We discovered a secret when it comes to traveling cheap. It might be the best way to see a site for little to no cost at all! It’s basically a buy-one-get-one free flight and it’s called: the Stopover. First of all, who doesn’t love a buy-one-get-one free deal!?! That’s half-off! And when it comes to flying cheap, half off is pretty great if you ask us! Today we are going to share just how we did this and go to experience a little piece of California – for free!
When we knew we’d be flying out to the Pacific Northwest, we began searching for flights. We live in Minneapolis and here and there we can score flights for as low as $40-$60 ROUND TRIP including taxes and fees using a few websites such as Kayak, Skyscanner, and joining automated e-mail lists from budget airlines such as Spirit & Frontier. However, the destinations can vary for flights this low (usually Denver, Colorado, various stops in Florida, or once-in-a-while the east coast.) California is not always a “cheap flight” from Minneapolis so when we knew we needed to fly to the westcoast we pulled up Kayak and started our search. We started with our dates and used a date range. We weren’t locked into a start date and an end date so we could be a bit flexible here. Oftentimes, Tuesdays and Thursdays or Saturdays are cheap dates to fly in and out of Minneapolis so we used a range that included those days. We then sorted our findings by price – lowest to highest. By the way, is there a reason ANYONE would want to view their flight results from highest to lowest? I always wonder that when I’m shopping online – who wants to see the MOST expensive option first? But I digress… Sort by price to get your baseline. You want a flight that is as close to the cheapest option as possible. THEN the magic begins. Sort by length of LAYOVER! This past winter I watched flights from Minneapolis to Florida with long layovers in Colorado. Because why not stop to see some mountains on your way to visit the ocean? These flights had layovers from 8 to 16 hours long. This allows you to experience 6-12 HOURS in another state before moving forward to your intended destionation.
For our trip to the Pacific Northwest, our flight from Portland, Oregon to Minneapolis had a 8 hour layover in San Fransisco. This gave us about 6 hours to securely store our luggage (for a small fee) and head out to catch the subway to see and experience a slice of San Fran! We experienced the iconic cable cars through the San Fransisco streets. We saw (at a distance) the Golden Gate Bridge and all the shops of Fisherman’s Warf. We listened to steel drum music and watched street artists perform. We saw lighthouses, Alcatraz Island, sailboats, and caught a quick lunch at The Hook. We caught the F line back to Embarcadero Station where we boarded BART back to the airport with plenty of time to spare before our flight left.
THIS my friends is the way to see a place that is simply priced out of what you want to spend on airline tickets. There are countless blog posts like THIS explaining and featuring stopovers and we will absolutely be using this money-saving travel tip again soon!