TRAVEL BLOG

Best Fall Destinations: Shoulder Season Deals

Summer’s over and the holidays seem far away. Where can you go if you want a little autumn vacation? The fall is actually a fantastic time to get cheap flights and avoid summer prices and crowds. Hotels have dropped their prices, and the fall leaves give you stunning photos and cozy vibes. Here are a few of our expert picks for some inexpensive vacations in fun spots this fall. You can book all of these deals on CheapAir.com right now!

Give the National Parks Some Love

grand canyon at night

Grand Canyon, Arizona
We can wholeheartedly recommend the Grand Canyon – but we prefer a visit in autumn. The hordes of tourists have gone, and the weather is much friendlier to hikers. Especially if you fancy a hike to the bottom of the canyon, the weather is perfect in autumn – temperatures at the surface are generally 10-30 degrees warmer than at the bottom.

Where to Stay at Grand Canyon National Park
In addition, hotels at the Canyon are priced much lower than in the summer. Stay at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn for $199/night.

Getting to Grand Canyon National Park
Fly into Phoenix and take a 3-hour scenic drive through spectacular southwestern landscapes on your way to the Grand Canyon. Flights from New York (EWR) for $200 round trip on United.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is another fantastic, must-see destination. When visiting Yellowstone, keep in mind that the park is massive, and you’re going to be doing a lot of driving to visit all of the sights. You can stay in either Montana or Wyoming, so make sure you do some pre-planning to make the trip everything you hope.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park
We recommend novices to Yellowstone stay in West Yellowstone, which is located just outside the park. You’re already going to be doing a ton of driving, so this location situates you well for visiting many iconic spots inside the park including Old Faithful. There are plenty of affordable hotels in West Yellowstone, including the Yellowstone Country Inn and Three Bear Lodge, both of which have rates for under $200 during autumn.

Some people prefer to stay in the park. Keep in mind if you go this route, you’ll need to pre-plan many months in advance, and be prepared for a more rustic experience, Most cabins and lodges inside the park have no television or air conditioning. You pay for the location, not the plush amenities.

Getting to Yellowstone National Park
Bozeman is a convenient airport to fly into for access to the West Yellowstone entrance. You’ll be about a 2 hour drive from West Yellowstone and the park entrance. Flights to Bozeman are not usually so inexpensive, but right now they’re a bargain. You can fly nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) for just $170 round trip on Alaska Airlines or for just over $00 from Dallas on United.

Keep in mind there are 5 entrances to Yellowstone, so again, do your research. It may make more sense for you to fly into another airport, depending on which parts of the park you most want to visit.

Warm Weather Destinations in Autumn

destin beach at sunrise

Santa Monica, California
Cocal residents know that beach weather can last well into autumn, so take advantage of much more reasonable hotel prices and roll the dice on a beach vacation in a state with arguably the best beaches in the world. You can take you pick from beach cities, but we like Santa Monica because of its proximity to Los Angeles and all of the best dining and sightseeing options the city offers. Santa Monica is also close to Topanga Canyon, which has hiking trails with coastal views.

Where to Stay in Santa Monica
Beachfront accommodation in Santa Monica is never cheap, but you can still get a room for a lot less than in the summer when hotels on the beach can set you back $600+ dollars a night. This October and November you can stay at the 4-star Shore Hotel for $299/night or at the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot for $262/night. And not only are these great prices for properties right on the beach, but you’ll save even more on flights.

Getting to Santa Monica
Santa Monica has a number of nearby airports, with LAX offering the largest variety of flights at the best prices. This autumn, you can fly from New York right now for unheard of prices. Fly nonstop from La Guardia on Spirit for $100 roundtrip or from Newark for just $150 on United.

Destin, Florida
If you haven’t heard of Destin, we’re happy to put it on your radar. In October and November the average high temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s a ton to do in Destin. Aside from the beaches, you can hike many nature trails, hit the links at the plethora of golf courses and take the tots to Big Kahuna’s Water Park.

Where to Stay in Destin
Destin’s hotels are a true bargain. The Best Western Sugar Sands Inn & Suites has rooms for just $112/night, and many budget hotels have rooms for well under $100/night.

