Tips for finding cheap flights.

Screenshot from video “How to draw an airplane” on youtube.

Have you ever noticed that paying for flights can, quite often, be the most expensive part of the trip? Thought flying is exceptionally convenient, it can also be exceptionally expensive.

Finding cheap flights, or at the very least, the best deal you can get on the day you’re purchasing, is important. So, here are some tips to finding the cheapest ticket possible.

Search prices using travel booking websites. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Momondo, Cheap-O-Air, etc… all have the ability to provide you quotes of tickets from multiple different airlines. If you don’t have flexibility as to when you book, at least check prices across different websites before you book to find which might be cheapest. My favourite website for searching plane ticket fares is momondo.com because I find it provides the option for the most airlines.

If you’re going to be making stopovers, consider the option of flying with more than one airline. One of the things I most appreciate about momondo.com is that the quotes it provides you can often include more than one airline. This is how you know you’re finding the cheapest tickets. Momondo might include a flight from Calgary, Canada to London, England on Air Canada and then a flight from London, England to Copenhagen, Denmark on Lufthansa. This is important to deal hunting because, if you live in Canada you know how expensive our flights are! Booking London to Copenhagen with AirCanada rather than Momondo could mean that you pay for AirCanada fees, rather than Lufthansa fees for your Copenhagen flight. And Lufthansa fees are A LOT cheaper.

Be flexible with your dates! If you know you want your holiday to be during a specific time of year, but don’t have specific dates you need to travel for, be open to all dates during that season. IE – If you want to go to Mexico in Winter, flights in January might be extremely expensive, while flights in February might be several hundred dollars cheaper.

Fly on weekdays, where possible. I’m not sure if this is the case internationally but I’ve noticed that , when purchasing flights in Canada and the USA, it’s more expensive to fly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday then it is Monday-Thursday. This is especially helpful when you’re leaving for quick trips, or weekend trips. Leaving on a Thursday as opposed to Friday could save you a lot of money on flights.

Airlines biggest ‘sales’ are offered on the biggest holidays. Boxing Day and Black Friday/Thanksgiving will always have considerably reasonable seat sales. Other holidays where seat sales often occur are Mother’s and Father’s Day, Canada Day and 4th of July, and Family Day (if it’s celebrated where you are).

Always book in advance. Gone are the days when airlines would put up last minute offers. These days, the longer you wait to purchase, the higher the prices are going to be, with very few exceptions. I’ve noticed that if you’re flying within Canada or the United States, five weeks in advance seems to be the ‘sweet spot’ for purchasing tickets.

Fly into smaller airports, where possible. If budget is important to you, consider this, airlines pay heavy gate fees to be able to fly into major airports (especially if they’re international airports) and that gate fee they pay is passed on to customers through ticket prices. This is why flying into smaller airports can often be much cheaper. Example: Flying into Abbotsford Airport, 1 hour from Vancouver BC can be anywhere from 50 to 200 dollars cheaper (depending on where you’re coming from) than flying into Vancouver Airport.

Use a credit card that collects airline points. This is SOOOOOOO important. While you’re buying your groceries, paying for your hair cut, paying your bills, or doing anything that you spend money on, use that credit card. Even if you use the credit card for a purchase and pay it off 15 minutes later, you will be collecting Airline rewards points for those purchases. Do some research about what card will get you the best rewards for your lifestyle. I took this leap in 2014 and, since then, have earned anywhere from $200-$600 off flights per year depending on how frequently I’ve used the credit card.

Tips for travelling on the cheap.

If you’re anything like me, all you want to do is wander the world. It’s hard to blame anyone for Wanderlust when there’s so many places to go and so many things to see. Travelling is an expensive hobby, though. And, if you’re not smart about how you’re travelling, things can get really out of reach, really quickly.

A desire to see the world should never be haulted by cost, though. So, if you’re like me and not independently wealthy, then steps need to be taken to ensure that you can get where you want to go without suffering for it for months before, or after.

