Whether it is a summer getaway or a trip planned to occur down the road, too many travelers make a mistake here or there that ends up turning their vacation into a financial nightmare.
Given that the economy is still on shaky ground, it behooves you to always look for deals far out in advance in order to save money and have your travel plans laid out as smoothly as possible.
But what about the individual that likes to do things on the fly? You know, the person that doesn’t take the time to go online and research the best flights, best times to travel, best ways to book their reservations. For them, the trip can become a logistical and costly venture.
In order to better plan your next vacation flight, follow these money saving tips for booking a flight:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute – In an effort to save money or if you’re just too busy, do you wait until a few weeks before you want to travel to buy your ticket? If the answer is yes, you’d better be prepared to spend more. Most airlines have a 14-day window where you need to purchase tickets before traveling. While you may catch the occasional deal here or there by waiting around a month or two before you depart to buy your ticket, most deals will be had many months ahead of time. While it is harder to lock in hotel and rental car deals months in advance, locking in your airline ticket(s) can be done six months out in many cases.
2. Don’t book too far in advance – Not to confuse you, but also make sure you do not book too early. While it is great to get the various deals out there by booking early, doing so could leave you on the outside looking in when it comes to deals. For those that usually use a six-month time frame when looking for airline tickets, if you know you will be traveling over the Christmas holiday, for example, you should start looking for your ticket in late spring or the start of summer. That being said, there can be some deals to be had if you wait a little longer without going up against the clock.
3. Don’t get the facts wrong – Nothing is more frustrating than going online and filling out all the needed information for your flight other than finding out that you provided some invalid details. Next thing you know, you could get socked with a $100 “change” fee to fix the information, especially given the scrutiny that goes into flying these days with security details. Make sure your name on the ticket matches up with your driver’s license and/or passport to avoid what could be a costly headache when you get to the airport. The same holds true for the departing and arriving city information, times, etc. Don’t leave it to chance; always check the information before submitting your credit card info to purchase.
4. Don’t neglect to read the fine print closely – Even though it is oftentimes hard to read, make sure you go over the “fine print” on your airline ticket both online and when you get it emailed to you or you print it out. There is often information regarding fees for extra bags, changing your reservations, etc. Although many people shy away from reading such language, it can end up costing you more than a few dollars when all is said and done.
5. Don’t neglect to get several price quotes – While some people get lazy at times and don’t take the time to shop around for airline prices, it can come back to haunt them. It is not uncommon for many travelers to visit both the airlines’ websites and also a half dozen or so travel sites. You might be surprised, but it is not uncommon to get better deals by going straight to the airline websites. You can also be logged into the carrier’s own site, which allows you to ask questions, chat with a customer service rep, etc., if necessary. No matter which way you choose to go about it, shop around.
6. Don’t fly during the wrong time of year – While you may have a predestined time of year you want to fly somewhere, keep in mind that certain regions are going to be lower or higher priced depending on the time of year. For example, Florida is a hot destination from November to March for the snowbirds in Canada, the northeast, and midwest. Places that are known for their skiing venues will be more expensive in the wintertime for those looking to hit the slopes. If you can schedule your flight anytime during the year, try and go in the “off-peak” season for whatever region you are going to in order to save some money.
7. Don’t ignore follow-up messages from the airlines – It is certainly not uncommon in this day and age for airlines to change your flight plans at the last minute. Make sure you read any and all emails that you get from the airline or travel agency you are working with. A plane scheduling change could have you going to the airport for nothing, meaning you may have spent transportation fees or end up having to get a hotel for a night because it is too far to go back home once you realize your flight was changed.
While traveling has changed drastically since 9/11, there are still advantages to getting on a plane and getting away from it all—just be sure that you take the necessary steps to save yourself some money in the process!
written by: Dave Thomas
Photo credit: Wikipedia