I’m a little bummed because we probably aren’t taking a vacation this year because A. We’re buying a house and B. We’re having a baby. I wouldn’t give up either of these major life events for anything, but I still wish we had a money tree so that we could also try to visit someplace new. I love everything about traveling, from packing to staying at hotels, to sightseeing, to enjoying new cultures. The good, the bad, the awesome, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take my chances for the opportunity to explore a new part of the world, or, heck, even a different part of Illinois!
In addition to going on a trip, I love all of the days leading up to the departure, starting with shopping for flights (or other modes of transportation). Call me crazy but I LOVE looking for travel deals. Sure, I love bargain shopping (obviously) but the thrill of the hunt when it comes to shopping for inexpensive travel? Nothing beats it!
If you’re going to be booking a trip anytime soon, here are 11 of my favorite travel hacks that will hopefully help you save big the next time you are shopping for cheap flights!
Tips for buying cheap flights
1. Book your flight on a Tuesday
It has long been said that flights are the cheapest to book on Tuesday afternoons and the most expensive on the weekends, though I recommend comparing flight costs over a few different days, starting about 8 weeks before your trip. You never know when a flight will be the cheapest and you don’t want to miss out!
2. Travel on Tuesday, Too
Not only is Tuesday the best day to book your flight but it is also the best day to travel, too! Business travelers tend to travel on Mondays and Thursdays or Fridays. People going on weekend trips tend to travel on Fridays and Sundays. This leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday as the three days that you are most likely to find the cheapest flights.
3. Subscribe to flight alerts
If you don’t want to check your favorite travel websites day-after-day looking for flight decreases, subscribe to flight alerts that will let you know whenever cheap flights are available to your chosen destination. Check out sites like Airfarewatchdog.com or Yapta for cheap flight alerts.
4. Flexibility can be rewarding
Not having a specific date in mind for your trip can help yield big savings, as you can book your trip around when prices are the lowest. Some weeks are cheaper than others, as are some seasons. Flexibility can go a long way toward booking a cheap flight!
5. Travel during the off-season
If you’re heading to a vacation destination, prices are going to go up during specific seasons. For instance, you’re going to pay big bucks to fly to Florida in December or over spring break, but flights at most other times of year are pretty affordable. The same thing goes if you are traveling abroad. Last year we traveled to Costa Rica during their rainy season and not only did it not rain at all during the day but we saved money on our flights and accommodations because they typically don’t get as many visitors that time of year.
6. Fly during inconvenient hours
The cheapest flights are usually going to be available exactly when people don’t want to fly – first thing in the morning and late at night. Personally, I almost always try to get the first flight out of Chicago because it’s cheaper but also because O’Hare is a mess of an airport that’s prone to delays and I’ve never had a delay on an early morning flight (knock on wood).
7. Connections are your friend
Flights with connections are almost always going to be cheaper than direct flights. The downside to this is that your trip will most likely take longer, too, and you run the risk of more delays. If you’re in no big rush, however, booking a flight with connections is a great way to save some cash.
8. Fly into an alternate airport
Depending on where you’re flying, multiple airports may be available. For instance, if you’re flying into Chicago you can check the rates for both Midway and O’Hare. In New York City and Los Angeles, you have even more options. More airports means more flights and more opportunities for booking cheap flights! (Of course, you may have to keep in mind that your transportation from the airport to your final destination may increase if you switch airports.)
9. Check out multiple search aggregators
I find that I sometimes receive differing flight information depending on which search aggregator I use, so I tend to check as many of them as possible. CheapOAir.com is a personal favorite of mine because they usually have coupons available for $10-$15 off a flight, but I will also check Expedia, Travelocity, and Kayak. It’s not an aggregator, but some airlines, like Southwest, don’t list their flights on aggregators so you may want to check their sites separately as well.
10. Put Ebates to work
Did you know that you can use cash back shopping site like Ebates to make your cheap flight even cheaper? ‘Tis true and this is one of my absolute favorite tips for buying cheap flights! Ebates has partnered with sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, and Orbitz and you can earn cash back on your flights, hotels, car rentals, and more! The cash back amount varies by site. One thing worth noting: You will not receive the cash back in your Ebates account until AFTER your trip has concluded.
11. Join frequent flier programs
I used to think that everyone who flew semi-regularly made sure to join frequent flier programs, but it recently came to my attention that this is not the case. We have a good friend who has been busy traveling the world this past year and racking up mega frequent flier miles… only he never took the time to register! Not registering means absolutely no chance of accumulating enough points for a free flight. If you rarely fly it may not be worth it, but even if you only take a couple of flights each year it’s worth it to start building up a bank of points.
Do Tell: What other tips for buying cheap flights do you use?
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