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search engines for airline tickets

This past year, I have had success using Hipmunk to buy tickets to France for two separate trips, and am now thinking of planning another trip. I was wondering if anyone could suggest an additional search engine, or some tips on finding cheap airfare. I'm not sure where I want to go yet, just looking around and considering possibilities, when and if the airline tickets are low enough. My husband and I flew from Boston to Paris ( and home) for $700 (Aer Lingus) each a few weeks ago, and in May flew to Marseilles ( Air France) for just under $800. I'm looking to beat or at least match those prices for the next jaunt. Also, has anyone of an advanced age stayed in hostels?
Thanks for the help.

Posted by
2876 posts

For flights to Europe, try Kayak or Priceline. For flights within Europe, try Skyscanner.

Posted by
11294 posts

In addition to Tom's sites (which I use), you can try: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ for general flights http://www.whichbudget.com for budget flights within Europe http://www.bulucak.com/ for flights within Turkey (I know you didn't ask about this, but someone else may benefit) As for hostels, my sister uses them (she's not of "advanced" age, but is over 40). She tells me they vary tremendously, as much as hotels or B&B's do. She uses http://www.hostelbookers.com/ and http://www.hostelworld.com, not only to find hostels in the first place, but to read the reviews and ratings. These sites also list some inexpensive hotels (we found a great place in St. Petersburg, Russia this way). If you are not limited to hostels but do want inexpensive accomodations, look at http://www.eurocheapo.com/ under "Cities" to see their recommendations, which I find very helpful (particularly their neighborhood descriptions).

Posted by
4064 posts

You are lucky to have found those bargain prices as the trend trans-Atlantic for the last few years has been up-up-up. Did you buy through Hipmunk or directly from the airlines? In June through mid-September anything under $1,000 was a real deal this this year.

Posted by
32263 posts

Nancy, I'm not sure what you'd consider "advanced age", but I'm 60+ and stay in Hostels on occasion (which I did again on my trip in September). I normally use HI Hostels when possible, as they're a chain and the facilities are fairly consistent from one property to another. An HI membership provides slightly cheaper rates and preferred booking. They're not "party Hostels" but at times they host school groups so can be somewhat "lively". I stay at independent Hostels also. Regarding search engines, I use Hipmumk and a variety of other sources, including Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, etc. However, I check these against the airlines websites and also check with my Travel Agent. Happy travels!

Posted by
8700 posts

My wife and I are both 60+ and we like to stay in hostels. For unbiased reviews of hostels I recommend hostelz.com.

Posted by
179 posts

I buy directly from the airline; I have read they always have the best price, and in my experience it has been true. I am seeing very high prices now. Thanks for all the helpful info about the hostels.

Posted by
2829 posts

Nancy, I personally think people older than 30-35 don't belong in hostels, at least on shared room in hostels. I'm almost there (still younger than 35), and I remember from my trips 10 years ago or so how awkward was to share the room sometimes with older people. Mind you, I have absolutely nothing against older people, we're all getting there sooner or later. People 60+ should really enjoy travelling and new experiences. However, staying in a communal room with strangers is just one of those things that I don't think belong to people past college years. Just my two cents...

Posted by
2396 posts

Andre, where do those of us who are beyond college years belong? You don't have anything against anyone who is beyond college years but we have our place and it doesn't belong in a hostel. Shame on you!

Posted by
11507 posts

Andre, that was a surprisingly immature thing to post.

Posted by
9110 posts

Interesting as all get out. Heb Hostel, Stornoway, one-week stay, three weeks ago: Except for one jacksass that should have been sent to the Ornery Farm, I was probably the oldest person. When the other folks wanted to know why I looked like a mudball at the end of the first day . . . we had a car full of mudballs at the end of the second day. I never had to eat alone because the supper crowd wanted to know what the deal was for the next day. A gal a third my age and I had the luxury of having eight-bed dorm to ourselves. Other than co-ordinating her inordinate time in the shower, we had no problems. She was financially constrained, I'm not, just cheap. She needed to get to Edinburgh next and was going to ride with me me, although it would have been a day early for her. She'd gone out with her own kind the night before my departure, came in at three, shook me awake and said she wan't going to leave because the partying was pretty good. Two hours later as I was gathering my junk in the dark, she tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around she hugged me and trundleed back to bed. Just off the top of my head, I'd say the whole mob of us got along just fine. Plus, I learned a hell of a lot. Langham Hotel, London, two-week stay a week ago: (Bear in mind that I'm not financially constrained, just cheap). People of all ages with their noses and butts in the air that don't know squat about anything but themselves. Nobody talks to anybody, some people talk at others. I didn't learn anything. Pick one. And why does anybody try to dictate where others should stay? And if you haven't stayed in rural hostels, shame on you.

Posted by
32263 posts

@Andre L, That's a rather narrow minded point-of-view. "People 60+ should really enjoy travelling and new experiences." Perhaps staying in a Dorm room in a Hostel IS a new experience for some travellers. One point you haven't addressed is the fact that some 60+ travellers may be on a Pension, and therefore be looking for the lowest cost accommodations they can find. In many cases, a Dorm room is the cheapest option. For short stays in cities like Rome, spending €35 a night is much preferred to spending €125+. In my experience, the people I've encountered in Dorm rooms haven't had a problem with my age. Everybody got along fine. In one case (in England), one of the group was 70+. Most people are only in the room to sleep and shower, so age isn't a huge concern. Those with a "significant other" can opt for a double room in a Hostel, and thus avoid the issues of a Dorm room. Cheers!

