Flexibility is the Secret to Saving Money on Travel – Part I
The demand for travel in 2016 is strong. This has resulted in fewer deals and the need for extra planning if you want to save some money. Flexibility on when and where you travel can have a huge impact on travel costs. Try to avoid travel on major U.S. holidays and on major holidays in countries that you will be visiting. If possible, avoid peak season and travel during the shoulder seasons which fall in September, January and April. Generally, you can save money by flying in the middle of the week or on Saturday afternoon. Additionally, it’s usually cheaper to fly very early in the morning or late at night. Prices will vary based on supply and demand.
Booking your flight well in advance of your preferred departure date can also save money. After analyzing over 3 million airline trips, CheapAir found that the best time to book domestic airfare is 54 days prior to your departure. Similarly, Expedia’s Air Travel Outlook for 2016, found the best time to buy a domestic ticket is 57 days prior to departure and the best time to buy a ticket from North America to Europe is 176 days before departure.
To find the most cost effective combination of date and location use on-line sites such as Kayak Explore. Kayak Explore allows you to interactively change the date to see how the airfare changes for cities throughout the U.S. or the world, all on one screen.
Flexibility with regard to your destination can result in significant savings – costs vary dramatically depending on the country or region you are visiting. In 2016 some of the most expensive countries to visit include Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan while some of the least expensive countries include Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Morocco. Information on the comparative travel costs in various countries is available on Numbeo.com/travel-prices and fareness.com. You can also reduce travel costs by flying into smaller cities or less popular cities. When travelling to Europe consider flying into a less popular city on a major airline and connect to cities within Europe on small, inexpensive regional carriers like Air Berlin or EasyJet.
Once you have decided upon a date and destination use airfare search sites such as Cheaptickets.com, CheapAir.com and Expedia.com to shop and compare flights on different airlines. However, keep in mind that several airlines, including Southwest, are not listed on aggregation sites. Do some research and check fares on all major airlines with service to your destination. Check both round trip and one way ticket prices. Some airlines have recently begun offering two, one way segments for less than a round trip ticket. Once you have selected a flight try to book directly with the airline you will be using. The prices are usually comparable and it will be a lot easier to reschedule if any problems arise.