Spring break, summer vacation, studying abroad…there are many reasons to hop on a flight and get away, but hardly ever enough money in the bank account to do so…or so you thought! Here are five great tips for flying on a budget you should keep in mind the next time you travel.
1. Look around!
Give yourself enough time to really look at different travel websites. Some even offer student discounts! Studentrate.com is great for finding the cheapest flight among many different carriers – a must for those flying on a budget. Google has a cool new feature where you search an airport, place, and time, and it will compare different sites for you, including international. FareCompare.com has deals of the day for different places all around the world. There are many different agencies out there that will do whatever they can to help you save money on your flight too, so make sure you do your research!
2. Book in advance (or right before you fly).
While booking your flight two days before your trip can sometimes get you a good deal with airlines trying to fill empty seats, I don’t personally advise it. Instead, for anyone flying on a budget, I would say book in advance. And when I say in advance, I mean way in advance. Like, before airlines notice that the college student hot spot for #spingbreak2k16 is Cabo – they WILL increase the airfare. Cheapair.com did a study and found that the best time to buy airline tickets is 49 days before your flight, so about 7 weeks. Purchasing your tickets on certain days can be more expensive than others, for various reasons, so check back every day or two to see if your ideal flight lowered its price…and you’ll actually be able to afford that extra sunscreen you’ll need in Cabo!
3. Purchase your tickets separately from friends and family.
Buying separate tickets from friends and family can actually save you a lot of money (and peace of mind)! For example, an airline has two separate seats open for $150 each and 4 seats together open for $180 each. If you search flights to San Francisco for you and your boyfriend’s sweet Valentine’s getaway (long weekend – hint hint), the $180 tickets will come up on your search. Instead, search solo and purchase the tickets separately (at the $150 price). Don’t worry, I’m sure the guy eating chips next to you will be happy to switch with your boyfriend.
4. Apply for a credit card with frequent flier miles.
Have you thought about getting your own credit card? Seems a little bit adultish to me, but If you’re a frequent flyer (and always flying on a budget at that) maybe it’s time! If you get a credit card with reward miles, it may save you a lot of money in the long run. Most airlines also offer their own mileage rewards programs. The best mileage reward programs I’ve seen American Airlines and South West. The rewards can be used with other partner companies, include airline and hotel stays, and can be used on a seat of your choosing, rather than the airline’s choosing.
5. Don’t ignore the fees.
Some airlines let you travel with a bag and carry on for free, but have a pretty hefty fee for anything else you may have. This is why it is good to pack light (in case you end up bringing anything home) and research the fees of your airline before you book your flight! Also check your airline’s tax fees, especially for discounted flights. Sometimes the flight will be discounted, but the taxes will be equal to a full-priced flight, so you end up paying $95 in taxes for your $399 flight to New York! If you aren’t sure where to find fees for different airlines, look them up on Google (welcome to 2016)! Each airline is different, so make sure you know exactly what you are getting into!
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Annabella Mineghino is from Novato, CA in Marin County near San Francisco. She is currently a third year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California pursuing her degree in Communication Law & Media Policy. Annabella hopes to go to law school for entertainment or copyright law because she is passionate about protecting the entertainment industry. Other than studying, Annabella likes to explore Los Angeles finding new thrift shops and art galleries. Her other passions including acting, writing, and painting. Previously, she has written for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Currently, she works for Inspire Entertainment and the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative. This summer she will be interning in Prague. She eventually hopes to work full time somewhere in Los Angeles or the Bay Area.