There are so many search engines out there today, it is overwhelming to search for the cheapest flights. And as we all know, the more flexible you are with your travel dates, the more fare options you have, so for someone with a flexible schedule, spending endless hours searching for great flights may be appealing. However, being an elementary school teacher, I am locked into fixed dates, so I’ve got to utilize other resources to find reasonable fares–especially if my family of five is traveling. Furthermore, I truly abhor spending hours searching online for the cheapest flights, so here are the three most efficient, time saving, money saving ways I fly:
- Use mileage–I pay 100% of my bills on credit cards that offer airline miles. Beyond bills, I use my credit card for every minute expense–you will rarely find cash in my purse. On average, I save up 60,000-100,000 miles per year. All five of us have traveled round trip abroad completely using mileage. The disadvantage to this is that you have to be a planner. Mileage seats are limited so you have to plan and book almost a year in advance. There may be some mileage seats available closer to your departure date, but expect 2-3, long layovers, often overnight. So for significant trips, I plan well in advance. For spur of the moment travels, I rarely use my miles.
2. Be Flexible with your Destination– Airline search engines have made it so easy to search the world for the cheapest tickets. I always use either Kayak’s “Explore” Tool or Google Flights. For instance, when I was planning our month-long trip to Europe, I went on Google Flights, clicked on the map, entered our travel dates and home city, and searched all of Europe. I chose the cities with the cheapest fares and made those our starting and end points for our itinerary. We literally saved thousands of dollars booking this way, and we got to explore countries and cities we originally hadn’t intended on visiting.
3. Use different airlines for the same trip. An example of this is when we flew to Hawaii. Searching Chicago to Honolulu was a fortune. Furthermore, there was a long layover in LAX. So I changed my thinking. I found cheaper tickets one one airline to LAX and then booked the cheapest flight I could find from LAX to Honolulu. Again, this save about $300 per ticket.
Yes, there are hundreds of other ways to find cheap flights, but for me these strategies have been extremely successful. What ways do you cut costs on flights? Please comment. I’m always looking for other ideas!