As Americans return to the skies, some for the first time since the pandemic started, many are wondering how they can plan a vacation without breaking the bank.
“There are a lot of great deals popping up right now,” Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights and author of “Take More Vacations,” said in an interview with ABC News.
See what cheap flights are available from your home airport
Keyes, who specializes in affordable travel, said his biggest advice for travelers is to be open to different destinations.
“If you want cheap flights, make them the top priority,” Keyes said. “Step one, see what cheap flights are available out of your home airport.”
Once you find cheap flights out of your home airport, Keyes recommended choosing flexible dates that work best for your schedule. If you can search a range of stay lengths, you are more likely to find a cheaper price.
“By setting prices as the top priority, rather than the last priority, that’s how you get cheap flights and that’s how you take three or four vacations for the price that you used to pay for one,” Keyes said.
Travelers finding cheap round-trip tickets for Florida, South America and Europe
For domestic travel, destinations in Florida are the cheapest with airfare costing around $220 round trip, according to Adit Damodaran, economist at Hopper, an online travel booking platform.
“If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest domestic trips that includes both your airfare round trip and hotels, Orlando was our cheapest destination, followed by Fort Myers and Tampa,” Damodaran told ABC News.
For those looking to go abroad, Damodaran said Central and South America will cost the least at about $500 for round-trip airfare and hotel.
“Internationally, San Salvador and El Salvador and just their Central American and Caribbean destinations tend to be the cheapest,” he said.
Keyes said Europe is also a great option for cheap travel, with countries like Croatia, Italy and Iceland opening their borders to vaccinated Americans.
“In the last couple of weeks alone we’ve seen flights from all over the U.S. to Amsterdam for $325 round-trip flights to Iceland nonstop for $348 round trip,” Keyes said.
Don’t waste your time checking different travel search engines
There are so many online travel search engines to choose from — Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, to name a few.
Keyes recommends sticking to one because nine times out of 10 the prices are identical, and if they differ it is just by a few dollars.
It’s important to note that if you are flying in an area that is primarily served by Southwest Airlines, their flights and some other budget airlines flights, do not show up on traditional travel search engines.
Southwest does not charge baggage fees, so it’s possible you could get a cheaper deal if you remember to check their website on top of an aggregator.
Book not too early, not too late
Keyes recommended using what he calls the “goldilocks window” to find the best prices.
“Not too early, not too late, just right in the middle,” Keyes said. “For traveling domestically, when cheap flights are most likely to pop up is about one to three months in advance of travel. If you’re traveling internationally, usually about two to eight months is the sweet spot.”
Keyes said it helps to book your trips during opposite seasons.
“When you’re at your Fourth of July barbecue, that’s when you should be thinking about booking those Christmas and New Year’s flights. When you’re getting dolled up for that New Year’s ball, that’s when you should be thinking about booking next summer’s flights.”
There is some truth to booking Tuesday flights to save some cash
Damodaran said when booking a trip, flying out Tuesday or Wednesday tends to be least expensive.
“If you can fly out midweek and you can return midweek, those will typically save you about $50 to $60 round trip on domestic flights.”
Keyes said the reason for this is because business travelers tend not to fly on those days.
“Airlines love jacking up the prices on business travelers,” Keyes said.
There’s no need to book your next trip in incognito mode
Keyes said clearing the cookies on your browser and searching in incognito mode won’t make your trip any cheaper. He said he conducted his own experiment to prove this.
“I went ahead and searched it 100 times just to test out if this clear your cookies thing is real. I would see it after 100 searches of the same flight on that 100th search, just like the first one, it was still 440 bucks round trip.”
He does recommend trying to change the location you are supposedly booking from to avoid any potential price discrimination.
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