I didn’t think the mouse in the pink hat could catch me… but I often wondered what he would have done if he did.
After all, what does a grown man in a mouse costume with a pink furry hat do when he catches you?
After college (though before my 23rd birthday), my roommate and I planned spontaneous weekend trips to random cities across the U.S. via Air Tran’s X-Fare Program. Flights were cheap if you were under 23 and willing to fly standby. So cheap, in fact, that one weekend, we decided to fly to New Orleans and back just for dinner.
Long story short, we landed late due to weather. Missed dinner. Had a crazy time in New Orleans that started with a man in a mouse costume chasing us down Bourbon Street. And we didn’t make it back until the next day.
That was my idea of a last-minute cheap weekend trip. And it was fun.
Today, things are different.
You can’t get X-fares anymore. And even if you could, I’m willing to bet most of our readers wouldn’t qualify for them because of the age limit.
But you can still get cheap flights. And you can still plan last-minute, spontaneous getaways and find incredible deals on your flights while you’re at it.
These days, I use Kayak.com’s new Weekend Search option. And Farecast.com’s Graph Fares.
Flying for Peanuts Tips #2 and #3…
If I know where I want to go, but I don’t care which weekend, I use Kayak.com.
At the top of their search page, there’s a button you can select
With that button selected, you can choose upcoming weekends or search weekends within specific months.
A flight from Washington D.C. to Las Vegas, for instance, is cheapest the weekend of June 13. It’s $145 cheaper than it would be this weekend and $121 cheaper than it would be the weekend after. (Look at the top left corner for a list of the cheapest weekends once you put in your preferences, and hit “Search”).
If I know where I want to go but I don’t care what day I leave, I use Farecast.com’s Graph Fares.
There’s a box on their homepage at the bottom right corner titled “Travel Tools.” Click on “Compare Airfares.” Then click on the tab that says “Graph – when to travel.”
Then simply put in your closest airport and the airport you wish to travel to and Farecast will show you a chart of the cheapest days to fly over the next 30 days.
If I put in D.C to Vegas again, for instance, I can see that my flight would actually be $50 cheaper if I can leave on July 4.
Of course, I don’t want to leave on July 4, because it’s a holiday.
So I won’t book this flight. But it’s cool to see that it’s an option. And if my schedule is ever a little bit more flexible, I use Farecast’s graph to help me choose the best departure day.
You can’t search for first-class fares on Farecast, but you can on Kayak.
I don’t really worry about that, though, since I can usually get free upgrades on Delta.
Tomorrow, in Flying for Peanuts Tip #4, I’ll tell you how I do that and explain which travel rewards credit card is the best for free upgrades and free travel.
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