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Traveling falls into most peoples’ list of habitual practices – what’s not to love about it? New places, new faces and best of all, new experiences.
However fun and exciting it may come across to be, traveling also has its fair share of downsides. The major one being the insane amount of costs involved.
Fortunately, there are a couple of things smart travelers such as yourself can try before booking a ticket for your next flight. The following are some cost-effective travel hacks that can cut the cost of your next flight a great deal:
1. Compare Airline Prices
This may sound like something you’ve heard before, but there’s every benefit in finding alternative airlines that offer lower ticket prices.
As you may already be well aware of, booking a flight can be overwhelming, not to mention excessively costly.
This can be owed mostly to the absolute number of flight and airline options.
With a little research, it’s possible for you to sift through the entire catalog of airline fairs and find the one that’s perfectly in sync with what you consider to be affordable.
Though it may take some time before you find your preferred airfare prices, it’s totally worth it in the end – moneywise, of course. Here are four simple steps to follow when comparing flight prices:
Use Only The Best Travel Booking Sites
Sites such as Expedia.com or Travelocity.com are useful in comparing various airline fares. You’ll automatically be able to pick out the airline that offers the most affordable price for your flight route. There’s also a list of connections listed in each flight you’re quoted in.
Check For Web-Only Fares
Look to see if there are airlines that offer web-only fares that appear exclusively on their website. For instance, to find out whether American Airlines is offering any special deals, head on to AA.com and click on the links provided on the main page.
Check For Any Affordable Airfare That’s Listed
Visit FareCompare.com or Kayak.com to see if any affordable airfares are listed. Kayak sifts through a variety of travel booking sites including Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, Hotwire.com, Airfare.com, and Vayama.com for only the lowest rates. What you’ll basically do from there is to pick out what your pocket can handle.
Don’t Stop At the Cheap Airfare
You may also want to review the baggage fees and allowance for the airline you’re comfortable with. For instance, you may be shocked to find that the cheaper airline you settled with has high baggage fees while the more expensive one charges nothing in regards to baggage fees.
For this kind of information, you may need to refer to their website.
2. Avoid Hefty Baggage
Speaking of baggage fees, did you know that they were the most profitable sector in terms of additional costs. In 2017 alone, the total sum collected by airlines added up to a jaw-dropping $4.5 billion.
Aside from expensive baggage, here are a number of ways in which airlines profit from its passengers. One of the most obvious fees probably has to be baggage checking fees.
Unfortunately, the baggage fees are on an upward spiral. 2018 saw an increase in baggage fees from major airlines such as American, Delta, United and JetBlue.
Unless you’re rich enough to pony up an extra $60 for checking on a round-trip domestic flight, you may want to consider these three simple tips to bypass the added baggage costs:
Understand Your Airline’s Baggage Policies
This, as you may come to find out later on, is no mean feat. Baggage policies tend to change without notice and vary significantly from one airline to the next in terms of:
- bag weight and size
- number of bags
- date of travel
Before booking your flight, it’s essential to read through your airline’s policy. Kayak.com also provides a fee estimator in according to your airline baggage fees.
Purchase a Handy Luggage Scale
Checked bags are less expensive when compared to overweight baggage. Though you may have successfully followed the tips on a YouTube video on stuffing a months’ worth of garments into a single suitcase, you’ll still have to pay for your overweight luggage.
Save yourself the hefty luggage fees by purchasing a portable luggage scale. Weigh your belongings any time before your booked flight.
Ship your luggage
Shipping sounds like a restrictively costly prospect. As most airlines nowadays charge $50 per roundtrip for the first ten or so checked bags, shipping your bags won’t sound so expensive after all.
Prices offered by USPS, UPS, FedEx and other standard delivery services vary according to the weight and size of the bags. Some of them might be a little expensive, so it’s important that you do your research well in advance.
3. Get Yourself Bumped on Purpose
Did you know that most airlines have their flights overbooked on purpose? Yes, it’s perfectly legal, owing to the fact that it’s all a game of numbers. Statistically, they’re aware of the fact that not a lot of passengers will adhere to the set timelines.
Sometimes, all booked passengers show up on time. This prompts the airline officials to bump passengers on flights slated for later times.
By law, if you get bumped onto later flights, you’re supposed to be compensated. Also, rather than force you onto a plane, they normally ask for any volunteers.
What this means is that you’ll not travel into the flight you were originally booked for. Instead, you’ll get into a plane for a later time.
It could go anywhere from a few hours to a day, depending on where you were traveling to. If you need to stay overnight as you await your flight, you’ll receive free accommodation vouchers.
