There’s no right or wrong way to book a trip… but using this method might get you a five-star experience on a two-star budget!

 

“I want to go on vacation, but don’t know when or where. Where do I start?”

 

It’s one of the most common questions I get from friends, family, and Jet with Jay blog readers.  So, I’ll show you how I plan our trips so you can travel better for less.

 

We’ll start with three (well, three-ish) easy steps and how we’ve saved thousands of dollars on airfare.

Can you guess what all these statues have in common at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA?

Step 1: Look around, look around (at how lucky we are to be alive right now).

Really. We’re lucky to be in an age where so much information is easily accessible. I remember as a kid when my mom would sit on hold with Northwest Airlines waiting to book a trip. Then you’d tell the operator where you wanted to go, when you wanted to leave, when you wanted to come back. And they told you how much.

 

Now, we can approach things two ways – we can focus on nonstop destinations from CVG and see our options, or we can find a destination based on our schedule and let the airlines compete for the lowest price on our trips.

 

If you are looking for the fastest way to get somewhere, the first option of perusing nonstop destinations might be the best answer. Check out CVG’s Travel Navigator where you can see the list of cities and airlines that fly nonstop from CVG. It’s a great way to find destinations that enable a quick getaway.

You can search by interests, city and/or airlines to see choices for nonstop flights from CVG. Pretty handy tool! 

 

For our second option, there are a few different tools you can use. Sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Trivago, and even your credit card company are ready to help you get your plane ticket.

Thinking of spending Christmas in Prague?  Go for it!  We visited in 2019 and it was incredible.

My first stop when planning a trip is Google Flights. It’s an aggregator of almost every airline in the world (there are a few exceptions, including Southwest, Vacation Express, Sun Country Airlines, Apple Vacations, and Viva Aerobus; you’ll need to visit their site directly.)  I like it because I can search four different ways.

 

  • Tell it exactly where I want to go and when I want to go there, and then let Google Flights direct me to which airline fits my schedule and budget.

 

  • Tell it where I want to go, but let Google Flights tell me when the cheapest time is to visit.

 

  • Tell it when I want to go, but let Google Flights find the cheapest destination.

 

  • And my personal favorite, tell me when and where I should go for the ultimate savings.

 

So, pick which method best suits your trip and start exploring!

I’m ready to be back in St. Thomas, USVI… how about you?

Step 2: Follow the Deals

Open to exploring new places?  Start by loading up Google Flights in your browser. It is easiest to do this on a desktop instead of your phone.

 

There are a lot of theories floating around about using “incognito mode” or private browsing to get the best prices, however, most experts (and this article) will tell you there is no difference. 

 

To find our “take me somewhere fun whenever it’s cheapest” flight, we’ll start by entering CVG as the starting airport then clicking on the map.

Let's go! Source: Google

 

Once you click the map, you’ll be taken to… an EVEN BIGGER MAP!

 

By default, the map will show you North America (zoom out to see the rest of the world if you are traveling internationally).  It will also show you trips you can take that last approximately one week and are available within the next six months. You can change that on the left-hand side.

Sang the theme song to Full House when we visited this iconic park in San Francisco.

The next step is to decide how many bags you’ll need so you can get more accurate pricing, since some airlines charge for carry-on and/or checked bags.  In this case, let’s say we can fit everything into a small carry-on suitcase. (Remember, most airlines also allow a small personal item like a purse.)  Click the ‘Bags’ drop down at the top and select one. 

Leave a little room to bring home a souvenir! Source: Google

You will notice that prices to some of the destinations have changed, as bag fees will now be included in your pricing.  This is helpful to make flight shopping truly apples-to-apples and not be surprised by any hidden fees later on.

 

Use the left side to scroll through specific destinations along with available dates at the price shown. (Hey, sometimes the pretty pictures can help you decide!)

 

Let’s say we’d like to narrow our search a little further to show everywhere we can go for under $200 round trip (including that carry-on bag).  Take the price slider on the left-hand side and drag it to the left until it stops at $200.

So many choices, so little time. Source: Google

Are you excited yet?  Look at all those trips you can take for under $200 round trip and most of those destinations are non-stop!  (CVG offers non-stop flights to more than 50 destinations.)

 

You can also perform a similar search using Kayak that can uncover additional flight options.

So many choices. Courtesy: Kayak

Step 3: Book now… decide later!

How impulsive, right?  Let me explain. Airline prices can change rapidly. I’ve been searching for flights and have come across a deal but wanted to “think about it,” and by the time I was ready to book, the price had gone up.

 

So, when I find something good, I always book it right away and then take up to 24 hours to think about it, request time off from work, and check on hotel and attraction availability.

 

That’s because a Department of Transportation rule says that any flight booked at least seven days from the departure date and time can be cancelled within 24 hours without a penalty or fee. Most airlines make it very easy.  Just login using your flight information and cancel it online, and your money will be refunded back to your credit card.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it takes a lot more than just one to see it!

Need more good news as the world starts to reopen? The CDC has relaxed travel recommendations to over 100 countries including Singapore, Iceland, Belize, Canada, Mexico, and Spain. It’s still important to monitor the latest updates and entry requirements for the country you are travelling to as each country has its own entry rules.

 

Some airlines and destinations are more open to those who are vaccinated.  Check out CVG’s Fly Healthy Resources page for links to relevant information for your travels. 

 

Check out the On The Horizon section of CVGAirport.com and find out everything you need to know about your next trip, from check-in times to parking to safety. (Yes, you still need a mask in the airport and when flying!) And if you want to fly in style, visit the brand new CVG Shop – Loooove the throwback t-shirts!

When you take that non-stop flight to Charleston, SC… make sure to eat all the Moon Pies like we did!

In the next Jet with Jay, I’ll show you how to find the best place to stay to go along with that great flight deal!

 

I’d love to see your vacation photos and pictures from traveling through CVG.  You can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @jaykruzofficial.

 

-Jay