Editor’s Note: Ross Hudgens is a travel writer for Low Fares Blog, which specializes in cheap flights. Ross is an expert in travel, with years of experience traveling and working in the travel industry.
As America continues to look a bleak economy straight in the face, it is more important than ever to leverage all options to find the cheapest flights and trips online, so we can still enjoy an affordable vacation.
Done right, the intelligent traveler can chop considerable dollars off his or her airfare and invest it somewhere else, where it would be better used. Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer to finding the cheapest fare available. Getting the lowest price requires diligence and careful planning.
Read on to find a list of the best tips that will allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the vacation you deserve – instead of having to worry about your pocketbook.
7 Tips for Finding Cheap Airfares
- Be flexible. If you have to fly in at 5PM and leave at 12AM, you’re probably not going to find a cheap flight. Sacrifice a few hours or decide to spend another day wherever you are and you’ll be able to drop a good amount off your bill. Don’t, and you’ll suffer the consequences of stubbornness.
- Book far in advance. There is probably no stronger tip than this. If you have some leadership ability, start planning up to a year in advance, push your friends and family on a trip, and you’ll save considerably. However, there is always risk involved with this that comes with booking so far in advance. It’s never too late, though. If you’re within a month, think of the trip, plan it, and book it that day. Generally, the longer you wait, the larger the cost.
- Continue checking prices. If you know you have a flight in the future, and it’s already not too late, don’t book immediately. Fares can fluctuate like the stock market, so it can be the most cost effective to continuously plug in your iteniary online until you find the best deal available.
- Buy late. For the spur-of-the-moment traveler, several options exist for dirt-cheap flights. The first is to find all your local airlines online and sign up for their newsletters. You’ll often get tips about last-second deals that can make a great trip affordable. There are also several specialized sites available online that will help you find a great last-second flight.
- Fly on weekdays. Think about what most people do when they travel, and do the opposite. If you do this, you will save the most money, because airlines are always trying to fill these seats. This means fly on the weekdays, when their planes are the least crowded, and the flights are the cheapest.
- Air Passes. Many countries offer air passes at low prices for tourists to promote tourism and inter-country travel. If you have plans to see the scope of Asia or Australia or any other large body of land, looking into Air Passes can be the most cost-effective way to see the country or continent coast-coast. These passes will generally give you a certain number of preordained flights within the country to go with your round-trip airfare.
- Investigate. Use multiple travel sites. Don’t assume that the first one you check is going to have the same airfare deals as the others, they won’t. To save the most money, check all the online agencies. There are also several multi-search engines available online. Also, you can sometimes find the best deals on the airlines’ own websites. Southwest sells fares on its own site exclusively, and other airlines are not opposed to posting the lowest possible fare on their own domain.
The more complex you get, in terms of mixing fares, buying hotels, and doing your homework, the more likely it will become that you find the best price available. As it is with most things, hard work pays off. Work hard and you’ll save the money that you don’t need to be spending on your next flight.