If you live in the same city, you may even be able to spend the night at a hotel. That way, you won’t have to commute to the airport if you live at a far off distance. All compensated passengers will receive approximately $200-$400 worth of credit.
Other times, it could even be a no-cost flight voucher coupled with a verified seat on a scheduled flight. These royalties don’t affect their profits in any way.
If anything, extra passengers are incredibly more affordable to accommodate as they occupy seats that would have been otherwise empty.
For you, this may work out if you’re in no rush to get to your destination. If you’re in a hurry, getting bumped may turn out to be the worst way to save money.
4. Know Where to Get a Gas Refill
Filling up your gas tank anywhere can be very expensive. Whether you’re driving to the airport or taking a cruise to your destination, it will be great if you’ll be familiar with gas stations that offer only the best prices.
Many stations take advantage of two gas stations on alternative corners of a similar intersection. Either of these stations will have varying gas prices.
Stations located next to the highway often overprice their gas as they know you’ll need to fill up before you embark on your trip.
Most of us have fallen prey to this strategy. Understandably, there are not so many gas stations around our homes.
If you were to make a stopover at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, you might end up paying a lot more for a gallon of gas.
The best place to fill up your tank would be at a gas station in a busy area. Plan ahead and find any gas station at your central business district with the help of useful sites such as gasbuddy.com.
5. Optimize Your Travel with Reward Guides and Travel Credit Cards
Flights don’t have to be excessively expensive. Once you use the points, there’s a huge chance of turning your dream trip from mere thought to reality.
Unless you’re an avid traveler, those travel credits don’t add up fast enough for free trips before their expiry date.
Using them on up upgrades will be your best bet at utilizing those points. You can do this by booking your flight in coach then if you have enough points, upgrade to first class. Even when booking a hotel room, points can be a huge saver.
Almost every hotel chain has its own rewards program. The frequency in which you stay there will determine the number of free nights you can get in future.
How much is a single reward point worth? There are two ways to determine this:
- The value of your cash redemption
- The ease at which you redeem each point
Your redemption rate should stand at one percent for each point. That means that for every 100 points you get, you cash in $1.
To put this in perspective, you’ll need exactly 10,000 points for a $100 hotel room. A unique exception to this rule applies to frequent flyer miles.
On a normal day, you can book award flights via the carrier for at least 1.5 – 2 cents for every mile. Of course, you don’t need to consider the value of a certain loyalty program if you’ve never traveled with them before.
When it comes to where to redeem your points, look no further than award flights. More so when you redeem miles for a premium cabin flight, you’ll have every reason to make each point worth 2-5 cents each. Your best bet at finding a legit flyer program most likely lies at your home airport.
You have a huge advantage if you live next to a notable metropolis with an airline with the best redemption rates.
6. Timing is Everything
Booking an affordable flight all boils down to timing. Each time you’re traveling abroad, make sure you get the best deal by booking your trip early enough or somewhat late.
Airlines are known to vary the price of their flights mostly because of passenger demand among other reasons.
For each plane, there are a set number of low-cost seats. Once these seats sell, there’s a hike in prices. Business travelers are known to book their seats at a last-minute basis and pay premiums for their flights.
This trend supports the logic that the earlier you book your seat, the more affordable it will be. Under most circumstances, that’s not always the case.
Alternatively, by booking your seat a couple of weeks in advance, you can save thousands of dollars on long-haul flights.
This rule applies to peak periods such as Easter or Christmas. Other aspects such as flight routes also have an impact on flight prices.
Most airlines cover similar routes that often depart at the same time – more or less. Overnight and long-haul flights have the most significant impact on flight prices.
For instance, if one airline reduces capacity or changes the price, others like it will respond competitively by either raising or slashing their fares.
There’s a constant fluctuation in flight prices. With that in mind, you can never be too sure on the right time to book your flight. In fact, there’s never a fixed season on cheap flight prices. That’s why when planning your next trip, focus more on off hours and mid-week travels.
If you have a flexible schedule, you can get the best bang for your buck. Airports will be less busy during the week as compared to the weekends. The less busy they are, the fewer flight prices you’ll have to worry about.
7. Clear Your Browser’s Cache and Search History
It’s no secret that airline companies keep track of your previous and recent flight searches. Anecdotal evidence has emerged over the years to prove that your flight searches significantly influence the prices you end up paying for your flight.
Before you do a search on your flight online, there are a couple of things you can do to keep your money intact.
The best trick you can try is to either to browse incognito or clear your cache. To be safe, you may need to do the latter first and do all searches related to flight prices using the former.
It’s somewhat creepy to know that airlines keep track of your behavior, isn’t it? On top of that, they will know if you looked at their flight prices but didn’t make a purchase.
