The gag is: airfare glitches are inherently unpredictable.
Not everyone will be able to take advantage of the deals, and not everyone will be ready to receive the potential blessing that is paying one-fifth of the average cost of a trans-Atlantic flight! Therefore, I will lay out the keys to the budget travel kingdom of glitch fares to ensure that you stay ready to take advantage of the blessings that the travel gods and Joanne the Scammer might sprinkle down on the masses.
This week my Facebook timeline lit up with posts about a mysterious travel glitch. One evening my timeline was flooded with posts about flights to Dubai, Tanzania, and South Africa. After a few hours of perusing the comments on posts, scouring several travel community pages, and checking my favorite travel deal sites, I finally was able to successfully book a $285 round-trip flight to South Africa for a fall departure!
Subsequently, I made a series of Facebook posts about how some folks were getting into beef with friends that didn’t notify them of the glitch until it was too late, and about how much anxiety that glitches cause--even for experienced travelers like myself. Here is a quasi-limerick I posted the next day that encapsulates the struggle:
I put in about 2 hours of work.
Some ain't get it,
but I did!
Now that you understand the struggle, let me share with you the keys to the Kingdom.
The Keys to the Kingdom of Glitch Fares
Key 1: Keep your money ready.
This step is the gag for many folks. Travel is a privilege and requires that you have enough funds immediately available to book travel glitch fares that occur unexpectedly and might not be available for more than a few hours. Some folks set up bank accounts specifically for travel expenses, others pay for travel to rack up points on credit cards. How ever you make it happen, don't miss out on cheap travel because you balled out at brunch last weekend, or simply do not have a travel fund.
Key 2: Don't use your PTO work leave frivolously throughout the year.
I know the feeling of just not wanting to go to work on some days--even when I am not physically ill. But I go because I would prefer to use that paid time off for a great travel experience. I’d suggest taking inventory of how much leave you have, and how long you can hold onto it before it expires. A trick that I use is to schedule trips around 3-day weekends and national holidays so that I can add an extra day to the trip without impacting my accrued leave. Hell, I even schedule flights so that I can "work from home" for a half-day (and therefore only use 4 hours of leave instead of 8) before or after my flight.
Key 3: Join an online travel community.
The online travel communities that I belong to are invaluable to my travel addiction. They are havens for experienced (and novice) travelers, and they are a great place to crowd-source knowledge. I planned most of my recent trip to Cuba based on the information shared in an online travel community. I prefer them to commercial travel sites because no one is trying to sell anything--the information shared in the groups is a result of first-hand-experiences and comes directly from other travelers--not companies trying to make money by marketing their travel services.
Key 4: Befriend savvy travelers on social media and watch your timeline blow up after a deal hits.
Having personal friends and associates that enjoy traveling as much as you do can be rewarding. They (or the posts they make) will alert you when glitches hit. You can share ideas and travel tips. But beware. My personal rule is to share my travel expertise only with folks that also look out for me. Some folks want you to let them know when glitches hit, or ask that you share your insights for creating great travel experiences, but they do not offer anything in return. Becoming a travel expert takes time and energy, so I chose to share my insights with folks that reciprocate.
Note: Before making a purchase during a glitch, understand the average cost of the same flight so that you can determine if the deal is good or not.
Take these keys and go forth equipped to take advantage of airfare glitches at a moment's notice. The opportunities that might pop up could lead to you taking a trip that would otherwise not fit into your budget. STAY READY!
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