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4 ways to bargain shop for cheap airfare

05.21.2015
Topic Travel Tips and Tricks

4 ways to bargain shop for cheap airfare - Image

Getting bitten by the wanderlust bug is no laughing matter. Sure, you're going to see plenty of interesting and iconic places and have a number of unique and exciting experiences, but just think about the hit to your wallet. It's not exactly cheap to find a hotel - because you might not want to couch surf with friends or stay in a hostel - and the dollars can add up when you're eating out for most meals or buying exotic foods.

These hefty bills come when you're actually at your final destination - but what about getting there? There are so many different modes of travel, each one more expensive than the last. It might not be so bad if you can drive or take a train to the place of your dreams, but if you need to go by air, it's usually not a pleasurable experience for your bank account. The initial cost of air travel - plus all of the fees and extras that accompany it - is bad enough, but then you should invest in flight insurance and maybe purchase accessories like neck pillows and state-of-the-art suitcases.

However, buying tickets for a flight doesn't need to be a nightmare every time. Take a page out of the books of frequent flyers - there are ways to jet off to your next destination without breaking the bank.

1. Mull over off-peak flights
Any traveller worth his salt will know that there are certain dates and times when buying tickets is cheaper. The same goes for the actual trip itself - just think about when the location is most in demand.

For example, going to Rio during Carnival is going to be exceedingly expensive when compared to jetting off to Brazil in the fall. As USA Today pointed out, airfare to Europe tends to run higher in late June, July and early August. However, all other times of the year are often much cheaper.

2. Be an early bird or a late bloomer
There are often two schools of thought on when to buy plane tickets - either really early or really late. Independent traveller explained that it's usually a good idea to buy as early as possible - at least two weeks before domestic flights or three to six months ahead of international travel.

That said, the source noted that a lot of airlines offer last-minute deals to fill empty seats. That isn't a guarantee, though, and can seriously throw plans into flux if the seats are scooped up or not offered at all.

3. Consider the destination
Sometimes you're just going to have to bite the proverbial bullet and book a more expensive flight. Why is that, if there are so many tips out there on how to save?

The answer is easy: Some cities are simply expensive to fly into. USA Today reported that London, Rome and Paris are usually on this list. Try to find the cheapest travel itinerary possible, but it might be worth it to fly into a city that's close-by and take a train to your final destination. Or, maybe think about visiting a different place altogether if money is tight.

4. Pack right
One hidden fee travellers might not think about? Baggage expenses - many airlines now charge for checked bags, so consider throwing your clothes in a collapsible duffel bag and stowing it in the overhead compartment.

Skyscanner also suggested weighing the bags before heading to the airport. This way, you can ditch nonessentials if it's too heavy, to avoid extra costs.