I’ve been on a major money-saving and financial overhaul kick lately, and I’ve learned that it’s almost criminal to pay full price for absolutely everything. For those times when I head to the airport to go home to Alabama or visit friends, I do everything possible to save as much money as I can. A few sacrifices and extra effort can pay off in some rather surprising ways. Let your body travel to far-flung destinations rather than have your finances travel into far-flung debt.
Timing Is Everything
There’s a lot of debate regarding when to book plane tickets and what day of the week is best. It’s best to start looking for tickets roughly 50 days before your departure date. When you start searching, use search engines like Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, and JetRadar to boost your chances of finding the best prices. Google Flights is another great tool for comparing flight dates, but it doesn’t always offer the lowest prices.
Speaking of timing, tweak your departure date to compare flying out on a weekday to flying out on the weekend. If you can change your fly-out date, you may be able to save some money.
Make Good Use of Public Transportation
If you have both ridesharing services and public transportation in your area, use them to save on getting to and from the airport. Depending on where you live, taking a Lyft or Uber straight to and from the airport can almost feel like you’re paying for two more plane tickets. Compare the cost of being dropped off at a public transportation station and taking a bus or light rail straight to the airport. While you’re at it, look to see if you qualify for any discounts the ridesharing service currently offers.
Pack a Snack, or Eat Before Your Flight
When buying food in an airport, you may as well be buying food at a movie theatre; it’s bound to be disgustingly overpriced. That’s why it’s good to carve out some time to eat before you’re ready to head to the airport. If that’s not possible, you can leave room in your carry-on luggage for a filling snack, something high in fiber or protein. Just make sure what you’re bringing can make it through the security check.
Make the Most of Layovers
If your travel plans are loose and your trip involves a transfer, see if extending the length of your layover can extend your savings. For instance, do some research on hub cities that always have flights to your final destination. It could be less expensive to book a flight to one of those cities and stay a few days, then book another flight with a budget airline to your final destination. That way, you can squeeze in more travel, don’t have to worry as much about sprinting like Usain Bolt to make your connecting flight in time, and don’t spend more money than necessary. This is an especially great tip for international travel.
Bonus: Look Into TSA Pre-Check
While TSA pre-check may not save you money, it can save you time, which is almost as good as money. With pre-check, you can cut your wait time in the airport security line to fewer than five minutes. All you have to do is submit an online application, schedule an appointment at an enrollment center, and undergo a 10-minute background check and fingerprinting to get your “known traveler number.” One thing to bear in mind with pre-check is that there is an $85 fee, but your number is good for five years.