Getting to Destin
Flying to Destin is easy-peasy as well. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach airport is just 16 miles from Destin. Flights from LAX on American are $270 roundtrip, or you can fly from Boston on American for $266 roundtrip.

Where to Experience Majestic Fall Foliage

fall foliage in new hampshire

Salem, New Hampshire
Vermont usually gets all of the leaf peeping love, but that means you’ll overlook equally stunning autumn leaves in New Hampshire. There’s lots of other fun things to do within driving distance of Salem, like Walden Pond and the equally scenic Mohawk Trail.

Where to Stay in Salem
The hotel bargains are aplenty in Salem, so we’ll just highlight a few. The La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham has rooms for $105/night and the Holiday Inn Salem has rooms for $168/night.

Getting to Salem
You’re just a 30 minute drive from Boston’s Logan Airport. Flights from LAX on United for $240 roundtrip and from Denver from as low as $150 on Spirit Airlines (United also has flights available from Denver for $240).

Middlesboro, Kentucky
Your entryway to the historical and magnificent Cumberland Gap mountain pass is a fantastic bargain destination this fall. Middlesboro offers an extraordinary array of beech, birch and sugar maple trees to dazzle you, and it’s virtually surrounded by colorful trees. Middlesboro is decidedly sleepy, but you’ll want to wander around, get cozy and take in the splendor of nature. It’s a perfect perch to do so.

Where to Stay in Middlesboro
There’s not a lot of high-end hotel options in Middlesboro, but in this quaint town you’re paying for location and proximity to amazing nature. Stay at the Holiday Inn Express Middleboro for $124/night or the Best Western Wilderness Trail Inn for $120/night.

Getting to Middlesboro
Nonstop flights from Chicago (ORD) on United are just $112 roundtrip this autumn if you’re coming from the Midwest. Flights from San Francisco (SFO) on American are $324 roundtrip.

Not planning a fall vacation? Visit our Holiday Flights page to see what the best days to fly will be this Thanksgiving and Christmas. As always, happy travels!

Shop for Fall Flight Deals

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Coming to an Airport Near You: TSA Will Accept Digital Driver’s Licenses

If you’re an iPhone or Apple Watch owner, you’ll soon be able to experience a more convenient security experience at the airport. The TSA just announced plans to accept digital copies of driver’s licenses at security checkpoints at participating airports.

Which States will offer digital driver’s licenses at airports?

The new policy will roll out in 8 states to start – beginning with Arizona and Georgia, and then Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah. Residents will be permitted to present a digital copy of their ID. THis new policy aims to usher in a more seamless, touchless airport experience for travelers.

How will it work?

To add your ID to Apple Wallet, you’ll scan your physical driver’s license or state ID card and take a selfie, which will be sent to the issuing state for further verification. A prompt will then guide you through a series of facial and head movements to complete verification.

Once you’re verified, you’ll be able to “tap” your iPhone or Apple Watch at an identity reader at airport checkpoints. Then, you’ll simply use Face ID or Touch ID to complete the verification process. At no time will you be asked to produce your physical driver’s license.

Will other states implement?

If the initial rollout goes well, expect other states to follow suit. No more fumbling through your bag to find your ID or worry that you’ve left it at home. What do you think? Are you likely to take advantage of the new technology? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

The post Coming to an Airport Near You: TSA Will Accept Digital Driver’s Licenses appeared first on CheapAir.

Is Uber Failing Customers? Why More People are Returning to Rental Cars

For years, Uber posed a serious challenge to rental car companies. The convenience and comparative low cost made Uber and other rideshare companies a cool, welcome alternative to traditional rental car companies. But recently, customers report increasing issues with the once easy app that, coupled with health and safety concerns, make renting a car a more attractive option once again.

Dude, Where’s My Ride? There’s a Serious Driver Shortage

It used to be that a customer could expect a 5-10 minute wait (at most) for an inexpensive Uber to show up. Of course, if you requested a lift during a rainstorm or on New Year’s Eve (times the rideshare companies call “surge” periods), you’d wait longer and pay more.

But now, Uber has become increasingly unreliable, with riders reporting excruciatingly long waits, and even worse, sometimes no Uber at all. The problem here is that if Uber makes you late to an appointment through no fault of your own, you lose confidence in the service.

So what’s going on with Uber?

