Boy, I love a recession! Airfares are cheap, hotels are cheap, rental cars are cheap… everything is cheaper during hard times.
Of course, I am being facetious.
Traveling in today’s booming economy guarantees that you will be paying more for less.
But there are ways to cut costs, specifically when it comes to airfare. I covered one strategy last week, but the following hack is my favorite… and it doesn’t even require frequent flyer points.
It’s all about picking the right airport.
Flying into lesser-known, smaller international airports in the U.S. normally gets you a lower fare. That’s pretty much how Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) made its name. For example, instead of flying you to Washington, D.C., Southwest would fly you to Baltimore.
But even if you’re not flying domestically, you can use the same strategy. In fact, you could actually save more on international flights.
Let’s use Canada as our example.
If you’re flying to Canada, your choices are slim to none. You’re going to have to fly to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or Calgary. Every flight to other Canadian cities will connect through one of those places.
But tickets to those cities are not cheap. And Canadian airline taxes will boost the return fare even more.
Instead of flying directly to major Canadian cities, fly to the closest U.S. city and rent a car. Sure, you’ll have to drive and stop at the border. But it’s a gorgeous route through Niagara Falls, Washington state, or upstate New York or Vermont.
And not only will you save a bundle on the flight, but you’ll also save a ton on the rental car. (Car rentals in Canada are notoriously more expensive than they are in the U.S.)
My favorite website to compare prices is hotwire.com. I use it 90% of the time because its rates are better than those of the major rental companies.
Here’s how you do it…
- To get to Vancouver: Fly to Seattle and make the two-hour drive through some of the prettiest places in northern Washington state. Drive past Mount Baker and take a ferry through Whidbey Island, or drive straight up Interstate 5.
- To get to Toronto: Take a cheaper flight to Buffalo, New York. Ride up over the Peace Bridge and witness the beauty of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. A quick hour and a half later, you’ll be in downtown Toronto.
- To get to Montreal and Québec City: Fly into Burlington, Vermont, and enjoy an easy two-hour drive through the beautiful countryside. And don’t forget to stop at the little duty-free shop on the way. Booze is expensive in Canada!
- To get to Calgary: For this last one, it’ll be a little further of a drive, as you’ll have to fly into Montana before making the scenic journey north.
All in all, taking these less direct routes could save you hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars. Believe me, I take these routes at least four or five times a year when I’m visiting family and friends, or just attending work conferences.
Stay tuned: Next week I’ll share my top overseas travel secrets.