As a result, you may be taken aback to find out they’ve tweaked the price up a little higher when you come back to it later on.
Since they became aware of your interest in their services, they wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make something extra from you.
An even better trick would be to download, install and activate a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your preferred browser.
Even though you’re browsing from Taiwan, you’ll appear to be browsing from South Africa or other far off countries. As legit a plan as it may be, don’t put all your hopes on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Either way, it’s good to be a step ahead by implementing these and more internet tricks for the sake of getting fair and affordable flight prices.
8. Travel During the Off Season
If you’re aware of the fact that every travel destination has its own special time of the year, you can as well use that to your advantage. If you’re saving money in preparation for a vacation, you can stumble upon some very good deals.
Most destinations have their off-peak seasons around winter break and summer. The holidays are also not the best times to wander off on foreign land.
When you’re making your flight plans and preparations, check to ensure that your desired destination has an offseason.
When traveling during the off-peak season, you’ll notice that related expenses, including flight tickets, are significantly cheaper.
You may also land yourself some great deals on accommodations. On hotel alternatives and services such as Airbnb, you can find even lower rates on accommodations. Of course, you won’t find lower rates on internal costs such as food.
Another advantage of vacaying during the offseason is fewer travelers. A major perk of traveling as a small lot includes better services from activity organizers, guides, hotel staff and so on. The downside of traveling offseason is that most notable hostels or hotels may be temporarily closed.
Most places use the low season as a time to do major internal or external renovations on their property. Therefore, before you travel, make sure to visit their site or contact them directly to find out if they will be open by the date of your arrival.
9. Get on Board a Budget Airline
Falling for enticing fares can be avoided by buying a low-cost carrier ticket. Sometime in the past (a few decades to be precise), budget airlines were a novelty. Nowadays, travelers are spoilt for choice with a wide array of cost-effective alternatives.
Below are some of the ways in which budget airlines save you money:
- Budget airlines pay close attention to details such as seat arrangements to squeeze extra flights into the day. Not only will this benefit them, but its passengers as well.
- Fuel efficiency. Most budget airlines boast the lowest carbon emission levels. The less the fuel intake, the less the ticket prices.
- Budget airlines save money on marketing themselves by commanding a strong social media presence.
- They use affordable fuel in the hopes that it may go up in the near future. They do this by a process known as fuel-hedging.
- They hire a committed flight crew who are often paid lower wages.
Above all else, budget airlines fly less type of planes. What most travelers love about commercial carriers is that they have a diverse fleet of routes and aircraft to pick from.
What they’re not aware of is that all these different plane types need to be maintained on a regular basis.
On top of that, getting the right mechanic for the job can be a tedious and costly process. That’s why most low-cost carriers opt to save a ton by operating a countable number of aircraft which are all serviced using the same components and the same crew.
With all these and more benefits, who wouldn’t want to get to their destination on a budget aeroplane?
10. Carry a Water Bottle Aboard Your Flight
Most travelers tend to take the precious commodity water for granted. Carrying around a water bottle, even to a foreign country, can seriously save you a lot.
Most countries around the world are short of water that’s fit for consumption. Take a bold step and carry with you a water bottle complete with a built-in filter.
That way, you won’t have to spend your money on buying bottle after bottle of drinking water at the airport.
Even as you arrive at your destination, there won’t be any need of buying water owing to the fact that you’re already carrying it around.
After your initial investment of buying a water bottle, you won’t have to buy water from anywhere else again.
For as little as $13, you can find a quality water bottle with a free built-in filter. This, of course, will depend on the size and features you’re comfortable with.
Some are comfortable with glass bottles while others are content with plastic. If possible, don’t just settle for one bottle.
If you’re used to buying five to six water bottles on your travel adventures, imagine just how much you can save when you already have your own. Especially during the summer, you’ll do yourself a huge favor staying hydrated as you travel.
Tread Carefully as You Plan Your Next Flight
Before you set out for a trip abroad or even locally, you may want to consider how much you have left in your account. On a single trip or vacation, it’s possible to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Ask any travel veteran and they’ll let you in on the fact that their next vacation’s grandeur is directly proportional to the size of their savings account.
Wouldn’t it be nice if traveling was totally free? A spot check on reality confirms that traveling does, indeed, cost money (and a lot of it).
If you don’t save on last-minute travel, you may end up spending a lot more than you bargained for. Saving money on flight costs using these travel hacks will allow you to budget for stuff that you couldn’t before and also, if possible, travel more often.
You may probably be wondering why you didn’t learn of these tips soon enough. Now that you’re in the know, strive hard to put them into action and be amazed at just how much you can set aside in one trip.