Step 1 – Getting There
So in my quest to visit America, I have not given myself any time to really save up. I also now have a full time job so I couldn’t take too much time off either. However, because I like a challenge I’m still planning to go to at least 2 American cities and Australia. This trip will be like most of my others, I will be travelling by myself, but I will be meeting up with friends in both Orlando and Brisbane.
I am always looking for the best deals on flights. For this trip I am budgeting at most $2,000 on flights and around $5,000 in total.
$2,000 – flights
$3,000 – accommodation, activities and spending money.
I always start looking for flights on Expedia, they have a really great range of companies to search from and can definitely give you a starting point.
I try not to book on Expedia as I always have a terrible experience. You can never really change or get a refund, you can’t mix and match your flights, or specify what is important without compromising other aspects of your trip. Have a look at Kayak, Sky Scanner and Flight Centre.
I also try to price out individual flights versus round trip, especially in the planning stages while I’m trying to decide where I want to go and what I want /how I want to get there.
For example, while I was in the early stages of planning this trip I was going to go to New York and only spend 3 days in Orlando. I also looked at spending some time in California and Texas. though while researching what I wanted to do and where I would stay, nothing jumped out at me and made me decide on Texas or California as the place to visit on this trip. I have however always wanted to visit New Orleans. Something about the history and the culture there just really interests me.
I also am a member of the Qantas frequent flyer and I desperately want to get to silver membership!!!! I almost made it last year but my points expired before the end of my last contract so I missed out!
So the final flight plan I settled on:
- June 4th – Auckland to Chicago
- June 22nd – Orlando to Brisbane
- July 3rd – Brisbane to Auckland
On Expedia the trip was looking around $2200.
To be honest I was kind of disappointed, I didn’t want to spend like half my budget on flights alone!
By chance I decided to search my full itinerary on the Qantas website as I had chosen the fully Qantas trip on Expedia and had decided to fly Qantas if possible so I can finally attain the coveted silver membership.
And buy was I happy I did! I found the Qantas website so useful! You can choose each individual flights to choose price or arrive or depart times. I managed to shave almost $500 off the total price. As I am always travelling on a budget, always looking to the next trip, this is always a bonus.
So my final flights are as follows
- June 4th – 6:20am depart Auckland fly via Brisbane and LA a finally arrive in Chicago at 3pm on the same day
- June 22nd – 7:30pm depart Orlando fly via LA and land Brisbane at 6am on the 24th June
- July 3rd – depart 6:55pm and arrive in Auckland at 00:00.
All in all, I think I paid $1850 including the visa fee for booking and paying online.
These flights will add just over 300 points to my membership which will take me well and truly into silver level which will be amazing for my next adventure at the end of the year.
I’m really really happy with my flights. Now you may be thinking why are you going to Chicago, and how are you planning to get to Orlando???
I decided to book another flight from New Orleans to Orlando, I like to book southwest mostly because of the free luggage and the great prices. I probably could have booked either united or American airlines which would add points to my Qantas membership. However, I like the free 2 bags that southwest offers more.
This flight is June 9th 7:55pm arriving Orlando 10:35pm.
I was/am a little worried about how late I booked in regards to storing my luggage. I have emailed my hotel about storing my luggage for the day but I have yet to hear back.
My final thoughts on booking flights
Shop around! Look at sky scanner or kayak, southwest won’t show on any discount sites be sure to check their site separately.
I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to book like 6 months in advance or a week out. I booked my flights and then the next week air New Zealand and Qantas released cheap flights to LA, but my flights wouldn’t have been too much different as I have several legs of the trip.