Lots of travel websites can be seriously helpful in saving you bucks on cheap travel deals, and not just the obvious biggies like student airfare sellers (though, yeah, those are serious biggies). Places like Priceline can be as important to planning travel and grabbing cheap deals as can be traditionally cheapo backpacker travel standbys like hostels. Here's the first part of a three parter (see part two) with a few of our faves in the travel websites cheap travel deals department, starting with how to get there:
Student airfares can save you a bundle, and they're certainly the go-to first stop in looking for cheap flights (next stops are outlined below!). Take a look at STA, the giant in the student airfare industry, to get an idea what you can save as a for-instance. And it'll give you a chance to see whether they're offering any super duper mega sales, which they often do.
We don't use Priceline nearly as much for airfares as we do for hotels (for which it is da bomb) but it has its place. Figuring out how to bid is key; once you've got that down, Priceline starts to get seriously fun because you choose how much you want to pay. Of course, you might not get it, which is sort of less fun, but you always get to try again, provided you've got time to bid again (you can only bid on the same thing once every 24 hours). As an added bonus, Priceline sometimes offers holiday calendars showing best days to fly -- some years they seem to forget, though, in which case we always have that covered.
Kayak is an aggregator, which is a website / company pulling in all the fares it can find from every airline and every travel agency (which includes things like Orbitz and Travelocity and Hotwire) and displaying them at once. Yeah, that gets overwhelming. It's generally a very quick way to get a good idea what an airfare's price is (roughly, since they change roughly every three seconds).
Hotwire claims to save up to 40% on airfares and hotels, and in our experience, it often does. You choose a deal, and you buy it. If you hate te time the flight leaves and the airline, tough patoot: it's yours. Priceline, its sister company, works the same way but can often save you more money. However, Hotline's a sure thing -- you can easily waste time bidding on Priceline and come away with nothing; with Hotwire, you're guaranteed something.
Lastminute.com isn't always a big saver; we find most of the same last minute deals -- which is, of course, Lastminute.com's claim to fame -- on Airfare Watchdog. It makes us feel like we've covered the bases, though!
Skyscanner. Mostly because the interface is fun. Find your departure city on an interactive map and see just where you might like to go from there. And because flights within Europe *can* be uber cheap, this can be uber fun. Do remember to check RyanAir separately -- they're tricky and add a lot o' fees and may make you stand up, on top of paying to use the loo. OK, maybe not stand up, exactly... but the fees make a difference on that budget European airline.
We find that finding the fairest fare is fun: cruising to different travel websites offering the mega cheap deals gets our imagination going as we picture ourselves in whichever exotic airport. However, it can be stressful to fear that your fare isn't the best! So: click, ticket, and then ask no one else what they paid. Unless you are absolutely positively sure that your airfare will win. And do not forget to sign up for the frequent flyer club of whichever airline you end up on -- student travelers tend to fly to far flung places, and just one ticket to Australia and back can be enough to earn you free airfare on some airlines! More details on that: "Student Travelers Can Be Frequent Flyers, Too!" Head on to Part Two to find out how to find the cheap deals on places to stay! (And it won't be Hotels.com...) Return to Backpackers Make Great Frequent Flyers | Return to Student Airfare Finders