I've been lucky enough to travel all over the world, over 35 countries on 6 continents, even with a (very) limited budget, and I've always managed to book cheap flights. I am going to share my secrets with you.
Here are 9 secrets to finding cheap airfare anywhere in the world:
1. Reverse searches:
If you are flexible with which days you can travel, a lot of cheaper airfares may open up for you. There are several travel search engines that will allow you to search by destination without putting in a hard date.
Flexible searches based on dates, locations, and connections.
You can see the top 50 fares for different destinations.
Search where you can go anywhere in the world based on certain budget, continent, or even what activities once you get there.
2. Travel off-season.
Many vacation destinations in tropical climates, like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean, don’t have set winters and summers like up north. Instead, they have a dry season from approximately late November through April, and a rainy season (or hurricane season) from May to November. If you don’t mind some clouds and a little rain mixed in with sunshine, it can actually be cooler (but still plenty warm) and far less crowded, meaning cheaper flights, hotels, etc. I actually love traveling during the rainy season, but watch out for October, where it can rain all day every day!
3. Search flights into different airports.
Most search engines default to the biggest international airport in any country, but make sure you include searches to smaller and nearby airports. They are usually less crowded, meaning more options for cheaper flights.
4. Let your search engines do the work.
There are some great internet search sites out there who will do all of the work for you. Even better, register a search to a certain destination or below a certain price and they will give you automatic email alerts. I like:
5. Know your airlines.
Search engines are great, but also search directly on the airlines’ websites. They often offer private deals or promotions that the search engines can’t access. Increasingly they are running cheap deals on social media sites like Facebook, so it’s worth it to Like their page and check in. But act fast – these promotions sometimes only last a day or even a few hours!
6. The best time to search and book air travel:
Did you know there are up to 10 different ticket prices on the same flight? So how do you get one of the cheap seats? Timing is everything.
When to search:
Airlines release their new weekly fares on Mondays, so at Tuesday by 3 pm their competitors have released their deals, making it the exact time to search.
Studies show that the cheapest time to book is 49 days before your departure, or 81 days ahead of time for international flights. Interestingly, flights booked 200 days or more in advance are more expensive, and last minute flights may be cheaper, but the seat availability is extremely limited.
If you are flying during the holidays, start searching 10 weeks ahead of time. If you’re headed to a non-vacation destination, shop on a weekend - it will save you 5%.
When to fly:
The majority of air travelers want to fly on a Friday or Sunday, so you’ll find the best deals available for flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.
Flights at the crack of dawn, at dinnertime, or red-eye flights over night are cheapest.
7. Book a package deal
Booking a package usually drops your airfare into the leisure travel category, saving you money. Arranging a ticket for your hotel, rental car, and airfare together may give you access to lower prices on internet search engines, and travel agents can be helpful when it comes to these bargains.
Contact any organizations, like AAA, AARP, unions, or Veterans groups that you belong to because they may be able to get you a discount.
8. Frequent flyer miles and points:
Always register to earn frequent flyer miles and keep track. Confirm with the booking agent and at the check-in counter to make sure they credited you your miles, and once you get home check to make sure they were registered.
Use a credit card that offers award points of frequent flyer miles. Some of them are great but only give you miles on one airline. I have a Visa Blue Sapphire card that allows me to accumulate points for all flights, hotels, rental cars, or even restaurant meals. I run all of my bills through it but pay it off every month, and the result is that I get at least two free flights every year.
9. Two important questions to ask the airlines:
When booking a flight, ask about their luggage policy. Slightly cheaper tickets for your family does no good if you are paying $50 each for baggage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines make over $3 billion in baggage fees alone every year!
After you book your flight, call back the next day, within 24 hours, to check if the fare went lower. Most airlines have a policy where you could cancel and re-book for the lower fare within 24 hours without penalty.
I hope that helps! Keep smiling and happy travels!
I have 3 more great tips that are guaranteed to save you money on your next vacation, so email me and I’ll share those with you.
Did those 9 secrets help? If so please share this article, and read my new book, South of Normal, on your plane ride!
OR read about how I flew 35,000 miles for only $2,500 on my trip around the world for a year in the book Pushups in the Prayer Room.