Travel Hack: Finding Cheap Flights (ex. to Cusco!)
Booking flights is straight-up stressful. There are so many portals and options that it feels nearly impossible to find the best deal. I’m going to share with you the process I use when booking flights in order to get the best possible rate. In particular, I’m going to use my upcoming yoga retreat to Machu Picchu & Cusco as the example, because, well, I really want you to come.
<<|| FINDING THE BEST FLIGHT DEAL ||>>
Step 1: Go to google.com/flights and put in your origin, destination, and preferred dates and press search. Go to ‘Sort by” and do lowest to highest price. Take a look at the top airlines that come up for the cheapest prices and jot them down. For this, we’ve got Avianca, American & Latam, but if I keep scrolling, Jetblue also pops up. Next take a look at stops, see if there’s a common stop between the first 2-5 cheapest flights. In this case, one stop is always Lima, Peru – which is only an hour fight from our final destination of Cusco.
Step 2: Now, we’re going to work our way through “flight insights” starting with “dates”. Since the dates for this retreat are set, I could only really add on days before or after the trip to make it less expensive. The dates are pretty similar, as are the prices. And there are no other airports driving distance to Cusco. Sometimes you get really lucky in the insights, but this time didn’t help us, so moving on.
Step 3: Redo the search with Lima as the destination. Since Lima came up as a stop for every single flight listed, I want to check to see if I can get a better deal if I fly directly to Lima and do a separate flight for Lima – Cusco. This tip always gets me better deals when flying to Europe as well. Or even if wanted to fly to London, then do a separate flight to Marrakech and come with me on this tour in the beginning of October. ;). Anyways, now we’re seeing some under $700 flights, which is pretty great. Again, jot down the names of the airlines that pop up if they’re different from your previous list.
Step 4: Is booking the two separate flights worth it? Let’s find out by now searching Lima – Cusco, roundtrip. What came up is a zillion flights daily for $60 roundtrip. Making it the clear winner, since now you could tack a day on before or after to explore Lima if you wanted.
Optional Step: If you’re really feeling adventurous, go to the top left corner drop-down menu and click ‘explore map’. From here, put in your departure city and 1-2 days outside your dates and see what comes up that’ en route to your destination. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go to Bogota? You could then open a separate tab and search Bogota – Cusco for your dates and see if it makes sense financially.
Step 5: Okay, now you’re going to look at the list of your airlines and see if you’ve got reward travel you can use towards them. Check this page to see which airlines fall under the same alliance (ex. One World, Star Alliance, Skyteam). Then call your preferred airline’s (or credit card’s) rewards line and see if you’re eligible to redeem miles for the flight you want. Now that you have some knowledge, you can suggest to the concierge that if it’s substantially less points, you could fly to Lima and book the Lima to Cusco flight on your own, separately. Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points, you could use a combination of miles + money to get the flight you want, but you’ll have to weigh out the benefits.
Step 6: If you don’t end up booking with miles, put a flight alert on your original google search, and the search from your destination to the ‘stop city’ of Lima. Wait until the next Tuesday, when flights are at their lowest price, to book.
Step 7: Book directly through whichever airline you’re using instead of a third party (like priceline), and keep your eyes peeled for special offers if you open one of the airlines credit cards to save additional money and rack up additional points. If you book directly you have a better chance of asking for an upgrade or rearranging travel without penalties. Make sure to register for the airlines points system too!
Step 8: Pack your bags, I’ll see you in Peru!! 🙂