If you’re planning a dream getaway, you don’t have to plan on spending a boatload of money. An easy way to bring down costs while still enjoying the vacation of a lifetime is to be flexible with your vacation date. Let’s take a look at why your vacation date has such a strong impact on prices and how to be flexible with your travel plans.
Why flexibility matters
If your vacation dates are rigid, your flight and lodging choices will be limited. In fact, you may be paying an artificially inflated price just to travel during that time.
Airline tickets, hotel stays and other vacation costs are established according to these economic variables:
- SupplyDemandRandomnessNumber of options
If your plans include specific dates, you instantly constrain the last variable, making the costs dependent on the first three, which are all out of your control. You’ll have no choice but to pay whatever the cost is to travel during the time you chose.
Of course, you can still luck out and find cheap tickets or next-to-nothing hotel stays during your chosen dates, but your chances for that happening are a lot lower than they’d be if you were flexible with your vacation timing.
For a quick way to see how flexibility with your travel dates can bring down the price of your vacation, try a simple Google Flight Explore search. Input the locations for your departure and destination, and then provide the search engine with specific dates. You’ll likely be provided with several choices. Now, try the same search, but instead of giving the search tool specific dates, provide only a vague description of your travel date. For example, you can write “within the next three months” or even “in the next year” and see what Google returns to you. Now, compare your choices. How much can you save by being flexible with your travel dates?
How to be flexible with your travel plans
If this all sounds wonderful in theory, but not a very practical way to plan a vacation, especially when you need to make arrangements for missing work and for pet or child care while you’re out of town, keep in mind that you don’t need to be completely open-ended with your vacation dates to take advantage of off-season prices. You can search for flights and hotel stays during a specific season, or even during the last two weeks of your chosen month, and still enjoy discounted airfare and hotel stays.
To increase your chances of landing bargain-priced airline tickets, you can also be flexible with your destination. For example, instead of searching for tickets to France during Independence Day weekend, you can look for tickets to landmark cities in Europe during the month of July. You’ll see a world of a difference in the prices when you’re willing to be open with your plans.
Finally, be upfront with your workplace about your planned vacation search. Let them know that you want to go away sometime in July, or anytime in the summer, though it may not be during official vacation times. Chances are, they’ll be happy to have you around when most of the company is jetting off on vacation, and may even offer you more flexibility with your vacation dates when you travel off-season.
Of course, you don’t have to find those elusive airfare deals on your own. As mentioned, Google’s Flight Explore is an excellent way to find low-cost airline tickets for the time you want to travel. Check out other travel apps like Kayak, Orbitz and Hopper for exclusive deals on airfare. Some apps offer the option of signing up for alerts, which is a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on any fabulous price drops.
Saving on vacation costs can be as simple as being flexible with your travel dates. Happy travels!
Your Turn: Have you traveled off-season? Tell us about it in the comments.