Saving money on flights = needing less money for a trip= more travel adventures every year. BOOM! Arithmetic… or something like that. You and I both know that money is usually the deciding factor on where, when, and how often we travel with the price of flights coming in as the biggest financial barrier in that equation.
The good news is: you don’t have to be rollin’ deep in heaps of cash money to travel.
But how do you save money on flights?
Well, I’m so glad that you asked because lucky you, I have some pointers for saving money when it comes to flying.
Keep your searches private.
Are the prices of these flights I’ve been looking at going up? Am I going crazy? What the…?
This is totally a real thing!
Your browser cookies are tracked and flights with poppin’ searches will go up. Airlines want you to hurry up and book your flight by scaring you with rising ticket prices. Always search your flight in incognito or private browsing mode.
How to search Incognito/Private:
Google Chrome & Safari hit Command/Control + Shift + N
Internet Explorer & Firefox hit Command/Control + Shift + P
Travel during low season.
I have been shocked, and I mean jaw-on-the-floor baffled, at the price difference of flights ranging in only a few weeks difference.
The best time to fly is all about avoiding the worst times to fly which include: NYE, winter holidays, spring break, summer break, and other dates when school’s are having a holiday vacation.
Then, put those dollars towards renting a surfboard, mountain bike, or hiring a climbing guide/transportation to the crag on your big adventure.
Outdress the baggage fees.
Try wearing your heaviest and bulkiest pair of footwear + jacket during the flight. This will lighten your luggage load so you can happily and respectfully flip the bird to those overpriced over-limit baggage fees.
Get ready to kick off those boots or trail runners as soon as you settle into your seat + stay cozy with your jacket while not moving for way too many hours in a cold, air blasting, space freezer.
This may look weird and potentially even kind of creepy depending on the current weather and your outfit, but who cares if it saves you $50 in overweight-limit fees? #itravelcheap #teamdgaf
Shop for flights on Tuesdays.
U.S. airlines usually release their tickets sales late Monday night until early Tuesday morning.
Competitors will try to offer better prices. This process will usually wrap up around Tuesday afternoon.
Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday in the U.S.
Usually the cheapest flights will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays in the U.S.
Fly on the weekends for international flights.
The cheapest international flights will be during weekdays.
Fly when other’s don’t want to.
The cheapest time to fly will be overnight, at dawn, and during dinner time.
By traveling overnight, you save on the cost of that night’s accommodation and the transportation cost of getting there from the airport.
Shoutout to the travelers who can easily fall asleep on a flight! You go Glen Coco!
Be flexible with your travel dates.
If you have the freedom with your time to be flexible with your dates (+/- 3 days) than you can save some decent money, honey!
The difference of a few days could be the difference of a few hundred dollars in your pocket.
Be flexible with your airports.
Depending on where you live, being flexible with your departing flight may not be practical.
But, if you plan on traveling to multiple larger cities during your trip than update your flight search with multiple airports. This can be easily done on flight comparison sites.
Tip: Larger airports will often have better prices.
Embrace the magic of comparison sites.
These sights scan hundreds of flights across flight carriers and show you your best options for price. I always start here!
- Skyscanner: Besides comparing thousands of flights from various airlines, they also offer some dopamine blasting fun things like last minute flight deals, weekend deals, daily deals, and their best international deals. These can be accessed through the their app. I freaking love these!
- CheapOair: I’ve been booking flights with this site for almost 10 years and I’ve always been able to get a flight for a great price with this site. They offer things like promo codes off of the service fees, price matching, fare alerts, travel protection, and a monthly payment option that most of these sites don’t offer.
- Google Flights: Great for seeing when the cheapest flights are by a monthly calendar view.
- Vayama: Known as a great resource for sifting through cheap international flights.
- For domestic flights, book 1-3 months before departure.
- For international flights, book 2-6 months in advance.
Sign up for cheap flight alerts.
Promo codes and special promotions from travel companies and airlines can usually be found on their email newsletters and home page. Or you can sign up for third party sites that search for these deals and alert you when they find something juicy for you like: Flight Deal Hounds or Scott’s Cheap Flights (more on this below).
Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flight’s.
Sign up here to get free email updates of killer deals on flights all over the world.
Opt for their free membership or premium membership. Choose your departure airport and get emailed when there is a deal to that place.
They update their members with mistake fares, rare fares, and the unicorn peak-season steals. The flights are often a decent amount of time in the future so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your trip.
I’m a member of their premium membership because the price for one year is super affordable (currently $39/ year) and it will definitely pay for itself if you actually use it.
I’m constantly blown away at the insane deals they send to my inbox on the daily. Seriously guys, I’m talking about tickets at half the price of what you would usually expect to pay. It definitely gives me confidence that travel is accessible to many different budgets. #ilyscott #sponsorme
Follow your favorite airlines and travel companies on social media.
Another way to stay updated about flight deals include following your favorite travel companies on social media. They will most likely be announcing their current flash deals on their social pages.
Double tap to that and thank you internet!
Fly with smaller budget airlines.
These are great for regional trips. These flights aren’t going to come with the same fancy amenities but we are talking about budget travel here.
It’s not uncommon for a budget airline to charge you for not printing your own ticket or exceeding their less-than-generous luggage weight capacity.
Which brings me to my next point…
Beware of hidden fees.
Don’t get bamboozled. Read the fine print about luggage before hitting that button.
I once booked a ridiculously cheap ticket to Portland to find out we were being charged $50 per carry on item. Whoops but also major eye roll.
Book a long layover and squeeze another trip in.
Is it possible to actually to be stoked on a ridiculously long layover?
If it includes eating some drool-worthy local cuisine, dancing, and indulging my eyes in an aesthetic feast of a new culture, then sign me up. Discover two countries for the ticket price of one.
Check out this long layover guide by Skycanner that walks you through how to organize a layover trip like a pro. There’s even a list of airlines that offer free multi-day stopovers!
Book with airlines that offer a price match.
Stay signed up for price alerts even after you book your flight. Check your inbox to see if the ticket for your flight has dropped. If it has, some airlines will pay you the price difference.
Not all airlines do this but it’s worth reading the fine print when buying a flight. I’ll take all the dollars I can on my travels, thank you very much!
Open a travel credit card and fly for free with your points.
Open a card, charge lots of monies on it, collect points, and enjoy your free flight. Okay, it’s not quite that easy to accumulate that many points for a free flights.
These credit cards usually require a large amount of spending within the first three months usually averaging around $3K.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out how you will reach this minimum 3 month spending requirement, check out Jason Moore’s article from Zero to Travel on creative ways of doing just that.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t my area of expertise. But I definitely will be learning more and sharing this golden info with you guys! Someone who is an expert in this topic is The Points Guy. He has tons on free resources to get you started, check them out.
Join a Frequent Flyer Program.
This is especially beneficial if you plan on traveling extensively around one area, like South America, Asia, or Australia. Join a few programs, book all your flights with those airlines, collect points, and redeem your miles.
Don’t forget to keep track of which programs you’ve joined, your points, and when they expire. OMG, please don’t let your hard earned points expire!
There are services like Award Wallet that help you keep track of all your points and miles for your flight scoring needs. You can even turn on notification for changes in points, upcoming expirations, and points theft. Yeah, that’s actually a big thing. Did I mention it’s free?
Book your flight with a rewards credit card.
Boom! Enjoy the divined on your big purchase!
This tip doesn’t save you money on the front end, but it does put some extra cash into your wallet so it’s worth mentioning. If you aren’t using some type of rewards card, whether it’s for a cash dividend or airline miles, you’re missing out on free money!
Buy flight insurance.
Things don’t always go according to plan and it’s better to have the option to get your money back when it comes to changing or cancelling flights. I’d rather pay the $35 to insure my flight than have to eat the cost of my $500 flight because, well, life. I am speaking from experience here!
Book directly from the airline’s website.
Always start with a comparison site and then check the airline’s site before booking. You can save on the service fee by booking directly.
What are your favorite ways to save money on flights? What’s the best deal you ever scored on a plane ticket?