In my previous post "5 Simple Tips to Travel on a Budget" we discussed being flexible on Travel Dates as well as the Destination itself. Now let's go into some real detail about how to make a solid choice.
So assuming you are not afraid to fly and can catch a cheap ride to the nearest airport, here's how I fly inexpensively. We will look at Shuttle Planes and Google Flights.
Shuttle air travel has really made flying easy and downright cheap for us. Shuttles run the same routes back and forth on a set schedule. Over on the east coast I use Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. I prefer Allegiant when I can help it. (They don't pay me to say that, but fingers crossed!)
These planes are smaller and do not have any fancy amenities that larger airlines such as Delta or United will have. I only recommend these airlines if you are flying less than 3 continuous hours.
People often think they are not any less expensive due to "hidden fees" when in actuality you just need to understand what you are getting into. Shuttle Planes are for minimalists, plain and simple. If you are the type that needs 2 suitcases for a 3 day trip, it is unlikely that this is the route for you.
What are the guidelines for Allegiant?
-No free ticket changes (Which works for me because I don't buy my tickets very far ahead of time. Tickets can be changed, but it costs a fee)
-You get 1 free Personal Item (7" x 15" x 16" which is the size of a standard backpack)
-You will have to pay a fee if you want to select your seat (I never do this and if you are traveling as a group they will sit you together as long as you purchased the tickets in the same transaction)
-Priority boarding also costs (Again, I do not choose this option. Seats are assigned so there is no need to beat the crowd unless you are wanting to use the overhead storage space for the carry-on bags that already cost you extra)
The summary is that this is only the correct option for you if you consider yourself a low-maintenance person.
Using Allegiant's Route Map
This is a good tool to choose a destination from an airport close to you. I'm going to stick with Allegiant as an example, but this is available from the other Air Shuttles as well.
So I traveled out of Louisville, KY for the most part. This gave me 3 relatively close options:
-Louisville SDF was 10 mins from my house
-Cincinnati CVG was 1 1/2 hrs and parking cost $8/day which isn't bad
-Indianapolis IND was an emergency backup that I never used
And these were the 3 major airports that I would focus on when choosing a destination.
So let's look at Cincinnati (CVG).
As you can see in the image above, by clicking on my airport (CVG) it shows me all of the locations that Allegiant has non-stop flights to. I can choose any of the Green Dots and travel there. Let's choose Myrtle Beach, SC.
This is the rate callendar for the departing flight. So this is only 1 of 2 tickets we will need to choose. I've taken this screenshot on June 9th, 2019. As you can see, I could leave within the next 2 weeks for $42.
Now let's choose the returning ticket.
The Returning Flight image above is just another view you can use.
So my dates are the 24th to the 28th. Let's see what the ticket cost is AFTER taxes.
So Monday - Friday would cost a Total of $121. That is pretty amazing for a direct flight. And it looks like it is only 1 1/2 hours to get there. And yes, this is a round-trip ticket. I get that question all the time.
Final note on this: Allegiant takes you primarily to the beach and Frontier can take you inland.
No shock that Google has put out another amazing tool for us. Google Flights is an air travel planning tool that helps you find airlines tickets and charges you absolutely no fee.
Pretty similar to the Route Map we have recently looked at, google can actually add multiple airports to the same search so that you can find the best deal while using all of their filtering tools. They capture the majority of airlines and let you know whether or not a carry-on is included as well as the number of stops and total travel time. I spend a good chunk of my time on Google Flights dreaming up my next trip.
Here is an example of looking for multiple airports to leave from:
And here is an example of when you click "Explore Destinations" as seen in the bottom right corner of the screenshot above.