Photos courtesy of Jared Kamrowski
Hello, Fargo INC! readers! My name is Jared Kamrowski, and I’m the founder of a website called Thrifty Traveler. Thrifty Traveler helps people travel by taking advantage of flight deals and credit card reward programs. With my extensive experience traveling — specifically, my experience traveling out of Fargo — I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Meet Jared Kamrowski
A born-and-raised Fargoan, Jared Kamrowski worked as a CPA with the FDIC before founding Thrifty Traveler. In fact, it’s his time with the FDIC that lit the initial spark for his company. Traveling for work for weeks on end allowed Kamrowski to accumulate a significant amount of credit card rewards points, allowing him and his future wife to vacation all over the world despite a modest income.
What initially started as a blog to help other people — including friends and family who were curious how the couple could afford their seemingly lavish lifestyle — take advantage of these rewards programs has now turned into a website and full-time career.
1. Google Flights > Expedia/Priceline
Google Flights is the only search tool you should be using to book your next flight. It’s more powerful than Expedia or Priceline, and Google Flights allows you to book directly through the airline. You can search up to five departure cities and five destinations at once, all while quickly breezing through the calendar feature to see daily prices for the next 11 months.
One unique feature is the ability to set up Google Flights price alerts within each search. When prices drop, you’ll receive an email immediately alerting you to the change. While being flexible on travel dates will save you the most money — by traveling on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday — many times, you don’t have the ability to be flexible with your travel. Using Google Flights price alerts will help you monitor fares before purchasing.
I always recommend booking out as far as possible and avoiding purchasing flights within 30-45 days of departure, which is when prices typically double in price. Another time to avoid flying is during peak summer in June and July, as well as during the winter holidays.
2. There are secret deals, but you have to know where to look.
As I’m sure you’re well aware, flights from Fargo generally don’t come cheap. The primary reason is a lack of competition. International flights can often exceed $1,500 to destinations in Europe or Asia. The good news, though, is that airlines frequently have secret, unadvertised sales. These unpublished sale fares are typically as low as $450 from Fargo to European destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris or Rome. At Thrifty Traveler, we find flash sales like these from the FM area every 30-60 days.
“The sales typically only last an hour or two, so it’s important to book now and ask questions later.”
Websites like ours constantly track these flash sales, and we immediately alert subscribers when they pop up. Earlier this year, we posted fares from Fargo to Amsterdam for $468 round-trip and Fargo to Rome for $485 round-trip! The sales typically only last an hour or two, so it’s important to always book first and ask questions later. The U.S Department of Transportation allows you to cancel any flight within 24 hours if purchased directly through the airline, and this makes it easy to commit to a flight deal and then figure out if it will fit into your schedule.
I know everyone in Fargo wants to fly from Hector International Airport, but many times, fares are much lower out of Minneapolis. At Thrifty Traveler, we feature daily domestic deals out of Minneapolis for $200 and international fares for less than $600.
3. Drive a little. Save a lot.
Typical fares from Fargo to Denver average $437 if you fly United round-trip. To save, snag a flight non-stop on United from Jamestown to Denver for only $225 round-trip every day of the year, including peak summer and holiday seasons.
You can thank the Essential Air Service government program for those cheap, subsidized fares. Uncle Sam picks up the tab for part of the fare to ensure air service to small rural communities that normally wouldn’t have affordable daily flights. The Essential Air Service provides subsidized fares to nearly 160 communities nationwide. Similar subsidized service is available on Boutique Air from Thief River Falls to Minneapolis for $146 round-trip, as well as United service from Devils Lake to Denver for only $265 round-trip. Making a short drive to one of these nearby communities is an easy way to save on your next trip to Denver or Minneapolis.
4. Look into co-branded credit cards.
Using points and miles earned from travel rewards credit cards is the cheapest way to fly out of Fargo. With the most routes out of Fargo flying Delta, I recommend picking up one of the Delta American Express co-branded credit cards. There are seven different personal and business Delta credit cards, and you can earn the sign-up bonus on each one, once per lifetime. With the average sign-up bonus being 60,000-70,000 Delta SkyMiles, it can be easy to rack up thousands of points in a short period of time.
One of the unique uses of Delta SkyMiles is the “Pay with Miles” program that allows you to use SkyMiles (at $0.01 per point) to purchase actual cash fares. The only catch is that you must hold a co-branded American Express Delta credit card to take advantage of the “Pay with Miles” program.
When Thrifty Traveler finds a cheap flight deal, you can save more with “Pay with Miles” than if you redeemed SkyMiles for a regular award ticket. Let’s say a flash sale pops up for flights from Fargo to Zurich on Delta for $450 round-trip; you could use 45,000 SkyMiles to pay for the trip instead of cash, and you still earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) toward Delta status. This kind of approach is key to being a “Thrifty Traveler.”
5. If you travel a lot, check out Thrifty Traveler Premium.
I realize you don’t have the time to be constantly searching for cheap fares, so if you are a frequent international traveler, the best way to find cheap fares out of Fargo or Minneapolis is with our Thrifty Traveler Premium service. For only $30 per year, we search 24/7 for the best international flight deals and immediately send them straight to your inbox. Being the first to know about these time-sensitive flight deals is essential to booking the cheapest flight possible.
Premium emails are tailored to your location, which will only provide flight deals relevant to you. You’ll no longer have to sift through all the deals we put out in a day, and you’ll never have to worry about missing another incredible deal. The other difference will be that instead of only departing from one major U.S. city, many of the deals will be from 50-plus cities across the country. Even smaller regional airports such as Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck are covered. Our deals save our subscribers an average of $250 or more off normal-priced international fares.
How to Take Advantage of Thrifty Traveler
- Sign up for their free daily newsletter, which has a more comprehensive list of both domestic and international flight deals.
- Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive updates and announcements.
- Follow them on Instagram, which alerts you to the daily Minneapolis flight deals.