Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights

So you want to go on a vacation? But you might not have a lot of vacation time or a huge budget? No worries, we have you covered! Other than people asking where our next trip is to, the second most asked question is where and how we book all of our flights to travel everywhere we do. These are our top tips for booking cheap flights! Learn how we travel as much as we do while both having full-time jobs and a busy schedule!

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

#1: Sit Down With a Calendar

 

Not the first tip you were expecting? It may seem unusual, but this is one of the most important!

Most people start off by hearing about or seeing pictures of a particular destination and all of a sudden that’s where they just have to go on their next vacation. In this situation, you will likely struggle to find cheap flights. If you have a set location and set date in mind and no flexibility, you're are at the mercy of the flight deal gods.

While you can certainly get a good deal by booking a vacation with a set destination and date in mind or booking last-minute deals, your chances of finding cheap flights are higher a couple of months in advance. Take the time at the beginning of the year/quarter and sit down with a calendar. Map out the weekends you would like to travel and pick weekends where you want to stay in town. Also think about your already known travel plans such as seeing family for the holidays, weddings you're invited to, etc. The end result is a set number of dates when you know you would like to get away so that when a flight deal comes along there is no wondering of when to go. You will already have a few dates in mind (and discussed with your significant other) and can get straight to the booking process.

 

#2: Sit Down With a Map

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Okay, so now you have a few weekends and perhaps a week or two when you are planning to travel. But where in the world should you go!? You might have a bucket list, a list of 'saved' places on your social media accounts, or a few places your friends visited that you'd love to go to as well. If you're looking for more inspiration, you can peruse our Pinterest travel boards which include our collection of travel inspiration around the world. Make sure you discuss your favourite destinations with your significant other/family/friends so that when a flight deal comes along, you don't have any convincing to do!

For example, our goal while living in Chicago has been to see all 50 states – that means in 2019, our travel list includes the final states we have left (read about some of our 2019 travel goals in this post here).

So now that you have a list of where you want to go and when you are able to go there – bring on the flight deals!

 

#3 Set Flight Alerts

 

With a list of potential dates and destinations, you can now use the power of Google Flights to set flight alerts for your most-wanted trips. Setting up a flight alert is super easy and only takes a few minutes. This is how you set up a Google Flights alert to find cheap flights:

  1. Create a search with your trip date and location on Google Flights.
  2. Select the 'Track Prices' option below and enter your email.
  3. Wait for an email from Google Flights notifying you when the flights drop or increase in price.

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

This is what a flight tracking email could look like:

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

You can even use multiple origin and destination airports in your Google Flights search. For example, if you wanted to go to Hawaii or the Caribbean but didn’t care which island, you could choose multiple islands in one search.  Or you can search for an entire region such as 'Europe' and Google Flights will provide you with prices for each city.

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Once you set your flight tracker, you will get notified when prices drop and you can immediately book your cheap flights. Google Flights also includes 'Tips' based on your search and will let you know if the current price is high or low relative to historical prices.

We always set flight alerts far in advance for our inflexible trips, such as heading home to families over the holidays to make sure we find cheap flights.

 

 
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#4 Sign Up for Flight Deals

 

In addition to tracking flight prices on Google Flights, there are incredible flight deals almost every day which let you fly around the world for way less than you think. The only problem is that you likely only hear about the deal once the cheap flights are gone!  Luckily for you and us, there are people who make it their mission to inform us of the latest and best flight deals. We highly recommend following @TheFlightDeal on Twitter so that you get an instant notification when a flight deal is posted. We also highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights who will send you an email with your personalized flight deal. You select the region you live in for where you want the flight deals to originate from and then sit back and keep an eye on your inbox for the next great cheap flight to come along!

 

#5 Book the Cheap Flight!

 

So you finally get this email or Twitter alert with an incredible flight deal for one of the destinations you were hoping to go to! Now what?

A good flight deal typically only lasts for about an hour up to a day or two, so you’ve got to move very quickly! Give your significant other/family/friends/travel partner a quick call to confirm the trip and if you have time, take a look at visa requirements and approximate hotel prices to get an idea of the overall cost of the trip.

Once everything is ready to go, head to Google Flights and pull up the flight you received the alert for. For instance, if you got an alert for flights between Chicago and Newark in March, type in Chicago and Newark as your origin and destination in Google Flights, together with your travel dates. The flight options will show up and your flight deal should be part of these options. Clicking on the link in Google Flights will take you directly to the airline's website where you can book the flight.

