Flights & car rental

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Google flights and Kayak have generally been our go-to flight booking resources. Both allow for highly customizable itineraries, flexible dates, but most importantly, we always compare the two. Once we’ve picked a winner, we then compare that to what is offered the selected airlines website. Google flights also has some interesting features to help with decision making, such as price graphs so you can see how flights are likely to compare over the next few months. Although we have used Expedia in the past, we no longer find it has any added value over the first two options. 

We have also started using Momondo, another great metasearch engine and airfare  aggregator that searches for the best airfare across the web. Unlike many online booking sites, Momondo also includes small, budget airlines and lesser-known airlines as it works to find the lowest airfare. Impressively, this test shows that Momondo produced the lowest fares on 95% of the time, when compared to other popular aggregators.

We highly suggest to be flexible with your dates, if possible, and to choose the flexible dates (or +/- 3 days option) when looking up flights. You’ll almost always pay more when travelling on weekends. Of our last four international trips, we departed three of them on a Thursday and the other on a Monday. Many factors will influence which day is cheaper including time of year, airport and how many seats are unsold. 

Also, if potentially useful, consider alternative (i.e. cheaper) airports. For instance, it was significantly cheaper for us to fly into Venice (Italy) then into our true destination Ljubljana (Slovenia), even when factoring in the transit between the too. And hey, we most certainly didn’t mind the slight Italian detour. 

Finally, before picking your seat, always check with the SeatGuru to avoid ill-advisable selections. It features aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and a color-coded system to identify superior and substandard airline seats.

Car rental

We don’t think there is a secret recipe for getting the best car rental deal. Once we booked our flights (or just prior to make sure that there are availabilities), we generally try out several different websites to see who has the best deal. This is primarily because we often ended up using a different car rental consolidator for each trip (AutoEurope, Kemwel, VIP Cars, Rental Cars). We suggest comparing the results from all the different sites and, if you find a deal you like, compare that with what you would find on the car rental agency’s own website (e.g. Hertz). We also strongly recommend reading reviews and review forums (e.g. TripAdvisor) before choosing a small foreign or seldom known car dealer (e.g. other the Hertz’s, Avis’, Europcar’s, Sixt’s, and Enterprise’s of the world), which often offer cheap prices but can come with added dilemmas and stress.

Most rental cars are rented in 24-hr periods, so select your pickup and drop-off times carefully  if you pick up the car at 10 a.m. on the first day and drop it off at noon on the last day, you’ll often be charged a whole day’s rental for just those two hours.

Sometimes it can make a lot of sense to start and end your car rental in different cities, but that may add fees. Tough in some cases the extra cost of a one-way rental can still be worth it if it saves you a very long drive back.

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