You think inflation is bad? In the last 12 months, the consumer price index for airline tickets has skyrocketed up more than 25 percent. And that’s with travel demand off the charts.
Frequent flyers share their top tips for savvy savings on flights and travel. But first, three tips on saving money after you’ve booked your trip.
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1. Stop Buying Food at the Airport
It’s almost too obvious. One easy way to save is to avoid the markup at airports. The food and merchandise at the airport is outrageously overpriced.
Lokesh Pant, CEO of Bargain Air Ticket, recommends that flyers “stop falling for the expensive food trap at the airport. Always carry lightweight and healthy food like apples, bananas, chocolate bars, and even sandwiches. And make sure to carry an empty bottle to fill with potable water from the water source post-security.”
Katelynn, a full-time travel writer, agrees, “I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by never purchasing a single thing at an airport. Airport prices are absolutely insane and dependent on your lack of planning and organization. I was recently in an airport in Morocco, and the same water bottle I had just bought at a grocery store was six times higher at the airport! “Katelynn flies internationally several times a month.
2. Don’t Park at the Airport
Jenny, a professional travel blogger, says to avoid parking at the airport, despite the convenience of driving yourself. She says, “Parking will cost you at least $10 daily throughout your trip. This is one expense you can definitely do without. You might also ask whether a friend or family member would be willing to pick you up and drive you there.”
3. E-Sim Card to Save On Phone and Data
Katelynn has another clever travel hack: “My biggest money-saving tip that I always practice when traveling internationally is using e-SIM cards. They’re often cheaper, have more data than physical SIM cards, and are easier to install. Many people don’t know about e-SIMS yet, but they are game changers!”
Katelynn shares this example, “I was in Italy a few weeks ago and used Airalo, and I’m in Portugal now, and I’m using MEO. These e-SIMs have consistently worked more reliably than big cellphone carriers, which tend to charge a premium for a physical temporary SIM. I was consistently having to travel without the internet on my phone until I was able to go to get a SIM card. Now I don’t have that problem anymore. I also get 25-30 GB of service for the same price as I was getting 5-7 GB from the major carriers, meaning I don’t have to keep reloading my cell service or constantly worry about running out of data.”
To find a local e-SIM, search “(country name) e-SIM,” and a number of options will pop up.
4. Avoid Peak Travel
One of the best ways to save money on a trip is to travel during off-peak times. This can either be off-peak during the week or off-season. Traveling off-peak frequently results in cost savings if your travel dates are flexible.
For instance, if you travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, you’ll typically find cheaper flights, and hotels are frequently less expensive during the week than on the weekends.
Anthony Radchenko, a co-founder at Air Advisor, explains, “Airlines and hotels often cut their prices when you visit vacation destinations during non-peak travel dates. For example, Florida’s off-season is from July to August. The main Florida tourist season runs from December to the end of April, as tickets are cheaper during this period.”
If you can hold off and book your vacation at the last minute, you may find better deals on anything from flights to hotel rooms to car rentals on websites like StressFreeCarRental.com. Being more adaptable about where you go and how long you stay is necessary for this to work. Still, the significant savings might be well worth it.
6. Exploit the “Hidden City” Ticketing Loophole
Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO at Travel Freak, shares his favorite travel hack. He uses the website Skiplagged, which detects airline companies’ pricing loopholes. It helps you book a flight where a layover happens at your destination.
A hidden-city flight is a flight where you get off at a layover city versus the flight’s final destination. Skiplagged offers these hidden-city flights, which save travelers an average of $128 per ticket. The Skiplagged search portal is dedicated to finding these fares for users, unlike other booking sites and airlines, ensuring users are getting the best deal possible.
Jeremy says, “I took advantage of the Skiplagged website while on my trip to Dubai and booked a flight from LA to Bangkok with Dubai being the layover destination. And I simply (intentionally) missed the second leg of the flight.”
Dan Gellert, Chief Operating Officer of Skiplagged, offers some additional insights, “For the best prices on hidden-city flights, book 0-12 days before departure to save an average of 47% on flights. For weekend trips, you will get the best deals 3-5 days before departure.”
Avoid doing this hack too often, or the airlines may flag you.
7. Pack Light
It’s not a secret that airlines pile on baggage fees. Traveling light is one of the best ways to save money. The most common frugal tip we received from frugal frequent flyers was to travel light. You’ll avoid checking bags, save money on baggage fees, and avoid carrying luggage.
8. Stay On Top of All Flying Sites
Before you book any travel, be sure to look for deals and discounts. Many websites and apps offer travel discounts, so take advantage of them. Many of us have heard about the major players like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, and Travelocity.
There are a few lessor known travel sites worth exploring. Skyscanner and Hopper are great for booking flights because of their cheap rates plus the option of comparing different flight rates.
9. Take Advantage of Airlines Trying to Take Advantage of You
Airlines charge different amounts depending on who is shopping. For example, sometimes prices adjusted for metropolitan areas like LA and New York are automatically set high because of the higher average income in these areas.
Jeremy from Travel Freak recommends booking your flight & hotel tix either from a VPN network or Incognito mode from your browser. You may find an excellent deal if you’re searching prices and booking flights from a different device location. It might take some hunting and multiple attempts to get the best deal, but it would be worth it.
10. Use Miles and Points
Become a member of a frequent flyer program if you travel often. You will earn miles or points that can be used for free or discounted tickets.
You can also find credit cards that offer points that can be applied to travel. While this may be an excellent strategy to save on travel, still be careful about taking out too many credit cards.
Traveling is expensive. But following the above tips from frugal frequent fliers will leave more money in your pocket.
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