 

Ready For Take-Off!

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Before you hit that purchase button, be sure to check the carry-on and checked luggage restrictions and fees as those can both make or break your flight experience.

Now all you have to do is get ready for take-off!

There is a great sense of ‘winning’ or beating the system when you manage to snag an awesome flight deal! And also, don’t worry if you miss out on a deal as there will always be another one.

If you want to learn more on the tips and tricks we use to save money on flights and hotels for our travels, sign up to our mailing list below to receive our free Top 10 Money-Saving Travel Tips!

 

Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!

 

 


 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day is less than a month away and it's the perfect opportunity to get away with your significant other and celebrate a romantic weekend out of town. While a weekend seems short, imagine flying out on Friday evening, waking up in a new place with the promise not having to do anything but enjoy your day together. It's no secret that I love weekend trips as I feel I get so much more out of the two days off work. We usually fly home late on Sunday or very early on Monday morning and go directly to work. If you're looking for a domestic or international getaway, these are my 5 favourite romantic getaway destinations.

 

Romantic Getaway in Charleston

 

Located in South Carolina and being right on the water, Charleston has as much Southern charm as you could possibly imagine. The cobblestone streets and colourful houses transport you back in time and you might just feel like never going back home!

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Charleston

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Charleston

 

Go on a romantic stroll through Battery Promenade and Waterfront Park, enjoy the sun and the ocean front, and make your way through the French Quarter on your way to dinner. If you are looking for no-frills, affordable, but extremely tasty seafood, try 167 Raw. They don't take reservations and tend to get very busy so make sure you get there early. If you're looking for a romantic place to dine, make sure you try the Darling Oyster Bar right on King Street. They immediately won me over with their ambiance and their menu left nothing to be desired.

 

Wander the Streets of London

 

What is more romantic than going to Europe for a weekend? While this might be a tight travel schedule, you can think about taking the Friday or Monday off to make it a long weekend and get 3 full days out of your weekend. London is not just one of my favourite cities in Europe, it's also relatively easy to get to as a lot of airlines fly there directly.

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - London

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - London

 

The city has so much history, culture, and beautiful architecture - I could wander around the streets, feeling like I was in a Sherlock Holmes movie all day. On a sunny day, I highly recommend walking along the Thames towards London bridge and immerse yourself into the busyness of this great city! Make sure to stop by Borough Market, stop by the Shakespeare Globe - what could be more romantic (?) - and if you are looking for some amazing dinner views,  check out Sky Pod Bar at Sky Garden. Don't forget to snap a mandatory picture with the Tower Bridge on your way there!

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - London

 

Relax in Cancun

 

If you're all about escaping the cold this time of the year and relaxing on the beach, there is no better place than Cancun, Mexico! Depending on where you live, it's only a short flight away and Southwest Airlines even flies there (to learn how we save 50% on flight cost with Southwest, check out this post). After only a  short few hours flight, you can relax in the sun, listen to the waves crashing, and eat your body weight in guacamole and chips. Romantic evening walks in the sand and margaritas by the pool will make this trip the perfect romantic getaway and is exactly what we did when we were there (read the full story here).

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Cancun

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Cancun

 

Get Away for a Cabin Weekend

 

How about spending the weekend with your loved one at a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Enjoy 48 blissful hours of alone time at a rustic and cozy cabin - away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. We love staying at the Minnie Lake Ranch House which is part of Douglas Lake Ranch in BC, Canada but there is no need to travel that far. These are some of my favourite cabin getaways that are currently on my wish list:  rustic cabin getaways, Wisconsin cabin getaways, Michigan cabin getaways, Colorado cabin getaways.

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Cabin Weekend

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Cabin Weekend

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Cabin Weekend

 

Visit the City of Love - Paris

 

No romantic getaway list would be complete without Paris - the city of love! While it is a bit more difficult to travel to from the U.S. for just a weekend, it is very much doable (see how we spent a weekend in Paris here) and you won't regret it. As the center of romance, ornate architecture, delicious pastries, and wine, how could you possibly go wrong with Paris? While it's not very warm in February, you can still stroll through the streets in Montmartre - an area of the city, enjoy a macaron or two at Laduree, be dazzled at Galeries Lafayette, and most importantly, have one of the best salads I've ever had (think melted goat cheese and roasted potatoes and not much lettuce) at the quirky Le Relais Gascon.

