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How to Find the Cheapest Flights

How to Find the Cheapest Flights

Have you ever experienced this scenario? You’re talking to a friend or colleague about the flights you’ve just booked to some exotic destination for your next vacation, only for them to turn around and tell you that they’ve booked flights to the same destination for hundreds of dollars less! It can be infuriating; just think of all the things you could spend that money on when you arrive at your destination.

This doesn’t have to happen to you ever again! With the tips below you can ensure that you always get the cheapest flights in any circumstance.

1. The early bird saves money.

It’s not really a secret but, as with most things, the earlier you book, the more you can save. The magic number is 60. Prices rise on average about 60 days before the departure date. But don’t book too early. FareCompare research shows that airlines don’t release their cheap seats until about four months out.

2. Being flexible pays off.

If you’re not picky about the exact date that you fly, you could slash a huge amount off your fare. Mid-week flights are less popular than weekends, and Wednesday is historically the cheapest day to fly. Catching the red-eye will also save you a packet. Consider traveling to destinations in their off-peak seasons; his is will vary by location, but a quick Google search usually reveals the answer. Not only will everything be cheaper, but you will get to experience a different side to your destination that most people never see.

3. Size matters.

The nearest airport to you may not be the best one to fly from if you’re looking to save some extra spending money. Bigger and busier airports often have cheaper flights, as there is more competition between airlines and a higher frequency of flights. Compare the price of taking a cheap domestic flight to a bigger airport versus flying straight from your local airport. In my case I was able to fly to another domestic airport for $59, and the international leg was over $200 cheaper from there!

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Try using a website like Adioso to compare the price of flying into different airports near your destination. As you can see below, it was $400 cheaper for me to fly into LA instead of San Francisco–something that can make a huge difference to your hip pocket (plus maybe you could fly to LA and then take an awesome road trip to San Francisco in a rental car).

adioso

    4. Short trip? Save even more.

    Most of the budget airlines charge a low base rate, and then charge for add-ons like checked luggage. If you don’t need to take much with you, you could save quite a bit by only taking carry-on luggage (this is usually included in the cost of all tickets).

    5. Take advantage of historical price data.

    Using some great historical pricing tools like Kayak’s Price Forecast, you can work out whether the ticket price for your flight is more likely to rise or fall. This tool will show you whether to book immediately or if you’re better off waiting.

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      6. Compare the comparisons.

      All comparison websites are not equal. Some have access to airlines and fares that others don’t, and booking fees can vary greatly between them. Just because two sites compare flights from the same airline doesn’t mean that the prices will be the same! From experience, there’s no one site that’s better than any other. The one that has the cheapest flight this time may not be next time, so it pays to compare at least two of them.

      Some comparison sites to consider:

      7. Go direct.

      Just as some comparison sites get access to fares that others don’t, there are many special fares that the airlines save for their own customers. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by booking with the airline direct; signing up to their mailing lists is an easy way to be notified of specials as they come up. Be aware–the really cheap ones are usually limited and go quickly, so be prepared to book as soon as you see them!

      8. Remove pre-selected items.

      Websites often try to make a few extra dollars by pre-selecting certain items and hoping that you don’t notice. Seat selection, various insurances, “green” options are some of the usual culprits and can add $20 or more to your ticket if you don’t un-tick the boxes.

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      finding cheap flights
        photo credit: Doug Waldron

        9. Avoid booking fees.

        Booking fees are fairly standard on most websites (even the ones that say no booking fees will often build them into the price) but you can sometimes avoid paying any booking fees depending on the payment method you use. Payment by direct deposit/bank transfer, PayPal or Poli are often cheaper or free.

        10. Cheap flights can become expensive.

        When looking at budget carriers, make sure you add in all the items you need before comparing the price. Flights that are a little more expensive but include things like baggage or meals may actually end up cheaper by the time you add them on to a budget flight. Also make sure you’re aware of how inflexible some cheap flights can be. If your plans change, or something comes up and you can’t make it, the change fee can often be as expensive as the actual tickets. If you’ve got good travel insurance, this may not be an issue.

        11. Call in an expert.

        FlightFox is a great service that will connect you with travel experts to help find the cheapest flights for your needs. They’ll do the hard work and then tell you how to book the flights, or they can arrange to do it for you. At just $49 it can quickly pay for itself many times over, especially for international or complicated trips (multi-stops, etc).

        12. Use your points.

        Perhaps an obvious one, but if you have frequent flyer points, you can use these towards your flight cost, or to upgrade to a better seat. Many airlines have partnerships with credit card providers where you can earn frequent flyer points for every dollar you spend. It’s a great way to earn points for things you would be buying anyway (groceries, gas, etc.) as long as you pay it off on time.

        13. Get your money back.

        Have you ever been bumped off a flight? Did you know that you may actually be eligible for some compensation from the airline? New website AirHelp can advise you of any potential compensation and help you apply for it. You may even be eligible for a refund if your ticket price drops after you purchase! Another website, Yapta, will track your flight details and let you know if it drops after you purchase.

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        There you have it! Want to save even MORE on your trip? Check out our tips on how to get the best hotel deals, and car rental hacks.

        Do you have any other tips? Share them with our readers in the comments below!

        Featured photo credit: Traffic/Don McCullough via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on July 4, 2019

        25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

        25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

        Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

        Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

        1. Coursera

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          Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

          Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

          Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

          2. Khan Academy

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            Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

            Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

            3. Open Culture Online Courses

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              If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

              Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

              4. Udemy 

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                Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

                Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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                5. Academic Earth

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                  Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

                  Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

                  6. edX

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                    Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                    7. Alison

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                      Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                      It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                      8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                        A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                        Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                        Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                        ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                        9. Stanford Online

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                          Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                          Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                          10. Harvard Extension

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                            Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                            Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                            11. Open Yale Courses

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                              Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                              12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                                Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                                13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                                  Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                                  14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                    Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                    15. Codecademy

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                                      Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                      The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                      16. Code

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                                        Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                        In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                        Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                        17. University of London Podcasts

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                                          The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                          18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                            Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                            The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                            19. BBC Podcasts

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                                              For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                              Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                              20. TED-Ed

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                                                Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                                Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                                21. LessonPaths

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                                                  LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                                  22. Memrise

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                                                    Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                    Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                    23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                      The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                      National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                      24. Fun Brain

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                                                        Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                        Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                        25. Whyville

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                                                          Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                          Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                          Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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