How to Book Airfare Like a Travel Hacker
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These days, it seems there are more travel bloggers than ever before. A quick scroll through any social media site will likely reveal a slew of different travel bloggers—each with a picture taken in a more obscure spot than the last. But have you ever wondered just how these bloggers go about purchasing their airline tickets and getting to their destinations? Surely, they have to be using different methods given the different mileage you get when you search for your own trips.
Aside from browsing travel sites that sort available ticket listings by lowest price, are there other tips consumers can use to reduce the strain airfare places on the pocketbook? Here are a few ways you can start booking trips just like your favorite travel blogger.
1. Double-check your airline prices.
If you're booking your flight on an aggregator site, like Kayak, double-check that the prices you're quoted are actually lower than the ones on the airline's website. Not only can this save you money, but it will take you no more than five minutes and you may be surprised at the results. According to Jen Avery of the Thrifty Nomads blog, many search engines inflate flight costs as part of taking a cut from the airlines. Some flight aggregators have better deals than others, so it's not a bad idea to take part in multiple searches before booking your trip.
2. If you have the flexibility, change your flight dates.
Unless you've already booked accommodations or your vacation time is fixed by your employer, keep your travel dates flexible. Sites like Google Flights will alert you if there are lower-priced dates available once you enter your original dates. You can also save money depending on what day of the week you book. According to a 2015 report by Expedia, Tuesday is the best day of the week to find low fares as long as you're booking at least three weeks in advance. Although this is a rule of thumb and won't necessarily hold up for every flight, it might be an important consideration if you're planning your vacation well in advance and need to request the appropriate days off from work.
3. Sign up for an airline-friendly credit card.
The purchases you already make on a routine basis can be used to save a ton on airfare if you have a credit card designed specifically for frequent flyers and travelers. It may be possible to turn your spending into a sign-up bonus on a card, which can pay for an entire vacation. If you plan on spending a lot of money on hotels, accommodations and shopping during a trip, airfare-friendly credit cards can offer a tremendous amount of bonus points that you can roll toward your next vacation.
4. Plan early—and set alerts.
The best way to ensure you get a great deal on airfare? Don't plan it at the last minute. Choosing to do so will put you at the mercy of airlines since it will hinder your options. Most airfare-monitoring apps and websites will allow you to set up pricing alerts. If airfare goes below a certain threshold, you'll receive a notification.
Planning a trip well in advance means you give yourself a cushion in which to allow airfare to come down, giving yourself a discount on the same fare. To ensure that you don't miss a beat, consider signing up for multiple alerts.
5. Double-check the 'extras' with your airline.
Sometimes low-cost airfare can hide fees that wipe away your hard work in searching for a cheap flight by increasing the cost of your trip. Before you book, research whether the airlines charge extra fees. For example, checking multiple bags may not land you extra fees with airline A, but it could end up costing you with airline B. Before you click "Confirm," make sure you know your bag-checking plans and you've read the fine print.
6. Check one-way fares for comparison.
Although airlines generally try to make booking simple and easy for consumers, there are sometimes blips in which two one-way fares could end up being cheaper than a round-trip fare. Opening up a search to include two one-way fares allows customers to look through alternate airlines as well. While this may complicate your planning a bit, it might be worth the hassle if you could save significantly.
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