Often the largest expense in a Japan trip is actually getting there, more specifically the flight. Flights are extraordinarily expensive and can often set you back several thousand dollars. Or at least, that’s what you’ve probably been trained to think. In reality, there are several options out there for the budget-minded traveler for highly discounted flights. This not only applies to Japan, but to flights anywhere!
There are strategies that you can implement right now in order to lower the cost of a flight. For one, be flexible about which airport you plan to take off from. You can save several hundred dollars by flying out of an international airport rather than a local airport. The larger the airport, usually the better the discounts. Also be flexible when you fly. Avoid flying at times when it will be very busy and prices will ratchet up very high (weekends and holidays). The season can also change the prices as well. If possible, it is best to avoid traveling in the summer since that is the most popular time. If you can take the time off in the fall, winter, or early spring, you can usually find good discounts. Finally, shop around to try to find the best price. You can use Google Flights (https://www.google.com/flights/) to search across the board another flight search engine that includes cheaper flights is http://www.skyscanner.com/ though there are many more available. Another technique that is worth trying is to search for “mistake fares” where airlines accidentally post flights at huge discounts. If you act fast, and book it, the airline will usually honor the original price. Mistake fares to Japan are rare, but do occasionally happen, check out the folks at http://www.theflightdeal.com/ to see the most up-to-date mistake fares. Using all of these techniques can save you hundreds of dollars on airfare.
Frequent Flyer Miles
For those that want to travel, but don’t even have the budget for a discounted flight, frequent flyer miles may be the best course of action. What are Frequent Flyer miles? They are reward points for flyers to get discounted or even down to almost free flights to any location they want. The easiest way to accrue up lots of points quickly is to get a Frequent Flyer credit card, which will often give you a huge surge in points for signing up. Sometimes, there are even enough points to get a flight to Japan just for signing up! However, like everything there is a little bit of a catch. For one thing, to earn the large surge of points, you usually have to spend a certain amount of money when you get the card for the points to activate. Most of the ones I saw were that you need to spend around $3,000 in three months before the points are activated. If you already spend at least $1,000 a month in rent, groceries, bills, etc. Then it’s no problem. Just shift over your regular expenses to the credit card and you’re good to go. But if you don’t spend that much, it may end up costing you more than if you were to just buy the flight at a discount. The other downside with Frequent Flyer Mile cards is that while you usually can earn lots of points by using the credit card, you often need a TON of miles to get to far off places like Japan. You can usually earn 1 to 2 miles per $1 you spend, but if going to Japan will cost you 50,000 miles, it will take a while to accumulate all of those points. It can also be complicated to use your points correctly if you don’t know what you are doing. But the good news is that there are often special sales and promotions that the airlines will do to encourage you to earn more miles, including by flying! The more “frequently” you fly, the easier it is to accumulate frequent flyer miles. Go figure! This is only a brief introduction to Frequent Flyer miles and if you want more in-depth detail about frequent flyer miles and the credit cards available, I highly recommend checking out http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com/. This guy has practically made a living off of traveling the world and showing people how to use frequent flyer miles and other flying discounts to travel the world.
Hope this was helpful, and best of luck getting to Japan! Are you willing to try out frequent flyer miles or have you already done so? Let us know in the comments below!