Flights these days are much cheaper than what they used to be. With flexibility you can get great deals to many countries in the world. Growing up my parents always loved to go on Asian tours. They are still popular, as I still see hordes of Asian tour groups everywhere I go. I think its because Asians like some semblance of structure when they are in a foreign country, which isn’t bad, but you pay a premium for.
With TripAdvisor, Yelp, Wikitravel, Expedia, Hotels.com, and a million more travel sites, we are in the era of discounted traveling. In the past a travel agent dictated pretty much everything. Now we can call the shots. We don’t need to stay at the Ritz, or even chain hotels like Sheraton or Hilton. We sometimes prefer the comfort of a small boutique hotel, as they seem to be more friendly and accommodating, not to mention cheaper. TripAdvisor and Yelp, have helped us find budget friendly restaurants that have been amazing. That’s not to say we don’t go to fancier places, it’s always good to try a little bit of everything, it’s just a great avenue to help you find the closest thing that you want, instead of randomly walking into restaurants, which can also be good.
How we book our paid flights
Google Flights is our go to “travel agent”. With a little bit of time and effort, you can quickly scour different cities you want to visit and the dates you want. You are also able to set a budget. Simply enter your departure city and leave the destination blank, add your dates, and if you want set a budget, and see where you can go. It is an amazing tool to find cheap deals. You may end up spending more time than you think on it, seeing all the amazing places you can go for cheap. The key to finding the cheaper flights is to be as flexible as possible. Spring and Fall are usually the low season for travel, so you can find some good deals. This maybe more difficult for people who aren’t near major airline hubs.
Prices I have found in the past
Below is a list of prices that we were able to get on our previous travels or saw and considered. Boston, is usually our departure city, but I have flown to DC, NYC, Chicago first, and then to my destination. I do a pretty extensive search of other gateways cities, as sometimes they are much cheaper. We are not picky about airlines, please don’t judge J.
Boston <-> Madrid – $420 (TAP Portugal)
Boston <-> Rome – $460 (TAP Portugal)
Boston <-> Reykjavik – $330 (Wow Airline)
Boston <-> Bangkok – $740 (Turkish Airline)
Boston <-> Beijing – $460 (I’ve seen $420 before, but just couldn’t swing the dates) (China Eastern Airlines)
Boston <-> Lima – $470 (Saw didn’t go) (Copa)
Boston <-> Oslo – $420 (Saw didn’t go) – (Norwegian Air)
Boston <-> Casablanca – $620 (Saw didn’t go) (Iberia)
Prices I would pay
In terms of travel between the US and Europe, I consider anything under $550 to your final destination and back a good deal. If flights are cheap, you can take flights to a destination, and from there hop on a regional flight on a discount airline like Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Wizz Air, etc., to your desired destination. You can easily find flights between European cities for under $100 round trip. You have to see how much you save and how much extra time you may spend connecting to see if it’s worth it. The same goes for Asia as there are many low budget airlines as well. I like to get to Asia for under $750. This price is slightly higher, as some destinations can be pricier like South East Asia. If I were going to fly to China, then I wouldn’t want to pay more than $600. Flying anywhere in the Oceanic territory is usually expensive. I would consider anything under $950 to be a good deal. However, I haven’t booked any paid flights since we used points the last two trips. I find great value in using points to get there. If I were to search more, I know that Dallas, LA, and NYC are big hubs for flights to Sydney, so I would start there to see if there are major price differences, and if flying to those cities would help me save a couple hundred bucks. I also haven’t looked into flights in to Africa, so I don’t have much knowledge in that region. Knowing major airline hubs helps a lot; flying from those cities will usually be the cheapest to fly from.
Where we stay
When I was traveling for work in Miami, I always stayed at chain hotels. I did this because I was able to achieve high tiers in their loyalty program, which provided more points and some great perks. I don’t travel nearly enough to achieve this now, so we rely heavily on Hotels.com. We like the company because their rewards program essentially provides you 10% back per night. This gives me flexibility as well, since most hotel chains are pricey, I can book smaller boutique hotels for much cheaper, still in a great location. After you stay 10 nights in any hotel (can be in different trips), you are provided a credit towards a future night stay equal to the average price of those 10 nights. We like to use the hotels.com filter to search for hotels under $150 a night, close to the city center and public transportation, and with at least 3 stars and good ratings. The price for us can fluctuate though, as we know hotels in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Switzerland, etc., can be very pricey compared to $60 dollar hotels that can be found in South East Asia or Eastern Europe. We always check trip advisor to make sure the hotels have good ratings, and to read a few of the most recent reviews.