Air Fare Hacks for the Budget Traveler

Air Fare Hacks for the Budget Traveler

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My international airfare was always my biggest cost items in my travel budget. Still, it has become a smaller dent in my overall costs since I learnt about all the airfare hacks. Here are some tips to help you travel for less.

Pay less for your flight with these airfare hacks

1. NB NB NB  Be flexible about flight dates 

I am not too choosy about the day of the week, even the month I travel.  If I can, I fly mid-week.  I always avoid busy holiday dates, and I research the black out dates (high-season) to avoid.  Low season means much lower airfares. I travel abroad not in summer which is peak season for vacationers, but just before or just after.

2. Research the many comparative airfare sites

The internet is the gift to travelers who know how to take advantage of airfare hacks. These sites do the work of comparing fares, finding the cheapest flights. They also identify best times of the day, days of the weeks, the best  months, to book a flight.

Compare fares offered by the major carriers – otherwise known as legacy or major airlines. These sites do the job: Skyscanner, Kayak, Expedia, Priceline, Google Flights, TripAdvisor, CheapOAir, FlightNetwork, and Orbitz.

A good website that compares fares of low-cost carriers is Vayama

Hopper is an app that tells me ‘when to fly and buy’. Skyscanner.com also identifies best dates to fly for less to a particular destination, and the cheapest flights on offer for that period.

Note:  Check if the values quoted on these apps and websites are correct.  The official website of an airline for which a fare has been quoted might say something different, since not always the prices are updated in real time.

Kayak features a calendar of the lowest fares for each day of the month for my chosen route and destination city.

Sometimes, my travel dates are super-flexible. Kayak, Skyscanner and Momondo enable a search for flexible dates for a whole month or even a whole year!  These sites, however, show only results from searches already made by other users.

Hipmunk and Travelocity  allow an airfare search +/- 1-3 days.

3. Try the major air carrier sites

They sometimes have specials which offer lower fares than those on comparison websites.

4. Be flexible with your flight times

Traveling early in the morning or late at night is often cheaper.

5. Book ahead

at least two weeks ahead, preferably three for domestic flights, and 30 days for international flights.

6. Return after Saturday night

Many routes are cheaper if you fly back after a Saturday night.  The reason is that the airlines are trying to avoid giving these discounted fares to their business travelers:  business travelers will pay the higher rates because they have little choice about when to travel, and they don’t usually stay over a Saturday night.

7. Take advantage of airline competition

At heavily trafficked airports, carriers frequently have promotional offers in order to compete with the many carriers that fly there.

8. Avoid direct non-stop flights

This is another way to reduce the price of airfare. It’s often cheaper to arrange a flight schedule with a transfer somewhere on the way to your final destination.

Other useful air travel hacks

Booking my flight early does not guarantee that cheaper fares won’t pop up as it gets closer to the date I leave. Prices are always changing.  My advice is to book the flight right when you think you see a good deal. I have seen cheaper flights later on and I can’t switch the ticket. As long as I am happy with the money I’ve already saved, there’s no point in having regrets.

The more I travel, the more I realize how worthwhile it is to buy insurance that covers any changes without a penalty. These fines can start at $150 and sometimes be the price of the original ticket!!

MichaelBlueJay is a site I often check in on. It’s a trove of airfare hacks, providing tons of current information and tips for cheap air travel.

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