Traveling comes with many benefits. You get to have amazing experiences and gain new perspectives from people outside your normal environment. Unfortunately, traveling can be quite expensive–especially the cost of flights involved.
But don’t let expensive plane tickets discourage you from experiencing the world. It this article, I will go over 15 tips you can use to get cheaper plane tickets for your next adventure.
1. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates and Times
The date and time that you choose to fly can have a huge impact on the price of your ticket. Holidays, such as the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are popular travel times for most people across the country.
Additionally, many people travel to warm destinations during the dead of winter or take vacations when children are on break from school. August, in particular, is a common time to travel to Europe for families and young adults.
To find the cheapest flights keep some flexibility with your flight dates. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Europe, consider flying in the fall. You’ll be able to get an affordable ticket by avoiding the rush of summer travelers.
Even if you do have a particular month or season in mind, keep the date flexible. You can typically find cheaper flights by scouting prices across several weeks rather than just a few days.
The day of your flight can also have an impact on the price. For example, flights in the middle of the week are typically cheaper than flights on the weekend, Monday, or Friday. Flights are usually in less demand during these days, which results in cheaper flights.
It’s also typically cheaper to fly the first few days after a holiday, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. Since most people have already traveled to their destination, there is less demand for flights at this time. It is also common for early morning or late night flights to be less expensive than flights during the day.
When choosing the date and time of your flight, stay flexible. Flexibility will result in the lowest prices when selecting a flight. Remember those days right after a holiday, the middle of the week, early morning, and late-night flights are often cheaper.
2. Be Flexible with Your Destinations
The next best cost-saving flight solution is to have flexibility in your destination. Ideally, you should try to be flexible in both your flight times, dates, and destinations to find the best price.
Most flight search engines such as Kayak and Google Flights, allow you to set the departure airport and set the destination as anywhere. This is a great way to find the cheapest flight from your departure airport. If you are open to traveling to different locations, you can always find a very cheap flight no matter where in the world you are going.
When using this search function, I prefer to use the map search function. This will give you a map with all the prices to travel to different locations. This makes it easy to see where it is cheapest to travel.
Even if you have a general region in mind, keeping the exact location is a great way to save money. Often times, flights to different airports in the same region can be drastically cheaper. It might be better to save several hundred dollars by flying to an airport that is farther and taking a train, taxi, or bus to reach your final destination.
Searching for flights while keeping the location flexible will often result in your traveling to places you would not travel to otherwise. This is a great way to find new adventures on a budget. Keeping your destination flexible is a great way to find cheap flights anywhere in the world.
3. Fly Budget Carriers
International flights used to only be available through the large, high-priced airlines. This made it difficult for people on a budget to travel out of the country. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. Long flights to international destinations are now available from budget carriers.
Norweigan Airlines is a great example of a budget-friendly carrier that offers flights across the world. This is an excellent choice if you are trying to fly to Europe on a budget. Keep in mind that when flying on budget carriers, they typically charge fees separately.
For example, on Norweigan, you receive a free carry on bag, but every checked bag is for each leg of your flight. Also, food and seat selection are also an additional fee per leg of your flight. If you don’t carry a ton of luggage and are willing to forgo some on the benefits of other carriers, then budget carriers are a great option.
Flying budget airlines is also a great option when you are flying small distances. For example, if you are flying between different regions in the same country, such as China, there are smaller local carriers that are often less expensive. In China, you could fly on Spring Airlines or China United over other larger airlines.
When you book through a budget airline, there are a few extra considerations to remember. For one, look up the location of the airport that you’ll be flying to. You may need to take a bus or train to reach the major city nearby.
Also, check the airline’s luggage restrictions. The size and weight of your luggage, as well as the number of bags that you can bring, will likely be limited. If you go over these restrictions, you’ll probably be charged a sizable fee, too. So, try to adhere to the luggage rules whenever possible.
It is pretty common for budget airlines to offer flights 20-30% cheaper than other airlines. When choosing budget airlines, remember you often give up some personal luxuries.
