Here at Justifi, we travel a LOT. From Thailand to Nicaragua, Peru to South Africa, we're booking dozens of international trips per year. And, as a small not-for-profit organization, we do everything we can to book them on the cheap.
Beyond the need to travel for work, it's a personal hobby of mine to find incredible deals on travel for myself and others. I've spent many dozens of hours reading travel forums, blogs, talking to experts, and pouring over award travel charts to find the sweet spots. And the results are fun. In the last few years the tricks below have helped me book <$400 round trip tickets to Israel from New York, a $330 ticket for my father to Bangkok with a 2 week stint in Europe between Venice and Prague, gleen more than $3,500 in flight credits, and earn enough frequent flier points to circle the world at least 3 times. (It's a fun hobby).
Because one of the biggest concerns potential participants have when considering a Justifi trip is the cost of airfare, I wanted to share some of the top tips and tricks that past participants have used to save hundreds of dollars on their tickets and joined our programs for a lot less.
Basic Tools of A Savvy Traveler: Have a Good Travel Agent, Check our Travel Desk
Make friends in high places. We've assembled a list of several nice, reliable travel agents from around the country that can help you book your flights. For when you just want to get there for a good price and know someone has your back if something goes wrong.
Google Flights: Your New Best Friend
Screenshot for flights as we book from Israel to Thailand for this Winter on Google Flights. It's a robust tool with many options to find exactly what you're looking for.
Book 1-4 Months Before You Travel:
There IS a magic time to book your flight. It's generally 1-4 months before you depart. One study very specifically recommends 47 days before you travel is the exact best date.
Advanced Moves for Travel Ninjas:
Be Flexible with Your Departure City:
Flights out of New York are outrageous? Sometimes a $15 Bolt Bus to Philly, Boston, or even DC can save you a chunk of change. From Canada, look at small shuttle flights to New York and see if you can get a flight for cheaper from there. Use Google Flights to enter multiple options for departure cities to see if it's worth the schlep. (BONUS: Take an overnight in your transit city, see that old friend you haven't seen in ages).
Be Flexible with Your Dates:
This is the most pain-free way to save a fortune. A recent study suggests Leaving on a Thursday and Returning on a Monday could save you 20%. Use Google Flights to look a few days out after your trip 'normally' ends and consider extending. At Justifi, usually 25% or more of Justifi participants extend their trips. Plus, you can use the money you save on flights to pay for hotels (and coconuts).
Take A Stopover:
Many people don't know this, but it is often possible to take up to 24 hours (often more) at a destination along your route to your destination. We've done this ourselves and visited family in Florida en route to Nicaragua, and sampled authentic sushi in the markets of Tokyo en route to Bangkok. Past participants have taken overnights at South Beach or up to a week in Singapore through creative routes that sometimes save you money. We recommend looking at The Points Guy and Frugal Travel Guy for tips, but consider breaking your itinerary into low-cost parts or multi-city itineraries to take advantage of the best prices per flight leg and get a mini-trip in your big one.
Fly INTO a Different City, Use Local Transportation:
For the courageous traveler, consider flying INTO a different gateway city and using local options to navigate to your final destination. Flying to Thailand? Look at flights into Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and take AirAsia to get to Bangkok. Nicaragua? Fly into San Jose, Costa Rica and take a deluxe bus ride to Managua. Use Google Flights' map tool to see nearby cities and then use Rome2Rio to navigate to your final destination. Budget extra time, though - local options aren't as reliable. (Note: Be careful to check visa requirements and passport restrictions).
Credit Cards and Frequent Flyer Miles: Master the Game
Use credit card sign-up bonuses and daily spending to fund your travel. Start with The Points Guy Blog and work your way up to Dan's Deals (Jewish guy from Brooklyn, Dan's the man). I've earned over 250k miles this way and maintained a great credit score and my mentor (Alumni Josh G) has used these tricks to join us on 4 trips in Thailand, Nica, South Africa, and Peru flying business class for free.
BONUS: Get The Bump from Oversold Flights
I really shouldn't share this, it's my all-time favorite move and the fewer people that know about it easier it is to get. But I've earned thousands of dollars in free travel by volunteering to be bumped from oversold flights. If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, see if your flight is oversold and volunteer to take compensation to be re-booked on a later flight. See this article for details.
Whew! Not so bad, eh?
Now that you can travel anywhere you want for free or cheap, may I recommend you Apply to Join us on a Justifi Trip? Our team will then follow up if you're approved to join us and help make it possible for you to come on board.
Have fun, be responsible, and happy travels.