It's not crazy to imagine that many (and we mean, many) people would love to take a week off of work, pack a suitcase or a carry-on, get in a cab (or an Uber), jump on a plane, and explore a different country (or even just a different city!). Unfortunately though, traveling is seen as a luxury that requires the average person to save money and plan for at least a few months beforehand. Besides the high airline prices, one must consider the cost of food, accommodations, and attractions (and that's if he/she is not planning on doing any shopping while away). It can all seem pretty overwhelming at first glance and might make any dreams of traveling the world seem completely out of reach. Chin up! Don't lose hope or sell all your belongings just yet, though! Thankfully, there are some ingenious ways to save on flights, which let's face it, make up the bulk of travel expenses. Keep on reading for 20 simple and useful tips that will have you booking your next #vacay and checking off those bucket list items in no time!
20 Delete Cookies
It may surprise you that cookies can affect flight prices (and no, we're not referring to those delicious cookies you can eat). If you're not tech-savvy, then you may be unaware of what cookies do and how to delete them. A cookie is a small file created by the websites you visit. They track your visits to the website and your activity. This may sound scary, but cookies aren't always a bad thing. They allow you to keep track of your login information and store items in your shopping cart for online purchases at a later time.
You can delete your search history and cookies by going into your browser's settings or search history section so that this won't be a problem.
19 Pay In A Foreign Currency
Some carriers offer savings if you book in their native currency. The savings may range from a couple of dollars to about $100. It really depends on the exchange rate between your homeland’s currency and the currency of your destination country. For example, in 2015, a one-way trip from Copenhagen to New York City with Norwegian Airlines cost about 348 USD. But, it could have been purchased in Norwegian currency (Norwegian krone) to save you 80 USD!
So, how do you go about purchasing flights in a different currency? Simply change the website version by selecting the language or country which corresponds to the currency of your choice. Just be sure to confirm with your bank that your credit card doesn't have any foreign transaction fees!
18 Make Use Of Flight Passes
Have you ever been torn on deciding which country to visit in Europe on your next vacation? Or do you want to explore several countries across South America? If your answer to either (or both) of these questions is "yes, absolutely", then flight passes are definately for you.
Flight passes, also known as air passes, allow you to fly to multiple locations in a region at discounted rates. The exact price of the pass is determined by the number of flights, distance, and how long you plan to travel. Flight passes are offered by three major airlines alliances (Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance) and can even be purchased by travelers who live outside the region in question.
17 Book At The Last Minute
You may have heard that you should book flights well in advance if you want to save some money. While booking ahead can save you money, so can waiting to book at the very last minute.
This is because airlines typically cut prices when they can't fill seats for an upcoming flight.
Most airlines have an e-newsletter that you could sign up for, so you'll be among the first to know about last-minute deals. It's best to be flexible–both about your dates and your destination–if you're hoping to use this method. If you’re spontaneous, then this option may be for you. Who knows? You may find yourself on a flight to a paradise you have not previously heard about.
16 Sign Up For Alerts
If there's a hot deal on airline tickets, it's likely to sell out pretty fast. But, you don’t need to sit at your computer all day checking for these sales. Instead, sign up for email alerts directly on airlines' websites (or price comparison websites, such as TripAdvisor) so you'll know about price drops, last-minute deals, and any package deals as soon as they’re posted and available. Also, follow your favorite airlines on Twitter and Facebook, so you'll get the latest information. You can receive alerts straight to your inbox or even to your phone, making it even easier for you to act as quickly as possible.
15 Join The Frequent Flyer Club
Once you sign up for an airline’s reward program, you don’t even need to put in any additional effort to earn cheaper flights. You simply rack up points and miles on your reward card by shopping at the affiliated stores (for example, Amazon) where you'd normally shop anyway. There's no extra cost to signing up for and using these reward programs either.
Typically, you can earn about two to four air miles for every dollar spent.
You can also get a travel rewards credit card, which is like a regular credit card but also includes travel perks. For example, most of these cards have a huge sign-up bonus, which can be redeemed for a free domestic flight! Some also include free checked baggage and priority boarding.
14 Search In Incognito Or Private Browsing Mode
Remember those cookies we mentioned earlier? It can be a pain to constantly delete them when you’re planning for your vacation. Thankfully, incognito mode was invented. This awesome privacy feature allows you to browse the internet (which includes shopping around for flights) without cookies tracking your activities. This means that you can prevent those unwanted price hikes.
So, how do you turn on incognito mode? If you’re using Window, Linux, or Chrome, simply press the CTRL, Shift, and ‘n’ buttons at the same time. If you’re on Mac, go to the Safari menu and select 'private browsing'.
13 Book Your Flight On Low-Demand Days
We are all aware that it's cheaper to fly off-season (i.e. not during spring, summer, or winter holiday breaks). But, did you know that certain days of the week are also cheaper to travel on than others? It's all dependent on demand by travelers.
Fridays and Sundays are the most popular days to travel,
so plane tickets on these days are often pricey. But surprisingly, there isn't high demand for the other days of the week. Since airlines can't really afford to have empty seats, they choose to lower their prices for these specific days. The best day to book your flight for is one that’s in the middle of the week.
12 Fly When No One Else Wants To
Not only is the day of the week important for ticket pricing, but so is the time of the day! Booking flights is beginning to look more and more like a science or a mathematic equation, isn't it? Although there is no foolproof way of predicting exactly which day and time will be the cheapest, there are ways of making good guesses, based on trends and your knowledge of human nature. Most people do not enjoy flying overnight, at dawn, or during meal times. So, these times aren't in high demand. But, if you're willing to brave out these less-than-ideal times, then you can certainly enjoy some pretty nice savings.
