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Fly and Drive: Save on Airfare to Yosemite, Other National Parks

Fly and Drive to Save on Airfare

The Airfare Expert: I don’t know if you saw my latest Airfare Expert column for USA Today on saving money with “fly & drive” combination trips; if not, here’s the condensed version.

I focus on Yosemite, but I think it could prove useful for travels to a lot of America’s national parks some of which can be a bit hard to get to (certainly by nonstop air service). Of course, the very isolation of some of these parks is a big part of why we want to get to them!

So here goes – and if you have any ideas or comments, let’s chat on Facebook.

Is it possible to fly & drive to Yosemite and save money?

Yes, and in this case, the more you’re willing to drive, the more you may be able to save. Here are some options:

Fly into Fresno: This is the nearest airport to Yosemite served by multiple airlines (though dominated by United); luckily, the Fresno facility is just about 90 miles away from the park, and out West, that’s no big deal. Bonus for travlers: easy in-and-out of the airport (and security) thanks to few crowds, plus no long haul to pick up the rental car.

Fly into San Francisco or Fly into Oakland: These bigger airports are dominated by United (SFO) and Southwest (OAK), and while flying to San Francisco or Oakland will increase the driving distance of your Yosemite (total drive time, maybe 3-4 hours or so), it could be more cost effective if you’re traveling as a group.

Tell me the best tips for cheap flights no matter where I fly.

Just follow these two favorite maxims of mine:

  1. Shop on Tuesday at 3pm Eastern; this is cheapest day (and time of day) to shop for airfare.
  2. Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday; most often, the cheapest days to fly. Avoid Fridays and Sundays unless there’s a special fare – usually those are the most expensive days to fly.  

Any tips for the “drive” part of the trip?

Remember that parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are in the high country, and snow in June and August are not unheard of. Check with the National Park Service for road closure information.

To Fly or Not to Fly – Good Deals and Bad Deals

February 24, 2011 | Posted in: Deals,Destinations,Multimedia,Security | 0 comments

To Fly or Not to Fly - Good Deals and Bad Deals

Ever wonder if certain places are safe to fly to?

Maybe a destination you’d normally never consider, but what if you see a super good deal – what then?

That was the topic of my weekly column for ABCNews.com yesterday – called, “To Fly or Not to Fly” and I’ve got lots of advice on the subject.

I also talked about the issue of cheap flights vs. security on Good Morning Texas today, plus I examined some specific airfare deals and pronounced them “good deals” or “bad deals”. It was fun – take a look:

Another Airfare Hike – Summer Vacation Travelers Take Note!

February 24, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Deals,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Another Airfare Hike - Summer Vacation Travelers Take Note!

When it rains, it pours…and by that I mean, more domestic airfare hikes.

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, Feb. 23), United/Continental filed a $20 roundtrip fuel surcharge on the bulk of this merging airline’s domestic route system.

Later in the evening, American Airlines matched this by raising their base fares by a similar amount. This is the fifth broad-based hike attempt of 2011; the previous four met with various levels of succcess.

Bottom line: It’s going to be a little harder to find airfare deals this summer, but whenever there are any – we at FareCompare will have them. So do yourself a favor and sign up for our airfare alerts right now. You will be glad you did.

Finding Cheap Deals with Twitter and Facebook – Video Guide

May 29, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Travel Tips,Twitter | 0 comments

I had fun at CNN the other day, talking about the bargains you can get if you’re connected to Twitter and Facebook.

These are deals aimed exclusively at the “social media set”.

What if you don’t tweet or don’t have a Facebook account? Relax, it’s real easy – and I’ve got a simple step-by-step “how-to-to” that’ll get you on Twitter and Facebook and enjoying cheap airfare deals in no time. Seriously, you can do this (if my social media-challenged editor can do it, anyone can. “He’s got that right.” – Ed.).

So take a look at this video, courtesy CNN Money – it’s short and to the point, and I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at what’s out there waiting for you.

Airfare Deals for Memorial Day Weekend: Not Too Late (Yet)

May 19, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Holiday Travel,Tips and Tricks | 0 comments

airfare deals memorial day weekend

No, it’s not too late to find a good deal for flights during the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend - but you’re cutting it close.

Some ideas:

  • Low cost carriers: Focus on AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and others as you are not yet inside their 7-day advance purchase window
  • Budget: Check the cheapest prices in the U.S. (and beyond) by using FareCompare’s Where-to-Go cheap flight finder for May with a $300 air travel limit (or set the limits to any amount you’re willing to pay)
  • Surcharge: many airlines will include $30 airfare surcharges (folded into the price of your ticket) for travel May 27 and May 28
  • Cheapest day to fly: probably Saturday May 29

Please take a look at How to Get a Last Minute Memorial Weekend Airfare Deal for more advice and tips.

Cheap Flights 101: The More You Know, the Better the Deals

May 17, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Deals,Forecast,Pricing Activity | 3 comments

cheap flights deals

I can hear you now…

“Why do I need to ‘understand’ airfare, Rick? Why don’t you just tell me when to buy?” But it’s not that simple (nothing about airfare is simple).

Believe me when I say, I would if I could – but like you, I have no crystal ball that determines exactly when to buy airfare to get the best deal. Unlike you, though, I have spent years studying airfare (it’s more interesting than you’d think), so there are things I can tell you.

Like the “hurdles” the airlines set up for you – and how to make all those leaps successfully.

Please check out my “Understanding Airline Ticket Prices: Why Your Seatmate’s Airfare Cost More (or Less) than Yours” – it’s full of news you really can use.

Five Really Good Ways to Get Deals of Twitter and Facebook

May 12, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Travel Tips,Twitter | 2 comments

deals twitter facebook

And you thought Twitter and Facebook was just for kids – no way.

You can find special airfare deals and offers on Twitter and Facebook, that won’t be found anywhere else – because the airlines have taken up social networking with a vengeance – and they in turn want you, in turn, to tell the world just how great they are. And they try to give you reasons for thinking they’re great.

What to do? Don’t worry, it’s easy and I tell you how to do it in “Five Ways to Find Help Travelers Find Cheap Flight Deals on Twitter and Facebook” – so check it out.

When to Buy Tickets for the Best Deals to Europe this Summer

May 11, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Europe | 1 comment

tickets deals europe

Cheap airfare to Europe is so last year. Literally! It was cheap then, but as shoppers are discovering, travel to Europe this summer is much higher.

But you’re going anyway. Should you buy your tickets now – or wait?

That is the question I explore – and answer – due to overwhelming demand from readers. Check it out – “Summer Airfare to Europe – Buy Now or Wait?”

I think it will answer all your questions (but if not, leave a comment).

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