Everybody needs a vacation sometimes. But ever-increasing airline ticket prices make it difficult for the average person to score that getaway to Paris or that trip to see your aunt in San Francisco.
But with the right tools and some planning, you’ll be able to fly anywhere without breaking the bank. The following information will help you to develop a smart strategy for flying on the cheap.
Use the Right Tools
There is now a flood of websites and mobile apps to connect consumers with the lowest priced airline tickets available. However, not all of these sites are created equal. Some charge fees while others neglect smaller discount airlines that may offer better deals.
Our research has found that the following list of travel sites and apps will give you the best bang for your buck.
Momondo analyzes over 1,000 airlines, booking websites and travel agencies. This is more than double the amount of searches compared to popular booking sites like Expedia and Travelocity. Perhaps this is why Reids Guides found that Momondo’s search found the cheapest airfare 95% of the time.
Offered as both an app and a website, Skyscanner scours through over 1,200 airlines to find you the best deals on plane tickets, rental cars and hotels. The free Skyscanner app offers special deals of the month and special sections that focus on areas like quick getaways and kid-free vacations.
Airlines make pricing mistakes all the time. Airfare Watchdog is here to make sure you take advantage. The site features an impressive search tool that finds mistakes caused by human error, currency exchange mishaps and other errors. Users claim to have saved thousands of dollars on a single ticket through the service.
Time It Right
Airline ticket prices rise and fall each day like the stock market, so it’s important to pick the right time to book a flight.
Experts recommend booking 6-8 weeks before your planned flight, so be sure not to until the last minute if you want the best deals. You can also use Kayak and Google Flights price predictor algorithm, which tells you if the price is likely to rise or drop.
The best day to fly is more debatable. Generally, Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly, but this isn’t always true. Holidays and special events can increase the cost of a ticket, especially if your flight lands on the first or last day of the event.
Plenty of specialty credit cards offer points for charging flights, along with bonus points for joining.
One example is the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, which offers a bundle of extras. This includes 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first six months and a free checked bag for you and up to four travelers. If that weren’t enough, you’ll also get preferred boarding and 25% rebates on all inflight food and beverages.
There’s also the JetBlue Plus Card, which gives you 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. This card also gives you a free checked bag for you and up to 3 travelers and 5,000 bonus points at your card member anniversary each year.
Airline credit cards are particularly useful for those who fly frequently or who have a large purchase coming up. But keep in mind that many of these cards charge an annual fee, so you’ll need to decide whether the perks are worth the yearly bill.
Be Flexible With Your Destinations
You might have your heart set on Hawaii, but what if you found that a trip to the Azores was half the price?
Different destinations can carry substantially different prices depending on demand, seasons and other factors. If your destination isn’t fixed, consider traveling to a similar location that’s less expensive.
Kiwi.com makes destination shopping easy through its website. Simply enter your destination and the site’s map displays comparable prices for countries all over the world. Kiwi organizes its list by price so you’ll be able to easily find the most affordable destination.
To save even more, you can book two one-way tickets rather than round-trip. Both Kiwii.com and Google Flights allow you to plan a trip using different airlines for each one-way ticket. It takes a bit more work, but the savings will be worth it.
With these tools and strategies available, you’ll be able to conquer the skies with money left over in your pocket. Remember to always read the fine print when dealing with any of these sites and apps. Often, fees are hidden and it’s up to you to be 100% clear on what you’re purchasing.
From there, all you need to do is sit back, enjoy your trip and save money.