Flights are usually the bulk of your price when flying abroad. We paid a total of $2300 for two round-trip tickets to Rome during off-season travel in the fall. After navigating my way through tricks of the travel industry, I have compiled a list of ways you can fly to your dream destination at a lower cost. I wish I knew about these tips before we booked, we would have saved at least $900! However, it’s not too late for you to save some money on flights.
#1 Off Season is Open Season for Travelers
One thing we did do right about Rome was going during “shoulder season”. What are all of these seasons you ask? Shoulder is typically April to mid-June and September through October. Low season is November through March and high season is well the obvious – summer months of July and August. You also have to look out for big holidays like Christmas. Sure it’s during “low season” but flights and hotels raise their prices around big holidays.
If you want decent weather but still pay less for flights and hotels, shoulder season is probably your best choice. Not only will your flights cost less if outside of high season, but your hotel will also be cheaper than during high season. In fact, you might be able to stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel but at a 3 star price!
Here is an example: 5 Star Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien, Vienna located within minutes from the famous Hofburg Imperial Palace and Vienna State Opera House averages $300 – $600 per night, but if you visit in late October you can get a Superior room for two at about $175 per night (Hotels.com) or $190 per night directly from the hotel. That equals at least 4 nights stay for the cost of what would’ve been just 1 night during high season. But this also depends on your destination. We paid $1200 total in round-trip flights and hotel for the two of us to take a 7 day trip in Montreal during July “high season” which also costed the same if we went in September so we chose July (warmer weather!)
#2 Get a New Hub
When I did some digging around, I found that flying out of major international hubs (you know, the ones who always seem to have cheap international flights in advertisements?) they cost a tremendous amount less than most of your hometown airports! Unless you’re lucky enough to already live in New York or Boston, others like me have to fly out of semi-international airports (we use RDU.) I was so excited when I learned that I could make my European travel come true by simply flying from Boston!
Ok so here is the breakdown:
RDU – BOS $190RT + BOS – CDG (Paris) $448RT = $638 total cost in flights for an October (shoulder season) trip to Paris vs RDU – CDG = $925 which is also still an ok price considering it’s usually $1400RT from RDU (if you want to skip the hoopla of flying into multiple hubs to save $300) but either way, you get my point right? Only go the route of flying from another hub if it’s a significant savings of not only money, but your time.
#3 Meet Your New Friends: Tuesday and Wednesday
Once again, depending on the destination, flights leaving on Tuesdays and Wednesdays typically offer a lower price than the other days of the week. Why? Because a lot of people prefer or must due to their jobs, etc. fly over weekends or near the weekend (like Thursdays and Fridays) to get in a long-weekend trip. However, like I said it does depend on the destination. We flew to Montreal on a Friday and it was still one of the cheapest flights that week.
#4 The Magic Number
There is and isn’t a magic number of days or months out that you should book a flight. You obviously don’t want to wait literally days away before leaving because that would be super expensive! Do you want to know something weird though?
Every time we’ve booked a flight it’s always booked in the months of February or March. There is some odd reason flights are at a low price during those months. It’s usually the months we’ll see the cheapest flights for future travel dates in the summer or early Fall. We booked our flights to the Dominican Republic in March this year and it cost us $425RT per person. Since then, we had not seen that price (even when we checked over the summer its been between $500 – $600 per ticket!) So maybe there is something about February and March as great booking months?
#5 Frequent Charge It!
Credit cards can be a good thing if you use it wisely. Unless you’re a frequent flyer gaining miles every other week – those sky miles probably aren’t going to help you unless in the distant future; and by then, the airline probably would’ve changed their frequent flyer policies like they seem to do every year! If you can handle the responsibility, get a credit card that offers cash back.
You can make money off all of your purchases (bills, food, gas, etc) put your cash back rewards in a savings account and use that money toward a plane ticket (or use that money to pay off debt so you’ll have more money freed up for flights!) Make sure it’s a credit card with no annual fee because that would defeat the purpose of saving money for a ticket!
#6 Go Everywhere
Literally, go Everywhere! You can do this by going to Sky Scanner input your departure airport and instead of using a destination, type Everywhere. For the dates you could select Cheapest Month on both the departure and return dates.
Next, it will show you a long list of countries you could fly to and their starting prices.
You could also do something similar with Google Flights by selecting “I’m Feeling Lucky” instead of typing in a destination.
Do you have any tips for booking a cheap flight? Drop me a comment below!