4. Travel Off-Peak
Flying off-peak is a great way to find cheap flights. Certain regions and locations typically have peak travel times. For example, if you are flying to Norway, the peak time is between September and March. During this time flights are more expensive than any other time. To avoid the high prices try to buy a light outside of this time.
When you travel during the off-season, you can often get cheaper flights to specific destinations. For instance, if you want to travel to Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean, avoid traveling during the winter months, as many people go to those warm-weather spots in December and January. Look at flights to those locations during the summer instead for more affordable rates.
If you’re traveling in Europe and North America, the off-seasons are typically September to early December, then January to the middle of May. The peak seasons are during the summer, from June to August, as well as winter holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Before choosing your destination, always determine what the most common peak times of travel are. When planning your trip, purchase your flights before or after peak time. This will result in the cheapest flight possible.
5. Know The Best Time To Book Cheap Flights
Having a strategy for when to book your flights can impact the total price of your tickets. Flight ticket prices fluctuate from week to week – sometimes even from day to day! So, knowing the best time to purchase your tickets is essential if you want to get the lowest price.
For domestic flights, if you see a good price, you should generally book the tickets one to three months before takeoff. If you’re booking an international flight, you should book the tickets two to eight months prior to the flight date. The closer you get to the flight date (typically within a month), the higher the rates will go, making it crucial to book in advance.
If you’re traveling during peak season, such as during the winter holidays or summer vacation, book your tickets one or two months earlier than the recommendations above. For these popular flights, the rates will start to climb even earlier.
That said, by purchasing your tickets too early, you could lose savings from sales to come. Many airlines run promotions often, making it worthwhile to wait until later in our recommended window. If you see a great rate while the airline is having a sale, don’t hesitate to book – that price likely won’t drop any further.
A great online tool that will help you find the cheapest flight prices by month is Skyscanner. Using this tool will provide you a visual guide of the flight prices broken down by month. This tool is great for finding the cheapest month to travel or the cheapest month to travel during peak time.
6. Don’t Always Fly Direct
Flying direct to a location is often the most expensive option when buying plane tickets. By adding one of more stops to your flight you can reduce the cost significantly. The downside of choosing a flight with multiple stops is that it will take you significantly longer to arrive at your location.
If you are not in a rush to arrive at your destination then adding a few stops to your flight is a great way to save some money.Often any price decrease is only beneficial between one and three stops and in particular between one and two stops.
Most flight booking websites such as Kayak and Expedia allow you to select the number of stops you would like on your flight. They typically make it easy to tell what is the biggest price difference between the cheapest flight at each category as well.
It is important to remember that adding stops to your flight will not always reduce the price. A bigger indicator of weather there will be a price decrease is the total travel time. If you travel time with 2 stops is 5 hours while your flight wit one stop is 10 hours. More often than not the flight with one-stop will be more expensive.
Another great to save money is finding your own connecting flights to a nearby location and then find a shorter flight to your actual designation. For example, if you want to travel to Tokyo, Japan ($1100 direct flight from LAX) you can travel to Shanghai, China ($600) first, and then take a smaller local flight to Tokyo Japan ($200).
Another option you can consider is flying to a smaller airport in the region you want to visit. Sometimes airports in the same country or region can be drastically cheaper than others. Consider looking into flying to a nearby city and taking a taxi, bus, or train to arrive at your final location.
Flying indirect requires more research and preparation than flying direct. However, it could save you a significant amount of money and make your trip much more affordable.
7. Remember That Not All Search Engines Are Equal
As you’re doing online research to find cheap flights, keep in mind that all flight search engines are different.
Some sites exclude specific airlines from their search results. This typically occurs when airlines avoid paying booking commissions to websites.
Other flight search engines only provide prices that come directly from the airline, rather than prices on other discounted booking sites. You’ll also find that select flight search engines don’t provide information for booking sites unless they’re in English, which can limit your options for international flights.
The message here is that it’s important to try multiple flight search engines before booking your tickets. Even if you have a go-to site, the best search engine for your purposes will change from trip to trip. The site that got you the best price on your last trip won’t necessarily do the same for your future one.
