TWP: Airfare! // How to Find a Cheap Flight!

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Happy June ya'll!! Today is the first of many posts for The Wander Project. The goal of TWP is to give you tips and tricks on how to vacay without breaking the bank. You may not think so, but it is definitely possible. This will be the first of three posts specifically on how to find hella cheap airfare .

Since getting back, we've gotten a lot of questions about how much everything cost and who we booked the trip through. Well I am very proud to say that we did all the planning ourselves!! This can be pretty stressful but in the end it saved us thousands of dollars. Plus, we were able to customize the trip into exactly what we wanted.  I am going to share with you how we did it so that you can do it too! I am also going to break down how much we spent on everything to help you if you are planning a similar trip. For those of you looking for city reviews, they are coming soon!

Today I want to give ya'll a few tips about the most expensive part of our trip- Airfare. Warning-- This is a bit long, but that just means you've got a better chance at a cheap flight! :)

I spent literally months researching airfare. Three of the best websites I found were ITA Matrix, and All help you find the cheapest airfare for the locations and dates you are looking for. ITA Was the most useful tool because it lets you get as specific or broad as you want. It also lets you search only certain airline alliances and lets you use coding to find really awesome deals. Anytime I see mistake fares or cheap fares on big travel deal websites, they always direct you to ITA Matrix. It can be a little daunting if you aren't familiar with the lingo, so this is a great post by Million Mile Secrets on how to use it. One of my favorite features of the ITA Matrix is that you can download the app and through it save your favorite flights you are considering. The app will track if the price is going down or up for that flight so you can strike while the iron is hot! If that just sounds too complicated for you, I would use Kayak. I found that Kayak was more user friendly because if you are doing multiple searches, it saves the first search and creates a tab at the top for the new search. Although I preferred Kayak, Skyscanner showed way more results.

After finding the best prices on these sites, I chose to book directly on the airline's website for two reasons. First, its safer and more secure. There's no chance of you paying money for a ticket just to find out its a scam like I've heard has happened on sites like edreams and opodo. Second, some airlines offer certain incentives for booking direct.

One way that second point has helped us- Jetblue offers reimbursement as a credit for any flight you book directly through them that drops in price. So if you book a 200$ ticket that drops to 100$ next week, you just call them and they will give you that 100$ back as a credit. Cool huh? But this only works if you book through their site, not travelocity or expedia or whatever. Of course if those sites offer a significant deal- take it! It's all about doing what saves the most money!

The first thing I did was made a list of each place we were going and how many days we wanted to spend in each place. This was not easy, lemme tell ya. To help, I made a list of things to do in each place and researched how long that would take. We ended up deciding on London- 2 days, Paris-2 days, Venice- 2 days, Florence- 1 day and Rome- 3 days. I then tried to figure out the best way to get from one point to another. Obviously I would need to fly from the US to Europe. Once in Europe there are two options- fly or take the train. We ended up deciding to fly from London to Venice, take the train within each Italian city and then fly from Rome to Paris. I'll go into why we chose this layout in the next few sections.

Being flexible with your dates and airports will save tons of money. In the US, bigger airports tend to have better prices. Prime example is our flight over to Europe. The flights from Jacksonville to Europe were uber expensive, even though Jax is an international airport. Knowing it would be too expensive to fly direct, I looked at flights from the one of the biggest hubs on the east coast- NYC. Flying out of NYC gave us a bigger list of airlines to choose from, which will made it much easier to find a cheap flight. Plus, what better excuse to pit stop in one of my favorite cities?! We ended up finding round trip tickets from Jax to NYC for 180$ pp through Jetblue (so good!).

After searching from NYC to each location we would be visiting (London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome), I saw that it was cheaper to fly into London and out of Paris. Originally I wanted to set up our itinerary in geographical order (makes sense, right?) but flying home from Rome was several hundred dollars more per person than from Paris. Even after adding in the cost to travel from Italy to Paris, Paris was still the cheaper option. Decision made. So we booked from NYC to London with a free stopover in Iceland (more on that in this post) and from Paris to NYC both on Icelandair.

When searching airfare I always search one day before and one day after. In some cases there are flights that are significantly cheaper if you leave the night before or the morning after the date you originally planned. Sometimes, even being able to move to completely different days saves tons. I wanted to start our Italian portion in Rome and end in Venice but it was 200$ cheaper pp to do it the other way around. If I hadn't checked, I would have never known! Being flexible with times can help save money too. We took three 6am flights and 3 late night flights although they were a little rough, they saved us a bunch. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little beauty sleep to save a buck. This could mean the difference between visiting an extra museum, eating a fancy meal or maybe even throwing in an extra city to your itinerary!

Choosing airports that are a bit outside city center can save you money also.  I always clicked on "all airports" when searching to make sure I wasn't limiting myself. Sometimes this means you have to take a bus from the airport into the city. Always add the bus fare to the cost of the cheaper ticket to make sure its still cheaper than flying into the closer airport. This trick really saved us money in London and Venice!


Hopefully you now realize that your airfare can be the biggest expense of your upcoming trip, but it doesn't have to break the bank!!

So now that you know all the super secret tricks to flying cheap, where will you be headed next?! Do you have a tip or secret to saving money on airfare that I didn't mention?? Tell me all about it in the comments!


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