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With summer vacation inching closer and closer by the day, many travelers have begun to plan and budget for upcoming trips. When it comes to traveling, flights tend to be the greatest expense for the majority of vacationers, and prices can dramatically affect the planning process. This being said, knowing how to save on flights when booking online can completely alter not only an itinerary, but the possibility of a trip at all. Luckily, even with rising gas prices and seasonal increase of fares, there are still several ways to save on flights.
How To Book The Cheapest Flights
Getting a steal on a flight doesn’t necessarily mean that your only flight options are discount airlines. In fact, most major airlines offer frequent flyer programs and deals that allow customers to fly more often and for less. When you know where to look for cheap flights, travel possibilities suddenly appear at your fingertips.
Get your passport ready — here are five ways to save on flights for your next vacation.
Use Google Flights To Find Deals
Google Flights is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting a good deal on flight fares. Google being Google, they've made it exceptionally easy to input either select dates or a date range to see a snapshot of potential costs while also calling out specific low-fare travel days. In addition to prediction calendars, Google Flights offers the ability to track a particular flight and can send alerts on price drops or increases. If you have the ability to plan in advance, this is something you should always do, even if you’re not necessarily looking for a budget deal, as the seasonal price calendar can give a good indication of busy travel times that can affect rental car and hotel prices as well. Google Flights users can now also find hotels though the platform — you can even enter a landmark and find hotel options within walking distance for precise planning.
Join A Frequent Flyer Program
This is a piece of travel advice that most would find fairly intuitive, however, there’s still a large number of travelers who are not tied to a particular airline or frequent flyer program. Joining a frequent flyer program(s) is an easy way to earn passive rewards, not to mention have first dibs on flight fare promotions. Each airline's program is different, but the theme remains the same: earn points that can be redeemed towards future trips. Depending on the type of traveling you plan on doing, you could see your rewards pay off sooner than you'd imagine.
Explore Credit Card Rewards
Similar to frequent flyer programs, most major credit card companies offer cards with travel benefits. These benefits can range from point accrual on purchases to exclusive member booking perks and more. No matter how big or small the benefits offered are, it’s worth inquiring to see if your current credit card could be paying you. Outside of individual credit card offers that can be redeemed towards travel purchases like rental cars, hotels and of course, flights, most major airlines offer their own credit cards. Credit cards that are tied to an airline are the best bet for those looking to earn points towards travel. If you find yourself continuously booking within a certain airline, it could be helpful to explore credit card opportunities if available.
Be Flexible And Keep An Open Mind
Sometimes things not going as planned can be blessings in disguise. While it certainly can be argued that the less spontaneous trip adjustments, the better, minor changes could actually pay off greatly. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part, a majority of travelers could save a lot more than they realize just by being flexible and open minded. Let’s say you want to take a trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting. Typically, due to the region and nature of activities, a trip to Napa Valley starts off expensive. However, if you’re not tied to a specific date, you can easily unlock savings to an otherwise strict budget trip. For starters, consider the time of season you plan to take a trip. Busy seasons are inevitably going to cost more, which is why looking at dates during shoulder seasons (small gaps of time between busy and off seasons) as well as off season dates can drop a flight fare several hundred dollars. Next, consider where you’re flying into and if there are nearby options available. Going back to planning for Napa, there is no direct flight to Napa Valley, leaving Sacramento and San Francisco as the next closest airports. While both are major cities, it can be drastically cheaper to fly into Sacramento than San Francisco. The same method of thought can be applied towards booking accommodations and tourist activities.
Utilize Cheap Flight Websites
While Google Flights should definitely remain in your savings arsenal when it comes to booking inexpensive flights online, don’t discredit the information and booking options available through other discounted fare finder websites, such as Hopper, CheapOair and Skyscanner. Not only can you utilize these sites to plan a budget friendly trip, but you can also book directly through them, securing the best deals on flights online.