Of course, that said, a handful of search engines are more reliable than most. The following websites are our top picks for finding consistently low flight prices:
- Google Flights: It’s no surprise that Google provides one of the most complete and easy-to-use flight search engines on the internet. Google Flights allows users to view prices for several destinations, making it an excellent choice for flexible travelers.
- Momondo: Momondo is one of our leading choices because it searches through the majority of airlines and booking websites on the internet – even international ones. Most of the time, Momondo will help you find a far lower rate than you would get directly from the airline.
- Skyscanner: Just like Momondo, Skyscanner provides a remarkable array of destinations. We love that Skyscanner has an intuitive, user-friendly interface and a stellar mobile app.
- Other reliable search engines: Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, and Priceline.
We generally recommend starting with Momondo when you shop for flights. It gathers information for every airline, budget, and otherwise.
Plus, it searches all different booking websites, even those that aren’t in English. Additionally, all of the websites that are displayed on Momondo must adhere to scrupulous regulations to ensure legitimacy. Among experienced travelers, Momondo is an instant go-to.
Priceline and Kayak are two other popular flight search engines to check out. These aren’t our first choices, but they’re worth a look when you’re trying to find the best possible flight.
Southwest is a great budget airline, but its flights don’t appear on any flight search engines or booking websites. So, you’ll need to shop for Southwest flights by visiting its website directly.
8. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
For students and people under the age of 26, a plethora of special travel discounts is up for grabs. Oftentimes, just by proving that you’re a student, you can score a 20 to 30% on flight tickets. You shouldn’t pass up these deals if you’re eligible, and agencies such as Flight Centre or STA Travel can help you find them.
You should also remember that many student discounts can be used for airline partners. If you fly Delta, for instance, you can apply their student discount towards partner carriers like AirFrance and KLM. With multiple airline options for your student discount, you buy tickets that are priced well below the standard rate.
To find out which airlines provide student discounts, check out their website or give them a call. In doing so, you could save as much as 20% off of your next airline ticket.
9. Mix and Match Airlines
By purchasing your tickets directly through an airline, you’ll be limited to flights offered by that one airline, as well as any partner airlines that it works with. This sometimes isn’t the most economical strategy if you’re looking to get the best possible price on a flight.
To save money on your tickets, you can look into purchasing tickets on multiple airlines. This could mean that your airlines are different for the departing and returning flights. Or, if you have connecting flights, you may switch airlines in the layover. Breaking legs of the trip into multiple stops is often the most affordable option.
Booking your flights through separate airlines requires more time, effort, and research. But, it can also make for exceptional savings on your flight tickets.
Third-party flight booking sites, such as Kiwi.com, mix and match airlines for you. This type of site will break down your trip into multiple flights to find the most affordable option. Kiwi.com even includes budget airlines, which can make a significant difference in the total cost of your tickets.
The other benefit with using Kiwi.com is that the site offers an independent guarantee for cancellations, changes in schedule, and flight delays.
If you were to book flights on multiple airlines on your own, the airlines won’t provide you with a safety net in case you were to miss your connection or run into other trouble. With Kiwi.com’s guarantee, your purchase is protected. So, you don’t have to worry about losing the full cost of your ticket if a flight gets canceled, rescheduled, or delayed.
In these cases, so long as you reach out to Kiwi.com promptly, the site would provide a new flight booking or refund your purchase. This guarantee provides a fantastic way to save money on flights without having to worry about the risk of missing your connection.
For those who have tried booking flights directly through an airline and are having sticker shock, flying with multiple airlines could be a great solution. Oftentimes, by simply switching airlines mid-leg in your journey, you can save hundreds of dollars.
10. Don’t Forget About Local Airlines.
As much as we love the major flight search engines, flights from many small, local airlines aren’t factored into them. This is especially true if you’re traveling to a remote or obscure location.
If you’re traveling to a lesser-known region, take the time to research local airlines in the area. Some small, local airlines provide excellent deals and special offers. For instance, a small airline called Hawk Air in Canada often runs sizable sales. Local airlines could save you a large chunk of change, so don’t forget to check them!
