Have you seen headlines like this one before? I have, and I never thought I would be someone to write something similar. I’ve read posts about travelers booking seemingly impossible low prices to destinations all around the world and the one thing all of these write-ups had in common was MILES. That’s right, using airline miles or reward points to book flights is the secret to cheap (and even free!) flights around the globe. My story is not an exception to this rule.
Today was a big day for me. I made the first real step in actually making my “plan” a reality. I booked my flight–and I only spent $300 doing it! On September 17, 2015, I will begin my journey to Oz. Ahhh!! Cue feeling terrified all over again….
My plan goes like this: Fly from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Honolulu, Hawaii, spend a few days in Hawaii (because, why not?!) and then continue on to Sydney, Australia. I’ve been playing around with a variety of dates, destinations, and airlines but ultimately came to this itinerary because of the amazing price. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Using Delta’s SkyMiles, I booked my flight from Ft Lauderdale to Honolulu for 22,000 miles + $5.60 tax.
To be honest, I’ve been saving my SkyMiles for years now and actually almost spent them on a round-trip flight to NYC this past November. I am glad I didn’t! I earned my SkyMiles by accumulating miles after each completed flight with Delta. I have a free SkyMiles account and every time I fly with them, I give them my account number so the miles can be added. Depending on where you want to fly and when, you can book awards flights using these miles, hence my flight to Hawaii. This was a slow process though and if I were to do it over again, I would have applied for a Delta credit card a while back so I could accrue points faster. Airline and/or travel reward credit cards are the fastest way to earn your free flights.
2. Using SkyScanner, I found a one-way flight to Sydney, Australia for $286.
SkyScanner is my new favorite tool. This travel search engine allows you to exercise a great deal of flexibility with you travel. For example, you can search destinations within an entire country and dates that span a month or even a year in order to determine the cheapest option. Now, of course, this means you would need to be very flexible with when and where you’d like to go, like I was today. I started off searching for United States to Australia for the whole year. This helped me narrow down Honolulu and September as the departure city and cheapest month to travel. Next, I narrowed my search to Honolulu to Australia in September. This time the results listed Sydney as the cheapest city. After I selected Sydney, I then browsed the fare calendar and found September 22 to be among the cheapest options via JetStar and from there, I booked my flight!
A few words of caution: search engines are awesome until they’re not. What I mean by this is there isn’t one search engine that is simply and one and done when you’re looking for the best deal. You will likely need to shop around. Check the airline’s actual site in addition to your search engine. Should you find a cheaper flight via a search engine, always book with reliable sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, etc. You know, the ones you’ve heard of. There are a few sites out there, like eDreams, that will offer really amazing prices if you book through them but they may not actually be legit. If you’re not sure or you’ve never heard of the site, research it. There are tons of helpful reviews available online that can help you decide if you’re booking through a safe and reliable site. For the record, eDreams is not.
The bottom line: WATCH OUT AUSTRALIA! I’ll be joining you in September 2015!