Like a lot of companies right now Uber is facing a labor shortage. During the early days of the pandemic, a lot of the company’s driver’s pivoted to food delivery. It makes sense. People were not going out and take out became a reliable way to keep driver’s busy and safe!

Now, with people back to more social events and travel, the pendulum swung back the other way. And Uber doubly felt the crunch this summer, when the lack of rental cars available to customers made the pressure on Uber drivers even greater.

Because a lot of Uber drivers work for other rideshare companies, they can also pick and choose from which rides and services offer the best fare. If you’ve waited for a driver and mid-wait, had the driver change on you this is likely what happened. Your driver probably got a better offer on his way to get you!

So what are your options?

This all adds up to an annoying situation for potential customers who got used to a much more reliable level of service for Uber. For now at least, your best bet might be to go old school for some situations. We have some suggestions.

You can still leverage Uber and ridesharing, especially when you’re going to a city with a reliable mass transit system, prohibitively expensive parking or no general need for a rental car (New York, Chicago come to mind). When your trip doesn’t require much driving and the weather’s good – a rideshare here and there make sense.

Car Rental Works Best for Some Situations

If you’re traveling to a destination like Los Angeles that’s more spread out you might want to spring for a car rental. Rental car prices were through the roof this past summer, but those prices are starting to come back in line and the demand is not creating the shortages that were rampant as car rental companies dealt with a car and staffing shortage.

If you had been foregoing rental cars for a while, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. The need for contactless service has made the old, painfully slow pickup process much faster, so you can usually start the pickup process from your phone and essentially just grab your keys and go from most rental desks.

Remember the Taxi!

Don’t underestimate the convenience of the good old-fashioned taxi, either! Especially if you’re caught in a downpour or are rethinking a long walk, catching a cab can still be a great option

Let us know what you think! Have you personally experienced these service issues from Uber and would you be open to renting a car for your next trip? Let us know in the comments below! And if you would like to rent a car, you can also reserve with CheapAir.com. Check it out!

Reserve a Rental Car

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Our Data Shows You Should Buy Your Holiday Flights Early

Here at CheapAir.com, we are in the business of providing you with useful info to help you make important travel decisions. One of our most popular reports on Holiday Flights aims to make holiday flight shopping simple, straightforward and economical.

This year we decided to take a look back – to see if airfares are rising or if you can expect a bargain this year.

The Holiday Flights Elephant in the room

This year, it’s a big question. Will flights be more expensive than in the past or will airfare be cheaper? Will the pandemic continue to impact people’s willingness to travel? Or, will the increasing number of fully vaccinated Americans and the need to visit family members make people more comfortable? If lots of people decide to get out there, it could be that airfares go crazy this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Surprise! Holiday Airfare is Not Going Up…Yet

What we’ve uncovered is this. Last year, a lot of people didn’t travel for the holidays. Because they didn’t, airfare was a bargain. Airfares were on average about 20% less than they were the year before on CheapAir.

So far this year, holiday flights are about 15% MORE than they were last year at this time (but remember – they were uncharacteristically low last year due to low demand). If you set the weirdness of last year aside, overall flights have been trending lower for the holidays.

Holiday flights in 2018 are just over 5% less than they are this year (so far). Holiday flights in 2019 were 6% more than the airfares are right now. This is all to say that we are poised to have a very nicely priced holiday season for customers.

You Should Still Buy Early…

Having said this, we believe shoppers (that’s you!) should still plan to buy early and here’s why. The airlines are going to be dropping their prices for the fall season, focusing on their more expensive routes. For example, this means that travelers going from Los Angeles to New York can now see fares as low as $113 on United from September to November.

This is a not-so-transparent way to encourage people to fly and we think they will. Once people start to book holiday flights, the bargains will sell out – very quickly. Don’t find yourself on the losing end of this proposition.

Protect Your Price

We do know that knowing when to buy can be quite tricky in a volatile market. You’ve always got a secret weapon in your back pocket with CheapAir. We offer Price Drop Payback – a nifty little bit of insurance for travelers. If you should buy an airline ticket (or group of tickets), we’ll “protect” your fare to the tune of up to $100 a ticket.

