The days when it was possible to travel cheaply might seem to be mostly gone. As airlines have struggled to stay afloat, prices have steadily increased while the amenities being offered have all but disappeared. Booking any trip, especially for a group, has become prohibitively expensive. But that doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to staying at home.
Fortunately, there are some tricks you can implement to help book travel without taxing your wallet. With that in mind, here are 7 ways to save on cheap flight tickets.
#1: Book on a discount carrier
The first tip is to book on a discount carrier. It might seem obvious but a surprising number of travelers never consider this option – and that’s a mistake.
Discount carriers are just as safe to travel as regular airlines. While they cost less, they lower their prices by offering less customer service and perks than other airlines – not by cutting corners on safety. And their prices can be considerably lower.
When you keep in mind that even traditional carriers have cut back on customer service and charge extra or everything from in-flight food to checked baggage, you probably won’t experience that big a difference when you travel on a discount airline.
#2: Use layovers to your advantage
For many travelers, the promise of a non-stop flight is worth paying a higher airfare. However, if you’re willing to accept some inconvenience while you travel then waiting through a layover can pay off in big savings on your ticket.
Booking a flight with one short layover may not save you much, but if you’re willing to accept a flight with two short layovers – or one long one – the savings can be substantial. A long layover can even be a good thing. If it’s long enough you can seek out something fun to do in your layover city and get to see something that you wouldn’t have if you’d flown non-stop.
#3: Bid on last-minute tickets
Can you handle a bit of uncertainty in terms of which airline you fly and the time of your departure? If so, you may want to try bidding a particular amount for a flight on one of the websites that auctions off last-minute tickets and see what you can find.
These sites work by allowing travelers to set parameters based on what they’re willing to pay. You’re not guaranteed to get a flight, but if one becomes available in your price range you’ll get an email and you can book the flight. Using these sites can be a good way to manage your travel budget and find a great deal on a flight.
#4: Book way in advance
It might seem counterintuitive to recommend bidding at the last moment and buying in advance, but keep in mind that this is a “one or the other” recommendation. When you book your flight three months in advance, you have the option of buying before seats become scarce.
The one recommendation here is that you try to buy a refundable ticket if you can. That way, if you find a less expensive flight you can cancel the one you bought without a hassle. On the other hand, if you buy a non-refundable ticket you’ll be stuck with it even if you score a better deal later on.
#5: Use incognito browsing when you search
Have you ever had the experience of searching for a flight using multiple sites only to notice that the prices keep increasing as you search? You’re not imagining it. Travel sites track your search history and use what they find to bump prices in the hopes of scaring you to book quickly – before prices increase even more.
There is a way around it, though. Use incognito or in-private browsing and they won’t be able to trace your activity. Each browser is a bit different, but here’s a small sampling of how to do it:
- Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox – Control + Shift + P
- Google Chrome or Safari – Shift + N
In some older versions of browsers, you may have to select Incognito Browsing from the menu when you open a new window.
#6: Seek the cheapest days to fly out
Prices can fluctuate quite a bit based on departure days. Some travel sites allow you to look at prices for a full month instead of choosing a particular day. If you use one that has that option, simply view one-way cheap flights from your current city to your departure city to determine which days are the least expensive.
Another option here is to indicate that you can be flexible with your departure date to see what options are available. Some sites will let users indicate flexibility in their dates, times, and which airport they use. The more flexible you are, the more likely it is that you’ll find a bargain.
#7: Choose your destination based on the price
This option won’t work if you have to go to Hawaii for your cousin’s wedding, but if your primary goal is to take a vacation without going broke you should definitely consider it. Some travel sites offer the opportunity to compare prices on particular departure dates by destination. Using this method can help you determine where to go.
Likewise, you may want to consider traveling to popular destinations in the off-season. You might prefer to see London in the summer, but if you go in February you can get there for much less. Just make sure to pack your rain gear.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. Use these 7 tips to travel at any time and still have money left when you get to your destination.