Traveling once you get off the plane is generally very affordable, assuming your living modestly while on the road. It’s usually the airline tickets that get you. Finding cheap airfare can be challenging, but there are some things you can do to get the best possible deals.
Know How Far Out To Book
4-10 weeks out to book your flight seems to be the best from past experiences. Airlines seem to start adjusting their airfares around this time. Also, check flights for different days of the week, as they will adjust them day-to-day if demand is low.
The truth is, nobody really knows the airlines’ rhyme or reason, but we do know from past experiences that they absolutely change rates often and for different reasons. Start documenting the details of your findings and over time, you’ll have a good understanding of when to book your flights. Start looking early, but my advice is when you see a significant price drop on a flight you’ve been watching, take it! If you get greedy and try to wait it out for an even better deal, you may end up paying more.
The January Effect
Most likely due to heavy holiday consumer spending, airlines often offer deals too-good-to-pass during January and even into February. They realize household budgets are lower after the holidays, but still need use special offers to entice travelers. Just book flights during this time, but take them at a later date.
Airfare Search Engines
I always start searching for flights on the following search engines and in the following order. However, one is not always better than the other and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, some airline meta-search engines list different airlines and different outlets and for different reasons. Usually financial reasons.
Always search a few different sites before booking to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Book Flights Separately & Separately
Searching for and booking flights indirect will often reward your bank account. Buying a one-way ticket somewhere and a one-way ticket back, can sometimes save you money. Alternatively, buying a ticket to a mid-way point, followed by a final flight to your destination can also reward your pockets.
Also, if flying with a partner or group, book your flights individually instead of as a couple or group. Otherwise, the airlines are likely to find 2, 3, or 4 seats all next to each other, then charge every ticket highest one out of the group. In other words, you may find a flight for $300, but a different seat or location in the plane may be $400.
You’re often better off buying individual tickets, then getting the seat assignments sorted out after. Experiment with different routes and methods to shave some coin off your flight prices.
Using A VPN To Beat The Airlines
Airlines get sneaky by charging people different airfare based on where they’re currently located. Some travel writers will say that there is no evidence to support that using a VPN can get you better rates, but it has for sure worked for me.
Searching for a flight to India in mid-2017, I saved about $200 on a one way flight to Dehli, just by changing my IP address to reflect that I was located in Romania. I literally ran a search and got one price, then immediately changed my IP location and got a cheaper flight. Don’t ask me why, but it did and that’s when I bought my ticket. Not to mention Molly was going with me, so that was actually $400 I saved.
Sign Up For Email Airfare Alerts
I you’re hesitant to do this, either create a separate email address strictly for the purpose of receiving potential cheap flight deals or just simply realize that it’s worth dealing with a little extra email clutter to save money on flights.
I’ve received offers from these alerts for round trip tickets to Mumbai for as little as $670 USD. Keep in mind that some of these deals depart from airports that are not close to you. However, it’s usually still a great deal to get from your hometown to the departure airport and still come out way on top.
Be Flexible With Your Route, Dates, & Times
Remaining flexible with your routes, dates, and times will often reward your bottom line on traveling. For example, flying from Dallas to Berlin to Dehli, may be more expensive than flying from Dallas to New York to Berlin to Dehli.
Alternatively, it can be cheaper to by two one-way tickets, as opposed to one round-trip. Or you could save money by sitting through longer layovers. You can also find cheaper flights by being willing to travel at off-peak times of the year or taking extra early or late flight times.
Again, experiment with your searches to see what yields the best results.
Hack & Earn Flier Miles Like A Ninja
Travel hacking and earning flier miles are no-brainers for getting free flights, discounted rates, upgrades, and companion tickets. Just based on prior research, I’ve learned to stick with US based airlines, since they are in network with all the major alliances. This allows you to earn flier miles when taking partner flights. For example, if I fly Air India, I can earn miles for United Airlines.
Travel hack by using creative and consistent methods of earning flier miles. Switch to a rewards credit card, pay all your living expenses with it and pay it right off. You can also get crazy with manufactured spending and really rack up the points. Here’s how it works:
Get a flier rewards credit card > use it to purchase a PIN-enabled debit cart > buy money orders with the PIN-enabled debit card > deposit them into your bank account > pay off credit card balance > rinse and repeat.