Basic Tips On Low Flight Prices and Some Juicy Ones Too

We Love Travel Hacking

The number one thing holding people back from traveling is cost. It’s expensive to travel! Especially if you have a family. There are ways around these expensive prices however, that will get you gearing up for a sweet vacation as soon as next month! Imagine flying to another country for under $300. We do it all the time. Check out these great tips from our resident Travel Hacking Expert.

-Christa Thompson

Travel Hacking Means Going Places

I have to apologize. There are some travel tips that are just so basic, but necessary when discussing travel hacks. And before I get to some of the real, more juicy tips, let’s get the more obvious ones out of the way.

Don’t worry – these tips are great and reliable. Plus I’ll beef it up with explanations and useful links.

Last time I talked about glitches, but for the rest of the series, I will only discuss legitimate hacks. These work whether you’re paying for your flights with money or miles.

Disclaimer: These rules are true MOST of the time. Not 100% of the time. There are exceptions – and a lot of those exceptions are hacks we’ll be talking about later.

Basic Tips On Low Flight Prices

Flexibility is Key

And this will be the most basic rule for everything else travel hacking.

Seasons Save Money

The second rule of travel hacking is flying during the right season. Flight prices are seasonal. And they’re tied to dates. Flights to Europe will be, even if purchased a few months earlier, usually $200 more on June 16 than June 14 (and some places the prices are $200 more on June 1 than May 31). September 1 the prices start to go down again. As the flights get more booked, seats become less available, and prices go up.

TIP: High season is generally during popular holidays, big events, school holidays, and good weather. Low season is generally the opposite, and shoulder season is between those two times. The shoulder season is a nice time to travel. Please don’t forget to consider the season for the originating airport.

Travel and Leisure have some great tips on shoulder season travel.

The Right Airport

The third rule of travel hacking gets tricky. It’s all about the airport. Smaller airports with only one or two major airlines flying will not have as much competition. Prices usually stay high. Major airports with major carriers, and especially those with low-cost carriers too, have more competition. They’re more prone to sales. Finally, some low-cost carriers only fly from secondary airports, so while those airports may be small, their price points can be lower.

TIP: Check out alternate airports from your departure and arrival preference. Consider additional costs to get to your destination.

Really Basic

  • Cheaper fares usually require a Saturday night stay and are for travel for less than 30 days.
  • They shouldn’t be purchased too early, or too late. Six-eight weeks in advance is ideal in most cases, but cheaper fares usually end 21, 14, and 7 days before the first day of travel.
  • One-way tickets are rarely half the price of a cheaper round-trip ticket because cheap fares are based off of round trip travel (the biggest exception are low-cost carriers).
  • Some airlines and city pairs have cheaper fares for travel on specific days of the week. For example, Southwest Airlines fares between the east and west coast are generally $25 cheaper for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Is this the Best Flight Price? Checklist

  • Am I traveling during a major holiday, school break, huge conference, or high season for my destination? What about my departure airport?
  • At a minimum, am I staying over a Saturday night?
  • At maximum, is the travel period longer than 30 days?
  • Are there only a few airlines that fly between my airports/are these the best airport options for my budget and travel needs?
  • Am I purchasing my ticket too far in advance?
  • Am I purchasing my ticket too close to the travel date?
  • Is it a one-way ticket?
  • Am I traveling on the best travel days?

After these questions are answered I’ll generally go into a deeper analysis of the fare basis and fare code to determine if the price I’m seeing is a good deal for the moment, or if I should wait. But, I’ll save that for a later segment.

Do you have a checklist of things you ask yourself when you are looking for flights? Let me know!

Juicy Tips On Our Favorite Flight Sites

Skyscanner – check out their graph on flight prices by day!

Kayak’s Explore Map – Funny thing, you have to cancel out the search date on their home page for it to appear. Once you’re in their loads of cheap flights happening this month! go somewhere awesome for under $250!

About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

7 Comments on this post

  1. Intesreting, what does the travel period being longer than 30 days count for?

    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey / Reply
  2. Good basic tips! I also sign up religiously for every budget airline newsletter & fare alert. If you’re flexible it’s a great way to jump on sales. I got my ticket from London to Thessaloniki for $50.

  3. Hey SJ – often airlines will require for the cheapest fare that stays have to be shorter than 30 days. If you’re staying longer than 30 days, you will just have to pay a little more. The price points get a little more expensive at every 30-60-90 day interval until you get the expensive, no restriction, full-fare price.

    Ann Belle / Reply
  4. […] I start with my own rules for booking flights and getting lower fares that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Other than the conference, I was within my own rules of a cheap […]

  5. […] tons of flight deals to these cities on a regular basis. Check out my article on finding flight deals so you can save for more important things. Like […]

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