Flying opens up a world of travel opportunities. You dont have to be rich to enjoy a great vacation and adventure on a budget. But, if youre paying too much for plane tickets, your budget could end up sky-high.
Are you looking to travel more and save money while doing it? If the answer is yes, then these ideas below are for you.
Time Your Travel
Last minute plane tickets cost more than ones booked about two months in advance. Flights the day before Christmas and Thanksgiving are some of the most expensive of the year. Traveling during offseasons in the spring and fall can also lead to great deals. Just be sure to miss Spring Break or you wont get a bargain price.
If you dont have kids in school, use the flexibility of your vacation days to travel in the offseason. After offseason Spring and Fall trips to European destinations like London and Paris, you may never travel on peak season again! Not only are flight options less expensive with more availability, hotels are cheaper and lines at popular attractions like the Louvre and Prado can be practically nonexistent.
Shop Around for the Best Deals
One day a ticket to your dream destination could cost hundreds of dollars more than the next, and one travel deal site might offer different rates than others. To ensure you spend as little as possible on your travel, shop around for the best deals possible.
To get an overall idea of travel costs, look to aggregators like Google Travel, Kayak, Momondo, and Skyscanner. Then search individual airline websites to see if they offer lower deals on the best offers available. Also keep in mind that some discount airlines, notably Southwest, only list flight options on their own websites so you have to check them out separately from the big flight search engines.
Forget Airline Loyalty
If you have had great experiences with an airline, again and again, it is tempting to stick with that airline for future travel as well. When you are trying to save money while traveling, forget about airline loyalty and focus on the price and service you get in return.
Your favorite airline might charge double for the same trip. Would you rather stick with your favorite airline or travel more often? For most people, the clear answer is to travel more often. Just be sure to look out for extra costs and add-ons like baggage fees. Some airlines, like Spirit and Frontier, are notorious for nickel and diming you with upgrade fees, check-in fees, seat selection fees, and drinks in flight. One European discount carrier even experimented with charging passengers to use the bathroom!
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
Did you know that your credit card can pay you back with free flights and travel? Seriously, you can get enough miles and points from your everyday spending to fly to virtually any major airport for free, or just for the cost of taxes and fees.
Credit cards are not for everyone, but if you are responsible with your finances, always make on-time payments, and pay off your bill in full every month, you can get massive rewards and bonuses worth thousands of dollars in free travel. Some high-end cards offer enormous signup bonuses worth as much as two free international flights!
Maximize Reward Redemptions
If you have a boatload of miles and points, you might be tempted to go crazy booking reward flights. But if you are more careful with how you use your points, you can get much more value.
For example, most major airlines, like United and American, offer two tiers of reward redemptions. A limited number of saver or super saver rewards are available for some flights at half the cost of regular award redemptions. Also, consider that some airlines are in an alliance with partners that may offer saver award availability that is not included in the search results by default. It can take some time to piece together a discounted award itinerary, but the results can be stretching your miles enough to bring a friend or relative along for free or an entire additional free trip for you. That just depends on how generous you are with your friends and family.
Become a Full-Fledged Travel Hacker
If the idea of free and discounted travel has sucked you in, you could be on track to become a travel hacker. Travel hacking is a culture around maximizing opportunities to earn miles and points and using them to get as much free travel and discounted travel as possible. Travel hackers take off daily for exotic locations across the world and for free trips to visit family and friends across the United States.
There is no limit to how many miles and points you can earn, and with a little extra research, preparation, and planning time, you can make your way to any location on your bucket list! Just plan ahead and follow the steps in this guide to get there as cheaply as possible.