I spend a lot of time planning and researching travel. There is rarely a time when itineraries are not buzzing through my head; booking emails are not flying across the world; training and packing is not taking place!
In the past 12 months we have travelled in New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Greece, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Norway. Coming up for the rest of 2015 we are travelling to Spain, France, Italy, Wales, Scotland and Sri Lanka. All of this on a regular family budget.
How do we do it? When people express amazement at how much travel the Wandering Kiwi family pack into each year I tell them that the key to being able to afford all this travel is to plan and book everything yourself and in advance. The downside of this is hours and hours spent on the internet, weighing up costs and options to make my travel dreams come true within my budget.
My first step in planning any trip is to consider the flights – often the biggest cost – and this is where researching and booking ahead of time is absolutely key. This is especially true now that we do most of our family travel during the expensive school holiday periods.
I have recently started utilising a flight search site called I Want That Flight. I have used various flight search engines over the years and found both positives and frustrations with all of them. The main difficulty is that they often don’t show all the options, including the budget airlines.
Booking tickets as far ahead as possible is the way to secure the best prices. I used to sign up for email alerts from loads of scheduled airlines to find out about their periodic sales but this just clogged up my inbox and proved frustrating as when you went to the airline’s website the flight would no longer be available.
Aussie Gath Adams developed I Want That Flight back in 2003 simply to help him book family holidays so you can be sure this site really does what it says on the tin. The goal is to help travellers find the cheapest airfares and then send you to the airline to book, with no fees or commissions.
So far, so attractive but how does it work for me? I usually start my search on the homepage, then move on to search pages that are specially set up to find the cheapest flights for my particular request based on flexible travel dates are. In other words it will show me the cheapest dates to fly to my desired destination. All I need to do to use this function is type “anytime” into the home page search.
The site has two main search functions – for domestic flights within Australia and for international flights. You can filter your destination search based on the date and duration of your trip. I love that you can find the cheapest dates to fly on a monthly and even yearly basis for both Australian and international flights. The yearly overview of average monthly prices is beyond useful!
What traveller doesn’t love a good airfare map? I spend a lot of time poring over maps showing routes and prices, figuring out the cheapest options for future trips. The I Want That Flight airfare Map shows the return airfare prices from your nearest airport.
My favourite feature is being able to set up an alert service and be notified by email when prices drop. As most frequent travellers know, the airlines tend to increase and decrease prices in phases leading up to a flight date. You can set very flexible alerts and this is especially useful for destinations where you are familiar with the usual prices. I regularly use this when I want to grab a budget fare to visit my brother in Brisbane.
I really feel like this flight search site ‘speaks my language’, or understands what I am looking for when I am planning travel. Probably because it was built by a keen traveller!
After unsubscribing from all those annoying airline advertising emails I now just get the I Want That Flight newsletter that tells me the best deals from my closest airport.
I Want That Flight has significantly reduced my time spent researching travel options. And I no longer have any nagging doubts about whether I got the cheapest flights. So thanks to Gath and the team for making my life simpler.
I passionately believe in the benefits of travel and that we are very fortunate to live in an age when it is accessible to so many. I Want That Flight is the sort of technology that makes that possible.
By Natasha von Geldern