Make your getaway plan
‘Tis the season for traveling, be it home for Christmas or away to a warmer clime to relax and recharge. While dreaming of a wonderful family vacation is always nice, sometimes the mere thought of all the planning and booking involved in turning that dream into a reality is daunting.
Sometimes the best idea is to hand it all over to a travel agent who can do the hard work for you. But if that isn’t an option you are comfortable with or can afford – or you enjoy the thrill of the hunt for lower fairs and last minute deals – there are ways to plan a great vacation all on your own, and lots of sites to help you do it.
Tips for getting cheaper flights
TravelZoo1 and Thrifty Nomads2 have some great advice for scoring the cheapest seats you can:
- Search in secret. Because the cookies in your web browser enable them to do so, sites on which you’re searching for airfare prices will actually increase flight prices when a particular route is repeatedly searched. That’s because the site wants to scare you into booking the flight quickly before prices get even higher. To avoid this trap, always do your searches in private mode. Here’s how:
- “In Google Chrome or Safari, incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search. Note: if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then click “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing”. Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren’t “remembered”, potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.”3
- Don’t avoid flying on an actual holiday. Surprisingly, days like Christmas and Thanksgiving are often cheaper since most people want to have arrived at their destinations in advance of those special days. If your plans are for later in the day and you can book an earlier flight, go for it!
- Check out alternate airports. It might not be quite as convenient, but flying into Buffalo Niagara Airport instead of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, for example, might save you a fair bit of money. You’ll have to factor in transit to your actual destination (car rental, taxi, or public transportation), but sometimes you still end up coming out ahead.
- Consider flying on a Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Flights on these days are typically less full and therefore usually cheaper.
- Embrace the layover. Yes, it’s inconvenient to have to change planes and hang out at an airport midway to your destination, but opting for a flight with a layover can sometimes save you a few hundred dollars per person.
Create your own personalized itinerary
Although planning is the best way to ensure a great getaway, there are lots of free sites online that can help you build your perfect travel itinerary including:
- Travefy lets you create detailed, mobile-friendly itineraries. You can add places, links and more – and even share your trip plans with other travelers in your group.
- TripHobo allows you to plan your trip, but you can also have it suggest a plan that you might like even better.
- Tripit takes your flight or hotel confirmation emails and uses them to build your personalized itinerary.
We’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to helping our members plan safe, happy vacations. Check out these additional articles to help make your next vacation the best it can be:
- Online security: the great escape – tips on safely using the Internet to plan your vacation
- Don’t leave home without it – a list of essentials you should pack in your suitcase and take along with you
- Make a clean getaway – tips for planning an inexpensive vacation your whole family will enjoy.
- Security on the homefront – advice for ensuring your home is safe and sound while you’re away.
- Online security: safe travels – tips for keeping your smartphone and other electronic devices safe and secure while you’re on the road.
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