Buy Now Pay Later

In addition, we want to remind you that we offer monthly payments. You can book flights and accommodation with us and pay for it in a number of easy installments. Sometimes people like to take this option when airfare might be straining the budget. And our finance partner Affirm, makes the whole process easy peasy.

We’re Here to Help

As we get closer to the holidays, we’ll keep checking in to let you know how prices look. But you should also bookmark our Holiday Flights page, so you can track where fares are right now. You can also easily pull up your search history from our home page, to help keep organized. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at help@cheapair.com or shoot us a question in the comments section below.

Happy travels!

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New EU Restrictions Remove U.S. from “Safe” Travel List: What You Need to Know

Less than two months after opening up for vaccinated Americans, at the end of August the EU officially removed the United States from their “safe” travel list. They further recommended that member nations restrict all non-essential travel from the U.S. due to the surge of new COVID cases across America. At least for the time being, Americans will no longer be able to visit the 27 EU countries freely without quarantining.

If you have a trip planned or were about to visit, this may seem like a big step back. But not so fast! Let’s take a closer look at what this might mean to you.

Is it a travel ban?

Many Americans view this announcement as a travel ban, but this is simply not accurate. This recommendation is simply that: a recommendation. Each individual member country will manage their own entry requirements and restrictions. Ultimately it’s up to a country to decide the route it wants to pursue, policy-wise. This in turn means your vacation may not be affected at all.

This move by the EU impacts unvaccinated travelers more than the fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) – it’s likely that nothing will change for you as long as you bring your vaccination card with you.

Will you need a negative COVID-19 test?

But don’t be surprised if some countries add a negative COVID test requirement on top of a vaccination card too. Again, this sounds more restrictive than it is. Many countries already require this. In addition, American travelers must test negative before being allowed back in the U.S. from any international travel.

If you are unvaccinated, you may be required to quarantine upon arrival and in some cases, you may be denied entry. For this reason, we urge all passengers to please carefully review vaccination requirements.

We expect this new recommendation will illicit varying responses across the EU. Member countries are updating their individual policies right now.

Does this also apply to the fully vaccinated?

Again, if you’re fully vaccinated, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. If you have a trip coming up, we recommend double checking your destination’s entry requirements at least five days in advance. That way you can meet the testing requirement if there is one.

How does this news affect you? Do you think it will affect your plans and what are your feelings about restricting unvaccinated travelers? Do you think this is reasonable or excessive and why? Sound off in the comments below.

Finally, if you have any concerns about an upcoming trip or need to cancel your booking, reach out to a member of our team – we’re ready to help!

The post New EU Restrictions Remove U.S. from “Safe” Travel List: What You Need to Know appeared first on CheapAir.

Last Minute Labor Day Getaways

With the Labor Day long weekend right around the corner, here are a few great cheap flights and hotel deals* you can book on CheapAir.com right now!

Las Vegas, Nevada
Leave it to Sin City to always offer a good time – even for folks who wait til the last minute. You can book a Covid-Clean room at Bally’s Hotel & Casino for $165/night, and Paris Resort & Casino for $190/night. You can also really watch the budget and still stay on the Strip – try the STRAT for $127/night.

Low Airfare available from:

Newark on American $480/rt
Seattle on American (outbound) and Frontier (return) $364/rt
Chicago (ORD) on Frontier $264/rt
Miami on Spirit for $256/rt or American for $394/rt

Phoenix, Arizona
Temperatures in Phoenix are projected to be unseasonably low for the rest of the week, which is great news for tourism. In addition, Phoenix is a fantastic gateway to some of the most impressive sights in the Southwest. You’re just hours from the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Canyonlands.

Stay in the Valley of the Sun and lounge by the pool at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas for $174/night. You can also stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites near Zion National Park for $196/night.

Low Airfare available from:

Newark on American $477/rt
Dallas on American $248/rt
Minneapolis on Sun Country $262/rt
Denver on United $192/rt

New York, New York
Fall in New York can be the best time to experience the city. And with New York open for business, we can’t think of a better time to take a trip.

Hotels in New York are a great value right now, even over the Labor Day weekend. That means you can stay at a 4-star like the Row in midtown for $149/night or Hotel Mela in Times Square for $189/night.

