The 8 Best Travel Hacks to Book Cheap Flights
Booking a trip is exciting – you’re off to a new destination! However, flight costs can quickly ruin that enthusiasm. So, be sure to take the time to find the cheapest airfare possible. Although there is no ideal time to buy, the best window is between three months and 30 days before your trip. Once you’re ready to start looking at the options, use these tips to save the most money and have more to spend on the rest of your adventure!
The best way to spend less on flights is to be flexible with your travel plans! Because prices depend on so many variables, changing things up slightly can have a significant impact on your total cost. Most websites make it easy to search within a date range, so don’t skip this step. You also need to be flexible about where you travel. Larger cities often have several airports within an hour or two of the city center, and a less popular location might end up being much cheaper. For example, try Burbank instead of LAX or Baltimore instead of Washington, DC.
It’s certainly easier to book your fare directly from the city of departure to the destination, but you’ll likely save money if you book each leg of the trip separately, taking into account the different airlines along the way. If you’re flying a long distance, it’s often cheaper to add a stop in the middle of a major air hub and book the second journey from there. For example, book from Boise to Boston on Airline A, then book separately from Boston to London on Airline B rather than searching for “Boise to London” all at once. Make sure you leave plenty of time between flights and double check these dates!
As long as you keep track of hidden fees, budget airlines are a great way to travel cheaply. Many low-cost airlines fly short and medium-haul trips, so you can bundle multiple flights together to complete your itinerary, if necessary. Be sure to add up all the costs you’ll incur for seat selection, baggage, and meals before deciding if this option really offers savings. For a list of low cost airlines worldwide, Check here.
Scouring the web for flight deals can be a full-time job, so let the airlines do some of the work for you! Sign up for airline newsletters and price alert websites to be notified when special offers go on sale. Most only last 24-48 hours, so be prepared to book if you see a good price. Almost all airlines offer a free cancellation or 24-hour credit option, so you won’t be stuck if you make a mistake.
Photo: ugurhan via gettyimages.com
If you travel frequently, take advantage of the travel reward programs offered by various airlines and credit cards. You can often receive large sign-up bonuses that pay for one or two flights. Other perks include free checked bags, drink tickets, and entry to airport lounges. Just be sure to choose options that don’t incur too many annual fees or have unrealistic minimum balance requirements.
Even if you are traveling in a group, buy each person’s ticket individually at the best price. Airlines sell different tickets at different prices, and they will bump everything up to the highest price if you buy as a group. For example, if tickets A and B cost $200 each, ticket C $300, and ticket D $400, the airline will sell the group of four at $400 each ($1,600) instead of $1,100s are purchased separately.
Although there is no magic time to buy tickets, the best time to travel is on weekdays and off season. Flying on Friday, Sunday and Monday is the most expensive, while flying on a holiday is often the cheapest (no one wants to fly on Christmas Day). Flights early in the morning, late in the evening and with several stopovers are also cheaper, so do not hesitate with these options.
If you’re not tied to a specific airline, date, or airport, using a search engine or an app designed to maximize your savings can make the process much easier. Most of the tips above are simple options with the most popular search sites. Skyscanner is the best overall tool, with Momondo, Google Flightsand Kayak comes second. Experiment with each tool before you need to book travel so you know how to use filters and make purchases.
With a little patience and lots of internet research, you can find cheap flights to almost any destination!