SO you’ve pinched your pennies for traveling, you’ve gotten your travel documents, you’ve started to think about packing… but how are we going to get over there? Let’s not forget about the plane tickets! Without ’em, we’re pretty stranded, so here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way to save beaucoup bucks on flights! I’ve got a formula that works pretty much every time!
Some of these tips combine a couple of the tactics I’ve laid out in former posts, including the Pinching Pennies for Travel Post #1 and Pinching Pennies for Travel Post #2. So feel free to check out those ideas as well! Okay, let’s get to it.
1. Pimp your Youth, Student, or Teacher Status
This will be my second major backpacking trip abroad, and I’ve yet to pay over 700 dollars for a round-trip ticket! YES. ROUND TRIP TICKET TO EUROPE FOR 700 DOLLARS. Why? Because while I work (as a university-level teacher), I’m also a perpetual student. Laugh if you will, but you can do it while I’m sunbathing in Sevilla, Spain, suckas!
Seriously, though, if you are under 26, a student, or teaching, you’ll be saving at least 50% on your plane tickets for as long as you hold that status. The Student Travel Agency offers some AWESOME discounts for students on the move. You can also check out ISIC (www.isic.org), which offers the ISIC, IYTC, and the ITIC cards for students, youths, or teachers, respectively. Having just one of these cards will save you money not only on plane tickets, but also on tours, attractions, grub, supplies, and excursions worldwide! There are over 40,000 ways to save with these cards, so get on them!
And if you don’t qualify for any of these cards, strongly consider taking a writing class (or any class) at an accredited university (online classes count too!) Not only will you be honing your writer skills, but you can also save crazy money on airfare!
2. Fly out on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and fly the red-eye route
Buying a plane ticket for the middle of the week (preferably at times that no one else wants to fly) will shave off a few hundred dollars from your plane ticket fare. The most popular times to fly out are folks going on those weekend days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Furthermore, no one likes getting up at the crack or crunch of dawn to much of anything, especially when it comes to waiting on long lines and getting felt up by disgruntled airport security dudes. Yeah. But if you want to pinch your pennies, then strongly consider inconveniencing yourself for a couple hours by taking really early or really late flights. They’re way cheaper.
3. Buy your tickets at ridiculous hours on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning
Between the hours of 2 am and 7 am during the weekdays, plane tickets are super cheap. Why? Because no one in their right mind is up looking for plane tickets or anything else at that time of night… except you. You should be up scrounging for tix because, as it is said, the early bird catches the $200.00-cheaper worm. Make sure you peruse websites like Kayak.com, Statravel.com, and bookingbuddy.com at those god-awful (but serendipitous) times of day to see what deals you can get. You won’t be disappointed! Just make sure you avoid the expensive morning, lunch, and evening rushes (7 am-9 am) and (12 pm – 8 pm), when everyone is about to go to work or on lunch or have just gotten home from work.
4. Take a piecemeal approach to buying your plane tickets
rica from the West coast or from Middle America (like I am), you might find that direct flights from Chicago or Los Angeles to South Africa are insanely long and expensive. In my experience, it’s WAY cheaper (and more bearable) to fly out from the East coast to any country further east. So I buy my plane tickets in two stages.
First, I handle the international flights from the East coast to my destination. Choose INTERNATIONAL airports, because flying in and out of them is insanely cheap. The cheapest airport to fly out from in the NYC area is the Newark Airport, but keep on top of the plane ticket websites to compare and contrast departure airports. Also figure out which international airports are the cheapest to fly into at your target destination. As mentioned earlier in this post as well, there is a double benefit to this process if you use STA Travel or have an ISIC / ITIC / IYTC card.
Secondly. After I’ve booked internationally, I look for the cheapest domestic flights from my location (Milwaukee or Chicago) to New York, and I set up price alerts on my plane ticket websites (kayak.com, bookingbuddy.com, etc). I use the techniques above to find the cheapest flights I can and book them when they pop up. I can sometimes even find $99 round-trip flights from the midwest to the east coast, and I’ll actually bookend those flights around my international flights.
Using this technique can save you a couple hundred dollars that you wouldn’t save if you were looking for direct flights straight from your city to your final destination.
5. Set a budget
So we all want to get the cheapest tickets possible! However, instead of waiting for ticket prices to plummet to depths that we will never see (400 round trip ticket to Spain, anyone?), you should instead set a budget or threshold of how much you’re willing to pay (reasonably) for your plane ticket. For example, I now know that I can get to Spain and back for 700 bucks, so once I see that price, I don’t bank on getting a cheaper ticket. It’s cheap enough and what I budgeted for, and so I buy it. 🙂 Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by waiting on ticket prices that will just never happen. Be patient, hustle, but be reasonable.
And enjoy your ridiculously discounted writer-backpacker trip. 😉 With all the price hustling you’ve been doing, you’ve earned it! And if you have any plane-fare-saving tips to share, share them in the comments below!
Write on, rock on, and keep it indie,