Do you often hear of various ‘travel hacks’? Or friends claiming they know ‘when to buy’ and ‘when to fly’ helping them get the best flight deals? Well, the rumors are true. There are definitely better days to purchase your airfare, times to fly, and ways of booking to save you money. After all, the ‘getting there’ is usually the most anxiety-ridden part of your trip, so why pay more than the person next to you? Save that money! And bring home something nice for your mom instead.
While there are many places to find flight deals, one of the most searched terms in the U.S. is “cheap flights to Europe.” It seems that many living on this side of the pond just want to get away. Well, good for you, because not only is traveling good for the soul, but it can also be easy on the pocketbook, if you follow these four simple rules:
1. Set a fare alert
What is this you ask? It’s as simple as heading to an airfare comparison search site and inputting your desired itinerary and email address. Then let the magic of data crunching happen. The result is an alert sent directly to your inbox the moment the fare you want drops. It is imperative you jump on purchasing the deal though, as other travelers are probably doing the same. Sale seats are always limited. Supply meet demand.
Note: This step is of utmost importance for international travelers as rates can fluctuate at non-regular times as opposed to domestic fares, which usually hit the interwebs each week on Tuesdays.
2. Don’t delay shopping
Start shopping no sooner than five months ahead of time. Plan to purchase your international destination airfare right around 90 days out from your desired departure.
Bonus: For domestic flights, start shopping no earlier than three and a half months before departure and purchase around 30 days before, unless you happen upon an airfare sale. However, airfare sales usually require a 21-day advance purchase for travel.
3. Do connecting flights
Okay, so you are lucky enough to live near a big hub with non-stops to Europe. Great! However, if you don’t mind a few extra hours, you may find a much better deal if you purchase a flight with one or more connections. Just don’t be hesitant to compare the non-stops to connections–a few hours could save you upwards of 50% off. Also, if you do not live near a hub, and take a flight from a small airport to a larger one, it might be worth to make the longer drive instead of paying for a short flight.
Example: Say you live in Twin Falls, Idaho. While there is a small airport with connections only to Salt Lake City, it might be cheaper to spend the money on gas to Boise or Salt Lake to get a great deal from the larger SLC hub.
4. Don’t fly on expensive days
Midweek days are the cheapest to fly for international destinations, as opposed to the weekends.
Bonus: For domestic flights, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the cheapest days to fly!
Here’s an analogy to wrap it all up: I have a bus with 10 seats. My competitor has a bus with 10 seats. I start selling my seats for the highest price and so does my competitor. I sell two, but my deadline is getting closer. Therefore, about 90 days before my deadline, I have a sale to amp up the competition and sell more seats. Unbeknownst to the consumer, I only have five seats set at this price. I sell five with my sale price, and this leaves me with three seats. My competitor sells all of theirs, but now we’ve created demand for my seats. I have my three seats that are really close to the deadline to sell and, because of the demand generated, I am now able to sell them for the highest price!
You don’t need to crack some code on getting cheap flights, you just need a little insight (and maybe an analogy) to guide you. Check out this article with more travel tips for the ultimate guide on smaller travel hacks you may not know about. Enjoy your travels!