How to plan a group vacation on a budget
Traveling with my friends is something I always look forward to, but generally not till the planning and booking is actually over with. Nothing can deter me from a friend vacation faster than an disorganized group and a large price tag. Since flights are most often the largest purchase of a trip and we’re actually admits of planning our own JUGs vacation to Seattle, we thought we’d share our tips for how to get the best flight at the best cost.
Talk Openly About Budgets
Do this at the very initial planning stages and be honest. Let each other know how much you can and are willing to spend. This will not only help keep things in control and set boundaries, but it will also help narrow down destinations if the group hasn’t already.
Set Price Alerts
If the group hasn’t decided on one location, it might be best to quickly compare prices between top destinations as that could be a major determining factor. Once the final location has been decided upon, visit your favorite booking sites like Kayak, Orbitz, TripAdvisor and set up flight price alerts. While the new influx of emails can be super annoying, nothing feels better than receiving that one golden ticket email that alerts you of an amazing deal. Then unsubscribe from all price alerts when you have booked your flight.
*Note, to add to the annoyingness, you will have to create accounts (or use your Facebook account) to set up alerts.
Get on Carrier Mailing Lists
If there are companies you prefer to fly, like JetBlue or Virgin America, another great thing to do is get on their mailing lists! Again, the extra promotional emails may be a nuisance, but also worth it. They will alert you of upcoming flight deals (we booked ours after receiving a JetBlue “Wing in the New Year” promo) and new destinations…hello next vacation ideas!
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are really receiving the best price or just a load of marketing balogna. To be sure you’re getting the lowest fare, just take a few seconds to do a quick price comparison. Two newer sites I’ve started to really enjoy using for price comparison and price graphing (best price on best days) are HipMunk and Momondo. Both are well designed and don’t open up thousands of new browser windows.
Another thing to compare is flights that have layovers vs a direct flight. Sometimes a layover can save you money on the airfare, but be weary of added costs of spending time at the airport or venturing out into the layover city.
Buy When the Time is Right
I never really new this until recently but apparently the best days to buy flights are on Sundays and Tuesdays. That's great news because on a Sunday you and your friends can meet at someone’s apartment and book simultaneously. We don’t want anyone accidentally ending up on the wrong flight!