After traveling for work for ten years and a nine month trip around the world, I’ve collected some strategies for traveling cheaper. I’ll cover them in a ten part series in this order:
A. The flight
– How to Book the Cheapest Flight
– How to Use Free Flight Stopovers
– How to Find Alternatives to Expensive Flights
– Finding the Cheapest Airport Transportation
B. The Hotel / Accommodation
– How to Book Cheapest Hotel Rooms
– How to Find Hotel Alternatives
– How to Use Hotel Points
– How to Get Local Currency for Your Trip
– Avoid International ATM Fees!
– Know How Much Things Cost
How to book the cheapest flight
Flights can easily represent one of the largest expenses of a vacation, so it pays big time to do a little more research to try and save money. There are a few strategies you can use to save money on flights while traveling. Here are my recommendations for finding cheaper flights.
The Booking Site
It all starts with the booking website. There are quiet a few out there, but for all of our travels, I primarily visited two sites – Kayak.com and Skyscanner.com. Here is a quick review of each:
Kayak.com searches multiple websites to make sure you get the best price. They search directly with airlines as well as reviewing other booking sites to find the best deal. What I like best about Kayak is that it’s pretty easy to make quick changes to your search to see how prices change. For example, you can do a “plus or minus 1 or 3 days” to see if prices are cheaper in the days around your intended travel. It also easily lets you search from nearby cities.
Skyscanner.com has a great smart phone app and recently updated their website which used to be quite archaic. However, anything they lacked in their early usability issues, they more than make up for in their ability to find you cheap fares! It’s become my go to search engine for booking flights and the app makes it really easy to see prices across multiple dates – much easier than the website.
Strategies for Finding Cheaper Flights
Now that you have the tools for searching for cheap flights, let’s talk strategy. Here are some of the steps I use to make sure I find the cheapest flights.
A. Check alternate airports
This may sound like a painful thing to do, but many cities across the US and across the world have multiple airports. Kayak will check these automatically, but you’ll need to check each airline manually when using Skyscanner. If you do find a better price at another airport, make sure it’s still easy to get to your destination or it may not be worth it.
B. Check alternate dates
As previously mentioned, Kayak and Skyscanner both allow you to easily view alternate dates. We’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars by waiting a day or two so if you’re flexible, this can definitely be worth it.
C. Check flight prices throughout the week
Flight prices can change very quickly and it’s worth it to monitor them for a couple of days (or weeks) to see if prices change. Kayak also has a great chart that shows you how the price has changed over the previous weeks and gives you a “% confidence” of whether you should book at the price or not. Some airlines even let you hold a flight for 3-5 days with no cancellation fee which is great because you can hold it, check for a few days, and then book it if your original price still seems good.
Do you have any recommendations on how to book the cheapest flights? If so, I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!