Low Airfare available from:

Los Angeles to JFK on United $493/rt
Dallas to LGA on American $440/rt
Chicago (MDW) on American $332/rt
Columbus to JFK on American $396/rt

Denver, Colorado
Denver is one of the most laid-back towns in the country, so we couldn’t wait to recommend it for the Labor Day weekend. There;s tons of breweries to hang in and stunning scenery for lovers of the outdoors. As a bonus – it’s a bargain right now.

You can stay at the Hilton Denver Inverness for $160/night or the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center for $159/night.

Low Airfare available from:

Los Angeles on American $181/rt
Chicago on American $270/rt
Philadelphia on Frontier $283/rt
Atlanta on frontier $261/rt

San Diego, California
Whether you’re looking for a road trip from Los Angeles or a getaway from somewhere else across the country, San Diego is a relaxing destination for families and couples alike. Take advantage of reasonable hotel and flight prices this weekend.

Stay at the Days Inn by Wyndham San Diego $199/night or the Best Western San Diego for $181/night.

Low Airfare available from:

Phoenix on Frontier $361/rt
Denver on United $396/rt
Seattle on Alaska $365/rt
San Francisco on United $453/rt

A roadtrip can also be a great way to save money. Check out our roadtrip posts that give you itineraries in California, or through parts of the eastern seaboard. As always, happy travels!

*Hotels with rooms under $200/night and flights under $500/per person.

Shop for Labor Day Flight Deals

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Greater Protections for Air Travelers May be on the Horizon

Have you ever booked a seat on a flight, showed up on your travel day and been told the seat was no longer available? Been promised a window seat but then get moved into an aisle without one? And who hasn’t seen their bags go missing or get delayed? Well, in the past there were limited expressed protections for air travelers in these situations. It seems this might be changing soon.

Basically, the Biden administration has tasked the head of all governmental agencies to create policies to make businesses more competitive, and many of the policies proposed for the Department of Transportation center the customer experience.

This is very good news for air travel customers, especially right now while we are all being asked to accept a more limited level of service due to the pandemic. We’ve always been somewhat at the mercy of the airlines when services promised were not delivered. Many people, in the stress of a lost luggage situation, are so happy to get their bags back that they don’t even press the airlines to refund fees paid.

Frequent fliers should keep their ear to the ground on developments underway. We’ll keep our customers informed of any new policies that could help make your future flight experiences better. 

What do you think about the idea that future flights might have built-in protections for you if services promised and paid for are not delivered? Please sound off in the comments below!

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Awesome Alternatives to Hawaii Travel

Hawaii has some of the toughest travel restrictions in place right now, but the demand for this beloved travel destination bounced back strong in recent months. This has put a strain on Hawaii’s tourism infrastructure, which inspired our team to find other beach destinations for sun worshippers – alternatives to Hawaii se can get behind.

As the weather cools off and folks look for coastal spots, may we suggest a few fun (and affordable) alternatives to Hawaii.

Catalina, California
We recommend the southern California beaches a ton on CheapAir.com – so we’re going to go a little more off-the-beaten path for this pick. Catalina is an island 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, and it’s both a sleepy little island town and a wild destination to explore hiking and wildlife. You can snorkel in Catalina’s clear waters and enjoy this romantic getaway with your plus one.

Cook Islands
Located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, the Cook Islands are a remote and relaxing alternative to Hawaii. This tiny nation has zero cases of Covid-19 and they plan to keep it that way. Having said that, the plans are to open the country up very soon, and once restrictions ease, are an affordable and spectacular destination not often experienced.

Tybee Island, Georgia
You’re just 20 minute from Savannah in Tybee, but you can save a bunch of coin by not staying in town. There’s a 5 mile spanse of beach on this little island, with various activities to recommend it. Stay in South Beach if you need a little more activity, but most people visit Tybee Island for the low key vibes.

Santa Barbara, California
If you’re looking for a bit more of an upscale beach getaway on the west coast, Santa Barbara ticks all the boxes. They have a small, but walkable downtown, a few fabulous resorts and temperate beach weather (sometimes all the way into October). It’s also a 2 hour drive from L.A. if you feel the need to daytrip.

