Today, we of the M-Network are doing a series on vacationing. Frugal tips, ideas, experiences, personal accounts…everything. Check out the other M-Network blogs for more. My topic today is airline tickets – how to get the best deal, when to fly, strategies for using the internet to help – it’s all here. Enjoy!
There are several things to consider when buying airline tickets. First off, how flexible are your travel dates? Can you travel on a less busy day (such as the middle of the week) versus a high traffic day? Are you flexible about arrival and departure times? How far in advance are you planning? The more flexible you are, the better the deal you may be able to procure. For example, my mother is visiting us this week and next, and through Northwest Airlines, when she flies on a Tuesday or Wednesday versus any other day of the week, she flies for over one hundred dollars less round trip. Not bad for being flexible.
Once you know your general travel dates, bookmark a few of the major airline ticket search engines and start looking at tickets. Remember – flexibility is key. It is best to be able to look over a range of dates, both departing and arriving, and at least several weeks in advance. I use orbitz.com, cheaptickets.com, and expedia.com to do my initial searches. The key is to try and find tickets at a discounted rate. Don’t just look one day and buy tickets. Look over several days, or weeks if you have that much time. Flights can vary day by day and week by week in price.
But I do not stop my search there. Something that has been very successful for me in the past is once I identify a potential flight – I go directly to that airline’s website and search there. I often find the same tickets for a slightly lower rate than the ticket search engine when I go directly to the airline website. If you have ultimate flexibility, you may be able to use a discount service like priceline.com to buy tickets – but you have to be prepared to fly at any time that day. Any. Even 11:59 pm or 12:01 am.
Be flexible and keep looking – these are my best pieces of advice. Once you’ve identified potential flights – look for those same flights multiple places. And be ready to take advantage of a good deal. Have fun and good luck planning your vacation!