I like to save money. Truth.
I have a list of all the places in the world I want to visit. Truth
I would live in a small, inexpensive(r) house forever if it meant I could travel. Truth.
I would gladly sell all my belongings, homeschool my kids and explore the world if my husband would agree. Truth.
With this in mind, I’ve put together some simple tips and tricks to help you find the cheapest flights around!
For us, world travel isn’t an option (yet/currently); however, we like to sneak away whenever we can and I pride myself on being able to find the BEST deals on travel. We’ve worked to gather up some amazing tips on finding the cheapest flights, so your travel dreams can come true too! Obviously, there isn’t a “fits all” to traveling as each of us have different family, job and budget situations, but hopefully you can apply a few of these to your life!
We’d love if you have any ideas or tips to chime in below on the comments! Tell us how you travel!
1. Create a travel goal and write it down. Listen, there’s a lot to be said about setting goals and envisioning those goals. Maybe traveling to a far off land isn’t something that is in your budget or capabilities at this moment, or maybe it IS totally feasible for you. Either way, dream a little.
You want to take your whole family to Disney World? You want to take a romantic Italian vacation with your hubby for your 15 year anniversary? WRITE IT DOWN! Plan it! Figure out how much it will cost (ballpark) and start saving $1 by $1 if you have to! There’s just something to be said about really working and saving for something that makes it that much sweeter. I have a friend who has her kids work to earn a certain amount for every family vacation. It’s an interesting idea for everyone to take ownership of their family trip! (My current travel goal is Asia. I’d love to go to Thailand. What’s on your bucket list!? Comment in the comment section below and tell me!)
2. Time it Right. Did you know, according to CheapAir.com in THIS STUDY, the ideal time to book a domestic flight is 54 days in advance? Interesting, right? Generally, this is when the prices are the cheapest! Some people think they can get the best deals last minute, but this is NOT the case with flights. You wait. You pay. So yes, planning ahead is essential. On the other hand, being TOO early (flights can usually be booked 11 months in advance) can be negative, too. It’s like the first day of a yard sale. Airlines aren’t going to give it away for cheap if they know there are many more days to sell.
If you’re looking to fly international, the best time to buy flights (generally) can be found in the chart below. You can read more HERE.
3. Go in the off seasons. If you have any amount of flexibility in your schedule, consider going at “low season”. I know many of us are limited to certain travel times like summer and Christmas break, but realize you’re going to be paying more for these peak seasons.
For example, our family wanted to do Disney World. Due to the nature of my husband’s business, we can really only travel in July or January. Our kids were young, so missing school wasn’t a huge deal and when we saw the price difference in flights (and hotels!) we immediately decided January. We paid around $200 per person for a flight from Salt Lake City to Orlando!! This July, these flights were closer to $400! Double!
I really like THIS app called HOPPER for some ideas of the “best” times to go. It gives you ideas of the best times to go to the best places at the best prices.
Paris in the Fall? Tres Magnifque!
Also, consider flying on the “non-busier” days. Generally, these are TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS and SATURDAYS. Fridays and Sundays are especially busy as people often are off from work and have to get back to work after the weekend.
4. Be Flexible (if you can) Along with being flexible with your dates, consider being flexible with your location too! Look around. Consider locations you hadn’t before!
5. Shop around. Goodness gracious there are a LOT of different “cheap” travel sites. So many, it can sometimes get overwhelming. It’s worth it to check each site AND the airline’s site directly. Some of these search engines don’t list some airlines prices (ie. Southwest and Frontier, Jet Blue) on there and often, these can be cheaper.
Here are my 5 favorites:
CheapAir.com (If a ticket price goes down after you book, they’ll credit you up to $100.)
Bookingbuddy.com – They sometimes have good last minute deals (good, being relative. It’s best to buy in advance obviously)
We have also had some luck occasionally, calling the airline to book directly. Sometimes, they’re able to put together a flight that can save you even more than those listed on the website.
6. Follow Travel Agencies/Sites Why do all the work when others can do it for you? Travel agencies are making a comeback. Follow popular travel agencies and sites via newsletter or even Facebook page. When a really good deal pops up, look into it. Often you can find the flights for the trips they’re advertising and then customize the trip to fit your specific needs. Or even consider booking directly through these agencies. Often, they are able to find the best deals since they know all the tricks. You don’t have to pay them – they make a cut from the airlines and hotels etc.
Another good site is SECRET FLYING. I’m addicted to this site. They seriously find the BEST deals. The unwritten, hidden, even mismarked flights that you can get for cheap cheap. The only downside to this site is often, the flights are very specific. I live in Boise, Idaho, so not many flights are coming out of Boise. That being said, sometimes the deals are so good, it’s worth booking and then later finding a flight from your hometown to that departure airport.
Another idea is to look at Groupon Getaways. These are travel deals bought in bulk and can save you lots. The only downside is that often, they are departing from specific airports which may or may not be near you.
7. Split your ticket. Occasionally, you can save money buying two one ways instead of a roundtrip. This just takes some investigation on your part.
8. Fly into smaller or less busy airports. Everyone is flying into those big airports and towns. Check and see if flying into a smaller, nearby airport isn’t cheaper. For examples, when we went to Washington D.C, we actually flew into Baltimore. This saved us over $300 – even WITH the shuttle into D.C. included.
9. Consider a Travel Rewards Credit Card. Now, I won’t tell you to go into debt for travel. Dave Ramsey would disown me; BUT, if you have a credit card you pay off monthly, consider getting one with good travel benefits. A quick note: some credit cards DO have annual fees, so do your research. These can be great if you’re planning a trip because you can put big purchases on the card and qualify for free flights.
10. Consider other modes of transportation. Now that we have talked about a lot of trips to save money on flights, let’s face the facts. Flyin’ ain’t cheap. Consider other modes of transportation. When I was in Europe, I traveled by train quite a bit. This was a lot cheaper than flights and I got to take in the scenery as I went. Obviously, options vary dependent on your location, but it’s worth considering.
11. Don’t forget to factor in the “extras”. A lot of airlines are now charging LOTS of fees. Even if a flight looks dirt cheap, be sure to check how much baggage costs etc. These fees can add up, making it a pricier than it looks.
I hope this helps you explore your options while booking flights and hopefully, saves you a little cash. You know, so you can spend it on souveniors instead.
I’d LOVE it if you had any other tips to saving money on flights. Do you have any tricks you have found? Fill us in!