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Paris

 

5 Romantic Getaway Destinations for Valentine's Day - Paris

 

What is your favourite romantic getaway? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to tag us on Instagram on your next weekend trip!

 

Pin this post on Pinterest to your favourite travel board and share with your significant other to kick-start the romantic getaway planning!

 






 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

This might not surprise you, but I love flying! It’s not just the thought about going someplace which is new and exciting, but the actual in-flight experience as well. Being on a plane is one of the only times I’m not expected to work or be online so it’s a time when I can relax completely. If you are like most people, you probably feel the complete opposite and dread flying. I want to share some tips with you on how you can make flying more relaxing and how to not feel as stiff and tense when you get off the plane. (You can read about my tips on how to get over jet lag here.)

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

A lot of people have high muscle tension after flying, especially after long-haul flights, and have swollen legs and feet. Part of the reason for stiffness is dehydration and the consumption of too much sodium (airplane food is filled with tons of salt and sugar because your taste buds can’t taste flavors as well due to the altitude and pressure). However, the biggest issue is that we tend to sit in our tight seats for hours without moving.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

Wearing comfortable clothing while flying makes a big difference. Joriki has the most comfortable leggings I have ever worn and they are perfect for long-haul flights. You can combine them with a light top and sweater in case it gets cold.

 

Shop My Look

 

       

 

This Sumba Warrior outfit by Joriki was gifted to me. I truly believe in their mission of giving back with every purchase and can highly recommend their apparel. You can get 10% off your purchase using my discount code 'beingbettina'.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

While it’s not always easy to get up and stretch in the hallway and the back of the plane (after all, we wouldn’t want to pause that movie or wake up the person next to us) there are easy and useful stretches you can do in your seat. And if you do these after the flight attendants dim the cabin light, you won’t even get any awkward stares!

 

I’m not a yoga instructor and am not offering any physical advice. This post is aimed at providing ideas on how to stretch during a flight. Please make sure you don’t strain yourself when trying these poses.

 

In Flight Yoga Stretch and Breathing

 

To start, interlock your hands and lift your arms straight up stretching your upper body, shoulders, and chest. Focus on your breathing – inhale and exhale slowly, counting to 7 for each inhale and exhale.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

In Flight Yoga Foot Point and Flex

 

To get the blood in your feet flowing, sit upright with your feet on the floor. Lift one leg up slightly and point your foot. Keep this position for a few seconds and then flex your foot, making sure you spread the toes wide apart. Point and flex a few times and put your leg back down. Repeat this stretch with the other leg.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

In Flight Yoga Knee Hug

 

This might be more difficult for people who are very tall and struggle with the confined space on a plane. I also suggest removing your shoes and putting on socks if you are not wearing any out of respect for your seat neighbours.

Place both heels on the edge of your seat, hug your knees with both arms and pull them towards you. Hold this position for a few seconds while breathing slowly, then release.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

In Flight Yoga Shoulder Stretch

 

This works best if you have a blanket you can roll up to a “blanket burrito”.

Sit up straight with both feet on the ground. Roll up your blanket and place it vertically against the backrest of your seat. Lean against the blanket so that it aligns with your spine and keep your arms at rest. Breath in and squeeze your shoulders upwards and backward. Exhale slowly and bring your shoulders down.

You can repeat this pose a few times but make sure you don’t strain yourself when squeezing your shoulders.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

In Flight Yoga Spinal Twist

 

By far my favorite in flight yoga pose is the seated spinal twist. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor and slide forward on your seat so that you have space between your back and the backrest. Place the right hand on the seat with the fingers pointing backward. There might not always be enough space to do so, in which case you can make a fist instead. Grab the right corner of the seat cushion with your left hand, or if that’s not possible, place your left hand on the outer side of your right knee. Straighten the spine and twist to the right, looking over the right shoulder.

Do the same on the opposite side.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

 

In Flight Yoga Forward Bend

 

If you’re able to get up and move to the back of the plane, there is usually a little bit of space to stretch. I like doing simple forward bends standing up or sitting down, depending on how clean the floors are on the plane. To do a forward bend, sit on the floor (or stand) with your legs straight. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, reaching for your toes with both your hands. Inhale and stretch further as you exhale.

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

How To Relax on a Plane with These In Flight Yoga Poses

 

I don’t do yoga nearly as often as I should, but I find that these 6 stretches help me release muscle tension during the flight.