11. Use Points and Miles
Everyone who travels should be signed up for airline rewards programs. These programs can be remarkably lucrative by providing free flights, hotel discounts, and other great travel benefits. These benefits can reduce the overall cost of your trip and often make it more enjoyable. Flight upgrades, rideshare service credits, free event access, airport lounge access, and even welcome bonuses are just a few examples of the bonuses that you can earn as a travel rewards member.
Even if you don’t travel often, it’s worth it to sign up for travel rewards programs. These programs are free to sign up for, and you don’t have to spend extra money to join. Simply by traveling as you otherwise would have, you can earn free flights for you and your family.
It’s possible to take trips across the globe without spending much money by being strategic with your travel rewards. This is called travel hacking, and it’s a great way for budget-conscious travelers to fulfill their dream trips.
12. Search Ticket Prices for Individual Travelers.
If you’re traveling in a group, with family or with friends, you should consider purchasing each ticket individually. If you buy tickets in a group, the airline will apply the highest rate to every single ticket. This bumps up the total cost of your tickets by a large margin.
Take a group of three traveling together, for instance. If you book the tickets altogether from the airline, one seat may cost $50, the second may cost $100, and the third may cost $200. However, the airline will apply the $200 rate to all three tickets. This makes your flight expenses much higher.
While booking tickets separately for every member of your group may seem like a pain, it’s worth the savings. Most airlines let you choose your seats when you’re checking out, so you’ll still likely be able to choose seats that are together. But, even if you’re scattered across the airplane, you’ll still have saved a large sum of money.
13. Look for Tickets in Other Countries
The exchange rate of your currency in another country may help you score cheaper flights. If your currency is at a high value, search for flights in countries that currently have a weaker currency.
For instance, consider the U.S. dollar and the New Zealand dollar. When the U.S. currency is at a high value and the New Zealand dollar is at a low value, purchasing a ticket on the New Zealand form of the airline’s website could save you hundreds.
It’s not always possible to book flights in different currencies than that of your home countries. To do so, you’ll likely need a credit card that allows for foreign transactions. But, considering that it may save you cash on your trip, there’s no harm in trying.
14. Act Fast
Typically, if you see a super-low rate for a flight, it won’t last long. Great prices typically only last for a few days before rising. So, if you don’t act quickly when you see an awesome price, you could miss out. This is especially true if you’re shopping during an airline sale. Once the sale ends, the flight prices will shoot back up.
15. Keep an Eye Out for Special Deals.
Airlines often send out special deals via email to their newsletter subscribers. So, by signing up for airlines’ email newsletters and later-minute sale sites, you can take advantage of sudden deals.
You can also set up alerts for prices related to specific destinations and trips. This is perfect if you are trying to track prices or planning for a trip. Once you see a great price you can capitalize on it.
Another plus of signing up for an airline newsletter is that they often include bonuses for frequent fliers. If you jump on these opportunities to maximize your rewards, you can earn free flights and excellent add-ons.
After you sign up for email newsletters from airlines, check out these websites for additional travel deals:
- The Flight Deal, which provides good international flight offers.
- Airfare-watchdog, which can help you search for flight sales in the U.S.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights, which is an incredible site for domestic flight offers.
- Holiday Pirates, which offers great travel deals in Europe.
- Secret Flying, which is another good website for international flight offers.
When you visit these websites, make sure to turn on fare alerts for all of them. To create a fare alert, you’ll simply type in your destination information, date options, and email. Then, the website will notify you when flight prices are low.
This extensive article has demonstrated that you don’t need a large budget to travel. By maintaining flexibility in your travel dates, destination, and airline, you can find incredible deals when you search the web. Plenty of online flight tools are also at your disposal, making it more convenient than ever to sift through travel deals and find your perfect flight.
While flying affordably undoubtedly requires planning, research, and organization, it’s possible for everyone. So, get started by checking out our recommended flight search engines and signing up for frequent flier programs. You’ll soon be browsing stunning destinations all over the world!