter Country Name>
First stop: London.
Because you’re smart, you’ll probably start flight-hunting a few months in advance to score the cheapest flight to London.
To get a rough idea of what we’re dealing with, let’s head over to SkyScanner to find the cheapest month for flying from New York ⇒ London.
Notice i (obviously) chose a One way ticket, and I set the departure to the Cheapest month.
January pops up as the cheapest month, and it looks like the cheapest one way ticket from NYC to London in January costs $348. Pretty expensive – at least for poor old me.
We can do better.
I’ll head over to WOW Air, which is a low cost airline that offers long haul flights from North America to Europe.
Free Bonus: Download the complete list of worldwide low cost airlines and their flight routes here.
Apparently WOW Air don’t fly from New York (my origin of choice), but they do fly from Boston, which is not bad. I can easily catch a bus from NYC to Boston for $15.
Note: I used WOW Air for our example, but you can try it with any low cost carrier that matches you’re route.
WOW airlines don’t give us the option to select the cheapest flight, so let’s go with January, as this was the cheapest month SkyScanner gave us. Make sure to select a one way ticket, and to check the Flexible Dates option.
This looks a lot more promising. The cheapest flight with WOW airlines is $211 – which is significantly cheaper than what we found on SkyScanner ($348).
However, if you take a look at the bottom – it looks like this isn’t a non-stop flight from Boston → London. It looks like there is a 2:40 hour layover in Reykjavik, Iceland (makes sense since WOW Airlines is an Icelandic airline).
That’s cool, we’re not spoiled brats – we can definitely handle that.
$211 is not too bad… But I believe we can do better.
Create Your Itinerary: Deconstruct Like a Freak
The $211 price i was offered was for the following itinerary:
- Boston ⇒ Reykjavik (Iceland)
- Reykjavik ⇒ London
Hmm… i wonder what would the price be if i deconstructed this itinerary and booked individual flights. Would it be any cheaper?
I’ll refine my search – and instead of selecting London as my destination, i’ll select Reykjavik instead.
Take a look at that. The same exact flight to Reykjavik costs only $99(!).
Note: This includes a single carry on of no more than 5kg. Carrying extra luggage jumps the price up by $38 – which is still a pretty good deal. But generally speaking, in some cases the added costs end up costing more than a regular flight, in which case choosing a regular flight makes more sense.
Key Takeaway? DYFH.
But that’s just half of our itinerary. Let’s add the other half – from Reykjavik to London.
BOOM! Would you look at that. $79 for a single trip from Reykjavik → London.
99.0 + 79.71 = $178.71
$178.71 for the SAME EXACT FLIGHT – just by deconstructing our flights and booking them separately.
That’s $32 you’re saving from the original price. Pretty cool huh?
Reap the rewards: Extend your layovers
Remember the last time you flew through a layover city? I bet that at some point you thought to yourself:
“Boy i wish i had some time to get to know this city & have some fun…”
But you couldn’t, because your connecting flight was leaving in a few hours.
Well, if you become your own travel agent, deconstruct your own flights and book them individually – you most certainly can.
The only question left is whether you want to.
What about Iceland? I heard it’s pretty amazing – Reykjavik in particular. Take a look:
Credit: Helgi Halldórsson
So why not extend my visit in Iceland for a few days and go pay the volcanos a visit?
But will it cost me more money to book a separate flight later in the week?
Let’s have a look at the other flights available from Reykjavik ⇒ London that week.
Thankfully, WOW have available flights almost every day of the week for the exact same price ($79). So why not just stay the whole week?
Pro Tip: A lot of times you’ll be able to find even cheaper flights just a few days later. Don’t forget to compare other airlines as well. You have complete flexibility. Take advantage of it.
Now you must be thinking:
“What about rental costs? Living costs? Wouldn’t this be expensive as hell?
No! Well, not necessarily…It depends where you’re staying of course.
In Iceland for example, you can find a hostel for as low as $15, and AirBnB rentals are affordable as well.
Free Bonus: If you haven’t joined AirBnB yet, click here to get a free $20 gift when you register.
In terms of cost of living – Reykjavik is even cheaper than London!
So you might be paying less and seeing more! And that my friends is a pretty good deal.
What about the rest of the trip?
As your own travel agent, you’re responsible for your itinerary & your expenses, so master the art of flying cheap. Get to know the airlines that fly to the countries you plan on visiting, especially the low cost airlines. Some of them appear when searching in flight aggregators like SkyScanner & Momondo, but most of them don’t.
For example, let’s use the example travel plan i used above, and list some of the low cost airlines you can use to book dirt-cheap flight prices:
- USA → Iceland (WOW Air, Iceland Air)
- Iceland → UK (WOW Air, Iceland Air, EasyJet)
- UK → Ireland (RyanAir, Aer Lingus, Jet2)
- Ireland → France (RyanAir, Aer Lingus, Transavia)
- France → Spain (RyanAir, Vueling, EasyJet)
The bottom line
“I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” – Morpheus