Flying High: How to Save Money on Flights

how to save money on flights

To travel is to live.

There’s nothing quite like taking a week or two off work and exploring a new location with your family. Even better, there are now tons of ways to save on plane tickets that just didn’t exist before.

Keep reading to find our best advice on how to save money on flights to exciting destinations all over the world.

Try New Destinations

If you’re willing to branch out from the traditional vacation spots you can often find great flight deals. Start by looking at an all destinations view from your origin city.

This lets you put in a date range and explore all the most affordable flights. You might even find that somewhere really cool is on the list.

Some of the most exciting and mentally beneficial trips often come from going somewhere you’ve never been before. You might find yourself falling in love with the people, the culture, and the landscape.

How to Save Money on Flights: Be Flexible

If you have to follow the schedule of your child’s school year this one won’t be much help. The best possible way to find great deals on flights is to be flexible. 

The most affordable flights to the coolest locations will be offseason or during unusual travel time. You’ll almost always be able to get a better fare on flights for a midweek flight versus a Friday or Saturday one.

Even if you have to travel at the prime time you can try and look for less popular flights. Late night or very early morning flights will often be slightly less expensive than more convenient options.

The worst thing you can do from a cost perspective is to try and travel around big holidays. If you’ve ever tried to find flights around Thanksgiving you know what we’re talking about.

Christmas, New Years, and any period where lots of people will have time off are big no-no’s. Any flight around those times will likely be significantly more expensive.

Check Prices Early and Often

Sad to say Tuesday is actually no longer the best day of the week to buy flights. Airlines now use complicated algorithms to constantly tweak the price of their flights.

Start checking prices several months before your planned trip. Over a few weeks, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what the average price is.

This gives you plenty of opportunities to catch flash sales, error fares, and other unusually low prices. If you buy the very first price you see there’s a good chance you’ll end up overpaying.

Another good rule of thumb is to check the prices on multiple devices or at least use private or incognito mode. It’s standard practice for airlines and other travel sites to place cookies on your browser. 

If they see you looking at the same flight multiple times they may raise the price slightly in response.

Exploit Your Everyday Spending

If you’re new to the travel hacking world you may not know about the benefits of travel credit cards. These are cards that reward you for every dollar you spend with points or miles.

The name of the game is structuring your purchases to maximize credit card points and miles. Some cards even offer introductory bonuses of 10,000 to 100,000 points if you hit minimum spending limits. 

By shopping around for the best cards that match your everyday spending you can cover your airfare or hotels. This leaves you with tons of fun money for food, drink, and entertainment.

This is second nature for people who already travel for work. For the rest of us, it’s all about finding cards that best exploit your spending.

Families will probably end up spending a lot of money at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Look for cards that offer quarterly bonuses at warehouse stores. 

Gas cards are one of the best ways to use your regular spending to pay for flights.

If you want to get really advanced you can try out churning. This involves getting new cards every year or so to maximize your bonuses. Depending on the cards you can get a new bonus every year or so just using your regular spending.

Don’t be Afraid of Interesting Routings

Direct flights are great but often quite expensive. If you’re willing to accept a connection or two you can see significant savings.

This comes at a cost of course. Flights with connections are often a good bit longer than direct flights. If your time is worth more to you than financial savings it probably won’t be worth it.

On the other hand, if you structure your layover right you can give yourself mini vacations in several locations. A 24-48 hour layover is often possible.

That’s enough time to explore a lot of really cool cities.

Get Paid to Travel

Depending on where you’re going you may be able to save substantially on the total cost of your ticket by acting as an air courier. This was fairly involved in the past but like many things is now easy and computer-based.

If you’re traveling to Asia there’s especially good availability. Companies like AirMule, Parcl or Grabr will pay you hundreds of dollars for your empty checked bag slots to a range of popular Asian destinations. These include:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • India
  • South Korea

All you have to do is register your trip on their platform. They’ll handle everything else, including meeting you at the airport to help check the package. Each shipment includes a full manifest with pictures of all included products.

When combined with careful shopping for flights you can seriously reduce the cost of your air travel.

Remember to Relax

Too many people get caught up trying to maximize their vacation savings. They forget that knowing how to save money on flights is only useful if you actually enjoy your travels. Give yourself a little wiggle room and make sure your savings are always a net positive to your experience.

Don’t forget to check out our easy-to-use flight search tool, it allows you to compare prices from thousands of airlines and travel aggregation prices.

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