So, without further adieu, here are some vague tips that I frequently use when planning trips, when looking for new places to see, or when helping friends/family (who aren’t independently wealthy themselves) book trips.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING ON A BUDGET:

Be flexible with your dates. Obviously this isn’t always possible. If you’re needing to get to a wedding, or some sort of an event somewhere, you have to go on a certain date. But, if time is your oyster, the world can be too.

Example: I was hellbent on the idea of being in Las Vegas for my thirtieth birthday last year. Flights to Vegas for my birthday were $350 there and $395 return. Flights nine days after my birthday were $100 there and $78 back. That’s a savings of more than $500. Just for going nine days after my birthday. When I thought about it I reminded myself that Vegas is still Vegas, and no one’s going to hear I went nine days after my birthday, they’re going to hear that I went to Vegas for my birthday.

Uses travel-friendly booking websites. Though it may seem as you’re selling your soul a small bit when you give your email address over to websites like Expedia or Trivago, these sites can actually be incredibly helpful. Being able to see hotel prices all in one place can allow you to know which hotels are more within your budget and what places to avoid. These websites can also, often, have cheaper prices for reservations than booking on an individual hotel’s website.

Ask a local. Whether it through a blog, or asking someone on a street when you get there, ask someone where the best places to eat or shop are. Tell them you’re on a budget, tell them you’re trying to save. There’s no one who is going to know more about a place and where is cheap to eat or shop then someone who lives there.

Pack our own food. Where possible, this can be a huge money saver. Prices are marked up extensively at restaurants and cafes, especially in overly touristy areas. Wandering into the grocery store and grabbing some food, even if it’s a pre-packaged veggie or meat tray, can be a lot cheaper than a restaurant or a cafe. I quite often opt for this route. I prefer to spend my money on things other than food when I travel, where possible. 

Don’t shop at the airport. Don’t do it. Ever. Even something as simple as a Starbucks coffee can be 2-3 more dollars just for purchasing it in the airport. Also, those cute and dainty little shops that line the halls en-route to your gate… they’re there to suck you in. Resist the temptations.

Skip the frills. Things like airline wi-fi can seem really intriguing when you’re bored on the plane. But, if you think ahead and bring a book… or a notebook… or a sleeping pill, you won’t need to purchase that wi-fi and can save yourself some dollars.

Ask ahead. Finding a hotel that’s reservation includes breakfast in the morning and access to a laundry room is possible. If you’re going to be staying somewhere for a longer-stint of time, having access to a laundry room can be a life-saver. And, if you don’t have access to a laundry room, it’s a lot cheaper to find a laundromat ahead of time rather than using a laundry service.

See what public transit looks like where you’re headed. Using public transit in a new city, if you can wrap your head around it, can be a lot cheaper than taxi and uber trips. Plus, public transit can allow you to see more of the city if you’re willing to try.

Do your research about free, or cheap, attractions. These are out there. They do exists. Pinterest can be an incredible assistance in this process because people who’ve been there before share their stories about where to go and what to see, what is fun and what is not worth it.

Use coupons, sales, discount codes. There’s a local airline near me that has sales on holiday’s. Doesn’t matter the holiday, every holiday you can bet there’s going to be a sale. Usually it involves waking up early in the morning to be one of the first ‘x’ amount of people to purchase the ticket under the sale price. If you can wake up early and get that discount, DO IT. And if you don’t wake up early, still see if there’s a discount code for you to be able to use to cut costs just that much more. Even if it’s only 10 percent off flights, 10 percent off flights still counts.

Take advantage of loyalty programs. I joined the loyalty program of a car rental company about a year ago. I don’t rent cars a ton, but when I do, I am earning points for them. Those points can add up over time and, eventually, I can redeem those points for free rentals. Taking advantage of a loyalty program for purchases that you have to make, or rentals that you have to have, will help you in the long-run when you take a trip you don’t have to incur those costs on. This works for hotels as well.