I’ve probably consumed more airline food than anyone I’ve ever met.
It’s not great for my health. But it comes with the territory.
Over the past decade, I’ve hit nearly every country on the planet, sometimes traveling 250+ days per year.
I travel for business: Sovereign Man’s entire premise, when I started it a decade ago, was to offer you boots-on-the-ground insights into global businesses, world economies, and international opportunities.
I travel for investments: No way am I going to sink a huge amount of money (or even a small amount) into a business without meeting the CEO in person, asking questions about the operations and the books, and gaining a personal glimpse into how things are run.
I travel for relationships: I live in Chile part of the year. My parents are in the US. Good friends of mine live all over the world, on every continent but Antarctica.
Personal, face-to-face interactions are hugely important to me, whether I’m assessing a business, gaining insight into a country’s economic woes, or just keeping up with an old friend from high school.
I started traveling abroad as a kid, originally to see family in Europe. Later, the Army took me to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East. As a civilian, reading books such as Jim Rogers’ Investment Biker inspired me to travel to learn more about the world — especially about the business and investment opportunities out there.
And those opportunities proved staggering — both in number and scope.
Travel truly is the best teacher, and remains the best way to find great investments that no one is talking or writing about.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to travel well… without breaking the bank. I don’t do hostels. I don’t usually travel in coach, which I recognize is a huge luxury. But I still spend a fraction of what most high-end travelers squander on getting around the world.
And here are three of my best tips for saving tons of money on travel…
Avoid the major hubs…
My colleague, Tim, often travels from Asia to New York or Europe. He lives in Bali much of the year, so if he’s flying from Hong Kong to NYC on, say, July 31, he’ll compare biz class seats on routes such as:
• HK-NYC (about $7,500 one way)
• Taipei-HK-NYC ($3,000)
• Manila-HK-NYC ($2,400)
If you’re in the US and are trying to get to Europe, you can deploy this strategy as well.
Say you live in Oklahoma City and want to go to London, round-trip, in economy class. We recently looked at flights leaving July 31 and returning August 14. Here are the results:
If you fly from OKC and stop in Dallas on the way to London, the fare might be $1700. If you drive to Dallas and fly from DFW to London, you might pay $1500… plus dole out cash for gas and parking for two weeks.
But if you fly from Denver to London, you’ll only pay $1200. You can find a $70 Southwest Airlines flight to Denver International and still save $400+ on the overall journey. That savings will buy you a hotel night, a few meals, or a side jaunt once you’re in England.
Book on Tuesday afternoon and fly midweek
The powers-that-be come in on Monday and see how seats sold over the weekend. Then, they eye competitors’ fares and go to war. By Tuesday afternoon, the prices have settled.
Fares go back up on Friday, after the government-required, three-day sale period. So, if you want the best available seats at the best available price, start scanning the Internet around 3PM Eastern on Tuesday.
As for the flights themselves, the cheapest fares tend to happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and, if you’re flying internationally, Thursdays. Airlines know that vacationers tend to start flying on Friday night or Saturday morning, so those fares tend to be higher.
Ditto for peak-season. If you’re going to Italy and want to save on airline prices, plan to visit in April or November, not in July or August. (That won’t just save you money on airfare; it’ll save you money on your entire expense list.)
FareCompare.com, by the way, does a decent job of what a given flight generally costs.
The exact time to book your flight
The algorithm gods have made it clear: to get the best fare, you want to book a domestic flight about two months in advance. Fifty-seven days is generally perfect.
According to priceoftravel.com (and we’ve tested this), if you’re going from North America to Europe, 7 to 16 weeks out tends to be the best window. From North America to the Caribbean, you want to book about 2-3 weeks out, to South America, 5-16 weeks, and to Asia, 8-20 weeks out.
Going somewhere for Christmas? Buy your ticket in mid-August.
By the way, the old song about buying a last-minute ticket to save on fares? No longer true. Airlines know that business travelers often need to suddenly pick up and leave… and that they’ll expense their ticket price. The airlines are happy to pad the expense report and jack up the price a day or two before the flight.
These are only three of the many money-saving travel tips we shared with our Sovereign Confidential readers. If you travel regularly, or even if you’re just planning one international trip this summer, this single issue could easily pay for an entire year’s subscription.
If you’re not already a subscriber, you can learn more about Sovereign Confidential here.