CUBA. People ask how we travel so much and how we have the money to do so. Truth be told (haha , there’s that saying again), traveling is not as expensive as you may think as long as you are willing to take the path less traveled. LITERALLY.
We do not stay in expensive hotels, we do not stay in all-inclusive resorts, we do look for those cheap flights that try and rape you with their hidden fees, and we eat and drink cheap. We plan on splurging on only one nice meal per trip, and we try and eat like the locals the rest of the trip. Always take into account where you’re going. In Colombia, the currency was 3 times less than what it is in the U.S. Therefore, our money went 3 times further than it would in the U.S. as well. Obviously certain countries in Europe and Australia would be more expensive, Asia and Africa…less, so on and so forth. I can only personally speak on North and South America, though I plan on changing that this year.
Flights: This is always the first thing we book, and you have to put in work here. Don’t plan on going to Expedia and bam!, finding the cheapest flight. Utilize all search engines. Download these apps: Skiplagged, Hopper, and Skyscanner. Note, a lot of these apps will not include Southwest Airlines, so plan on looking up flights separately for that. Let me show you how much money and time a little work saved me.
Please remember prices fluctuate depending on the time of year; holidays, spring break, and summer will ALWAYS have higher pricing. We happen to be going on spring break (one of the girls is a teacher), so it was a tad harder finding a reasonably priced flight. Also note, don’t ever book a flight on a weekend. Tuesdays are the days to purchase, but I have found Mondays and Wednesdays to be just as good. When I initially looked for flights from Dallas to Havana, the cheapest round trip flight I found was through American Airlines. It was $725. $725!!!!! TO CUBA!
That was with an overnight layover in Miami. 25 hours total just to head there. About the same time heading back if I stayed with American Airlines (22 hours). Nope. Not happening. So I used Skiplagged. The beauty of this app is that it finds the cheapest route, even if you have to get off at a connecting flight. Let me explain further. I decided to break up my flights, so I looked at flights from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale, and Ft. Lauderdale to Havana. A direct flight from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale was $237 one way. Skiplagged informed me I could book a trip from Dallas to Columbus, Ohio with an overlay in Ft. Lauderdale for $99. That meant I would have to get off at my connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale. I just saved $138 flying to Columbus Ohio, and getting off in Ft. Lauderdale, instead of flying directly to Ft. Lauderdale. GENIUS. Now you must know, you cannot check in any bags and you cannot book a round trip ticket; it will automatically cancel your second trip if you miss the connecting flight.
BOOM. First flight booked with Spirit Airlines for $99. I then found a direct flight for $137 from Ft. Lauderdale to Havana with Jetblue Airlines. Total trip time 7 1/2 hours. Coming back wasn’t so bad, I found a flight back to Houston for $229 with United Airlines and then a flight from Houston to Dallas for $67. (5 hour trip time). I have a United Airlines credit card, so I used my miles to purchase these flights. This is a great card that yields high miles in return, however be very careful of the interest rate as this card has the absolute highest of all my credit cards.
So, a $725 roundtrip flight turned into $532 (truly I only paid $236 as I had my miles to cover the other flights), and 47 hours of travel time turned into 12 1/2 hours. Did I get a headache doing this? Yep. Was it worth it? Yep. Also note: airlines like Spirit and Frontier have a lot of hidden fees. Don’t select seats, don’t get travel insurance, don’t check in with an agent (check in online), don’t book your hotel or vehicle through them, and PACK LIGHT. If you can’t, it is cheaper to check your bags then it is to carry on a bag…crazy huh? Purchase your bags when purchasing your ticket, the price will only continue to go up as you get closer to your trip.
Geeeeeeez, I initially planned for this blog to cover flight info and where to stay, but I’ve written enough for tonight. I’ll cover where we plan to stay on my next blog, and this will be an interesting story as it will prove to be our first debacle of the trip. Four best friends with VERY strong personalities, would you expect anything less?