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How to Take Off Without Breaking the Bank

Value Flight Offerings on the Rise

For travelers jet-setting all over the world, finding airfare at the right price may be the most stressful part of the vacation.

The rise of cheap, no-frills nationwide airline options have provided more than affordable flights — they’ve offered stiff competition to the major airlines. This may partially explain why industry giants like American, Delta and United have begun offering lower rates — with restrictions.

It’s common for companies to offer very few seats at the lowest fares, so they go quick. Those seats also may come with no frills, mirroring the limited luxuries that are available through small regional competitors such as Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier. For example, additional charges for luggage and fees for in-flight snacks and beverages.

A recent airfare analysis revealed basic economy rates from these major airlines run between $30 and $62 below the standard economy ticket on the same airline. However, they are still higher than fares offered by some ultra-low-cost carriers, by as much as $65 to $122 per ticket. Note, too, that larger airlines tend to offer low fares only on select routes and airports, although they are starting to expand to more flights nationwide. They also come with more restrictions than we’re used to from the larger carriers, such as the inability to change or cancel tickets, choose your seats or even store your luggage in the overhead bins. Basic economy fares tend to be the last to board and the last to deplane.

However, if you’re on a budget, it may be worth pursuing these lower fares since larger airlines do offer more flight times, locations, larger aircrafts and tend to be more reliable.

When researching airfares for your next trip, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you’re a longtime traveler of a specific airline and a member of its loyalty program, such as an American Airlines AAdvantage member, you may be exempt from certain restrictions imposed by your booking. You may be able to board earlier, for example.
  • Also consider you may have overriding perks offered by a travel credit card, such as the option to check a bag for free and receive priority boarding.
  • When shopping for basic economy rates, check out the specific airline’s website for booking, as it will provide more accurate information about rates and their limitations. Third-party travel sites may be long on promotional information and short on pertinent details. Be sure to read all the information in the ticket description before making a purchase.
  • Airfares change all the time. If you find an affordable rate, it might be better to book it rather than continue shopping. The next time you go back to that site, the fare may have increased.
  • Delta’s basic economy tickets were priced lowest eight weeks in advance of departure, and United’s best fares were two weeks in advance. American fares have been known to drop both eight weeks and two weeks out, but fares increased during the intervening weeks.

How to Take Off Without Boarding a Plane

Travel can be good for the soul, especially when daily life causes stress and sadness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that use of antidepressants has increased by almost 400 percent over the past 20 years, with anxiety at an all-time high. For those who feel overwhelmed and in need of a break, packing up and going somewhere can help lift us out of present circumstances.

However, not everyone has the money, time and good health for a vacation. Those who can’t afford a getaway trip still need a way to find an occasional escape. It turns out walks in nature can provide a similarly soothing effect.

According to scientists, the impact nature has on our psyche is biological. A walk through the forest can decrease cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and neural activity in the part of the brain associated with anxiety and depression. Fresh air also helps us improve thinking tasks.

Despite studies showing people feel significantly happier when they are outdoors, we spend less than 5 percent of our waking hours in nature on average. But even those cooped up inside can experience some positive effects of the great outdoors. A study by the University of Michigan discovered that simply looking at pictures of nature can help overstimulated brains chill out.

The following are a few tips to help enhance your travels through nature:

  • Change your computer screensaver to images of nature.
  • Make a nature walk part of your daily or weekly routine.
  • Plan vacations to incorporate beautiful landscape vistas.
  • Put your cellphone on mute and keep it buried in your pocket when enjoying the outdoors.
  • If you’re considering a relocation or second home, look for areas with convenient proximity to nature where you can spend time benefitting from its biological advantages.

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Danielle Christensen


Danielle is dedicated to serving clients to achieve their retirement goals. As a Paraplanner, Danielle helps the advisors with the administrative side of preparing and documenting meetings. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, with a degree in Business Administration and began working with Secured Retirement in May of 2023.

Danielle is a lifelong Minnesotan and currently resides in Farmington with her boyfriend and their senior rescue pittie/American Bulldog mix, Tukka.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys attending concerts and traveling. She is also an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild and loves to be at as many games as possible during the season!