Resources for Other Forms of Travel

Matt Derrick

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This is the start of the Other Forms of Travel Resources page. Hit the edit button below and add anything you think would be useful to other travelers!

Finding cheap flights

There are an utterly ridiculous amount of flight search engines out there, but only a few of them are worth your time. Make sure to check several search engines (even ones not listed here) since not all of these cover all airlines. My personal favorites are:

Google Flights - Unsurprisingly, the king of search has an excellent search engine for finding cheap flights. It will notify you if there are cheaper flights before or after your chosen departure date. One of it’s best features is the ability to explore within flexible date periods to find the lowest price using an easy to read graph.

Skyscanner - While there are many, many flight search engines that check multiple airlines for you, I’ve personally had the best luck with this one, especially for international flights.

Kayak - Another flight search engine much like Skyscanner that I often find myself checking since it checks many different airlines at once.

ITA Matrix - If you want to get downright nerdy with your search, this is the search engine to use. It powers both the Kayak and Google Flights websites and covers every special need you could possibly have when looking for a flight. You can see a calendar of prices or book for an exact date. You can book a round-trip ticket that arrives and departs from two different cities. You can even change your “point-of-sale” in hopes of getting a cheaper ticket (more on that below). While you can’t book directly through this website, it gives you the fare codes a booking agent needs to find the same deal.

Skiplagged & AirWander - These websites make flights cheaper by booking routes to major cities that have a layover in your destination city. Instead of following through to your ticket’s destination, you simply get off the plane at the layover that is your actual destination. This is possible due to the fact that flights are often cheaper between major cities than it is to fly directly to your chosen destination. Really only useful for domestic travel within the USA and flying without checked luggage.

Check Budget Airlines

Another part of your search could include looking on the websites of various budget airlines. Budget airlines often do whatever they can to give customers rock-bottom prices, including charging extra for amenities standard on any other airline or cutting them out entirely. This could be anything from charging extra for checked baggage, tacking on fees for using a credit card, to having to pay to use the bathroom. Make sure to check the fine print before handing over your hard earned money. Still, if you’re willing to put up with some sub-standard conditions, you can save a boatload of money on these flights. Check out this list of budget airlines to find a carrier that goes to your desired destination.

Currency Conversion

Airline companies sometimes adjust their prices to ensure they get business from all corners of the globe. For example, if you live in a ‘first-world’ country like the USA, you’ll probably be able to afford that $800 flight; but if you live in Argentina, that’s not as likely to be true.

So, using this sliding scale pricing, we can use other forms of currency to see if we can get a flight for a lower price than we’d spend if using the US dollar. For example, if we search Google for an Argentinian version of the airline you’re looking at, we can use Google translate to read that page in English and search for flights. The results should return the prices in Argentinian pesos, which we can then check the rate of exchange to US dollars using Google search. If the result is cheaper than what we would pay for the same flight in US dollars, we book the flight.

Sign up for Fare Alerts

Fare alerts give you some downright shocking prices on flights if you’re willing to sift through a lot of email. I highly recommend signing up for a Gmail account and becoming familiar with using email filters before signing up for these alerts, as these emails can start to fill your inbox quickly. The following sites all announce interesting deals about every day if you’re willing to follow them closely.
Many airlines offer their own email newsletters in which they announce discounts or special prices. The Airfare Watchdog website has a list of these newsletters you can subscribe to.

Mistake Airfares

These are airfare prices that happen completely by accident. Sometimes the person entering the data will miss the zero on a 1400 dollar ticket, making it 140. Or someone will forget to add in the fuel surcharge when calculating the final price, making the ticket 400-500 dollars cheaper than it should be. Or an airline accidentally applies a promotion to all of it’s flights instead of the few it was meant for. Either way, these things happen, but they’re almost always corrected in a few hours, so you gotta be quick to take advantage.

It’s important to note you should not book accommodations or make any other plans around the mistake fare until you’re 100% sure it will be honored. Airlines aren’t always bound to honor these prices, but due to the social media backlash that occurs when they don’t, they often will take the hit to make the customer happy.

Since mistake fares can happen literally at any time, it’s best to follow websites like The Flight Deal to be notified of the latest mistake fares.

Throwaway Ticketing

One of the big hurdles involved in going abroad is many countries require you to show proof that you are going to leave their country before they will let you in. Most of the time this proof takes the form of an airline ticket you’ve already bought, showing the customs officer you are leaving at a specific date.

OneWayFly - This service allows you to ‘rent’ airline tickets for a small fee (currently, $20 USD). These tickets are good for 14 days before your journey and are immediately canceled after that period of time. These ‘throwaway’ tickets are a way to travel if you’re not sure how long you’re going to stay in a particular country.

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel (So You Don’t Get Kicked Off Your Flight!) by The Expert Vagabond - This is an excellent description of how throwaway ticketing works and how/why you would want to use the service.

Best Onward Ticket - Looks similar to OneWayFly, but I found this in a google search and haven't read any reviews of it, so consider this link unverified.

Unusual Promotions

This is an incredible shot in the dark, but I still think it’s worth mentioning, if for no other reason than you’ll know what to look out for when it happens. In 2005, AirTran put on a promotion with the Wendy’s fast food chain in which they placed coupons on the sides of their drink cups. These coupons were good for free airline miles with AirTran to anywhere they fly to.

At the time, around 64 cups were worth one round trip flight to anywhere AirTran went. While I did not live in an area with any Wendy’s near me at the time, many of my friends in the punk community took advantage of the promotion by dumpster diving every Wendy’s restaurant they could find. For months afterwards I was sent many pictures of my friend’s travels as they wandered from country to country on AirTran’s dime. AirTran repeated this promotion in 2013 but after being absorbed into Southwest Airlines, who knows if this particular promotion will ever return.

Hitchhiking Airplanes

While it’s incredibly rare, it’s definitely not impossible, and folks have apparently been doing it since the late 60’s. This is a short list websites with more information on the subject:

The Expert Vagabond: Hitchhiking America, Part 8 - Matthew Karsten managed to hitchhike a ride on an airplane as part of his hitchhiking journey across the USA.

Jet Hiking - Amber Nolan was also able to hitchhike airplanes to almost every state in the USA (minus Hawaii). Although her personal website seems to be offline, you can still access most of it, including the blog posts and pictures of her adventures, via the Wayback Machine.

SkyPool [Defunct] - There used to be a website for matching pilots with hitchhikers called SkyPool put it’s been offline since October of 2016 with a vague message about reviewing the rules and regulations of the FAA. You can see how that site used to work via the Wayback Machine.

Hitchhiking Airplanes - The good folks at HitchWiki have a little bit of information about this subject on their website with a few experiences and some advice.
 
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