If you’re planning a trip overseas, airfare may be your largest vacation expense. Even when flying relatively close to home, the cost of your airline ticket can take a big bite out of your vacation budget. Fortunately, there are loads of ways to save on airfare and leave you with more to spend at your destination. Here, we’ve compiled a list of six ways to save on airfare.
- Be flexible with dates and destinations
If you’re willing to be flexible on dates and the destination of your flight, you can potentially save hundreds on your airline ticket. Instead of choosing a date and destination for your vacation and then searching for the best prices, select a date and destination based on the best available deals. If you’re set on going to a particular destination, you may be able to save a boatload of money on the ticket by flying to a nearby airport and then driving to your vacation spot.
- Shop smart online
Harness the power of technology to score the best price on airfare. Searching sites and apps like Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline is like using multiple travel agencies to find the best flights for your vacation. Kayak, another popular travel app, plugs your preferred dates into its search engine and searches airline sites and agency sites to provide you with all the prices and options available.
- Act quickly to snag mistake fares
The best deals on airfares happen by mistake. When an airline accidentally discounts a ticket, you can snag a flight for as much as 90% off its conventional price. Mistake fares get snatched up quickly, so you’ll need to check your favorite airlines and flight apps often so you don’t miss a deal. If you haven’t worked out your child care and/or work arrangements for a date with a heavily discounted airfare, it’s best to grab it anyway and work out the details later. By federal law, airlines must allow 24 hours for free cancellations of all flight tickets.
- Consider booking with a foreign currency
If you’ll be flying a foreign carrier, it may be cheaper to pay for your ticket with the local currency of your destination. Before paying for your flight, check to see if it’ll cost less if you don’t pay in dollars. Sometimes, it can actually cost more this way, but oftentimes, you can save a significant amount by simply changing your location from the U.S. to your destination.
- Book early
You’ll typically find the best deals on international flights 3-6 months before the departure date. If you’ll be traveling during peak times, like summer or during a holiday season, you’ll want to search for tickets even earlier. Flights are updated constantly, so check often to get the best deal.
- Watch out for sneaky fees
Too often, an economy flight will actually cost a lot more than its listing after the airline tacks on all sorts of extra fees and surcharges. For example, you may need to pay a fee for every bag you check during each leg of your journey. Other airlines charge a fee for choosing seats, which may be a necessity if you’ll be flying with young children or an elderly person in need of assistance. Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll be paying before you book a ticket – it can sometimes be cheaper to upgrade your ticket or switch to a direct flight and avoid some of these fees.
Airfare can be the biggest item on your vacation budget, but there are so many ways to save on this expense. Use the tips outlined here to get the best deal on your tickets and keep your vacation budget intact. Happy travels!
Your Turn: Have you scored a low price on an airline ticket? Share your best hacks with us in the comments.