The cost of flying is one of the greatest expenses when it comes to traveling. When our kids were younger and our family of six went on vacation, the flights were usually the most expensive part of our trip.
Here are some tips to help you save money on flights:
1. Be flexible with your travel dates. Typically in the U.S. it can be cheaper to fly on Tues, Wed or Saturday. Search for flights on different days to see if it will save you money.
2. Shop ahead but not too far. For domestic flights 2-3 months in advance and International 3-5 months in advance
3. Track flight prices. There are several websites that will track flight prices for free and send you updates when the price changes. Here are some of the sites I like:
www.google.com/flights - With google flights you can track flights to specific places on the dates you want to travel, and they will notify you when the price changes. You can also look on the map and it will show you various prices from the airport you choose to different locations. It can be a fun way to decide where you want to vacation next.
www.skyscanner.com - Skyscanner will track flights for you and it has a map you can search as well if you’re undecided about where you want to go. They also have a section that shows monthly deals. Right now, it’s showing deals for the month of August. I love this feature because you can click on the destination you want to go to and it comes up with a monthly view showing the cost to travel on each day from the airport you select. You can also scroll through all the deals for the month going to locations all around the world.
https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/ - Airfare watch dog also tracks flights and shows you the best deals from the airport of your choice.
4. Reward programs. You can earn points toward booking flights and other travel. Reward programs are a great way to earn free flights. Find an airline you like, sign up for their reward program and try to always fly with them if possible. Most airlines have a reward program and they're free to join so you might as well sign up for all the ones you fly with.
There are credit cards that help you earn points for travel also. We have a Capital One Venture card and I love it because we don’t have to book flights or travel through them. We book however we want and then we can use points to deduct the cost of travel that we charged on our card.
If you’re going to use a credit card I highly suggest you pay it off each month. We use our card like it’s a debit card and pay the entire balance each month. We use it for all our expenses like gas, groceries, entertainment, etc. That way we earn more points. You don’t want to carry over a balance and pay interest or go in debt. It’s just a great tool to use for points.
We discovered another way to earn reward points. We became members of a travel club that allows us to earn points each time we book flights, hotels, rental cars and more through our site. We love it because we save up to 80% on everyday travel to everywhere and we earn points we can use toward booking free travel. We still use our credit card along with hotel and flight reward accounts, so we can earn points three different ways at the same time.
5. Factor in luggage fees or travel with only a carry on. I’ve heard of people booking flights thinking they’re saving money only to discover they had to pay for the luggage they want to check on which can add up to the hundreds quickly. I usually travel with a carry on only. Even when we went to Italy for two weeks, I was able to pack everything in a carry on. It also makes it easier to get around when you’re travel to several locations.
6. Sign up for deal alerts. You can sign up to receive deal alerts from specific airlines. For instance Southwest and Alaska Airlines often run $49 and up sales. When you sign up for their newsletter you'll get an email notification when they're having a sale.
7. Search for one flier at a time even if you’re traveling with your family or multiple people. Reservation systems at airlines and travel sites sell tickets at the same price to all the fliers on one reservation. If you’re buying airfare for your family of five, for example, it doesn’t matter if the airline has four seats for sale in a lower price category and the fifth at a higher one. All the travelers under the reservation will automatically get the higher price, and you won’t know that there are cheaper tickets available.
To find out for sure, you can compare by shopping for one flier at a time to see if there is a price difference compared to buying multiple tickets together. If there is, make separate purchases to get as many lower-cost tickets as possible.
If you have any other tips for finding lower priced flights, please share them in the comments below.