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The BF and I started living frugally to put more of our hard earned money toward travel. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a list that’s a mile long of all the places you’d like to go someday. Seriously, ask the BF, it’s a very long list. Flights can get pricey, and you want to make every dollar count. I’ve already been on about four flights this year, with at least four more planned flights in the near future. For the two of us to fly, it can easily cost $600 or more per flight, and don’t even get me started on last minute booking. While one ticket might seem affordable, when you start multiplying that price it gets expensive quickly.
Through all of my flying expenditures, I’ve learned a number of ways to save on the cost of flying. Here are 7 ways to save on your next flight.
Buy your tickets online
When you are purchasing tickets, check discount airfare sites in addition to the airline website. Sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, Priceline, Booking.com, and Cheap Air are all online travel agencies. This means they have access to deals and can create discount packages to get you a lower price than what most airlines are charging from their site. When booking through one of these discount sites, you can accrue reward points AND get air miles on the airline you are traveling with. Once you’ve found the best deal, get cash back on your purchases through Ebates or Swagbucks to save even more.
Become a “frequent flier” with airlines
Whenever we travel, it’s usually through Delta or American Airlines. Both have frequent flier programs which are free to join. When you fly through these airlines, you earn points to use towards free or discounted trips. While it does take some time to accumulate enough rewards to make it worth your while, they do pay off if you travel often.
Schedule a longer layover
You will probably pay more if you insist on always taking a direct flight. If you are able to, add some downtime in between flights. You will save a TON of money on your tickets, plus you can accrue more miles for the same trip by adding longer flights and extra legs. Also, flying out of a nearby larger airport rather than your local airport will save you even more!
Book your flight 54 days ahead
According to a study by CheapAir, the best time to book your flight is 54 days ahead. This will not be the same for every trip, however, you should be looking a minimum of 8 weeks in advance if you are able to.
Book your flight on Tuesday
Airlines will launch sales on Mondays or early on Tuesdays. When each airline lists their updated prices, other airlines will scramble to meet them and get your business. There are some airlines that offer other sales at “hot times” such as before holidays or when business is slow.
Fly during off-peak times
The most popular days to fly are Fridays and Sundays. Nobody wants to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays because it might mean sacrificing extra vacation days, but if you are willing to fly midweek, you can save a LOT of money. The best times of day to fly are between 5am and 7am, or after 8pm. Airlines will usually lower rates to encourage off-peak booking.
Avoid additional fees
Try your best to only bring one carry-on bag per traveler. Check out my post on what to pack in your carry-on and find out how you can save by not checking your bags. Avoid other fees such as seat upgrades, onboard wifi, and drinks that cost extra. Before your trip, download any music or entertainment you might need and watch it from your laptop, phone, or tablet. Bring any comforts you think you might need such as a neck pillow, blanket, or book an aisle seat for a little more legroom. Traveling smart can help you avoid these fees, which will add up quickly over the course of your trip.
Wherever you are traveling, plan ahead and do your research to help you save big. There are so many different ways you can save on your trip, and this list only covers a few. If you decide flying is just not in your trip budget, consider a road trip to save money if you have the time.