Posted by
2531 posts

"If you're alive, you're young enough to hostel anywhere in Europe (with the rare exception of some independent hostels that have age cutoffs of around 40). The average hosteler is 18–26, but every year there are more seniors and families hosteling. As a reader wrote on my website: "My partner and I stayed in a 'youth' hostel for the first time by Lake Como and thought we'd be the oldest people there. Not so! At our table was a 60-ish couple from Sydney and a 79-year-old British woman who was backpacking alone through Europe. All three were a delight, but especially the backpacker, who said she stays in hostels for the evening company." Per Rick "Sleep Cheap" topic.

Posted by
5685 posts

Nancy, I stayed in plenty of hostels in my 20s and 30s and often there were others in the dorm who were of retirement age. I never found it awkward and I'm not sure why a young person would find it awkward. Most of the people whom I met in hostels were other travelers on a budget who were open-minded about sharing accommodations with people of diverse backgrounds and ages. While my budget no longer requires that I stay in hostels, I wouldn't hesitate to stay in one at any age.

Posted by
11613 posts

My experience from talking to people who stay in hostels is that there are often double private rooms available, slightly more expensive than dorm beds, but nice for pricacy - for travelers of any age.

Posted by
2207 posts

One of our "best finds" was a hostel in Madrid years ago, just up the street from the Prado. We paid perhaps €52 per night and had a private room, ensuite bathroom... and a great stay. Yes, down the hall were the "dorm" rooms but other than some "arrival" noise and passing folks in the lobby... we never knew they were there. We're in our 50's and that was the first of many "hostel" stays. We are selective, but we've stayed in other hostels in locations as varied as Belgrade to Barcelona. Hostels today as far different than 20+ years ago. Our Belgrade hostel had a spa and a sauna. There, we had a private room and ensuite bathroom for less than €44/night. If you're selective, you can find some great - and private/comfortable - rooms. On the other hand, I've stayed in a few pensione rooms that made me wish I was in a hostel!

Posted by
179 posts

Wow! This is a great forum. Thanks for your responses; I would love to hear more. Andre: I would be interested to know why you felt uncomfortable. Were you concerned that you would need to be more quiet or accommodating because of the older people? Did they do anything that made you uncomfortable? Did they try to engage you in conversation? Did they tell you to be quiet? Were they rude? Did they pointedly ignore you? Or did it simply seem strange that they were there? I can understand how my old lady presence may make a young person uncomfortable or self-conscious, and if I choose to stay in a hostel, I would like to avoid that, if I could. Was there anything that might have helped change your view?
Perhaps when you are older,though, you may remember those old people still alive enough to experience travel and it may help you to see that you will also be capable of the same. Being old is not so bad. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

Posted by
33296 posts

Interesting insight into your character, Andre. To your strong dislike of public transport we can add being uncomfortable in the same room with people older than you. I wonder, Andre, how you would feel around 15 year olds who are less than half your age? As just asked above, what is it about people older than you that you don't like?

Posted by
146 posts

Hi Nancy, We use momondo.com and whichbudget.com for cheap flights here in europe.
Momondo is great because the bar graph will show cheaper flights a couple weeks either way. You just move it to the lowest prices and click. Works great for hotels too. And I think Andre is just messing with us, to get a rise. Just my two cents....

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi, I remember clearly in my early twenties when staying exclusively in HI hostels in W. Germany sometimes an older guy (at least in his late fifties) stayed in the same non-coed dorm room as we college age kids did. This was usually in the big cities. Usually they were German, most of the time the same with the kids. Now forty years later I'm that guy in the dorm room. You have a choice now of staying in HI hostels or the independent ones, which may be "party hostels." I prefer the independent hostels when I do stay at one. No school groups there. Of the most recent trips since 2009, I stayed a couple nights at HI hostels and several nights at an independent hostel. As for getting along there was only one night in an independent hostel in Munich where I sensed the five other coed roommates would have prefered that I was not there. Too bad for them since I was staying one night anyway. Check out the hostels; if they meet your criteria, (for me it's location and security), think about staying there.

Posted by
179 posts

What is the difference between an independent and a HI hostel? How can you tell before arrival if it's a party place?

Posted by
5685 posts

"HI" hostels are part of Hostelling International (it used to be called IYHF - International Youth Hostel Federation). HI imposes certain standards that their member hostels must follow. You can find the list of member hostels on their website (www.hihostels.com). I've primarily stayed in HI Hostels; whether you run into school groups depends on the time of year and the country. The best way to learn about a hostel is to read the reviews at one of the previously mentioned sites.

Posted by
179 posts

Thanks to everyone for all the helpful info. I have found that by watching prices the beginning of the week - Sun. to Wed. am - I find the lowest prices. I also found I have to pounce on it. I could have saved over $100 if I had done that on the $800 ticket. I hesitated and paid for it. I also found it true on train tickets in France; I mean pouncing on a low price that would suddenly disappear.

Posted by
179 posts

I spoke to my son who has a lot of hostel experience (young 20's) about "old" people like myself in hostels. He never met anyone over 30. He did tell me I might have a problem if, when someone lit a cigarette, I waved my hands around ( to disperse the smoke). He told me I am too intolerant!
I'm sure hostels must be non smoking, right? I would hate sleeping near someone who might burn the place down! Maybe Andre L. ran into someone like me! Is there an etiquette here I don't know about? Whatever it might be, I would be sure to ignore it!