9 Tips & Tricks To Help You Land Cheap Plane Tickets
Everyone has a favorite adrenaline rush — if you don’t, you’re not living enough. I’ve got a few: Running lots of miles, standing next to the river when it’s reallyyyy windy, and my personal favorite — buying plane tickets.
Plane tickets may just be little “RSVPs” that sit in my email for weeks (or months) before I actually use them, but the purchase of these tickets means I’m going somewhere. Whether it’s seeing family and friends, exploring a new city, or hopping across the country, plane tickets mean that memories and experiences will be made.
WHOOO my blood is pumpin’ already.
While all of this is the bee’s knees and then some, purchasing plane tickets is an expensive hobby if not done correctly. So in order to keep my habit healthy and consistent, I’ve had to learn a few tricks on scoring cheap plane tickets. These discounted tickets allow me to take long weekends, international vacations, and see the people I love (who conveniently have placed themselves all over the country).
1. For international flights, use the Hopper app
Download it. Love it. Hop around the world. Not only will Hopper show you when the busy seasons are for your destination of choice, but it will keep you updated on price increases/decreases, but it will tell you exactly when you should buy your tickets. Especially for international flights, this is amazingly handy.
2. Double check your findings with Google Flights
There’s no harm in checking to make sure you’re on the right track! We know that Google is the keeper of all information — makes sense that their flight alerts are spot on, right? You can save alerts and get an email when your flight price changes.
3. Know your travel dates as soon as you can
This way you can set alerts on Hopper and Google flights, make sure you aren’t traveling during peak tourist season, and just get it all together. You’ll thank me later.
4. For international flights, book five to six months before your trip
For those of you who have this “I’m just gonna buy a plane ticket to Paris and go!” mentality, I respect it. But that mentality is only gonna get you so many places before you drain that savings account DRY. If you reign in that free and easy spirit juuuuuust a little bit, you can save some dough.
5. For domestic flights, book two to three months before your trip
I don’t make up the rules, that’s just science. See my previous “figure it out” pep talk for international flights and apply about 2/3 of it to domestic flights.
6. Don’t fly during the tourist season
Everyone wants to go to Germany for Oktoberfest (I mean, same), but if you don’t, you’re saving cash. MEGA cash. Not only does traveling during the off-season make you a savvy shopper, but it also allows you to skip the crowds! Don’t fly during spring break, or peak summer months, if you can avoid it. May I suggest early fall? It’s lovely, and those crowds filled with noisy families are back home, sending their kiddos to school by then.
7. For holidays, try to fly two or three days before/after the “normal” travel days
Fun fact, airlines are just corporate monsters who know you’ve got to go home to hug your momma for Thanksgiving/Christmas. So they SPIKE those prices up on days surrounding the holiday because they can.
The thing is, if you fly before and after those prices start to spike, you’ll save literally hundreds of dollars. Take Thanksgiving, for instance. Last year I flew the Friday before the holiday, and the Monday (redeye) after the holiday. Thankfully, I could work from home the Monday-Wednesday before the holiday — a luxury, I know. If you are able to catch these “right before” days, you may not have to sacrifice your holidays!
8. Learn to love redeyes and early mornings
No one wants to wake up at 3 a.m. to go to the airport. No one wants to get two hours of sleep because they were in a cramped middle seat during sleeping hours. But y’all — these flights still exist and those corporate monsters have to fill them! So they’re cheaper. Learn to love em, you can go places on way less.
9. Get yo self a credit card with miles
Two of my five round trip flights in 2019 have been paid for with miles I’d earned from my credit card. That’s right — two free trips, just for spending money as I usually would! I know that cash-back credit cards are incredibly enticing, but if travel is something you want to prioritize, make it easier to do so! My Capital One Venture Card is my favorite travel buddy (it also saves you foreign transaction fees, once you get to that glamorous destination of yours), so it’s really a win-win for the adventurous soul.