11 Use Websites That Compare Prices
You may have a favorite airline, but that airline may not always be the wisest choice every single time you want to book a flight. Just as you do with regular products in stores, you should shop around for the very best price. But, make it easy on yourself by having a website do all the work for you! There are many websites that will compare airline prices across the internet, and it only takes a couple of minutes.
All you have to do is fill in your destination and preferred departure dates
(obviously, the more flexible you are with your dates, the better). Some of the most recommended sites are Kayak, TripAdvisor, and SkyScanner.
10 Use Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are exactly what they sound like: airlines for people on a budget! So, what’s the catch? Well, you’ll have to give up the leg room, free food and drinks, seat preferences, in-flight entertainment, comfy pillows, and all the other perks included when you book with typical full-service airlines. It’s probably worth it, though! You can potentially save hundreds of dollars, which can then go towards making amazing memories during your highly anticipated vacation.
Be careful to read the fine print when booking with budget airlines, as they may have extra baggage fees or require you to print your own tickets.
9 Check Prices Regularly
Have you ever bought something at regular price, only to see it go on sale a few days or weeks later? Even if the item isn't too costly, it's still really frustrating when this happens, isn't it? Now imagine dropping a huge chunk of money on a plane ticket and seeing the price plummet the very next day. It's a pretty scary thought! Thankfully, most airlines do refund you in full within 24 hours. So,
if you find a better deal or see the price drop, give them a call and rebook or cancel.
According to Hopper, prices do drop within 24 hours 68% of the time, so it's certainly worth checking them even after you've booked your flight.
8 Search For Airline Price Errors
At some point in your life, you’ve probably purchased a product that was missing parts or may have been to a restaurant where the waiter mixed up your order. Most likely, you were refunded or given some sort of compensation. It’s just good customer service for a company to make up for their error—and airline companies are no exception.
So, for what kind of errors should you be keeping an eye out? Pricing errors, of course! Sometimes, airlines will forget a few zeros or mix up the numbers on their price tag. There can also be currency conversion errors. You can try to spot these errors on your own or use Secret Flying, a website which finds erroneous fares.
7 Don't Let Your Baggage Weigh You Down
Baggage fees are yet another cost to flying. Instead of paying to bring extra baggage with you, why not wear your extra items? There are plenty of affordable, practical, and stylish wearable luggage options out there. You can wear a jacket or cargo pants with multiple large pockets, in which your basic items (such as your phone, passport, book, camera, etc.) can fit.
It's also a very good idea to weigh your luggage before you leave home and head for the airport.
That way, you can take out any unnecessary items (or reorganize them) and avoid getting hit with any surprise fees at the airport.
6 Use A Travel Agent
You're probably sitting there and wondering why you should use a travel agent when you've got the internet to answer all your questions. The obvious answer is that travel agents do all the work for you. Not only do they save you time and energy, but
travel agents also have access to exclusive deals, and they may have insider information about less popular locations too.
On top of that, they may even be able to find you hotel and flight packages, saving you even more time and money for your trip. One finding reports that having a travel agent can save you up to $1,000 on airfare alone. So, using this old-school method is worth a shot!
5 Check Alternate Airports
Many cities have a large well-known airport and one or more smaller ones as well. These smaller, lesser-known airports are called alternate airports, and they can save you a lot of money. That's because they have lower landing fees, which allows the airline to then offer us all a better price. One example of an alternate airport is John C. Munroe Hamilton International Airport (instead of Toronto’s busy Pearson International Airport).
Savings aren't the only benefit of an alternate airport, though. These airports are also easier to navigate, may have better departure times, and have shorter lines (who can turn that down?).
4 Fly Indirect
Straight flights are super convenient because you don't have to wait around at the airport or worry about your luggage getting lost, but that convenience comes with a hefty price tag. This is why you should consider flying indirect (i.e. stopping over in a location that's en route to your destination and switching planes).
Indirect flights can save you a lot, especially if the flight distance is medium or long.
Another advantage of indirect flights is that you may have the opportunity to see another location (you might even have some time to explore the destination if your layover is a few hours long). Even if your stopover is a few hours, you can still grab a bite to eat or visit a museum.
3 47 Is The Magic Number
Clearly, there are lots of different ideas about the best time to purchase plane tickets. Sure, last-minute deals are a good bet, but only if you don't have a solid destination and itinerary in mind. If you do have your location picked out and your time-off work already scheduled, it's probably best to book your flight early to secure a seat.
So, how soon should you purchase your tickets? According to a study conducted by CheapAir in 2014, fares were lowest 47 days before the departure date. This makes sense, based on typical ticket price patterns. Airline prices are very high when a flight first opens, but eventually decrease in an effort to fill seats.
2 Mix And Match Airlines
This tip applies to the indirect flights we previously mentioned but also for direct flights. Gone are the days when round-trip tickets were always cheaper than one-way tickets. Now, you can purchase one-way tickets with different airlines for each leg of your trip or even fly to or from different airports to save some money.
Comparison websites such as Skyscanner and Expedia will do the mixing and matching for you.
Sometimes, you do need to indicate that you are flexible with your departure and arrival dates and times. It's always worth checking out each airline's website because these websites don't always show you every possible combination.
1 Buy As If You're Going Solo
If you're purchasing plane tickets for a family trip, it might seem smart and convenient to simply book seats for all the members of your family under one reservation. But, this can actually be costing you more than you might realize. That's because the reservation systems on airline websites sell tickets to all the individuals under a single reservation at the same exact price, even if there are cheaper seats available. This means that the entire family is paying the higher ticket price. So, it's best to shop one flier at a time to get as many low-cost tickets as possible.