Finding a cheap flight can feel like a full-time job. With dozens of booking sites to choose from and prices fluctuating constantly just thinking about planning your next trip may stress you out. But, if you’re willing to put in time and effort, you could save big on your next flight. Here are some key tips that will save you time and most importantly money for that next dream vacation.
Be sure to watch the video above for more in-depth information on my favorite tips!
#1 Always Use Incognito Mode
When you search for flights, websites add cookies to your browser. These cookies help websites see if you are searching for the same flight path over and over again. If you are they jack up prices, hoping you will book before it gets too expensive. To combat this always search in incognito (or private) mode to see the best deals.
#2 Be Flexible
The more flexible you are the better. Not sure where to go? GREAT. Able to fly in or out on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday afternoon? AMAZING!
If you are super flexible, I always suggest using Skyscanner’s everywhere tool to find the cheapest place to travel at any given time. Not only is this a money saving technique but it may also push you to travel somewhere you never even thought of!
Search Nearby Airports
This is especially true if you are flying to a big hub, like western Europe or NYC, where airports are densely packed together. I use Kiwi.com radius tool to help search multiple airports at once. (Check out the video for a demonstration on how to use Kiwi) Be sure to calculate the costs of a connecting flight or other means of transportation to your final destination.
One Way Fares
Buying two one way tickets on separate airlines, instead of a single round trip ticket with one airline can save you money. Google Flights is one of my favorite tools to search for flights because they automatically show you the cheapest fare even if it means booking with two different airlines.
#3 Buy at the Right Time
So much research has been done to find the perfect time period to book a flight. While many contain conflicting information here is what we do know:
- Don’t book too late (less than 2 weeks before departure)
- Don’t book too early (more than 5 months)
- Ignore these rules when planning holiday travel
#4 Price Alerts
Don’t make searching for cheap flights your full-time job. Instead, set price alerts! I suggest setting a few since prices fluctuate from site to site. Kayak, Orbitz, Skyscanner, and CheapAir are my favorites.
If you don’t mind getting a ton of emails in your inbox, airfare newsletters are a must. Sites like Airfare Watchdog, Secret Flying, and The Flight Deal are constantly searching and sending out emails for great fare prices.
My all-time favorite is Scott’s Cheap Flights. His newsletter have helped me score $ 200 round trip flights to South Africa and a $ 400 round trip flight to Korea. In my opinion, his newsletters are by far the best. I have yet to find another newsletter that even comes close to the deals he sends out (and I get all the newsletters). If you don’t want to crowd your inbox sign up for his and his alone.
#5 Embrace Budget Airlines
(But read the fine print)
Booking with budget airlines is one of the best ways to save money on travel. There are a handful of budget airlines popping up in the US (Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant) and tons in Europe and Southeast Asia. Whenever you are looking at these unbelievable fares make sure you read all of the fine print.
Budget airlines make most of their money off of travelers not following their rules. You will definitely have to pay for a specific seat reservation and any carry on or checked luggage. Forgetting to check in online, asking them to print your boarding pass, or even waiting to buy your baggage allowance at the airport will cost you a ton!! Thoroughly read the fine print and add any extra fees into the base fare to make sure you are actually getting a lower price than a major airline.
#6 Compare Compare Compare
Once you find a cheap flight use comparison sites to help you find the cheapest engine to book with. I like Booking Buddy because you can search the exact dates on 10-15 booking engines all with one click. Often times I will find a cheap fare and then find that a random smaller booking engine has the exact same flight for cheaper than what I originally found.
#7 Book Without Worry
If you see a great airfare and are hesitant, don’t be! The DOT requires that all airlines must provide a full refund within 24 hours of booking. This gives you time to book the flight and then triple check those dates are good with work, family, etc.To take advantage of the DOT policy you must:
- Book your flight at least 7 days prior to departure
- Book directly with the airline (can’t book with Expedia, Orbitz, etc)
- Apply for a refund within 24 hours of booking your ticket
In my next article, I will be giving you tons of tips to help you score cheap hotel rooms!
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