Over the years, thanks to sites such as Nextdeparture.ca, it’s never been easier to find cheap airfare. I like saving money just like anyone else, but one big issue with these deals is that you need to jump on them fast since they’re usually mistakes and the airlines quickly correct them.
That could mean you have a few hours or a few days, you never know. As a result, many people decide to click buy and will worry about the details later. This strategy could work for some people, but for the majority of us, you need to ask yourself the following questions before you make that purchase.
Can I afford this trip?
It doesn’t matter if the ticket you found is 50% or 75% off, what good us that discount if you can’t afford the rest of your trip? Your travel costs are more than just your airfare. You obviously need to factor in the cost of accommodations, attractions, and food, yet many people don’t think about that when they see flight deals. I personally like to have a dedicated vacation savings account so I can dip into that whenever I want without much worry. If you don’t have the money available, then don’t book that ticket. Putting your vacation costs on a credit card and paying it off later is not a good idea either since the interest charges you incur could end up costing you more than what you saved on the plane ticket.
Can I get the time off?
When I had a corporate job, I had to ask for my time off months in advance. Even then, I wasn’t guaranteed to get it since people who had more seniority would get first rights. With flight deals, the travel dates are often fixed and you can’t change them. That’s great if you’ve got a flexible working arrangement, but most people need to get their vacation time approved. If your vacation time does get denied, you’re basically stuck with a ticket to nowhere.
Do I actually want to go to this destination?
Another issue with cheap airfare is that some people end up buying tickets to a destination they would normally have no interest in. I personally don’t love beaches and all-inclusive resorts so I wouldn’t book a vacation to say Cancun even if it was 50% off. Yes, it’s a good deal, but that’s not a destination that’s high on my list. I personally think it only makes sense to buy tickets to places you actually want to visit, but some people can’t resist a good deal or want to say they’ve been to a ton of different countries.
Do I have enough time to get the right paperwork?
You may have the savings and time off available, but do you have your documents in order? Some flight deals are last minute, but if your passport is expired, you’re not getting on that plane. Sure, you can pay for the rush service to get your passport right away, but that comes at a cost. You also need to think about other things such as getting a visa since some countries require you to get it in advance of your travels. I remember when I went to China, it took me weeks to get my visa. I’m sure things are quicker now, but it’s not something I would want to stress out about.
Can I use my points to cover other expenses?
Generally speaking, cheap flights are unplanned trips. Yes, you may have the money set aside for your travels, but I always recommend using any points you have available to help offset expenses. In this case, you’re probably looking at accommodations so Marriot Rewards/Bonvoy points via the SPG Amex or American Express Platinum card could help you get some free nights. Alternatively, if you plan on paying cash for your accommodations, you might as well apply for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada right away since the money you spend can help meet your minimum spend requirement which means a huge signup bonus for you.