Everyone loves a vacation whether it’s a short or long trip, don’t you agree? But, most American workers aren’t taking full advantage of their paid vacation days, probably due to the costs of travel. If you’re overdue on taking a trip, but the high price of traveling is keeping you from taking the plunge and booking the tickets, then you’re most likely unfamiliar with how to find cheap flights.
So, if you have a sneaking suspicion you’ve overpaid for airfare in the past or simply want to make sure you’re getting the best travel deals out there, you might want to pay attention to the following tips.
Reserve early, but not too early
More than 50% of millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, which means it’s understandable if saving money is a priority for you. One way to cut costs is to buy your tickets during the prime booking window. If you book too early (say, nine months to a year in advance), you’ll almost be guaranteed to lose out on a deal when prices inevitably drop at some point. However, buying too late won’t provide the discount travel plans you hoped for either, as airlines tend to raise prices again as the departure gets closer. It’s best to aim for when prices are “just right.” For domestic fares, that usually means buying one to three months in advance; when flying internationally, try to book three to five months ahead of time.
Be choosy with your destination
If you don’t have a specific vacation spot in mind, you may be able to save money by picking a non-traditional destination. You might be able to snag some cheap flights to major U.S. cities, particularly ones that are popular for business trips. If you’ve ever wanted to see the nation’s capital or where the Boston tea party occurred, you might be able to visit on the cheap. Because business hubs often see a lot of last-minute fares, airlines can offer more variation in their ticket prices along these routes. That translates into more substantial deals for travelers just like you.
Don’t fly during peak season
When you’ve got your heart set on a locale or are determined to take a vacation regardless of when it happens, a bit of flexibility with travel dates can go a long way. Not only does that mean flying on certain days of the week but also at certain times of the year. In general, it’s best to avoid traveling during peak season. For example, you’ll probably be able to book cheap flights in the summer if you fly before mid-June or after mid-August. But late June and the month of July will cost you a lot more. During other times of the year, take holidays and a destination’s busiest tourist season(s) into account before booking a trip.
Keep in mind that when you fly, you’re paying for convenience. That means it’s typically going to cost more to fly on an airline that includes free drinks and snacks or choosing a direct route with no layover. Ultimately, nothing comes for free. If you want to save money, you should be prepared to be inconvenienced — at least a little bit. You might want to consider flying out of or into an airport that’s a bit farther away to see if you can save a bit. If spending more time traveling will save you more money, then you may want to book a trip with a layover or two rather than a direct flight. Many passengers swear by no-frills airlines that make you pay for only what you’re getting. And while they certainly aren’t as cushy as other carriers, they are a lot more budget-friendly and are perfect for those who don’t care much about amenities. Picking out and booking cheap flights isn’t an exact science. There’s always a possibility that a price could drop or could miss out on a deal. But by following these tips and always using a reliable flight comparison platform, you’ll be armed with everything you need to save on your next trip.