A lot of people think travel is expensive, and dishing out big bucks is just the price you pay if you want a nice vacation. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.
Accommodation aside, the cost of your plane ticket is usually the most expensive part of most trips. However, if you follow these tips, I guarantee you will be able to find cheap plane tickets and save some serious money in the process.
If you can be flexible with your travel dates, times, and route – you will save.
Find flights through google flights
There are tons of options out there for finding flights. In the past I have used skyscanner, kiwi, cheapoair, and many more. In my experience with a variety of different flight search platforms, I have found, especially as of recently, that google flights produces the best result. Although they don’t always have every single airline or every detail, I find them the most inclusive, and ultimately cheapest platform out there.
Be flexible with your route or destination
One of my favourite features offered by Google Flights, is the option to put your destination to an entire country, or even the entire globe. For example, I am currently looking for a weekend getaway from Medellin, Colombia. I know I want to travel in Colombia but am pretty open on the destination. I can simply put in Medellin to Colombia and see the cheapest options out there.
Looks like Cartagena might be next on my bucket list
Book in advance and track prices through google flights
You don’t have to book months in advance, but you shouldn’t wait until the last minute either. Often times I have waited until a couple weeks before, only to find out the flight I wanted doubled, or even tripled in price. This has caused some mini-freakouts on my part, that could have easily been prevented.
One of the best ways to avoid this is try to book around 6 weeks in advance. Although research shows there really is no golden rule for when flights will be the cheapest, this is usually a solid amount of time in advance. Additionally, if your dates are flexible, there’s a good chance it will be cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. The other dates produce a high demand due to business travelers. Regardless, google flights will tell you what your best bet is.
Know the regular prices, so you can spot a deal
In the time leading up to your vacation. Spend some time looking up flights to your destination(s) of choice. If you know what the average price is, you’ll be able to take advantage of a deal when you find it.
Lock in when you find a good price
Flight prices can be as volatile as the price of bitcoin (okay maybe not that volatile, but they do jump around often). You really never know if it’s better to wait and book later, as the price could go either way. My best recommendation when you find a good price, and you know it’s where you want to go, purchase it. As long as you have the time off work, no other obligations, the legal requirements to visit the destination (like a visa), everything else will fall into place.
If you know, just do it.
Book flights for cheap during the off-season
Not all months are created equal in terms of flight prices. If you are trying to take a flight in April, July, August or December, chances are tickets will be more expensive.
It all comes down to supply and demand, and these months create high demand due to school being out, plus holidays. If you have the flexibility to do so, try to book your flights in the off-season. Generally, if you are able to take flights in January, February, or September, you will be able to find favourable prices.
Search for your flights in a private browser or incognito mode
Have you ever noticed that every time you go back to check a flight on a certain site, the price has gone up? Now, this can be due to a number of factors, but a lot believe its due to your internet history and cookies tracking your behaviour. Although there is plenty of contradictory information out on the internet about this topic, I still think it’s best practice to look for your flights in a private browser. You can use incognito mode in almost every browser to clear your cookies each time before looking up flights.
I honestly don’t know if this will keep flight prices down, but it’s pretty easy to fire up incognito mode, so you might as well to be on the safe side.
Take advantage of those rewards programs and points
I would recommend signing up for the rewards or loyalty program for every airline you fly with. It usually is as simple as checking a box while you are purchasing a ticket.
You really don’t know how often you will fly with a certain carrier, so it never hurts to sign up on your first go to start gaining those points. Plus if you have an account with the airline, it will make your next purchase much quicker, by already having saved details like your personal information, passport number, etc.
Keep your loyalty program accounts organized
If you are like me and have 100’s of different accounts scattered across the internet, it’s nearly impossible to remember your username and unique password, (and you should always be using a unique password).
One tool I use to keep it all together is LastPass. The basic version is free and it keeps all my passwords securely in a vault. It has a plugin to your internet browser so when you go to a site, once you log in to the plugin it will automatically populate the username and password for you. Therefore you only really need to memorize one master password. I honestly don’t know how I memorized all my passwords before I started using this. There are many programs like this, and they really help keep things together.
Watch out for those hidden travel fees!
Airlines around the world have different rules pertaining to baggage allowances. Always check what the baggage allowances are before you go ahead and book your flight. If you do need to pay extra to bring a bag, it is usually cheaper to do it while you are paying for the ticket, or in advance.
If you are able to travel light, this will definitely result in the best overall savings. If you can fit everything you need in a carry on bag, you will 1) save money on the checked bag price, and 2) save time while leaving the airport, as you won’t have to wait for your bag at baggage claim.
Read the fine print
Airlines have different rules while flying with them. One sneaky little one is having to print off your ticket beforehand. I generally opt to use a digital ticket on my phone whenever possible. However, some airlines do not allow this, and actually, force you to print the ticket off. When I was flying from Timisoara to Bucharest, Romania, the receptionist at Ryan Air wanted to charge me 15 euros because I hadn’t printed off my boarding pass. Like are you kidding me? That ink better be partly gold.
Luckily I walked around asking different kiosks, and a nice lady at a car rental place printed it off for me, free of charge.
However, it just goes to show that hidden fees exist. Make sure you are following all the airline guidelines so you don’t get slammed with one of these when you try to board your flight.
Consider paying in an alternative currency.
Explore paying in a different currency, like the local one or USD. Sometimes doing this can help you find a more favourable price. Nothing like some sweet arbitrage to save on flights! You will also have to consider the exchange rate and additional fees you may incur on your credit card by paying in a different currency. Most credit cards come with a 2.5% fee while paying in a foreign currency. Time to whip out those high school math skills.
I would highly recommend getting a 0% foreign exchange fee credit card for traveling. There are tons of options out there for Americans. For the Canadians the best card I have found is the Marriott Chase Card. It also has no annual fee the first year, so you can always cancel at the end if it isn’t worth it for you.
Always check the ticket price through the local portal first
This has got to be one of the biggest piss offs out there. Have you ever noticed that the prices for the exact same flights differ depending on what language or country of origin you are viewing the flights on?
For example check out the below booking with LATAM. Here in the first figure is the flight I want to take on Jan. 1/18 from Bogota to Medellin, Colombia. I am viewing the Colombian portal, and the flight LA4012 costs 89,890 Colombian Pesos.
Now if we look at the current exchange rate, that works out to about $38.15 Canadian. (89,890 / 2356 = 38.15)
Now just for fun let’s head over to the Canadian portal for LATAM to compare the price.
Hmm. Look what we have here. For the exact same flight LA4012 It’s saying $92 CAD.
I.e 92 – 38 = 54 dollars more expensive. That’s over double.
Now I am not really complaining, cause let’s face it, any flight under 100 bucks is usually a steal. But this is a serious increase that really upsets me. I know that saving money is very important to enable travel, so make sure to not fall prey to these unethical markup tactics. Shame on you LATAM, we’re no longer friends.
Now, this is not always the case with airlines, in fact, most don’t do this, but you always need to check to make sure. If could translate to some SERIOUS savings in the future.
Follow these travels tips, and your wallet will thank you.
Well, there you have it, 12 ways you can cut down on that plane ticket cost. So plan ahead, follow these tips, and have an unforgettable trip.
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