This is a part of my Ballin' on a Budget series, where I share tips, tricks and best-kept secrets to sticking to a budget while living your best life!
And while I was trying to decide what to do for Spring Break this year, I booked my flight to Puerto Rico a mere two weeks before our trip, and somehow I still managed to spend more than $200 less than my friends. How? I'll teach you!
1: don't wait to book // I can't tell you how many times I saw a flight at a great price, and thought well what if it gets cheaper, or nah I can wait a week.. and then when I check the price the week after, it's gone up. Sometimes if you're lucky, it's only by a couple dollars. Other times, it can make the entire trip completely unfeasible. I was planning a trip to Houston for a friend's wedding, and each of my flights in the connecting flight (I had two flights to get there) went up by a significant amount, making my flight increase from $350 to well over $700... so not worth it for just a three day trip.
2: compare before you book // If you take anything from this article, let it be this: Google Flights and SkyScanner. They compare every single travel site, airline and discount site to show you every single fare and every single flight going between your destinations, so you always know you're getting the best deal. A lot of times when I'm flying to or from the Caribbean, I think that Caribbean Airlines is the only option. Even though I know that's not true, subconciously, they're my first stop. My father, on the other hand, is a seasoned pro at booking flights (six kids living all around the world does that to you!) and always checks every single airline manually... but I use my millennial brain and have it done for me. Done and done.
3: sign up for flight alerts // Have a trip you're planning on making but want to scope out the prices first, you can set up flight alerts for certain dates, airlines and even particular flights. That way you're alerted if rates are rising and you can get on it and book! But even better than that, for those who have wanderlust, enter AirfareWatchdog. The site is just as it sounds: it looks out for the best deals in airfare, but their Fare Alerts feature is one of my favorites. Enter your home airport and they email you cheap flight deals when they pop up. What better reason to fly to London than a ridiculously cheap fare?
4: know when to buy and when to fly // Booking flights can be a game, and sometimes you have to beat the system. Tuesdays around 3pm is said to be the cheapest time to find flights as that's when discounted flights hit the airlines' websites, so try to book or search for flights on Tuesdays if you can. And choosing when you fly is important too. Flying during the week is usually cheaper than flying on weekends, late-night or red-eye flights are far less expensive than early morning or evening flights. Being smart about your flight choices can save you a couple (or a couple hundred) dollars.
5: book on incognito mode // That being said, when you're searching for flights, your browser history is obtaining the information and feeding it to the websites, so no you're not crazy for thinking that the flight went up just because you went back online to check the price. Switching to incognito mode or clearing your temporary files of your browser history allow you to book as if you're a new person, giving you the same low prices you originally saw.
6: check social media // People don't think to check an airline's Facebook or Twitter before they're booking a flight, but just like any other retailer, airlines have regular deals, specials and discounts. Your favorite airlines often have flash sales. Take it from me, one of my clients at work is an airline, and we've done several flash sale promos within the last month that we advertise throughout their social media. So keep your eyes peeled and get to following those airlines! You never know what'll pop up in your timeline..
I hope these tips help you when you're booking your next trip (or your hypothetical trip... tell me I'm not the only one who does that?!!). Traveling is the best, and now, flights don't have to break the bank!
What are your favorite ways to save money when traveling? Let me know in the comments below!