Spend your money on experiences, not things. As a (relatively) un-materialistic person, those are words I live by; and one thing I enjoy spending my money on – or, I should say, one thing I feel less guilty about spending my money on – is vacations. The thing is, though, travelling can be expensive and flights are especially pricey. Here are a few tips on how to get cheap flights.
Sign up for email travel alerts
I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a flight. That’s because I regularly receive email marketing newsletters from airlines and third party travel resources.
One particularly good resource is Next Departure. Their tagline is “never pay full price for a flight again” and they live by that. The service scans the Internet for the best airline deals and announces them on their website and email newsletter.
There are two options for using Next Departure: You can browse their website and search for deals or sign up for email notifications when flight deals become available. It’s the subscription feature that works best, since you’ll regularly receive notifications to your email inbox and never miss out on a chance to book your next trip.
Next Departure offers three subscription levels: Free, monthly, and yearly. The monthly subscription costs $4.49 per month and the yearly costs $2.99 per month.
The free subscription will likely suffice for most people, though the website claims it only provides access to ¼ of the available flight deals. So, if you’re a regular traveler, the paid subscription options might be worth it (the subscriptions will pay for themselves in the money you save on flights).
The service is available for departures from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.
Similar to Next Departure are YDeals. They offer email subscriptions for airports across the country – 27 in total.
You should also sign up for email newsletters from individual airlines. They often have seat sales that are announced directly to those subscribers.
These services work best if you don’t have a set destination in mind and are open to travelling to various locations.
Travel on points
There’s nothing better than free travel. I know, I know: “Nothing in life is free.” That’s somewhat true of travelling with credit card points – assuming you carry a balance on your card and accrue interest. Carrying a hefty balance on your card will outweigh the monetary benefits of credit card rewards, since any savings provided by points will be negated by the cost of interest payments.
If, however, you’re diligent about paying your bill off on time, you truly can travel for free –or at least more affordably—if you collect travel points.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to decide on which program and specific card to use. Each rewards program is different in terms of how you can use points toward travel and which travel services they work with. Check out our guide on credit card loyalty programs in Canada to help you decide which one works best for you.
Many of the best travel credit cards in Canada offer points signup bonuses as well, which is a great way to earn a bunch of travel rewards points right off the bat.
Be flexible with your travel dates
Each travel destination has its peak seasons, where flights cost a premium. For many, that means either travelling in the winter or summer months. After all, most people want to travel to Europe in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter, for obvious reasons.
Besttimetogo.com is a handy website that allows you to search your desired destination city to determine the best time of year to travel. It tells you the daily cost of living to travel to specific cities, based on high season costs. It also tells you typical weather and climate information for each time of the year, as well as popular destinations to visit, including restaurants and festivals.
Keep in mind, though, that the service determines the best time to travel based on a number of factors, not just price.
Know where to look with flight search engines
If you don’t feel like waiting for deals to arrive in your email inbox, and your travel dates are set in stone, you can save some money by booking through a third-party website instead of directly with the airline.
Flight search engines provide access to flights from various airlines and are compensated when travelers book through them. That means the prices can sometimes be inflated. However, if you know where to look and don’t mind comparing prices across a few flight search engines, you could save some money.
Some popular flight search engines include; Skyscanner, Airfairwatchdog, and Google flights. There are several others as well. It pays to search around for flights. Scour the web and use different search engines to find the best possible price for your flight and you could save hundreds.
The Bottom Line
Travel and, specifically, flights can be expensive. But with these simple tips you can save yourself hundreds. I know from experience: I’ve used a combination of all four of them over the past year and have been able to book six flights for a total of $546. And, yes, that’s a combined total. Not bad, right?