Save money on flights

 

Helicopter ride above Great Ocean Road Victoria, Australia

Helicopter ride above Great Ocean Road Victoria, Australia

We’re heading into peak travel time. If you are searching last-minute to find somewhere to go, or are looking to plan your next trip for the summer, I’ve found many ways to find cheap flights. You have to be willing to put in some effort but in the end, you should be able to travel to a destination of your choice without breaking the bank. One way is to do it is to be flexible about where you want to go. You can pick up some great deals if you don’t lock onto one location.

Here are some other ways you can save money on your flights.

If you’re going last minute

Two weeks is the sweet spot: When not fully booked, airlines, hotels, and cruise ships often offer huge discounts two weeks before the travel date.

Be ready to adapt your travel date

grand_canyon

Helicopter ride over Grand Canyon

Ticket prices for flights change based on the day of the week, time of year, and holidays or events. Some peak travel times in North America are summer, winter, March break or any time that kids are out of school.

If you’re going at the same time as everyone else, then you’ll pay higher prices. Try to be flexible with your dates. If you have to visit the Caribbean, don’t go in the winter, try the spring when fewer people visit.

It’s cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend and also late at night. Because most people travel on weekends and during the day, airlines raise their prices.

These differences can mean hundreds of dollars in savings.

Search multiple sites

Check a few sites before you book, because prices vary on different sites. Also, sites don’t include every airline. Major sites like Expedia don’t include most budget airlines. International sites such as Skyscanner show foreign airlines that you won’t find on North American sites.

Some of the search engines I’ve found that are a treasure trove for deals:

Fly with budget airlines

Malta helicopter ride

Helicopter ride in Malta

Budget airlines make it possible to go around the world for a good price.  In North America, there aren’t a lot of budget airlines, but in Asia and Europe, prices are lower because of competition.

You won’t get many perks on budget airlines, but you can save a lot of money.

Important: Watch out for additional fees. You will be charged for carry-ons, checked bags, printing a boarding pass, using a credit card and other things. Compare the price of a ticket at a major airline with the total cost of the ticket and fees at a budget airline.

I often fly budget airlines for flights under six hours. Check your destination airport’s website to see which budget airlines fly there.

My favorites so far are Southwest, Spirit, Ryanair, WOW, Norwegian and AirAsia. But I’m still testing out new airlines when I can.

You don’t always have to fly direct

San Francisco Skyline

Helicopter ride around San Francisco

If you have the time, try being flexible with the route you take. Sometimes it’s cheaper to make use of a good deal to another city and then pick up a budget flight to your destination.

To do this, find out how much it is to go direct to your destination. Then use a search such as Google Flights and type in the destination to look at prices to nearby airports on the continent. If there is a big difference, see how much it costs to get from the second airport to your primary destination.

It’s more work, but will take money off your flight, giving you more to save or spend elsewhere.

Sign up for frequent flier programs

Airline rewards programs are a great way to get perks like free flights or upgrades. Even if you don’t fly often, it’s still valuable to sign up for an airline’s reward program.

By collecting points and miles you can travel for next to nothing, and sometimes for free. There are so many ways to earn miles through these programs even if you aren’t traveling around the world all the time.

Get a travel rewards credit card. You can earn miles and perks, like free baggage checks and priority boarding. In most countries, travel reward cards also come with great sign-up bonuses.

I never use cash unless I have to; I use my travel rewards card for most purchases. Every dollar spent on the card is a rewards point. As your points add up, you can get a free upgrades or round-trips.

Also, look into shopping at places that can give you additional points like airline shopping portals or dining rewards programs.

Know your best prices

Flight from JFK

Flight from JFK

Try not to wait too long or book too early for the best price. The best booking window is around six weeks before your flight, or three months if you’re going during peak season.

If you’re booking tickets for more than one person, search the price for a single ticket. Many airlines will look for seats together, and if those seats the same price, you will get quoted and charged for the highest priced seat. Single tickets are priced individually. At checkout, you can pick the seats you want so that you are sitting together.

These tips will help you save money, but you can get caught wasting time looking for the best price. Spend no more than 30-40 minutes finding and booking a flight at an amount you’re willing to pay.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help! What are some of yours?

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