Barbados
You get 70 miles of pristine white sandy beaches when you visit Barbados, which is why its beaches are considered some of the best in the Caribbean. Another great reason to visit the country is the plethora of water sports, including deep sea diving. The best beaches can be found on the island’s west and south coasts, while the best beaches for surfing and bpdy boarding are off the east coast. Keep this in mind when booking accommodation!

Gold Beach, Oregon
Oregon beaches don’t have much swimming, but they offer spectacular views and a ton of activities, if water sports and adventuring are more your style. You can save some money by staying away from the more popular spots like Canon Beach, and take advantage of family-friendly activities like tide pooling, ocean kayaking, and tours and fishing. If you time it right (between March and May) you’ll also be primed to spot migrating gray whales.

Corfu, Greece
Greece is one of the least expensive countries to visit in Europe, and if you’re looking for a bargain Greece destination you could do a lot worse than Corfu. Corfu has a small town vibe, so you won’t get the clubbier feel of an island like Mykonos, but it might be perfect for you if you’re looking for a sleepier destination.

Phuket, Thailand
World travelers know that Thailand, and in particular Phuket, are a bargain – and a fantastic place to perch for an extended hang. The beaches of Phuket offer tons of fun, and the accommodation is extremely reasonable. If you’re on a longer jaunt, you could even linger in Phuket while you figure out your next move.

Belize
Belize offers world-class SCUBA and snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef, and ancient architectural Mayan ruins to visit. One of the world’s largest underwater sinkholes, the Blue Hole, draws visitors every year. In Belize you can experience extremes in biodiversity and culture. To top it off, you can just relax with a book on the beach for hours if that;s more your speed.

We love Hawaii too – so don’t think we won’t be serving up more great Hawaii content in the months to come. But for now, we hope you’ll scratch that Hawaii itch with one of these many picks.

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10 Cool Travel Hacks for Solo Travelers

As anyone who’s gotten out of their comfort zone can tell you, taking a trip alone can be a life-changing and thrilling way to experience a new destination. Solo travel continues to grow in popularity. There are many easy travel hacks you can implement to make your solo trip more enjoyable. Here are just a few.

Don’t Check a Bag
Aside from saving you money and avoiding luggage fees, the lighter you travel the more free you’ll feel. All you need to be nimble and safe is a travel backpack and (if you must) a day pack. Don’t take our word for it. Look around the Internet – seasoned travelers skip the checked bags. You’ll move more quickly through the airport (no baggage claim for you) and get your vacation started faster. And if you don’t check a bag, the airlines can’t lose your bag. Simple!

Skip Restaurants (mostly)
Sure, you’ll want to splash out here and there on a dinner – and if you’re a gourmand in Italy or France you might have specific dining establishments on your must-do list. But – for the rest of us – you can get just as much of a f eel for a city by dipping into their groceries. You’ll also get a real “do as the Romans do” vibe by grabbing a bottle of wine, some bread and cheese – and then heading to a popular park. You can’t go wrong and you’ll save so much on your budget!

Keep Your Destination Airport Flexible
When planning a multi-country trip, a lot of people make the obvious choice and fly into London’s Heathrow or Paris’ Charles de Galle airports. Sometimes this can get you the cheapest airfare, but it’s always worth looking into other airports. If you don’t need to be in one city by a specific date, you’re better served by being flexible on the inbound and outbound flights home and piecing together local flights for the rest of your itinerary. Which leads to our next point…

Use Local, Low-Cost Airlines When it Makes Sense
Sure – if you’re flying to Europe in the height of summer, you might feel more comfortable mapping out the whole trip before you leave home and paying for all of your flights in advance. You can also save money by using local, low-cost airlines to get you around the continent once you’re on the ground. It also gives you greater flexibility. If you make some friends in Barcelona and decide to go with them to a festival in Croatia, it’s much easier to make that plan happen if you haven’t already bought a flight to Finland on those dates.

Take the Free City Tour
Most of the time, a free city tour is a great way to get the lay of the land absolutely free! The local guides are generally extremely knowledgeable, and can help you orient yourself quickly, especially when you have limited time in a new destination. One caveat – tip your guide well! They depend on tips and it’s just good manners.

Sleep on the Train
To save on accommodation costs, you can kill two birds with one stone and take a night train, flight or bus ride. No need to pay for a hotel, and it gets you from point A to point B while you snooze.

