With ongoing economic insecurity affecting just about everyone in the world, traveling smart and saving money is more important than ever. For many who choose long-term backpacking as a lifestyle, plane tickets are their largest expense in an entire year, and may be equivalent to weeks or even months of living and traveling in foreign countries. With that in mind, here are some of our top tips for getting the best deals on flights.
1. Do your homework
We wish that we had one simple answer to get the best deal, but in general it requires a fair amount of research for each individual itinerary. Mix and match between flight aggregation sites and airline websites, talk to travel agents, and research your specific destination. Find out what airline hubs are located near you and the place you want to be, and what airlines use them. Doing the legwork is slow, but will pay off in a big way.
2. Use technology
You’re not the only one looking for the cheapest flights, and web developers know it. Apps and mailing lists abound that will alert you to price drops and special sales. Airlines have discovered Twitter, and several of them have tweeted about instant sales at ridiculous discounts to their followers as a promotional tool. The internet is definitely your friend in the hunt.
3. Utilize small airlines
Smaller companies are often neglected by flight aggregation searches, meaning that there are great deals that go undetected by those who just use broad searches. Taking the time to look at tickets offered by smaller or regional carriers can save you a lot of money. For example, Monarch airlines in Britain only has 3000 employees, despite offering flights to five continents. Bargains on Monarch flights are on fly.co.uk.
4. Timing matters (part 1)
What time of year are you planning to fly? What day of the week? These questions may drastically affect the price of your ticket. Obviously, prices skyrocket around holidays. Summers can also be costly. Wednesdays are thought to be on average the cheapest days to fly, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive, so avoid them if possible. Be flexible!
5. Timing matters (part 2)
Variations in price for the same flight at the same time on the same day can occur depending on when you book—how far in advance, what day of the week, and even the time of day. Within the US, studies have shown that the best time to book is seven weeks in advance, and for international flights more like 11 or 12. Purchasing on a Tuesday or Wednesday may be a little cheaper than on the weekend, and afternoons are often better than mornings.
While it’s tough to know all the answers, these tips will hopefully get you a better deal than you’d be able to find otherwise. Saving money is important to be able to travel, and there are few feelings as good as stumbling across that one jaw-dropping deal on a flight to your dream destination. Good luck!