Wherever your next trip takes you, be it to a neighbouring city to visit family or halfway across the globe on an international trek, all kinds of tips and tricks exist to get you there with a little less financial agony.
Primarily referred to as travel hacking, it’s really just the art of obtaining and utilising all the little workarounds that exist out there. As airfare is usually one of the top culprits for sucking up cash quickly, here’s a quick rundown of the top hacks that will help in rescuing your wallet.
Give yourself plenty of time to book
When you’re booking in advance for a planned vacation, it’s very helpful to give yourself a wide window within which to book. This allows you to compare prices over time and watch for trends in airline prices.
If you have a specific flight or airline in mind, you can also use the trick of checking out how full the seating chart is for the flight ahead of time. If it’s relatively empty, the price is likely to decrease as you get closer to the flight date. However, if the flight is relatively full, you’re better off booking sooner rather than later.
Search without history or location
With all of the activity tracking on the internet, companies tend to raise prices when you check back to their site several times. A simple step for stopping this from happening is to either clear your browser’s cache and history before you search or to run your search in what Chrome calls an “Incognito” window.
The second part, location, is slightly more advanced but still doable. Did you know that the city from which you are booking your flight actually affects cost of your flight? And that doesn’t mean your home airport, but your actual physical location. You can check out this infographic about the phenomenon.
Book your tickets on a weekday
Contrary to what was once popular belief, booking your plane tickets over the weekend is not the best time. Typically, airfares will increase when being booked on a Friday and start to go down again by Monday or Tuesday. The best time to book? Anytime Tuesday through Thursday is usually going to be the cheapest.
24-hour refundable airfare
Have you ever booked a ticket and then realised to your horror that you booked on the wrong date? Or the wrong time?
Luckily, if this realisation hits you within 24 hours of your original booking and you’ve booked at least 7 days in advance of your flight, you can still get a full refund on your ticket, no questions asked. You’re also entitled to a 24-hour fare lock, so you don’t have to worry about airfares changing from minute to minute.
Why pay for a plane ticket at all if you absolutely don’t have to?
Due to heavy credit card competition, most mileage cards offer hefty bonuses just for signing up (and, for some, achieving a minimum spend over the first couple months). Just about every major airline offers their own credit card, and in addition to sign up bonuses, they usually offer additional perks, such as free checked bags and priority boarding.
On top of your everyday purchases, mileage cards and accounts can also be used in creative ways to accrue even more miles through things like dining programs and online shopping.
Bypass or skip the bag check
If you’ve got one of those aforementioned airline credit cards, checked bag fees are less of a concern… unless of course you’ve got multiple bags, in which case watch out for increased bag fees, because even if you’re getting your first bag free, the second bag usually costs more.
Gate checking is a great alternative to conventional bag checking at the ticketing counter. As long as your bag is small enough to squeeze past scrutinising security, gate agents are happy to gate check a bag without charge to make extra room in the plane’s overhead compartments.
Better yet, forget checking a bag altogether and learn to pack extra light. Endless tips and hacks are out there for saving space and packing everything you could need into one carry-on bag.