Leverage Your Local Contacts for a Place to Stay
The ultimate cheap place to stay is with friends or friends of friends. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the best solution. Barring a free place to stay, many hostels now offer private or semi-private rooms so you don’t have to find yourself in a dorm room. They even have family rooms in many hostels. You may not have an en suite bathroom, but you’ll almost always get breakfast included and a diverse, convivial crowd of folks with which to dine.

Pass on Seat Selection
Another perk of solo budget travel – if you don’t have a travel buddy you can skip paying extra for a specific seat on the plane. Buy the discount fare and save the “seat” money for a different use.

Make the Most of Layovers
When faced with a daunting long layover, lean into that business and make a fun day trip out of it. For example, if I’m traveling somewhere and I know I have a minimum of a 6 layover, sometimes I look for an overnight or a longer layover in that city. Especially if it’s somewhere I haven’t been before, it’s a chance for another adventure.

Search Often for Flights
CheapAir.com has a great tool on our site called My Searches. In My Searches you can see which searches you’ve done in the past and keep track of your flight research in one simple place.

One more thing you should know. When you book a flight with CheapAir, you have a bit of price protection built in with our Price Drop Payback feature. After you book, if your flight goes down we will give you a credit for future travel. In this way, you can purchase with peace of mind.

Happy travels!

Shop for flights

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Best Places to See the Aurora Borealis

One of the most fascinating and tricky parts of getting a glimpse of the Northern Lights is the unpredictable nature of the phenomenon. And because the days are short and the nights are very long, January to March offer some of the best opportunities for viewing. If you prefer milder weather, September to December can also be a great time for Aurora Borealis watching.

Here are a few spots around the globe you might want to consider for an in-person viewing party.

Nuuk, Greenland

Anywhere in Greenland will give you some of the best views of the Aurora Borealis, mainly because of the lack of light pollution. It’s such a pristine place to view that you can even see with city street lights. To get to the capital of Nuuk, you’ll need to take a connecting flight through either Iceland or Denmark. There are no direct flights from the U.S., but the long journey to get there is well worth the time spent.

Fairbanks, Alaska

This Northern Lights location has a number of features to recommend it. First, it’s inside the “Aurora Oval,” which means it’s geographically situated to offer some of the most frequent sightings. And if for some reason the Brealis decide to not make an appearance, Fairbanks means you can experience all the 2nd largest city in Alaska has to offer. Also – it’s stateside, so you don’t need to renew that passport!

Tromso, Norway

For those of you who have been curious about a visit to Norway, the mountainside town of Tromso is an excellent spot for viewing. Though you can see the Northern Lights from inside the city, locals say the best way to view is to take the Fjellheisen cable car to the mountain and watch from there. As a bonus, though Tromso is close to 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it’s location in the Gulf Stream makes for warmer than expected temperatures.

Murmansk, Russia

The biggest city in the Arctic Circle is one of the most popular places for Europeans to travel to see the Northern Lights. You can’t get there directly from the U.S., but Moscow has 2-3 flights daily that can get you there. More than one traveler has blogged about Murmansk being the cheapest place to witness the Northern Lights and it’s true. You can get a room in Murmansk for less than $25 USD in the winter, and the organized 4-6 hour “hunting tours” are quite affordable too (well under $100/person).

Reykjavik, Iceland

The capital of Iceland has become a beyond trendy place to visit in recent years, and it’s never been a budget place to travel. But for sheer natural beauty and spectacular scenery, it’s hard to compete with Reykjavik. Tours by boat are a popular way to see the Aurora Borealis from Old Reykjavik Harbor, with dinner often included.

Churchill, Canada

Though the entire country is arguably a great vantage point for taking in the Northern Lights, the northern territories are where you get the most bang for your buck. And in northern Manitoba, Churchill touts itself as one of “the three best places on the planet” to see the lights. To get here from the States, you’ll have to connect on a flight through Winnipeg and Thompson.

BONUS VIEWING SPOTS:

A lot of places in the northern states of the lower 48! Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Montana all have Aurora Borealis visibility. But our pick for this list is Washington, on the San Juan Islands, particularly on the north end of Orcas or Cypress islands. North Cascades National Park is also great for experienced hikers.

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