As a mom on a budget, I rarely treat my children to air-travel. Recently, however, we’ve been scouting for change of pace. And so for the first time, daughter, son and I involved the research librarians and set to digging up tips for making our flights in and out of America as affordable as possible.
Here’s the best of what we found.
Go incognito: Ever wondered why flight prices rise after you’ve done a certain amount of researching? That’s because businesses cling to your online footprints and want to scare you into booking flights quickly by artificially raising their prices. Want to shrug them off from tracking you? Click CTRL, Shift N in Chrome or CTRL, Shift P in Firefox. This gets you to an incognito or private browsing page where cookies are reset each time you open the window. So If you want to whittle prices to the lowest denominator, close all your incognito windows (so that your previous searches aren’t remembered), open a new one and start each search anew.
Your cheapest month to travel: If you’re planning a trip some months ahead, here’s how to find your cheapest month to travel:
- Hop on Skyscanner
- Select One-way (even if you want roundtrip, for now you’re just interested in finding your cheapest month).
- Hit Depart which brings you to the drop down box that has compare a whole month. Click find cheapest month.
- Select Search Flights, hit the green arrow price tag and browse your cheapest dates. Click the icon to see the price.
Repeat these steps for your return flight. You can either book a flight in one cluster or mix and match flights (see further on) to possibly lower your cost.
Pay in foreign currency: Check if it’s cheaper to pay in other currencies. Often budget airlines will want you to pay in the currency of the country you’re flying from but that isn’t always the case. An important note when doing this: make sure you’re using a credit card that is free of foreign-transaction fees, otherwise your attempts to save money doing this will be lost! The best travel cards contain the following features:
- Foreign transaction rate of 0%
- International ATM withdrawal fee of $0
- Competitive points or cash-back rewards program (at least 1% of the purchase price)
See ThriftyNomads for their roundup of the best debit cards for travel.
Book as far ahead as you can: Airlines Reporting Corporation recommends that you book six months in advance. Cheapair.com thinks four months is better. The reason: Around this time, prices drop below the average fare. If you’re planning a trip within that same month, most travel experts advise against delay. Budget airlines start with certain cheap rates and as these tickets sell, the remaining ones increase in price. You will rarely meet a reduction if you tarry in the hope that you’ll hit the pots. Research is key to finding the best price on any fight, to anywhere.
Check Twitter and Facebook: Some airlines, especially JetBlue, use social media to blast fare reductions. But you have to be fast: Some deals can be gone within hours. On Twitter, look for deals on @TheFlightDeal and @FareDealAlert. On Facebook, ˜like’ selected airline flights; they offer deals to their fans. Also, social media is a great tool because you can connect with your friends and they may know of a deal that is going on or may know someone who knows a way to save money.
Mix & Match airlines: Most people never think of the possibility to fly two different airlines. You may find one airline that is perfect for the outbound flight. Having an overlay between flights may not be such a bad thing if it saves you money in the end. Another company may offer a cheaper return flight. It’ll cost you more in time, but may cost less when you are looking at your budget.
Cluster of dates & times: Search for deals in the morning says Orbitz.com, although some airlines release discounted tickets throughout the day. Tuesday is best to book says FareCompare.com. Cheapair.com thinks Wednesday may be cheap especially for domestic travel. Morning flights are your bet, says Orbitz. The next-cheapest flight times are during or after lunch or around dinner time. The time will not matter if you are saving a decent amount of money.
Cluster of sites for special fares & checking:
- Join AirfareWatchdog.com for free alerts – you’ll get pinged for special deals.
- Search FlightFox for special fares.
- Skyscanner is the cheap traveler’s favorite. this favorite helps you scout for cheapest times.
- Google Flights works similarly to Skyscanner (though you can’t actually book flights on it), plus it has a map view as well so you can see where the airport is.
- Hopper and Flyr also offer price analysis and track fluctuations so that you can track when and where cheapest to fly.
The Thrifty Gist
- Use the right search engine for booking flights “ Skyscanner is a favorite
- Always search incognito for consistent pricing
- Consider mix & match flights to slash costs
- Don’t wait on seat sales “ your savings are generally bigger the further ahead you book
No matter where you want to travel to, researching the best times and companies will make a huge difference in the end. Most people do not have n unlimited supply of money so saving where you can will make all the difference. You want to find the cheapest possible flight so that you can enjoy your destination. Once you reach your destination you will want to have the freedom to have a great time and not have to “penny pinch” once you are there. For most, vacation only come around once a year so for your next vacation make it a great one!