If you’re on Instagram, you’re probably following at least 5 accounts with a travel element to them. Perhaps its Travel and Leisure always showing you cities you have no idea existed, your favorite Instagram couple in a stilted house above ocean waves the color of aquamarine, or maybe it’s somebody you knew in high school scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. Images that spur your wanderlust and make you want to book your next flight, yesterday!
The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest global industries and has been steadily growing for the last few years contributing trillions of dollars to the global economy. The industry has no signs of slowing down either. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) annual report shows that travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment, exports, and investment is only growing. We all want to get out there so here are 5 secret (and time-tested) secrets for book cheap flights:
5 Secret Hacks for Booking Cheap Flights
1. Sign up for flight alerts/deals
Are you thinking about taking a trip? Yes? No? Either way, you should do yourself a favor and sign up for flight deals/alert newsletters. Even if you have a destination in mind doing this may help you find deals you hadn’t considered.
You can score deals to domestic and tropical locations alike through places like Scott’s Cheap Flights or AirFare Watchdog. One warning, for some of these aggregator sites and newsletters, you may need to learn how to work the IATA System and may need a code for some deals.
2. Buy early
Depending on how much time off you have, you may be planning your trips well in advance. This is great because one of the best ways to get a cheap flight is by buying your tickets early.
Sure, no one wants to hear that this is the most responsible way to get your tickets, but it’s statistically true! According to a study completed by Cheapair.com, there is actually an optimal window when you should buy your tickets. They analyzed over 900 trillion flight fares from almost 3 million destinations to determine when the best deals for domestic flights within the United States are available.
They found that the best time to purchase airfare is about 70 days prior to departure. Interestingly, this is a 16 day increase from last year’s study which said the best time to book was around 54 days in advance. Mark your calendars!
3. Use a predictor tool for your dates
If you have your heart set on a destination, it’s a great idea to use technology to your advantage with a predictor tool. These tools will help you get an idea of when the best time to book a flight is.
One travel favorite is the Hopper app. As described in Forbes, “Hopper uses a sophisticated algorithm to predict the best deals and times to fly and buy–alerting users at the optimal moment, well before prices go up or down by specific amounts.”
Other tools include Kayak’s purchase predictor graph that shows up once you’ve entered your flight criteria and Google Flight’s Great Value indicator that lets you know when you’re getting a good deal on a flight and by how much.
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4. Keep your dates open-ended (if you can)
Another way to make sure you’re getting a great deal is to be flexible with your travel dates. This is not always possible but if you can, it’s a great option.
With most airline and travel search engines, you can select an option that gives you “+/- x days”. By being flexible with your dates, you can see if there are days beyond the ones you set up that will let you save a few (or hundreds of) dollars. Here’s a screenshot showing how a savings of $101 on one flight!
5. Always be ready
This list started off by telling you to be responsible and buy early. Strangely, there’s also another side to this, be ready to find your cheapest ticket on a whim. There may be an unexpectedly cheap flight to a place on your bucket list and you should be ready!
Low-cost carriers are always updating their prices to give travelers looking for a deal the best prices. During research for this story, low-cost carrier Norwegian had round-trip flights for the first week of December from Chicago to London for under $300USD. If you’re willing to give up some of the comforts on major air carriers and fly on a whim, this is also a great way to go.
The late Anthony Bourdain was as a brilliant chef, deeply honest and a huge adventurer. If you watch his shows, you will see how profoundly he enjoys the time he spends friends and hosts. While uncovering previously unknown parts of neighborhoods or exploring areas of countries people tend to shy away from, he brought a realness to what he covered.
He understood the power of travel in your twenties to completely open your world and change your perspective:
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”