 

How do you fly? Do you usually get up and walk around during your flight or do you remain in your seat?

 


 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

With my family living in Switzerland, Kyle's family living in Vancouver, Canada, and us living in Chicago, we travel through time zones a lot and have experienced our fair share of jet lag. I want to share with you my best tips on how to get over jet lag quickly after travelling across multiple time zones.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

What is Jet Lag?

 

Jet lag is a phenomenon which can occur when your personal biological 24-hour clock is altered which often happens after fast long-distance East-West travel. This means any time you fly through several time zones to get from North America to Europe, from Europe to Asia, or any other East-West/West-East combination you could think of, your body thinks it is in the time zone you started in and first needs to adjust to the new time zone.

The most common Jet Lag symptoms are poor sleep, insomnia, or the complete opposite - being tired in the middle of the day which can reduce the ability to focus, cause headaches, etc.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

The first time I flew to Canada's West Coast from Switzerland, it took me almost a week to recover from the 9 hour time zone change. I was constantly tired during the day and could not stay up past 6pm. In the morning, however, I was wide awake at 4am and could not sleep for another minute. By the time I was adjusted to the new time zone, I was leaving to go back home again. Everyone experiences jet lag differently. I know people who barely notice a difference and others who are like me and need days to recover. There are a few tips I picked up over the last couple of years which helped me - and can help you - to get back into your normal rhythm faster.

 

My Best In-Flight Tips

 

  • Hydrate: When traveling by plane, most people get dehydrated which has to do with the dry air in flight. Humidity on planes varies but is usually below 20% which resembles humidity levels in the desert. Drinking lots of water is key! A rule of thumb is to drink 8oz (250ml) of water for every hour you're in the air. I bring a refillable water bottle with me and fill it up right before I get on the plane. In addition, every time the flight attendant walks past with water, I grab a glass.
  • Avoid caffeine: Try to avoid caffeine or reduce caffeine if possible. Coffee can promote dehydration and can also disturb your sleep rhythm.
  • Avoid alcohol: Similar to the point above, alcohol can worsen dehydration and can increase the terrible feeling you have when getting off a plane. Try to avoid it if possible. After all, we already don't feel the freshest when getting off a long-haul flight so there is no need to add a hangover to the mix. To be completely honest though, Kyle and I don't always subscribe to this rule as we find it hard to resist the free booze. 🙂

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

    • Flying Eastbound: When flying East to Europe, flights often arrive in the morning. To make sure I can take advantage of the entire day, I try to get some sleep on the plane. Now this can be difficult, especially when flying Economy as space is very limited and it's not very comfortable. I bring my own travel pillow and sleep mask and try to book a window seat so that I won't have to get up every time the person next to me needs to go to the washroom. I also find that Advil PM helps me sleep on the plane. (I am not offering any medical advice and please talk to a medical professional before using Advil PM.)
  • Flying Westbound: When flying West to North America, flights often arrive in the afternoon or evening and you will feel the need to sleep on the plane as it is much later in the day where you started the trip. I usually try to stay awake as long as possible to get my body into the new rhythm quickly.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

 

How to Get Over Jet Lag When You Get Home

 

Once you arrive at your destination or are back home, adjusting to the new time zone right away will help you recover from jet lag the fastest. This means not staying up too late and getting up at a reasonable hour in the morning even if you have to force yourself, and eating meals at standard meal times to get your body adjusted quickly.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

After a flight Eastbound to Europe, I often find myself wide awake in the middle of the night and not wanting to get up in the morning. These are my best tips to get some rest after an Eastbound flight.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

  • Use an Eyemask: Not being able to sleep because there are no blinds or the curtains don't darken the room enough is very frustrating. I always bring my eyemask so that it's dark no matter what my environment looks like. I personally love this silk eyemask which is nice against my skin and doesn't bend my eyelashes in the wrong direction. Plus it comes with a really cute eyemask pouch.

 

  • Use Earplugs: Similar to above, you don't know whether your destination is going to be noisy. To avoid any risk, I bring earplugs to help me fall asleep.
  • Get Som Sleep: Som Sleep is a miracle drink that helps you fall asleep within 30 minutes of drinking it. It includes melatonin which is the sleep hormone naturally occurring in our bodies, and other relaxing ingredients. I enjoy the sugar-free version which is sweetened with Stevia Leaf Extract. In the past, I have tried using melatonin supplements to recover from jet lag but I find that Som Sleep works much better due to the combination of ingredients. You can find the zero sugar drink here:

 

 

  • Get Seranaded to Sleep: Last but not least, Kyle and I often put on Sleep Music Delta Waves on youtube when going to bed. I have hardly ever heard the end of the 45-minute song which attests to how well it works!

