In case you don’t have a running countdown like me, spring break is only three short weeks away! If you’re going away, or going home, you should probably start thinking about buying plane tickets if you haven’t already. Having gone to Sweden four times since October, I’m what you could probably call a “frequent flyer” (I have 15,000 miles on my Miles & More card. Since January.) I know from experience that tickets can be expensive especially for peak travel times. I’ve done some research to find the best sites and times to help ease the pain/cost of traveling.
International tickets are a bit different, so I’ll start with domestic. The best day to fly is Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Sunday. For example, I looked at a flight from Boston to Miami over spring break. On a Tuesday, it costs $263 to travel from a Tuesday to Wednesday, and $627 to travel Saturday to Saturday. If your dates are flexible, you could get a much better price. Certain times of the day are also less expensive than others. Aim for early morning, lunchtime or dinnertime flights to save money.
The best day to look for tickets is Tuesday, when many sites post their travel specials. Try to look on Tuesday or Wednesday since these deals are often pulled Thursdays, driving the prices up for the weekends.
Low cost airlines are another great way to save money. “Low cost” generally just means that meals are not served on the plane, which is forgivable considering the drastic price difference (and you can usually buy something on board if you get hungry). Jet Blue or Southwest are two domestic low cost carriers that may offer very reasonable fares. In Europe, Ryanair and Iceland Air are examples that could save you- quite literally- hundreds. However, do not always assume that a low cost carrier is the lowest. I recently found tickets on British Airways that were $500 less than the “low cost” counterpart—it all depends on dates and availability, so do your research!
The best way to browse your options is to use a search engine that compares fares on all the major websites. I’ve had the best luck with Skyscanner.com. Also, websites like studentuniverse.com or Lufthansa’s Generation Fly offer discounted rates for students. Again, I urge you to check a few different websites, because these sometimes have a great deal, and other times charge more.
Unlike domestic flights, there is less of a system for when to look for tickets and fly for international flights. It is best to look at a weekly or monthly calendar that gives you the fares for each day so you can see the different options without manually entering different dates. Skyscanner.com offers a month-long view, so you can compare prices for each day, and other sites have their own version of this function.
If you don’t have a specific place you want to travel but just want to get away, I highly suggest searching for “last minute trips.” When flights and hotels aren’t full, the vacancies are posted at a fraction of the original cost. There are websites devoted just to this phenomenon such as LastMinuteTravel.com, and well known sites such as Expedia.com also offer such packages in the “Deals” section. I was able to find hotel in Rome over winter break for about $350 for four nights (and a nice one at that!) as well as flights for just over $225 per person (from Sweden). I certainly benefited from a last minute deal, and there are hundreds and hundreds to every type of location whether it be tropical or tundra. Particularly if you’re flexible with location (and even if you’re not), there are fantastic deals all over the web.
Those of you who are abroad should also keep these tips in mind. Flying within Europe can be very inexpensive or very pricey so keep your eyes open for deals. Often friends can provide a free place to stay, or hostels offer low student rates, so the price is already cut. Global adventures await at a low cost if you can find a good flight deal. Good luck looking for tickets and happy travels!