TripIt joins our friends at Thrifty Traveler, a site that helps you travel more for less, to share useful strategies for flexible travel planning.
Flexibility can take many forms when planning trips. You can travel as long as you bring a cheap flight. Or, you can change the dates of the trip in just one day and it can make the difference between overpaying for a flight and earning a bargain.
But you don’t necessarily need an open schedule with unlimited power take-off or an “anywhere” mentality to be flexible with your travel plans. Instead, use these strategies to plan a trip with built-in flexibility.
Follow the rule of the first flight
There’s no better way to give yourself flexibility to change the game (and save your wallet) than to rethink how you approach the travel planning process. We call Thrifty Traveler the first rule of flight. That’s exactly what it sounds like: start the travel planning process by looking for flights first. By doing so, you will be offered as many flight options as possible, letting the lowest prices guide you to complete your trip.
And this is true if you have an open schedule or a narrow window to work. Even a little flexibility (e.g., being open at any take-off time, some discounts, or even flexible dates) can mean huge savings.
Suppose you have a one-week window for the long-awaited trip to Europe next winter. Despite the power outage and domestic life, there is not much room for error. After all, you plan to leave one Friday and return the following Friday.
But if you go out on a Saturday and come back a week later, you could charge $ 100, $ 200 or more for the same flights. Multiply these savings by multiple tickets and it adds up quickly.
This is not a theoretical exercise: we see these savings over and over again by just changing travel dates for a day or two. As your willingness and ability to be flexible grows, you will also save.
Are you open to flying somewhere as long as the price is right? Whether you’re heading south to the Caribbean or east to Europe, traveling during the shoulder seasons, as well as late spring or early fall, can save you even more compared to travel periods. hectic highs in mid-summer, Christmas and New Year.
And then there’s the maximum flexibility – letting the flight offer dictate not just when you go, but where. Maybe a trip to Chile wasn’t really on your radar or it was just far below your growing travel wish list. But when it comes to a Thrifty Traveler Premium flight offer to fly from the US to Santiago for a round trip price of just $ 63, you say yes to Santiago.
Tips for implementing flexibility
If you’ve never approached travel planning with this kind of flexibility, it may not be easy to retrain your brain to plan differently, but the savings are worth it. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Use the right flight search platforms to make your flexibility work for you. The best search tools will allow you to quickly filter the flights you want, but they will also help you highlight the cheapest dates to travel.
- There is no better magic day to book cheap flights, but there are cheaper days to fly. You will usually see the lowest prices for flights departing and returning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the demand for air travel is lower.
- You see it very well, but aren’t you sure you or your travel companion can make it work? U.S. law provides you with a “book now, ask questions later” policy, which requires all airlines to reimburse you in full for flights to, from, or from the United States if you cancel within 24 hours after booking. This should be enough time to line up schedules, make sure you can get the job done, and even check accommodations or rental cars. Can’t make this cheap ticket work? Cancel it within 24 hours and return the money.
- Airlines give you even more flexibility and you should use it. While most airlines have ended free exchange and cancellation policies since the peak days of the pandemic, most major U.S. airlines have gotten rid of all exchange rates. economic rates, except basic ones. This means that you can also cancel your flight to get a voucher, if the large amount you found will not work this time.
Tip: If your travel plans change (and you don’t use automatic import), be sure to forward your rescheduled, canceled, or recently booked plans to TripIt, so you have the most up-to-date information for your trip directly at application.
How to protect your travel plans in the future
Of course, there is so much more to traveling than getting on a plane. And the importance of protecting the future of your travel plans goes far beyond your flights. Here are some other things to keep in mind to ensure that you book fully flexible travel plans (not just flights) if you change your plans:
- Consider booking refundable hotel rates. It will cost you a little more, but it is worth it if you have to cancel a trip to get your money back.
- Ditto for the rental car. And given the problems with car rental across the country this year, it may be worth closing a prepaid rental, as long as you can cancel it.
- Are you planning to book a holiday rental for your accommodation? Use search filters to show only properties with flexible cancellation policies … but always make sure you read the fine print. Just because an owner promises flexibility it doesn’t mean you get 100% of your money. And almost everyone has a deadline by which to cancel to get a refund.
- Want to think about excursions, excursions and all the other accessories for your travels? It may be worth waiting until the trip is over to book them.
Complementary reading: 8 professional tips for booking a holiday rental
Whether you can adjust your plans for a day or two, travel at a different time of year, or go anywhere with a cheap flight, booking flexible travel plans will help you have confidence in your plans now, up to and all if necessary change them later.