Traveling on a Budget: 5 Tips for Finding Cheaper Flights

Estimated Monthly Savings: $200

Searching for airline fares is often stressful. We all want to find the best deal possible, and sometimes we make ourselves crazy in the process. Here are five tips for finding cheaper flights without spending days staring at your computer.

  1. Flexibility is key! Being flexible with your travel dates is one of the best ways to save money. A couple of days can save you hundreds of dollars. A number of search engines allow you to search a whole month at a time to find the best days to fly. Make sure you’re considering special dates and peak season. Everyone knows about flying around Christmas, but check calendars of places you’re flying to, especially if it’s a foreign country, for local holidays. The Caribbean will always be more in the winter because that’s when everyone wants to go. You have to decide if it’s worth it to pay extra. Being flexible with location can result in even more discounts. If you really want to go to Orlando but there’s a flight to Tampa for $200 less, that could be worth looking into, especially if you’re already planning to rent a car. You can even consider local airlines, particularly in Europe and Asia, to get you to your destination. They’re often dirt cheap.
  2. Use the best search engines. Some sites don’t list budget or regional airlines, which can save you hundreds. Some also don’t offer the date and location flexibility options. Sites like Momondo, Google Flights, and Skyscanner offer incredible flexibility and give you all your options. Using these search sites, you can get great deals through the budget airlines like Spirit and Ryanair, but be sure to read the fine print. These airlines are inexpensive because they offer fewer services and charge extra for a host of things. If you don’t follow the rules and get hit by a bunch of charges, you won’t really save anything. A couple of examples are fees for carry-ons and having to print your ticket out for you. They spell the rules out clearly. You just have to read.
  3. Check sites that do the work for you. There are several sites that scour the Internet for incredible deals and pass them on to you. Some of the deals are only good for a few hours, so watch these sites carefully. Several also catch error fares. These are mistakes made by airlines due to a variety of reasons. These are always gone very quickly, as airlines are trying to make money. This is another benefit of flexibility. If you know you want to go on a trip but aren’t sure where to go, a $50 plane ticket can make that decision very easy.
  4. Mileage points programs. Free tickets and free upgrades are all there for the taking. Gather points when you fly, go out to dinner, shop online, etc. You can earn miles from most of the dollars you spend. This is an easy way to save big money with almost no work. Anytime you shop online, you should check if that business has deals with any points programs.
  5. Use a travel agent. Perhaps you thought travel agents were a thing of the past. They’re still here doing what they do. They have access to deals that the general public simply does not have. They can’t always save you money, but sometimes they can. Do your own research, but it’s worth it to check with them as well. Additionally, if you are not a very experienced flyer, especially if you’re going abroad, a travel agent can really help smooth the process and help you prepare for visas, immigration, customs, and travels within your destination country.

You want to enjoy traveling, not stress about it. Finding a good deal can allow you a little more wiggle room for hotels, restaurants, and more.