Airline ticket prices. Oh, lord.

Their prices are all over the place, aren’t they? You’re trying to buy a ticket on a Tuesday because someone told you they’d be cheaper on a Tuesday (I hate to break it to you, they’re not. See point #1 below!).

3 tips to cheap flights online

Or maybe you’re using some other “trick” or “trip” a travel blogger let you on the internet.

What are some other ways you can buy cheap flights — and be smart about your travel planning strategy?

Read on to learn how you can walk away with dirt cheap flights using these tips.


1. I don’t buy my tickets early

Some sites will suggest you book your ticket 3 months in advance. Any time before that, they say, and the tickets will be too expensive.

But this simply isn’t true. It could be true for popular vacation times in December and January, but not any other time (and even if it’s December and January, it really depends on the destination).

Related: 7 Popular Travel Myths That Aren’t Even True

For example, you’ll almost always find more expensive airline tickets on the weekend. Weekends are a popular time to leave to your destination and come back from your destination because doing so suits your schedules better. Airlines know this!

But booking 4-5 months in advance won’t affect the increase in the flight price on the weekends.

Take a look at this example. At the time of writing this post (Feb 3), notice how just in a little under two weeks, we have a really nice deal for a roundtrip (RT) ticket from New York City (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG).

Wanna go to HKG? 😀

And nowadays, last-minute travel is a thing. Tourism is a growing industry in almost every area of the world and hey, people love to travel, so the travel industries have to keep prices competitive…even if you’re booking your vacay two weeks before.

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Yeah, about that early bird… ?

Photo by Ian D. Keating  // CC BY 2.0

So heed my advice…you don’t need to book early, and don’t stress yourself out trying to find the “optimal” time to book!

Related: 9 Top Luxurious (and Cheap!) Travel Destinations


2. I stay flexible with destinations, not dates

In the case of the holiday travel, most people don’t have many options when it comes to moving around their travel dates. I know families, students, and couples who don’t work for themselves, so they don’t have the luxury of taking off for travel whenever they want.

But that’s okay, too.

If you can’t be flexible with time, be flexible in the other areas. Specifically, when it comes to air travel, stay flexible with where you want to go.

Sometimes we get so locked into the idea of a certain destination…say, maybe a friend went there and loved her experienced there, or you went there as a kid once or twice. But that kind of mentality is stopping you from seeing similar, if not better, and less expensive options for your trip.

For example, a fan-fave of many New Yorkers for holiday travel is the Dominican Republic.

But check out just how expensive the tickets are right when most people take vacation:

cheap flight journey grit

Four-figure roundtrip to Dominican Republic??

Now, check out how much it costs to go to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the same dates instead:

san juan cheap holiday flight journey grit

Okay. Much better even for the holiday season.

$1003 round trip to Dominican Republic versus $523 round trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I think I’ll take San Juan, thanks ya’ll.

san juan cheap flights journey grit

I mean, I’m totally down for San Juan over DR…are you?

Photo by Ian D. Keating // CC BY 2.0

And you don’t need to feel like you’re “compromising,” too.

Related: 23 Awesome Travel Planning Tips

The second destination you find can be aligned with your travel goals. If you’re traveling solo and want luscious palm-tree-studded beaches, by all means, get a little creative and find some other destinations with those features.

If you’re traveling as a family and want to cut costs by staying at all-inclusive resorts, look for areas that have these (and most destinations do).


3. I make my destination the layover

Believe it or not, a layover at certain airports can mean saving hundreds of dollars.

Let me explain.

What exactly do I mean by this?

Let’s say you need to fly to Atlanta from Los Angeles. With the help of some savvy websites, you could schedule a ticket where the layover is in Atlanta and the final destination is in Dallas, Texas.

Instead of making it all the way to Dallas, Texas, just leave the airport after your flight to Atlanta.

Now, you have to make sure you’ve only taken a carry-on with you. Any checked baggage will inevitably end up at the final destination.

So if you’re planning a trip like this, make sure you bring everything you need in your carry-on (otherwise your bags will end up hundreds of miles away from you!).

You may be wondering why some flights work out to be cheaper this way. Some airlines have to price their tickets accordingly depending on the zones you pass through when you fly or the number of miles you’ve flown.

Certain routes with layovers are so common that airlines have increased their availability to consumers by pricing the routes low.

This is exactly why you can score cheap holiday flights when the layover city isn’t your destination.

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So do your research beforehand, and make sure to bring a carry-on if you’re planning your trip like this!

Over to you

This may be a lot of info, but even if you implement just one of these tips, I know you’ll be well on your way to finding cheap flights online.

Have you used any of these tricks before? Do you have any tips you use yourself that I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments below (and be sure to grab a copy of The Ultimate Trip Planner while you’re at it).

ultimate trip planner printable journey grit

ABOUT ALEX  // After a quarter-life crisis, I decided to travel the world (I know, how cliché). 14 months abroad later using my travel hacks, I have helped countless friends and family go from “what-is-a-stopover-clueless” to confidently planning—and going on—their dream trips in as little as a few weeks. Enough people have asked me about my super duper awesome strategies so figured…hey, the world needs them, and so Journey Grit was born. ???  With all the cozy feelings I have inside, I hope this website serves you well, fellow adventurer. Cheers to travels! ?

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