Five Ways to Book a Flight (The Right Way)

Booking flights
Whether you are crafting the image of an ideal trip in your mind or are actively ready to venture out into the world, booking cheap flights has become a science. Like the waves on a distant shore, prices peak and fall randomly. Not only that, they always seem to skyrocket on that one day you want to travel. Is there any way for people on a budget to travel extensively? My answer? Absolutely. Here are five ways you can go further with your money and yourself when booking a flight.
 
Photo by Adriano de Gironimo
1. Book early, book smart
 
Whether it’s concert tickets or a trip halfway around the world, most people know that when you book early, you tend to get the best deal. Yet, booking airfare tends to have further complications. Healthy competition from various sources provide the greatest opportunities for aspiring jet-setters. But, there is an unfair advantage to boost prices to the moon if you are not being mindful of why you are booking what you are booking.

Generally, if you are able to book a flight as soon as you can, you will be better off in the long run. That being said, if you can choose a flight which offers free cancellations, please take it! Especially if your plans are yet to be set in stone!

Photo by Matthew Smith
2. Have flexible travel dates
 
Although this isn’t always a possibility, it is better if you have room to adjust your travel dates. Contrary to popular belief, there are no mythical dates in which prices miraculously fall to record depths. But, if you give yourself plenty of time and do your research, you will stand better odds of finding a once-in-a-lifetime deal to the destination of your dreams.
 
For example, if you want to go abroad with your friends over the summer, taking the same flight on the same day, prices are most likely going to be higher. Yet, you can still mitigate costs with a little bit of savvy research. If you can search over the period of several days, it is only to your benefit to see which options you have. This brings us to point number three…
Photo by Alison Köenig
 
3. Get creative with your flight search
 
Although convenient, sites like Expedia and Travelocity have a bad reputation when it comes to browsing for airfares.
 
One minute, you’ll find a flight that fits your budget, the next you’ll discover that the price has randomly jumped up by several hundred dollars! What happened here?
 
Travel search engines are all too aware of people who peruse their sites for better deals. To capitalize on this tendency, most websites have an algorithm which artificially inflates the fares you are searching for while you’re searching for them. This tactic is useful for them, as users will begin to believe that a flight is “going fast” and that they should buy it ASAP. Seriously. Show of hands, who wants to be played by big companies in such an underhanded way? I thought so.
 
To combat this, you have to browse flights in private mode on your browser. That way, you will get the best deal without falling for corporate greed.
 
Better yet, check out alternative ways of booking your flight. There is nothing you can lose by doing this and who knows what kind of deal you could find? Apps like Hopper and Flight Center are great when you are looking for more options before you give up those benjamins.
 
There are literally thousands of websites vying for the number one place in your heart (and your wallet). During my travels, I made the critical error of only booking flights through Expedia. Huge mistake.
 
Since that time, I have discovered two indispensable resources for booking flights: Scott’s Cheap Flights and Google Flights. In short, Scott’s Cheap Flights will send you cheap flight rates and hints several times a week via e-mail. The e-mail (with an easy to follow instruction guide) will tell you to check Google Flights between one date and another to find the best rates, and voila! A cheap fare will be instantly available for you to buy! If there is one piece of advice you take from this article, I hope it is this one. This resource is too great to pass up!
Photo by Héctor Martínez
 
4. Be open to long layovers
 
When you are perusing flight options, you will inevitably find “30-hour flights.” These longer than usual flights include layovers, some which last hours, or even days. Some might shy away from this prospect, but there is a great opportunity here as well!
 
Let’s say you are flying to Paris from New York, but there is a seven-hour layover in London. Rather than lazing around the airport for mind-numbingly long hours, you can take that time to explore a slice of the city. Making the most out of this situation can turn a drab layover into a whole new adventure!
Photo by Alexander Mueller
 
5. Once abroad, consider new means of travel
 
You’ve made it to your destination, yet you want to see more of what the country has to offer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think flying constantly is the most thrilling way to explore a country. What can you do about that?
 
How about renting a car or going by train? I know, I know. This is an article about booking flights, but hear me out here.
 
When you are up in the air, soaring amongst the clouds, do you really get to see that much? How much do you really experience apart from your snoring neighbor or some Biscoff cookies at best?
 
Every situation is different, of course, and if you would prefer to fly, nobody is stopping you. However, if you have some time and a thirst for sights unseen, check out sites like Eurail and 12 Go for European and Asian train planners, respectively.

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