Just like computer hackers know how to game a computer system, travel hackers are experts at gaming the travel industry. Travel hackers find the cheapest airfares to fly anywhere in the world at the best prices. Most people log in to a website such as Expedia or Travelocity, search for a flight and buy it at whatever price. Travel hackers are people who fly often enough to know where to search to find better prices. Here are five tips from a travel hacker.
1. Use Aggregators for Initial Searches
Even though aggregator sites have cheap airfares from several different airline companies, they don't have all airlines and don't usually have rock bottom prices. However, they are a great place to start. Travel hackers browse aggregator sites regularly, so browse Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity and Priceline often to get a feel for current prices. You might even be pleasantly surprised and find a cheap airfare to a location that's usually expensive. Airfare prices are seasonal, so you might get great prices to a less popular location during the year.
2. Check the Airline Company's Website
Aggregator websites use an airline company's price feed, so they don't always have the most recent prices. After you find a cheap air ticket on the aggregators, log in to the airline company's site and check to see if they have any current promotions that the aggregator hasn't calculated. For instance, take the first three airfare ticket prices and go to the airline site to cross-reference the prices.
3. Check the Airline Company's Foreign Website
Sometimes, you can take advantage of the current currency exchange rate and find better prices for the same ticket at the company's foreign website. Go to both sites and figure out the exchange rate to find out if you can get a ticket cheaper. For instance, the US dollar is stronger than New Zealand currency. You might be able to find cheaper rates by buying a ticket from the New Zealand website rather than the US website.
4. Check Out Different Routes
You can usually get to one city by using different routes. Each airport has different fees and taxes, so you might be able to fly to a specific city if you don't have a layover at an expensive airport. It will probably take you longer to fly, but you can save money by increasing your flight time by an hour or two.
5. Don't Forget the Smaller Airline Companies
Aggregator websites get prices from big, popular airline companies. They don't usually have the smaller airlines listed. It takes time to find these smaller airline companies, but you'll get to know them when you travel more often. These smaller airline companies sometimes have cheaper airfare with fewer bells and whistles. Since cheap flights are a travel hacker's main priority, you can compromise on amenities for a cheaper airfare.
Travel hacking doesn't have the convenience of traditional airfare purchasing techniques, but with a little time and effort, you can find cheap plane flights. If price is your main concern, do a little sleuthing online and you can reduce fares by hundreds of dollars.