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

Following a Westbound flight, I tend to be sleepy in the early afternoon and wide awake in the wee hours of the morning.

  • Stay up as late as possible: The best way for me to adjust is to really force myself to stay up until 9pm or as late as possible on the first day. You might want to go to bed earlier but waiting until a later hour helps ensure that you don’t naturally wake up at 4am.
  • Exercise in the evening: I find that exercising in the evening helps me stay up later after a Westbound flight. Even an evening walk around the neighbourhood helps.

 

How To Get Over Jet Lag

 

Remember that all our bodies are different. Some people might adjust quickly to new time zones, while others take a few days. I find that the more I travel, the easier it is to adjust my biological clock. How do you get over jet lag? Do you have any secret tips? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you, Som Sleep for letting us test your Zero Sugar drink to get over jet lag. All opinions expressed here are my own and I do not recommend products which I didn’t test or am not happy with.


 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

Since moving to Chicago in May 2015 we have done a fair amount of exploring the United States.  So much so that we have now visited 38 out of 50 states, or 76%. If you don’t have an easy way to track where you’ve been, we can highly recommend the #beenapp (App Store,  Google Play). It lets you easily track with US states you have been to as well as which countries in the world, and provides a map and percentage complete.

 

Been App - How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

The Southwest Companion Pass Explained

 

One of the reasons why we have been able to travel to so many states in such a short period of time (while still working full time!) and at a reasonable cost is the Southwest Companion Pass.  This is easily one of the most rewarding and lucrative perks out there. Essentially what it allows you to do is bring along a designated friend or family member every time you fly Southwest for just the cost of taxes and fees (generally $5.60 for US domestic flights). There is no restriction on how many times you can use the pass and you can use it everywhere Southwest flies. In other words, every time you fly somewhere on Southwest, you can bring your friend or family member and save 50% on your travel cost!

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

Bettina earned the Southwest Companion Pass in January of 2017, and once you earn the pass it is valid for the rest of the year that you earned the pass, and the entire following year. By earning it in January, we will receive almost two full years of having her companion (me) travel for just the cost of taxes and fees. Over the past year and a half we have used the Southwest Companion Pass for 22 different flights (counting each one way as a flight, regardless of connections (if any)) and we have a further 6 more flights booked for the remainder of the year before our Southwest Companion Pass expires on December 31, 2018.

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

We flew to Cancun, Boston, Cayman Islands, and many other places. And we even used the Pass for our one-day trip to Connecticut on Kyle's birthday.

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

There are restrictions on how many times you can change your designated friend or family member, but otherwise it is very easy to use and can be used when purchasing Southwest flights with your credit card as well as when redeeming Rapid Rewards points. You can add your companion to your original booking immediately or up to the day of travel, provided there are still available seats on the flight.

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

The one thing you do have to keep track of though is whether or not you already have added the companion to the original booking.  Don’t be like us when we flew to Boston to begin our East Coast Canada road trip. We had booked the original tickets for Bettina a few weeks in advance, but had forgotten to book the companion pass until 3 days before departure. Turns out when we went to add me as the companion, the flight was already sold out! We were pretty much out of luck at this point and the only way to continue to use the Companion Pass would be to switch to a different flight. Luckily for us, there were last minute fares on a different airline that we were able to book.

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

 

The big question is how can you get the Southwest Companion Pass? You need to earn 110,000 qualifying points or fly 100 one-way flights on Southwest in a calendar year. While the Companion Pass is valuable, that is a lot of flying and would take a considerable amount of time and money. The key is to leverage qualifying points earning through the Rapid Rewards credit card, Southwest Dining and Shopping partners, and of course flying on Southwest. It’s not as easy to earn as it was back in 2017 when we earned ours. Previously they allowed transfers of hotel points to count as qualifying activity, which is no longer the case.

 

How to Save 50% in Flight Cost with the Southwest Companion Pass

 

That being said, with a bit of planning and dedication to earning the Companion Pass, you can still reap the benefits of having your companion fly with you for (almost) free.

 

Where would you fly to with a Southwest Companion Pass?